January 27, 2011

Bring.... It.... On.... Crazy Sista!

Weather Bulletin...."The roads are really, really bad,"
The snow is expected to get heavier by afternoon and could complicate the evening rush hour, particularly in New England. "The worst is apparently yet to come, and we are running out of room to shovel the snow!"

As I sat at my writing desk, gazing out the window, lost in my thoughts, I  wondered, "is this a trick? Am I really in Siberia?"  Remember, we are Southerns all the way and still not accustomed to New England Winters! I am used to walking out the front door in flip-flops and Capri's even during the winter months. I probably have a pair of flip-flops in every color known to man that I have not been able to unpack yet! Somehow I find that depressing! All white, snow laden hills, icy streets, gray skies and wind howling..... and I might add...NEGATIVE 13 degrees!! And..more on the way! Seriously?

 I began to look at our past photos of our beloved Pensacola Beach and listen to some good ole' country tunes that were from our beach playlist. Then the sweet sounds of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" began playing by Jimmy Buffett and that led me to thinking about Lulu Buffett's cookbook my sister gave me two years ago...Crazy Sista! This is one GREAT cookbook, in case you want to pick one up for yourself! Yes, all you lovelies...it put smiles on all of us at The Maine House! The photos, some good and spicy southern food and some of our beach playtunes!!

Lucy Anne "Lulu" Buffett has a restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama!
 As Greg would say..."Fun on a Bun!"
 Perhaps this will provide a little insight on Lulu!

Letter from LuLu
Dear Friends,
This is not your basic “how to” cookbook. I like to think of it more as a visit to my kitchen. You’re sitting at the counter as I vigorously chop vegetables and loudly tell stories with a sometimes annoying drawl. We’re drinking some iced tea or something stronger, in which case, I tend to get louder and my drawl gets crazy lazy. Good music is playing in the background, and I mean good songs with melodies and lyrics that rip out your heart or make you feel like a princess, like Frank Sinatra, Jackson Browne or Seal (not that devil music that sounds like a lot of scratchy screaming and passes sometimes for a song). There is plenty of laughter bouncing off the walls as tree frogs squirm across a picture window overlooking the bucolic river. Pick any random day; that is where you can find me, cooking up a storm and talking up a blue streak with family and friends around the stove.

Our Southern Caviar
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

4 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped red onion
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
 Rinse and drain peas well. Place in a large glass or aluminum bowl. Add remaining ingredients and dressing. Toss well. Transfer to plastic container, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers.

For Grillades:
4 pounds sirloin steak, about ½ inch thick
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
½ cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3 cups whole canned tomatoes, with juice
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
LuLu’s Perfect Pepper hot sauce to taste (Tabasco will suffice, if you don't have Lulu's)
1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup parsley, freshly chopped, plus some for garnish

Remove and discard fat from sirloin. Pound meat until slightly flattened, about ½” thick. Cut into 2” squares.
In a small bowl, combine salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle sirloin with season mixture, toss to coat evenly. Once meat is thoroughly seasoned, sprinkle with flour and again, toss to evenly coat. In a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sirloin and brown on all sides. Do this in batches if need be, you don’t want to overcrowd the pieces. Add chopped onions and green peppers. Cook for 2 minutes. Add celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
Crush tomatoes by hand (it’s messy and will make all manner of squishy noises, but it’s the fastest, best way to do it) and add, with juices.
Reduce heat to a simmer. Add beef broth and remaining seasonings: bay leaves, oregano, and basil.
Cook uncovered on low heat for 1-2 hours (or as long as you can stand it) until meat is tender.
If gravy becomes too thick, add a little more water or beef broth. Five minutes before serving, add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Add minced garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Just before serving, add green onions and parsley. Serve over baked cheese grits and garnish with remaining parsley.

For Baked Cheese Grits:
6 cups cooked regular grits
3 eggs, beaten
½ pound cheese, shredded…some great choices are sharp cheddar, Gruyere, or smoked Gouda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 or 2, maybe 3 dashes LuLu’s Perfect Pepper Hot Sauce (again, Tabasco will suffice)

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Add cheese and butter to hot grits and stir well until cheese is melted. Beat together milk and eggs. Whisk a small portion of hot grits into milk mixture and stir well. Return mixture to grits. Add salt and pepper. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.

Our Joe Patti's Night on Pensacola Beach
Sweet and oh yes, Warm Memories!

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