Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brunswick Stew - the old fashioned way

I think it was about a year ago, RG was given a 10 gallon cast iron wash pot.  We call it a wash pot because that is what they were most commonly used for, heating water for the laundry.  Technically; I think they are called a kettle or cauldron.  RG tells me stories about growing up. Always telling me about the one that must have been 100 gallons in the "old place" back home in the basement.  They used it for laundry.  RG used to play in it with his cousins when he was little.   I think they could run around inside of it.  It was that big!

We had been in West Jefferson with a friend looking at an old house that he was re-doing for a client.  When we went into the basement there was a wash pot was in the middle of the floor.  RG immediately went over to check it out.  Once we got back to Greensboro the search began for one to add to our collection of goods here at the house.  Well, lo and behold, on a birthday not long after, RG received as a gift the very wash pot that we saw in the basement of that house.   With the new pot, Brunswick stew is in order to be made.  We've been talking about it ever since they year before the new washpot was received.  This is an all day ordeal, we're not just making a pot of soup.  We're making 10 gallons, outside in the cold.  The original recipe is for 20 gallons and is follows:

20 Gallon Stew

6 gallons Tomatos
40 Pounds Meat (we use chicken, beef, and pork)
15 pounds potatoes
7 pounds onions
6 1/2 quarts of beans (we use green eye and lima)
5 quarts corn )cut off the cob)
1 small cabbage
3 sticks butter
salt and pepper

The only directions on the original recipe state to cook the beans and potatoes first.  So this slightly relies on passing the actual directions down from generation to generation.

RG setting up the pot.  On two levels of bricks, mainly to protect the patio floor.

The pot all set up.  10 gallon cast iron pot over an Alpha Burner.  This burner is great it goes so low that it will just simmer or so high that it will boil 10 gallons of water in about a minute.   We got this on amazon.

Here is the beginning.  We have about two gallons of homemade chicken stock in here with the lima beans and the green eyes peas.  Both types of beans are from RG's aunts garden. 

7 pounds of onions, sliced in the Cuisinart food processor.  Browning first, before they get to go to the big pot.

Lunch, we have to eat!!!  Beef and snow pea stir fry.  YUM.

The head of Cabbage.  The way the leaves curl up is always so pretty.  

We are cutting up potatoes and shredding meat that we cooked last night to add to the pot.  We will update you during the day as the brew goes together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's all about the Jam, Habanero Apricot Jam that is

With all the Habaneros from the garden we made loads and load and loads of jam.  Seriously, I thought I was working in a Jam factory and would die.  I do enjoy having the jam around now, it's always perfect to sit out when people come over.  We put it on Cheddar cheese or Goat cheese for a little twist.

My favorite desert - Chocolate Souffle

This is my always go to desert to impress people and it's so easy I want to hit myself every time I make it.

I'll dig up the recipe and post it.  It's a really good one because you can make the souffle and hold it in teh fridge for 1/2 a day before you need to bake it.  They also freeze very well and can go from freezer to oven and turn out perfect.  I always use Valrhona chocolate, 61% for these.  They are so rich and light at the same time.  I also use their cocoa powder, it's sinful.  You can find their chocolate here: or in local stores like Sur La Table and other kitchen stores and better grocery stores.

How fabulous does that look???!!!

It's cold and I'm missing summer

At the very end of this past summer it was time to pull up the tomato plants.  However;  we still had green tomatoes on them.  We eat a lot of Caprese salads during the summer, you know, tomato basil and mozzarella with a drizzle of really good balsamic and olive oil.  

Since we live in the south, Fried Green Tomatoes came to mind.  So we created a fried green tomato Caprese salad.  No need for the olive oil drizzle, just some balsamic will do here.  We used O & Co  Cherry Balsamic, which is to die for.  Everything they do is fantastic and well worth what you pay for it.  You can see all they offer here:

Habanero Pasta with chicken

We grew a habanero plant in the garden last year.  In the middle of the summer it exploded, not literally.  Honestly it grew to twice it's size in about a week, so it was about 5 feet tall.  With all these Habaneros we had to figure out something to do with them other than make jelly, which is another story.

I originally got this recipe off of food network from Emeril. His recipes always work, unlike many of the other recipes on the site. I've simplified it some and made it my own.

  Start by cubing a few chicken breasts and toss them in so essence, or other all purpose spice mix.  Shrimp is an excellent choice as well.  Slice an onion and saute in some olive oil and butter.  Add one minced habanero pepper (wear gloves when you mince this puppy, or you'll be sorry) and a few cloves of minces garlic.    Let this cook for a minute or two until the garlic is not raw and is slightly brown.  Add 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained.   Bring to a simmer.  Add the chicken or shrimp back and simmer for about 15 minutes until the cream is reduced by about 1/2.  While this is happening boil some linguine, according to the package directions.  I really like spinach linguine, mostly for the color.  Drain  the pasta, leave a little bit of the past water in the pot, about 1/2 a cup.  Add the chicken and cream mix to the pasta, toss in a hand full of chopped parsley and the green tops of a bunch of scallions, and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Now you're ready to eat.  I put the pasta in bowls and top with some more parm, scallion, and parsley.  It has to look pretty if I'm going to eat it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turkey Pie

We seem to have this tradition started where every Thanksgiving we buy and extra turkey and throw it in the freezer.  On a nice cold snowy day, or when the freezer is too full, we pull it out and roast it.

He are the results of Sunday's efforts.  Stuff some butter under the skin, a 1/2 a stick will do.  Drizzle the bird with some olive oil  and rub it down, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and Herbs de Provence.  Cut a lemon up and stick it in the cavity and put the entire thing in the oven for a few hours.

We usually eat turkey one night and make turkey pies with the rest.  Just like grandmas chicken pie, with peas, carrots, onions, etc. inside.  They come in super handy when there is no time to cook.  I made whole wheat crust this time around and included some vodka as well.  The folks over at Cook's Illustrated say this makes for a tender flaky crust.  I'll let you know on that one.

Here are the pies that I finished tonight.  All ready to go in the freezer.  A hen with some eggs.  We make the eggs with a demitasse spoon from the silver set.  All the rest are just cookie cutters with a little bit of creative license.  I'll post them as I cook them just for fun.

This was the turkey dinner.  Of course I eat the skin, it was fried in butter while the bird roasted and is covered with salt and pepper and Herbs.  It's the best part of the bird.  Sauteed sugar snaps and potato gratin accompany.  The potato gratin is of course made with heavy cream and Gruyere cheese.  You only live once folks!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oeufs en Menurette

Breakfast this morning, well brunch, because it took way too much time to be breakfast. Oeufs en Menurette or Eggs in red wine sauce.

These were complicated, taken straight from a recipe in the Martha Living January issue.  Bacon was fried, then mushrooms and cipiolini onions sauteed in the bacon fat. YUM.  Eggs were poached in red wine and vermouth.  The final product was divine!!  Very worthy of the two hours that I spent making them, sipping coffee, and playing on the computer.

Peasant's Palace - A journey of life through daily food.

Peasant's palace is a blog that I started by suggestion from my other 1/2.  Food is central to our lives.  We would rather stay in and cook than go out.  Sometimes I cook other people's recipes, sometimes I'm feeling creative and make up my own.  Almost every day Dinner is prepared at home and we sit down and eat in the DINING ROOM!!!  With the good silver! 

Through the blog I'll post what we eat and how it was.  If it's a recipe from someone, I'll give you access to it, let you know how it turned out, and if there were any issues.  If I created it, I'll create a recipe for that as well. 

We also have a rather large city garden.  We try to grow as much as we can.  We are obsessed with good tomatoes and everything that comes from the garden.  I'll try to show this progress as well. If you have any questions or comments let me know.