I was going to invite one family over for the 4th. Then I went all crazy and invited three more. I have been posting some snooty fruity recipes lately. Most of which reflect how we eat on a fairly regular basis. Today, though, I'm going to post some honest-to-goodness-shut-yo'-mouth-awesome mostly Southern recipes that reflect our roots and make for one w00tastic spread.
I plan on posting menus here from time to time. I like to plan big meals out in advance and if I like it, I do it again. I've got a few. For the Fourth, I decided to go All-American. It didn't hurt that most of my guests were Southern (or at least knew a good slaw when they saw it.) The best party food can be served hot, room temp, or cold, and made in advance. So, without further ado, here it is, a giant photo/recipe dumpapalooza. Recipes to make any outdoor party!
Our menu was as follows: Fried Chicken, hot dogs, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, Red-White-&-Blue Potato Salad, Lavender Lemonade,Pecan Pie, juice pouches, chips, watermelon, cherries, and plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated.
I had this recipe in the box, but it originally came from one of my cookbooks. It's a sentimental favorite of mine for no other reason than it's full of recipes for 'possum and chitlins and (I'm not kidding) pig tails. As well as a hundred or so recipes for various versions of deep fried love. It's called The Treasury of White Trash Cooking. It has not one, but two, (you heard me,honey), two fried chicken recipes! This one is on page 181.
Countrified Fried Chicken
Cut 1 fryer into pieces. Salt and pepper each piece. Combine 3/4 C of flour, 2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp of pepper in a plastic bag. Shake each one until they are coated will with the flour mixture. You can fry chicken in a deep-fat fryer, covered for 5 minutes, then uncovered, until coating is golden brown. Turn chicken occasionally. You can also fry chicken in a skillet on your stove. My grandma always fried her chicken in fried meat's grease and a pinch of garlic salt.
I cooked mine in an improvised frier. A dutch oven with a bottle of oil poured in it. Try to have about 3 inches of oil in your pan. I could fit 4-6 pieces of chicken in at a time. It took 10 minutes per batch. I had my oven set to 350° to finish off any pieces that didn't quite get done. For this, it wouldn't hurt to have had two thermometers, which I don't. (One to read the oil temp and one to check the meat temp.) Ah well, it didn't waste that much time. Keep the oil between 310° and 375°. A deep fryer is probably better at regulating the temperature, I had to keep fiddling with the heat, but it seemed to work and nobody got salmonella.
Nothing but thumbs up on this one!
Next up? Baked Beans.
beanbible.com in 2003. The website is still operating, but this recipe is no longer available.
Dr Pepper Baked Beans
yield 6 servings
1 28 oz can pork and beans (or two regular-sized 14-oz cans)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 tomato, chopped fine
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/3 C Dr. Pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves (I left these out)
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Drain liquid from the pork and beans. Pour beans into a bean pot, if you have one, or a baking dish if you don't. Gently mix in onion, green pepper, and tomato into the beans.
Combine sugar, Dr. Pepper, and cloves (if you use them) until sugar is dissolved. Pour evenly over the bean mixture. Bake, covered, for an hour. Check on the beans; they might need a little more time than that. but don't overcook them.
You could successfully substitute ginger ale for the Dr. Pepper for a different flavor.
I used Bush's Vegetarian baked beans and doubled the recipe.
One of these days I want to attempt this with my own white beans instead of canned, but this recipe is so easy and quick to put together using canned! Oh, and it tastes awesome!
Now, I have lived all over this beautiful country of ours. And let me tell you something: they only make coleslaw right in the South. And at KFC. My Grandmother used to make coleslaw with just cabbage and vinegar and onions, sort of a fresh kraut. I'd give anything if I could find that recipe. This particular recipe is based on the KFC coleslaw. I found it at topsecretrecipes.com.
Just Like KFC Coleslaw
8 C finely chopped cabbage
1/4 C carrot, shredded
2 T minced white onion
1/3 C sugar
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/4 C milk
1/2 C mayo
1/4 C buttermilk
1 1/2 T white vinegar
2 1/2 T lemon juice
Cut cabbage and carrots into pieces about the size of rice and put into a large bowl. Combine sugar, salt, pepper, milks, mayo, vinegar, and lemon. Beat until smooth. Pour over carrots, cabbage, and onion. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- I use a salad shooter with the shredder cone in to cut all the veggies for this.
- This may serve 6-8 in the South, but it's much, much more than that in the rest of the world where people don't know what good is.
- Mixing this up the night before makes it a great recipe for picnics and it tastes better the second day.
This slaw is great on hotdogs (called a slaw dog in the South). People think they don't like slaw but it's only because they've never had it made the right way!
What picnic is complete without potato salad? Unlike my other recipes, this one was flat refused when I made this for a get-together in the South. But what can I say? I lived in California for 8 years. Some of that granola rubbed off on me. This one has a vinaigrette base instead of a mayo base.
Look at that. Isn't that beautiful? I love these red, white, and blue potato mixes that I see around the 4th. I'm sure they're available all season long, but they just shout my name around the 4th. The blue ones are a purple color inside and these particular reds were actually a little pink inside! I got this recipe online years ago and made it for my church picnics so often, they started asking for it specifically. I didn't write down the URL when I found this salad, so I've re-named it:
Pot Bless Potato Salad
14 red potatoes
3 T parsley
2 T dill
6 T green onion
4 T red onion
1/3 C red wine vinegar
3/4 C olive oil2 t dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
Boil potatoes until just cooked. Meanwhile, chop herbs and onions. Combine vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic and pepper in a small bowl and whisk. When potatoes have boiled and cooled slightly, gently stir in herbs and onions. Pour vinegarette over potato mixture and gently stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.
I used Beaver brand hot dijon when I made it this year. It gave it a surprising kick on the 4th and took it out of the range of the small kid zone. I liked it. By today (after two nights in the fridge) the kick was pretty well gone and the kids chowed.
We washed all this nomminess down with lavender lemonade! The dispenser says it all:
This was another recipe in my box that I have the original cookbook for. Actually, in this case, it's a magazine. Herb Companion June/July 2004, p 27
Lavender Lemonade(Makes 8 servings)
6 C water
1 3/4 C sugar
3 T fresh lavender blossoms
2 1/2 C fresh lemon juice
8 fresh lavender sprigs
Bring water to boil in saucepan. Add sugar, reduce heat and stir till dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lavender blossoms. Cover and allow to steep for 30-60 minutes. Strain lavender mixture into a serving pitcher and stir in lemon juice. Cool and serve with crushed ice. Garnish with lavender sprigs.
I didn't have enough blossoms as lavender isn't quite in season here yet, so I used some leaves to cook with and saved the blossoms for the pretty. Make sure you use lavender that hasn't been sprayed with pesticides if you can.
I was expecting 22, so I wanted to make a little extra. I used 8 c water, added an extra 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 C leaves, and just to make it extra lemony, as I was boiling the water, I floated halves of 5 lemons on top to release the oils from the peels. Make sure to scrub your lemons well if you're going to do this. Using organic is that much better.
Sweet Mother of Abraham Lincoln! Make this. Make this right now!
'Cuz then you get to drink it!
For dessert, I made Pecan Pie and used that cream cheese crust recipe I promised you a while ago... So let's get to that crust, shall we?
This recipe came from the now defunct recipecard.com. Can I just say how glad I am I got this recipe before the site disappeared?
Cream Cheese Pie Crust
12 T unsalted butter, divided
1 2/3 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
4.5 oz cream cheese
2 T ice water
Divide butter in 1/2 and cut into small cubes. Wrap each 1/2 separately and chill 30 min. Process or sift flour and salt for a few seconds to combine. Add 1/2 butter cubes and all the cream cheese and process (cut together) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the rest of the butter and cut together until mixture resembles small peas. Be careful not to over-process. Add the water and pulse (stir w/ cold spoon) twice. The dough will look dry, but should hold together when processed. Pour crumbs into plastic bag and gently knead dough until it holds together and can form a ball. DO NOT OVER KNEAD! Remove dough and divide in 1/2. Wrap each 1/2 in plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Roll crust on cold surface w/ cold rolling pin. Crust freezes well. To freeze pie, don't bake first, put in freezer raw.
Because I'm a giant dork and totally forgot the first rule of pastry (always work cold) I softened the butter and cream cheese on the counter. Not to be deterred, I forged ahead anyway. I did refrigerate the butter after cutting it into cubes, but only for as long as it took me to measure and combine the flour and salt. I don't have a food processor big enough to do a whole batch of dough, and I actually like to make pastry by hand, so I cut it together with a fork as quickly as I could. I also forgot the ice water. And I kneaded the dough on my counter instead of the baggie kneading thing. The result was quite possibly the most tender, delicious crust I've ever made. So there you go. I don't suggest you try this method unless you're stupid, and/or a Pastry Rawkstar like me! Oh, wait, maybe I'm the stupid one... God helps the little children and the idiots.
Oh. My. Laws. And then, you can use one of the crusts to make this:
Oh. My. Laws. Again.
This little beauty also came from The Treasury of White Trash Cooking. Page 253.
Nellie Gray's Pecan Pie
1 T butter
1 C brown sugar
1 C Karo syrup
1/4 t cinnamon
1 C pecans
1 unbaked pie shell
Cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs lightly and throw in the rest of your ingredients. Mix the ingredients well and pour them into an unbaked pie shell. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350° and keep baking for another 35 minutes.
- I wanted the nuts to be whole, so I didn't chop them, and I used 1 1/2 C (one whole bag) if pecans.
- 1 tsp vanilla
It really makes just enough to fill a packaged pie shell. If you 're going to use my dough recipe, keep an eye on the crust during baking. If it gets too brown, cover the pie with aluminum foil. Also, when done, this pie will not be firm. Don't worry if it's a little jiggly when you take it out of the oven. It should be jiggly like firm jello, though, not jiggly like soup... Jiggly's a fun word. hehehehe... ~jiggle~jiggle~...
I was afraid this would be too eggy the first time I made it, but it's fantastic!
And now, your reward for sticking with me through this marathon post. A recipe I made up that didn't make it to the party. Because we ate it. Totally gone. Not even a crumb. You know how that pie recipe makes 2 crusts, right? Well, I couldn't let that other crust go to waste, right? No... of course not...
The first time I ever saw a rustic pie like this, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. So simple.
Rustic Three Berry Pie
1 pt strawberries, hulled, whole
1 pt blueberries
1 pt cherries, pitted
4 Tbs sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 pie crust recipe
Mix berries with sugar and lemon zest. Let rest and sweat while you're making and/or rolling out the dough.
Roll out the pie crust to about 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on baking sheet. Fill the crust with the filling and fold over the edges until they meet, pressing lightly to secure. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes, checking the dough for doneness.
Serve with a sprinkle of sugar, drizzle of cream, or dollop of ice cream.
Mr. CotC said it was the best pie I ever made. He loved the lemon zest. The boys were too busy shoving it into their faces to say much of anything.
I'll take that as a compliment...
A super huge "Thank You!" to all our friends who came and were gracious enough to help out trucking all the food and dishes up and down the mountain and help with the washing up. We're so glad you all came! We had so much fun! Let's do it again next year, 'K?