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January/February 2012

The Christmas decorations are stored and replaced with Carnival flags, beads and masks. Yes, it is Carnival time in Louisiana! This year Mardi Gras falls on February 21 allowing plenty of time for balls, parades, brunches and a whole lot of frivolity.

If I were you, I would order my King Cakes NOW so you will be ready to party hearty. I never can decide what flavor I want so I just order ALL of them. You will also need Carnival-themed napkins, cups, and of course, lots of beads to give as favors at whatever kind of party you’ll be hosting. I personally like to entertain at a brunch and I try to do as much as possible in advance. Here is a menu that is fairly easy to prepare but oh, so delicious. Creamy, smooth but with a little kick, the milk punches can be made with bourbon, brandy or um—just choose your poison. Make the punch a day or so in advance and have it well chilled in the refrigerator. And oh, don’t serve the punch over ice lest it water the punch of the punch down!



MY MILK PUNCH
Makes 1 gallon

  • 1 (4/5-quart) bottle of bourbon, brandy or dark rum
  • 3 quarts half-and-half
  • ¼ cup tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Simply syrup (recipe follows)
  • Grated nutmeg

Simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Boil until the sugar dissolves and liquid becomes slightly thick. Cool completely before using. Combine the bourbon, half-and-half, and vanilla in a one-gallon container. Add the simple syrup to attain desired sweetness. Chill well in the refrigerator. Serve in chilled old-fashion glasses (not over ice) and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Our soup course features not one but three soups that can be easily served in demitasses centered on a base plate. The bloody Mary soup is basically a chilled gazpacho to which a splash of ice-cold vodka or gin can be added right before serving. Oysters are plentiful at this time of year so we offer this simple but good oyster soup. Leeks and spicy tasso pair well in a creamy soup. (I always give credit where credit is due and I thank Hallman Woods, Sr. from New Iberia for this delicious soup.)



SOUPS 1-1-1
Bloody Mary Soup
Makes about 20 small appetizer servings

  • 1 (46-ounce) can tomato juice
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 medium-size cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (more or less to taste)
  • Chilled vodka or gin (optional)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to mix. If you wish to puree, do so in a food processor. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving. It will last for about a week in the refrigerator and it only gets better with time.



Cream of Leek and Tasso
Makes about 20 small appetizer servings

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups coarsely chopped leeks (white and green parts)
  • 1 cup finely chopped tasso (pulse once or twice in a food processor)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 6 ounces heavy cream
  • Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the flour. Cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the leeks and tasso and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Slowly add the stock, whisking, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for about five minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco. Serve warm.



OYSTER SOUP
Makes about 20 small appetizer portions

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One and one-half cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1 quart warm whole milk
  • 4 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained and oyster liquor reserved
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the butter and the flour in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Stirring slowly and constantly, make a light brown roux. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Combine the milk with the reserved oyster liquor and add slowly to the roux mixture, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken slightly.
Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the oysters, parsley, and butter and simmer until the edges of the oysters curl. Remove from the heat. Serve warm.



As much as I love grillades and grits, sometimes I need a change. This crawfish and grits dish is a delightful alternative. Be sure to use Louisiana crawfish! The recipe comes from Emeril’s Creole Christmas, which I co-authored.



SMOTHERED GRITS WITH CRAWFISH
Makes about 10 servings

  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 1 ½ cups quick-cooking white grits
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Toss the crawfish tails with the salt and cayenne in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Add the crawfish and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and half-and-half and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the grits and stir constantly until they are tender and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it melts. Serve warm.



Years ago my aunt served an asparagus dish for her ladies’ luncheon and I loved it but alas I didn’t have the actual recipe. However, several years ago I came across a very similar recipe in a Saveur magazine so I adapted it to suit my taste.



ASPARAGUS BAKE
Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 to 2 pinches paprika
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled Ritz crackers
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Trim the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into pieces and cook in the boiling water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size.
Drain but reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Set the asparagus aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the reserved cooking liquid, then the cream, stirring until smooth and thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the paprika, then season with salt and cayenne.
Layer the asparagus, eggs, and sauce alternately in a shallow casserole dish, ending with the sauce. Sprinkle with the cracker crumbs and cheese. Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.



I am the first to say that I’m not much of a baker, but these biscuits always come out just right. Serve them with jam or preserves of your choice.



LIGHT-AS-A -CLOUD BISCUITS
Makes 24 good-sized biscuits

  • 4 cups biscuit mix
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sugar
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1 ½ cups milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Sift all the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Drop the shortening into the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the milk over it. With your fingers (not with a spoon, pastry knife, or anything else), mix everything together, working in the dry ingredients until the dough has formed a nice, slightly sticky ball.
If you want to roll the biscuits, generously flour a pastry board, roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter. Otherwise, make drop biscuits by dropping a tablespoon of the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sometimes I dust my hands well with flour and pat out little rounds. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Note: The uncooked dough can be frozen.



Bananas Foster is always a great dessert, but if you want to kick it up a notch as Emeril does, I suggest this recipe from the Bam Man himself. You can serve it with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. Yum!



BANANAS FOSTER BREAD PUDDING
Makes about 12 servings

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 firm-ripe bananas, peeled and cut crosswise into ¾-inch slices
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 cups (1/2-inch cubes) day-old French bread
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)
  • Caramel sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10 by 14-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup of the brown sugar and the cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and cook on both sides, turning, until the bananas start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the banana liqueur and stir to blend. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan. (Or, off the heat, carefully ignite the rum with a match and return to the heat.) Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Whisk together the eggs, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the cream, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the cooled banana mixture and bread and stir to blend thoroughly. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until firm, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
To serve, scoop the pudding onto dessert plates. Top each serving with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle with caramel sauce, and serve immediately. Serve the bread pudding with café au lait.



December/January 2011-2012

If you haven’t made your Christmas shopping list, then you had better get going. No, I’m not talking about your gift list, I’m thinking about your FOOD shopping list.

Here is my list and all you have to do is go to www.cajungrocer.com and place your order NOW.

  • 1. Turduckens (several)
  • 2. Boudin (get all kinds)
  • 3. Gulf Shrimp (order big and small – great for all kinds of party offerings)
  • 4. Andouille sausage (for gumbos, jambalayas or throwing on the grill)
  • 5. Stuffed breads (great for parties AND for giving)
  • 6. Crawfish pies, meat pies and crawfish pies (ideal for serving while watching all those bowl games)
  • 7. Pickled beans and asparagus (for garnishing Bloody Marys)
  • 8. Steen’s syrup (for drizzling on biscuits, pancakes and hot French bread)
  • 9. Pecans (oh my – I want them all)
  • 10. Crabmeat (add some to your gumbo, put it in your omelet or use it to make dips and spreads)

CORPORATE GIFTS
Cajungrocer.com is the ideal place to order corporate gifts for your customers. Do it now!



BRUNCH
As far as I’m concerned, brunch is a very civilized manner of entertaining on Saturday and Sundays, since such a get-together is not too early in the morning. I think too a brunch is ideal for holiday entertaining since just about every weekend evening, and those in between as well, is taken with cocktail or dinner parties.
A brunch suggests a hearty meal, as it is intended to take the place of breakfast and lunch. Here in Louisiana we take our brunches seriously with menus that include eye-openers, like Bloody Marys and Milk Punches, assorted juices, strong coffee, perhaps mellowed with hot milk or cream, and a wide range of delectable dishes.
My personal taste runs to foods that wake up the taste buds, like spicy and rich grillades served with creamy cheese grits, or any of the egg dishes—Eggs Sardou, Eggs Hussard, Eggs Benedict—that brought world-wide recognition to Brennan’s in New Orleans. A friend of mine says he likes a brunch that includes stacks of pancakes or waffles, thick slices of ham with red-eye gravy and biscuits lathered with butter and drowning in cane syrup. The egg-lover that my husband is likes nothing better than scrambled eggs or omelets prepared with cheese, onions, peppers and tomatoes teamed with sausages and skillet cornbread. No matter what you choose, it’s important to have lots of it and to prepare as much in advance as possible. Invite guests to lend a hand in keeping the coffee pot going, buttering biscuits, refilling drinks. One host I know sets up an omelet station with an array of fillings so that guests can do their own. If it’s a family occasion, get older kids involved making pancakes or waffles. If desserts are not your forte, let your bakery provide cookies or a special cake. Remember, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing!
To make it easier, I’ve done some work for you. This is a collection of some of my favorite brunch items. Get your guest list together and if they offer to bring or do anything, graciously accept.
Grillades and grits are traditional brunch fare. There are those who will argue that they should be made with pork. Others will tell you to use veal. Some experts are staunch in their belief that tomatoes are a no-no; I disagree. This is my version and seldom do I have any left in the bottom of the pot. Prepare it a day ahead to allow the tastes to meld. I suggest serving grillades with baked cheese grits. Just so you’ll know, the word is pronounced gree-aahds.



GRILLADES
Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 4 pounds beef round steak (about 1/2 inch thick) * Or, use 2 pounds of beef rounds and 2 pounds of veal rounds
  • 3 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 3 cups whole canned tomatoes, crushed with the juice
  • 2 cups water or beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Remove and discard fat from the meat. Cut the meat into two-inch squares. Combine the salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl and blend. Have the flour at hand. Lay several pieces of the meat on a cutting board and sprinkle with the seasoning mix and a bit of flour. Then with a meat pounder, pound each piece of meat until slightly flattened. Flip the pieces of meat over and repeat the process. Do this with all of the meat.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot, over medium heat. Add the pieces of meat, in batches if necessary, and brown the meat on both sides. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery and cook, stirring, until tender, eight to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and their liquid. Add the water or broth, bay leaves, tarragon and basil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about two hours, or until meat is tender and the gravy has thickened. Adjust seasonings. Add the green onions and parsley and cook for about five minutes. Served over baked grits.



BAKED CHEESE GRITS
Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 cups (not instant) yellow grits, prepared according to package directions
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 pound grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • Salt and cayenne to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the cooked grits with the eggs, cheese, milk and butter and blend until cheese is melted. Pour the mixture into a two-quart baking dish and bake until the mixture sets and just bubbling, about 30 minutes.
These buttermilk biscuits are a great accompaniment.



BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Makes about 16 biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter or lard
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the flour, soda, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter or lard and mix until the mixture resemble coarse meal. Stir in just enough buttermilk to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and roll to about one-half-inch thickness. Cut out the biscuits with a cookie cutter. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Red-eye gravy is usually made by frying thick slices of Smithfield country-cured ham in a skillet until the ham is nice and brown. Then the ham is removed and cold coffee (about 1 cup) and cold water (about 1/2 cup) for every 6 to 8 slices of ham is added to the hot skillet. The gravy is stirred around for a couple of minutes, then served with ham and biscuits. Smithfield ham is hard to come by, but I’ve substituted a good quality smoked ham and the result is quite satisfactory.

Eggs are sometimes difficult to fool with when there’s a crowd. I learned this trick of cooking them in a double boiler that makes them soft and fluffy.



DOUBLE-BOILER EGGS
Makes 6 servings

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Several dashes of Tabasco brand hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (green part only)

Break the eggs into a bowl. Add the milk, salt, pepper and Tabasco and beat with a fork. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler over gently boiling water. Add the eggs and cover. Stir occasionally until the eggs thicken. Remove from the heat. Stir until the eggs set. Garnish with green onions.
My neighbor fixes these eggs for just about every brunch she hosts and I never tire of them. They’re rich, creamy and sinfully delicious. If you happen to own an electric skillet, now’s the time to use it.

JERI’S EGGS VERMOUTH
Makes 6 servings

  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 English muffins, toasted
  • 12 slices Canadian bacon, warmed

Melt the cheeses and butter in the skillet over low heat. Then gradually add the cream, stirring to blend well. Add the vermouth and stir to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crack and drop the eggs, one by one, and distribute evenly into the mixture and allow the eggs to poach until desired doneness. To serve, top each muffin with a slice of Canadian bacon, then top with poached egg and cheese sauce.



November/December 2011

Rat-a-tat! The pecans falling on the tin roof of my office sounds like gunfire. The squirrels are having a hey-day! I spent the better part of an afternoon crawling on the ground filling my bucket with Louisiana’s favorite nut while shooing away the squirrels.

Here in the South, we are quite fortunate to have the pecan, sometimes called the Crown Prince of the Nut Kingdom and God’s gift to the South due to its versatility and the amount that is harvested—some 200,000,000 pounds average per year. This Native American nut is a member of the hickory family, and has a fat content of over 70 percent, more than most nuts. But they are a good source of protein and rich in B-vitamins and minerals. Though high in fat, the fat is unsaturated and the pecan is low in cholesterol.

Whatever, nothing seems to stop us from enjoying our pecan pies, roasted pecans, pralines, and a myriad pecan delicacies. Since pecans are a seasonal crop, you will want to store them for year-round use. They should be stored as soon as they are thoroughly dry in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Pecans are rich in oil and will become stale or rancid quickly if not stored properly. Shelled or unshelled nuts will keep fresh for about a year stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or even better, in the freezer.

But if you don’t have your very own pecan tree in your yard, Cajungrocer offers a great assortment of pecans—chocolate-covered, spiced with cinnamon, praline-covered—that are ideal for munching your way through the upcoming holiday season. Hey, you might want to experiment cooking and baking with them too. But, if you have access to freshly-shelled pecans, here are some recipes to get you in the mood for the festive Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.



PECAN MUFFINS


Makes 15 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, pecans, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside. Combine the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Spoon the batter into greased and floured muffin pans, filling half full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.



PECAN LACE COOKIES


Makes about 30 cookies


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
With a pastry brush, spread 2 tablespoons of the softened butter over two large baking sheets. Sprinkle each baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the flour and tip the pan from side to side to distribute the flour evenly. Invert the baking sheet and rap it sharply to remove the excess flour. Combine 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder and the salt, and sift them together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a deep bowl, cream 2 tablespoons of the butter by beating it and mashing it against the sides of the bowl with the back of a spoon until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar, beat in the eggs and the vanilla, and stir the flour mixture into the batter. Then add the pecans.
Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 3 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cookies have spread into lacelike 4-inch rounds and have turned golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a minute or so, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Let the baking sheets cool completely, then coat them with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of flour, and bake the remaining cookies. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.



ROASTED PECANS

  • 4 cups large pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Spread the pecans in a heavy baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 300? F. Add the butter and stir well to coat all the pecans evenly. Bake 15 minutes more, then sprinkle with the salt and stir well. Bake 15 to 20 minutes more, then remove from the oven. Stir well and cool. Store in airtight jars or containers.

Just go nuts!

Rat-a-tat! The pecans falling on the tin roof of my office sounds like gunfire. The squirrels are having a hey-day! I spent the better part of an afternoon crawling on the ground filling my bucket with Louisiana’s favorite nut while shooing away the squirrels.

Here in the South, we are quite fortunate to have the pecan, sometimes called the Crown Prince of the Nut Kingdom and God’s gift to the South due to its versatility and the amount that is harvested—some 200,000,000 pounds average per year. This Native American nut is a member of the hickory family, and has a fat content of over 70 percent, more than most nuts. But they are a good source of protein and rich in B-vitamins and minerals. Though high in fat, the fat is unsaturated and the pecan is low in cholesterol.

Whatever, nothing seems to stop us from enjoying our pecan pies, roasted pecans, pralines, and a myriad pecan delicacies. Since pecans are a seasonal crop, you will want to store them for year-round use. They should be stored as soon as they are thoroughly dry in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Pecans are rich in oil and will become stale or rancid quickly if not stored properly. Shelled or unshelled nuts will keep fresh for about a year stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or even better, in the freezer.

But if you don’t have your very own pecan tree in your yard, Cajungrocer offers a great assortment of pecans—chocolate-covered, spiced with cinnamon, praline-covered—that are ideal for munching your way through the upcoming holiday season. Hey, you might want to experiment cooking and baking with them too. But, if you have access to freshly-shelled pecans, here are some recipes to get you in the mood for the festive Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.



PECAN MUFFINS


Makes 15 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or pecan pieces
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, pecans, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and set aside. Combine the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Spoon the batter into greased and floured muffin pans, filling half full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.



PECAN LACE COOKIES


Makes about 30 cookies


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
With a pastry brush, spread 2 tablespoons of the softened butter over two large baking sheets. Sprinkle each baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the flour and tip the pan from side to side to distribute the flour evenly. Invert the baking sheet and rap it sharply to remove the excess flour. Combine 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder and the salt, and sift them together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a deep bowl, cream 2 tablespoons of the butter by beating it and mashing it against the sides of the bowl with the back of a spoon until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar, beat in the eggs and the vanilla, and stir the flour mixture into the batter. Then add the pecans.
Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonful onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 3 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cookies have spread into lacelike 4-inch rounds and have turned golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a minute or so, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Let the baking sheets cool completely, then coat them with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons of flour, and bake the remaining cookies. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.



ROASTED PECANS

  • 4 cups large pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Spread the pecans in a heavy baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 300? F. Add the butter and stir well to coat all the pecans evenly. Bake 15 minutes more, then sprinkle with the salt and stir well. Bake 15 to 20 minutes more, then remove from the oven. Stir well and cool. Store in airtight jars or containers.

Just go nuts!



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