Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year and Good Luck on a Plate!

I grew up in the south and so I can't have New Years Day without pork, black-eyed peas and, turnip greens. Each portion of the meal symbolizes luck in a portion of your life for the coming year. Growing up I hated turnip greens but we always had them out of the can. Now that I have learned to make them fresh, I am a big fan. I was a little disappointed with the pork. I am a huge fan of Rebecca Rather and so I was excited to make the Spicy Texas Roast Pork from her most recent cookbook, A Pastry Queen Christmas. The pork was good but not amazing. I also made Paula Deen's Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings. I had a few issues with the recipe and it not being clear at what temperature to cook and whether or not to strain the liquid. I would omit the dumplings next time. They didn't add much to the recipe and fell apart. The greens however were delicious. You could even use this recipe as a soup since it has enough liquid in it. I left the liquid with the greens and served in a bowl. I also made Paula Deen's black-eyed pea salad. I loved the combination of all the herbs and veggies. I recommend making this 24 hour ahead. Finally to top off our southern feast I also made Paula Deen's banana pudding. Her Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding is one of my favorites but today I was in the mood for an old fashioned cooked banana pudding. This recipe did not disappoint. My only complaint is that I did not get enough pudding to fill a 9x13 pan so we had a brownie pan size. I also need to work on my Meringue a little more this was not as light and fluffy as it should have been.

Turnip Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen
3/4 pound smoked meat (smoked turkey wings are excellent)
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bunch turnip greens with roots
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional; may be used if greens are bitter)
Cornmeal Dumplings, recipe follows
Place smoked meat in water along with House Seasoning, bouillon, and ginger. Cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Strip turnip leaves free of the big stem that runs down the center of each leaf. Wash in a sink full of clean water. Drain and wash twice more, since greens can often be sandy. Peel and slice or quarter roots. Add greens to meat; cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often. Add roots and continue to cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until roots are tender. (Reserve 2/3 cup turnip liquid for the dumplings.) Add butter and sugar. Serve with dumplings.House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Cornmeal Dumplings
1 cup all-purpose cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 egg
2/3 cup liquid from cooked turnips

Mix all ingredients together. Dipping by teaspoonfuls, gently roll batter in the palms of your hands into approximately 1-inch balls; drop into boiling turnip liquid Make sure each dumpling is completely covered in liquid by shaking the pot gently; do not stir. Boil for about 10 minutes.

Black-eyed Pea Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups black-eyed peas, cooked
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped green onion with tops
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
4 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
1 large banana pepper (mild), seeded and diced
1 hot green pepper, seed and diced (optional)-I omitted

Mix olive oil, vinegar and sugar together and pour over the rest of ingredients. Mix well and chill. Use a slotted spoon to serve.

Banana Pudding

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
3 medium bananas, sliced
1 (12-ounce box) vanilla wafers

For the meringue topping, optional:
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Mix together sugar and cornstarch and slowly add milk. This should be cooked in the top of a double boiler, but you can cook it over low to medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens--do not leave it unattended. Slightly beat egg yolks and temper with a small amount of the hot custard; stir well. Add egg mixture to custard pot and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Let cool. In a 9 by 9-inch oven proof baking dish, alternate pudding, bananas, and wafers, beginning with pudding and ending with pudding. Add topping, if desired.

For the meringue topping, if using:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form, then spread onto top of pudding mixture. Bake until golden brown.

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