Monday, November 5, 2012

Cranberry and Walnut Zucchini Bread

Hold the phone, shut the front door and get out of town. I never thought I’d use this word in my blog. But I suppose there is a first time for everything. Here it goes. The word is…vegan. I am not a vegan, nor do I intend to adopt a vegan diet. Sorry vegans; it’s mainly the whole idea of giving up dairy – not even the meat so much. But a lifetime without goat cheese, parmesan, and mozzarella seems deprived of joy.  However, I am now a believer that vegan recipes can be delicious! Let’s take that a step further.  I am now a believer that vegan recipes can actually taste better than their non-vegan counterpart.  I feel a little lash of Southern sacrilege saying that. But let’s say a Hail Mary and move on. All things in moderation, right? If there’s a recipe that can effectively cut down my daily consumption of animal byproducts and dairy, without sacrificing taste, I’m all for it!

Feast your stomachs on this recipe for cranberry and walnut zucchini bread. It is perfection. I never knew a baked good could taste so flavorful and moist without eggs and butter. Oh, that’s another word I don’t like. The word moist gives me the heebie jeebies. I made four loaves of this zucchini bread.  So far, I’ve managed to only eat one. The rest are in my freezer, waiting to be consumed with family over Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I found this recipe on a food blog called Hell Yeah It’s Vegan, and used the base of it for my own.  I used dark brown sugar vs light brown sugar, and added in the dried cranberries and walnuts. Voila! Make these loaves ahead of time, put them in your freezer, and bring them out when you have guests during the holidays. They will thank you for it.

On the music side, I’m in love with this duet from the show Nashville. It's a cover of the Civil Wars' song "If I Didn't Know Better". I think Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen (actors) should just cut a record together because I would have it on repeat 24/7. This song is soulful and sultry. And with a haunting melody, you can appreciate the lyrics as well.

Furthermore, I see a strong parallel between this song and my feelings towards the zucchini bread. “If I didn’t know better”, I’d believe that because this is a vegan recipe it must be extra healthy. “If I didn’t know better”, I’d say that because there are vegetables in this bread, it cancels out all the sugar. “If I didn’t know better, I wouldn't have eaten an entire load by myself. "If I didn't know better...but, damn it, I do.”    

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Skakin' It Up with Tomato and Squash Casserole

Curse you autumn. You seduce my American Express card each season with chic accessories, and you know darn well no one loves to cover up their body more than I do in scarves, hats and jackets. We have to put an end to this dysfunctional relationship. It’s not you. It’s me. Hopefully when I learn some self control, we can be friends again.

Autumn is the one time of year where I’m just as captivated by its fashions as I am by its foods. Judging by my wardrobe and my pantry this season, I apparently want to be something in between a hipster and a hippie. For example, I have 20/20 vision. I wore glasses for a year in the 3rd grade and haven’t needed them since. So explain to me why I just ordered a pair of black, thick-rimmed frames by the name of “Sinclair”. I also have my eye on a cable knit beret from Urban Outfitters, a rucksack backpack and a graphic t-shirt of Brooklyn, NY.  It’s a good thing I’m not prone to facial hair, otherwise I might try to grow a handle bar mustache.

On the flip side, I have become fixated on eating local, organic produce and meats as much as I can. It all started when I friend of mine told me about two classes on Coursera through John’s Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health that offered an introduction to the US food system and obesity economics. Since registering for these classes, I have read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and David Kessler’s The End of Overeating. I’ve also watched several documentaries including:  Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, and Food Matters. And now I’ve hopped on board the local food movement bandwagon. 

Let me keep this short and sweet, because I could easily preach you a sermon on this topic.  Know what you’re eating folks. I won’t go into the disturbing details of what happens in meat packing plants, how chickens are genetically altered to grow fatter in shorter periods of time and never see the sunlight, or how our typical supermarket produce is loaded with pesticides, fungicides and insecticides.  Let’s get back to the basics. Let’s support our local farmers and ranchers. Let’s be conscious of what we’re feeding our bodies. You know it’s coming…I have to say it…you are what you eat!

I’m stepping down from the pulpit now. Yesterday I went to Nashville’s farmers market where the baskets were overflowing with tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, and apples…not to mention the crowds of people. I tend to get sensory overload in situations like this where I’m in the thick of mounds of fresh produce. It’s kind of like being in my favorite clothing store on the day where everything is an additional 40% off. My hands can’t grab things fast enough. Did you just say five pounds of zucchini and squash for $5? Yes, please! I probably spent about $30 and walked away with enough meat and produce to feed my face for a solid week.

So for dinner last night, I made one of my favorite recipes from my mom’s kitchen. It’s a tomato, squash and zucchini casserole. Served over a small bed of pasta, tossed in a little olive oil and basil, this meal is veggie-tastic. The caramelized yellow onions give it a hint of sweetness, and the squash/zucchini have a great crisp texture to them. Forget the pasta. Just hand me a fork, and I’ll eat it right out of the casserole dish. I made enough for two people last night, and there were no leftovers. So, I’ll give you the recipe that will feed 4-5. You can always cut back on the size if needed.

On the music scene, my latest love is Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, is the coolest chick in music right now - not to mention her voice is incredible. I love their sound.

Tomato and Squash Casserole Recipe:
NOTE: After you chop the tomatoes, squash and zucchini, leave them out to dry on paper towels for a few hours. Sprinkle a little salt over them and let it suck all the water out. This will help ensure that your vegetables are crisp and the casserole is not watery when you cook it. I left mine out to dry for about 2-3 hours. Just keep drying them off with paper towels and adding a little more salt as needed.

1/4 Cup of EVOO
3 cups chopped yellow onions (about 3 medium onions)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 lb yellow squash, sliced
1 lb zucchini, sliced
1 lb plum tomatoes, sliced
teaspoon fresh basil and/or thyme
ground salt and pepper
1/2-1 Cup of Gruyere or Parmesan cheese

 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the chopped onions. Let the onions caramelize until they start to turn brown (12-15 min). Within the last minute, add the minced garlic.
- Lay the onions and garlic on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Top your dried vegetables with fresh cracked pepper. Layer the sliced vegetables in the dish, overlapping each other a bit. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the tinfoil. Sprinkle on the fresh basil/thyme and continue to bake (uncovered) for another 30 minutes. Within the last 10 minutes, add your freshly grated cheese so it can melt.

Monday, September 10, 2012

On Fire with Pappa al Pomodoro

My kitchen adventures this past weekend were far from ordinary. There were extreme highs and extreme lows of emotion, coupled with cooking success and failure. Riding the wave of my stellar shrimp and grits earlier that week, I decided to stick with the "southern" genre of foods and set my appetite on frying catfish. This is one of my favorite meals, and I was eager to make it on my own.

After a trip to Whole Foods, I came home to unwrap 3 beautiful catfish fillets on my spotless granite counter top. Fast forward an hour later, and there is a huge puddle of splattered hot oil dripping from the stove down to the floor. My first two attempts at deep-fried catfish have turned into deep-fried crap fish. My self-esteem sinks lower by the minute as my blood pressure rises by the second. I’m about ready to throw in the towel when my husband walks over to the stove, begins cutting the catfish into smaller pieces, dredging them in batter, and delicately laying them into the cast iron skillet. He’s the best. Whether dinner that night was a disaster or triumph, it matters not. I’m lucky enough to have someone whisper in my ear, “what matters is that you tried something new”. You win some you loose some. C’est la vie, non? 

But let’s be honest. No one wants to end the weekend on a loss. So, Sunday afternoon, I break out the big guns: the barefoot contessa’s “Back to Basics” cookbook. I knew Ina Garten had a recipe that would put me back in business. I chose her recipe for pappa al pomodoro – a rustic Italian tomato soup that’s thickened with ciabatta bread and garnished with home made croutons and pancetta. It was perfection. The flavors were so hearty, and this soup is even better the second day. Sautéed onions, carrots and garlic lay the foundation for this recipe. Whisking the ciabatta into the soup of plum tomatoes and chicken stock give it a real creamy flavor and chunky texture. Definitely add this to your list of soups to make this fall. Click here for the recipe.

Alicia Key's new single "Girl on Fire" is the tune to my culinary victory dance. From a fried fish job gone wrong to a heart-warming soup, I turned that frown upside down with this recipe for pappa al pomodoro. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shrimp and Grits

Tuesday marked my first day back at work after a leisurely 4 day weekend. And, as most working folk know, the first day back after a holiday weekend means you hit the ground running to catch up from days off. As soon as I got home, I turned on the lights, dropped my bags on the floor and went straight to the refrigerator for a Corona. Hmmm. We must have finished the Corona the night before. No worries; I'll have a glass of wine. Except there is no wine. Looks like I'll make a gin and tonic. However there are no limes! What will I do?

You might read this and wonder if these are signs of a drinking problem. False. Or you might read this and completely relate to the fact that one of the best ways to take the edge off of a busy day at work is a little alcohol (not exercise). Just enough to take the tension off your shoulders and put work behind you. So, I grab my reusable Target tote (trying be green) and head to the local liquor store where I choose a fine $12 bottle of cabernet sauvignon and head home. Crisis averted, dear friends.

Now let's get down to the real reason why I'm writing this post: last night's dinner. I am crazy about shrimp and grits, as any true South Carolinian would be. If it's on the menu, I order it.  I'm also quite particular on the taste. I like the roux to be simple in ingredients and packed with flavor. And I hate when it's served as more of a soup instead of with a spoonful of grits in each bite. The grits should also be thick and creamy. My theory in why most people do not like grits is because they've not been properly prepared. Any who is any Southerner's authority on cooking grits? Their mama (or grand mama). As mine put it, the 5-minute quick Quaker grits actually take 30 minutes. Stir frequently and add water as needed. Grits are corn; you can watch the pot of grits rise and pop as they cook. When the popping rhythm and frequency subside, it's a good indication that the grits are done cooking.

I've actually never made shrimp and grits at home, and this holiday weekend presented the perfect opportunity to get back in the kitchen and expand my portfolio of recipes. As if the 5 star rating and 146 rave reviews on Tyler Florence's "ultimate shrimp and grits" weren't convincing enough, Mr. Florence can do not wrong in my book. And he did not disappoint. Last night's shrimp and grits was hands down as good (if not better) than any I've had in a restaurant. And it was easier to make than the grits! The inclusion of andouille sausage, cayenne pepper and hot sauce bring the heat and Cajun spice into the mix. The roux keeps it classy with minced onion, garlic, chicken stalk and bay leaves.

I just want to take this dish to all my neighbors and say, "Here you go. You're welcome." Making this recipe last night was just what I needed to kick my cooking confidence up a notch (or ten)! If you're feeling a little adventurous or want to experience a true southern meal, make this version of shrimp and grits. You won't be sorry. My only variation was making Quaker grits (see above) versus Tyler's directions.

Shrimp and grits is a low country dish that, when mixed with The Drifter's "Under the Boardwalk", brings about memories of coastal Carolina summers and easy living...with a hint of sophistication.

Tyler Florence's Ultimate Shrimp and Grits - click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Home

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. 
Maya Angelou
I haven't been home in nine days. Unfortunately it's not because I've been sunbathing on a beach somewhere or traipsing through Europe. Nope. I spent this past week in a little town (emphasis on little) called Bristol, TN. My job brings me to Bristol twice a year for the NASCAR races where my neck gets a little red and my southern drawl becomes more of a twang. Let's put it this way. Bristol's population is somewhere around 50,000. During race week, it's 150,000. I've never quite experienced the spectacle that is NASCAR. But that's another story for another day. Let me just say this: only at a race track would you find Aqua Net in the ladies' bathroom. Queue Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a red neck if..."

The earlier part of this week was spent in Memphis for meetings. Fortunately, I get to see my family when I'm there and can sleep in my old room; no hotel! Tuesday afternoon, I drove three hours up Music Highway, between Memphis and Nashville - breathing deep as I walked through my front door and was greeted with the familiar scent of home.

About 20 miles outside of Nashville, Phillip Phillips' serenaded me through the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee as I made my way back home. 
After nine consecutive days of dining at restaurants, race tracks and fast food joints (one moment of McDonalds weakness), I think it's safe to say I have some serious cooking to tend to!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child

Wednesday marks the 100th birthday of Julia Child, the woman lovingly known to Americans as "The French Chef". I was just 19 when this culinary icon passed away, yet her spirit is ever eternal with each toast of “bon appétit”!

For starters, Julia and I have a few things in common: a first name, a love affair with France, and all the pleasures of cooking. But what was it about Madame Child that made her so enchanting to millions? Inspired to learn more about the person before the celebrity, I’m reading Child’s autobiography “My Life In France”. Julia and her husband’s grandnephew, Alex Prud’homme, compiled the book during the last 8 months of her life. It primarily focuses on the years between 1948 and 1954 while she and Paul lived in Paris, Marseilles and Provence.

What I have come to know of Child thus far is a contagious joie de vivre. She has a certain je ne sais quoi that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to carry that 6'2'' bundle of joy around in your pocket all day. 

Thus on the eve of her 100th birthday, I opened my copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and took to the kitchen with Julia. In less than 20 minutes, I made 2 beautiful servings of bifteck saute au beurre served with a simple green salad and sauce vinaigrette.  Thanks to the detailed instructions from Julia, the steaks were cooked properly and perfectly. There wasn't a leaf of lettuce left in the salad bowl as we used slices of baguette to soak up the last drop of vinaigrette. Julia doesn't just supply you with a list of ingredients and a recipe; she gives you the culinary lesson.

Bon appétit!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our House is City House

Nestled in Nashville’s neighborhood of Germantown, slightly north of downtown, is City House.

Over the past 3 years City House, a converted sculptor’s studio, has been featured in publications such as the New York Times Style Magazine, Food and Wine, bon appétit, Garden & Gun, and Nashville Scene. Each story about Chef Tandy Wilson’s rustic Italian restaurant is rightfully as praiseworthy as the last. So, it should be no surprise that I had to taste what is becoming my favorite restaurant in Nashville.

I have since dined at City House three times in the past 7 weeks. One of my favorite things about City House is that amid all of its popularity, it is one of the most unassuming and charming restaurants in town. Simply put, this house is grounded on the principles of good food, good service and good company.

I was as giddy as a school girl the first evening Stewart and I walked through the front door of City House. In addition to the friendly hostess, you are greeted by the boisterous chatter among the restaurant’s clientele. Without a reservation Stewart and I sat up at the kitchen bar, overlooking the chefs preparing brick oven pizzas, pastas and desserts. It was the best seat in the house! A bowl of tomatoes and a fresh basil plant sat on the counter to my right. I watched as servers came up to the bar to take food to the other tables, and my appetite went wild with hunger. Before I knew it, Stewart and I practically licked our plates clean of 2 appetizers, 2 pizzas, and 2 desserts while washing it down with artisan cocktails and espresso. If gluttony is a sin, I bought a one-way ticket to hell with that meal. And I’m clearly not feeling that bad about it, since it’s been a repeat occurrence ever since.

A word to the wise: Do not make plans to go anywhere but home after you leave here. Your bellies will be aching (with pleasure) over the best meal you’ve ever eaten, and your brain will be on the verge of a food coma. I am 3 for 3 in going straight to bed after a night at City House.

How is that possible? Let’s examine the evidence from my visit last weekend.

We start off with the house cured salami, parm.

Followed by their brick oven pizzas…

Margherita Pizza (House Made Mozzarella)

House Made Belly Ham, Mozzarella, Grana Padano, Oregano, Chilies

Moving on to the pastas…

Linguini, Tomatoes, Anchovy, Chilies, Garlic, Olives, Bread Crumbs

Bread Gnocchi, Pork, Peppers, Cider Vinegar, Pecorino

And for dessert…


And vanilla-almond pound cake with lemon-ricotta gelato

End Scene.

Queue music with Madness' "Our House"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Introducing: my first homemade loaf of bread





Mission accomplished my friends.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Zou Bisou Bisou

I'm back in the bread baking business...thus far! Given my few hiccups in the beginning of this process, I proceed with with both caution and optimism. Yesterday I turned my starter into a leaven. And this evening, I look lovingly upon my first batch of dough, as it completes the first rise (also known as the bulk rise or bulk fermentation). Depending on the temperature in my apartment, this stage of the process can take as little as 4 hours or as long as overnight. Because of my work schedule, I chose to complete the first rise overnight. Hopefully this time tomorrow night I will be feasting on my first loaf of bread!

I paired this post with another source of happiness in my life: Mad Men. This past weekend I caught up on the new season. And, to no surprise of my own, I am obsessed with the song Megan Draper sang to Don at his 40th birthday party. Zou Bisou Bisou has been stuck in my head for the past 3 days. I thought it only fair that I put the tune in your head as well : )

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bread Bakin' Blues

Julia’s Basic Country Loaf Take 2. 

You guessed it. The bread is dead. I killed it, unintentionally of course, last weekend. My poor starter didn't even get to live to its fullest potential before my impatience got the best of me and spoiled the process of creating a leaven. This lack of patience has burned me before. And this time it washed a week's worth of flour and water down the drain...literally. 

Allow me to set the stage.

It was 10pm on Friday night. The hubs and I were in for a big weekend with family and friends in town, so we decided to lay low that evening in preparation. With my Tartine Bread book in hand, I curled up in bed and began reading about the next step in making bread: creating the leaven. My starter was rising and falling predictably over the course of three days, so I figured it was time to proceed that weekend. However, the book instructs you to create your leaven the night before you plan to make your dough. “Oh s$%&” I thought. “That’s tonight!”

The night before you're ready to make the dough, you are supposed to take 1 tablespoon of your starter, discarding the rest, and mix cette tablespoon with 200 grams of flour mixture and 200 grams of water at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I can do this with no problem, right? Should be done in 5 minutes and back in bed. No sweat.

Wrong. Loads of sweat and on the verge of tears, I startled my husband with an echoing “Gosh damn it!” coming from the kitchen.  Apparently what my hand thought was 1-tablespoon alas was a ½ tablespoon. Therefore, it was only half of the amount of starter I needed to create my leaven. So just add another ½ tablespoon of starter, right? Wrong again. Because after measuring what I thought to be 1 tablespoon of dough, I proceeded to wash the rest of the starter down the drain and clean the bowl. And to top it all off, I don’t know how to use my scale because the weight of water and flour mixture was all wrong and proceeded to clump into dry balls of dough. 

If I would have just waited until the next evening, and not acted with such haste, I probably would be enjoying the fruit of my bread baking labor right now. Reminder to self: take your time. Don't rush.

So this weekend I start over. I’m either really committed to making my own bread or really crazy. But I should not forget the first lesson that bread has taught me thus far: never give up. Farewell starter #1. Let’s hope starter #2 has better luck.

I don't think there's another woman's voice who can expresses the soul behind blues quite like the great Etta James. And she sings my bread bakin' blues away with "I'd Rather Go Blind". 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Step Two: Training the Starter

I never thought I'd be excited about the smell of "stinky cheese". Never say never. Because last night my culture was perfectly ripe. There were three signs that the culture was ready: the sharp smell (stinky cheese), the taste (slightly acidic) and the look (dark layer of crust over the top).

Here's what that crust looked like.

And here is what was underneath the crust when I peeled it back. Note the bubbles that surfaced. That's a good sign!

So, this morning I began the next phase of making bread: training the culture into a lively and predictable starter. At this stage in the process I discard 80% of the starter every 24 hours (before work) and mix the remaining 20% with new flour and water. Nothing to report thus far, but I imagine it will take a few days to see the effects of training. I have a slight suspicion that this starter and I will form a special bond. Next to my husband, it's the thing I look forward to seeing the most in the morning, when I get home from work, and before I go to bed.

Here's what the starter looked like after the first feeding today. I noted that the temperature in the apartment was 69 degrees; ideally it should be between 65 and 75 degrees. The book also advises you to use equal parts flour and water. So, I used about 1/4 Cup of each and stored the container in a shaded spot on the counter (uncovered). Now it's time to wait...

I also wanted to give my starter a little "training" theme song. Something to get it motivated and active. Let's see if it works.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bread Lesson #1: Don't Give Up

  Bread: a usually baked and leavened food made of a mixture whose basic constituent is flour or meal 

Merriam-Webster's definition of bread sounds simple, yes? Think again. What began as a fun "weekend project" has turned into weeks of preparation, determination, and lessons learned. I thought this blog would be the perfect place to capture it all. So follow me on this journey to experience what it is to be a baker of bread. I can promise it won't be perfect. But it won't be a failure either. My goal is simply to learn...and make a damn good loaf of bread. 

So how did this adventure begin? Much to my enthusiasm for all things bread, my husband gave me Chad Robertson's cookbook "Tartine Bread" for Christmas this past year. Chad Robertson is the baker and owner of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, which reportedly sells 200 loaves of bread a day within the first hour (according to Bon Appetit's article on the 2012 Tastemaker). I've wanted to make by own bread for quite some time, so who better to teach me than the master himself. Thus, I embarked on the process that’s to become my first “basic country bread”.

I technically began last Sunday when I developed my starter, which begins with making a culture. After mixing the flour and water to form a thick batter, I covered the container with a kitchen towel and stored it in a cool, shaded spot for 2-3 days. By the evening of the second day, the culture had bubbles forming around the sides of the container, and the smell (to my knowledge) was acidic. So, the next morning I began "training" my culture into a predictable starter by feeding it with fresh flour and water every 24 hours. In doing this, your starter will begin to rise and fall predictably around the same times each day. But over the coarse of 3 days, I noticed that my started wasn't rising or falling at all. Was it because I stored it in the cabinet with no light or air circulation? Did I use too much water and flour? What went wrong? Enter my first lesson in baking bread: don't give up. Actually, that’s what my husband told me when I became frustrated by my inactive starter. And he was right.

Tis a lesson you should heed try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

So, this past Friday night, I rolled up my sleeves and started over with a new culture. This time, I used a smaller amount of water and flour to start. Then I stored the covered container on the counter in a shaded spot. It’s nearly 48 hours later, and things are looking (and smelling) right! 

There’s also something in my kitchen now that's tasting right: linzer cookies! I made my second batch this weekend. And they are delicious. Now I just need to make sure I don't eat them all myself. 

And the music that sounds just right is Amy LaVere’s “Nightingale”. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Stagger Lee and The Lee Bros. Red Rice

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice."
- T.S. Eliot

Sunday ushered in the new year, and my 2012 is looking most promising right out of the gate. 
  • I joined a gym
    • We'll see how long that lasts
  • My darling sister-in-law is moving to Nashville this week to attend pastry school here! 
    • I can't wait to have her in town...did I mention she's going to pastry school? It's not like I plan to live vicariously through her schooling or anything. Right?
  • I made a most delicious meal - my first for 2012
    • See most delicious meal and recipe below
  • And WE'RE GOING TO EUROPE in a month!
    • Vienna and Prague for a week. Must remember not to spend all my money on fashion statements before the trip to Europe, where I will inevitably spend more money once I get there.

I had a wonderful holiday. Thanksgiving, my birthday, Christmas and the new year could not have been more perfect. All were spent with family and closest friends. There were many fond memories to treasure this season, not to mention the food was great (see reference to gym membership above). Needless to say I was the one doing all of the eating, not the cooking, this year. Which consequently means I have but one gem of a recipe in my back pocket to show for this holiday season. But oh what a gem it is.

I revisited the Lee Brother's cookbook tonight to make their red rice recipe. Red rice is a childhood favorite of mine, and the Lee Bros. recipe did not disappoint. In fact, I had a mother moment. You know how people will often say that you can tell what a girl will look/act like when she's older by looking at her mother? Well, it happened to me. After taking my first bite of this red rice, I turned to my husband, chuckled and complimented myself on what a good cook I was! Granted my mother has reason to boast about her cooking; she's the best cook I know. But my goodness was this rice not amazing.
It will give any home cook major bragging rights.

Matt and Ted Lee are originally from Charleston, SC. And myself, born in Georgetown, SC, thought it only appropriate to feature "Stagger Lee" as the beat to this eat. It's one of my favorite beach music tunes and reminds me of summers on the Carolina coast.

Here's to  a most prosperous and healthy new year!


Lee Bros. Red Rice
Makes 5 Cups; enough for 4 people

3 oz. slab bacon or 2 slices thick-cut bacon cut into small dice
1 1/2 Cups diced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 Cups long-grain rice
2-2 1/2 Cups chicken broth
One 28 oz. can whole Italian tomatoes, drained
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2. In a 12 inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until firm and barely crisp, about 4 min. Using a slotted spoon, transfer  to a sma