Food Bloggers’ Geography #1: Southern StyleOctober 1, 2006
My wife and I are highly influenced by cooking from the South. If you painted a line from Washington, D.C., (where we live) down to Savannah, Ga., and then across those beautiful southern states to New Orleans, La., and along the Rio Grande, you would have drawn a line straight through the regional heart of our home cooking. (Not including geographical oddities introduced by our families.)
Inspired by our own attachment to that broad area that is the U.S. South, MHC wishes you to invite all y’all to our first food blogging event: Food Bloggers’ Geography #1: Southern Style.
While we may be influenced by the U.S. South, it isn’t just Dixie, Creole, Tex-Mex or Latin American cooking we want to discuss. No, we here at MHC have found that the word “South” comes up too often in food-speak to limit it to cuisine below the Mason-Dixon line.
There’s South India with its focus on rice and lentils, South China with its Cantonese cooking, South Philly with its choice of cheesesteaks from Gino’s or Pat’s, South Germany and its culinary gems from Bavaria, wine and what some consider culinary paradise in the South of France. This is just a short list of “Souths” to inspire you.
We are hoping to get some of the best “southside” of the web cooking out there. To inspire you, we’ve also attached my Pecan Beignet recipe. I can’t imagine two things that speak to more of my influences than a beignet straight from those Cajuns and creoles of Louisiana, and the pecan, whose culinary role many a Southerner can discuss for hours.
We can’t wait to see what you are cooking!
1. Only one submission per person, please.
2. It must be a recipe whose roots are geographically “South”…. We encourage all interpretations of that.
3. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org that includes your name, your blog’s name, a link to the relevant photo, and to the post in which it appears.
4. The deadline is Oct. 20, 2006 at midnight.
We’ll present a roundup of all the entries on Oct. 22!
Makes: 3 dozen
Time issue: Overnight resting of the dough
5 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
One 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup pecans (chopped)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Making the dough:
1. In a microwave-safe container or in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the evaporated milk and water. Warm the mixture until it is hot to the touch, but not scalding.
2. In a large bowl or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk until the eggs have become loose and are a lemony shade of yellow. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and yeast.
3. Add the butter to the egg mixture and continue to blend. There isn’t a need to integrate the butter as much as you want to break it into rough chunks.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Continue until integrated. Next, slowly add about half of the hot milk-water mixture. Once the dough starts to clump slightly, switch your mixer’s attachment to a bread hook.
5. Add the remaining milk-water liquid and allow the dough to come together. It should be sticky and adhere to the sides. Knead for about 2 minutes.
6. Add the pecans and continue to knead for another 2 minutes.
7. Move the dough to a large bowl. Coat the dough lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
Rolling them out, cooking them up:
8. Remove the dough from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking. You want it to warm up so that it will be easier to roll out.
9. Fill a large pot or Dutch oven (or your fryer) about half full with vegetable oil or canola oil. Heat until the temperature of the oil is 350F.
(NOTE: You don’t want to use olive oil here. Olive oil has a low smoke point and will not stand up well to the temperature you are going to need here. The oil will take on a bad smell and flavor.)
10. While the oil is heating, roll the dough out. On a well-floured surface, take about half the dough (you can take all if you have enough space) and lightly flour the top. Roll the dough into as symmetrical a shape as you can until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. When you begin to feel the rough bumps of the pecans more than the smooth rolling of the dough under the pin, it’s time to stop.
11. Using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the dough into 3-inch by 3-inch squares.
12. Once the oil is up to 350F, add two to four dough squares depending on the size of your cooking vessel. They should sink to the bottom and quickly puff up and float to the top. Cook them about 2-3 min per side until they are pretty and brown on both sides.
(NOTE: Monitor the oil temperature here. You may need to adjust the heat to keep the temperature about 350F. If it gets too high, the oil will begin to turn burn… too low, and your beignets will get greasy. Try to maintain the temperature in a zone between 340F and 360F.)
13. Let beignets cool for 3 to 4 min, coat with powdered sugar, serve, eat, and enjoy!