Get Your Hoppin’ John On, Ya’ll

DomesticArts, New Year, Recipes, Southen Food

If your family is from the American South, a New Year’s Day hasn’t gone by you haven’t feasted on a nice warm bowl of Hoppin’ John. It’s not only delicious. It’s nutritious and is said to bring good luck for the new year. It’s also incredibly easy to make which is always a huge plus.

If you shop today, the fresh black-eyed peas you can find in the refrigerated section of your market may be sold out but not too worry. It’s still early enough in the day to buy dried black-eyed peas. You can soak them this afternoon. I like to put everything in the crock pot on low before I go out for the evening and let it stew all night.

This is a basic recipe. Keep in mind, some folks add kale, spinach or other veggies to enhance the nutrition profile. Like most family-styled Southern dishes, many liberties can be taken to alter or add to the fundamental recipe. If you don’t eat pork, try browning chicken thighs as your meat element — just remove the skin and dice the chicken meat just before serving.

Brown one small, diced white onion, one stalk diced celery and two diced carrots in olive oil. Place golden veggies in the bottom of your slow-cooker. Add a ham hock (or some kind of pork product — you can use about 4 -6 ounces of  sausage, bacon, pancetta, etc.). Add about 12 ounces of black-eyed peas (fresh, canned or previously soaked). Add a clove of garlic, a dash of onion powder, one bay leaf, salt, pepper. Cover with about 4 cups chicken broth. Cook on low/simmer all night. Serve over cooked white rice. Potential toppings include chopped parsley, chopped green onions/chives, diced red onions, grated sharp cheddar cheese, Tabasco.

We like to sleep in on New Year’s morning. Then we enjoy a yummy brunch of Hoppin’ John with corn bread and greens while watching the Rose Parade and Bowl Games on TV.

Wishing You All a Safe New Year’s Eve and lots and lots of luck throughout 2019!

Tomato Pie Y’all – California Style

Homemaking, Recipes, Southen Food

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. But, I have felt like cooking. I’m one of those people who embraces something I’m interested in for a little while and, then, when I feel saturated,  move on to a different project. I wish I was a more habitual person. One of the qualities highly successful share is their ability to adhere to a schedule. The thing is, I find that keeping to a strict schedule squashes my creativity.  I never know when I’ll get the urge to re-paint a wall or make a complicated meal or re-accessorize a room.

So that’s why my last post was about cooking and so is this one and, likely, more will follow. As an homage to these very late summer days, a tomato pie seems the perfect thing for dinner alfresco.

Southern food is my family’s jet fuel.  Although we are California people by location, our strong southern and mid-western lineage means, in a world obsessed with lean protein, steamed veggies and everything sans gluten, we still drink copious amounts of tea (that’s iced – not hot – and preferably sweet). We have not given up chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, slow-cooked green beans with bacon and pecan pie.

I have a slightly California-ized version of southern tomato pie. Any traditional recipe calls for lots of mayonnaise but, instead, I use eggs as a binder which adds protein and makes the final product more quiche-like. If you want an even healthier version still, use only the whites of 6 eggs and low-fat or vegan cheese.

This is such a versatile dish. It’s so easy. It’s great as casual meal, to take to a pot-luck or serve at a shower. I love it paired with grilled peaches drizzled with a little balsamic glaze and some leafy greens tossed with oil and vinegar.

Tomato Pie

Pre-bake a pie crust in a 9 inch deep dish pie pan for 6 minutes at 400 degrees or until the bottom is firm and starting to brown. Slice (very thinly) 4 large vine-ripened tomatoes. Of course its best if they are out of your own garden. If you don’t grow them yourself, buy the highest quality you can find. Press the slices between paper towels to remove as much moisture as you can. Chop two large handfuls of fresh basil leaves, a small handful of fresh parsley and 4 green onions. Grate 2 cups fresh mozzarella (or, if you live in the civilized world, pour the already grated cheese from a plastic pouch).

Start with a layer of tomato slices at the bottom of your crust. Follow with a layer of basil leaves, then mozzarella. At this point, whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup milk, the chopped parsley and onion plus a little freshly ground black pepper and a generous pinch or two of  salt. Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly into pan allowing it to settle around the veggie/cheese layer. Repeat the layering process on top of the eggs.

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes clean. Allow to cool a bit before slicing. Can be served either warm or cold.

Enjoy.