November 22, 2016

mama grace's chocolate pie

It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Mama Grace's chocolate pie. I am so delighted that she shared this family-favorite with me before she went to be with Jesus at the ripe old age of 99 3/4! Food equals memories, especially at the holidays. And we can't help but think of her when we eat this pie when we're together. Y'all share your recipes with your people. Stand together in the kitchen and stir them and measure them and serve them and eat them. You'll all be so glad ya did. 

MAMA GRACE’S CHOCOLATE PIE
{with or without meringue}
Makes one 8-9” pie

One unbaked pie dough round, either homemade or storebought
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
1 12oz can evaporated milk plus enough whole milk to make 3 cups total
2oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 eggs, separated (plus one more white if you’re making meringue)
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp vanilla

-for the meringue-
5 egg whites, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cream of tartar
7 Tbs sugar

In a standard pie dish (not a deep or oversized pie dish), blind bake a pie crust at 450F for 10 minutes with pie weights, then remove the weights and bake another 3-5 minutes until the crust looks golden and no longer wet-looking. Turn off oven, remove and set aside.

In a 3qt saucepan, combine the flour, sugar, and milk. Whisk together. Add chopped chocolate. Over medium high heat, whisk until chocolate melts and the mixture gets thick and bubbly, as long as 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Spoon about ½ cup of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly to temper the eggs. Add the yolks/chocolate mixture to the saucepan, stir well. Return pot to medium heat and allow to bubble up and simmer for about 2 minutes or so until nice and thick. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into the baked pie shell.

You may choose NOT to top your pie with meringue. If that’s the case, then at this point you may allow the pie to cool at room temperature then chill in the refrigerator for four hours before cutting and serving with homemade whipped cream! OR if you’d like to top with meringue, then keep reading...

Turn the oven on to 350F. In a mixer, combine 5 egg whites, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk on medium high until soft peaks form. With mixer on medium high, add all of the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Then turn mixer to high and whisk for 2-3 minutes until glossy, fluffy, stick peaks form. Pile meringue in the middle of the pie, spreading gently to the outer edges, making sure to seal the meringue to the pie crust which will help keep the meringue from shrinking. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Allow pie to cool entirely on the counter 1-2 hours. Refrigerate uncovered in the refrigerator. Serve cooled. Cut with a wet, sharp knife.

Alternately, you might wish to serve the chocolate pie with homemade whipped cream. Find that recipe in our recipe archives.

November 18, 2016

ham, leek, and gruyere breakfast bake

It's the season for hosting company! This breakfast bake is not only perfect for morning, but also brunch, or even a light lunch or supper! Such a win-win all the way around!

I love all things even remotely related to the bread pudding family! This savory bread pudding-ish bake is creamy, cheesey, bready, smokey, and buttery with sauteed leeks. OH MY! Make ahead and reheat on low covered in the oven or even microwave a portion. No fuss, beautiful, and divinely good! Happy hosting!

HAM, LEEK, AND GRUYERE BREAKFAST BAKE
serves about 6

1 1/2 cups leeks, sliced 1/2" thick and rinsed
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups hearty bread, cut in 1" cubes
1 cup chopped ham steak or leftover holiday ham
1/4 cup chopped scallions, green parts
3/4 cup shredded gruyere
several teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs
3 cups whole milk
grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast cubed bread pieces for 15 minutes or so until lightly browned. Remove from oven.  While bread toasts, rinse leek rings by floating them in a large bowl of cold water. Use hands to separate rings and swirl around in water to remove any dirt. Pat most of the water off of the rings. In a skillet over low heat, sprinkle leeks with a pinch of salt, and saute leeks in butter until tender, about 15 minutes. In a large bowl, dump the bread cubes, the sauteed leeks, scallions, ham, and thyme. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and grated nutmeg. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over the bread mixture, toss to coat. Stir in 1/2 cup gruyere. Let stand 15 minutes.

Butter a 9x9 pan or a deep pie dish, then pour the mixture in the pan. Spread around using your fingers, tucking in pieces and gently pressing down so bread is mostly covered in the cream. A little top layer of bread is fine above the cream layer. Sprinkle top with 1/4 cup gruyere and bake 50-60 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

November 16, 2016

brown butter and sage dressing


I admit I was late to the game on making dressing because I was entirely intimidated by it. I may not have made my first pan of dressing until I was in my mid to late 30s. Sam's grandmother had set the bar pretty high; so high that one year she put Stove Top on the table instead of homemade dressing, and Sam and his brothers had. a. fit. God love her. She was probably in her 70s when she finally took a shortcut. But the boys let her know all about it! HA! She was a fireball and could take it. Plus somewhere in the harassment over short-cut-dressing was a compliment that her homemade dressing was delicious and had become something looked-forward-to.

Thus, I was late to the game giving it a shot. And y'all, it's not hard at all! It's all about starting with good cornbread, having good seasonings, and getting it the consistency you like! And my personal spin on traditional baked dressing is browning some butter with a little sage and pouring it over the top just before the dressing is finished baking. Rich, flavorful tastes of the season!

We fall under the camp of baked dressing. A little bit dried out on top and still a little bit yummy and mushy and tender underneath. Some choose crockpots for a more 'wet' dressing. But this is our way. And it's a pretty good recipe that fills some pretty big shoes around here.

Watch the episode HERE where I make this recipe on my cooking show! Extra tips and instructions and probably silliness if I had to guess. Happy Holidays! 

BROWN BUTTER AND SAGE DRESSING
Makes one 9x13 casserole

¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cup flour
1 cup plus 2 Tbs yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
⅛ cup sugar
1 ½ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

3 chicken breasts, boiled or baked and torn/shredded into bits*
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into 1-2” pieces
4 cups chicken stock
2 large eggs
2 tsp dried sage
1 scant tsp salt
1 scant tsp pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter
5-6 fresh sage leaves, chopped

-for the cornbread-
Preheat a 9-10” cast iron skillet in a 400F oven with ¼ cup butter. Meanwhile stir together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Then whisk together buttermilk and eggs in a separate bowl. Stir wet into the dry. The mixture will be thick. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven when the butter is melted. Pour the hot butter into the cornmeal mixture; stir to combine. Spread in the hot skillet and bake for 30-31 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool; then crumble. Can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight bag or container.
In a saucepan, saute celery and onion in butter until tender. In a large bowl, break up cornbread, and add in torn white bread, sauteed celery and onions. In another bowl, whisk together stock and eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Season with sage, salt and pepper. Stir in torn chicken. Butter a 9x13 dish or casserole. Pour mixture into a dish. Bake in a 400F oven for 30-35 minutes.

With about 10 minutes left before the dish is finished baking, put ¼ cup butter and chopped sage leaves in a small light-colored or stainless saucepan. (Light colored is important so you can watch the butter brown!) Over medium heat, cook just until the butter begins to brown; do not burn it! Browned bits will form in the bottom of the pan. Carefully pour over all of the golden butter and sage leaves over the hot chicken and dressing when it comes out of the oven, being careful not to pour out the browned sediment in the bottom of the pan. Discard the browned sediment. Return the pan back to the oven for only about 3-5 more minutes. Serve dressing warm and yummy!

*This particular recipe is one I serve for a one-dish, weeknight meal with chicken baked in the dressing. If you're serving this dressing beside a holiday ham or turkey, just remove the chicken and make the dressing recipe as is! But if you're like my husband, he wants chicken and dressing any night that I can get it on the table. Even in March. 

November 14, 2016

drunken raisin bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce


There is a reason that they sing about figgy pudding in Christmas carols. Because it's amazing and rich and perfect for every holiday reason in the world!

Dinner party? Check.
Taking dessert to a gathering? Check.
Curling up and watching a movie by the fire? Check.
Breakfast? Check.
Blustery night? Check.
Itching for something shamefully good? Check.

See? So many reasons to love this Drunken Raisin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Cream Sauce. (Yes, whiskey. Run the liquor store on Wednesday nights when your Baptist friends are at choir practice. HA!) (I have Baptist in my genes, so I can rightfully poke fun.)

Back to this comfort dish! Rich and creamy. Warm and cinnamony. Sweet and boubon-y. Toasty and mushy. 

And the sauce. No more words needed, y'all. And I meant that. 

Here's the recipe. 
Oh, and click HERE to watch me make this on my cooking show with additional tips and instructions! 

DRUNKEN RAISIN BREAD PUDDING WITH WHISKEY CREAM SAUCE
Makes one 9x13 pan

1 loaf of french or Italian bread, torn (about 6 cups of bread)
⅔ cup golden raisins
2-3 Tbs bourbon
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
1 ¾ cups brown sugar
4-5 teaspoons good vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg or freshly grated which I love
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 250F Place torn bread on a baking sheet in the oven for about 15 minutes to dry so the bread won’t become soggy when it soaks. While the bread bakes, heat the raisins and 3 Tbs bourbon in the microwave for about 30 seconds; remove and allow raisins to soak. Remove the bread from the oven, and turn oven to 350F. Place bread in a very large bowl. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 casserole or a 3qt baker with butter. Set aside.

Combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins in a large bowl preferably with a pour spout. Whisk to mix and pour the cream mixture over the bread. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so.

Transfer the bread mixture to the buttered casserole dish. Place the casserole dish inside a larger pan and fill half-way up the sides with the hottest tap water available. Cover loosely with foil, tenting so as not to touch the top of the bread pudding. Cut a few slits in the top of the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake 45 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake another 30-45 minutes more until the bread pudding poofs up. Carefully remove from the oven, remove the pan from the water bath, and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. While it’s cooling down, make the sauce.

WHISKEY CREAM SAUCE
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup granulated white sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch
¼-½ cup bourbon or whiskey of your choice
Pinch salt
2 Tbs unsalted butter
In a 1 qt saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and cream. Place the cornstarch and ¼ cup of bourbon in a small mixing bowl and whisk to blend, making a slurry. Pour the slurry into the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the salt and stir in the butter. Taste and add more bourbon if you’re brave enough. Store sauce and bread pudding separately and covered in the refrigerator.

*adapted from Emeril Lagasse recipe*