Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Without doubt, Crème Brûlée is my.favorite.dessert.  Oh, I have other favorites… like pig pick’n cake… just about any pie, and old fashioned warm-from-the-oven banana pudding, but Crème Brûlée gets top billing on my dessert list.  I can’t eat a lot of sweet stuff… but it’s a rare circumstance I forego it when I see on a menu where I’m eating.  Ordered with spoons for all at the table to share… because sometimes, one dab’ll do me!

I’ve had this idea in my head for a while, and thought when putting together my December recipes, this would be “the” dessert to pair with my  Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes and Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits.

Just the name alone may cause some to tremble in culinary fear!  But in reality, brûlées are rather simple to make and are only custards of one name or the other.  And butterscotch?  Oh my.  Browning sugar and butter in cream… bestill me heart!  Balancing out with a bit of flakey salt that crunches right in with the brûlée is all the finishing touch needed for this creamy yumminess.  

So #BrûléeToday y’all!
And all the better when you get lucky and realize your sister still has your mama’s decades old custard cups to make them in…

And be sure to come on over to my FB home too… let’s chatabboutit!

Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée

Turning sugar, butter and cream into this browned, decadent custard is only made better by devouring it fireside in the dead of winter. Can be made up to four days ahead. Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée all around please!

Course: Dessert, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brulee, butterscotch, creme brulee, custard, flake salt
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 1 large can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 7 large egg yolks, whisked
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • flaky salt
Instructions
  1. In a heavy pot, bring milk, cream, sugar and butter to a boil. Reduce to medium heat. Watch closely, whisking often as it cooks. When lightly browned (about 15 minutes), remove from heat and let cool a bit. 

  2. Whisk yolks and vanilla together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle into cooled butterscotch mixture while whisking rapidly to temper and prevent “cooking” the egg.

  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place 8 custard cups into a large roasting pan(s). Ladle custard into cups, filling about ⅔ full. Fill roasting pan with hot tap water halfway up sides of the cups. Bake about 25 minutes until slightly “jiggly.” 

  4. Carefully remove cups onto a cooling rack, then put into refrigerator, covered until well chilled (at least 4 hours or overnight).

  5. Before serving, scatter 2–3 tablespoons of sugar over each custard. Using torch, or under preheated oven broiler, heat until golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning the sugar. Let sit (or chill) at least 30 minutes for sugar to harden. 

  6. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve cold.

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Oh grits, how I love thee.

There are few things more southern than the grit.  We know how to cook ’em every which way… dressed up, dressed down, and mostly just enjoyed nice and tender with lots of salt, black pepper and holding a puddle of butter!

When I launched my newest business last year, I knew grits (and country ham!) would be the starting point for my first fun themed gift box.
Side note: While I have your attention, I just must make sure you know all about that… Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!  Boxes have been shipped hither and yon and it’s so fun getting pictures and messages from recipients, and also, from those who sent them.  So do be sure to take a few minutes to visit my online store (and also now appearing in some retail stores from central NC to our coast). And come on over and like my ADDK facebook community too.  Don’t miss my “…just add eggs!” breakfast box and the other boxes, and bags too!

Aunt Dee Dee's Kitchen "...just add eggs!" gift box!

“…just add eggs!” gift box from Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK… back on topic!
When I was creating the Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes, I was pondering what to ladle the saucy dish with all that rich gravy over top of… and of course, grits was the first thing to pop into my mind.  Mashed potatoes would be good, but I decided something with a little more texture was needed… bingo ~ grits!

So while your oxtail stew is stew’n, cook yourself some creamy grits… till all nice and tender.  Your taste buds, and those you’re feeding, will thank you.

See you soon over on my FB page I hope…

And oh… don’t miss out on the dessert to pair with this meal… Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée!

 

Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits

Many long-lived mills here in North Carolina still stone grind the best grits. Slow cooked creamy grits pair well with so many dishes (and stand alone quite nicely, too). Seasoned with fresh rosemary and salty parmesan, enjoy them alongside our Savory Oxtail Stew.

Course: Brunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: creamy, grits, parmesan, rosemary
Servings: 8
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 4ish cups chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 1 heaping tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half, optional
Instructions
  1. Bring grits and broth to a boil. Add butter, rosemary, pepper and salt. Reduce to a slow simmer, cover and continue to cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until grits are tender. If they get too thick, add a little more broth or water.

  2. To finish, stir in salt to taste, plus Parmesan.

  3. For extra creaminess, blend in half-and-half or cream.

  4. Garnish with a bit of grated cheese and rosemary.

  5. Best if served immediately.

Recipe Notes

Helpful hint: If you have leftover grits, spread in a shallow dish and chill. Slice, dip in egg and breadcrumbs, and fry until crispy in oil or butter.

 

 

 

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with herbs and prunes

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with herbs and prunes

Published in Carolina Country Magazine December 2020

Oxtails!?  What is that?  So many are unfamiliar with this cut of meat and shy away from purchasing and cooking… self included until recently.  I think in the recesses of my mind I remember eons ago doing something with oxtail… but I decided it was high time I just buy some and figure it out.

So what exactly are oxtails?

oxtail Wendy's Home Economics
Nope, we don’t see oxen roaming pastures these days now do we?  So why are their tails in our grocery meat coolers?
Basically, what we see is simply the tail of a cow.  Long ago, it actually was oxtail, but the name has carried over to cows.  So the tail of the cow, just as with pretty much every other part of the cow we eat, is also pretty tasty!  The tail, usually about 8-10 pounds, is skinned, then cut into pieces.  For those seeking out gelatinous cuts of meat for healthy eating reasons, here you go!  And because of the nature of the beast and bone, it takes well to slow cooking like this braised recipe I concocted.

Used to be that because it is boney and fatty, it was cheap and considered a discard of the animal for poor folks. Yet over time, gourmands have discovered this flavorful part of the bovine and has caused the price of it to rise.  I usually find it for around $7.99+/lb., which is pretty expensive considering the volume of bone and fat. But hey, we know meat near bones IS more flavorful and fat keeps it nice and moist.

This cut isn’t for everybody, but if you’ve never cooked oxtail and appreciate some fat and don’t mind a little bone, give this a try.  Much of the fat cooks out into the rich and creamy sauce. If you just can’t bring yourself to do oxtail… you can substitute another cut of beef that is suited for slow cooking and braising… a few suggestions would be chuck, shank, stew beef… and this recipe is perfect for short ribs!  Look for inexpensive cuts… those typically tend to be your best bets for stews and braises.

One last thing… the prune. Such an underappreciated fruit.  After all… prunes are nothing but dried plums!  You like plums, eh?  Some packagers started calling them “dried plums” years back… a marketing ploy since, for whatever reason, prunes got a bum rap and bad “reputation” in the culinary world.  They figured out, probably from some expensive market testing, that folks will buy dried plums, but not prunes!  They get lost in stews like this one… while giving the gravy a delectable richness and sweetness you won’t get from anything else.  They also help thicken the sauce… 

As for how to serve… well my favorite way is over creamy grits.  Like my Creamy Rosemary Parmesan Grits 
But this stew will do just fine spooned over mashed taters, even mashed sweet potatoes.  Or alongside risotto or orzo.  
Whatever suits YOUR fancy.  

At first glance, you might be intimidated by the recipe. Don’t be.  I promise the short amount of time it takes to pull it all together for a few slow cook’n hours will be worth the reward on the back end.  And be sure to pick up some nice crusty bread because this one has “Sop Me” written all over it.

PS… don’t forget dessert!  I fixed this Salted Butterscotch Crème Brûlée a day before to finish off this decadent yet peasant style meal.

Happy tail soppin y’all!  Do come on over and share your oxtail memories and experiences in my FB community!  

Savory Braised Oxtail Stew with Herbs and Prunes

Chilly winter days make us want to throw something hearty and comforting in a big ol’ pot and let it slowly simmer for hours, filling the house with the enticing smell of what’s to come. This stew is a bit spicy, subtly sweetened by the prunes, with many layers of flavor.

Course: Main Course, Stew, Supper
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: braised, oxtail, prunes, savory, stoup, stew, soup, state fair
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 3-4 lbs. oxtail
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • several tablespoons oil
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 2 large jalapeno peppers with seeds, chopped
  • about a dozen cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup dry sherry (or more broth as sub)
  • 1 lb. box pitted prunes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Dredge oxtail in flour and let stand about 15 minutes. Add oil to heavy skillet to about ¼-inch. Lightly brown oxtail over medium heat about 3 minutes on each side, making sure not to crowd while frying. Set aside.

  2. Dredge bacon in flour and fry in drippings; crumble and set aside.

  3. Sauté onions, carrots, jalapeños and garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze with Worcestershire and sherry.

  4. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer about 2 hours or until tender, stirring occasionally.

  5. Garnish with crumbled bacon and parsley.

 

 

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus (plus 10!)

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus

 

I’m not personally fond of chickpeas, the traditional hummus main ingredient.  Like my Butterbean Hummus, I like to play around with all sorts of other things to create my own… and you can too. 

North Carolina is the #1 sweet potato producing state… and we grow about 3 times that of the 2nd highest producer!  Around my parts, where sweet potatoes abound, we love to fix ’em every which way.  So with the Super Bowl on its way, what better time than now to throw together this quick and easy dip… while getting in the team spirit with my “spirited” sweet potato hummus.

You will definitely want to roast ’em with the garlic. Cooking good stuff is all about layering flavors, and most foods will always benefit from roasting… especially ones like sweet taters… the natural sugars caramelize throwing in a layer that takes this to another level of deliciousness.

Even if  you’re not a “bowler,” I highly suggest you make some!  It’s perfect for couch snacking on a chilly winter weekend on a movie binge… a quick bedtime snack… or late breakfast too.

PS… if you don’t have tahini or sesame seeds… just whirl all together without that!  You can sub peanut butter too… just throw cook’n at its finest!

And what’s the “plus 10?”  Why 10 other ways to enjoy this besides the usual of course!

  • spread inside wraps
  • smeared onto ham and cheese sliders
  • on sandwiches instead of mayo (especially delish on grilled chicken or turkey sandwiches)
  • tucked into tacos or on tostadas
  • swirled into noodles
  • dolloped on grilled chicken or pork chops
  • whirled into deviled eggs
  • thinned with broth for a creamy soup
  • smeared on toasted english muffins (especially cinnamon raisin)
  • whisked into your pancake batter

Whatever your fancy… do put this one on your “to do” list. 

And be sure you join us over on FB too…   

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus
Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Fun Food!, Snack
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, North Carolina Goodies, Southern, Summer Food
Ingredients
  • about 3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, divided
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup or so tahini OR
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • about 3/4 cup or so pine nuts (better if toasted!)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more if you like)
  • cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, freshly ground black pepper, rosemary or other favorites in your home
  • a splash of spiced rum, optional (but then it won't be "spirited!"
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Toss on large baking pan with most (or all)* the garlic cloves and oil. Move about every 10-15 minutes so that all sides get nice and caramelized. This will take 30-40ish minutes, depending on size of cubes.

  2. Once done, let cool slightly, then throw all, including the oil, into your food processor. Add remaining cloves of garlic, tahini or seeds, nuts, butter, salt and the seasoning or combination you like best. This is also the time to add a splash of rum if desired.

  3. Whirl until nice and creamy!

  4. Serve with your favorite dipper... pork rinds! crackers! pita chips! toast!

Recipe Notes

This recipe doesn't require exactness.  Just close to my suggested amounts will be just fine.  You know what you and those around you prefer for flavor, so add whatever herbs and spices suits y'alls fancy.  And also, even though it's hard to beat the roasted sweetness of pine nuts, this is a good dish to use bits and pieces of nuts in your pantry.  I just highly suggest giving them a quick toast in your oven (I use my toaster oven).  This will add yet another level of flavorful goodness. 


  • Be sure cubes are uniform in size so they roast at the same time.
  • *I like to use mostly roasted garlic because of the roasted sweetness, but also, I like to throw in just a couple of un-roasted for another layer of flavor too... whatever works for you

 

Wendy’s “Hospital Meatloaf”

Wendy's Hospital Meatloaf

Long ago, in one of my many culinary adventures… I managed a hospital kitchen.  Our big Wake County hospital had several satellite little community hospitals, and one was in Zebulon.  I really didn’t know what I was doing when I applied for the job… a transfer in the system. I had taken a “temp” job with WakeMed and that “temp” turned into 5 years as Admin. Asst. to all the ER docs… all the ER nursing staff and also,  the trauma center was born while I was there, so THAT got dumped on me too… I kept screaming “this is a 2-3 person job”  And after I got the job to manage the kitchen in Zebulon, they split it into 2 persons. 

Let me just say that working in the county’s emergency room was “something.”  I saw some of everything and then some. I wished I’d have kept notes to write some sort of “The Crazy Shit You See In The County Emergency Room” because it would be a doozie!

ok… so to meatloaf!

When I got to the kitchen in Zebulon, there were 3 of the kindest older ladies to show me the way.  On day one, I learned about the pureed diet when one of them had blended up some chicken… fried chicken.  A blob of it had been spooned into a little white plastic container that fit into our serving trays.  So I asked Frances “WHAT IS THAT?”  Because it looked like cat vomit.  Frances explained to me that she had pureed some fried chicken for a patient on dysphasia diet.  I surely hope I never get to that stage… but… instead of just serving patients there canned processed pureed foods and baby food, we pureed actual real food we cooked… so it would be tasty and they would eat, since that’s a big problem with elderly and folks in rehab, which was the majority of our patients.

We cooked great food there!  Even the head honchos in food service up at “Big Wake” would ask me… “what are you doing out there because our patients who have been there always want to be transferred there because of your food!”  We used a LOT of Ms. Dash since most docs put everybody on “low sodium.”  Which kept most of them from eating much.  I told my family that when I get that old, if I want same salt on my food, somebody had better bring me some damn salt! The restrictions were often silly when these folks had little time left… all they wanted was some salt on their food, but we couldn’t give it to them.  

Each day, we hung the lunch and supper menu on a board outside the kitchen where staff who wanted to eat could put their name.  The list was always longest on 2 days… fried chicken, and meatloaf.  

There in the kitchen was a scratched up old tin recipe box.  Tucked inside of it were mostly hand-written recipes they had cooked for years.  The cards had ragged edges, and food stains that made their mark as the cards were pulled out on cooking days and got drips and dribbles on them.  The meatloaf card was no exception, although after there a while, I didn’t need the card.  It was etched in my mind.  

This may be the best meatloaf I’ve ever eat.  Our staff and patients loved it too.  I should have shared it long ago… and I apologize for the terrible picture!  I forget to take good ones when I make it… cause I’m ready to dig in.  I made this one above, or what’s left of it, in my toaster oven, where I do most of my roasting/baking.  It does look rather greasy, and it is. Because I prefer 70/30 blend for this and most all my ground beef cooking.  It’s the fat folks!  That makes this meatloaf so moist, tender and juicy.  The oil can be easily dabbed out with paper towels… or poured off.  

So here it is. My “Hospital Meatloaf” recipe.  I have no idea where this recipe originally came from.  I worked there in late 80’s/early 90’s and it had been there years before I arrived.  It’s just plain and simple good meatloaf.  Make it and let me know what you think!

And come join us in my facebook community!

Wendy's "Hospital Meatloaf!"

This may be THE best meatloaf I've ever had. Make it! And let me know what you think...

Course: Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly, Southern
Keyword: meatloaf
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
Meatloaf:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I prefer 70/30 for moistness but use your own preferred)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I usually use Panko but any will do)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I just use ketchup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I use ketchup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or molasses
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. (I make all the time in my toaster oven.)

  2. Combine all meatloaf ingredients together until well blended together. Mix gently, and remember, the more you "work" the meat, the chewier and tougher it will be.

  3. Put into baking pan and shape into loaf. **I make a 'well" in the middle where I can fill with sauce and leave edges around the top "exposed" to get that nice crunchy meatloaf top.

  4. Pour sauce into "well" and over all of the loaf edges.

  5. Bake about 1 hour until done.

Recipe Notes

NOTE:

  • I reserve a little of the sauce to pour over when I take out of the oven... or pass so folks can spoon over their chunks of meatloaf.  
  • I NEVER EVER cook meatloaf in a loaf pan!  If you do, you just won't get the nice little "crunch" on top like you will the way I cook.  Just make by hand in baking dish/tray and shape as noted with sauce in "well."  
  • Happy Meatloaf'n!

 

 

Woolworth’s Café Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust

 

Woolworth's Café Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Published in Carolina Country Magazine January 2019

I’m not sure how far and wide Woolworth’s stores were “back in the day,” but I do have fond memories of the one in Raleigh as a little girl. Oh my gosh, that place had EVERYthing.  A little child’s wonderland.  It would always be SO hard trying to choose a toy when we would go there… just too much to ask a small child to do!  LOL
Kiddos now would snicker at those things… but for us, there were a million games, pick up sticks, jacks, paddle balls and so MANY things that were so fun… and interactive so we could play with others… oh to go back to then.  And even though they were one of my favorite things, I did learn not keep choosing paddle balls since mama would put in the “paddle drawer” in the kitchen when the balls came off and use them to spank my sometimes rebellious behind… which some would now consider child abuse.  However, I beg to differ and deserved every single pop on the butt I got… I even painted one of them pink with fingernail polish and can see that thing laying in the drawer now like it was yesterday.

Periodically, me and mama and my grandma, Ma Hocutt, would head up to Raleigh, which back then seemed so far away.  It was a planned event I’d look forward to down the 2 lane road.
“WHEN were we going to Raleigh again?”
Now days, our little Zebulon is practically a suburb of Raleigh.
We would “do” downtown Raleigh… then usually spin by Cameron Village because no trip to Raleigh shopping was complete without a visit to Boylan-Pierce.  I loved going down to that bargain basement… by the little water thingy where I’d get a coin to toss in… and was always fascinated by their money tubes… I don’t ever remember anywhere but there where they would take your money, put in a tube to zip away to some place in the basement where they’d make change and send back in a tube… I even remember that tube channel thing going thru that stepped area… whirling by overhead!
Do you remember that?

Daddy was young in his banking career and didn’t have much money, and mama stayed at home to look after me. So my grandma would take me and mama shopping… we would always go to the Mother-Daughter Store in downtown Raleigh and come home with a few matching outfits… seemed to be a thing back then.  Then, we’d go to Brittian’s Shoe Store for some spiffy new shoes… usually shiny patent leather!   I can remember like yesterday putting my foot into that chrome measuring thing to get properly fitted… the fitter would say “stand up please,” and slide parts and pieces of that thing to size my foot…  then, the man (usually) would disappear, only to come out toting a tall stack of shoe boxes to try on… with my foot up on that shoe foot stool thingy.
Mama would always make sure to bring some “Sunday socks” in her pocketbook  … anklets usually with a little lace around them, to put on when fitting shoes. I’d prance around in the shoes, and mama and Ma Hocutt would stick their fingers in the shoe, and pinch the toes… making sure when I said “yes, they fit” (because I was really all DONE with this annoying part of our day) they really did fit!  Unlike now days when we go places where nary a shoe person is in sight and we’re on our own.

Funny thing… years… decades later, someone in our family ended up caring for old Ms. Brittian… my memories of her was that she was very.very.old.  But most entertaining!  She would come to my grandma’s house with this family member but seems like she may have had some cognitive issues by that time.

So… back to our Raleigh adventures!
I remember these stores being down at the end of Fayetteville Street towards the capitol building… right near the Ambassador Theater where we would sometimes go as a family.

We would mosey down Fayetteville Street to Hudson Belk’s, where we would do more clothes shopping.  I hated it, because as a little girl, I was chubby. And remember so vividly mama asking “where is the CHUBBY department!”  Even way back then, as a little country girl, the stigma of being “chubby” was so embarrassing.  But off to the “Chubby Department” we would go to find clothes for fat little me.  It was only fitting we’d end our Belk’s shopping by eating!
Up in the Capitol Room.
Every now and then we’d stroll across the street to the “elegant” S&W Cafeteria.  My memories of there was it was kinda uppity… fancy smancy… felt like what I imagined eating in New York City to be like!

But back to the Capitol Room. Oh did they have good food.  Up at the end of that escalator ride!  As anticipation built to that long hallway leading to food. And a cafeteria line… with so many choices… a chubby girl’s dream!  After the humiliation of chubby shopping, why not be comforted by so.much.food!
I loved that there was a table with pickles and deviled eggs and other condiments to add to our plates. I’ve always loved a good condiment and have a condiment fridge for them all. My daddy did love condiments too… so I got that honest. Even as a little girl, I did love a condiment!
I guess places like this ignited the young culinarian in me that has lasted a lifetime.
But we rarely got dessert there.  Why?

WOOLWORTH’S was up the street…

On the way out of Belk’s, we would go by that little nut and candy area where they had nuts in a box being warmed by a light bulb.  ha! ha!  We never left there without a little bag of warm salty cashews… and mama had to have her maple nut goodies.  I always put some of those in my candy jar at Christmas… in memory of her!

But even with those things, we would nearly always end up back at Woolworth’s, sitting at their little cafe counter, feet dangling from a counter stool…. spinning around in my new patent leather shoes… eating their fluffy, slightly lemony cheesecake. I remember those ladies who waited on us… with those little paper waitress thingys on their heads.  Memories of ladies like Flo on that TV show.
That stuff was sooooo good.  A chubby girl’s delight!

A couple of years ago when I was putting my spaghetti sauce recipe on paper for Carolina Country, I was trying to come up with a tasty dessert item for that month’s recipes.  This memory popped up and seemed like a perfect light and fluffy one for the heavy spaghetti… and hey, cheesecake and spaghetti…. isn’t that a great pairing?

So I stayed true to the original recipe found online but did just a little tweaking and made a gingersnap crust.   Y’all. It works so perfectly with the hint of lemon cheesecake. And oh, added a dollop (y’all know by now that’s my fave culinary word!) of egg nog whipped cream on top. And is so easy to make… a great dessert for a bunch of folks too.

(Note:  Enjoy these Parmesan and Green Onion Cornbread Crisps with my spaghetti too… instead of the usual garlic bread!)

So… I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing with me a bit on this childhood memory and also hope you will share yours in comment below. Or come over and add to post on my facebook community!

Woolworth’s Café Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust
Course: Brunch, Cakes, Dessert, Fun Food!, Pie, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly, No Cook
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 pound gingersnaps, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
Filling
  • 1 3 oz. box lemon gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 can evaporated milk, well chilled
Egg Nog Whipped Cream
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup egg nog
Instructions
  1. Combine gingersnaps and powdered sugar. Add melted butter and mix together using fingers until butter is incorporated. Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan with crust, reserving ¾ cup for topping.

  2. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Cool to room temperature just until slightly thickened, making sure it does not fully congeal.

  3. Using mixer, cream together cheese, sugar and vanilla for about 3 minutes.

  4. In cold mixing bowl using a chilled wire whisk attachment, whip milk until peaks form. Add gelatin and mix for about 30 seconds to incorporate. Blend in cheese mixture.

  5. Pour over crust and scatter with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate overnight.

  6. For egg nog whipped cream: Whip cream and egg nog together until stiff peaks form. Serve on this or other desserts during the holiday season!

 

Egg Nog Chess Pie with bananas and cream…

Egg Nog Chess Pie with bananas and cream

Published in Carolina Country January 2021

Got a tad of egg nog hanging out in your fridge from the holidaZe?  Tired of sipping on it and moving it around and wish it would just get gone?  Well here you go. Fix this simple Egg Nog Chess Pie (with bananas and cream) to be rid of it.  Those that get to eat the pie will thank you for it.

So nog be gone!  A great pie to indulge in for New Year’s Eve… might even pair nicely with a bubbly dry champagne?

PS… what’s your favorite egg nog?  I’m a huge fan of Simply Natural Creamery here in NC, like used in this pie… theirs is a really good choice… for sip’n and pie’n too.

Don’t forget to come on over and hang out with us on my Wendy’s Home Economics FB community (and on IG as culinaryadventuristwendy).

Egg Nog Chess Pie with bananas and cream

It seems fittin’ to use up that last bit of holiday eggnog in a good old southern chess pie. ‘Nog and bananas go together like mac and cheese, so partake of pie while toasting toes in front of a cozy fire as you settle into the New Year.

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Pie, Supper
Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly, Southern, Southern Desserts
Keyword: bananas, chess pie, cream pie, egg nog chess pie, pie, southern desserts
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 7 cups banana-nut, granola-type cereal
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup egg nog
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • whipped cream, optional
  • grated nutmeg, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. To make the crust, roughly crush cereal in a food processor. Combine with butter by hand. Place into a 10-inch pie plate. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

  3. For the filling, use a mixer to blend eggs, sugar and cornmeal together. Add butter, eggnog, vinegar, vanilla and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined.

  4. Thinly slice the banana over bottom of crust. Pour the egg mixture over banana. Bake about 40 minutes, until filling is set. Chill. Serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of nutmeg!

    (The bananas will float up as the pie bakes so you'll see some of them in the pie.)

 

Roasted Grape & Cheese Crostini with spiced pecan crumbs

Published in Carolina Country January 2020

Have you ever roasted grapes?  Y’all.

So I wanted to create something nibbly for the January issue of the magazine and had read about roasted grapes, had on my “to do” radar… just had never taken the time.  Till now.

This is such a simple “recipe”… actually just more of a “how to” that doesn’t actually need specific measurements.  These grapes are so good, you can just roast and eat ’em all by themselves, BUT… spooned over some soft cheese after roasting doesn’t hurt.  Give this a try and let me know what you think!

about 1/2 pound seedless table grapes, same or mixed variety
favorite oil for roasting*
sea salt
balsamic vinegar or glaze
honey
crumbled sugar spiced pecans
earthy creamy rind cheese (like Brie or Camembert)
fresh thyme, optional
baguette, sliced thin and toasted

Preheat oven (or toaster oven like I do) to 400F.  Wash and dry grapes. Pull from the vine or leave on as preferred. Place grapes in roasting dish and drizzle with a little oil. Scatter with a light dusting of salt. Roast 35-45 minutes, shaking a little along the way. Grapes will shrivel and skins will split as they roast.  This can be done ahead of time.

When ready to serve, warm cheese in 350 oven (or toaster oven) for about 10 minutes, until soft and oozing. Using spatula, move onto serving dish. Place grapes over and around cheese. Drizzle with vinegar and honey. Scatter with pecans. Serve with toasted bread.

*We used NC’s Carolina Gold (Sunflower) Oil Italian    www.CarolinaGoldOils.com

Other suggested cheeses: blue, goat or ricotta.

Come on over to my Wendy’s Home Economics facebook page for this and more!

…a recipe for success by some North Carolina food makers!

Each year, the November issue of Carolina Country Magazine is their “food” issue.  And lucky me gets to contribute.  Out now in the current issue is this article… Local Brands offer Recipes for Success!

Like for all issues , I’m working months, sometimes a year in advance… (I just went to the mountains to have fun and do a story for next fall issue).  This one came together over much of the last year.  Featured in this tale is:

I’ll just let you hop over to the story at Carolina Country and read… see what I had to say about being an NC food entrepreneur along with what these four offered too!

Find these local goodies and #ShopLocal!  Tell your friends too…

And I would LOVE for you to go add a comment at the very bottom of the article!

German Apple Cake

Featured at L & M Companies

 

I wear many hats (thus “Culinary Adventurist”), but perhaps my mostest favorite of all is creating recipes!  Nothing is more fun to me than getting to “work” (play!) in my kitchen with a company’s products… be it from a jar, or from dirt or, in this case, trees!  

Over the years, I have been fortunate to get to “play” with all sorts of produce from L&M Produce, a big wholesale company based out at the farmers’ market… from winter squashes… to Koolhead cabbage… to apples and more!  I’ve literally had FedEx and UPS trucks unloading cases of such in my driveway at the same time… 

Being that it is apple season, I’m going to share some apple recipes created for them a while back… so you can enjoy them too.  For starters, with a chill coming in the air, how about this German Apple Cake?

(Printable recipe below.)

Although it may seem like apple overkill, I enjoy placing a cutting of this cake over a puddle of warm homemade applesauce. Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a dusting of apple pie spice… y’all!  There are no words.  Just fix yourself some of this cake.  There’s a thin little layer of “lightly crunchy” that forms on top and inside, it’s super moist and perfect for breakfast, lunch, supper… or bedtime snack on a cool fall day.  Or any day for that matter!
I like to lightly “toast” a chunk of it in my toaster oven (as I’m an admitted crispy/crunchy kinda gal) to give it slight toasty outside… while still having that moist flavorful inside.  Make… and enjoy!

Do come on over to my FB community and chat about it on the post there too!

German Apple Cake

Enjoy this moist German Apple Cake for breakfast, lunch, supper or bedtime snack! Great over warm applesauce and a dollop of whipped cream on top, dusted with apple pie spice! Or, just as is.

Course: Breakfast, Brunch, Cakes, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: Farmers Market, Kid-Friendly, Southern, Southern Desserts
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons apple pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 gala apples, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts, (we used pecans)
  • 1/2 cup raisins or coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  2. Beat eggs with oil until fluffy, about 2 minutes.Combine sugar, flour, soda, salt and spice.  Beat in a cup at the time until all has been incorporated into egg mixture. Using spatula, fold in extract, apples, nuts and fruit.

  3. Pour into 9×13” prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for about 50-55 minutes.

 

How to Host a Pig Picking… and P.S., barbecue is a noun, not a verb!

….a southern tradition ~ the pig pick’n

Published in Carolina Country Magazine November 2018

Growing up here in North Carolina, I’ve been going to pig pick’ns as long as I can remember.
Pork is a staple in our lives.
Particularly pork cooking over fire. Preferably wood fire.

Every year on Christmas Eve, my daddy and his buddies would gather at “the cabin” and cook pork shoulders… I have no idea just how many of them.  Dozens, if not hundreds at the time! He had some special customers at the banks he worked at over the years and special folks in our community, like our preacher, he’d cook some for and deliver for their Christmas present.  And of course, he’d bring us one home!
The smell was as delicious as the pork.  From my days as a little girl on up til grown, I have fond memories of running to the kitchen when daddy would get home with that big hunk of pork, then standing by that glistening meat in a tin foil lined cardboard box he’d sit on the kitchen counter… picking off the crispy parts of near’bout burnt skin with my little fingers… savoring every crunchy greasy bite.  That was like a little mini pig pick’n right there in our avocado green kitchen. And mama couldn’t be more pleased. She detested cooking. Didn’t do much of it. Would have probably built our new house way back then without a kitchen if was up to her.
(And folks ask me why I love to cook?  Because I wanted to EAT.)
Starting with Christmas Eve supper, we ate on that pork for days… best sliced… a bit pink in the center… placed on pieces of the softest white bread… probably Wonder Bread back then… smeared with a good bit of Duke’s mayonnaise.  And a shake of Daddy’s Saturday Sauce. (Coming soon to a bottle near you!)

If you live in the south, it’s highly likely you’ve been to your share of pig pick’ns.  If not, you need to find a way to do this!  Although we think nothing of having them 12 months of the year, I personally enjoy them the best in cooler months.  Too much pig grease on hot spring or summer day just doesn’t sit well in my belly.  The time to lard up is when there’s a nip in the air… on cool fall days or crisp chilly winter ones.  Preferably with a crackling fire to warm one’s butt by… while gathered with friends and family waiting for the pitmaster to announce the pig is done and ready to chop and be pulled!
Helpful hint… make buddies with this person and they’ll likely let you know when the coveted ribs are ready… the prize o’the pig (along with just the right pieces of skin)… and you know, there’s only a few of those ribs to be had!

Pig Picking Ribs

 

 

 

pork skins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of years ago, the editor at Carolina Country asked me to write about hosting a pig pick’n.  So I did just that!  Here are my Top 10 tips for having a pig pick’n of your own.  

First, a fact that is imperative to establish at this point: Barbecue is a noun, not a verb. At least for most of us. We eat barbecue. We don’t “have” a barbecue. We grill or cook out, or in this case, have a pig pick’n. 

So… just what does it take to host a pig pick’n?
Don’t be overwhelmed­ — I’ve broken it down here in 10 steps:

1. A reason isn’t really required to cook a pig, although there often may be one. Being that food is a focal point for most all celebrations, and since hogs can be had in all sorts of sizes and are relatively inexpensive, a pig pick’n is budget-friendly and suitable for all sorts of affairs. From hauling one in its cooker to a college football parking lot to wedding celebrations, you can’t go wrong with pick’n pork.

Pig Picking Whole Hog

 

2. Next, you’ll need to jot down your guest list to decide just what size hog is needed. It is at this point you will want to bring your friend, the local pitmaster, to the party. He or she is the most vital ingredient of your gathering (aside from the pig of honor, of course). We all know who these folks are, but if you are new to this, ask your local friends for recommendations. Let the pitmaster take on the piggy prep while you focus on the hosting and fix’ns. They will be the providers of the all-important sauce, too, typically their own special “secret” recipe. 

A few years ago, I attended “BBQ Camp” at NC State University and have this… but I’d no more cook a pig than most folks I know! Gosh I learned SO much and had a great time too.  Awesome Culinary Adventure!!!

I'm a BBQ Pitmaster!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. So now that the pig is off your plate, so to speak, it’s time to dress it up. When we dress up our pigs, we’re not talking fancy frou-frou sorts of stuff. This is when you call up those friends who love to cook or those who have said “let me know if I can help with anything” or “can I bring something?” (although they probably didn’t actually mean that, and were just being gracious).

 

For smaller gatherings, it’s fun to turn it into a potluck and ask others to bring their special slaw, tater salad, baked beans, or whatever other barbecue-centric recipes are dear to them. It’s like the good old days of country church homecomings, when long rows of sawhorses topped with plywood were filled with such a bounty, and chickens were fried that morning in lard and cast iron skillets before going to church, not picked up and put out in golden yellow or red and white boxes!

Just be sure to keep a list so you don’t end up with a trough-full of one or the other, and so you will know what to fix yourself to fill in the gaps.

For larger gatherings, you will want to dial up your local country cook’n restaurant and let them help you be “hostess with the mostess” and make up big pans of sides, usually presented in tin foil pans. By hiding these and dishing out into your own serving vessels (and shaking a bit of paprika here and there) you can accept the accolades, except from the inevitable few who patronize said restaurants and recognize their dishes by looks alone.

pig picking side dishes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. At this point, I must stress food safety!  My friends know me as the Food Safety Police. This is the most important element of your food and presentation. You do not want your party to be remembered for being that one that made dozens sick because hot foods weren’t hot and cold foods were … warm! UGH. (Did you know even baked beans can wreak havoc?) 

Please keep cold foods on ice, put out in small batches kept in proper refrigeration. I beg of you.  And if you have a big crowd and lots to keep chilled, an easy way to do that is with a small kid’s swimming pool, or things like big galvanized tubs lined with burlap. Fill with ice and sit your bowls into the pool/ice at serving time. Borrow or rent chafers for your hot foods, and chat with your pig cooker about his food safety plans also.

 

5. To round out your meal, white bread or rolls are standard and help with grease absorption. Some like to add hushpuppies. You’ll probably want to pick those up somewhere, or for those a bit more adventurous, try my award-winning recipe for Oinkers with BBQ Gravy Dip (see page 12).
If you’re lucky, you’ll have your own “hushpuppy master” cook fresh and hot on site! 

Pig Picking Hushpuppy Cook'n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. To wash it all down, sweet tea (and unsweet) must be invited to the party. A tub of ice and pitchers of lemonade will be appreciated. Just resist the urge to serve your lemonade in a cute tin bucket or tub, as a resulting acidic chemical reaction may leave your refreshment tasting metallic (and can cause a special and dangerous kind of food poisoning!). And don’t forget to have plenty of cold water! A recommended added treat here in NC: plenty of iced-down Cheerwine.

Sweet Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Little else is needed, except fun disposables. And tables and chairs. Adorn your tables with flower vases (aka jars pulled from the back of your cabinets). Nothing fancy is required — whimsical flowers and greenery are often available growing wild around the neighborhood and road ditches (variety… “Roadsideia!” LOL). Inexpensive sheets of burlap can be had from farm container supply businesses.

Roadsidia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Finally, desserts are a must. “A little something sweet” to balance out the pig fat, you know. Typically, this will be banana pudding and pig pick’n cake. I created this really simple dessert for you, the best of both thrown together into one…  Pig Pick’n Banana Pudding — a no-cook crowd pleaser that you can fix in no time (or farm out to one of those who asked to “do something”).

Pig Pick'n Banana Pudding

Pig Pick’n Banana Pudding! Two loves… Pig Pick’n Cake playing together with Banana Pudding! What’s not to love here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. A few last tips: Be sure to have plenty of containers or zippered bags to pack up the leftover pig, as there will usually be some. Ask your pitmaster to take care of this final pick’n for you. Have some of those “can I help with anything” folks lined up to pitch in with post-pick’n clean-up (and reward them with leftover pig).
Even the bones are good… throw in your freezer until ready for a slow cooked crock pot of navy beans… these bones make the best stock for beans and soups!

Pig Pickin Ptimaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Last, but not least, have fun! Don’t work yourself silly. The beauty of hosting a pig pick’n is its simplicity … so even the host can kick back and enjoy it. And even the pig is left with a smile on its face.

Pig Picking The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So… now that it’s fall, and you have all the instructions needed, plan yourself a pig pick’n!  Get a pig a little bigger than you’ll need so you can fill your freezer for the winter, like squirrels stock up on acorns.  Unless, of course, you want to have need to have another one during or post holidaZe!  Your friends will take mighty kindly to you when you gift them with a few pounds of tasty North Carolina picked pig!  It will be hard to top THAT Christmas present…

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Blanching tender cabbage is a great way to preserve nutrients and get vivid color! And don’t you love having a farm fresh side dish ready in 10 minutes?

Featured in Carolina Country Magazine November 2020

I.Love.Cabbage.

I cannot think of one way I do not love me some cabbage!  It’s so versatile and it such a great side dish for most anything.  It’s quick to prepare… and budget friendly too.  

With cabbage, usually “less is more.” It brings so much of its own flavor to the table you really don’t need to do much to it.  Like this recipe.  It’s as simple as blanching till tender, but still has a little “bite” to it.  A bit of crushed red pepper and caraway seed… and of course some butter, and you’ve got yourself a mighty fittin side.  It’s just right to round out your meal with my Bacon Stuffed Pork Loin with garlicky apple cider gravy and Rustic Herbed Dressing with apples and cheddar.  This meal just hollers “FALL!” and would be nice for something different featuring pork on your Thanksgiving table this year.

Put all these goodies on your grocery list so you’ll have on hand to cook up this comforting fall feast soon. Then come on over to my facebook community and share your comments!

 

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Blanching tender cabbage is a great way to preserve nutrients and get vivid color!  And don’t you love having a farm fresh side dish ready in 10 minutes? 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Southern
Keyword: cabbage, side dish
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large head savoy cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • crushed black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. While bringing broth to a boil in large pot, cut cabbage into wedges and discard core. Tear by hand into 1”-2” pieces.  Add to boiling water. Stir and blanch for 1 ½to 2 minutes; drain and reserve broth for soup.

  2. Put cabbage back into hot pot. Toss with seasonings and butter to melt.  Taste and add salt as needed. Serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

Note: I save the core and simmer in the discarded broth for a delicious soup stock.
Don’t toss all that flavor! When cooking, save parts of vegetables for making the best soup base, sauces and gravy. Toss scraps into a freezer bag and add to it until you have accumulated a goodly amount and have time to make. Goodies to save are vegetable broth (like drained from this cabbage) along with leaves and core, onion and garlic peels, celery ends, corn cobs, carrot ends and peel, potato scraps, and fresh herb stems. Freeze in ice trays or small containers for adding flavor to all sorts of dishes!

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