A Southern Grace: April 2011

April 26, 2011

fluid retention (and a giveaway!)


Gasp--I've never made a drink for this blog! I do consume liquids, I promise.

The simple explanation is that I drink water 95% of the time. The other 5% is composed of coffee (4%), juice (0.8%), and...other (0.2%). That's why I was elated to be contacted by Julie from MAVEA, the North-American division of Brita Germany, which just came out with a sleek, new design for a premium water filtration pitcher called the Elemaris. Its many beneficial qualities include a handy pour-through lid for direct filling, a soft-grip handle and non-slip base, and a sensor that lets the user know when the filter needs to be replaced. Not too shabby, eh? (Check o
ut their blog focused on all things water!)

I'm still not posting a drink recipe. No, I'm going with egg salad, one of the few of my staple recipes which involves water. After all, eggs cooked in filtered water must certainly be better than eggs cooked in contaminated water, am I right? I'm sure most of you have personalized techniques for hard-boiling eggs, but this is mine and it works for me every time (knock on wood).

I'm sure you also have your own version of egg salad tweaked to your specific tastes--the list of potential and tasty add-ins and bread options is long and exciting, including everything from basil and sun-dried tomatoes to cilantro, jalapeno peppers, and black beans. I took the simple route for this batch, using sweet relish and dill to flavor the eggs. I opted to go for a pita as my bread...

Source: http://i14.photobucket.com/albums/a306/digitalmuse/Food/egg-salad-diagram.jpg

...and it was an excellent (and soiled-shirt-free) decision.

Now, the good stuff. MAVEA has offered to give some of my readers their very own Elemaris water pitcher! I'll randomly select three of you who leave a comment telling me what you like in your egg salad, if you even like it at all. Comments will close a week from today, Tuesday, May 2, and I'll reveal the winners shortly thereafter. Good luck!

Aig Salad
6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon relish
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
black pepper, to taste

First, hard boil your eggs by gently placing them into a single layer in a sauce pan. Add just enough cold (MAVEA-filtered!) water to cover the eggs completely. Put the pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Just as the water reaches a rapid boil, remove the pan from the heat and tightly cover it with a lid. Let the pan sit for 12 minutes, then transfer the eggs into a bowl filled with cold water. Allow them to sit for at least 10 minutes and then peel.
Meanwhile, finely chop the hard boiled eggs. Place the chopped eggs in a medium bowl, mix in the mayo, mustard, relish, dill, and pepper.

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April 20, 2011

lovely layers


Undeniable truth #1: Layered creations take more time and effort than more uniform edibles.

Undeniable truth #2: Layered creations are, more often than not, quite a bit more pleasing to both the eye and the palate than more uniform edibles.

Conclusion: Layered creations must be superior to more uniform edibles. Usually.

It's certainly the case here. These bars are yet another tasty treat inspired by one of the gazillion candy bars floating around out there. This time, the confection that caused the light bulb to appear cartoon-style was Reese's Fast Break. [Incidentally, I had no idea it was intended as a breakfast replacement (when I hear 'fast break,' I think of basketball), but hey--I'm all for it!]

What we have here are three separate layers--an oatmeal cookie base, a thin sheet of chocolate filling, and a sweet, smooth peanut butter frosting. Oh. Yeah. One could definitely get away with noshing on a wedge of these bars for breakfast; after all, oatmeal is involved! This is a unique play on the good ol' chocolate-peanut butter combination, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a winner every time.

Triple Threats
Cookie Base:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup oats

Chocolate Layer:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
3-4 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg, 1/3 cup peanut butter, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, mix in the rolled oats. Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are firm. 

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips in a single layer over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread to cover. Allow to cool. 
In a small bowl, beat together the powdered sugar and 1/4 cup peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the milk one tablespoon at a time until a spreadable consistency is reached. Spread over the bars when the chocolate has hardened.

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April 14, 2011

surprising attractions


I am drawn to Curtis Stone.

If you're wondering why this is surprising, given his wealth, culinary abilities, tremendous height, and sensational accent, well, you have a good point. The simple truth is that I'm usually not attracted to Ken-doll types; nay, I tend to go for more of a scruffy, dark-haired look. That's why I was surprised to realize that the reason I keep tuning in to watch 'America's Next Great Restaurant' is one Curtis Stone. His comments are apt and well-said, he's fair, and my stars, he makes Bobby Flay look like a little leprechaun!

Whew. Now that that little tidbit about me is out of the way, we can get to the grub. This is a really unexpected delight for someone who, like me, feels that carrots only belong in cake. The chewy raisins, sweet pineapple, and crunchy nuts go a long way in making those shreds of carrot more palatable. Bonus: The creamy dressing is guilt-free and oh-so-tasty.

Surprisingly Scrumptious Carrot Salad
1/2 cup yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups carrots, shredded
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Combine yogurt, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon to make dressing. Add the rest of the ingredients. Chill at least 15 minutes before serving.

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April 7, 2011

sand witches


Fact: Sandwiches are awesome. Each and every person in the world can tailor the innards of a sandwich (not to mention the type of bread surrounding said innards) to his or her tastes. The sandwich is the ultimate personalize-able food.

Susan Russo, known for the longest time to me by the name of her blog, Food Blogga, has created a book focusing solely on the art of sandwich-making. There's so much to love about this book, from the amazing pictures (nicely done, Matt) to the wide variety of recipes and ideas to the impeccable organization. Every sandwich I could call to mind was listed and featured, even the fluffernutter and the oh-so-underrated fried bologna sandwich. There's a handy ingredient index as well as an index of sandwiches, and there are several recipes that give variations and options for mixing and matching.

Deviled ham is something I'd never made and only eaten once or twice before coming across Susan's recipe for a deviled ham sandwich. The whole process was surprisingly easy and the results were delicious. Creamy and flavorful, with a bit of crunch and tang here and there. It's a good one to have in the ol' repertoire, that's for sure.

Well done, Susan--I can't say enough good things about your effort here. If I ever compose a cookbook, I can only hope it's as well-orchestrated as yours!

Deviled Hammie Sammie
(from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, by Susan Russo, reprinted with permission)
2 cups chopped ham
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon dried dill (my addition)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices of bread or 12 finger rolls

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped ham with the relish, mayo, mustard, sauces, dill, and pepper. Mix until well blended. Spoon filling into bread and devour.

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