Friday, May 22, 2015

Baked Cheese Grits with Rotel Tomatoes

AS SOUTHERNERS, WE LOVE GRITS. I cook them often, in all sorts of ways. After I made this dish, I realized I had posted only one other grits recipe, ever, here on my blog. That was all the way back in 2009 when I posted Shrimp and Grits, an amazing and delicious recipe.

You know Ro*Tel tomatoes, right? The cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies? They have been around forever, have the perfect amount of heat, and are delicious to use in so many ways. They are a pantry staple in my kitchen.

The other day, I was shopping at the gigantic grocery store, with Rotel tomatoes on my list. On the shelf I saw there are now 6 different types of Rotel tomatoes. Arrgh! Marketing strikes again. I don't mean to beat up on Rotel tomatoes; I love them. But it is the same thing with everything on my list. For every item, I have too many decisions to make. This is why the stores are so huge and shopping takes so long. On some levels choices are good but I don't always want to walk the equivalent of a city block and comb through undesired products, when I only have 8 items on my list.

Baked Cheese Grits with Rotel Tomatoes
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup stone ground grits
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup Velveeta, cubed
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
1 (14 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.

In a saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the salt and slowly add the grits and return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When grits are thickened, stir in the butter, scallions, Velveeta and 2 cups shredded cheddar. Stir until cheese is melted then stir in the tomatoes, mixing well. Pour grits into prepared dish and bake for 35 minutes. Sprinkle on the remaining cheddar and bake 5 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quiche Lorraine

QUICHE LORRAINE IS NAMED FOR the Lorraine region of France.  I am not an expert on France, French cooking, and especially the French language. From growing up in the south, I learned that trying to speak French words with a southern accent just does not work. But I can pronounce Quiche Lorraine. And so could the B-52's. In fact their song about a French poodle named  Quiche Lorraine jumped into my head while I was making this.

Variations on the recipe are many, of course. I used what I had on hand including fresh chives which are growing abundantly in our border garden.

I made Pastry Brisee for the crust, a very buttery, crumbly crust, which was practically shortbread. It was perfect with this savory, cheesy pie. I usually rely on the convenience of those rolled up pre-made crusts in the red box but I didn't have any. I weighed my options and decided it would be easier to make pastry than drive to the store to buy it.

Pastry Brisee
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2/3 cup butter (10 Tbsp. + 2 tsp)

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in or rub in butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Work into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

The pastry is too crumbly for rolling out, so press it into a buttered pie plate with your fingers until you have a smooth crust of even thickness. Finish edges as desired. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

Quiche Lorraine
1 pie crust
5 slices bacon
8 oz. Swiss or Gruyere cheese
4 eggs
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. fresh chives, thinly sliced
small grating of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pastry brisee as above or if using a pre-made crust, prick it with a fork and bake for 5 minutes only at 450 degrees.

Cut bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook in a small skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Cut cheese into small cubes.

In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the creme fraiche and milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chives, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.

Place cheese cubes in bottom of partially baked crust. Sprinkle bacon over the cheese and then pour the egg mixture over all. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake about another 10 to 15 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baby Kale and Black-Eyed Peas Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

EARLIER TODAY, WE HAD A POWER OUTAGE. I have no idea why--the weather is beautiful and perfect.

I thought of the day when Alice was pregnant and needed to have a 3-hour glucose tolerance test. I went along with her to keep her company (and calm; she hates needles) while the time passed. While we were there, the medical office had a power outage. One worker said to another, "Someone must'a hit a pole".  We couldn't stop giggling! And to this day every time we loose electricity, that's what we say. It is what I thought this morning.

Meanwhile, I was working on this post and now I'm back at it. I got this lovely recipe from my Mother. She had enjoyed it at a ladies luncheon and I'm pretty sure the recipe came from Southern Living Magazine.

Baby Kale and Black-Eyed Peas Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
10 slices thick smoked bacon
1 (16 oz.) package frozen black-eyed peas
3 cups water or broth
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 spring thyme
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup thinly sliced sweet yellow onion
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
5 oz. baby kale
8 oz. mini sweet peppers, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place bacon in a single layer on a wire rack in a rimmed baking pan. Bake 20 minutes or until crisp,. Reserve 3 Tbsp. plus tsp. drippings.

Stir together peas, water or broth, black pepper, garlic, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. bacon drippings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes or until peas are tender. Drain peas and discard thyme and garlic.

Saute onion in remaining 3 Tbsp. hot drippings in a large skillet over medium heat 1 minute. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds or until smooth and slightly thickened. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly. Stir in peas. and cook until thoroughly heated.

Toss together the parsley and kale in a large bowl. Top with peppers and warm peas mixture. Sprinkle with chopped bacon and parsley. Serve immediately.