Good morning, readers. We are looking today for a chicken casserole that graced Southern Living's cover, as well as fried green tomatoes, caramelized onion grits, blackened grits cake and sweet corn hoecakes from the fabled Magnolia's restaurant in Charleston, S.C.
Ellen Lennon wrote, "I had a recipe for an easy chicken casserole that was featured on a Southern Living cover prior to 2008. Believe it or not, the magazine is unable to provide me a copy, and I have lost mine. You used leftover chicken, French bread, wine and roasted peppers and I believe a can of soup ... and of course some other ingredients."
Secondly, a business trip to Charleston, S.C., meant for several readers a trip to Magnolia's Restaurant. "Our table loved the Southern flavor of their menu, and these are the recipes we want: fried green tomatoes, caramelized onion grits, blackened grit cake and sweet corn hoecakes. They were all exceptional."
William Corbin answered the call for both creamed eggs and bruschetta. He wrote, "In our home in the '30s, creamed eggs began with a light roux (slightly browned flour and an equal volume of bacon drippings). We added whole milk and let the gravy begin to thicken and then added sliced hard-boiled eggs, sometimes chopping the eggs into tiny particles to extend them. In the Navy, we used unbrowned flour and made very large volumes for the ship's crew. Creamed eggs may be served over hot toast, hot biscuits or other fresh breads."
Here's a more specific recipe, this one to be served on toasted bread and mighty simple to make.
Creamed Eggs on Toast
11/2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3 hard-boiled eggs
4 slices toast
Put 1/2 cup of the milk and flour into a shaker. Put remaining cup of milk into a pan, and heat. Add milk-and-flour mixture and salt and butter. Cook until mixture thickens. Add finely chopped boiled eggs to mixture. Serve hot on toast.
Mr. Corbin added another requested recipe, for bruschetta, which he prefers "served over hot toasted slices of French or Italian bread or, especially, Italian sliced hard rolls." This recipe is as simple as you can get.
1 can (14.5-ounce) Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes, drained (or fire-roasted diced tomatoes)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
16 (1/2-inch thick) slices baguette (about 6 ounces), toasted
Stir together tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic. Spoon mixture onto toasted bread slices. Serve immediately. Makes 16 appetizers.
The next cook stirring up cooking magic is Helen Cooper, who gathered recipes from almost every state in the union. "When my husband and I found a dish that we liked at a restaurant, we'd figure out the ingredients and then experiment when we got home, making changes, adding another ingredient or eliminating one as we chose." The results of that experience will be served up over several columns, beginning with this orzo salad as requested, teaming orzo with wild rice.
Wild Rice and Orzo Salad
Orzo (a portion equal to the chosen portion of wild rice)
2 or 3 green onions
1 large green bell pepper
Fresh cilantro, to taste
Sugar snap peas, about 2 good handfuls
Broccoli florets (1 to 11/2 cups)
1 can whole kernel corn (either niblets or shoepeg)
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
Cook equal amounts of wild rice and orzo according to directions; adjust to how many you want to feed. Do not overcook either one.
Let rice rest for 15 minutes, then drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Drain orzo, and mix with rice. Let this mixture cool while chopping the green onions, peppers and cilantro into fine dice and adding them to the mixing bowl.
Cut sugar peas in 1/2-inch pieces, and add to bowl. Cut broccoli into small pieces, and add to bowl. Drain corn, and add to bowl. Add almonds, and stir it all up.
Whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar together, then pour over rice and other ingredients. Mix well, and add salt to taste. Pour into a glass bowl, and cover and chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.
This salad goes well with grilled meat and a baked sweet potato.
Speaking of baked potatoes, here's a simple sweet potato recipe from Ms. Cooper with a delicate taste twist. Finally, also from Ms. Cooper, baked onions. She recommended baking onions and potatoes at the same time on a baking sheet covered with heavy-duty foil to make cleanup easy.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
1 medium sweet potato per person
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Wash and trim potatoes, and pat dry. Pour 2 tablespoons oil in a shallow dish. When potatoes are dry, dip fingers into the oil and massage all over the potatoes. Bake at 400 F for 1 hour.
1 large onion per person (Vidalia or other sweet onion)
1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar per onion
1 tablespoon brandy or Madeira wine per onion
1 teaspoon butter, if you don't use brandy
1 piece aluminum foil to securely wrap each onion
Peel onions and cut a deep well in one end, as if you were cutting the core from an apple. Place the onion on the foil, and put the brown sugar in the hole. Pour brandy over sugar, or place butter on top of sugar. Pull corners of foil up, and fold or twist foil to make it airtight. Place on a baking pan that has sides because this generates a lot of juice, and if the foil is punctured, it will leak. Bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 1 hour. When done, carefully open the foil and pour juice over meat or other vegetables such as baked sweet potatoes. Dump the onion onto your plate.
It's all good; it's all good. Please send us your best recipes for next week -- baked, broiled fried or raw.
I eagerly await your good company.
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