Friday, July 9, 2010

Recipe Review: Southern Living's Okra and Corn Maque Choux

The heat of the summer has left me craving lighter meals, and this month's issue of Southern Living Magazine delivered some great inspirations! The "Summer's Glorious Trinity" article of recipes using tomatoes, okra, and sweet corn had us positively salivating! At first glance we were both agreed that we had to try the Okra and Corn Maque Choux. If you're not familiar with Maque Choux (pronounced mock-shoe), it originated in Louisiana and I believe it was a Cajun spin on a Native American dish.

I faithfully followed Southern Living's recipe, which isn't an easy thing for me to do, resisting the temptation to add Herbs de Provence, which I add to most everything I cook. This was such an easy dish to make and it was so tasty. Here are a few of my notes on the newest staple to our summer recipe collection:

  • I used Rodger Wood Polish style smoked sausage, which is made here locally in Savannah. This sausage gave a nice smoky flavor to the dish and had a nice texture. Next time I think I would use their spicy version, as Southern Living used a spicy smoked sausage when testing the recipe for the magazine.
  • I chopped all of the vegetables before hand, mixing them in two separate bowls per steps of cooking. That way everything was prepared and I only had to dump in the bowl of vegetables that were required at each step. The corn took the longest to prepare, so it was well worth doing in advance.
  • OK, I didn't completely follow their instructions. Since I wasn't using spicy sausage, I added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes with the green peppers, onion, and garlic.
  • I found that 6 ears of corn yielded 3 cups. Most of the ears were fairly large too.
  • For a vegetarian version, omit the sausage but do add a few drops of liquid smoke as the vegetables used really benefit from having that smoky flavor. You could even add tofu or mushrooms, adding them at a later stage than the sausage so that they are not over cooked.
  • As with most dishes, this was tastier on the second day.
  • We chose Jacob's Creek 2008 Riesling to have with this, which we thought turned out to be the perfect pairing.
  • Left overs: we made amazing wraps with the left overs and some BBQ pulled pork. Such a fantastic combination. Am thinking this was better than eating it on its own. If I made it specifically for wraps, I would leave out the sausage as the pulled pork would be enough meat. For me at least.

With a few ears of corn left, I'm looking forward to trying their Tomato and Corn Pizza!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Real Women of Philadelphia Contest Hosted By Paula Deen

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the Lucas Theater to watch Paula Deen announce the winners of the Real Women of Philadelphia Contest. This contest, sponsored by Kraft, was an on-line competition hosted by Paula Deen looking for women across the country to submit their recipes, all using Philadelphia Cream Cheese. There were four groups of women last night in which Paula was announcing the winner from each group. Each winner was chosen by Ms. Deen along with an expert panel that consisted of the infamous Aunt Peggy, Robin Ross (Group Manager at Kraft's Culinary Center of Excellence), and Lori Lange (
The evening began with a very amusing introduction by Paula Deen talking about how she got her big break thanks to having self published a cookbook and the help of a good rain storm. I have to say, she came across as so warm and likable with a wicked sense of humor. The audience was in fits of laughter at her self-effacing and witty humor.
During the introduction, I spotted none other than Paula's Michael in the middle balcony. If you look hard you can see his trademark beard. It was so cute seeing him sitting in a prime location looking on at his beloved Paula.
The first round brought us the four finalists in the Side Dish category.
The winning dish was Mandy Heaston of Seattle with her recipe for Asparagus and Parmesan Cream Pastry.
Next up were the four Appetizer finalists.
The winner of this category was Caryn Ross of Oklahoma City with her Sassy Tailgate Sandwiches. These cute little ham & cheese sandwiches looked like a fun staple perfect for not only tailgate parties but picnics too.
At one point of the evening, much to Paula's surprised, she was joined on stage by a group of the "Real Women of Philadelphia" for an energetic performance that she jumped right into join in. Let me tell you, she might catch a lot of flak about eating a ton of butter but that lady can shake her money maker with the best of them - and did!
Round three brought us the four finalist in the Entree category.
Sheila Cutchlow of Washington, D.C. was the winner of the Entree category with her Joy Bundles and Rice. Upon being presented with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, she was greeted on stage by her beautiful daughter. It was so moving to witness their genuine joy at winning along with their strong bond. I have to say this left me a little choked up.
Last but not least were the four Dessert finalists with their sublime submissions.
Winning with her recipe for French Apple Cake, KC Quaretti Lee of Venice, Florida took the cake in the dessert category. Being a Sarasota girl with family in Venice, I was secretly pleased to see KC take the title.
All in all it was an amazing night. The recipes looked superb and I'm sure it was a very tough deciding on a winner from each category from so many fantastic dishes. Each of the winners receives the opportunity to create a cookbook with Paula Deen along with $25,000 cash. Not bad, eh? The projected didn't end last night either. Starting in July, we can submit our recipes to be included in this cookbook! Keep an eye on this page or Paula on Facebook for upcoming information on how to submit.

I've Moved! From the Suncoast to the Hostess City of the South

Hello friends, it's been a while. The past several months have been a whirlwind. So many things have been going on; some great, some not so good. The biggest thing was a welcomed relocation to my favorite area of the country. Yes my friends, I moved 400 miles north-east to live the South! Left behind is my beautiful hometown of Sarasota for the lovely historic city of Savannah, her islands, gorgeous salt marshes, and the Lowcountry. This change has also brought on a renewed desire to pick up where I left off with Artichokes and Lemonade. Yes, there will still be recipes to come, but please stick with me as I share some new discoveries in my freshly adopted home town. I hope you enjoy what you see and keep me company as I explore and get acquainted with this gorgeous area of the US. The food of this region completely inspires me, so I'm sure there will be no shortage of good things to post.