Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dill Caper Sauce

Like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, I always have Dill Caper Sauce in my refrigerator.  It’s easy to make and keeps for months.  Actually, I don’t know how long it keeps because in my refrigerator it has never lasted long enough to go bad.

I’m embarrassed to admit that on occasion I choose what I’m going to eat by what would create the best conduit for this sauce.  I use the Dill Caper Sauce instead of tartar sauce and always have a bag of frozen fish filets ready to sauté in a pan.  Not because I love frozen fish filets.  I make them because they taste so good with my Dill Caper Sauce.  For this photograph, I dusted several shrimp with my dry rub and grilled them for 2 minutes on each side.  To get the recipe for my dry rub, go to my April 2012 Shrimp and Grits blog post.
§     1 cup Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise  (not low-fat or non-fat)
§     1/4 cup sweet pickle relish, rinsed and strained
§     1/4 cup dill pickle, finely chopped
§     1/4 cup capers, finely chopped
§     1 small onion, finely chopped
§     1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
§     Juice of 1/2 lemon
§     1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
§     Pinch of kosher salt
§     3 - 4 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

In a small bowl, strain sweet pickle relish and discard juices.
In a medium size bowl, combine mayonnaise with the strained sweet pickle relish, dill pickle, capers, onion, garlic, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. 
Add salt to taste.  Mix in fresh dill.

Like many sauces, Dill Caper Sauce tastes better if you prepare it a day ahead and allow the flavors to develop.

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Dill Caper Sauce. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Southern Tres Leches Cake

When I made the decision to include this recipe in my blog, I knew I had to change the name.  For years, I’ve been referring to this cake as The Cool Whip Cake.  Not a very romantic name for such a delicious dessert. 
This is the easiest cake I make and by far the most requested, so even though I’m embarrassed to admit that I start with a cake mix and end with Cool Whip, I decided to share the recipe with you…..but I refuse to continue to call it The Cool Whip Cake.  Then it came to me….the cake requires three different milks….so why not call it “Southern Tres Leches Cake.”  Brilliant!

To make this cake I use a boxed cake mix, but I never follow the directions on the box.  When making a yellow cake, I replace the required cup of water with a cup of milk.  When making a chocolate cake, I replace the water with 3/4 cup of coffee and 1/4 cup of milk.  Occasionally, I squirt in a few tablespoons of chocolate syrup.  I also add a 4th egg to the 3 the box requires.  A tablespoon of pure vanilla and pinch of salt make a difference in the finished product. These simple modifications produce a cake that no one believes began with a box.

§  Yellow Cake Mix that requires oil as opposed to butter as an ingredient
§  4 eggs
§  1 cup milk
§  1/3 cup oil
§  1 tablespoon pure vanilla
§  1/2 teaspoon salt
§  1 can sweetened condensed milk
§  1 container Cool Whip, completely defrosted

Optional Topping:
§  1 cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and salt. 
Add the cake mix and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and using a fork, prick holes into the cake while still warm. 
Slowly pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake so it is absorbed and seeps into the fork holes.
Once the cake is completely cooled frost with Cool Whip.
If you like, top the Cool Whip with coconut.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This cake will taste better on day two and will last a surprisingly long time in the refrigerator.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Southern Tres Leches Cake. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Twice Baked Potatoes

It is a tradition of my extended Tennessee family to celebrate family birthdays together. For years we were eight adults and five children gathering at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner or Sunday lunch. The dining room table could not accommodate all of the adults, and we never knew which adult would be asked to sit at the children’s table in the kitchen.  Over the years, we experienced some changes.  The children grew up, we lost Grandpa four years ago and Grandma grew frail. With our growing number of family members now including spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends, each parent sibling would host the ever growing family event in their own home.  We recently hosted over 20 people for Mother’s Day lunch at our home when I noticed that I had made Twice Baked Potatoes each of the last three times we  hosted.
I chose this side item because I can make it the night before and heat it in the oven before my guests arrive.  With summer approaching, I thought I would share this simple recipe that is a welcomed addition to any dinner or cookout.  We lost the matriarch of my extended Tennessee family just a few short days following Mother’s Day.  She will be  missed.

§  4 large russet potatoes
§  4 - 8 tablespoons butter
§  1/2 cup sour cream
§  4 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
§  1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
§  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:
§  Bacon
§  Chopped tomatoes
§  Salsa

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes with a soft brush or clean scouring sponge.  Do not wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil as you typically would to make baked potatoes as it will keep the skins soft.  We want the skin to be firm to provide a vessel strong enough to hold the filling securely.
Set the potatoes on a baking sheet, place in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. For even and thorough baking, pierce each potato several times with a fork and continue to bake until tender, about 30 minutes longer. Remove potatoes from the oven, and turn the heat down to 375 degrees.
While the potatoes are still warm, cut in half lengthwise.  Using a spoon, carefully scoop out most of the potato into a bowl. Take care to leave enough potato in the skin so the shells hold together.
Mash the potatoes lightly with fork.  Add butter and sour cream.  Stir in scallions, shredded cheese and season with salt and pepper.  If you like, you can add bacon to the potato mixture.  I find that when I add bacon to the mixture, all I taste is the bacon so I prefer to sprinkle with chopped bacon before serving.

Season the empty potato shells with salt and pepper and sprinkle with a teaspoon of grated cheese.  Refill with the potato mixture mounding it slightly.
You may not have enough filling to refill all of the potatoes, but if you mound the mixture, most people will only eat a single half.  I top my potatoes with cheese after they come out of the oven.  If you top the potatoes with cheese before returning them to the oven, the cheese will harden and form a crust.  I prefer my cheese soft and gooey.

If you are not planning to eat the potatoes immediately, cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator until ready to reheat.  When ready to serve, set the potatoes back onto a baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle the cheese while still hot.  You may want to keep them in the over for a minute or two until the cheese is thoroughly melted.  If you like, top the warm potatoes with chopped tomatoes and bacon.  Serve immediately.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Twice Baked Potatoes. Enjoy!