This recipe for Biscuits and Gravy is a must-have in your comfort-food repertoire.
This recipe for Biscuits and Gravy is a must-have in your comfort-food repertoire.
If you’re a southern cook like me, you probably have a pantry filled with ingredients and foodstuffs to use on the fly. You know, those items that you keep on hand at all times, just in case you have to throw together something fabulous to eat with your friends and family. My list definitely includes wonton wrappers and grease.
Oh, lentils! Where have you been?
When it come to cooking during the winter months, I crave all things comfort. Savory, cheesy, roasty, toasty, you get the picture. Wait. Do you? Let’s think about this: warm and gooey macaroni and cheese bubbling over the side of a small, cast iron skillet. Mama’s chicken and dumplings. Ooh. And, what about individual pot pies? I bet I have some leftover holiday turkey somewhere in the back of the freezer. So many ideas when it comes to comfort foods! But I have to say, these days I’m all about quiche.
Even though I love to be in the kitchen, there are those nights I want to prepare something quickly. That’s when my good, old quiche recipe comes in handy. Easy ingredients and easy to make.
The quickest way to prepare quiche for supper is with a store-bought crust, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this option. I like to brush mine with a little melted butter about halfway through cooking it. Egg wash works, too.
For those of you who want to make a pie crust, here’s a recipe I use that makes just one crust. It can be doubled, but I’m not a fan of freezing pie dough. Don’t worry about letting the dough chill for two hours after you make it. I say an hour will do if you work quickly to roll it out.
We’re under our second big snow alert down here in Alabama (at least an inch, ya’ll), so that means all the bread and milk is sold out at Piggly Wiggly. That’s why quiche comes in handy if you’re stuck indoors. You probably have the ingredients on hand: butter, flour, salt, ice water, eggs, fillings and a hot oven.
How you fill your quiche is up to you. I tend to use whatever bits and leftovers I find in the fridge. For this recipe I used leftover charcuterie board ingredients. I crisped up just a bit of prosciutto and capocolla with applewood-smoked bacon and added it into my hearty egg filling with provolone, feta and sharp white cheddar.
The best thing about making quiche for dinner is that you have the perfect breakfast waiting on you, ready to be warmed up in the toaster over or microwave. Enjoy!
1 cup of all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/8-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water
Put flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. I prefer to do this by hand, because I’m usually cooking while my infant is sleeping. You can also do this with a mixer, pulsing it for about 30 seconds.
Add the ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and freeze for an hour. This is a shortcut, and it works if you roll your dough out quickly.
I will admit that it’s best to just let the dough rest in fridge for a few hours or overnight. However, we all know that sometimes Mama makes the miracles happen! Let the dought sit out for a bit before rolling, about ten minutes. It should be cold but pliable.
Lightly flour the dough and the counter. Roll the dough out with a few rolls, then turn the dough and roll again. Let it rest for a minute in between rollings. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. I like to roll mine out to about an eighth of an inch, thickness wise. That leaves plenty of room for lots of quiche filling.
Lay the dough loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. If you don’t have one of these pans, that’s Ok. You can also use a pie pan or a cast-iron skillet. Press the dough into the pan. Let the crust sit in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Pre-bake the dough for about 6 to 8 minutes at 350°, using pie weights or beans to weigh the crust down. You can also poke holes into the bottom with a fork, but you will need to do this a few time while the crust is pre-cooking.
Let the crust cool before adding your quiche filling.
1/2 cup of cream
1/4 cup each of roasted vegetables (I used tomatoes, mushrooms and yellow bell peppers)
You can also sauté your vegetables. I think they taste better if they are cooked before adding them to your quiche mixture.
1 cup of grated cheese (I used feta, provolone and sharp, white cheddar)
1/2 cup of cooked, crumbled bacon, prosciutto and capocolla (use what meat you like or none at all)
1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper or salt and pepper to taste.
Whisk together the eggs and cream and then fold in the cheese and meats.
Add a few pinches of salt and peeper, less if your vegetables are already seasoned.
Pour mixture into pre-baked crust or store bought crust and bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes or until your filling is jiggly. Test with a knife. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.
This New Year’s Day most southerners will be cooking black-eyed peas for good luck, and that includes recipes for Hoppin’ John. We’ll also be eating greens along with them, and don’t forget the hot cornbread, slathered in butter, ready for dunking.
While some southern folk claim that eating black-eyed peas for good luck are a throwback to the Civil War, we’d all be remiss not to know the true origin of this comforting staple. While it’s true that black-eyed peas were one of the only food sources left after Sherman’s March, their tale of origin stretches much farther back.
Black-eyed peas (or cow peas) were a major crop in Africa, brought to North America via slave ships. Check out the book “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World,” by UCLA professor of Geography Judith Carney. In it she outlines the origins and trajectories of each of Africa’s major native crops that were brought over to the U.S. on slave ships.
The legumes were used as food on slave ships and, later, they were used to feed livestock in U.S. (hence, cowpea). The black-eyed pea first found its way to America on rice plantations (think South Carolina). The technique that combines cooking rice and beans together is also of African descent. So, there you have an origin story for Hoppin’ John, too.
There are so many incarnations of Hoppin’ John! As long as you’re cooking peas and rice with pork, you’re on the right track to a proper southern New Year’s Day meal.
Before you put your own spin on rice and beans, here’s a recipe for cooking dried black-eyed peas from scratch. Keep reading to find a bacon-filled version of Hoppin’ John, too. Both recipes serve two to four and are below:
Basic Black-Eyed Peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Bay leaf
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. The onions should have some color to them. Add the thyme sprigs, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, black-eyed peas and 8 cups cold water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently. Skim any foam from the surface, until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and the thyme. Season with salt and black pepper.
Hoppin’ John 2 Ways
The first version of Hoppin’ John keeps your beans and rice separate, although this is a bit untraditional. Don’t worry, you can always combine it all together at the end, if you like.
6 slices of apple-smoked bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups of rice (We used Basmati)
1 teaspoon of bacon grease, rendered from the bacon
3 ⅓ cups of water
Pinch of salt
Hoppin’ John 1
After you’ve cooked your peas, rinse the rice: Using a strainer, rinse the rice under cold, running water. Cook off the bacon and set aside. Add one teaspoon of bacon grease to a 4-quart pot with a lid. Heat up the grease and add the uncooked rice, cooking for two minutes on medium heat. You want to toast the rice a bit without burning it. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring to incorporate.
Stir in water and salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat the heat and let stand, covered, for about five minutes. Transfer the rice to serving bowls and spoon the peas over the rice. Top each bowl with bacon.
For Hoppin’ John Number 2, combine the peas and rice in a large bowl, reserving pea broth in a different bowl. Heat up a large cast-iron skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil or bacon grease. In batches, add the rice and pea mixture and cook it on medium heat, for a few minutes, stirring (use a wooden spoon) the whole time. As the rice sticks to the bottom of the pan, scrape it up with the wooden spoon and ladle pea broth into the skillet while continuing to stir. You can use as much or as little as you like. Add the chopped bacon and serve family style. This version is a bit thicker and stickier, but both ways offer a true taste of southern cuisine.
We tell real stories about the south. ~Kara Kennedy, Publisher