Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

entertaining

Labor Day Cheddar Two-Summer -Squash Mash

Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway

Here it is already. Time to tuck away the white shorts and Keds, pull out the grill, and celebrate the symbolic final hoopla of summer – Labor Day. When I was a girl living on our bucolic Massachusetts farm, it was a weekend to look forward to. Jammed with horse riding, touch football, and lots of burgers and dogs cooked (usually over-cooked) but always cooked with love by my darling Dad. For me, too, it was infused with the anticipation of returning to school. I loved going back to that elementary school, the smell of the paper and books, the sound of a pencil writing cursive on a piece of lined paper on a hard desk, even the slightly sweet, soggy spaghetti and meat sauce in the cafeteria. I remember laying out my first day of school outfit on my bed, right down to the knee socks and polished Mary Jane’s. Those were heady days!

This Labor Day weekend has a slightly heightened sense of joy, like back in those school days. My latest cookbook, Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith) will be released Tuesday. Available in bookstores near you and online, practically by the time  you read this. The recipe that follows is one of my favorites, because it is packed with one of my favorite summer foods – summer squash and zucchini. Still beautiful in South Carolina this time of year, they’re reaching the end of their season elsewhere and soon will here, too. Though this dish requires just a bit more work than placing the squash on a grill, it’s a lovely do-ahead that will impress and pair with anything from a steak to barbecue.

Cheddar Two-Summer-Squash Mash

Yields 6 servings

Summer squash, slightly sweet and squeaks-in-your-teeth fresh at peak summer season, is one of my favorite summer treats. Often, I’ll saute either yellow summer squash or zucchini in a little olive oil wiht some red onion, finish it with a sprinkle of fresh basil and grated Parmesan, and call it a summer’s night. However, the two squashes marry beautifully together in this beautiful mash casserole, which resonates with the lemony freshness of thyme and squash flavor. The texture is airy and light, almost mousse-like, topped with a buttery panko bread crumb crunch. While you can substitute unseasoned traditional bread crumbs, panko celivers a crunch edge and it’s really worth having in your pantry at all times. The casserole is delicious hot, warm, or even room temperature.

Cheddar Two-Summer-Squash Mash. Photograph by Alexandra DeFurio from Mashed by Holly Herrick. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

Cheddar Two-Summer-Squash Mash. Photograph by Alexandra DeFurio from Mashed by Holly Herrick. Reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.

2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) dice, about 3 cups (370 g)

3 medium yellow summer squash, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) dice, about 4 cups (495 g)

Water

3 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk sour cream

2 cups (240 g) grated mild cheddar cheese

1 small shallot, finely chopped, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten

Pinch of ground nutmeg

3 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided

1 cup panko bread crumbs or unseasoned traditional bread crumbs

Pinch of ground black pepper and kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Place the zucchini and summer squash in a medium saucepan. Pour in enough water to barely cover and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain very well in a colander, gently pressing out any excess water, and return to the pan.

Mash with a manual masher until the squash is chunky smooth. With a wooden spoon, blend in the thyme, sour cream, cheese, shallot, pepper, remaining salt, egg, and nutmeg. Pour into a medium (2-quart / 2-l) casserole that has been greased with 1 tablespoon of the butter, spreading with spoon to even the top.

Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the panko and seasoning and toss to coat. Brown the crumbs to a golden brown, being careful to toss and avoid burning. Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes, uncovered, or until bubbly and golden brown. Rest 10 minutes before serving and garnish with some fresh thyme sprigs. This makes a lovely meal with a green salad and fresh bread and butter. The casserole can be assembled ahead, refrigerated, and baked just before serving.

Cookbook Giveaway!

mashedcoverI told you what I love about Labor Day. Now’s your turn to tell me what you love about this holiday and transition from summer into fall. Favorite memories, foods, thoughts – they’re all welcome. Please leave  your comment here and I’ll pick a winner on Tuesday, book release day.

I look forward to hearing from you and please have a safe, happy and delicious holiday!

Holly

Exciting News and Wonderful Veal Stew for Warming Fall Nights

Hello again from my “old” post at hollyherrick.com. After a few months away at The Permanent Tourist Charleston, I’ve decided to return “home” and put a new polish on my old site.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be working on a cleaner, more visual look, more widgets to connect with bloglovin’ and other new places, adding cooking classes and recipe development pages, new recipes from my personal, unpublished recipe file, restaurant and Charleston cooking/food news, and of course, cookbook giveaways.

In fact, when we launch with the new live pages from the wonderful folks at Charleston Public Relations & Design in a few short weeks, I’ll be giving away a cookbook trifecta – three signed copies from The French Cook series including Sauces, Cream Puffs and Soups & Stews…nearly a $100 value just in time for the holidays. So, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for that and tell your friends about it, too. It’s easy to subscribe on the home page here if they want regular emails of new posts.

In the meantime, to follow is a fantastically fragrant and easy to prepare stew prepared with veal, apples and sage – the flavors of fall.  Snow is literally already on the way for some of this weekend. Time to pull out your favorite braising pot and get cooking. If you like, substitute veal for pork.

Daube de Veau et Pomme à l a Sauge

Veal , Apple , and Sage Stew

(Makes 6 servings)

From a culinary standpoint, the Normandy region of France is known for two things: apples from its myriad orchards (thus cider and Calvados, an apple brandy) and dairy (thus cream and cheese) from its celebrated cows. It is a large and exquisite region, decorated with a quilt of hedged emerald-green fields, usually damp from a recent rain, with cattle almost incessantly mooing at a low, pleasing hum. This stew combines the sweet tartness of fresh cider and Granny Smith apples with the milky mildness of veal. Sage provides an earthy counterpoint that is just right, especially when finished with a splash of cream. Because the cider is such a big part of the stew, fresh is what you need and the best you can find.

Veal and Apple stew

(Beautiful photo by Chia Chong with Libbie Summers)

Recipe:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1⁄2 pounds veal shoulder cut into 2-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoon dry rubbed or ground sage

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 cups best-quality fresh apple cider

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into

1-inch cubes

1 1⁄2 cups beef or veal stock

1⁄3 cup whole cream or crème fraîche

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage, for garnish

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in a 5 1⁄ 2-quart Dutch oven or similarly sized pot. Meanwhile, pat the veal dry and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. When the oil is just sizzling, arrange about half the veal in a single layer in the bottom of the pan; do not overcrowd. Cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and repeat on the second side.

Remove the meat from the pan and reserve nearby. Repeat with remaining veal.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onion, garlic, celery, sage, and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stir to coat and cook for 5 minutes, or until just starting to soften. Return the reserved veal and any juices to the pot. Sprinkle the flour over the meat and vegetables, stirring to coat, and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze by adding the cider, stirring up any brown bits on the bottom or side of the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and allow the cider to cook off and reduce for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and establish a very gentle simmer. Add the apples and stock. Cook uncovered, continuing at a gentle simmer, until the veal is very tender, about 1 1⁄ 2 hours. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. (Note: You can stop here, allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight.) Add the cream or créme fraîche (no other substitutes here, or it will curdle) and fresh sage at the last minute. Heat through and serve. This is delicious over rice or broad noodles.

Bon appetit!

Super Stew Play for Game Day

Sack the chili and other usual Super Bowl menu suspects and throw a pass on this classic French stew: Coq au Vin. Make it ahead, serve and hear ’em roar! This one is a winner that the whole team will love on game day, but will prove a welcome player any day of the year.

(Adapted from my next cookbook, The French Cook: Soupes et Daubes, Gibbs Smith, August, 2014)

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

 

Coq au Pinot Gris with Mushrooms, Leeks and Dijon Mustard

(Makes 4 to 6 servings)

Chicken braised in wine is the basic formula for what’s called “coq au vin” (pronounced ‘coke o vaen’), which is at the heart of the cooking action in this recipe. The kind of wine, though typically a red (especially a Burgundy), can really be any grape varietal including Alsacienne-inspired Pinot Gris in this especially delicious, and slightly sweet version. Interpretations of this stunning French stew can be found throughout the France, but the classic garnishes typically include lardons (or substitute bacon), mushrooms and onions. This stew can (and really should) be made a day ahead to enrich flavors. If you choose to do so, add the cream and mustard just before serving. It’s exquisite alongside a mound of tender, buttered spaghetti.

2 large bone-in chicken breasts (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut horizontally into 4 equal-sized pieces, trimmed of excess fat, skin and small rib bones

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped

1 leek, white and pale green part only, halved vertically, cleaned, and thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Eight ounces (about 2 cups) white button mushrooms, feet trimmed, brushed clean and sliced about 1/4”-thick

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups good quality Pinot Gris (or substitute Riesling)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup heavy cream (Do not substitute Half & Half or milk!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep the chicken (being careful to remove any stray, spindly rib or spine bones) and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the butter and olive oil in a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven over high heat. When bubbling, add the chicken in a single layer, skin side down. Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 3 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown. Turn all of the chicken pieces and cook another 3 minutes on the second side. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pan and reserve (I always use my inversed Dutch oven lid as a “plate” for this purpose). Reduce heat to medium low. Add the onion, garlic, leek and a dusting of salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened, but not browned. Add the mushrooms, stir to combine, and cook another 3 minutes. Dust the flour evenly over the top, stir to combine, and cook 1 minute. Increase the heat to high. Add the Pinot Gris, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits. Bring up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the thyme. Return the reserved chicken to the pot, arranging in a single layer, about 3/4 covered with the wine. Cook, uncovered for 35 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked and free of any pink juices (insert a small paring knife in a piece to be sure), stirring once or twice. When cooked, remove the chicken and reserve. Increase the heat under the pot to high and reduce the cooking liquid/wine by about 1/3; about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. (Note: Return the chicken to the pan, cool and refrigerate overnight if serving the following day). To finish the stew just before serving, whisk in the heavy cream, parsley, and Dijon, and heat through. Serve warm over warm, buttered pasta or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

Bon appetit!

Elegant Shrimp Salad Boats Set Sail For Seamless Entertaining

The last year and a half has been so crazy busy in my world, I’ve rarely had time to settle into one of my favorite things in the world to do, simple, joyful cooking. The only thing that has that beat, is cooking for friends, which is something I enjoyed doing this weekend. Planning the menu, doing the prep, setting the table, and all the things that go into making a successful meal, set the groove for a happy mood and an enjoyable meal.

Appetizers are the starting point for any meal, and as such, are perhaps one of the most crucial components to set a successful, tasty entertaining stage. I came across some beautiful, fresh local shrimp at the market, and decided to put them to use in appetizers. I liked the idea of shrimp salad – a Southern staple after all – but wanted to keep it super light and sophisticated. So, the mayo and calorie count is really low, and the flavor comes mostly from fresh lime juice and zest, and oodles of finely chopped fresh chives. Instead of bread, I decided to use delicate, crunchy endive leaves to “wrap” the salad into individual bites. It works nicely, but bread will do just fine, too.

For this salad, I roasted the shrimp, a trick I picked up from The Barefoot Contessa’s Ina Garten. Roasting at a high heat takes just minutes and really helps preserve the flavor and the nutrients of the shrimp. The best part about all of this? You can prep the salad the day ahead and scoop the salad into the boats as your guests are arriving, which is exactly how it played out at my house on Sunday night.

These would look beautiful on your Easter or any spring holiday table. Happy holidays and happy cooking!

Elegant Shrimp Salad Boats

 

Elegant Shrimp Salad Boats

(Makes about 12 appetizer servings)

3/4 of a pound fresh, shelled shrimp, de-veined and rinsed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Generous dash Tabasco Sauce

1 shallot, finely chopped

Zest of 1 lime, finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 – 2 Belgian endive lettuce heads, trimmed, rinsed, separated and patted dry.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Arrange the shrimp on a roasting sheet and toss to coat with the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 3 minutes, or until just opaque and lightly pink. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the shrimp very finely (see picture). Place the chopped shrimp in a medium bowl and combine with the mayonnaise, Tabasco, chopped shallot, lime zest, lime juice, and chopped chives. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. (Note: This can be prepared up to one day in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator).

To prep the endives, trim a bit from their root base and remove any tattered, browned outer leaves. The leaves that are inside are a bit sturdier and best for the boats in this recipe. They can also be prepped ahead, but store them in the fridge wrapped in a damp towel. They should not be exposed to open air or they may discolor.

To finish the boats, simply scoop a rounding, heaping tablespoon into the center of each boat. Top with a drizzle of fresh chives, if desired. Arrange prettily on an attractive service plate.

 

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Tomato Time

Many of us wait for it all year, the sweet season of summer when tomatoes are plentiful, plump and delicious. The time is nigh in the Lowcountry. I’ll be the first to concede that nothing tops eating a vine ripe tomato (ideally still warm!) fresh off the vine with a dash of salt and pepper, unless it’s the uniquely Southern decadence of a thinly sliced tomato sandwich on soft white bread with a generous slather or Duke’s mayo and more salt and pepper.

Either way you cut them, tomatoes are heaven, and on top of that, they’re chock full of heart-friendly Lipocene and other good things.  Even though the thermometer is registering some cruel numbers this time of year, I still love the concentration and sweetness that roasting gives tomatoes (and most vegetables for that matter). If you buy smaller tomatoes (in the case of the recipe to follow, baby Heirloom multi-colored tomatoes), they spend less time in the oven which means less heat in the kitchen. Because the tomatoes are roasted in the same pan as the garlic, and both get brushed with the gentle flavor of a rosemary bundle that cooks with them, all the cooking happens in one easy pan. The peppers are roasted separately over an open flame, and it all goes neatly into a blender or food processor. I cook the onions separately in a large sauce pan and add the puree. A bit of vegetable or chicken stock, a few more minutes on the stove, and this soup is ready to rock and roll, tomato style. It can be made a day ahead and re-heated just before serving.

I made this soup/recipe this week for an easy summer dinner party I held for some of my great neighbor friends. It’s spectacular with a drizzle of fresh basil and a few “balls” of tiny pearl mozzarella as a surprise melt at the bottom of the bowl. My neighbor Peter (pictured) loved it and even asked for an entire second bowl!

Get out there and enjoy those tomatoes before it’s too late. Happy cooking!

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

(Serves Six to Eight)

5 cups (about 3 pounds), baby multi-colored Heirloom tomatoes

5 cloves garlic, skin on, drizzled lightly with olive oil and wrapped with foil

5 stems fresh rosemary wrapped in a bundle with kitchen twine

Olive oil to drizzle

Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 red bell peppers, flame broiled over an open flame or under the broiler, skinned, seeded and lightly chopped

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

Generous pinch red chili flakes

Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 – 2 tablespoons (local) honey or to taste

Adjust salt and pepper to taste

Garnish: 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves cut into thin strips, 30 pearl mozzarella balls

Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse the tomoatoes and remove any green tops. Arrange in a single layer on roasting pan with the prepped garlic (in foil)  and the fresh rosemary bundle. Drizzle all of it with best quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to coat. Place in the center rack of the oven and roast until the tomatoes collapse and the garlic has softened, about 25 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, roast the red peppers over an open flame or broiler until the skin has completely blackened. Set aside to cool slightly. Run under cool water to remove all of the blackened skin, seeds and white flesh. Chop coarsely and add to the roasting pan with the cooling tomatoes. Discard the rosemary bundle and foil. Press the flesh from the roasted garlic cloves and also add to the roasted tomatoes, discarding the garlic skin casings. Pour the entire contents of the pan, including all the lovely tomato juices into the bowl of a food processor or blender, along with the water and the stock. Blend until chunky smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion, red chile flakes, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have just softened, about five minutes. Add the pureed tomato mixture and the white wine. Bring up to a low simmer and cook for about five minutes to cook out the acid flavor of the wine. Stir in honey and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes or so.  (Note: The soup can be made ahead, brought to room temperature, and chilled overnight in a sealed container . Reheat before serving)

To serve, ladle the hot soup into a shallow bowl, with about 5 pearl mozzarella balls on the bottom. Garnish with a flurry of fresh basil. Serve hot!!!!

 

 

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