Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is one of our favorite hearty soups and stews. A list that included them all would be a long list!  But if filtered by how many years they have been appearing on our table, this one makes the short list.  In 2012, a post on KItchen Keepers mentions Brunswick Stew along with other dishes. The following quote introduced our fondness for it along with the timing.

In 1984, I traveled with friends to Colonial Williamsburg.  We loved the living history lessons at every turn and enjoyed stopping by its inns and taverns for meals. The cookbook I purchased there has remained one of my favorites for nearly 30 years not only because it reminds me of travels and tastes of the past, but also for recipes that have become keepers for our family like…Chowning Tavern’s Brunswick Stew.

So if you do the math, I have been serving this stew for 33 years!  It is a traditional dish, popular in the South. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century, with both Virginia and Georgia making claims for originating it. That explains its inclusion in the The Williamsburg Cookbook. A photo of this dish is used for the cover of that book, and  that recipe is the starting place for the ways I prepare it. Although various meats can be used, I always use chicken, but not always the same combination of vegetables, although lima beans, okra, and some tomatoes are consistently included. In this photo, I have used a shortcut, 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables.

Brunswick Stew

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

2 Tablespoons butter

2 garlic pods, peeled and minced

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup okra, ends trimmed and sliced into rounds

2 cup fresh tomato, peeled and chopped (1 15 oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes)

1 cup lima beans

2 cups corn (fresh corn, cut from the cob is best, but may use frozen)

4 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce (serve when stew is served so each can add his own)

Melt butter in heavy pot.  Add onions and garlic, then saute until onions are soft.  Add chicken and all other ingredients.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for at least an hour. Traditionally, this stew is cooked for a long time over low heat and is believed to be at its best when reheated the next day!

I like to serve with a skillet of hot cornbread. Pass the hot sauce after serving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

There are so many versions of pot roast; there have been several posted. But I have never shared the one I have used most during my cooking years. My mother (long before crock pots)  always browned a small chuck roast on top of the stove, added onions, carrots, and celery sprinkled with salt and pepper, plus enough liquid to simmer for several hours. She probably put this into the oven at times, but I remember clearly the ways she avoided “heating up the kitchen.”  My own version started with this. Early in my marriage, a friend told me her mother-in-law shared her secret to a tasty pot roast – don’t just brown the meat to start but “burn” it on both sides before adding vegetables. Later I read another hint for adding flavor and tenderizing the roast:  For liquid, add any leftover coffee from the morning pot before topping off with water!

So that is what I do when I decide to make a pot roast the old way!  The vegetables I add may vary, but browning the meat very dark and adding some coffee produces a rich, dark cooking liquid that can be served as is or thickened as a gravy. This works whether you have the pot roast bubbling away on the back of the stove, cooking in the oven, or in a slow cooker. Any way you cook it, a pot roast is not a quick cooking dish.  The hours it cooks along with fragrant vegetables and herbs produces tender, fall-apart delicious food – an old-fashioned favorite that will never go out of style in our kitchen.

Mary Ann’s Pot Roast

3-4 pound chuck or shoulder roast

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

3 medium potatoes,  coarsely chopped

4 carrots, sliced00

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 onion, sliced

dried or fresh herbs of your choice

Rinse and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and flour.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the roast on both sides until dark brown and charred. Place roast in a baking dish if cooking in the oven or crock pot if using a slow cooker. Layer all vegetables around and on the sides of meat. Add salt, pepper, and herbs if you wish.  Pour at least 1 cup of strong coffee over all, top with enough water to almost cover.  Add lid and cook for several hours.  If baking, cook in 325-degree oven for at least 3 hours, or until roast is very tender, adding water if necessary. In a slow cooker, the roast should cook for 4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.

To serve, lift the pot roast and veggies out and place on a platter. Serve the broth in a small bowl with ladle.  For gravy, thicken the broth by heating 2 Tablespoons oil with 2 Tablespoons flour, stirring while adding the cooking liquid.  Stir and simmer until thickened, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.        www.southernfoodways.org/interview/a-short-history-of-gumbo/

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.

 

 

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

This delicious dinner happened because I did not have hamburger buns!  I wanted to use 4 cups of leftover pulled pork, which we usually pile on a bun with a spicy slaw for hearty sandwiches.  There were no sandwich buns in the pantry, but we did have a variety of dried pasta, including an interesting artisanal pasta made in Gragnano, Italy called Gnocchi Napoletani. It almost seemed a shame to combine a leftover with such a fancy pasta, but I did and the results were wonderful.  This pasta dish is not heavy with cheeses and buttery sauces so the flavors are bright.

Pulled Pork and Pasta Bake

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

3/4 cup red wine

fresh thyme sprigs, 2 for chopping, and 2 for garnish

2  cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley

3 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped teaspoon plus extra oregano sprigs for garnish

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if you like more heat

3/4 pound pasta, preferably orecchiette, or gnocchi (unfilled) – shell shape holds sauce

1/2 cup grated or flaked Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook pasta al dente, only about 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and beginning to brown.  Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer over low heat. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Add 4 cups of pulled pork and cooked pasta.  Pour all into large baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkle grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.

Cover and place in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until all is heated through. Remove cover and continue baking for 10 minutes.  Serve hot, with crusty bread and a green salad.

Ribolitta

This hearty Tuscan soup is kin to minestrone but adds a layer of texture and flavor with its topping of bread and parmesan. There are many ways to add the bread to this soup, including layering it with vegetables, but I like the buttery crunch of toasted bread and cheese browned in the oven. You can use a variety of vegetables, a particularly useful thing when your garden harvest is bountiful.

Ribolitta

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4  cups water
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 bunch kale or chard, washed, stems removed, and chopped
  • 4 thick slices sourdough bread, toasted
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in large soup pot, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.Add beans to the pot along with tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Bring back to simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove rosemary and thyme stems and stir in greens. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lay bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the top. Drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  4. Put the pot in the oven and bake until bread, onions and cheese are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.  Divide the soup and bread among 4 bowls and serve.

 

 

Crab Pie

I have loved seafood since I was very small. When I was two years old, Mother and Daddy moved with me to New Orleans, LA for Daddy to work in the shipyards during WWII.  He worked a night shift and would meet the shrimp wagons on the street on his way home.  He often brought fresh shrimp home which Mother cooked for his “supper” after work.  But this was my breakfast time and I had shrimp for breakfast!  Now, most of my family loves any kind of seafood, especially shrimp and crab.  Living on the Texas Gulf Coast helps as well!  This pie is made from tender lump crabmeat and tastes like crab cakes!

 Crab Pie

  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Cup mayonnaise (I use the lighter Mayo with Olive Oil)
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 8 oz. shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (white)
  • 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2-ounce jar pimientos
  • 2 Nine Inch Deep Dish Pie Shells
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, flour, mayonnaise, and milk in a bowl and mix well.  Without breaking up the crab lumps, gently stir in the rest of the ingredients and set aside.  Bake pie shells at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, remove from oven and spoon crab mixture evenly into pie shells.  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Split Pea Soup with Sherry

splitpeasoupCold weather and hot soup – perfect combination.  We enjoy a number of different soups, but this split pea soup is one of my favorites. It is a hearty soup, nutritious, and easy on the budget. If you have leftover ham, this is a great way to use it.  Bits of bacon work great too. We like to add a splash of dry sherry at serving time.This is is good served with crusty French bread.

Split Pea  Soup with Sherry

1 lb. dried split peas (2 1/3 cups)

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups chopped ham

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced carrots

1 Bay leaf

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Dry sherry, optional

Rinse dried split peas and add to large soup pot. Add ham and chicken broth.  Bring to simmer, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, or until it reaches the texture you prefer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve steaming hot with a splash of sherry stirred in.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

cranberryricottasconesIn 1991 while traveling in Scotland, we stopped at a Tea Room. The rustic crispiness of these scones reminds me of  200 year old Shore Cottage Tearoom in Taynuilt, Argyll, where Lily McNaught, her daughters, and granddaughters baked sweets and treats. Thanks to online information, I see that Shore Cottage is still there but not as a “Tea Room” – the ladies moved the business to The Robins Nest on Main Street, Taynuilt and guess what – the Lunch, the Teas, the Cakes, everything is just as it was. This is not one of their recipes, but my granddaughter Maddie and I baked them together. Surely Miss Lily approves.

Cranberry Ricotta Scones

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter,  cut into tiny pieces

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup (Whole Milk) Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons Whole Milk

1 cup cranberries, fresh, roughly chopped

 

Whisk the following together to brush over scones before baking

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon milk or water

extra sugar to sprinkle over top.

 

Orange Glaze

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Pinch of salt

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and orange zest.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes then, using two forks or a pastry cutter, quickly work it into the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, ricotta cheese, and milk. Add to flour and butter mixture and use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  5. Add in the chopped cranberries and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  6. Pour the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer them to the prepared sheet. Leave an inch or so between each scone as they do spread a little.
  7. Lightly brush each scone with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. Cool scones on the pan for 10 minutes, then top with glaze and serve warm.
  9. For the glaze:
  10. In a small bowl whisk together the orange juice, zest, salt, and confectioners sugar. Drizzle over warm scones and serve at once.

Wilted Garden Greens

wilted-greens

I remember my mother, Opal Teal, making wilted lettuce with iceberg lettuce cooked long enough to “wilt” in bacon grease and sprinkled with vinegar!  I thought it sounded awful and did not share her love for the dish!  All these years later, I think it might have been tastier than it looked!  We love using a few leaves of different greens to make this dish. Our winter garden contains a few thriving plants of Chard, Mustard, Kale, Bok Choy and Cabbage. A mixture of any of those can be delicious, but I usually limit my choices to include only 2 or 3.  The greens in the photo are Mustard and Bok Choy. Balsamic vinegar splashed on before serving makes this a dish Mother would have loved herself!

Wilted Garden Greens

4-5 large leaves of Mustard Greens

4-5 large leaves of Bok Choy

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Wash and pat the greens dry. Strip the center stem from each leaf. Stack several leaves and roll them up before slicing thinly with a sharp knife.

Heat olive oil in iron skillet.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Then add shredded greens, tossing with tongs until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper and add balsamic vinegar before serving.

Smothered Chicken

smothered-chicken

Smothered Chicken is an old Southern favorite, often served with rice.  The tender chicken and smooth sauce is also a wonderful with mashed or baked potatoes.  Add some wilted greens or green peas and a salad for a hearty meal.  We had this a few days ago on a cold, wet night – perfect for warming body and spirit!  Sprinkle sauce with your favorite dried herbs for seasoning if you like, but be sure to brown the chicken first. I brown the chicken in an iron skillet, lift it into a baking dish, and make the gravy or sauce in the same skillet.

Smothered Chicken

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or 2 thighs per person.

Flour

Salt and Pepper

Cooking oil for a level of about 1/2 inch in the frying pan.

2 cups of sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat dry chicken and dust with flour, salt, and pepper. Fry in hot oil in a heavy skillet until lightly browned on both sides.  Remove and place in baking pan.  Pour sauce over the chicken, cover, and bake for 1 hour, or until chicken is tender.

Sauce or Gravy for Smothered Chicken

3 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

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