Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mama's Cheese Straw Recipe

Every well bred Southern girl has several strands of pearls and a killer recipe for Cheese Straws. Both will ensure social success. Mama made cheese straws for every bridal tea, wedding reception, baby shower, graduation party and ladies' event in the small Alabama town where I grew up. They were not anticipated, they were just expected. She gave tins of them as Christmas presents. If you've never had a Southern homemade Cheese Straw, shame on you! They rank right up there with sweet iced tea, hush puppies and peach cobbler as quintessentially Southern. Mama added a little red pepper to hers for a "kick" making them better suited to accompany a short glass of bourbon in the late afternoon.

Cheese Straws require a cookie "gun" for proper shaping. Mama's was hand turned and it was a true labor of love to "squirt" out the cheese straw dough. Nowadays, there are any number of electric and/or battery powered cookie presses. Fact remains, the cheese straws MUST be shot out, not hand shaped. The proper shape is flat on the bottom side and saw-toothed on the top, about 1-wide and baked until crip but not golden. Mama said, "Use the best cheese you can afford. This is no time to scrimp." She swore by Cracker Barrel New York Sharp Cheddar.

Here's her recipe. Make a batch today and sit in the porch swing with a short glass of bourbon, drinking a toast to Mama - Miz Martha!

Martha Riley's Cheese Straws
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 cups grated cheese - hand grated, none of that pre-grated stuff
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and cheese in electric mixer until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients. Stir into butter mixture mixing by HAND! Yes, it's hard and the dough is very stiff, but if you use the mixer, the cheese straws will be tough. When flour mixture is no longer visible, fill cookie press and "squirt" dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Lightly score at 2-inch intervals. Bake for 10 minutes or until set but NOT browned! Remove to wire rack, breaking apart as you go and let them cool. Store in airtight container and keep in a secret place. ;)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

If you love key lime pie like we do, you'll absolutely flip over this ice cream! We tried it out on friends for Memorial Day and it was a huge hit! The original recipe called for 1 cup lime juice, but we decided to try 1/2 cup and it was just right for us. Add more lime juice, if you're inclined. But, be sure to use fresh squeezed! This makes 1 quart.( If you don't have a tabletop ice cream machine,run out and buy one NOW! They are the best thing since sliced bread!)

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
4 to 6 graham crackers, for garnish

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until cold. Pour into ice cream maker and mix for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to another container and place plastic wrap on ice cream and cover container tightly with a lid. Place in freezer for several hours.
When ready to serve, garnish with graham

Friday, May 20, 2011

Icebox Strawberry Pie

This just came from America's Test Kitchen. Doesn't it look and sound scrumptious?
In Paris, every bakery had some form of strawberry tart in the window...this must be almost as good!

Icebox Strawberry Pie
In step 1, it is imperative that the cooked strawberry mixture measures 2 cups; any more and the filling will be loose. If your fresh berries aren’t fully ripe, you may want to add extra sugar to taste in step 2. Use your favorite pie dough or use our recipe. Chill the heavy cream in step 4 to help it whip more quickly.

2 pounds frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 pound fresh strawberries , hulled and sliced thin
1(9-inch) pie shell , baked and cooled

4 ounces cream cheese , softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

COOK FROZEN BERRIES Cook frozen berries in large saucepan over medium-low heat until berries begin to release juice, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jamlike, about 25 minutes (mixture should measure 2 cups).

ADD GELATIN Combine lemon juice, water, and gelatin in small bowl. Let stand until gelatin is softened and mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir gelatin mixture, sugar, and salt into cooked berry mixture and return to simmer, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

3. ADD FRESH BERRIES Fold fresh berries into filling. Spread evenly in pie shell and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. (Filled pie can be refrigerated for 24 hours.)

4. MAKE TOPPING With electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Serve pie with whipped cream topping.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vidalia Onion Pie

'Tis the season! Vidalia onions are here!! They are good in many recipes, this happens to be a creamy, rich quiche-like pie. Simply caramelize them in butter for a great addition to any recipe or serve as a side dish for grilled meat.

Vidalia Onion Pie
3 cups choppped Vidalia onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon self-rising flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 unbaked (9-inch) pie crust

Saute onions in butter until transparent. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, eggs, milk, flour and sugar. Mix well. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo

Confession: the chicken did not thaw in the refrigerator today, so when I went into the kitchen at 5:45 to make a quick dinner, I had to regroup. This fettuccine recipe came in an e-mail today from Real Simple and I decided it was a good bet. We had oven roasted broccoli a few days ago, so I threw it into the sauce. The key to good Alfredo sauce is good Parmesan cheese. I had some grated Parmesan from Costco. It said imported, but the flavor was not as good as the wedges you grate yourself. Live and learn. I use 2% milk, not skim, but the sauce was just as good, if not better!

Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo
12 ounces fettuccine
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stalk peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
kosher salt

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the broccoli until tender, 3 minutes. Drain.

Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over low heat and slowly whisk in the flour. Simmer until slightly thickened, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the pasta and broccoli and cook, stirring, over low heat until heated through.
Top each serving with extra Parmesan.