Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

The work week is coming to a close, and Stewart is out for the weekend at a bachelor party. The guys are touring the bourbon trail and going to the Kentucky Derby. The word of the day is jealous: hostile toward a rival or one believed to have an advantage. I'd wear a big hat, sip mint juleps and gamble on horse racing any day. When he's out of town, I usually don't cook a meal just for myself unless it comes from a drive through window or take out. So, there's only one thing to do. It's peanut butter jelly time!

This isn't just any PB&J; this is Tyler Florence's grilled peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwiches. I'm a big Tyler Florence fan. His recipes are delish, and his web site is beautiful even if you simply want to sift through the recipes and photography. 

You know who also loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Elvis Presley. I'm from Memphis. Of course I'm an Elvis fan, and the white jumpsuit in this video is H-O-T!

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches): 
8 slices of good quality white bread (I used wheat)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
1/2 cup grape jelly
2 ripe bananas, sliced
Directions: Butter the bread slices on 1 side and place them butter side down. Spread 4 slices with the peanut butter and top with the banana slices. Spread the remaining slices with jelly and put them, jelly side down, on top of the bananas. Press down gently to flatten them slightly. Place them in a preheated panini press and grill until toasted. 

Hope your weekend is filled with great eats and good beats!

Fried Pickles and Blues

This weekend kicks off the annual "Memphis in May" celebration. Laissez les bon temps roulez! In my opinion, these next four weekends are the epitome of all things Memphis, in particular the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Blues and barbecue are the two pillars which this city was founded upon.

The festivities start this weekend with the Beale Street Music Festival. Three days, four stages and over sixty bands will perform. Click here to see the line up. The ultimate icon of blues and Beale is the King of Blues himself, Mr. BB King. Although a predictable song choice, "The Thrill is Gone" is a classic and oozes the essence of blues.

But the thrill is anything but gone in today's featured appetizer. I'm cooking up some fried pickles! That's right. Fried pickles. My southern readers know what I'm talking about. Just about every bar/restaurant on Beale Street, mid-town and downtown Memphis serves these special spears. This particular recipe has a little kick to it by adding Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper. It's a winner. The batter has just enough substance to give you that golden brown, fried crunch that you want without being 75% fried batter and 25% pickle. A helpful tip when mixing your wet ingredients for the batter, don't overly stir the eggs and flour. You want it to be somewhat chunky because that's what will hold on to the dry ingredients to create your crust. Below is the recipe, or click here to see the original site.

I don't have a deep fryer; so I just fried them up in my Dutch oven, using about 1-2 inches of oil to fill it. Also, dipping the pickles in the ranch dressing at the end is a requirement ; )

Fried Dill Pickles Recipe

Wet Dippings

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp seasoning salt
  1. Beat eggs in a small bowl with a fork.
  2. Add flour and mix.
  3. Pour in milk and seasonings and mix.
  4. Set the wet drippings aside.

Dry Dippings

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  1. Mix together all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir until the dry ingredients are well mixed.
  2. Set the dry dippings aside. Do not mix them with the wet dippings.

Dip and Fry

  • 1 quart dill pickles (sliced lengthwise)
  • Wet dippings
  • Dry dippings
  1. Drain liquid off dill pickles and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Dip pickles one by one in wet dippings. Shake lightly.
  3. Dip in dry dippings and roll around until well covered. Shake lightly.
  4. Deep fry like French fries in oil or hot Crisco at 350 degrees F until golden brown.
  5. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve plain or with Ranch dressing 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Miss Li and Beignets

Today I listened to Miss Li. She's fabulous. And you may already know her, although you may not realize it. Her song "Dancing the Whole Way Home" is set to the new iPod Nano commerical. But it was "Stupid Girl" (play it below) that became the inspiration for this tasty treat: beignets! Stupid Girl has this great brass band sound that makes me think of New Orleans. And what's New Orleans without Cafe Du Monde and their ever so amazing coffee and delectable, fried, powdery goodness of a donut? Not only is their signature sweet worth the trip, but you are sure to find an eclectic bunch of people there around 2 a.m. on any Saturday morning: college students, transvestites that are prettier than most women I've seen, tourists and more. It's a great place to people watch.

I just happened to have a can of Cafe Du Monde's coffee and chicory blend at the house. You can find it at our local grocery store. And to help me create my beignets, Southern Living had just the recipe. It is so simple and requires three ingredients. Did I mention the prep and cook time combined is less than 10 minutes? Just my style. Check out the recipe below and create your own salute to the Crescent City. Don't forget to bring Miss Li with you to the kitchen.
Separate 1 (12-oz.) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits into individual rounds, and cut into quarters.
Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven, heat over medium heat to 350°. Fry biscuit quarters, in batches, 1 to 11⁄2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels, and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Prep: 5 min., Cook: 3 min. per batch. Note: For testing purposes only, we used Pillsbury Golden Layers Buttermilk Biscuits. (