Summer Day, Crowder Peas

I love to shell peas. It’s very relaxing and meditative. Repetitive chores can be like that. I used to shell peas with my Grandmother sitting on the back porch on scorching summer days. It’s so easy to forget the small things we love to do isn’t it? Every summer I purchase some fresh peas to shell. It’s not something I share with anyone else as it is my time alone to think about things while gently sliding my fingernail down the length of each shell to open it up to reveal the soft, light green pea nestled inside.

Beautiful shells with all their shades of purple and brown. The peas are ready to be simmered in a bit of water with some salt & pepper and a generous pat of butter. I always freeze some for winter soups.

Here’s a link to a pretty delicious salad I made last summer using Crowder peas. (Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad with Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes & Cucumbers

Stay Cool. Shell some peas. Peace.

 

All-American Baked French Fries with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Although originally from Belgium, Thomas Jefferson was thought to have first served this American favorite in 1802 at the White House. He called them, “Potatoes in the French manner”.

Recently for a photo shoot at my house French Fries were the subject,  but I decided there was no way I was actually going to “fry” them. I don’t like to fry in my house…the smell lingers and I always seem to splatter myself with hot oil. Baking is friendlier and  healthier.  It’s so easy to cut up a few Russet potatoes into long, thin sticks.  A few sheet pans of hand cut potatoes tossed in olive oil and dusted with sea salt and a very generous grinding of cracked black pepper and eating them hot out of the oven, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is a pleasure.

Listen to this wake-up classic version of “Star Spangled Banner” while you work, Jimmy Hendrix playing “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock, https://vimeo.com/90907436   

No peeling necessary…..

…lined up side-by-side ready for the oven. After they are baked, turn off the oven and leave them in to keep warm unless you are eating immediately, which I recommend.

Try dipping then in ketchup and mayo all smeared together on a platter. This is how we do it. Wouter likes mayo, I like both.

All-American Baked French Fries with Sea Salt and Black Pepper

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients:

  • 4 large baking potatoes, Russet potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • one lemon, cut into quarters
  • ketchup and mayo if you like

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut unpeeled potatoes into sticks. They will all end up being odd shapes and not uniform for the most part, but that’s how hand-cut fries are.
  3. In a large bowl toss together a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt and a generous grind of black pepper. (at this point you could also add other herbs or garlic, etc if you like).
  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with olive oil or vegetable spray.
  5. Spread cut potatoes out flat on parchment lined pans. Do not overlap.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. Turn pans around in oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes or until crisped and browned. Serve immediately or keep in turned-off warm oven until ready.
  7. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon and your favorite condiments…we like ketchup and mayonnaise together.

Teresa Blackburn     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

 

 

Small Batch Blueberry-Lemon Refrigerator Jam

Refrigerator jams are fast and simple to make. They will keep for a few weeks and is the best method for making small-batch jams. They don’t take a lot of time and can even be frozen to eat later in the year. I like this method as it is very rewarding and doesn’t take all day. I make a few jars at a time of different types of jams all summer. We eat some immediately and freeze a jar or two for later in the fall and winter.

 Tennessee blueberries are in season and they are abundant. Plump and juicy, full boxes looking so beautiful at the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market that I could not resist….. I over-bought as usual. We have been putting them on all our salads and eating just out of the box or in yogurt and on cereal every day.

Three ingredients….blueberries, lemon and sugar…and about an hour of your time is all it takes.

The color alone makes it worth it!

Spooned into my new Weck Clamped Bowls (jars) from Food 52 and ready for the refrigerator and freezer.

 The blueberries and the lemon peel combination resulted in one of my favorite ever small-batch homemade jams.

A taste of summer on toast. Enjoy.

Small-Batch Blueberry-Lemon Refrigerator Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of fresh ripe blueberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 juicy lemon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Carefully cut the peel from the lemon. Slice into thin strips.
  2. Juice the lemon.
  3. Place blueberries into a non-reactive pan. Add lemon peel strips, lemon juice, sugar and water.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn to low simmer, stir often, cooking for about 20  minutes until mixture is reduced and thickened. Jam will thicken more after it cools.
  5. Spoon jam into clean jars with tight-fitting lids. Refrigerate.
  6. If freezing remember to not fill jars all the way up. Leave a 1/2-1 inch space at the top to allow the jam to expand when frozen. This keeps the lid from popping off in the freezer. I learned this the hard way!

Teresa Blackburn   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com   http://www.foodonfifth.com

 

 

Sunday Supper – Grilled Za’atar-Flank Steak, Peaches, Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts on Arugula

Over the weekend I tested and photographed a recipe for one of my clients that was an arugula salad topped with grilled peaches (from The Peach Truck), blue cheese, thinly sliced red onions and hazelnuts along with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. All very good and summer-like and beautiful.

Using the leftovers I put together pretty much the same thing for our supper with the added deliciousness of a Middle Eastern seasoned and grilled flank steak.

The first time I was really aware of Za’atar seasoning was while having dinner a couple of years ago at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. They served us wonderful bread with a dipping sauce that was more flavorful than the norm. I inquired about the seasoning and was told it was Za’atar. Middle Eastern in origin, it has been one of my seasoning basics ever since. I put it on my roasted vegetables, in salad dressings and rub it into steaks or chicken, lamb or pork before grilling. You can now buy it at lots of grocery stores and markets. I buy mine at K & S World Market on Charlotte Avenue.

Thank you to all our Nashville international community who open markets and restaurants where we can find such wonderful things to eat. You have brought the world to us bite by delicious bite.

It’s very easy to make your own. All you need is minced fresh thyme or dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac and sea salt.

Grilled Za'atar Flank Steak and Peaches, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 handfuls of fresh baby arugula leaves
  • 3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and cut into sections
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil for brushing on peaches
  • 1/4 cup olive oil whisked with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar & salt in a small bowl
  • 1/2 of a small red onion very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 to 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 to 1 lb piece of flank steak
  • 2 tablespoons Za’atar (recipe to make your own below)
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Rub meat surface with olive oil and Za’atar on both sides. Let sit for 10 minutes while grill heats up. (You can also cook under oven broiler)
  2. Grill meat to your liking, but will be best if left pink inside. The meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill. Let meat rest while you make the salad.
  3. Brush peach wedges with olive oil and grill for about 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from grill and set aside.
  4. Add thinly sliced red onions to the small bowl of olive oil-balsamic mixture. Toss onions to coat.
  5. Right before serving slice the flank steak very thin.
  6. Add arugula leaves to a large salad bowl. Top with onions, grilled peaches, steak, blue cheese and hazelnuts. Drizzle remaining olive oil-balsamic mixture or other dressing over salad and serve with additional salt and pepper.

Ingredients for Za’atar if you want to make your own: 4 tablespoons minced fresh thyme (or 3 of dried ground); 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 4 teaspoons ground sumac, 1 teaspoon sea salt.

Directions for making Za’atar: Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. If using fresh thyme then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Teresa Blackburn http://www.foodonfifth.com   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

 

Georgia Peach Magic Cobbler and Climate Change

I’m not really sure what to say…or do…or think. I had all good intentions of posting a light and airy conversation and some pretty pictures and a happy, happy southern summer recipe featuring this lovely bag of Pearson Farms Georgia Peaches from The Peach Truck stand at the downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.

I was not going to talk about anything political. Two things in one day changed my mind. The first thing was an article I was reading early this morning in The New York Times from Wednesday’s edition about peaches. This article mentioned Pearson Farms in particular,  but in general the condition of orchards all across the country and about how the climate this past year has really affected the summer peach crops.

The second thing to interrupt my good intentions was Trump’s decision this afternoon to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Anger, incredulity and sadness like a wave swept over my good intentions.

My grandmother might have said something about the pathway to hell being paved with good intentions. Enough said. So I shall continue with my post taking all of today’s information and upsets into consideration…

Buy some peaches when you see them…make a cobbler, or ice cream, maybe a peach tart, or eat in hand letting the juice run down your arm…don’t wait….the times are a’changin. Today’s peaches might be a thing of future stories and memories to savor.

Bag ripened peaches….peeled and sliced….

….butter and batter on the bottom of my Lodge Cast Iron double handled skillet…topped with sliced peaches and brown sugar.

Baked until hot and caramelized on top….

….with a scoop of vanilla. A bite of goodness in this uncertain world.

Drop and email, post card or letter to your elected officials letting them know you support the Paris Climate Accord and your local fruit growers who are affected every day by our changing weather.

Georgia Peach Magic Cobbler

  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + extra for top of cobbler
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in a 2 quart cast iron skillet or other baking or casserole dish.
  3. Whisk together the self-rising flour and cornmeal, buttermilk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Pour batter into the bottom of the skillet over butter. Do not stir.
  4. Scatter sliced peaches over the top of the batter. Do not stir.
  5. Sprinkle additional brown sugar over the top of the peaches.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until batter is golden brown and peaches are a bit caramelized.
  7. Serve scooped into bowls with vanilla ice cream.

 

Simple Pleasures Homemade Blackberry Liqueur

I am posting this ahead of the upcoming Tennessee blackberry season so when you pick-your-own berries, or purchase at a farmer’s market, you’ll be ready to make a few bottles of Blackberry Liqueur.

It’s really refreshing splashed into a glass and topped with Prosecco or poured over ice with seltzer water. I think a slice of pound cake, a scoop of ice-cream and a trickle of liqueur would be delicious.

How about a cooling (adult) Blackberry Liqueur Snow Cone? Just the thing for a hot summer day and pretty unforgettable.

It only takes a few ingredients……

Fresh, plump, juicy berries……

…a sugar + water simple syrup….all added to a large jar filled with good vodka…

Day 1..this is what it looks like just mixed together…wait a while longer….

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….Day 8….a week later and a few shakes this is what is looks like..continue waiting…and shaking….

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….Day 15..,wait’s over….ready to strain and sip.

There are so many things we have no control over in our lives. Making things gives me just a bit of control over part of my little corner of the world for a bit. That is why I make things and encourage others to give it a try.

Keep a bottle…gift a bottle…make some more. It’s a simple pleasure.

Fresh Blackberry Liqueur

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups good vodka
  • 4-5 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Bring water & sugar to a low boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring often. Remove from the heat to cool completely.
  2. Pour vodka into a large glass container with a lid. Add the berries & simple syrup and gently shake.
  3. Infuse berry-vodka mixture for 15 days. The berries will lose most of their color. Every few days gently swirl mixture around.
  4. Pour through a fine mesh strainer twice. Discard the berries. Decant mixture into decorative bottles for gift giving.

For Snow Cones – crush ice and pack into a glass. Drizzle chilled Blackberry Liqueur over the ice. Serve with a spoon and enjoy.

 

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

“No Wall Y’all Hibiscus Flower Jam”

Tart, yet pleasantly sweet,  my “No Wall Y’all Hibiscus Jam” smeared on buttery toasted  baguette slices is something close to divine deliciousness. Have you ever had Hibiscus Flower Jam? It is quite common in Mexico and is just one of the many things I love about that country.

The culinary name in Mexico for this flower is Jamaica (pronounced ha-may-kah). Either picked and dried at home, or purchased dried in markets, these flowers have so many wonderful uses. Flavored waters, hot or cold tea, beautiful red syrups for drinks or desserts as well as thick jams are just some of the ways to enjoy.

One morning last week my friend Terry and I wandered into a restaurant, El Atrio Del Mayab, on the central plaza in the city of Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula, ordered cafe con leche and pan tostado with butter. The waiter brought us our order along with a small bowl of jamaica jam. I knew I would have to make a batch when I returned home.

Dried hibiscus flowers are found at most international or hispanic markets here in Nashville, or online shops.  I had some in  my pantry for making refreshing hibiscus ice tea, but made some jam instead.

Dried hibiscus flowers, freshly squeezed orange juice and zest and sugar are all you need. Mixed together and cooked down slowly to thicken into a deep carmine jam….

….put into jars and chilled…ready for pan tostado.

Make more jam, build less walls y’all.

Images from Quintana Roo & the Yucatan. Xpu Ha, Izamal & Valladolid, MX.

No Wall Y'all Hibiscus Flower Jam/Jamaica Jam

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried hibiscus/jamaica flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • zest of one orange

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and stir to dissolve sugar. Turn to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Put mixture into a food processor and pulse about 10 times to break up larger flower pieces to make a spreadable jam.
  3. Spoon jam into clean jars and let cool completely. Add lid and refrigerate. Jam will keep for up to 2 months.

Extra; For Jamaica Tea steep dried flowers in hot water. Drink hot or chill for iced tea.