Fare Exchange: Ruminations from readers on red-eye gravy, potatoes and fruits

Fare Exchange: Ruminations from readers on red-eye gravy, potatoes and fruits

July 16th, 2014 by Jane Henegar in Life Entertainment


Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

• E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

Jane Henegar

Jane Henegar

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Good morning, readers. You will find seeds in some teaspoons' abundance in today's Exchange, beginning with this request for recipes using chia seeds or suggestions for using chia seeds. Add to that this musing: How does one use and combine, in vinaigrettes and elsewhere, the flavored olive oils and vinegars now available in local markets and by mail order?

Goldie Washington begins with an item in her cupboard: chia seeds. "I bought a package of chia seeds on sale, but now don't know what to do with them."

Washington continued, and here I paraphrase: In a certain home, occupied by certain expert cooks, one entire two-shelf section of the kitchen is devoted to flavored vinegars and a few olive oil flavors thrown in as well. How do you know which flavors to mix? Is such flavor subtle, or must the cook proceed with caution? Can two flavors of salad ingredients - say, the cherry vinegar and the basil oil - clash and cause a commotion that is not good for the health of the salad? Expert advice is needed.

Vivian Chaij included seeds of three varieties in her potato salad that calls for no mayonnaise, toasts them in a skillet, then crushes them, before adding to the vinaigrette.

Potato Salad with Seed Vinaigrette

2 pounds (about 5 large) red potatoes

1 1/2 cups thin-sliced celery

1 1/2 cups sliced green onion

Seed vinaigrette (Recipe follows)

Salt and pepper

Scrub potatoes. In a large pan, cover with water; bring to boil, cover and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain. Cover with cold water and drain again. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes.

In a bowl, gently mix potatoes, celery, onion and vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve or cover and chill up to the next day.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Seed Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon mustard seed

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon pepper, coarse grind

1 clove garlic, pressed

In a frying pan, combine seeds and cook over medium heat, shaking pan often, until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Coarsely crush seeds with back of spoon. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Add to cubed potatoes.

Connie Mae Sanders makes only slight variations on a recent submission of peach delight a la Calvin Woods, noting this is from Open Air Market. We note that this is exactly the season for delighting in fresh peaches, as you may have already discovered.

Although the recipe does not specify, it would be good to treat peaches so they will not darken. One way to do so is to toss them in canned pineapple juice, then drain well. You may also use Fruit Fresh or lemon juice if the tart flavor doesn't get in the way.

Peach Delight

1 angel food cake

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 milk can water

8 ounces Cool whip

4 cups fresh sliced peaches

Break cake into layers. Break a layer into bite-size pieces and layer half of the pieces in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Mix vanilla pudding mix, condensed milk, water and Cool Whip together. Pour half of this mixture over the cake and top with 2 cups peaches. Add remaining cake and then remaining pudding mixture. Top with remaining peaches.

When GiGi Gross prepares a strawberry cake, she calls it easy and uses whatever frosting suits her at the time - a cream cheese icing flavored with some of the strawberry juice or a simple powdered sugar icing. The cake came from "Southern Living Cake Cookbook."

Easy Strawberry Cake

1 package white cake mix

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup salad oil

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed to a mush (if making a strawberry-flavored icing, reserve a little of the juice for that icing.)

1 (3-ounce) package strawberry-flavored gelatin

4 eggs

Combine all ingredients except eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Pour batter into 3 greased 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 24 minutes.

Remove cake from pan and frost cooled layers with plain powdered sugar icing or a cream cheese icing flavored and colored with some of the strawberry juice.

This is the icing that Gross uses for Italian Cream Cake, with the addition of a little strawberry juice, as per her instructions above.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened

1/2 stick margarine or butter, softened

1 pound powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 or more tablespoons juice from strawberries used in cake batter

Cream cheese and margarine or butter; slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla; add strawberry juice by tablespoons, one at a time, to get icing to desired consistency.

Nancy Hughes of Cleveland, Tenn., weighed in on the red-eye gravy discussion, sharing her grandfather's recipe from Doyle, Tenn., "over 100 years old, and can only be made with salt-cured ham."

Take slices of salt-cured country ham and place them in a cast iron skillet. You MUST use a cast iron skillet, not a non-stick skillet. It is essential that the ham slightly sticks to the skillet, and leaves little brown flakes in the bottom.

When you are finished frying the ham, and the skillet is still hot, scrape loose the brown flakes and ham drippings with a spatula and immediately pour in 1/2 to 1 cup of cold water. Leave the skillet on heat until the water, drippings and flake mixture starts to bubble, then remove skillet from heat. Pour this mixture into a shallow dish of gravy, to be used for dipping biscuits.

An envelope bearing no name or return address included directions for red-eye gravy to be made with country ham. It came originally from "The Encyclopedia of Creative Cooking."

Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy

6 ham slices, about 1/2-inch thick

1/4 cup strong black coffee

Fry ham slices 1 or 2 at a time, depending on skillet size, over medium-high heat. Fry 5 to 6 minutes per side. When done, remove to heated platter.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons fat in skillet. Brown remaining drippings; add coffee. Be sure to scrape up pan scrapings (these are the red-eyes); bring to a boil. Gravy can be spooned over ham or served separately. Serve with hot grits or biscuits to absorb gravy. Yield: 6 servings.

Goldie Washington described the following as "a recipe and not a recipe. I tasted it at a restaurant in Baltimore, and these are all the details they gave."

Watermelon Salad



Grilled watermelon

Dried cherries

Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Cherry balsamic vinegar

Basil olive oil

Arrange on each plate a little watercress, some good lettuce, some chunks of watermelon briefly grilled over the fire, a sprinkling of dried cherries and a few crumbles of Gorgonzola. Sprinkle with a little vinegar and olive oil - not too much.

There is a little more red-eye gravy simmering in our mailbox, and at least one very strong opinion about how to prepare it. But simmer it must until next week. Hopefully, you will be present.