I made that!

Just Like a Good Southern Girl.

Posted in I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on March 21, 2009

OK, so maye I’m not a vegetarian deep down. I had been itching for some fried chicken. And hinting at the fact that maybe we REQUIRE a waffle maker in the house. When my upstairs neighbors/landlords (Jim and Abbe) mentioned they had a Belgian waffle maker, it seemed obvious that a fried chicken and waffles dinner was due. Since they have the machine, and I’m a good little southern girl, they’re making the waffles while I’m in charge of frying up the chicken.

First things first, marinating the chicken. I let the pieces spend the day soaking in a lovely buttermilk and hot sauce bath. You, know to relax them for their delicious journey through deep frying and into my mouth. For hot sauce, I buy Youk’s, which is made at Maverick restaurant in San Francisco. Coincidentally, I also use Maverick’s fried chicken recipe. Those punks know how it’s done. At least in my opinion.


When it was time to get to business I made the dredge. Lots and lots of spices go into this one. There’s even cinnamon. I think that’s just swell.


After I mixed the spices and flour, I tossed in the chickens.


Then the frying happened.


All the while Abbe was working that waffle maker with some cornmeal waffles.


I’ll be frank, it was kind of obscene. A drizzle of maple syrup and some greens later and we were staring down one gluttonous dinner.


I might feel a little dirty now. And I’m not even gonna mention the chocolate caramel tart that Abbe snuck in for dessert. But it was worth it. Sooooo worth it.


1 3 1/2-pound whole fryer, cut up into pieces

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 gallon peanut oil

8 ounces flour

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch white pepper

3 tablespoons kosher salt


– Place chicken in a large container and cover with buttermilk and hot sauce. Let stand for at least 1 hour or overnight.

– Pour peanut oil into large stockpot. Do not fill more than halfway; the chickens will raise the level of your oil and could boil over. Bring oil temperature up to 310°, using a digital thermometer to monitor.

– In large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Piece by piece, pull the chicken out of the buttermilk, letting excess drip off, and dredge completely in flour. Pack flour on to the breasts lightly and repeat these steps for all.

– Place chicken, one piece at a time into the oil. The pieces should be completely submerged. Be careful not to crowd, and probably do one to two pieces at a time. Do not stir; let the oil do the work. If the oil temperature drops below 260°, give more heat. But the temperature should never exceed 320°.

The oil will start to slow down and the chicken pieces will float to the top. Using a strainer or tongs, pull out the chicken piece by piece. Test firmness. If the chicken gives a lot, put it back. If it doesn’t give at all, they’re done. Wings will take about 5 minutes; legs, breasts and thighs around 10-12 minutes. When cooked through, salt immediately. Put in a warm oven if you are doing batches, or let dry on cooling rack, towels or paper towels. Do not stack them.


Getting My Southern On

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, All Things Pork, I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on February 5, 2009

It was a night of deliciousness. I was at my friends’ house for our weekly night of (don’t judge) 90210. We’re usually so excited to relive a version of high school that doesn’t even closely resemble ours that we cook a feast to eat beforehand. I was feeling especially southern, and decided to dig through my old copy of “Louisiana Kitchen” for some ideas. In the end I decided to try out the red beans and rice recipe, since I’ve yet to make one that I think is worthwhile.

Probably the most shocking thing of the night was learning that most of my friends had never even HEARD of red beans and rice! When I told them that is what I would be cooking, they imagined some boring dinner of “beans” and “rice.” How little faith they have in Cajun cuisine.


It took a few hours to cook. It was spicy. REALLY spicy. It was not pretty to gaze upon. It was filled with smoked ham hocks, Andouille sausage & bell peppers. Basically it was perfect.


And of course there was dessert.

I had been thinking about apple cake for a few months, so I decided to try one out. Also a traditional Southern dish, it is a super moist cake filled with big chunks of apple, pecans, cinnamon & nutmeg. It has so many apples in it I was concerned that it might not even turn into a cake once baked.


But it turned out just fine. Better than fine.


And since Southerners are just never happy with something simple in the dessert department, it was smothered in a caramel sauce.


90210 never tasted so good.

Here is the recipe for the Red Beans & Rice, from Paul Prudhomme’s “Louisiana Kitchen”:

1 pound dried red kidney beans
6 large ham hocks (3 1/2  pounds)
2 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
5 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 pound Andouille smoked sausage, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch pieces
4 1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Cover the beans with water 2 inches above beans. Let stand overnight. Drain just before using.

Place the ham hocks, 10 cups of  water, the celery, onions, bell peppers, bay leaves, and seasonings in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven; stir well. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks from pan and set aside.

Add the drained beans and 4 cups of the water to the pan; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 2 cups water and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the andouille and continue simmering until the beans start breaking up, about 35 minutes, scraping pan bottom fairly often.  Add the ham hocks (that you have been shredding this whole time) and cook and stir 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

And here’s the recipe for the apple cake, from “The Gift of Southern Cooking” by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock:

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 large eggs
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 fresh apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups not-too-finely chopped pecans
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160C).

Put the sugars and vegetable oil in a mixing bowl, and beat until very well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and gradually add to the sugar and eggs, mixing just until well blended.

Stir in the apples, pecans, and vanilla, and pour into a buttered and 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours (begin checking after 50 minutes). Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan while you prepare the caramel glaze.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add both the sugars and the salt. Stir until blended, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake, and pour the warm glaze over the surface. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Best Ever Browned Butter Pecan Pie

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Certified Pie Ninja, Southernness by brandi on January 28, 2009

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve got pecans falling out of my freezer every time I open the door. Since I need some of that space back, it’s time to start making some pecan pie. I have a special place in my stomach for pecan pie. So overwhelmingly sweet, not really high up on the culinary ladder, but still…there’s just something about it that makes me so happy. Then again, not to toot my own horn, I make a mean pie crust.


I already had some dough left over from Thanksgiving in the freezer (it’s like a clearance sale in there!), which really simplified the whole pie making experience. I have kind of a laborious dough making process (I’ll share another time, though if you’re a friend I’m sure I’ve already forced you to listen to me explain in great detail) and just THAT part can take me all day. But back to here and now…


I roll it out and shape it into a fluted quiche tin (a Tartine move that I’m especially into right now). I send it on a gluten vacation in the freezer for a bit and then bake it for always seems like forever. And then I stare. And stare. I think pie dough is the only thing that I stare at longer than meringue.


I know what you’re thinking: “Brandi, where the f*ck is the pecan pie filling?”. In due time my little pie-lings. A soggy crust makes me weep, and the only way to avoid that is to crisp that dough beforehand. So while it cools I make my filling. I like a browned butter and maple filling, because…well, because that’s what I like. I fill it up and bake it until it’s set.

And then I stare some more.


Now I go to the beach to keep from tearing into it before it’s had time to cool and finish setting. To be continued around 3pm.

It’s 3pm.


It was so worth the wait. Thank you Jennifer, Kevin, Mindy & Nir for coming over and helping me eat it. I wouldn’t still be thin without you.


1 single crust pie pastry

4 oz unsalted butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 vanilla bean

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

– Roll out pastry into a 12-13 inch circle, transfer and center into 9 inch pie pan. Place in freezer for 20 minutes.

– Line with foil, fill with weights (dried beans) and then bake in 400 degrees oven for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown and look set. Lower temperature to 350 and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue baking for another 10-20 minutes, until fully baked. Set on wire rack to cool.

– Using a shiny skillet or saucepan to melt the butter over medium heat. Stir butter and keep an eye on it as you wait for it to brown. You want the butter to be a good dark brown, but you need to catch it before it burns. Use your nose as your guide, it well smell nutty as it begins to brown. Once browned, transfer butter to a bowl to let cool slightly.

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use fingers to rub seeds from vanilla bean into brown sugar, breaking up any clumps. Combine eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Whisk well to blend. Add the browned butter and whisk again until evenly combined.

– Place the nuts in the cooled pie shell and pour in the filling.

– Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake until the filling, including the center, is set, 35 to 40 minutes. Rotate pie 180 degrees about halfway through. When done, the pie will have puffed slightly and developed cracks around the perimeter.

– Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool thoroughly.

World: meet the banana pudding

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Southernness by brandi on January 14, 2009

A southern specialty.

The mother of all trifles.


Gloriously trashy. And yes, those are ‘nilla wafers.


I don’t know about you, but I can stare at meringue all day.