Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

father’s day

Super Father’s Day Sundaes

If it’s possible to still be a Daddy’s girl at 52, then I’m as guilty as the six year-old that wears him like a badge of honor on my heart, then as I do now.   He enforced strict discipline and never tolerated lies he was somehow able to sniff out like a dog on the hunt. He taught unconditional love at  every turn, returning from arduous week-long business trips, always ready to give his energy to his pack of four children and our mother on weekends.  These often involved long rides on our horses, tag football, and summer evenings spent watching fireflies on our country front porch. When we were really lucky, these nights ended with him recanting imagined tales of Cookie to all of us, under a “tent” in the living room.  And, when the summer heat really turned on, Saturday afternoons meant cherished and rare trips to Dairy Queen for ice cream. I favored the soft serve vanilla twist cones dipped in confetti peanut/candy, but sometimes one of us, Dad included, went whole hog and indulged in a hot chocolate sauce banana split. So, even now, I can’t think of ice cream sundaes without thinking of my Dad.

Time may have softened the lines of these memories, erasing the tears from an overly tired child or admonishments from a frustrated Dad, but at their core, they remain true to the man he was and is. The best Dad I could ever hope to have and my eternal night in shining armor, still shining at 84 years of age. The recipe that follows is an adult version of a very, very indulgent sundae that far surpasses DQ’s confetti candy and moves into the realm of butter, mashed bananas, brown sugar, walnuts and rum, though the latter can be wholly omitted without really missing a beat. From my cookbook Mashed – Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith), it might be just the right treat for your Dad this Father’s Day.

Mashed Bananas Foster Sundaes

(Yields 8 sundaes)

The classic brown sugar, butter and rum sauce wrapped around flash-cooked and flambeed ripe bananas was created by Chef Paul Blange at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans in 1951. The dark brown sauce is just the right foil for the sweetness of bananas. Lightly mashed and served warm over commercial vanilla ice cream with a crumble of chopped walnuts, it is sublime and comes together in minutes. To flambe, carefully tip the saute pan to meet  your stovetop gas flame, or quickly hit with a lighter flame. The flambe is important to cook off the burn of the alcohol and increase flavor, although the rum can be omitted altogether. This is best served straight from the pan, but will store refrigerated and covered for a day or two. Reheat before serving over a few scoops of ice cream.

Mashed Bananas Foster Sundaes from Mashed -Beyond the Potato (Gibbs Smith) by Holly Herrick. Photo credits to Alexandra DeFurio.



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 tablespoons

1/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

4 ripe bananas, peeled, halved vertically, and halved again horizontally

1/3 cup dark rum (optional)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


1 1/2 quarts best quality vanilla ice cream

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, canilla, and salt. Cook together over medium-low heat, stirring, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the bananas and gently stir to coat, cooking for 3 minutes. Add the rum, stir to combine, and flambe, standing back to avoid the flame. Gently mash into large chunks using a manual masher or wooden spoon. Remove from heat and cool slightly for 1 – 2 minutes. Serve warm in individual bowls over 2 or 3 scoops of ice cream. Garnish with a tablespoon or so of chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.


Happy Father’s Day!



Fresh Potato, Onion and Sausage Hash

My most recent post at The Permanent Tourist-Charleston features two of spring’s most beloved ingredients – fresh potatoes and onions. Here’s a link to the post and the recipe.

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In the meantime, Happy Father’s Day!



Happy Father’s Day!

In yesterday’s The Permanent Tourist Charleston blog, I shared memories of my magnificent father, and thoughts on cooking for Dad on his big day. The post includes a delicious recipe, and an opportunity to win a copy of The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbs Smith).

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick

The French Cook: Sauces (Gibbes Smith, March 1, 2013) by Holly Herrick



Serving Dad, “McCaulio” Style

My father was (and is)  many things to many  people: a busy corporate executive over-seeing a large staff, a friend to  many, a close brother to his brothers Jim and John, a loyal husband, a veteran, a caring son to his father and mother, and a loving keeper of many animals, including his beloved horse Valiant.

But to me, he is simply Dad. The best kind of Dad. He’s the kind of Dad, despite his extremely demanding travel and career demands when the four of us were growing up, that was there. He was there for all the little league games, he was there (through example) to teach the important life lessons on the value of honesty and hard work, he was there to celebrate each of our joys, sorrows, and lives. Sweetly, he would bring my sister Heather and I little trinkets from his travels, a miniature Swiss clock from Geneva, or Madame Alexander dolls dressed up to represent their respective countries. He would set up camp under a tent in our rooms to tell “scary” stories of “Cookie” the hapless, good-hearted monster. He would scatter the eggs at the Easter hunts and put up the tree (and take it down) for what seems like an endless stream of Christmas’s past. He would eventually walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, a blend of pathos, pride and pure love apparent upon his handsome face and radiating from his beautiful, selfless soul.

My Mom, Dad and dog, Tann Mann on a recent visit.

My Mom, Dad and dog, Tann Mann on a recent visit.

But for all the gifts, love, memories, lessons and life he has shared with me, nothing resonates as strongly with love as his “McCaulio.” This was his name for his  warm breakfast specialty blend of left-overs that usually included rice, peas, some kind of steak or pork, and eggs, scrambled up in a pan and served with a big dose of ketchup. It takes a varied form on his name, Herb McCauley, and took many variations in its actual ingredient list. There were two constants, though. It was always a hot breakfast, and it was always made with love and usually lots of laughs as he prepared to get us off to school. Mom liked to sleep in during those busy years, and Dad selflessly picked up the slack. I’ll never forget him or McCaulio. I sure do love that man!

So, while I’m late getting this out to you to help serve your Dad a special breakfast this morning, there is still time to put it together later today, or any other day of the year, just like Dad and his McCaulio.  This is a simple yet beautiful “special” breakfast that comes together quickly. Mom can help the kids with the bechamel sauce. Meanwhile, the kids can put together a quick eggs scramble and toast. Dad will love it, and he’ll especially love it because it was made with loving hearts.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad and to Dads everywhere!

Adapted from The French Cook: Sauces (March 2013/Gibbs Smith)

Scrambled Eggs with Sage and Sausage Bechamel Sauce. Photo by Steven Rothfeld.

Scrambled Eggs with Sage and Sausage Bechamel Sauce. Photo by Steven Rothfeld.

Soft Scrambled Eggs Cloaked with Sage and Sausage Bechamel Sauce on Baguette Toaste Points

(Makes 4 generous servings)

First, prepare the bechamel.

Basic Bechamel Master Recipe

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons All-Purpose flour

1 shallot or small onion (about 3 tablespoons), finely chopped

2 cups skim milk

1 1/2 cups Half & Half

Sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste recipe

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When just melted, whisk in the flour all at once, whisking rapidly to combine. Add the chopped shallot (or onion) and whisk to combine. Continue whisking and cooking (without browning) for 5 minutes. Add the skim milk and Half & Half, drizzling rapidly into the roux, whisking continually. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Continue whisking and cooking the béchamel another five minutes, or until it’s come up to a gentle simmer and thickened to the consistency of thick chowder. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Reserve warm. Any left-overs can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 3 days and gently re-heated for another use. (Note: If you want to limit the fat and calories, the recipe can be prepared with skim milk only, unless it will be flavored with alcohol or acid in the recipe where it will ultimately be used. Depending on the quantity, it might risk breaking/curdling the sauce.) Set aside.

Meanwhile, put together the rest of the dish.

12 ounces loose pork sausage

Sea salt or kosher salt

Ground white pepper

2 cups of the reserved, prepared bechamel

1 teaspoon dried, ground sage

2 tablespoons dry vermouth

2 tablespoons pork or veal demi-glace

For the toast points:

8 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonally  cut slices fresh baguette bread

For the eggs:

8 large eggs

1/4 cup half & half

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Sea salt or kosher salt

Ground white pepper

4 sage leaves, optional for garnish

Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain the sausage in a colander, straining off and discarding all of the rendered fat. Set aside.

Finish the prepared, reserved bechamel by whisking in the sage, vermouth and demi-glace in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the reserved sausage. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Keep warm over very low heat.

Toast the sliced bread in batches in a toaster or under a high broiler until golden brown. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the half & half until very well incorporated, aerated and lemony in color. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Pour egg mixture into the skillet and season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or spoon. As soon as the eggs beging to set, remove from the heat.

To serve,  arrange two of the toast points on each of four large plates. Divide the eggs and warm bechamel over the toast points. Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh sage leaves, if desired.

Bon appetit!





Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

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