Fried Chicken, Summer Tomatoes, Balsamic Potatoes, and Lemon Cookies — Yes. All in 1 Blogpost. Yes, go ahead and do a “woop-woop!” 

Cookies and Bars / July 25, 2016

Let me just explain something. There are some AH-MAZING cooks in my family.  I come from a long line of people who are heroes in the kitchen. I channel some, emulate others, have been inspired by all, and certainly am humbled by every recipe they developed. I can assure you, they fit more love and “mmmmm!!!” into every bite than seems physically possible. And it is for them that I post today’s recipes..

So, what kind of food do they prepare? It runs the gamut actually, ranging from fancy to no-frills. They all have conquered and understand the power to nourish. And as I have said COUNTLESS times, once you understand that power, you will crave cooking, too!

Take the meal above which features buttermilk fried chicken thighs. (Don’t worry, I don’t always leave the skin off. Crispy chicken skin is the bomb!) I pay homage to my southern roots with this one. You cannot deny that biting into a tender and juicy piece of chicken that only yields to chewing after you have enjoyed the salty and peppery crunch sends your endorphins into overdrive. You don’t indulge? Well, I say have just a few bites; a small portion. No one EVER went to their grave regretting a meal of SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN.

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Now. A comfort-food meal is never complete without a green salad. Especially with tomatoes and a good vinaigrette.

​If you love tomatoes, you know that summer is when a tomato truly becomes a tomato. They are the perfect combination of sweet and acidic, juicy and colorful, and this time of year they have enough body to stand up to a stack of bacon, or thrive in a spicy sauce.

I used to pick tomatoes in summer when I was in high school, (Note: it is NOT glamorous or easy!) and then bring them to my grandmother’s house where we would slice them, salt them and pretty much DEVOUR them in a very noisy way. So it’s no surprise that when I had a couple of heirloom tomatoes still on my counter, and some spring greens in the fridge, I knew the ratio of green to fruit would have to skew totally on the side colorful! Here’s what I did: Two, beautiful tomatoes, and just a handful of spring greens, a splash of olive oil, a double splash of champagne vinegar, a bit of tarragon, and lots of cracked black pepper and kosher salt. THAT IS ALL.

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The two terms “meat,” and “potato,” are surely an ancient derivative of the word “love.” This recipe I created here was so pretty it almost defines that statement. Baked with the addition of leeks, and a hint of sweet and hot, it worked perfectly against the cooling tomato salad and crunchy main course.

By slicing the potatoes almost all the way through and then roasting them, you can achieve a nice, open presentation. Not to mention a place for the brown sugar to get all cozy in. Just derned purty is what I say.

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I know, I know. Don’t get yer bib in a twist. I have dessert as well. And it was FAST! So fast that it easily qualifies for the #fabin40 category. They’re fancy enough to silence the haughty, but simple enough to be your go-to dessert, even with a gaggle of kids at your side.

By adding some lemon zest, ginger powder and cardamom to the batter, along with golden raisins, I amped up what was just a plain sugar cookie into something classy. And listen. You truly need to discover fresh nutmeg. OH MAN!!! So much different than that little tin of it you have in your pantry that tastes like a Christmas cookie from KMart. (No offense, blue-light special shoppers.) And because those little pods last forever, you really need to GET SOME.

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By the time I was clearing the table I was wishing I had invited over the whole neighborhood to feast with me. Just seemed like I needed a whole mess of people patting their bellies, stuffing their faces with cookies, and just all around making me realize I just have to cook to be happy.

​Recipes below!


Real Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 12 to 14


Ingredients:

3 C all-purpose flour, sifted
½ t kosher salt
½ t baking soda
1 heaping T baking powder
Almost ½ C lard room temperature
1-1 ¼ C buttermilk
Butter to melt on top


Method:

  • ​Use a large bowl with more than enough room for you to get your hands in and work the dough.
  • Sift the flour and add, then add the salt, soda and baking powder and stir with spoon or fork to incorporate throughout the flour. Make a well in the flour and add the buttermilk. Then, using your hands, take the lard and begin to work it in through the buttermilk only. Don’t incorporate into the flour yet. Rub between your fingers of one hand, pulling and squishing, until the lard is fairly distributed throughout the buttermilk, almost like a VERY lumpy gravy. Now, starting with small circle motions, begin to scoop your hand into the liquid and the flour, making sweeps all around to incorporate the flour and the buttermilk. Chances are you won’t use all the flour and don’t try. You’re looking for a texture just past sticky. Once you have that, roll the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead the mixture on top of itself only about 5-6 times, until it comes together. Don’t overwork. Try to do this with the fewest motions you can. It’s not a contest, just don’t linger. Get it done and together fast. When you have it formed into a circle, cover with a wet paper towel and let rest for 40 minutes, letting the glutens relax a little.
  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Pull out a bit of the dough to form each biscuit with your hands, just a bit larger than a golf ball. Roll into ball, flatten a little on arrange on a dark, ungreased baking sheet. Should make about 12. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Now, turn your broiler on for the last minute and a half of cooking. Leave the biscuits in the center of the oven and broil on high until it barely starts to toast the tops of the biscuits. (This is optional if you want more color.) Don’t overcook! Remove, brush with butter, and then serve!

Brown Sugar Balsamic Roasted New Potatoes

With Leeks and Hot Peppers

Serves 4


Ingredients:

4-6 large new potatoes, sliced 80% through
4 T olive oil divided
1 leek, white part only,
sliced thinly
1 small red hot chili pepper seeded and julienned
3 T sweet balsamic such as fig or cranberry
2 T brown sugar
Salt and pepper


Directions:

  • Chop the leeks and the pepper. Wash,and slice the potatoes. Mix 2 T of the oil, the balsamic and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Arrange potates in baking dish, and then ladle the sugary mixture on top. Sprinkle with the leeks and the pepper. Then drizzle with the remaining 2 T oil and generously salt and pepper the whole dish. Roast at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes or until potates are soft. To serve, place one potato on dish, slice side up. Ladle the leek, pepper sugar sauce over the top

Lemon Cardamom Cookies With golden raisins and nutmeg

Makes 24-28 cookies


Ingredients:

1 17.5 oz package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
¼ C soft unsalted butter
2 T + 1 t water
1 egg, beaten
½ t ground ginger
½ t ground cardamom
Zest from 2 large lemons
Fresh nutmeg pods for grating on top of cookie
¾ C golden raisins


Direction:

  • Mix cookies according to package directions adding the water and egg, but with the addition of 1 t more water, the spices and the lemon zest. Drop by spoonfuls on to cookie sheet, then grate fresh nutmeg on each of them; just a dusting. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 7 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.


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Let's think about food preparation as art, and flavors as adventurous stories. Say ‘goodbye’ to safe sequences, or copycat flavors, and use your senses to curate the perfect meal. My recipes help your kitchen come to life as I share anecdotes about food chemistry, and fun shortcuts that conquer menu-mediocrity. my cooking style is one that combines everyday ingredients into sensuous layers that wake up the bored palate as I reveal easy-to-understand tips, tricks, and hacks so everyone can prepare and serve Bling Cuisine with confidence and joy!

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