Appetizer: Yaya Eggplant Fries with Tabasco and Powdered Sugar
8 tablespoons powdered sugar , plus some for garnish
8 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
6 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
6 eggs, beaten
4 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into rectangles 3 inches long and 1 inch thick
1. Whisk together powdered sugar with Tabasco to make a sauce; set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pot to 350°F. Set out 3 bowls. In bowl 1, mix together flour and salt. In bowl 2, whisk together milk and eggs. Put breadcrumbs in bowl
3. Dredge eggplant in bowl 1, shaking off any excess flour, then coat with egg and milk mixture in bowl 2, and coat with breadcrumbs in bowl 3.
4. Fry eggplant in batches until golden brown and crispy, turning occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Dust eggplant fries with additional powdered sugar immediately before serving and accompany with Tabasco-sugar sauce for dipping.
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Appetizer: Parsnip Bisque with Cornmeal Fried Oysters and Pomegranate Syrup
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
Cornmeal fried oysters (see recipe, below)
Pomegranate syrup and reserved pomegranate seeds (see recipe, below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine parsnips, onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Once the vegetables are evenly coated, transfer them to a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables occasionally for even cooking.
3. Transfer them to a soup pot and add stock and cream. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer mixture to a blender, add butter, and puree until smooth. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. (Note: Be careful while pureeing, as the liquid is very hot.)
5. Evenly divide bisque among the 8 bowls. Top each serving with 2 fried oysters, a drizzle of pomegranate syrup, and a few reserved pomegranate seeds. If you do not care for oysters or don’t have time to prepare them, the soup is delicious alone or finished with crispy fried onions or sautéed mushrooms.
For Cornmeal Fried Oysters
3 cups canola oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
8 freshly shucked oysters
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fine grain salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. Heat oil in a large pot to 350°F. Whisk egg and milk together in one large bowl and add oysters.
2. In another large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Transfer oysters from egg mixture to cornmeal mixture and dredge, shaking off any excess. Fry the oysters in oil, turning occasionally, until light brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
For Pomegranate Syrup
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice (you can substitute store-bought pomegranate juice, but if you do, omit the garnish of pomegranate seeds)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
1. Cut pomegranate in half. Remove seeds from one half and set aside for garnish.
2. Juice second half into a small pot and add vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until it becomes thick and syrupy, about 4 minutes. Cool and reserve.
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Entree: Grilled Pork Chops with Stone-Ground Grits
Grilled Pork Chops:
1⁄2 gallon water
1⁄2 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
8 14-ounce pork chops, Frenched (cut into long, thin strips)
1. Combine the first 8 ingredients together in a large pot to create a brine, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Let cool, then pour the brine over the pork chops and chill in refrigerator for 24 hours.
2. Once the pork chops have been brined, heat the grill. Place the chops on the grill and cook to medium or until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 135°F. Serve with Smokey Brussels Sprouts (recipe on next slide) and Stone-Ground Grits.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 cup stone-ground grits
1⁄2 cup fresh corn, pureed
2 cups chicken or corn stock
3⁄4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan. Add shallots and let cook, about 1 minute. Pour in grits, corn puree, and stock, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 30 minutes. Add cream, salt, pepper, and remaining tablespoon butter and simmer for 10 more minutes.
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S’mores with Homemade Graham Crackers
Assorted chocolate bars (dark, milk, and white)
Assorted marshmallows (strawberry, peppermint, chocolate, and vanilla)
Graham Crackers (recipe below)
1. Have your guests toast marshmallows over the fire or grill.
2. Sandwich with a slab of chocolate between two graham crackers.
Homemade Graham Crackers
1¼ cups graham flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons dark
¾ tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon baking soda
½ tablespoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold
4½ tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons whole milk
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Place flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until combined. Dice butter and add, pulsing until the mixture has the consistency of a very fine crumb. Add molasses, milk, and vanilla and process until the dough forms a ball. Press ball into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
3. Unwrap chilled dough and place on a large piece of parchment paper; top with a second sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough out until it is 1⁄8 inch thick.
4. Place the rolled dough, still between the parchment paper sheets, onto a half sheet pan. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut the dough, using a perforated cracker cutter or pizza wheel, into 2-inch square pieces by making a grid of vertical and horizontal cuts. Trim off any excess. Using the perforated cracker cutter or a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough.
5. Bake until crackers are done, about 25 minutes, making sure to rotate pan after 10 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Once crackers have cooled, break into individual pieces and store in an airtight container.
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Dessert: Cranberry Pecan Tart
Tart dough (see recipe, below)
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
3⁄4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄4 cup pecan halves
1 cup cranberries
1. Make tart dough according to recipe below.
2. Melt butter and combine with next six ingredients until smooth; set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll tart dough into a 10-inch circle, approximately 1/8-inch thick. Line tart pan with dough and set aside to chill for at least 20 minutes. (This resting period ensures that the shell does not shrink during baking.)
4. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake tart shell for about 15 minutes or until it is just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
5. Arrange cranberries on the bottom of tart shell and top with pecans. Pour in the syrup and sugar mixture until it just reaches the top of the shell.
6. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until center is set and jiggles slightly. If crust begins to get too dark, lightly cover with foil, then resume baking.
For Tart Dough:
1⁄4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup flour
1. Combine powdered sugar and salt into a large bowl; cream with butter using a hand mixer. Add egg and blend. Next, blend in flour 1⁄4 cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Mix until just combined.
2. Form dough into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to use.