Category Archives: breakfast

Eating my way through Natchez

Peoples of the South, I am stuffed. I do not need to eat another morsel for at least three weeks. After I have my seafood gumbo tonight. Not one more crumb. Except the peanut butter pie I’m having tomorrow at Weidmanns in Meridian.

So I thought I’d just catch you up on eating my way through Natchez. Let’s start with Mammy’s Cupboard, renowned for its sandwiches on homemade bread and its pies.

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Here’s my chicken salad sandwich with vegetable beef soup and potato salad at Mammy’s. They bake the bread every morning. The locals mix the potato salad into the soup. I did not.

 

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And the coconut cream pie. Yes. That is all.

The next day we had a catered lunch at Brandon Hall, which is a magnificent antebellum home off the Natchez Parkway. Hold on to your hats.

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We had the tomato bisque soup. And the chicken salad, shrimp salad and tossed salad with blue cheese, pecans and balsamic dressing. And the croissants. And the bread pudding, lemon squares and brownie bites. I had seconds. I am ashamed.

I skipped the evening entertainment, but I had smuggled a couple of mini buttermilk biscuits and sausage patties upstairs from breakfast. They were quite delicious with imitation grape jelly. By the way, the Grand Hotel has a spectacular complementary breakfast. Some of the best grits I’ve had. If I could have figured out a way to get them upstairs in a napkin, I would have.

On to today. How about a little Brandy Milk Punch at historic Linden Hall to prime the pump?

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In a silver cup, naturally. I have never had Brandy Milk Punch, which is kind of like a boozy vanilla milkshake. I rather liked it.  I had two servings. I would have had a third but I didn’t want to trip getting on the bus.

Lunch was at Routhland, another magnificent antebellum home that is privately owned. Yes, once again we crashed somebody’s private residence for a lunch from famed Natchez caterer Sissy Eidt.

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Assorted finger sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit salad and deviled eggs with:

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Chess squares and brownies. I had seconds and bought Sissy’s book – Ladies’s Legacies in Natchez, Mississippi – later in the day just for the recipes she serves at prestigious events and parties.

So, Peoples of the South, I am finding Natchez much to my liking. The people are unfailingly hospitable, the city is utterly charming and the food is irresistable. It’s a pity we have to leave tomorrow. After the seafood gumbo.

 

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Food nerds on parade

John Besh, Tim Love, Aaron Sanchez...and me!

John Besh, Tim Love, Aaron Sanchez…and me!

I pretend not to notice when Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman are at my local Starbucks. I barely register a second glance when I run into Faith Hill and Tim McGraw at the Waffle House. I once stood next to Alison Krause at the check-out counter at an Indian restaurant and didn’t even know who she was (somebody told me later).

But here I was at the inaugural Music City Food and Wine Festival last year clamoring to wedge myself into a photo with John Besh, Tim Love and Aaron Sanchez. It’s embarrassing, really. Nerd. And I meticulously photographed everything I ate. Here’s The Catbird Seat’s take on bacon and eggs – thyme-infused custard with Benton’s bacon:

Bacon and Eggs NERD.

But I won’t be alone in my nerdiness this year. My son, Noah, and my good friend, Mary Ann, are coming with me. We will be nerds on parade.

I met Mary Ann in possibly the most unusual way ever. Back a few years ago, I became part of an all-girl competition BBQ team, Chicks in Charge, with two other friends. And I was discussing this on a BBQ bulletin board on the web when a complete stranger said she’d like to join the team.  Why the hell not? It was Mary Ann.

Me with Tatty and Mary Ann picking up a prestigious award in Mobile.

Me with Tatty and Mary Ann picking up a prestigious award in Mobile.

We did pretty good in our first contest in Mobile, something like 14th out of 70 teams. The team has since disbanded, but my friendship with Mary Ann has endured. There are very few people I would ask to spend $300 for tickets, plus airfare from Washington, D.C., to come to Nashville to eat all day and fawn over Food Network stars. I just love that girl. There are also very few people I know who are starstruck by Masaharu Morimoto, who will be at the festival. No, not Mary Ann. This guy:

Noah

Noah has been watching Morimoto since he was on the original Iron Chef and Morimoto is going to demonstrate how to make sushi, Noah’s favorite food. Nerd. Noah, not Morimoto.

Of course, I’m obsessing about all food all weekend since you never know. We might get hungry after a non-stop day of eating. So I’m laying in some steaks from The Butcher Block and vegetables from the Farmer’s Market and snacks like pub cheese, marcona almonds and designer olives from the Fresh Market. And I already have some mini croissants for Saturday morning, just to get those digestive juices flowing.

And I have not given this advice to Mary Ann and Noah yet, but I will. Wear your fat pants.

 

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City ham

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If you live up North, you probably don’t know what “city” ham is. That’s because you only have one kind of ham, sadly for you. Here in the South, we have two kinds – country ham and city ham. Country ham is heavily salted and cured ham that we love fried in a little butter and coffee and plopped on a homemade biscuit with blackberry jam.

City ham comes in a plastic bag and it’s already cooked. Really, you just need to warm it up. King Daddy is very partial to a nice slab of city ham quickly fried in butter and served with scrambled eggs and biscuits when we have “breakfast for supper.” But the other night, he wondered what would happen if we (me) made a blackberry glaze and grilled the ham. Blackberry jam is really the only kind of jam or jelly he likes. I am quite sure it goes back to when he was a child and picked blackberries with his Granny Belle.

IMG_4537Well, what happened was pretty darn delicious. And, yes, we ate it with scrambled eggs and biscuits. Simple is as simple does.

City ham with blackberry glaze
Prep time: 
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Serves: 3-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 center-cut slice city ham
  • ½ cup seedless blackberry jelly
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Melt the blackberry jelly in a small saucepan and add the mustard and brown sugar. Reserve.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium high.
  3. Grill the ham slice until nice char marks appear on each side, 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Glaze each side of the ham with the blackberry mixture and allow the glaze to set for 1-2 minutes on each side.

 

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When the Bishop comes…7-Up biscuits

Biscuit 1“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst because I understand 7-Up Biscuits are on the menu.” Matthew 18:20 (sort of)

Every year, the  the Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, or just The Bishop as we call him, comes to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to visit. There is always a gala reception. The Women of St. Paul’s throw everything we have at it, but this year the Hospitality Committee chair, Leslie Fraser, has come up with something that combines a religious experience with sin, pure and simple: 7-Up biscuits. 

This is how the recipe starts:

Biscuit 2Yes, that is an entire stick of melted butter in the bottom of a baking dish.

LeslieHere’s Leslie mixing the dough and it only has three ingredients – Bisquick, 7-Up and sour cream. How fantastic is that? By the way, everything has to be full strength. No gluten-free Bisquick (what a disgrace that they even make the stuff), no diet 7-Up and no low-fat or no-fat sour cream. This is a Southern recipe, people. Go big or go home.

Biscuit 3Then you cut the dough into biscuits and nestle them shoulder-to-shoulder in a glass baking dish. You really want to cram them in there so they’re forced to rise up.

The biscuits went with baked ham and Jezebel Sauce. Of course, that was not all we served. It is a gala reception, after all, and nothing succeeds like excess. Last year, I made The Bishop hold up a cheese straw as I snapped his photo. He never eats at these things. (By the way, Bishop Bauerschmidt is a total good egg about this – I’d like to think Pope Francis would pose with a cheese straw as well.) This year, when I found him in the social hall he had a whole plate of food. I think he’s catching on.

And how did he pronounce the 7-Up Biscuits?

Biscuit 4Heavenly.

(Okay, I made that up. The Bishop might read this and I do not want to have to go to confession to admit I sinned by fibbing, especially about our spiritual leader. But he ate it and he appeared happy about it.)

 

7-Up biscuits
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Ingredients
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 4 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup 7-Up
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour the melted butter in a 9-by-13 inch glass baking dish.
  3. Combine the Bisquick, sour cream and 7-Up and mix into a dough.
  4. Flour a clean work surface and roll out the dough ½-inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter.
  5. Lay the biscuits in the pan very closely together.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes.

 

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Cheese grits

Cheese GritsGrits, it seems, are (is?) a very controversial topic. If you’re in the South, it’s whether to have them sweet or savory. Sweet is with butter and sugar. Savory is with butter, salt and pepper. If you’re not from the South you tend to dismiss grits altogether. And that is a tragic loss. Kind of like Southerners turning up their noses at corned beef hash, which is decidedly not Southern, but still utterly delicious.

So here is my theory about why some people don’t like grits. They don’t know how to cook them. And, sadly, some of the companies that sell them don’t know how to cook them either. Their directions are just slap wrong.

So here we go. Directions for cooking grits properly. First off, you don’t want instant grits. They come in a packet. You just add boiling water. Nothing good can come of that. What you want are Quick 5 Minute Grits. Except you don’t cook them for five minutes. You cook them for about 20 minutes, stirring until you think your arm’s going to fall off. That’s what makes them creamy. Just taste as you go. If the grits are, well, gritty they’re not done. Keep a going until you achieve creamy.

And you add things. Like if you’re making shrimp and grits you use chicken stock instead of water. Grits are like tofu. No, that’s a lie. Tofu sucks. But they’re similar in that they easily absorb other flavors.

And if you’re making grits to nestle some sausage and peppers in you add Velveeta. Yes, Velveeta. The most superior melting “cheese” ever invented. I know it’s not real cheese. Just shut up and try it. And then if you feel a little racy, you add garlic softened in a little butter (okay, a lot of butter).

So just try making grits. The whole experiment will cost you about $4. And you’ll have Velveeta left over. It lasts for approximately 7 years in the ice box.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cheese grits
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup Quick 5-Minute grits
  • 4 ounces Velveeta, cut into cubes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole milk
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the minced garlic. Cook over very low heat until the garlic has given up its raw smell and is softened. Set aside.
  2. Boil the water in a 2-quart saucepan. When the water has reached a furious boil, add the grits and stir them continuously with a whisk for about 20 minutes until they are creamy. Taste as you go. You’ll know when you get there.
  3. Add the Velveeta and stir until it’s melted. Season with salt and pepper and taste.
  4. The grits will tend to solidify in the saucepan if you don’t serve them immediately. Add enough whole milk to thin the grits over low heat.

 

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Fried apples and what goes together

Fried ApplesI was making supper the other night – pork chops, dressing and fried apples. And it occurred to me there are certain things that just “go together” – food combinations that I return to again and again.

Some of them could be considered odd or quaint. I have always served King Daddy’s favorite mustard chicken with buttered egg noodles. To do otherwise would be unthinkable. It just wouldn’t be right. On Sloppy Joe night, the Joe must be Manwich and it must lean along side Tater Tots. With ketchup. Ditto the ketchup with fried chicken livers.

Braised short ribs require mashed potatoes. Last night I was provisioning the refrigerator for KD because I am heading to Bunny’s tomorrow to help her unpack at her new home. I made the short ribs and mashed potatoes, but stuck some garlic bread in the oven for another meal. KD actually asked for garlic bread with short ribs. I was horrified. They don’t go together. Turkey sandwiches. Just turkey, mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, salt and pepper. No cheese. Cheese and turkey don’t go together.

Fish and rice go together. Fish does not go with potatoes or pasta. Flat chicken and green noodles. Only a classic in our home, I’m sure. It’s just breaded chicken breasts and thin spaghetti with pesto. But the chicken breasts must be thin and the noodles must be thin, also. The calorie count is not thin. Corned beef hash with English muffins and blackberry jam. The hash must be from a can. And you must fry it with onions until it is crispy. The jam can be seedless or not. That’s where King Daddy and I part ways. He likes the seeds.

A wedge salad demands blue cheese dressing and bacon. Diet Coke must be present with hamburgers and French fries. Iced tea does not go with hamburgers or French fries. Iced tea does, however, go with chicken salad. I don’t know why.

So what foods “go together” for you? What are your odd and quaint combinations? I hope you disagree with me. It’s always more fun when you do.

 

Fried apples
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 tart apples, such as Honey Crisp or Granny Smith
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Core and cut the apple into wedges. As you cut the apples, put them in a bowl with the lemon juice to keep them from discoloring.
  2. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar and cinnamon. Cook until the apples soften, about 10 minutes.

 

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Filed under beef, breads, breakfast, casseroles, cheese, chicken, pasta, salads, seafood

Pull-Apart Bacon Cheese Bread

Pull-Apart Bacon Cheese BreadThere is just no excuse for this. None at all. Yesterday, I was eating curried tofu and a salad from the Turnip Truck and feeling all virtuous about myself. This morning, I made the pull-apart bacon bread. There is not a single redeeming ingredient in this fantastic bread unless you count the red onion and green pepper. I say let’s count them.

I am not sure why bacon has taken off as the “it” food, but it has. There is bacon everything. For Christmas I got bacon bandages (not bandages made with actual bacon – that would be too gross even for me), bacon coffee mugs, bacon tissues and a cute bacon calendar. I have bacon t-shirts and wall plaques. There are even ridiculous infomercials about bacon devices, such as the contraption you can use to make bacon cups. I plan to try that idea soon using a muffin tin. Maybe I’ll fill them with lettuce and tomato and call it a deconstructed BLT. Or fill them with buttered toasted bread rounds and scrambled eggs and call it a deconstructed breakfast. My head is swimming. So many possibilities.

Seriously, try the bread. It’s a snap to make and you can add or subtract anything you like. Smoked dried tomatoes? Yes, indeed. Spinach, just to add even more healthful properties to the bread. Of course. More bacon? That’s never a bad idea.

Pull-Apart Bacon Cheese Bread
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 12 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • ⅓ cup diced green pepper
  • 1 16⅓-ounce can buttermilk biscuits
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a sauté pan and fry the onions and peppers until they are soft and beginning to brown.
  3. Cut the biscuits into quarters and put them in a bowl, along with the bacon, onions and peppers.
  4. Add the melted butter and combine thoroughly. Add the cheese.
  5. Put the bread mixture into a greased 9-inch bundt pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

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Bacon, Brown Sugar and Honey Buns

Bacon Brown Sugar Honey BunsI apologize. As many of you know, we celebrate Bacon Wednesday every week at CRC World Headquarters, where I work. There are 52 weeks in a year and that requires a lot of imagination coming up with bacon recipes. This may be one of our greatest hits. It combines the salty fatty bacon with a butter, brown sugar and honey glaze and little pillows of crescent roll dough. How bad could that be?

Actually, it’s very very bad in a deliciously good way. The dough comes out like a Krispy Kreme doughnut saturated in butter and brown sugar with crowns of crumbled bacon on the top.

Catherine with honey bunsI am embarrassed to tell you that I took these to a health clinic yesterday.  A health clinic! My colleague, Betsy, and I were visiting the Hope Family Health Clinic in Westmoreland, one of our nonprofit partners. It did not occur to me that they might take a dim view of Bacon, Brown Sugar and Honey Buns that contained a stick of butter and a pound of bacon. If they were offended, they were very gracious and ate every last one of them. And then ran en masse to have their cholesterol checked.

This recipe comes from a food website called Oh, Bite It! As the Queen of Bacon, I wish I could claim it as my own, but I’m happy to steal from the best. Here’s the link.

Bacon, Brown Sugar and Honey Buns
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • Bacon Brown Sugar Honey Buns
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • ⅓ cup of packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 container of Pillsbury Crescent Rounds (8 count) or regular Crescent Roll dough cut into 3-inch rounds
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the microwave and add the brown sugar and honey, whisking well to thoroughly combine.
  2. Divide the butter/brown sugar/honey mixture between eight cupcake wells. Top with the bacon and pecans, if using. Place one Crescent Round or piece of Crescent dough in each cupcake well.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes or until the rolls are golden and firm. When you unmold the honey buns, some of the topping will remain in the cupcake wells. Just scoop it out and add it back to the top of each bun. As the buns cool, the topping will solidify.

 

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We might starve: Part two

We are getting ready for the Mayhew/Harbin/Mayhew Family Reunion. And, as always, if we do not lay in enough supplies, we might starve. Tammy, my daughter-in-law, has already stockpiled the entire freezer section of the Piggly Wiggly because she is the snack lady and a pox will be upon her if she runs out of Pigs in a Blanket and Stuffed Potato Skins.

We barely made it through the last reunion with the few ingredients we had in the refrigerator

We barely made it through the last reunion with the few ingredients we had in the refrigerator

So I made a little trip to the grocery store just in case Tammy forgets the cheese puffs and Bunny, my mother-in-law, does not produce adequate amounts of ham dip and chicken biscuits.

Just a few things. Let’s see. Bacon-flavored smoked almonds. Protein and pork. Have to have those. Crunchy Cheetos – a nice contrast to the softer cheese puffs my granddaughter prefers. Thirty-two ounces of sour cream to make two “servings” of onion dip. Josh, my stepson, has a habit of sneaking out to the refrigerator in the middle of the night and absconding with the onion dip. I shall leave a container under my bed for safe keeping.

Cheese. Five different kinds of cheese. And crackers. Two kinds. Little Smokies. One must have Little Smokies for that mid-morning pick-me-up. Tammy and I need to keep up our strength for the long drive (two minutes) to the spa for our pedicures. Dark chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups. Quick energy for making our way out to the porch to read. Bacon. Seriously, how can you survive in the wilderness that is just five miles from Dollywood without bacon?

Oh, and Danish Butter Cookies. Honestly, King Daddy should not be eating Danish Butter Cookies. Well, none of us should. But we will. And dried apricots. Because we want to set a good example for my granddaughter, Puddin’.

Sydney Funnel CakeBy the way, here’s a photo of Puddin’ eating a funnel cake. Because we don’t have enough food in the house, Bunny always takes her and Noah to get funnel cake.  I realize when she’s 13 Puddin’ will hate me for this. But right now Nana is willing to take the risk.

Bunny and SydneyAnd here’s Bunny teaching Puddin’ how to create a massive sugar overload by dumping three pounds of candy sprinkles into canned icing for cupcakes. As I said, we try to set a good example.

I can’t even remember how many reunions there have been, but not a single one of them involved kale or carrot juice. I believe we have our priorities straight. Bless our hearts.

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We might starve

weather map

The Peoples of the South are, of course, petrified. As you can see from this weather map of tomorrow’s weather, there are “minus” signs. The Peoples of the South do not understand. What is a minus? And there are dangerous arrows around Memphis pointing directly in my direction. What are those arrows? I do not know, yet I am very afraid.

So I went to stock up at my beloved Publix and I could see that other Peoples of the South had seen the same map. We understand these life and death situations better than most. A few weeks ago we had flurries. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Storm 1As you can see, there are exactly three buggies at the Publix where there are usually about 180. Yes, that means others sense the impending disaster. And they’re all inside. I think I hear screaming.

Storm 2It’s just as I feared. The Peoples of the South are most fearful of running out of milk and bread during a disaster. The woman next to me fainted when she realized there was no 2 percent left. Fortunately, the paramedics revived her and assured her she could get by on skim until the thaw.Storm 5

Eggs. The symbol of life. And death. Death by starvation. I take the last carton, even though I already have two in my refrigerator. Perhaps I will attempt to whip up a frittata as my frigid hands grasp the cold handle of a cast iron skillet never to be warmed again because the power is now off and my life is ebbing away. Oh, the iron. Or irony.

Storm 4But I must live on for King Daddy, for he would surely starve without me. So I load my buggy with staples such as cornbread mix, chili fixin’s, bacon, lingonberry preserves, Smokehouse Almonds and the latest issue of People magazine. As I said, the Peoples of the South have our priorities straight. As I huddle under a blanket with my dying flashlight, I will at least dimly perceive the brilliance of Kim Kardashian’s make-up tips.

 

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