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Cooking with Lady Smokey: Recipes for Spring
Welcome to Spring Y’all!
Spring is rapidly turning into summer here in Nashville. The flowers are blooming, we are all planting our gardens, and the 13 year cicadas are singing their songs! It is very exciting.
Also exciting is all the amazing produce that is suddenly available! Summer is my favorite time of the year for seasonal eating in the South. All the produce is so tasty by itself, one barely has to cook at all yet, the possibilities are endless.
I found some yummy snap peas and the first ears of corn of the season which inspired us to make a sort of sauteed succotash that went something like this-
Snap Pea Succotash
1-2 cups snap peas, strings removed
2 ears of corn, cut off the cob
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
freshly ground pepper
Heat a pan on medium and add the butter. Add snap peas. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Cut the corn off the cob and add. Stir. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
We served it with a pan fried trout!
Pan Fried Trout
1 small Vidalia onion, sliced in rings
1 Tbsp bacon fat (We used a small piece of ham hock from the farmer’s market, cooked on med low until the fat was rendered. You could also use butter or extra virgin olive oil.)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 pieces trout
½ cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Saute onions in oil or fat on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar (to help cut the richness of the fish) and a dash of salt. In a medium bowl, mix flour with spices. Dredge the fish in the flour mixture. When onions are well cooked, almost caramelized, move to the side of the pan. Place fish in pan skin side down and cook for approximately 3 minutes on medium heat. Turn fish over and cook for another 5 minutes or until it is a nice golden brown. Serve onions on top of fish.
One of our favorite side dishes of late is Green Chili Mashed Potatoes. This dish makes an excellent accompaniment to all your grilling or smoking projects. It also pairs nicely with a few other simple veggie sides for a vegetarian meal. You can make potato cakes with the leftovers.
Green Chili Mashed Potatoes
I don’t have exact measurements for this one because it really just depends on how big your casserole dish is but here is how we do it… I use Russet potatoes for this dish but I am sure any variation of potatoes would work. Peel and wash potatoes and place in a pot with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft and feel tender when you poke a fork in them. Drain the water. Add a few tablespoons of butter, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a can of diced green chilies (or two!) and a few tablespoons of buttermilk. Mash with a potato masher or blend with a hand mixer. When you get the consistency to your liking, pour into a casserole dish and then top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees.
The local organic strawberries are ready and they are so delicious this year. They don’t seem quite as sweet maybe as previous years but we’ve really enjoyed them, nonetheless, in so many different ways.
Grant made me banana buttermilk pancakes with homemade strawberry syrup last Sunday. These pancakes got my day off to an awesome start! Grant likes to use Miss Edna Lewis’ recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes. He then adds sliced bananas.
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
unsalted butter for greasing the skillet
Put flour, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk briefly to blend. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk into the egg and add the melted butter. Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk briefly, until the batter is well blended and there are no large lumps. Heat skillet or griddle over medium heat, and grease very lightly with a little butter. Spoon out about 2 tbsp of batter for each pancake, add banana slices and cook until bubbles appear on top. Flip the pancakes, and cook 30 seconds longer. Serve hot with strawberry syrup (recipe below).
2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
½ cup organic cane sugar (or a bit more to taste)
¼ cup water
Cook all ingredients together in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until strawberries break down. Add more water if it is too thick and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add more sugar after 15 minutes if it tastes too tart for your liking.
I came up with a strawberry vinaigrette in which we tossed with romaine, roasted hazelnuts that my sister-in-law sent us from the great PNW, and some Grana Padana cheese. This salad would be a prefect accompaniment to grilled steak or salmon.
Strawberry Vinaigrette Dressing
1 cup strawberries, mashed
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp raw sugar
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
The fruit trees are abundant in Seattle. While living there, I would see so many fruit trees around the neighborhood- cherry, pear, and plums. Often times, people were too busy and/or the trees were so plentiful that I watched much of the fruit go unused. My housemate at the time and I would often make “found fruit” pies! Hee hee. We just hated to see all that fruit go to waste. Luckily, we are back in the South where neighbors freely share the abundance of their gardens. Today, our friend and neighbor offered us mulberries from her tree so off we went with bowls to collect berries for pies.
Only trouble was, there were also many cicadas in the trees that it made for quite an interesting experience.
I considered making a cicada pie but I’m pretty sure the mulberries are tastier. Turns out mulberries are high in minerals and protein (for fruit). They are also apparently excellent for stomach ulcers, help strengthen the blood, and are soothing to the nervous system because of their high phosphorous content.
one dough ball — recipe
3 ½ cups mulberries, rinsed and sorted
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
for the crumble top:
½ cup flour
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup organic cane sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Roll out dough and place in pie plate. Mix berries with flour and sugar. Pour berries into prepared pie shell. Mix ingredients for the crumble top together with your hands and place over berries. (You could also, instead, use another pie dough ball, roll it out, and cut into strips and make a lattice top. This would work nicely with this type of pie.)
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 for 30 more minutes or until pie is golden brown on top and not too jiggly.
Enjoy! Don’t forget to support your local farmers and musicians!