Rediscovering pimento cheese

I grew up on pimento cheese, at least what I thought was so, in the deep South and I have to admit – I thought it was one of the grossest dishes I’d ever encountered. Little did I know that this “Southern caviar” could be something besides the over-processed, mayonnaise-heavy goup that one would find in the grocery store.

February’s issue of Southern Living piqued my interest somewhat with several different recipes that actually looked appetizing. Still, I was a little skeptical.

bookcoverI did a complete about-face, however, after visiting Magnolia’s in Charleston last weekend. Minimal mayonnaise, rich sharp cheddar & parmesan, roasted red bell peppers, and the surprise of green olives…what’s not to love?! The food was so delicious, I bought a copy of chef Donald Barickman’s cookbook.

Since we’ve returned home, I’ve experimented with several variations that I’m loving, including pimento cheese on fresh tomatoes and pimento cheese grits. Soooo good!

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Satchel’s on Sixth

A foodie friend of mine at work recommended Satchel’s on Sixth several months ago. Once I read the article highlighting the restaurant in 5280 this month, I decided I had to check it out.

First, I love the location. As longtime fans of Barolo Grill and Fruition, I’m always happy when another restaurant opens up on 6th Avenue. It’s a nice break from Denver’s typical restaurant rows and parking is easy.

We started out with the Duck Confit Mac & Cheese. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that my mother taught me not to lick plates, as the thought did crossed my mind once it was gone. (The couple staring dejectedly at their empty appetizer plate? Yes, that was us.)

For our entrees, I had the short ribs with mashed parsnips and substituted braised brussel sprouts instead of the sautéed spinach. The ribs were so tender, a knife was almost obsolete and the brussels were perfect. The parsnips were interesting…a nice shift from your typical mashed potatoes.

I also liked that the owner himself sat us, the waitstaff were friendly yet perfectly professional, and the place didn’t try to overdo the decor, keeping the focus on the food.

My only request: I wish they had more choices than Prosecco as the only bubbly by the glass. (I find it a little sweet.)

We will most definitely be back!

I have a new foodie crush…and her name is Sara Foster

When I read a review of Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen this summer in Southern Living, I immediately went out and bought a copy, especially excited to try the grilled peach salad with shaved country ham and summer herbs.

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This Thanksgiving, instead of a traditional turkey, we decided to do a wine-glazed Smithfield country ham. It was delicious! Of course, I’m now looking for recipes for all that leftover ham. Sara Foster came through again last evening when I made her Roasted Tomato Grits and Country Ham…wonderful fall flavors of rosemary, balsamic vinegar, roasted tomatoes, creamy grits, and of course, country ham. Comfort food at its best!

Pot Roast

pot roast With all of the many tricks and recipes I’ve learned, it’s sometimes the seemingly easiest of dishes that trip me up. I tried once before, years ago, to make my mother’s mouthwatering pot roast, but all I wound up with was a slab of boiled meat in a questionably grey gravy.

I decided to try again, this time drawing from friends’ advice, Food Network, and careful note-taking during a conversation with Mom.

  1. In olive oil & a bit of butter, brown chuck roast on medium-high heat.
  2. Add diced onions, cover, and let sit for 1 hour on VERY low heat.
  3. Add canned Roma tomatoes, 1 cup beef broth, 1 cup red wine, 2 carrots, 3 potatoes, a dash of rosemary, salt & pepper.
  4. Simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Uncover and simmer for another hour.
  5. Remove meat from pot and tear apart with 2 forks. (If you need a knife, it’s not tender enough yet.)
  6. Meanwhile, allow the sauce to cool so that you can skim the fat off easily.
Serve alone or over rice or pasta. Tonight’s concoction came out splendidly, though next time, I plan to follow a more elaborate recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Many thanks to all who helped with your advice on tonight’s dinner!

Woodstock Tony

My husband and I are both fans of cold Italian subs with soprassata, pastrami, provolone cheese, lettuce, and tomato with Italian dressing, but these can pack a whopping 1200 calories per sandwich!

We were lamenting a couple of years ago about how much we liked Italian subs, but how we can’t eat them very often due to their high fat content. I offered to make a healthy version with vegetarian “meat,” but my husband instantly turned up his nose. I sensed a challenge…

So, one day I purchased fake pepperoni and salami…

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…topped it with Provolone cheese, fresh sliced tomatoes and good lettuce…
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…gave it a touch of Newman’s Own Lite Italian dressing…
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…and served it with my favorite pickles in the world
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He liked it so much, he couldn’t believe that the meat wasn’t real. Because it’s an Italian sub and due to its “hippy” and wholesome ingredients, we dubbed it “Woodstock Tony.” It has now become a summer favorite.

Peruvian Chicken

Peruvian chickenIf you read this blog, you may remember a very short post back in April about my discovery of the history of Peruvian Chicken. When I first found this recipe, I loved that it combined lime juice, cumin, and paprika, but was puzzled by the additional ingredient of soy sauce. As I learned from the United Hemisphere’s article, 800 Japanese fisherman docked off the coast of Peru in 1899 and the cuisine of that country has never been the same.

This evening, we enjoyed this recipe along with spicy mustard greens sautéed in olive oil, saffron rice, a simple sliced heirloom tomato, and…

peachesCheesecake Stuffed Peaches from Palisade, CO – a relatively new recipe I just found this summer. (It most commonly elicits responses that sound something like “Oh. My. God.”) I don’t consider this bragging since I didn’t create it…but the original cook did win $500 from Better Homes & Gardens for her recipe if that’s any indication of its loveliness.

Denver’s Soul Food Tour – Stop 1

I’ve been meaning to try Denver’s soul food restaurants for a while. Stop #1 was Cora Faye’s for a picnic to-go order this afternoon. The nicest gentleman took our order and chatted with us as we waited. We ordered two fried chicken breasts and four sides: collards, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and and rice & gravy.

The collards, black-eyed peas, and rice & gravy were out of this world (as in, I could have made my whole meal just out of those three.) The chicken was good, but HUGE. We will definitely order only one breast next time. The fried okra was OK…perhaps I’m forever spoiled by Mama Chris’ super-crunchy okra with just the right amount of salt and pepper. These were a little bland for my taste.

Overall – I can’t wait to go back and try a few more dishes. Next stop, Tom’s Home Cooking.