Tag Archives: black eyed peas

Weekly Menus: New Year’s Edition

Gentle Readers, the end of the year is nigh, and pork is in the air. Well, I am Southern, and that is a capital “S.” It just can’t be New Year’s Day without pork, greens, and black-eyed peas. This year we are going to experience this at scale, more on that later in the week.

A traditional vegetarian New Year's meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

A traditional vegetarian New Year’s meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

This past week has been an eating bonanza, but it’s time to buckle down and get back in the kitchen. Here’s what that looks like, with weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pasta and Salad
Feeding kids, will probably be cheese tortellini with sauce. Side of protein. Extra salad.

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Monday: Salmon and Green Veg
Simple and complete. Side of quinoa or couscous for a quick meal before the partying begins.

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Tuesday: Pork, Black-eyed Peas, Collard Greens
Potentially I’ll do Hoppin’ John for the Jrs, as I can easily make that vegetarian friendly.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin’ John

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Pumpkin-Apple Pancakes with Fauxsage or Grits and Eggs. To be determined.

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Thursday: Mexican
Nacho, nacho time!

Friday: Polenta Surprise
This time, major mushroom edition. The Jrs just discovered how many mushroom types there were in the world. Game on.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’re going to conquer another cuisine of the world. Not sure which one. All suggestions welcome.

What’s on your holiday recovery menu? Post a comment below, or Tweet it out for the world to see.

Send your resolutions, pork, and black eyed peas to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Wednesday: Three Salad Ideas for the New Year

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Hoppin’ John Recipe, Simplified

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is a big fan of the one-pot recipe. And though my drive to serve greens would force me to serve this with a side of collards, Hoppin’ John is one of those classic recipes that fits this bill. One of my favorite versions is Bill Smith’s dish at Crook’s Corner. I got close this time, with the help of some sausage.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin' John

Honestly, I kept craving this dish, and the leftovers kept getting better. Very easy, very satisfying, and makes a good amount.

Easy Hoppin’ John Recipe

1 lb sausage, flavor of your choice (I had local bratwurst from Brinkley Farms at hand, so I used that; chorizo would also be lovely, as would any Cajun-type sausage), crumbled or cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt
dash of ground black pepper
dash of thyme
1/2 can diced tomatoes, no-salt added type
1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed (sue me, but I didn’t have any more scratch-cooked ones on hand, and these worked beautifully)
shredded cheese, I would say optional, but it really isn’t
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced, also not optional
hot sauce, preferable

1 batch of white rice, cooked (your choice on the top, but I used standard grocery store rice here)

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

1. In a medium skillet, brown the sausage, breaking into bite-sized chunks as necessary. When cooked, set aside on paper towels to drain, reserving just enough grease to cover the bottom of the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

2. Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease over medium heat until softened, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

3. Add the reserved sausage back to the skillet, stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat and let the flavors meld, amount of time is up to you, but I would recommend at least 10 minutes. Cover as needed to prevent drying out.

4. When serving, and this is important, don’t pour the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice until the very last minute. Once you top it, add the cheese and scallions. Do not omit them, I don’t know why, but it changes the dish a lot if you do. Serve warm.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

I like mine with a smidge of Frank’s Hot Sauce (apologies to my hometown Texas Pete, but that’s a blog for a different day.)

Are you a fan of Hoppin’ John? The one-pot meal? Post your comments below, don’t hold back.

Send your black-eyed peas, rice, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Biscuits, Reviewed: Neal’s Deli in Carrboro.

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Restaurant Review: Beaufort Grocery, a Gem on the North Carolina Coastline (with video)

Sometimes, Gentle Readers, you can teach an old dog a new trick. Just when The Practical Cook thought her love of pimento cheese could NOT be any greater, along comes a new twist, in the form of being topped by pickled Granny Smith apples and red onions.  Welcome to the Beaufort Grocery Company in Beaufort, NC (not SC). I almost wept into the canapes it was so delicious.

Beaufort Grocery Pimento Cheese Plate with Marinated Granny Smith Apples and Onions and Spicy Candied Pecans

Beaufort Grocery Pimento Cheese Plate with Pickled Granny Smith Apples and Onions and Spicy Candied Pecans

Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

A note about the plate above. In the video I call it walnut brittle, as that is what the menu said, but further munching and crunching determined that it was pecan, and for more like a candied, spiced number than a brittle. It was delish, regardless.

Hello my precious new favorite pimento cheese.

Hello my precious new favorite pimento cheese.

Back to lunch, we had the appetizer, followed by a Blackened Grouper sandwich with feta, mango salsa, and greens. I tried to order the sweet potato chips, because that is what I do, but they were out.

The catch of the day: Blackened Grouper on Foccacia with mango salsa, feta, and greens.

The catch of the day: Blackened Grouper on Foccacia with mango salsa, feta, and greens.

To make up for it, they gave me some Texas caviar, and I fell in love. Seriously, I’ve been working to perfect it. They have a cookbook, and I’m strongly considering it for the caviar alone. I really heart black-eyed peas, and this was outstanding.

The Beaufort Grocery Sammie Menu: I love the names!

The Beaufort Grocery Sammie Menu: I love the names!

I was dining with Complicated Vegetarian, and her veggie wrap was good, but not off the charts. We’ve brunched at Beaufort Grocery before, and there were more veggie-friendly options then. We finished strong with pecan pie. It was deep, sweet, and almost overwhelming. I liked it a lot, but probably liked the spicy candied pecans a little more. The depth of pie meant not quite as many salty pecans to balance the sweet. However, I did lick the plate, I’m not going to lie.

This is one deep-dish pecan pie.

This is one deep-dish pecan pie.

If you go for brunch, just start ordering things, and don’t look up until you’re done. There is nothing bad on the brunch menu. For someone like me, who is allergic to shellfish and can get pretty tired of the “fried seafood joints,” Beaufort Grocery is like a siren song. Special thanks to my MIL by Choice (we are related not by blood, but by her being awesome) and my SIL for the recommendation and accommodations!

The Beaufort Grocery is worth the drive and the wait!

The Beaufort Grocery is worth the drive and the wait!

Do you have a favorite restaurant on the NC coast? Post a comment here, or Tweet!

Send restaurant recommendations, deep thoughts, and blog challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, it’s time for Weekly Menus again!

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Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas, Or Move Over Porky

Gentle Readers, as The Practical Cook is both deeply Southern and a former vegetarian, she has divided feelings on the cooked vegetable scene here. I adore traditional food, cooked with pork, hailing from a time when any and all calories were necessary and good. Black-eyed peas are homey and comforting, the dal of the South. But not everyone loves the pig, and the all porky vegetable meal can be overwhelming.

Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas: Delicious!

Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas: Delicious!

So what’s a cook to do? Try this simple, healthier swap. As mentioned yesterday, a Parmesan rind can do amazing things.

Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas, Or Move Over Porky

This recipe is inspired by Bill Smith’s recipe for black-eyed peas, found in Seasoned in the South. His recipe is my go-to, and his cookbook invaluable for method and reassurance in the kitchen. It’s a great read, too.

1 lb black-eyed peas
a flavorful olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cubed (not too small, or it will cook to mush)
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper to taste (don’t hold back here, flavor is good)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (don’t hold back here, either)
1 Parmesan rind
salt to taste

1. Rinse, drain, and inspect your peas. Toss any gnarly ones, remove any dirt, rocks, etc. Set peas aside.

Black-Eyed Peas in the RInse Cycle

Black-Eyed Peas in the RInse Cycle

2. Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and saute until onion is soft, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Don't chop the onion and carrots too small, or they'll disappear in the long cooking time require for black-eyed peas.

Don't chop the onion and carrots too small, or they'll disappear in the long cooking time require for black-eyed peas.

3. Add peas and water to cover them by 2 or 3 inches. Add the pepper flakes, black pepper, thyme, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil, covered (do not walk off unless you want a pea-splosion on your hands), and then simmer on medium heat for 1 hour or more. If they’re rock hard, like the sorry grocery store ones I used, keep cooking.

There's a Parmesan rind in my black-eyed peas!

There's a Parmesan rind in my black-eyed peas!

4. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes more, or to preferred softness. If they run dry, add water. If you want them drier, keep cooking and reducing them. When they are just tender, season with salt.

Serve warm, with cornbread or over rice. These black-eyed peas are flavorful, interesting, and pretty to look at.

A traditional vegetarian New Year's meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

A traditional vegetarian New Year's meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

Are you a black-eyed pea fan? Share your comments below, or Tweet! Still trying to determine if they’re luck or money, but they’re tasty regardless.

Send queries, quests, and food photos to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Slow Down, You Chew Too Fast (You’ve Got to Make the Good Food Last).

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Parmesan Rinds

Gentle Readers, nothing is more satisfying than using an ingredient to the last drop. Especially when it’s a costly one. If you’ve been throwing away your Parmesan rinds, today is the day to stop doing so. And if you have no rinds because you’re using a certain green can, get thee to a cheesery. Ahem, as I was saying, Parmesan rinds are bursting with flavor, and you can drop them in all sorts of dishes.

Parmesan Rinds: Endless flavor possibilities!

Parmesan Rinds: Endless flavor possibilities!

To save them, just grate to your desired end point, wrap, and freeze. That’s it. Best to label them so you use oldest first. I drop them right into the dish, but if you think of it, set it out on the counter while you’re prepping. Could not be easier!

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Parmesan Rinds

1. Cooked Greens. As a bacon or pork substitute, the Parmesan rind was an outstanding performer. The Collard Greens for Haters Recipe, Vegetarian Version featured one such rind, and it added a depth of flavor even I didn’t expect. I’m so proud to say it converted one hater on the spot. This will work with other leafy greens, but works best when you cook them for a while, not just a fast saute.

Vegetarian Collards for Haters, Order Up!

Vegetarian Collards for Haters, Order Up!

2. Beans and Soups. Coming tomorrow, I’ll share a Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas recipe that features a Parmesan rind as a substitute for a ham hock, which I find too hoofy for my taste. I know, I just lost 2 Southern points, but hopefully my love of Fried will redeem me. Add a Parmesan rind to any pot of beans, peas, or soups for a rich, salty, cheese flavor. Minestrone would be awesome that way.

Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas: Delicious!

Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas: Delicious!

3. Risotto. I really love risotto, and I’ve done it a few ways, with red and with white wine. Regardless, I love the deep, layered flavors it provides, and the mouthfeel. I find adding a Parmesan rind to the process (the stock, the rice, either way) enriches the flavor further. This is on my to make list soon, so apologies for the lack of picture/recipe. I’ve got a LOT of cooking to do this year.

How do you use your Parmesan rinds? Do you save scraps in the freezer for future use? Confess here in the comments section, or Tweet!

Send your cheese rinds, your challenges, and your gentle reminders to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Vegetarian Down-Home Black-Eyed Peas, Or Move Over Porky.

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New Year’s Day Menu

Gentle Readers, right now, The Practical Cook should be cleaning. There are dishes to be washed, floors to be mopped, laundry to be done. However, that will have to wait. Tomorrow is going to show up regardless, and you’ll note there was no resolution at all regarding housecleaning. And I’m distracted by an idea I haven’t had the chance to work through just yet, a black-eyed pea croquette. Why do I have peas on the brain?

My New Year's Meal last year, before I started taking pictures of my dinner regularly. Forgive me.

My New Year's Meal last year, before I started taking pictures of my dinner regularly. Forgive me.

Like many a Southerner, I was wheeling a cart full of collards and black eyed peas around the grocery store today. For as long as I can remember, on New Year’s Day, I’ve eaten black eyed peas, collard greens (or greens of some ilk), and pork. Lots of people go with Hoppin’ John as a way to knock most of that out at once, I’ve done every possible combo, except fried.

Unfortunately, I won’t have the recipe for Deep-Fried Hoppin’ John perfected in time to share it before the new year this year. Thanks for your patience. While you wait, here is my menu:

Black-Eyed Peas, made from Bill Smith’s recipe in Seasoned in the South.

Black-Eyed Peas in the RInse Cycle

Black-Eyed Peas in the Rinse Cycle

Collards for Haters, recipe courtesy of Jet magazine by way of a colleague. (I’ve adapted it some, the secret is smoked turkey wings. Will blog about it next week after I make it!)

It is a joke to try to stuff collards into little grocery store bags. No one puts collards in the corner.

It is a joke to try to stuff collards into little grocery store bags. No one puts collards in the corner.

Pork, sometimes ribs, sometimes pork chops, sometimes ham. This year it will be sausage.

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

Cornbread, because it’s cornbread.

Cornbread is the Southern staff of life.

Cornbread is the Southern staff of life.

For those not familiar with the traditions, each item stands for prosperity in the new year. I’m always getting them confused, but I think (or at least was raised to believe, yeah, I’m tossing this one back to The Practical Cook’s Mom) the peas symbolize money (like coins, but I’ve also heard luck for them), the collards luck (I’ve heard money for greens, too, like green), and the pork health. Cornbread is again just because I like to make and eat cornbread and it goes with everything. I really like the part where pork = health.

What are your culinary traditions around New Year’s? Send a picture, post a comment, Tweet! Look forward to hearing from you, because I feel certain several Gentle Readers have resolved to comment in 2o12.

What would you like to see covered in the blog in 2012? Email questions and requests to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, the first Weekly Menus of 2012!

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