Cooking With Honey – BLT And Blue Salad

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I made this salad on Christmas Eve and will make it again on New Year’s Eve.  It’s best if you make the dressing well in advance so the flavors have time to blend. My family tells me that the leftovers  are even good the next day!

Yield:  4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

6 ounces blue cheese, preferably Maytag, crumbled fine

6 cups hearts of Romaine lettuce (about three heads) You may substitute iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (For how to toast, see below) You may substitute pine nuts

6 ounces crispy bacon

3 Roma tomatoes, finely diced

2 scallions, chopped

Directions:

Whisk together the first 10 ingredients except for the blue cheese. Once mixed, stir in 4 ounces of the crumbled blue cheese; cover and refrigerate until service. Overnight is even better. Taste for and adjust seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Tear or slice the lettuce into chunks. In a mixing bowl, toss the lettuce with as much dressing as desired as well as half the bacon, tomatoes and toasted nuts.

Place the salad mixture into individual bowls or on plates, pour on dressing as desired,  and sprinkle with remaining blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes and nuts. Garnish with chopped scallions. Enjoy!

How to toast Hazelnuts:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off) and cool completely.

toastedhazelnuts

Cooking With Honey – Ina’s Favorite Holiday Appetizer

Ina Garten’s favorite holiday appetizer is easy and delicious. It has only two ingredients.

Guess what?  One of them is honey!

Baked Brie

This picture and recipe are reprinted from The Food Network.

Serves  5-8

Ingredients

1/4 wheel brie

4 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the brie on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and drizzle with the honey. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.

Serve with crackers.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Garlic Cheese Grits And Spinach Souffle

cheese grits and spinach

Let’s face it – Thanksgiving is all about carbs. I can’t just settle for mashed potatoes and mac and cheese — I must serve cheese grits as well!

This is a wonderful recipe. It combines the essence of the traditional cheese grits casserole with the sophistication of a spinach souffle. Your vegetarian guests will thank you!

Honey is a natural flavor enhancer. While there is only one tablespoon in this recipe, the honey makes the souffle tastier without making it sweet.

Yield: 12 generous servings

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup finely grated Parmesan

3 2/3 cups milk (not skim)

1 cup stone-ground or old-fashioned grits

Salt and black pepper

1½ cups grated sharp cheddar

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

6 ounces baby spinach leaves (7½ cups loosely packed)

6 scallions thinly sliced (2/3 cup), 1 tablespoon reserved

Directions:  Grease a 2-quart souffle dish with 1½ teaspoons butter, dust with 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan, and set aside.

In a medium non-stick saucepan bring the milk and the 2 tablespoons of butter to a simmer over medium heat. Add the grits in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until grits are thick and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan when you stir, 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in 1¼ cups of the cheddar, the remaining Parmesan, honey, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper to taste. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Taste the grits and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Add the egg yolks one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate each before adding the next. Stir in the spinach by handfuls.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are thick and glossy and hold stiff peaks. Add a quarter of the whites to the grits mixture and, using a spatula, stir until just combined. Add remaining whites and rapidly but gently fold them in along with the scallions.

Spoon the batter into the prepared dish, smooth, sprinkle with the remaining cheddar, and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and continue baking until the souffle is puffed, golden brown, and barely jiggles when you shake the pan, 35 to 40 minutes longer. Sprinkle with reserved scallions and serve at once.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Ultimate Macaroni And Cheese

I’ve always assumed that serving macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving was purely a Southern thing.  Always tasty, mac and cheese is also a thoughtful dish to include for your vegetarian-inclined guests.

It turns out that our Victorian forebears were the originators of this custom, although you might be surprised at what they considered to be the Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese.

Thanksgiving postcard circa 1900 showing turkey and football player. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

In 1883, macaroni was said to be an acquired taste, and was still unfamiliar to many. To make macaroni and cheese, housekeepers were advised to boil the macaroni, then mix in a tablespoon of canned tomatoes, and then add a layer of freshly grated cheese.  On top of this, successive layers of boiled macaroni, canned tomatoes, and grated cheese, were added until the serving dish was filled.  When the resulting meal was delivered to the Thanksgiving table, it might be more familiar to us as a sort of lasagna instead of the macaroni and cheese we know.

Most of us today prefer the cheesy variety on our Thanksgiving table. This recipe is rich and delicious, to be served only a few times a year. That’s the real secret of Southern cooking!!

golden-macaroni-cheese-l

Yield:  12 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound elbow macaroni

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and macaroni and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (until the macaroni is half cooked).

Butter a 3-quart baking dish, add 1/3 of the cooked macaroni and then layer with cheese, salt, and pepper; repeat this until the elbows have all transferred. Pour the milk and heavy cream over the macaroni. Drizzle with honey.

Cover the macaroni and cheese with tinfoil and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the macaroni is brown and bubbling on top.

Cooking With Honey – “Crack” Dip

crack dip

My next door neighbor introduced me to this recipe. It’s so good it’s addictive!

In this dip honey is used as a flavor enhancer rather than a sweetener. It’s a scientific fact that the gluconic acid in honey makes every recipe taste better!

Yield:  about 3 cups of dip

Ingredients:

1 cup finely diced Vidalia onion

1 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 cup Mexican blend cheese

1 4 ounce can diced chiles, drained but not rinsed

Honey for drizzling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first four ingredients together and place into a casserole dish. Drizzle honey on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and top is golden brown. Serve with chips, vegetables or slices of French bread.

Pimiento Cheese With Honey – A Tribute To The Masters’ Tournament

masters

The Masters’ Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia always makes me crave the pimiento cheese of my youth. It’s a Southern delicacy, and the Masters’ sells tasty pimiento cheese sandwiches wrapped in green wax paper.

Most pimiento recipes these days call for extra sharp cheddar cheese, but my mother L.J. made hers with Velveeta. Both versions are terrific.

The honey called for in this recipe is there to enhance the other flavors, not to make the pimiento cheese sweet. Try it and see!

pimiento cheese

Yield:  8 sandwiches

Ingredients:

16 ounces extra sharp yellow cheddar or Velveeta, grated

2 jars of pimento, drained and chopped

8 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon grated vidalia onion

salt to taste

16 slices of good whole-wheat or white bread

Directions:

Mash cheese, pimento, mayonnaise, honey, grated onion, and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl with a fork until well combined.  Season with salt to taste.  Cover and chill 1 hour for flavors to blend.

Serve on two slices of bread (with crusts removed, if desired).  For an authentic “Masters” touch, serve with a thin slice of sweet vidalia onion and a sprig of watercress on top.

This is also an excellent spread for crackers or a dip for vegetables.

Vegetarian Honey Winter Vegetable Soup

vegetarian winter veg soup

Reprinted from Salon.com

There’s never been a better time to be a half-assed vegetarian. Five years ago, the American Dialect Society honored the word flexitarian for its utility in describing a growing demographic—the “vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.” Now there’s evidence that going flexi is good for the environment and good for your health. A study released last October found that a plant-based diet, augmented with a small amount of dairy and meat, maximizes land-use efficiency. In January, Michael Pollan distilled the entire field of nutritional science into three rules for a healthy diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” According to a poll released last week, Americans seem to be listening: Thirteen percent of U.S. adults are “semivegetarian,” meaning they eat meat with fewer than half of all their meals. In comparison, true vegetarians—those who never, ever consume animal flesh—compose just 1 percent.

Yield:  10-12 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

8 ounces crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

One 35-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 quarts water

3 tablespoons soy sauce

One 2-by-2-inch piece Parmesan rind

7 ounces butternut squash, cubed

5 ounces kale, stems removed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, undrained

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

Shaved Parmesan, for serving

Directions

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into an 8-quart stockpot over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Decrease the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the carrots, celery, onions and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, sage, rosemary and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes. Add the water, soy sauce and Parmesan rind, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, about 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the squash and kale, cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Return the mushrooms to the pot along with the beans, honey and red wine vinegar and cook until all is heated through, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind and serve warm with shaved Parmesan.

Serve with hearty whole grain bread and a green salad.