Black-Eyed Pea Salad

June 4, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea Salad - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I’m kind of a salad fanatic, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about having warm weather finally! So far I’ve made this pasta salad, several quinoa salads, including this one and this (which is one of my favorites), and I can’t wait to make potato salads, especially this one. Platter salads are another favorite for us, and we’ve already had my favorite Cobb salad, even when it wasn’t that warm yet. I couldn’t wait.

This is a salad that has become kind of a summer standard here over the past few years. When my son was an infant and I was stuck to the couch for hours on end either nursing him or “napping” with him, I would watch endless amounts of TV, a lot of that being the Food Network. I’ve always liked cooking, but I think that’s when I really got my love of cooking, and I would try out tons of the recipes I saw on TV. This was one of them, on “The Neely’s” (a show I didn’t often watch, by the way, but I’m glad I caught this episode). I don’t really ever watch Food Network anymore, but I’m glad I did because a lot of my standard recipes came from that year of watching.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Ingredients
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar (I have also used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained (or 4 cups soaked dried beans…I think that’s about a cup and a half of dried)

Directions
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Toss all together and let marinate for at up to 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Margaux says…

You can’t have Halloween without sugar cookie cut-outs.  Actually, you can’t have Christmas or Valentine’s Day without them either, if you ask me.  This sugar cookie recipe is my absolute favorite.  Aunt Suzy gave it to me when I was 11 years old…it came along with a bunch of other “must have” recipes, a recipe box (that I still use, by the way), a large pot for steaming or cooking pasta (which I also still have, and still use), and “how to cook” tapes made by her.  Other than the pasta cooker and the recipe box, this recipe is what I have used the most out of that gift. I love that she was the first person to get me interested in cooking! It was like we were destined to have a blog together someday (although, that word didn’t even exist in 1988).

I think this recipe is my favorite because of the addition of sour cream and nutmeg.  The cookies turn out crisp, but not too crisp, and have great flavor.  They’re perfect with vanilla frosting, which is what I prefer to use over royal icing or a powdered sugar and milk glaze-type icing.  They may not look as perfect with the frosting over the icing that turns hard and smooth, but they sure taste better!

Sugar Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add flour alternately with sour cream. Form dough into ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight. Divide dough into 4 parts. Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease them. Roll out dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut with cookie cutter. Bake plain or with sugar on top (if you’re not icing), 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on cooling rack. Frost.

Vanilla Frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar, beat until mixture is starting to clump together in pea-sized clumps. Add vanilla and 2 tbsp milk, beat on high speed until creamy and uniform (scrape down sides of bowl as needed). Add more milk if needed, and food coloring if desired. Frost cookies, let sit for about an hour so that the frosting will set (but it won’t get completely hard because of the butter). If adding sanding sugar or sprinkles, do so right away before the frosting gets a hard crust on top.

Crunchy Granola

September 4, 2011

Margaux says…

My Aunt Judy makes the most simple and amazing granola ever.  It’s the same recipe she’s been using since the 70’s, and she always has it on hand at her house.  She was my birth doula and came to stay with us for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and the whole time she was with us (which ended up being about a month) she kept our supply stocked. It was so great to have every morning, with fresh fruit and yogurt!  It’s gotten so I can’t even eat store-bought granola anymore, I’ve become such a granola snob.  I try to keep it up, and make a batch as often as possible, but especially in the summer when fruit is in season and tastes oh-so-yummy with this salty sweet crunchy goodness.

Crunchy Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut you prefer)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional…I do this in the winter when I eat it with milk instead of fresh fruit and yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tbsp real maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, minus the salt. Mix together honey, water, oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over cereal and mix well. Bake in large jellyroll pan at 300 F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then pour into an airtight container.

Classic Blueberry Pie

June 22, 2010

Margaux says

The first pie I ever made was blueberry.  It was for my dad’s birthday, when I was about 10 or 11 years old.  My dad was never a cake guy (except Texas cake, which we’ll definitely do a post about later…its a family staple), so I made him a pie.  Pie making is big on that side of my family, and my granny is known all over town for her amazing pies, especially the crust.  So I’d of course already had a lesson or two before my big day of making my first pie. The pie was probably ho-hum…I used canned blueberries (it was October, in a small Midwestern town, in the 80’s, so there were probably no fresh blueberries to be found), and my crust was pretty mediocre, but I was very proud of myself, and my love for baking began.

I really wanted to make a strawberry pie this week because we’re in the height of strawberry season, but the strawberries at my regular grocery store AND at Stanley’s (a fruit and vegetable market here in Chicago) were terrible looking! I was totally disappointed, but Stanley’s had giant flats of blueberries on sale for $2.49 so I got those instead. Since my original blueberry pie in the 80’s, I think I’ve made only one other one in my life…I prefer blueberries in small quantities, like in pancakes or muffins. But for $2.49, I thought, why not?

This recipe is also from Joy of Cooking…I use a lot of their pie recipes.  They are very simple and very good!

Blueberry Pie

Prepare pie crust.  Roll half the dough into a 13″ round, fit into a 9″ pie pan, and trim the overhanging dough to 3/4″ all around.  Refrigerate.  Roll the other half of the dough into a 12″ round for the top crust and refrigerate it.  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine and let stand for 15 minutes:

5 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch (use cornstarch for a lattice pie)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt

Pour the mixture into the bottom crust and dot with:

1 to 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Brush the overhanging edge of the bottom crust with cold water. Cover with the top crust of lattice, then seal the edge, trim, and crimp or flute. If using a closed top crust, cut stem vents. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake until thick juices bubble through the vents, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. The pie is best the day it is baked, but it can be stored at room temperature for up to one day.

I wanted to do a lattice top for this because baked blueberries are such a beautiful color.  Unfortunately, right when it was time to start the assembly, Desi decided he was ready for a nap.  So I did the short-cut version, which is laying all the strips one way, then laying the other strips right on top instead of weaving them in.  My strips are crooked, too…blame Desi for a not-perfect pie.  It tasted good, though!

Pie is best served with vanilla ice cream!  Yum!

Basic Pie Crust

June 22, 2010

Margaux says

I’ve given a couple pie crust-making lessons to friends in the past, and have also had several requests to do so, so I thought I would write a pie crust-making post.  The term “easy as pie” isn’t all that accurate, in my opinion, unless you’re well practiced at the art of the pie crust.  I’ve been making pie since I was a kid, and I still think it’s tricky.   So if you’re first pie crust doesn’t turn out exactly like you’ve hoped, don’t be discouraged!  It takes practice.

I use a recipe from Joy of Cooking, Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough.  I almost always use this recipe, unless I’m out of butter…then I make a Crisco crust.  The butter crust has so much more flavor, and goes with anything from fruit pies to custard.  You can also use it as a tart crust. It’s all about the process…you have to be quick, and not work with the dough very much.

Aunt Suzy says

This crust sounds delicious and like something I need to try.  I will ask Margaux to give me a lesson next time I visit her!  I have used the Crisco crust recipe since learning it at my Mom’s side many years ago.  It has always served me well and the only variation I’ve made is to occasionally make it with lard, which makes an even better crust.  I use this approach sparingly because of lack of availability and that it’s not that good for you!   But then I might argue the same for 2 sticks of butter or of Crisco.  Pie crust, however, is good for the soul and what would life be like without pie?!!

Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts, or two 9 1/2- or 10 inch tart crusts, or one covered pie crust

Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix in a large bowl:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Working quickly to prevent softening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, chop the butter into pea-sized pieces.

Add:

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

With a few quick swipes of the pastry blender [or two butter knives], cut the shortening into large chunks and distribute throughout the bowl. Continue to chop until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Do not let the mixture soften and begin to clump; it must remain dry and powdery.

Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

Cut with the blade side of the rubber spatula until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. (This is where most people use their hands…I always use a spatula because your hands are hot and the butter will immediately start to melt, which is NOT good.)

If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top:

1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Cut in the water, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a thick, flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. [Don’t skip this step] The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.

For single crust pie:

Make half recipe of deluxe butter pastry dough.  Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out dough, then place in 9 inch pie plate, trim edges so there’s about an inch or more overhang.  Tuck overhang under.  Refrigerate another 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400.  Take pie shell out, and crimp edges (or however you want it to look!).  Line with foil, making sure there’s enough overhang to cover the edges, and fill with pie weights (or rice or beans).  Bake for 20 minutes, then take out and carefully remove foil and weights.  Pierce bottom all over with a fork, then place back in oven for 5-10 minutes, until nicely browned.