Sunday, April 8, 2018

Braised Short Ribs and Grits: Date Night at Home

I have a problem staying up late. When Webb and Dyer go to bed (8:30 on the weekends) I can last about 30-45 minutes before I am snoozing on the sofa while Rich enjoys a good superhero movie. The only way to keep me up is the promise of a good meal. 

I've been watching a video from Bon Appetit for two weeks now...time to make it a reality. The Basically tutorial was a great help! Braised Short Ribs with a Pretty Great Bacon-Pineapple Situation on Top

It's a 3-hour process, but I'm telling you it's worth it...especially if you can do it all in your pajamas! 

I started around 6:45 and we didn't eat until 9:45. I was able to feed the children, get them to bed all while making a masterpiece. 

Rich labeled this as one of the top 3 meals I've made for him so I had to record it. Can't wait to do this again. 

I actually followed the directions...not my norm, but when I try something new I feel I should do it as intended before I put my own twist on it. 

Braised Short Ribs
  • 6-8 slices of bacon 
  • 1 red onion, 3/4 chunked, 1/4 thin sliced
  • 3" piece ginger, sliced with skin on
  • 2-4 large bone-in beef short ribs
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup soy sauce 
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water 
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks 
  • Cilantro

Preheat oven to 300°F. 

Chop bacon into pieces and cook until crisp in a heavy pot that has a lid and can go in the oven. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside until the end (you should make more bacon than you need, I ate a good bit during the cooking process...I have no willpower). 

Salt and pepper the short ribs and sear meat in the bacon grease on all sides. Take meat out and add chunked red onions and ginger. Let sizzle for several minutes then stir in soy sauce, 1/2 cup rice vinegar, water, brown sugar and Sriacha. Place meat back in the pot, cover and put in the oven. 

Check the meat and stir the sauce every 30 minutes (takes about 2 to 2-1/2 hours). 

Meanwhile, chunk the pineapple and add sliced red onion toss with 1 Tbsp. of rice vinegar.

When meat is done (almost falling off the bone) tent until you are ready to plate. Take sauce and boil on the stovetop until reduced by half. Strain liquid and remove the fat. 

The Grits
  • 1 cup Delta Blues Rice Grits
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 block of white cheddar cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. butter

In a saucepan heat chicken broth and water over medium-high heat. Note: normally I would salt the water. This is the only time I have not salted when making grits. The soy sauce/vinegar mixture will provide all the salt you need. Add grits and stir until liquid starts to simmer. Turn heat off and put a lid on the grits. Every 5 minutes or so, lift the lid and stir in butter, cheese and half & half a little at a time. Turn heat on at the end one more time and put enough half & half that makes the grits the consistency you like. I chose creamy, less stiff for this dish. 

Plate It I used a bowl and poured a layer of grits for the base. Place short rib on top and drizzle sauce on the meat. Add bacon to the pineapple/onion mixture and top your dish. Serve with a big glass of red wine. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Egg Muffins

Dyer admiring her hard work. YUM.

Franks' Kitchen is Back in Action.

The girls are home alone this weekend and we've been up EARLY cooking in the kitchen. I needed to find something Dyer could help with so egg muffins it is. Dyer (3) insisted on being part of every step: cracked the eggs (lots of egg shells to remove). layered the ingredients, seasoned (her favorite part) and ate most of the muffins.

Spray a mini muffin tin with Pam. Layer veggies you have in the icebox: spinach and mushroom, top with cheese. Crack 4 or 5 eggs into a bowl with salt, pepper, dry mustard and hot sauce. Whisk and pour in cups. Bake at 375°F. Easy.

Dyer was very pleased with the end result. Have learned she will eat anything if SHE makes it. I see lots of messy kitchens in my future.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Spring Break Pimento Cheese

Spring Break 1989. All my friends were going skiing or headed to the beach. Me? No plans. We were “broke”! (words said by my father, meaning, no way are we taking a family trip to the beach). My mother took it upon herself to find the money we (mother/daughter) needed to get out of town. Who needs the boys anyway! We turned over every couch cushion, looked in all coat pockets and floorboards of cars and pulled together $224 of change. That's ALL we needed for a little R&R! 

Mama enlisted two of her friends Ann Barry and Diana Cooper to split the bill at The Windmill in Destin, Fl (it compared to the Golden Roach in Greenwood where we use to hang out on dance nights and fill the tubs with beer and whoop juice…that’s another story and recipe!) Before leaving we bought groceries and made snacks, to save money of course. (We didn't use any of the $224 for this, I'm guessing that came out of Daddy's pocket...Mama was very crafty!) Car packed with bathing suits, decks of cards and food…I headed out on my very first, REAL girl's trip.

Oh the things I learned, heard and saw on that trip! I sat on the backseat and passed out appetizers of Ritz crackers with Ann’s homemade pimento cheese while the women took turns driving South. I played my role well: I was, for the most part, seen and not heard. I tended bar, served hors d’oeuvres and even chauffeured one or two times. Being in the 8th grade, 14 going on 15, I was finally old enough to understand all the "girl talk”. I ate that Pimento Cheese for 5 days straight and listened to every story my mother and her friends told.

I’ve been making a version of Ann Barry’s Pimento Cheese for nearly 20 years now. And I think about that trip and chuckle remembering the first time I heard my mother use a real curse word! (Caveat from my Mother: "I did not say it, I am only repeating what someone else said! So that doesn’t count!") Only rules when making pimento cheese: share it with good friends, tell some good stories and pass on laughter to the next generation. Brock, Dyer and Sarah Bailey….you have lots to learn. Your Grandmothers and Mothers have lots to say…listen and find out how crazy we all are.

2 lb sharp cheddar (Shred from a block)

1/2 bottle Durkee's
1 pint mayo
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp wooster
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 clove crushed garlic
1 7 oz jar pimentos

Drain pimentos well then mash with a fork or cut them up fine. Mix together: Durkees, mayo, mustard, lemon, wooster, red pepper and garlic. Add mixture to the grated cheese until the consistency of your choice. You can use a blender if you want,  I like seeing the shredded cheese so I just use a spoon for mixing. Also…some like it more Mayonaisse-y. I don't.

Variations: What I have done differently. Apparently, I can't even follow my own recipes!
I did not use a blender. I did not use that much mayo…at all. I used brown mustard instead of powder. I used garlic salt instead of garlic (and I've roasted it before too, the garlic sort of got overwhelming when it was raw). I used a jarred roasted pepper spread (Ajvar by Zer Gut…Imported by Indo-European of Glendale CA) with the pimentos. I added lots of black pepper. I added a few diced, jarred, pickled jalapenos.vThat's funny. I barely even use my old recipe!

Durkees is the key. If you use that, it will make any Pimento Cheese different than what people have normally had. It's the game changer and I'm sure that's part of what hooked me on Ann's version.

**Cheese ball for NON-Southerners. Do not use blender and stir ingredients. Use less of the mayonnaise mixture. Form into a ball. Roll in toasted pecans and parsley. I made this in New York for all my “Yankee” friends who had no idea what pimento cheese was.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Equen Plantation's Strawberry Birthday Cake

Dyer Stephens Playford is TWO!
Amazing how big my little girl is getting. Rich and I have said that she is extremely mature as she has been terrible for quite some time.
We kept it simple this year...just the four of us, but I did splurge and made the cake myself. Traditions mean something to me and this one I thought would be a good one to keep up. A special cake for a very special girl.

I've been devouring Mamie's version of this cake for as long as I can remember. All birthdays at Equen Plantation started with this cake. I'm so glad I finally got the nerve up to bake it myself. Brought back a lot of memories. I hope my family will enjoy and look forward to the next event that merits this dessert.

Feliz Compleaños mi preciosa Dyer!
Equen Plantation Birthday Cake

Cake: Mix all ingredients. Add eggs one at a time.
1 box Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake Mix
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 package strawberry Jello
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs, room temperature

Icing: mix and cover cake, garnish with strawberries
1 Stick Butter
1/2 cup strawberries
1 package powdered sugar (maybe less, check for consistency

I never got the instructions on baking, so I started with what the cake box said then added a few minutes because it wasn't quite done.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tarragon Chicken Trieste

Another generation...
My niece (Rich's sister's daughter), Holly Marie Woodburn, soon to be Bair, is getting married. I have been invited to a shower where I was picked to bring a gift for the kitchen. I couldn't think of anything more appropriate than a recipe from her roots. This chicken dish is Holly's mother's favorite home-cooked meal. Passed from Holly's great-grandmother to grandmother over 40 years ago. I had the pleasure of watching and learning how to prepare this dish while with the whole family last year. Too good not to share and it's all about family with me. -2013

Update 2016: This should have been posted quite a while ago. Holly is now married and has a beautiful boy Noah Michael Bair that I get to meet in July. That makes 5 generations to enjoy this chicken favorite. Amazing.

Tarragon Chicken Trieste
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
6 large chicken breasts
2 teaspoons Beau Monde Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1 cup dry white dinner wine
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Slice mushrooms; saute in 2T butter until golden. Remove mushrooms and reserve. Add remaining butter to pan; brown chicken well. Sprinkle with Beau Monde during browning. Add mushrooms, sprinkle with tarragon and pour wine over chicken. Cover and simmer 45 minutes until tender. Spoon sour cream into pan juices. Sprinkle with green onions just before serving. August 1971 - Mother

Monday, January 4, 2016

Greens for the New Year

Photo by taste tester–Celene
A lesson for my children...Pay attention to your parents–especially your mother!

I watched my mother in the kitchen for years and never learned how to cook greens. How is this possible? I remember as a child being "grossed out" that the kitchen smelled rotten. I never touched a green until I was much older. Oh how I wish I had listened to my mother. Greens and Pot Liquor were on her top ten list of favorite things to eat. I hate I didn't share this goodness with Mama, but I'm sure she was okay with me not loving it because it only meant more for her. If my children turn their noses up I think I'll be fine with it for the same reason.

After a phone call with Daddy and instructions on what to do...I am starting the year off right. Back to the blog and some good ole Southern goodness to ring in 2016.

It's best if you grow your own of course. Daddy always starts his after the tomatoes are done. Apparently greens, mustards and turnips put something good in the soil for the next year's crop. I had to get mine from the store...not as good, but it'll do.

1 bunch mustard greensa
1 bunch turnip greens
2 bunches collard greens
2 ribs off a rack of baby backs (because it's what we're having for dinner. Otherwise salt meat, ham bone or bacon grease, some sort of fat flavoring)
3 slices of bacon, cubed (for the fat flavoring)
3 chicken boullion cubes
teaspoon of sugar
salt, measurement depends on fat flavoring, if you have salt meat, you won't need this)

Wash and Tear the Greens: Fill the sink with water and wash the greens thoroughly, especially if you pick these from your own garden. Pick all the leafy greens off the hard stem and tear into pieces. Save the stems/stalks.

Keep the Flavor: In a big pot add meat/bacon/salt pork, chicken boullion, salt, sugar and green stems and cover with water. Boil for about 20-30 minutes. This takes all that good flavor out of the stems.

Cook: Remove all the stems. Now you have the start of an amazing pot liquor. Pile all the torn greens in the pot, cover and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

The smell in the kitchen has a different feeling than it did when I was younger. It's no longer rotten, but I know why I went there as a child. It is a familiar and comforting aroma that reminds me of my mother being happy in the kitchen anticipating a well deserved comfort food for herself.

I wish I had paid attention all those years ago...asked more questions about what it was about greens that made her love them so. But I am thinking of Mama now as I slurp pot liquor from my bowl. Ah, it is calming and very comforting to know that I am enjoying something that my Mama did for many years.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Baked Potato Meal

The baked potato morphed from a side item to the main meal after my brother left for college...and I think it's because my mother didn't really have to cook a full meal when Webster wasn't around (you know the son is always the favorite). mother would set up a station on the counter (okay it was really the washer and dryer that we used as a counter) with the usual suspects: butter, sour cream, cheese, green onions and bacon. That's all you really need, but there were always other options...anything from the icebox and spice cabinet were fair game...olives, chili, hot sauce or A1...a favorite of mine!

With the counter full of fixin's my mother would announce it was time to dress our potatoes with caution in her voice meaning...You better hurry before your father gets his plate, you know it will take him an hour to fix his. I didn't listen to Mama, I got behind daddy and he made me watch as he explained every step in detail. People think we're just put the stuff on the potato...what's the big deal? Well it is a big have to make sure that every single bite is delicious and has something good on it! Dressing a potato like this will change the way you eat a baked potatoes from here on out. I promise.

Daddy's Fully Loaded Baked Potato
  1. Clean potato and rub with vegetable oil and salt (Kosher). 
  2. Bake at 350ºF for at least an hour.
  3. Cut your potato in half and let the steam rise. 
  4. Take a knife and score the potato on the diagonal then cross it the other way. This is an important step...doing this will ensure that each bite has something good on it! Season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Add a few pats of butter and keep cutting the potato with knife until melted. you actually don't need much...I should skip this step...but I don't!  
  6. 2 or 3 dollops of sour cream to make it creamy. 
  7. Shredded cheddar cheese is next, Daddy says, you put the cheese on top of the sour cream so that the cheese doesn't stick to the potato. 
  8. Crumble bacon
  9. Sprinkle green onions on top. 
And that is the way to make your side potato the full meal deal. If you can get to step can create your own masterpiece from's all about the layering.

Thanks Pop, still enjoying it like this...25+ years later!
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