Spicy Hush Puppies!

June 27, 2014

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Did someone say Hush Puppies?!! Be still my heart! How I do love those Hush Puppies! And if you’re contemplating making up a big batch of that delicious Carolina Pulled Pork I just told you about for your Independence Day celebrations, these Hush Puppies would be fantastic served right alongside those tasty little sliders. Your party will be the talk of the town! For you folks out there who might not know what a Hush Puppy is, (and I’m not sure where in the world you’ve been hanging out…) a Hush Puppy is basically a ball of cornmeal batter which has been deep-fried. They are often served along side fried seafood dishes or with barbecued foods. Now there are numerous legends about how they got their name. They seem to all involve some group of folks, be they Southern hunters, fisherman, civil war soldiers or cooks, taking a cornmeal mixture which they had been using as battering for whatever food they were cooking, deep-frying it and giving to their barking dogs to get them to quiet down while uttering “Hush Puppy!” as they tossed the tasty little morsels over to them. It actually works too. You will see the truth of it when you serve up a big basket of them at your house. Folks will be so busy chowing down, you won’t hear a peep out of them!

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Hush Puppies are very easy to make. I will mention a couple of pointers that I think will be handy. Make sure you add enough oil to your Dutch Oven. You need to have enough to entirely cover the Hush Puppies as they fry. And take care to get that oil up to 375°F before you start frying and that it returns to that temperature between batches. If the oil is not hot enough when you fry, your puppies will be greasy. I don’t add any sugar into my batter, preferring a savoury, spicy puppy. But if you’re one of those folks that love sweet cornbread, you probably want to add some sugar into this mix. I also like to use the TexMex Grilled Corn (recipe found below) in my Hush Puppies. I think it adds a bit more kick to them.

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However, I have made them in the winter when I wasn’t keen to go out and grill up some corn and have found that canned corn works quite well in a pinch. Believe me, you will find that these little devils are addictive… soft and spicy on the inside with a satisfying crunchy exterior. Try some today and you’ll be hooked!

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Spicy Hush Puppies!

  • Servings: 28-34 puppies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal
  • 1  cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional – if you prefer a sweeter puppy, add 1 -2 tablespoons to mix. I do not add any sugar to my mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons diced jalapeño pepper
  • 1 cup corn (best if you use TexMex Grilled Corn, scroll down for recipe, but regular yellow corn from a tin will work 🙂 )
  • Oil for frying (I prefer peanut oil, but vegetable oil if fine)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the self-rising cornmeal, self-rising flour, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and sugar if you are using it. In a large glass measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk, egg, grated onion and bacon dripping. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Stir together until the dry ingredients are just combined. Do not overmix. Gently fold the diced jalapeños and grilled corn into the hush puppy batter. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour until mixture has risen.

Place a 6 qt. Dutch oven on the stove. Pour enough oil into it so that it reaches 2″ up the sides. Heat oil until it reaches a temperature of 375°F. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or two kitchen spoons, drop small rounds of batter into the oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally and flipping halfway through, until golden on the outside and crisp, about 3 -4 minutes. Remove hush puppies from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with tartar sauce, honey, butter, remoulade, etc. or just use them to mop up any extra barbecue sauce that might be lurking about.  Your choice!

TexMex Grilled Corn

Ingredients:

  • 3 -4 ears of fresh corn in husk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp chili powder

Directions:

Combine olive oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, brown sugar and chili powder in small bowl and whisk together.
Preheat grill.
Peel back the corn husks, discarding all but a couple inner layers. Remove corn silk, then baste with dressing, and recover corn with remaining husk.
Grill on med-high for 20-25 minutes, turning 3-4 times during cooking time.
Remove the corn from grill and allow to cool a few minutes, then cut off stem end, place the flat cut end on bottom of large bowl, and use a corn zipper to strip the kernels from the cob. Or if you don’t have a zipper, run a small sharp knife down the length of the cob, slicing off kernels.

Enjoy!

Spicy Hush Puppies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


North Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sliders

June 24, 2014

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Oh yes! Summer is here and folks are thinking about cookouts, picnics and all manner of backyard barbecues! Believe me, I am a big fan of simple hot dogs and burgers on the grill. But what really gets me droolin is the thought of a pulled pork sandwich. Now as much as I’d like to tell ya’ll that I was out in the backyard cookin a whole pig; alas that was not the case. The secret here is that the melt in your mouth, delicious pulled pork found in these little sliders that you see here was cooked right in my wee kitchen in a slow cooker and required very little attention from me. There was no slaving over a pit. How great does that sound?

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Now you might be wondering why these pulled pork sliders are “North Carolina Style”. It is all about the sauce. And there are big differences in barbecue sauces in the US depending on what region you find yourself in. I’m no expert on Barbecue sauces, but I will try my best to explain the differences as I understand them. Kansas City style sauce is the one that most folks think of when they think of barbecue sauce. I’m sure you know it well, a sweet yet slightly tart thick tomato based red sauce with a bit of smoky flavour about it. Memphis Barbecue sauce is very similar to the Kansas City style but has a bit more vinegar added in along with some molasses as a sweetener. If you are in Texas the sauce will be thinner and spicy, with the meat drippings added in along with seasonings such as cumin, chili, onion, bell pepper and just a bit of tomato. In Alabama you are likely to encounter a strange white barbecue sauce. Yup…white barbecue sauce! No tomatoes there, just a mixture of mayonnaise, vinegar and pepper. In South Carolina the folks love yellow mustard base sauces sweetened with molasses or honey. Again no tomato. And finally we get to North Carolina.  North Carolina sauce is my favourite sauce. And truth be told, it varies within the state depending on how far east or west you travel. The Eastern North Carolina Sauce is a thin, nearly transparent, vinegar base sauce with lots of chili pepper flakes floating about in it.Very little to no sugar is added. It isn’t anywhere near thick enough to sit on top the meat, but rather thoroughly penetrates it. As you travel a bit farther west, you will find that the Carolinians there add just a bit of ketchup to the sauce, making it a bit sweeter and a little thicker. These particular sliders here seem to hail from a more westerly spot in the State.

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You might wonder why there are two sauces called for in this recipe. The first sauce is to give that pork some lovely flavour while it is cooking. However, as I’m sure you know, pork can release a lot of grease when cooking. Rather than try to skim off and separate the fat, it is best to just get rid of that first sauce. Once the pork is nearly done, shred it and then return it to the slow cooker with the second nice fresh sauce to finish cooking. As far as the coleslaw goes, I just can’t imagine eating a pulled pork sandwich without it, especially if it is a tangy, spicy Carolina pulled pork. The sweetness of the coleslaw really complements the tart flavour of the pork and adds a nice crunchy texture. However, I’m told some folks think slaw on pulled pork is heresy. Hmmm…to slaw or not to slaw…that is the question.

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The answer? To each his own I suppose. I say serve that coleslaw on the side so folks can indulge or abstain as they wish. Bottom line is you’ve just got to make up a batch of these North Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sliders for your next gathering. (The 4th of July will be here before we know it..) Trust me…folks will go hog-wild!

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North Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sliders

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Source: slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • ½ white onion, sliced
  • 4-6 pound boston butt, or pork loin roast (boneless)
first sauce
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
second sauce
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (make sure you use a Carolina Style sauce)
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depends on how spicy you like it!)

to serve

  • cole slaw
  • slider or full size buns

Directions:

Place onion slices in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork roast on top of onions. Whisk together ingredients for first sauce. Pour first sauce over roast. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours.
Whisk together all ingredients for second sauce. 30 minutes before serving, remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Drain juices and onions from slow cooker. Return shredded pork to slow cooker. Pour second sauce over pork and stir to combine. Cover and cook 30 minutes longer.
To serve place pulled pork on bun and top with slaw.
Enjoy!

 

 


Margarita Mini Cupcakes

June 19, 2014

 

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Well, Easter has come and gone. It has been quite some time since my last post. I don’t know what in the world I’ve been doing! Currently I seem to be glued to the telly. It’s World Cup time and although neither my husband nor myself are usually big sports fans, we suffer a change of personality every four years when the Cup gets underway. Luckily, we can watch all of the matches from the comfort of our air conditioned living room (who am I kidding…air conditioned local pub 🙂 ). And thank God for air conditioning because that swampy Virginia summer weather has settled in quite comfortably around here and thus entrenched seems unlikely to be dislodged for quite some time. Yeah, we had been enjoying a lovely Spring, but recently the temperature has been hovering right around 90° F ( 32° C) with around 80% humidity or so. Anyone who has spent one damp and soggy minute hanging around here in the summer will tell you “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”. Never truer words were spoken. Humidity, we’ve got tons of it! Needless to say, it is most definitely margarita weather, either frozen or on the rocks. Anything to bring your core temperature down. I think it was my craving for that delicious sweet, salty and blessedly icy drink that inspired me to make these Margarita Mini Cupcakes. They have all of the great flavours so reminiscent of that wonderful cocktail such as tequila, fresh limes and you will even find that the fluffy swiss meringue frosting is sprinkled with just a touch of salt. That’s right they’re sweet and salty, tart and boozy. Could they get any better?

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Well perhaps only in that they are bite sized, easy to pop right into your mouth without exerting a lot of effort…which should be avoided at all cost in heat advisory conditions like we’ve been experiencing. They would be a very welcome addition to any cookout, picnic or potluck. And definitely keep them in mind for the next time Cinco de Mayo rolls around. I think we’re going to be in for a long and steamy summer, and it is only just beginning! Guess I’ll just have to take comfort in the little things…( well the little things and some nice ice-cold, boozy and refreshing drinks…)

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Margarita Mini Cupcakes

  • Servings: 86 mini cupcakes (or 24 regular sized)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Source: Tide & Thyme

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup tequila

For the Tequila Lime Buttercream:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 8 egg whites
  • 3 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Tequila
  • lime zest and wedges, for topping
  • fleur-de-sel, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare mini muffin tins with paper liners or baking spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugar on a high until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next one. Add lime zest and lime juice. Add vanilla.

Turn mixer to low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes (25 minutes for the full-sized cakes) or until a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pans at the halfway point.

Allow cupcakes to cool 5 minutes in the pans before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush the tops with tequila or tequila/orange mixture if desired.

To make the frosting, place the stand mixer bowl over a simmering pot of water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk the sugar and egg whites until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture registers 160°F  with a candy thermometer.

Place bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high-speed until the mixture is cool and holds stiff, glossy peaks (approximately 10 minutes).

Change to the paddle attachment and beat in one tablespoon of butter at a time on medium. The mixture might appear curdled but keep beating, it will pull back together.

Add lime juice and 1 Tablespoon tequila. Increase speed to high and beat until the frosting reincorporates and is smooth and fluffy. Beat in remaining tablespoon (or “spoons” – no judgement 🙂 ) of tequila, if desired.

Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream.  Garnish with lime zest,  lime slices, and fleur-de-sel.

Enjoy!

Margarita Mini Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 


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