How to make a Mardi Gras King Cake (John Besh recipe)

What better way to say/eat Mardi Gras than with a home-baked king cake, that delicate pastry with the purple, gold and green sprinkled icing. Some folks fill it with a sweet cream cheese or fruit or boudin, but this one’s the traditional king cake from New Orleans’ favorite chef (well, mine) John Besh.

If you want the praline-topped, banana-stuffed, gold-flecked king cake from Besh Chef Lisa White, here’s that recipe. Warning – it’s not for king cake wimps.

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How to make chocolate-dipped buttercrunch candy (recipe)

I don’t claim to be original, especially when it comes to candy. My grandmother, the willful and beautiful Rosalie Dial, made divinity and fudge, but that’s about it.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Recently on NPR, I heard this recipe by Andrea Gunst and had to try it. Here’s the original recipe. I’ve added a little salt, which Andrea didn’t. I wrapped the candy in small plastic bags and put it in pretty holiday tins for gifts. Here are two NPR segments about the candy:

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2014/12/10/buttercrunch-ham-recipes

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2012/12/17/gunst-holiday-gifts

Advice from NPR: You can double the recipe, but if you want to make more you shouldn’t try to multiply the recipe by three or four — simply keep doubling the recipe. One cookie sheet makes one batch. Continue reading

How to make yellow squash casserole (recipe)

I love squash and enjoyed growing it in my garden for years. For now, because I’m working away from my garden, I get mine at the local farmers’ market (locations in New Orleans).

This recipe is inspired by one of my and my son’s heroes, Sidna Brower Mitchell, who is well known as a great cook and food writer but perhaps even more importantly as the unjustly maligned student editor of The Daily Mississippian on the Ole Miss campus when it was forceably integrated in 1961.

My recipe is an adaptation of hers, with a few extra ingredients. It’s great in the summer when the produce is bountiful. It’s also an easy veggie side dish throughout the year.

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How to make giardiniera (pickled vegetables) – recipe

When I was a kid, our neighbor, Wilbur Pickett, made hot sauce on an open fire on the vacant elementary school-yard between our McComb, Miss., houses.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I didn’t think too much about why until years later when I made my first batch of garlicky dill pickles from garden cucumbers – and stunk up my house without the possibility of parole.

Luckily, I’d acquired a small, bottle-gas burner for football tailgating. From then on, I cooked my pickling juice out on the porch to avoid the penetrating aroma. It’s mighty good in the jar, but it’s a bit something to take into your nose when it’s steaming hot. It also infuses itself into drywall (just my opinion – not a scientific fact).

Now I know why Wilbur’s wife, Gladys, sent him to the school yard for his vinegary concoction.

This recipe for giardiniera mimics those fancy, expensive pickled veggies in the grocery but is easy to make at home. It makes a pretty gift for friends, too. Try it.

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How to make Southern peach chutney (recipe)

Summertime is Peach Time in the South. That’s time for peach cobblers, peach pies, peach ice cream and other delicious doin’s.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

A couple of years ago, I made a savory peach jam, which was a big hit with the folks I gifted it to. This chutney recipe is quite extraordinary and a bit different from your butter-and-jelly ways. You’ll love it. It also doesn’t contain any salt, for folks watching their intake.

Try this as a last-minute grill topper on pork loin, chicken or veggies. It’s also a great condiment on the side or as a savory morning toast topper. Any way you like peaches, this works “mighty fine,” as we Southerners say.

Header image by NaJina McEnany and used under a Creative Commons license.

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How to make West Indies crab meat salad (recipe)

My brother-in-law, Tommy Ratchford of Pensacola, isn’t much of a cook, but he knows a thing or two about seafood. Hearken to his “Southfacin’ Cook” recipe for perfect boiled shrimp.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

His “West Indies Salad” is a delicious, light, crisp, tart combo of vinegar-sweetened onions, brine and juicy lump crab meat. Can’t get much tastier than that!

It’s gorgeous on toasted French bread slices and even prettier in a stemmed cocktail glass as a true salad or a buffet specialty.

Easy, delicious. A great change of pace with summertime fare, too. Enjoy any time of the year, so long as the crab meat is fresh.

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How to make crawfish chowder (recipe)

Have leftover crawfish from a boil? Try this easy recipe for crawfish chowder. We Southerners smugly think “chowder” (or “chow-dah”) is something Yankees invented and shouldn’t be trotted out in kitchens south of the Mason-Dixon line. Fear not, intrepid cooks. Chowder is just a milky stew of goodness, no matter where it comes from.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

This recipe comes to me from a colleague when I worked at my alma mater, the University of Mississippi. I gotta tell you, it’s so good that you’d serve it to Prince Charles and Prince Harry, if they were lucky enough to be in your dining room.

Add a crusty loaf of French bread or steamy cornbread and butter for soaking up the juice, and you’ll be dancing! I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten from this recipe, which has become a favorite with my friends. Now, it’s yours!

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How to cook liver and onions

Liver smothered in onions? So, 99% of you just went, “She’s cooking what?”

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I am among the 1% of people who love liver and onions atop rice. Likely, it was presented to me by my grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, who wasn’t one to forgive a turned-up nose at dinnertime. Likely, I ate it, agreed it was good, and the rest is history.

It’s not something I think about often, but this weekend, it came to mind. I make a batch and freeze everything but the rice for another dinner.

It’s also an emotional meal for me because my dearly departed mother, Betty, made me weekly batches while I was pregnant with my two kids and needed boosts of iron to fortify my system (and theirs). When I eat liver and onions, I think of all three of them. Sappy, but true.

And so, for you folks whose grandmothers and moms made this and never showed you how, here it is. For you folks who’ve got the curiosity to try it, the recipe couldn’t be simpler. Go for it!

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red beans

Mondays mean red beans in New Orleans

New Orleans restaurants are fairly predictable during Lent – they have red beans and rice on Mondays and a seafood special on Fridays.

photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook

photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook

The Monday special is a long-standing practice. Mondays traditionally were laundry day in New Orleans and red beans and rice was an easy dish to put on the stove and leave. The dish is a standard offering every Monday in New Orleans restaurants.

During Lent, Catholic believers often give up meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb, duck, etc.) on Fridays. Seafood is OK though, so restaurants offer tasty seafood dishes on Fridays. FYI – Lent starts Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras) and ends on Easter.

Want to try your hand at red beans while you knock out your laundry this weekend? Check out this recipe from our food columnist, Patsy R. Brumfield.

Since there are so many different recipes for the classic dish, here are a few more to peruse:

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How to make white chili

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I like chili, period. But white chili is a special treat with the tang of cilantro, yogurt and a slice of lime. It’s perfect for a wintertime crowd, especially as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

Make a big ole pot with a skillet of cornbread, or hot pita bread, and you’ve got a tummy-warming delight.

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