Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Bill Neal's Southern Cooking" - Chicken Purloo (Chicken and Rice Stew) and Beet and Endive Salad

Date I made these recipes: August 22, 2010

Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking by The University of North Carolina Press
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0-8078-1649-3 © 1985
Recipe: Chicken Purloo – p. 63 (and poached chicken p. 131)

Remembering Bill Neal – Favorite Recipes From a Life In Cooking by Moreton Neal (foreword by John T. Edge)
Published by The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0-8078-2913-7
Recipe: Beet and Endive Salad – p. 16-17

So people, before we can “remember” Bill Neal as the title of the book suggests, we have to know him.

From what I can tell, Bill Neal turned southern cooking on its ear a while back, bringing a more haute cuisine approach to southern cooking than had ever been seen before. When his restaurant, La Residence, opened in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, rumor has it the residents about went Cuckoo for Coco Puffs lining up to get their southern favorites with a twist. Not bad considering it was the ‘70’s! Bill and his ex-wife, Moreton (author of the book Remembering Bill Neal) were the talk of the town back then, both as restaurant owners and cookbook authors.

Fast forward to today. I’m reading my latest Food & Wine Magazine, featuring southern cooking and found an article about Bill’s son, Matt Neal, who now owns and operates Neal’s Deli in Chapel Hill. And of course, talk about Matt made me think about Bill that made me think about the cookbooks I have on hand and there you have it!

Now you may question why on earth I paired a chicken and rice dish with a heavy salad made with beets but I did so because someone had given us a few beets from the garden. And since we love beets (and you either do or you don’t), I decided to use them up and make this salad, summer temperatures be damned! I have to say though, that whereas the chicken dish was very good, the beet dish was just okay. But such is life.

And for those of you who have been waiting for me to explain just what the heck a “purloo” is— it is a chicken and rice stew dish brought over by African slaves and made popular in the Low County of South Carolina.

And thus we conclude our southern history lesson for the day—now go eat!

Chicken Purloo – Yields 6 to 8 servings
1 chicken weighing about 4 pounds, poached (recipe to follow)
3 cups stock from poaching
6 slices bacon
2 ½ cups chopped onion
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped, peeled carrot
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1 14-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ to ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
½ ounce dried French cepes or Italian porcini, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 ounces cold butter
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
6 cups hot, cooked rice

After poaching the chicken, bone, skin and chop it into regular pieces (3/4 inch by 1 ¼ pieces). (Note: I think it’s funny that the author uses the word “regular” pieces—like we would know what that means. And is this opposed to your “irregular” pieces? Just asking.)

Chop and render the bacon in a Dutch oven or other heavy cooking pan, cooking slowly until it browns at the edge; do not let it become crisp. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and continue cooking until vegetables are tender. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until the flour browns lightly. Pour in stock and tomatoes with the chicken, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, and chopped mushrooms. Bring to a simmer, taste for salt and pepper, and cook for 30 minutes.

Before serving, stir in the fresh parsley and the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Serve over hot rice.

Poached Chicken
Note: for my money you don’t need to add as many ingredients to this chicken since it will be used as a base for another dish, but since I had most ingredients on hand, I did. But I tell you what, folks, if you follow the directive to poach about 90 minutes in all, you will be crying. I poached it for just over 30 and some pieces were already leaning toward the tough side. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Also, this recipe advises you to run the chicken under cold running water and drain. I have since read that washing chicken might spread salmonella and it’s better to let the heat kill any germs that might be lingering. It’s up to you of course but I am happy to say we didn’t rinse and lived to tell about it!

Wash the chicken under cold running water and drain in a colander. Combine the onion, celery, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, thyme, salt, peppercorns, and water in the stockpot. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Carefully add the chicken and return to the boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and poach about 90 minutes in all (**30 minutes is about right).

Beet and Endive Salad – serves 4
4 medium beets
2 heads Belgian endive
½ - 1 cup vinaigrette made with half walnut oil, half olive oil (see p. 36)
6 T. chopped fresh parsley
½ c. Walnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely
½ c. crumbled fresh goat cheese

La Residence House Vinaigrette (Note: I did not use this recipe for the beets and maybe that was my problem, but I was running short on time and so just used half walnut oil, half regular oil for my salad. Let that be a lesson to me…)
¼ c. white wine vinegar
2 T. Dijon mustard (preferably Maille or Grey Poupon)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. finely minced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ c. olive oil (here’s where I think you could go half walnut, half regular oil…or not. The directions were unclear!)

With a whisk blend together all of the ingredients except the oil. Gradually add the oil, whisking constantly. The dressing should be a thin emulsion.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets and place them in a baking dish with just a little water. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and roast the beets until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 45 minutes. When the beets have cooled, peel them, slice them into thin strips (julienne) and toss with a little vinaigrette.

Slice the Belgian endive crosswise into thin slices (chiffonade). In a glass or wooden bowl, toss the endive with vinaigrette and chopped parsley. Pile the endive onto serving plates. Arrange julienned beets over the endive, taking care not to stain the endive red.

Sprinkle the walnuts and goat cheese over the salad. Add a little more vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Michigan Facts, Food & Fun!" - (Kellogg's) Corn Flake Bars

Date I made this recipe: August 16, 2010

Michigan Facts, Food & Fun! – Composed and Edited by Judith Bosley
Published by: Grand Books, Middleton, Michigan (Grand Books – P.O. Box 7, Middleton, MI 48856) – Price: $6.50
ISBN: 0-930809-18-1
Recipe: Corn Flake Bars – p. 11

Novelist Thomas Wolfe famously said “You can’t go home again” but I disagree. After a trip back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place I’ve always had mixed feelings about, I think you can.

My hometown of Munising, Michigan is home of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. These “painted” rocks used to be a well-kept secret. But times have changed and now people from all over the planet are coming in to hike, kayak or take one of the many commercial cruise boats to tour the spectacular shoreline. I almost fell out of my proverbial chair the day my dad, husband and I took a boat tour. Ever single, previously-deserted beach was filled with people. Tons and tons of people. Jet skis were everywhere, a beautiful kayak flotilla bobbed near the rocks and pontoons filled the beaches. Where on earth did everyone come from??

And then there was the cruise itself. Back in the day, my friends and I got to ride for free so we jumped onto the “Miss Munising,” and out we went. Back then, the captain sold tickets right on the boat (as well as film to capture those Kodak moments); today, there is a huge ticket sale/gift shop building occupying a place by the docks and everything is run with naval efficiency even if the navy isn’t involved. One must reserve a place on the boat and have tickets in hand before jumping on board. Gone are the on-board film sales; today you can buy a digital camera memory card if you need one (although they do sell disposable cameras in case of emergency).

And people—can we talk about the boat docks themselves? When I was growing up, there was one dock and one dock only. Now there’s a second dock of slips and a few of the boats moored there showed “Munising” as the city of (boat) residence. Say what? Nobody had any money to buy a boat when I was younger (something I always thought was hilarious: we all lived on a lake but couldn’t afford to “be” on it.)

Too bad the boat didn’t serve cocktails because I could have used one—for the shock, you understand.

Still, Munising retains its quaint little feel. Downtown is still downtown—one main street and a couple of side ones. To combat summer traffic, the city fathers put in a stop light at the busiest intersection. Naturally my dad almost ran it the first time around.

Many of the same businesses exist although sometimes in a different location. As I made the rounds of banks with my dad to take care of some things for him, I marveled that until we got to the last place, I didn’t know anyone. Most last names meant nothing to me and that was unheard of when I was living there. But time marches on.

Nearby Marquette, Michigan, also on Lake Superior, fared much better in the “remember this?” game. Marquette was just featured in my local paper, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune since it, too, is absolutely gorgeous. Marquette looks a lot like Duluth, Minnesota, right down to the ore docks and the high, San Francisco-like hills.

My mother grew up in Marquette and I went to school there and I tell you what, the place still looks about the same. Many of the same businesses are where they were supposed to be and the campus of Northern Michigan University looks virtually unchanged since I left it 30 years ago. In what has to be a cosmic moment, I am currently working on a project in Minneapolis with a guy who graduated from Northern four years ahead of me. He’s from the Detroit area (“downstate”) but loved spending time up in the UP and since he’s also a nature photographer, this makes sense to me. You can’t get any closer to nature (or rumor has it, God) in that area!

While in Marquette tooling around town, I spied Donkers candy store. When my mom was growing up, Donkers was THE hangout as it had a soda fountain that served up luscious treats in addition to their famous candy. When I was teenager the soda fountain closed and my mom and her friends were devastated. So she’d be happy to know that the fountain has now reopened for business. It doesn’t quite look the same but it is there nonetheless. If we had more time, I would have opted for one of their Tin Roof Sundaes.

Across the street was a little gift shop called Michigan Fair and it is there that I bought today’s featured cookbook. But first, a word about an actual department store called The Fair Store that used to be the place to shop in the nearby town of Escanaba, Michigan. (In case you haven’t figured it out, the UP is rife with Indian names).

The best thing about the Fair Store was that when you purchased an item, the clerk put the sales slip (written in triplicate) and your money in a cylinder and sent it up through a pneumatic tube to the accounting department. My brother and I were fascinated by that contraption and used to wait with bated breath until the cylinder came back down with the receipt and mom’s change. Modern payment systems have nothing over this one!

But I digress…so Michigan Fair, not to be confused with The Fair (department) Store, had several cookbooks but the one I selected was Michigan Facts Food & Fun!. I am pleased to say it delivered all three.

Out of all the recipes listed, some were clearly out of bounds—anything containing “wild” animals like venison or bear, anything containing “foraged food” like morel mushrooms (not that they aren’t good) and pasties, the famous Cornish meat pie. And it’s not because I don’t like pasties, I do, but pasties seem like winter food and we were in the midst of summer.

And then…I spied with my little eye the blurb for Battle Creek Michigan-Cereal City and the recipe for Corn Flake Bars.

Battle Creek, Michigan is indeed “Cereal City” because of the presence of the mighty cereal maker – Kellogg’s. Those of my generation will remember ads for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® (“They’re great!”) and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies® (“Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies!”) but the company also made the ever-popular Kellogg’s Special K® and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®. (And let’s not forget Pop Tarts, shall we?) And so when I saw the Corn Flake bar recipe, it was all over but the crying.

This was so easy to make it was just silly and the bars are tasty if not a bit messy. And so you see, you can go home again, even if it’s just taking your favorite cereal for a walk down memory lane.


Corn Flake Bars – makes an 8x8 pan of bars
3 T. butter
32 large marshmallows (because studies have shown that 33 is too many??)
4 C. cornflakes
½ C. chopped nuts
½ C. shredded coconut
4 ozs. Semisweet chocolate

Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat; stir in cereal, coconut and nuts. (We left out the nuts). Press mixture into a buttered 8x8-inch buttered pan. Melt chocolate and spread over mixture. Cut into bars.

Warning: For those who use the microwave to melt the chocolate, keep your eye on the prize! I was going along just fine until I smelled something burning and sure enough, it was my chocolate. I think a minute in the microwave is about enough to melt the chocolate. Anything more is asking for a visit from the fire department!

For more information on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, go to:
For more information about the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises go to:
For more information about Marquette, Michigan go to:
For more information about Michigan Fair go to:
For more information about Kellogg’s go to:

Monday, August 2, 2010

"The Madison Avenue Cookbook For People Who Can't Cook and Don't Want Other People to Know It" - Eggs Benedict "Arnold"

Date I made this recipe: August 1, 2010

The Madison Avenue Cookbook For People Who Can’t Cook And Don’t Want Other People To Know It by Alan Koehler
Published by: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
© 1962
Recipe – Eggs Benedict “Arnold” – p. 33

The other day, a friend was telling me about a problem she was having with a neighbor’s rooster. Now this would be interesting anyway but the fact that she lives in urban St. Paul (where roosters should be banned but apparently aren’t) made it all the more so. That, however, is not the point of the story and so moving on…I couldn’t resist emailing her the lyrics to Green Acres where Lisa Douglas sings “Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue” to her lawyer-turned-farmer husband, Oliver.

This then reminded me of another famous New York City street, 5th Avenue, mentioned in the song, Easter Parade (from the movie with the same name) sung by Judy Garland.

But as fun as these two upper-East side streets are, there’s nothing like Mad Ave – Madison Avenue.

Besides being quite the fun shopping street, lined with stores from every famous designer worldwide, Madison Avenue is the famous, or perhaps infamous, home to “Mad Men” – the name given to the advertising men whose agencies basically owned the street in the late 50’s and 60’s.

Mad Men is also one of the most popular TV shows ever and people, I have never waited in anticipation for a Sunday night to come around so much in my entire life (remember the days when we used to whine about it being Sunday night because we knew Monday morning was right around the corner?).

Mad Men is one sharply written show and I think it gives a very accurate (if not naughty) view of life in the 60’s overall and life in advertising in the 60’s most specifically.

And can I tell you how pleased I was to recognize two famous advertising agencies when they were mentioned by their acronyms in the last two episodes - Y&R (Young & Rubicam) and JWT (J. Walters Thompson)? Well, once upon a time I was really into advertising so maybe those famous ad agencies stuck in my brain, who knows? (I can still sing advertising jingles going back to the early 60’s).

The author of this tiny cookbook, Alan Koehler, was himself a “mad” man although it says in his bio that he worked on 5th rather than Madison. I can’t feel like that was the equivalent of being a country mouse to a city mouse back then but maybe not. (Although I can’t say as I ever heard a comparable term for Mad Men used to describe 5th Avenue advertising people!). (By the way, the subtitle of this book “For People Who Can’t Cook and Don’t Want Other People to Know It” is a little misleading because it seems to me that those who worked on Mad Ave probably didn’t give a damn that they couldn’t cook nor did they care who knew it!)

One recipe that I came close to making but didn’t was “Shell Steak in the Bag Ogilvy.” Now, he doesn’t tell you that the “Ogilvy” in this recipe is none other than David Ogilvy, one of the most well-known “mad men” ever but I knew that—again, I seem to be a walking ad agency historian as of late! (So maybe, just maybe, I should suit up in a very cool 60’s dress I have and see if I can’t get a spot on the show and maybe give Peggy Olson a run for her money to boot?!)

As yummy as Mr. Ogilvy’s steak sounded, I chose a very delicious egg recipe, one that has you basically scrambling the eggs in a mixture of cream cheese, butter and half and half—in other words, a light recipe! It was really quite good and I would definitely make it for a brunch—perhaps with some of my Mad Men viewing friends. (I should tell you that when I purchased this book a few months ago, I had no idea of the connection to the advertising world. I just thought it sounded like a fun book about a fun street in NYC—silly me!)

The only complaint I have about this recipe is that I couldn’t imagine eating it while sipping my usual and customary martini. Eggs and gin just don’t go together. So I did what any self-respecting Mad Men viewer would do and finished the eggs, allowed a little time to digest and then made a martini! I think I was channeling my inner Joan who is so adept at problem-solving (while filling out a dress like nobody’s beeswax!).

Eggs Benedict Arnold (so named because instead of poaching the eggs, you scramble them, and instead of ham you use sausage. Living life on the edge…) – Serves 4
1 package cream cheese
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup light cream (Half and Half)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cracked pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder
6 eggs
2 tbsps. sherry (I used dry sherry)
Chives or parsley
4 English muffins
12 little sausages (optional)

In a double boiler, melt the cream cheese and the butter. Once melted add the cup of light cream and mix well. Note that the author suggests that you scald the milk but since milk is pasteurized these days, heating it up will do nicely.

Add to this mixture the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Break the eggs gently into the sauce and let set briefly. Before the whites are firm, stir the eggs into the mixture and add the sherry. Note: this took longer than I thought—I didn’t want the egg whites to set completely but I got them as close as possible and then stirred.

Continue to stir the mixture until thickened.

The recipe says to serve this on top of toasted English muffins but I used little sausage patties (which I browned) and the put the eggs on top of the sausage which sat on the top of the muffin (which sat on the house that Jack built) and then topped that whole concoction with parsley!