Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day recipes, 2011 (Angel Biscuits, Sweet Potato Cake, Cheddar-Sausage-Chile Cornbread)

This was the first part of the note I sent: 
Friends, it's a must. In the South (and in the Southern Diaspora), one eats black-eyes peas and greens on New Year's Day. The many peas signal prosperity; the greens signal wealth. I choose to think of both categories as figurative, since God knows we are not in professions that rake in literal riches, eh?

At any rate, New Year's Day also means a ham from Petit Jean Meats in Arkansas, one of which is on its way to me. I will be throwing it in the oven on January 1, making some peas and greens, baking some angel biscuits, and whatnot. I'd hate to eat alone. 
It was a good day, this first day of the new year. In spite of the unexplained smoke pouring into my house instead of up the chimney (a conundrum, since I've had many fires in the fireplace), necessitating a last-minute moratorium on crackling fires, and defying my house's space limitations, we packed about 20 hungry souls in on a sunny, cold day in Seattle. 

The menu:

Cheddar-Cayenne Crispies
Oysters Casino (courtesy of Patrick)
Regal Ransom (a bourbon cocktail, courtesy of Marc)
Arkansas Caviar (courtesy of Leslie, who may have ascribed it to a different state)
Petit Jean Ham
Cheddar-Sausage-Chile Cornbread
Black-eyed Peas
Collard and Red Cabbage Slaw
Angel Biscuits
Sweet Potato Cake
Bourbon Balls (courtesy of Kim)
Homemade Chocolate Doughnuts (courtesy of Jeanne)
Chocolate Chunk Cookies (courtesy of Kairu)
And drinks and sweets aplenty (courtesy of all)

There were requests for a couple of recipes, so here they are:

Angel Biscuits (so-called, because of the addition of yeast. Get it? They rise).

5 c. flour
1/8 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 c. cold butter, cut into cubes (plus more for brushing tops of biscuits)
1 pkg. yeast
4 T. warm water
2 c. buttermilk, at room temperature

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter until it resembles small peas (confession: I do this in a large food processor, and then turn out into a large bowl before continuing). Dissolve and proof yeast in warm water. Add it and buttermilk to the bowl. Fold until just combined. It will still be a wet mess, but you just want to mix until there are no piles of dry flour. Turn into a large zipper type plastic bag and refrigerate over night. Next day: Roll out on a floured surface until between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter, gathering and re-using scraps until all the dough is used. Place biscuits on sheet pans or cookie sheets. Let them come to room temperature (they will just start to rise). Just before baking, brush liberally with melted butter. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown. The beauty of these biscuits is that they HAVE to be made up the night before--clearing the morning for things other than mixing bowls! Also, the addition of yeast and sugar gives them a flavor and texture that is between a biscuit and a roll. So they can be dressed up for dinner, enjoyed for breakfast, or re-heated to good effect. Makes +/- 3 dozen, depending on the size of your biscuit cutter.

Sweet Potato Cake

I found a version of this recipe in an old cookbook in my uncle's cabin in Arkansas. I tweaked it a bit (which is to say that I didn't write it down and hoped I remembered it more or less correctly), and was VERY happy with the result. This is a perfect cake to serve with tea or coffee in the afternoon: not too gooey or sweet, very fragrant and moist. 

1 1/2 c. canola oil
2 c. sugar
4 egg yolks
4 T. hot water
2 1/2 c. flour (I used White Lily; use AP otherwise)
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. freshly ground nutmeg (fresh is crucial)
1 1/2 c. grated raw sweet potato
1 c. chopped pecans
1 t. vanilla paste (extract will do)
4 stiffly beaten egg whites

Combine oil, sugar, egg yolks, and hot water in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Beat until homogenous and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add slowly to wet mixture while the mixer is on low, scraping down sides occasionally. Stir in sweet potato, pecans, and vanilla. Remove bowl and fold egg whites into batter, taking care not to completely deflate the whites. Bake in a greased and floured bundt or tube pan at 325 degrees for approximately 75 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. I don't think this cake needs one thing--I suppose you could dress it up with some whipped cream, but it's really lovely on its own.

Cheddar-Sausage-Chile Cornbread (Gluten-Free)

Admission: I made this recipe gluten-free only because I was expecting gluten-intolerant guests. I replaced the wheat flour with rice flour, and I LOVED it. I will make it this way from now on, since the rice flour really lightened the texture considerably.

1 1/2 lbs. southern style pork breakfast sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced roasted green chilis, drained
3 cobs of corn, scraped to include all the juice (use a can of creamed corn if no fresh corn)
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (do not use pre-shredded)
2 c. finely ground WHITE cornmeal (Sigh. Use yellow if you must.)
1 c. rice flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 t. freshly ground black pepper 

Brown sausage, breaking it up as you stir it. Remove with slotted spoon into large mixing bowl. Add onion to grease in skillet, cooking until soft but not yet brown. Add to sausage using slotted spoon. When cool, add chilis, corn, and cheese. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Beat together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and pepper. Pour over dry ingredients and whisk well (bonus: rice flour has no gluten, so beat with impunity!!!). Add to sausage mixture and mix well. Pour into greased shallow baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the middle.


Anonymous said...

What a fantastic way to start the year, surrounded by friends old and new and great food! Thanks for starting us off on the right foot, Jenifer, and happy 2011!

Marc and David

Shauna said...

I am so making that cornbread soon! It sounds fantastic. So sorry we couldn't be there.

Happy 2011 to you!