Resolutions

hoppin' john soup

Let me state the obvious – it is a new year.  Another obvious fact – it has been quiet here.  The truth is, I’ve struggled to find my voice, to find inspiration, to be motivated.  To take the time to photograph a recipe’s preparation and document the teaspoons, cups, temperatures and cooking times.  We’ve eaten well, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t shared.  I’ve tried.  Looking through my photo files, I’ve amassed quite a collection of fragments of recipes.  Spices in a mortar and pestle, mise en place of veggies next to a steaming pot, pans of roasted chicken pieces, searing short ribs – I could go on.  But I didn’t.  And I’m not sure why.

black-eyed peas

Even in the simple act of admitting this, I struggle to find the right words.  Call it a giant case of writer’s block combined with a lack of creativity.  I’ve experimented so little this year with my own recipe creations, instead relying on my giant collection of bookmarked recipes on Pinterest.  Even WordPress had to stifle a chuckle when providing me with this blog’s 2012 stats.  Maybe it is due to our small, rented kitchen and a lack of a garden.  I’m sure a lot of it is due to my health struggles from earlier in the year and the slow recovery time before I felt like a glimmer of myself once more.  And I’m sure some of it is just plain apathy and laziness.

simmering soup

It is a day of making goals, resolving to do things differently in the new year ahead.  I have a rather succinct list for myself, a tidy little plan for 2013.  One of those items is to find myself here more often, chatting with you and sharing a view into our kitchen.  I promise the recipes won’t all be show stoppers or JB’s Pour House originals, but they will be good meals worthy of a night on the couch watching re-runs of the Big Bang Theory or entertaining new friends.  Because that’s what we will be doing.  We’ll be opening a bottle of bubbly on a Tuesday, because why the hell not?  If there’s a lesson I learned in 2011-2012, it is to celebrate life’s little moments.

broil

So we kicked off this chilly start to the new year with hope for a little good luck.  I figured we could use all the help we could get this year, and a dish rooted in tradition with promises of prosperity wasn’t a bad way to start.  And I took pictures.  From start to finish.  Happy new year friends, and I’ll see you soon.

Hoppin’ John Soup with Garlic Rubbed Toasts

Adapted from Saveur

16 oz. dried black-eyed peas

2 meaty smoked ham hocks or 1 ham bone + 1/2 c. chopped cooked ham

1/2 – 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. canola oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped + 1 clove garlic, peeled

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 bay leaf

2 bunches collard greens, stemmed and leaves roughly chopped/torn

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. – 1/4 c. hot sauce

Ciabatta

Olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring black-eyed peas, ham hocks/ham bone, and 8 c. water to a boil in a large stockpot.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove ham hocks/ham bone and set aside.  Remove 1 c. cooking liquid and set aside.  Drain black-eyed peas and wipe stockpot with a paper towel.  Return stockpot to medium high heat and add canola oil and red pepper flakes.  Once fragrant (do not let red pepper flakes burn), add carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf.  Saute for about 8 -10 minutes or until vegetables have softened.  Meanwhile, remove fat from ham hocks and dice meat, reserving bones.  Set aside.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add 12 cups of water, reserved cooking liquid, ham bones, ham, drained black-eyed peas and collard greens.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and partially cover.  Simmer for 1 hour or until collard greens have softened.  Stir in vinegar and season to taste with hot sauce, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.

Preheat broiler.  Slice ciabatta into 1 1/2 inch thick slices.  Cut individual slices lengthwise into thick strips.  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt.  Toast to desired color.  Remove from broiler and rub garlic clove across craggly surface of toasts.  Serve with Hoppin’ John Soup, preferably dunked happily into the broth.

Wishing you luck and prosperity in 2013,

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2013 jb’s pour house

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Smokehouse Breakfast Bake

I love weekends.  In fact, my heart longs for a weekend with such intensity these days that after 5:00 p.m. on a Wednesday, I cannot believe we’re only midway through the week.  Harrumph.  That vacation I was dreaming about cannot come soon enough, I tell you!  It saddens me that summer, in the traditional sense, is almost over.  School is back in session (or will be soon), there are only two summer hours Fridays left at work, and soon, the pool will close for another season.  Sigh.  The pool has been an oasis for us in the heat of the summer sun, me bobbing about in my little floating orb and Ben standing flat foot in the water that rises above my head.  It inspires such laziness, which I adore, but it helps me to relax so much that I swear the pool is one of the few things that have kept me from going crazy these past few weeks.  The pool and wine.  Why lie?

So here I am, mentally rushing through the work week so I can spend my weekend mornings stretched across the couch with a cup of coffee in hand, a pup across my lap, and a good possibility of coupon clipping action.  Stress and worry free, just the way I order up my weekends.  Now I’m not a breakfast person during the week, mostly due to the fact that I can’t get my butt out of bed in enough time.  However, I do love breakfast on the weekends.  Although we have some great places in town, I don’t always want to go out and cooking really detracts from the lazy morning I relish.  Internet to the rescue.

A few weeks ago we hosted a brunch, the star of which was our house bloody mary mix.  However, a close second were the scrambled eggs.  I’d stumbled on a make-ahead recipe that truly was phenomenal, resulting in light, fluffy, golden eggs.  Here’s the best part:  lightly scramble a mass of eggs a day or two in advance, drop them in a baking dish, place in refrigerator, and ignore.  Day of?  Preheat oven, place pan in oven, cook and stir a time or two and voila – perfect eggs!  I loved it!  Laziness + deliciousness (+ brunch cocktail) = perfect Saturday/Sunday morning!

Now, you know me and you know I cannot leave well enough alone.  I needed to play, to accessorize, to oomph it up a bit.  I needed sexy eggs.  Now I don’t know if these ended up being sexy, but how does pretty damn good work?  Having weekend guests has been a bit of a constant for us this summer now that we are a bit more settled in KC.  On a recent weekend, one of our guests was a self-proclaimed barbecue guru (let’s call him Pork Belly) and I wanted to mix a little of KC’s finest into our morning meal.  I once made a comment to him about brisket for breakfast to which he responded “great idea!” so I knew this was a bit of an easy target…

We’re lucky enough to live a few blocks from a great little local grocer with the best meat counter in town.  It doesn’t hurt that they have an industrial sized smoker out front chugging clouds of hickory smoke and drool-inducing smells of smoking meat from it’s smokestack.  Lucky for us, they sell competition-quality barbecue, including the desirable burnt ends, so I had the start of a very good breakfast.  A few other flourishes here and there and the baking dish was sent to the refrigerator for a snooze.  Sunday morning dawned with moderate temperatures so turning on the oven wasn’t quite the torturous task it has been of late.  We sipped our coffee as our breakfast baked along on its own and once the timer sounded, the bloody mary mix and vodka came out and we sat to a lazy breakfast.  My kind of morning!

Smokehouse Breakfast Bake

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

1 large white onion, very thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1/4 c. barbecue sauce

1/2 lb. barbecue burnt ends, diced

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 dozen eggs

1/2 c. heavy cream

1 c. sour cream

4 green onions, thinly sliced

8 oz. smoked Gouda, shredded

1 1/2 c. diced tomatoes

 

Set a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onions, butter, and canola oil.  Stir often until onions are caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, add barbecue sauce and mix well.  Set aside.  Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.  Beat well until eggs are fully blended.  Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 Tbsp. butter.  Once melted, add eggs.  Scramble until eggs are just set but very slightly runny still.  Remove from heat.

Add sour cream, reserved caramelized onions, burnt ends and green onions to eggs.  Mix well.  Place eggs in a large ovenproof baking dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Cover with shredded smoked Gouda.  Place plastic wrap over the baking dish and refrigerate.  Can be made several days in advance.

Remove dish from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring after a half hour.  Remove from oven, add diced tomatoes, and serve, preferably with a brunch cocktail.

 

Happy weekend!

– j

 

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2012 jb’s pour house

 

tipsy golfer

Man, it is hot.  Our little apartment has the benefit of being on the second floor, above a bay of garages, with the blazing western sun beating into the few windows during the late afternoon hours.  After multiple maintenance requests, we were finally told that the second floor apartments struggle to maintain anything cooler than 70 degrees during the summer.  Ha!  We’re lucky if our thermostat dips below 80.  Thank goodness there is a pool in our complex…

So it was with much anticipation for air conditioner awesomeness that B and I climbed into the car and headed back to our former hometown to check on our little house with its forlorn “for sale” sign and to visit with friends and family.  Wouldn’t you know our luck?  Midway through night one (the coolest of the weekend), the condensor motor decides to go to Appliance Heaven and we’re stuck in a house with no screens.  Morning dawned hot and sticky and the neighborhood children covered their ears as I fought with the screens on our ancient double hung windows amidst a steady stream of profanity.  The effort and frustration proved to be more than my sweat glands could bear, and I retreated to the cool basement leaving B to fight with the last of the devil-spawn screens in our bedroom.

In weather like this, I can’t seem to get enough liquids.  Mind you, there is plenty of ice water to be had, but sometimes I want to spruce it up a bit.  *Blasphemous statements ahead*  When the sun is beating overhead and the apartment is a balmy 85 degrees without hope of a breeze, I can’t seem to find joy in my glass of supposed-to-be-cool room temperature red wine.  And while a nice cold beer does the trick on round 1, any future attempts at quenching my thirst with another leaves me with a full stomach and a still unslaked thirst.  It appears I am beered out.  I told you, blasphemy indeed!

There is one beverage that I adore once the summer sun dances in the blue sky – lemonade.  When I am searching for an adult version, I do enjoy a vodka lemonade, but I had my fair share on the floor of the dance clubs during my college days.  My poor liver…  Instead, today as I wandered through the aisles of the grocery store, filling my cart with fixins for many “no-cook” and grill-ready meals this week (read: no way am I turning on that blasted oven), I passed an end cap filled with Arizona teas – among them, the Arnold Palmer.

Now I don’t know much about Mr. Palmer’s personal beverage preferences beyond the half iced tea-half lemonade concoction bearing his name, but I would like to think that he’d appreciate a grown up version once he was finished with the back nine (or maybe before he started the back nine?).  Lucky for me, there is a liquor store right next to the grocery store stocked with multiple sweet tea vodkas, and I was off to the races.  When I returned to the apartment to see the dog passed out on the linoleum floor, desperate for a cool respite, and B closing the shades to the punishment of the afternoon sun, I knew it was time for a Tipsy Golfer.  Or two.

tipsy golfer

recipe:  jb’s pour house

2 oz. sweet tea vodka of your choice (but how can you pass up one with Carolina in the name?!)

2 oz. lemon vodka

1/2 c. lemonade

Fill a highball glass with ice.  Add 2 oz. sweet tea vodka, 2 oz. lemon vodka, and fill the glass the rest of the way with lemonade (about 1/2 cup).  Stir, garnish with lemon slice if desired, then enjoy as beads of condensation run down your glass.

Cheers, friends, stay cool!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2011 jb’s pour house

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seared scallops with meyer lemon beurre blanc

Our days are numbered.  Finally.

I rushed home with takeout sushi, hoping to beat B to the apartment.  I had failed.  As I walked into the house and tried to keep Brix from having a heart attack, I saw the bottle of bubbly on the counter and as I pushed the door the rest of the way open, I saw my husband.  I went to greet him with a hug and kiss as I always do, but this time was superceded by my congratulations.  He got a job in Kansas City.  Five long months of living apart were finally over.  I thought I could keep it together.  I failed again.

I sobbed as I hugged him tight, so thankful for the end to be in sight.  I sniffled through the opening of the celebratory sparkling wine and wiped tears away as the glasses were filled with the golden liquid.  It was a special wine (the same he had used in his marriage proposal) and I’ll tell you this – that wine, with a side of good news, tasted damn good.

But, if you know anything about me by this point, you know that I can’t call a celebration complete with a meal carted into the house in styrofoam containers and a plastic grocery bag.  We needed a little J & B style celebration.  We spent a great weekend together with beautiful weather and a plethora of activities in our new hometown.  I wanted to close the weekend with something special and decidedly spring.  Fat asparagus and delicate sea scallops seemed like a fantastic idea, but I needed a little more to push the meal to celebratory mode.  Remember how I said my favorite food was sauce?  Enter beurre blanc.

Beurre blanc is like risotto to me, meaning, once you get the technique down, you can play with it and modify it as your heart desires.  With the richness of the scallops and the bright asparagus, I wanted to counter the additional richness of the sauce with a bright splash of Meyer lemon.  To me, Meyer lemons taste like a honeyed, herbal version of a lemon.  Some call the flavor a cross between an orange and a lemon, but there’s something deeper under the surface that enhances the dishes in which it is included. 

One of the best things about this meal is that it comes together in a flash – the scallops take just minutes to sear and the sauce pulls together as fast as butter melts.  All of this was a good thing, because we were anxious to open another bottle of bubbles to celebrate our good news.  Sadly, the meal ended as all do – no food remaining and too short of a time had passed.  As B packed up the car yet again and I walked to the car with Brix, I greeted our weekend ritual of parting a little differently.  I was sad to see him go, certainly.  But I didn’t cry, unlike the other 21 Sundays since this began.  I had cried tears of joy on Friday.

seared scallops with meyer lemon beurre blanc

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

1 lb. sea scallops, rinsed and patted thoroughly dry

1 c. dry white wine, such as chardonnay

2 Meyer lemons

3 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots

1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp. black peppercorns

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (preferrably European style)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Canola oil

Combine white wine, zest and juice of Meyer lemons, shallot, rosemary, white wine vinegar and black peppercorns in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup.  Strain remaining liquid into a small bowl.  Discard solids and wipe out the saucepan.  Return the liquid to the saucepan and place over medium low heat.  Begin to whisk in butter, one cube at a time, until butter is thoroughly incorporated.  Do not let sauce sit without stirring and do not let it boil, or you will break the sauce.  Once all butter has been incorporated, season to taste with salt.  Reduce heat to low and remove pan from heat.  Alternately place pan back on heat and whisk often as scallops are cooking to prevent sauce from breaking.

Place a large skillet over high heat.  Add about 1-2 Tbsp. canola oil.  Season both sides of scallops lightly with salt and pepper.  Place scallops in pan and sear, about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to move scallops once placed in the pan.  Turn scallops over and sear for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and serve immediately with as much beurre blanc as you like!  (You may want a piece of bread to sop up all of the deliciousness.)

Fin.

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 – 2011 jb’s pour house

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vanilla bean-lavender pot de creme

Spring never fails to amaze me.  After the dreary cold days of winter have finally passed us by, suddenly the landscape wakes up and bursts forth in spectacular shades of green, pink, purple, red, yellow and on and on.  The trees are nearly done blooming here, but the tulips now wave like little flags in the breeze.  The new-lime color of the budding leaves has turned over to kelly green and the smell of freshly cut grass perfumes the air.  Spring is new, starting over, beginning again.  I think it is time B and I had a little spring in our lives as well.

We’ve made it through the winter, through the long lonely drives on weekends, through the tears every Sunday.  If only we could turn those driven miles into airline miles, we’d be jetting off to a white sandy beach and cocktails with umbrellas in no time!  But the newfound scars on the suitcases and the spinning numbers on the odometer say otherwise and I hope, on this festive day, that the end is in sight soon.  We’ve traveled this yellow brick road for a while, admittedly more wearily than we care to admit on some days, but I think we’re rounding that last bend along the way.

It was with hope for the end of this journey that sent me into the kitchen and sent pots, pans and mixing bowls flying.  I was in a mood for something special, something decidedly spring.  I was in the mood for dessert.  This doesn’t happen often, my sweet-toothed kin can attest to that.  But there I was, staring at a bag of plump vanilla beans, when seredipity struck and I found myself rummaging through my borrowed organizing bin looking for my dried lavender. 

A bit of cream, eggs, and sugar later, I had the makings of a pot de creme (don’t pronounce the “t”).  A silky, elegant custard, pot de creme is the precursor to creme brulee.  It is a little looser, a little more unctuous, and decidedly easier given there’s no need for a torch to caramelize the sugar.  What can I say?  I couldn’t bring my entire kitchen with me to this little apartment!  So I had to make do.  Boy, we’re roughing it, huh?  The combination of heady vanilla beans and floral lavender create a dessert that sings along with the robins in the backyard.  It was something out of the ordinary, something fitting for a hopeful future.

vanilla bean-lavender pot de creme

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

2 c. heavy cream

 2 vanilla beans

1 tsp. dried culinary lavender (I use Penzey’s)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

6 egg yolks

1/2 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and using the back of the knife, scrape the seeds from the bean.  Place the vanilla bean halves, seeds, and lavender in a medium saucepan with the cream.  Bring to a slight simmer over medium heat.  Remove  from heat, cover, and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract to the cooled cream mixture.  Strain the cream into a large mixing bowl.  Place the egg yolks and sugar in a medium mixing bowl or stand mixer and cream until light yellow in color.  Add about 1/3 of the cream mixture to the eggs, mixing constantly.  Add the cream/egg mixture to the remaining cream, mix well.  Place four ramekins in a large baking dish.  Divide the cream mixture evenly among the ramekins.  Fill the baking dish with hot water until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Take care not to spill any water into the ramekins. 

Carefully transfer the baking dish into the preheated oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes until the center is barely set (the sides of the custard will remain fairly stable but the centers will move around like Jello when jiggled).  Carefully remove from the oven and chill until cooled, at least 2 hours.  Serve.

Here’s to the Emerald City…

– j

All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house

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roasted asparagus with black pepper zabaglione

It’s Sunday again.  That’s come to mean a few things around here.  One – I’m going to make a big meal.  Two – We’re going to eat ridiculously early (at least compared to our normal 8:30 p.m. or later).  And three – by 6 p.m., I’m going to be alone in our apartment again, sitting with Brix and waiting for Friday once more.  I’ve sort of come to dislike 6 p.m.

Once upon a time, I interviewed for a Food Editor position with a culinary publication.  In my preparations for the line of questioning to come, I knew I was likely to be asked one of two things.  What would be your last meal? or What is your favorite food?  Either question is extremely tough for me to answer.  My last meal would be a smorgasbord of favorite things – fried green tomatoes doused with lemon juice and Frank’s Red Hot, asparagus with bearnaise, eggs benedict with hollandaise, shellfish of any kind drizzled with beurre blanc, roasted chicken with white wine gravy, creamy polenta with a garden fresh chunky tomato sauce, french fries and white truffle aioli, and before I knew it, I had the answer to my favorite food.  Sauce.

B laughed when I first told him that sauce was my favorite food.  But it’s true.  Anytime I make anything that has a sauce, a salsa, a reduction or the like, I almost always double the recipe because I know we’re certain to find that particular serving dish to be the first one emptied.  And I’m not the only guilty party.  B’s just as likely to pile on the sauce as I am, although he somehow finds a way to be more prudent with the ones loaded with eggs or butter.  That’s ok though, more for me!

So it came to be Sunday once again.  Having kicked off the blog almost a year ago with a recipe for a sweet zabaglione (zab-ah-yōn), I thought it was fitting to celebrate our almost-anniversary with a savory version of the same sauce.  The verdant thin stalks of spring asparagus make a perfect vehicle for a decadent sauce, but even more so when roasted until tender and the spears become crispy and nutty.  And while the pronunciation of zabaglione may trip you up a bit, the creation of it couldn’t be simpler.  Egg yolks and white wine are whipped to soft peaks then punched with freshly ground black pepper for a lively kick.  The addition of butter adds richness and creaminess to the lush sauce and a light dusting of grated parmesan rounds it out with a salty bite.  Asparagus, and Sundays, never had it so good.

roasted asparagus with black pepper zabaglione

adapted from mario batali

 

1 lb. fresh asparagus, spears trimmed and peeled if necessary

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 large egg yolks

1/4 c. dry white wine (such as chardonnay)

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

4 tsp. parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roll asparagus until thoroughly coated and roast for 15 minutes.

Prepare a double boiler and bring water to a slow simmer.  In top pan/bowl of double boiler, place egg yolks and white wine.  Whisk over gently simmering water for about 6 minutes or until doubled in size and soft peaks are forming.  Add butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until thoroughly incorporated and melted.  Add 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.  Fold in to incorporate.  Place asparagus on serving plates and top with about 2 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper zabaglione.  Sprinkle with about 1 tsp. parmesan and serve immediately.

Waiting for Friday once again,

– j

All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house

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mexican pot pie

Margarita Madness!

Who needs basketball when there are margaritas to be had?!  I pass this sign every morning on my way to work and every day, without fail, it makes me want a margarita.  I’ll be a little sad when the big tourney ends and I no longer have a craving for a breakfast beverage filled with tequila and lime.  Ha, who am I kidding?  I’d still be up for a breakfast margarita.  Maybe with a beer chaser.  Now I want a bloody mary.  Ok, off topic…

My daily craving for a margarita has also fueled my near constant craving for Mexican food.  Any time we are looking for somewhere to go for a meal, I lean toward the chips and salsa while B leans toward steamed rice and soy sauce.  I guess one of the perks (if you can call it that) of living in different states is that I can indulge my crazy whims and make whatever food I’m craving.  Now B, if you are reading this, no chiming in and saying that’s what I do anyway.  It isn’t, I swear.  (Maybe just a little.)

So when images of margaritas danced in my head on a recent 80 degree day (Again!  In March!) I knew there was no denying the cravings that would soon follow.  Good thing it was grocery day.  As I wheeled my cart around the aisles, I began to amass the familiar ingredients but without a solid plan.  Ground beef, black beans, olives, tomatoes, jalapeno – soon enough I had the fixins for tacos but didn’t quite want to deal with hand-held food given the absence of a dining table.  Plus, “How I Met Your Mother” was on and I was planning to rock the easy chair during the evening meal.

I had a thought – Mexican Pot Pie.  I could take all of the usual taco fillings, place them in a casserole, cover it with a sweet corn cake and once bubbling and golden, drizzle with a creamy salsa verde.  All of my favorite things in one tasty dish.  Add a slushy lime concoction and I’m on my way to happiness. 

mexican pot pie

recipe:  jb’s pour house

 

2 lbs. ground beef

½ onion, diced

1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic

1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seed if you prefer)

1 14 oz. can Mexican diced tomatoes, undrained

1 pkg. taco seasoning of your choice

1 14 oz. can black beans

1 6 oz. can black olives, halved

8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 pkg. Chi Chi’s sweet corn cake

1 14 oz. can cream style corn

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

¼ c. water

1 c. crème fraiche*

1 c. salsa verde

½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the ground beef in a large sauté pan and brown over medium high heat.  Once nearly browned, add onion, garlic and jalapeno.  Once beef is fully browned and onion mixture has started to turn translucent, add undrained tomatoes and taco seasoning.  Mix to incorporate fully.  Add black beans, black olives, and pepper jack cheese, mix and place mixture in a large baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sweet corn cake mix, cream style corn, melted butter and water.  Mix well and pour over the top of the beef mixture.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until corn cake is golden brown and does not jiggle when dish is moved.

Combine crème fraiche, salsa verde and kosher salt.  Spoon desired amount of Mexican Pot Pie into an individual serving dish and top with about 2 Tbsp. creamy salsa verde.

*To make crème fraiche at home, combine 1 c. heavy cream and 2 Tbsp. buttermilk in a sealable container.  Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.  Stir and use immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

Hope you are enjoying Margarita Madness and your bracket is still kicking!

-j

All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house

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southern mac & cheese

I love cheese.  It is really that simple.  I love it in all forms but I especially cannot resist it when it is melted.  There’s something so addicting about the warm gooey goodness that is melted cheese.  It’s why I love nachos and pizza, brie en croute and fondue and everything in between.  You can dress it up in heels or laze around comfortably with it in sweatpants.  Melted cheese is equal opportunity, people.

 So when I was flying home from a recent business trip and pulled out one of the many (many = eight) cooking magazines I had brought along for the journey and saw the March issue of bon appétit emblazoned with a bright red crock filled with mac and cheese, I knew I could not resist.  As I stared at the longest string of cheese trailing oh-so-drool-inducingly from a noodle pierced by a fork, I had to resist my temptation.  It’s not likely that the flight attendant would be able to bring me macaroni and cheese, regardless of how many times I pushed the button and asked.  I think that’s a one way ticket to a parachute and a kick out the emergency exit. 

 But I was intrigued.  This wasn’t ordinary macaroni and cheese, although I think I’ve already made my case for why melted cheese of any sort isn’t ordinary.  This was pimento mac and cheese.  My first thoughts led me to Spain with images of chorizo and smoked pimenton filling my head.  There I go drooling again…  But as I read the recipe, I realized this was pimento cheese spread, or Southern pate.  Traditionally a mix of cheddar, mayonnaise, and red bell pepper, pimento cheese has affixed the cracker of many generations of Southerners. 

 While I’m sure the original recipe has its merits, my tastes tend toward the briny, bold flavors of the Lee Brothers’ pimento cheese spread.  You may remember it from a certain burger I raved about in warmer months…  And once it was in my head, there was no turning back.  Melted Muenster and Swiss cheeses swimming with al dente pasta, banana peppers, capers, and green onions – oh, my heart be still.  I couldn’t cook the pasta fast enough.

 

southern mac and cheese

recipe:  jb’s pour house, inspired by bon appétit and the lee brothers

 

1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package directions

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/3 c. flour

6 c. 1% milk

8 oz. Muenster cheese, shredded

8 oz. Swiss cheese, shredded

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ c. roughly chopped banana peppers

¼ c. capers

4 green onions, sliced thinly

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 c. panko

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour until well blended.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking frequently, until sauce has thickened.  Reduce heat to medium.  Whisk the cheeses into the sauce until smooth.

Add the cooked pasta, kosher salt, banana peppers, capers, green onions and crushed red pepper to the sauce.  Stir until well combined.  Place into a 13” x 9” baking dish.  Combine melted butter and panko in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.  Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden brown.

If you wish, you can portion this and freeze for later consumption.  Before adding panko, section pasta into multiple freezer-safe dishes.  Refrigerate until cool then freeze for up to 2 months.  Thaw in refrigerator, complete step with panko, and bake for about 30 minutes.

To cheese!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010-2011 jb’s pour house

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