Sunday, May 22, 2011

Low Country Boil or Frogmore Stew?

Low Country Boil or Frogmore Stew? Either way, it's good eatin'!
Several years ago, a friend bought us tickets to go to what was named a "Shrimp Boil". This turned out to be a delicious affair, with huge steamer pots filled with new potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked sausage or kielbasa and shrimp, doused with a healthy shake of Old Bay Seasoning. Everything was dumped out on picnic tables covered with oilcloth and newspapers. My whole family loved it, so I started making my version of this at home. When I described what I was doing to one of my NUMEROUS cousins, he said, "Oh we call that Frogmore Stew". Later, while at the beach on a memorable family vacation, one of the newer family members made something similar, but he called his a Low Country Boil. No matter what you call it, it sure is tasty and well worth trying in your own kitchen.

The main thing you need to make this dish is a two part steamer pot. Here is mine:

You'll need a steamer pot like this to prepare Low Country Boil
The first thing I decided to do, while working on this dish, was to make the water in the bottom taste like something, so I replaced it with beer. After that switch, it was full steam ahead. I also have added more veggies, so that it really is a complete meal in a pot. The result, I believe you'll agree, is a tasty treat that is, as they say, FUN to eat! By the way, my father in law, known for his quaint turns of phrase, called this Second Class Eating. When I asked him why he called it that, he said anything that was dumped out on newspaper and eaten with your hands, is Second Class Eating!! Since I added cabbage to this meal, you need a knife and fork, but those are minor details. OH, and don't forget to heat up some crusty rolls to serve with this, as well as a few different kinds of mustard, some melted butter and Old Bay Seasoning on the side!

Low Country Boil

2 beers
1 clove garlic, smashed + 2 cloves slivered
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning + 1 T. of the same
Put the above ingredients into the bottom of a steamer pot and fill your basket in layers.

In the bottom of the basket place:
6 - 8 small new potatoes
3 onions, halved
1 head cabbage, halved and then each half cut into thirds
2 cloves of slivered garlic
Some coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Layer this over the simmering beer mixture, sprinkling each vegetable with a little salt and pepper (don't over do it). Let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are almost tender when pierced with a knife.

On top of this add: (Remember to check you cooking liquid, if it gets too low, add another beer or a little water)
4 ears of corn, shucked, cleaned and broken in half.
1 Smoked Sausage or Polska Kielbasa, cut into about 16 pieces
a few garden chives if you have them
Sprinkle the corn with a little more salt and pepper, strew with chives and put the sausage on top of it. Cook about 10 minutes and

lastly add:
1 lb. of raw, shell on shrimp, sprinkled with some Old Bay Seasoning, to taste.
Cook for 10 more minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Drain the basket let cool slightly and dump it all out. FEAST and Have Fun!! This will serve about 6 people or 4 very hungry people!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Grandmother's Lasagna

Everyone loves THEIR grandmother's lasagna. However, my Grandmother's lasagna is truly special and everyone who tastes it, LOVES IT. She learned it from her very Italian friend, Florence, who learned it form her VERY ITALIAN Mother, who did not even speak English. I loved visiting that family and loved absolutely everything they cooked. Part of what makes this lasagna so special is the sauce. Made with love, it is always made with a meat blend, ground pork and ground beef and sometimes a little ground veal, which is harder to find. We simmer it low and slow at our house, with lots of garlic, onion, basil and tomato sauce. Make your own or buy your favorite and fix this for your family. I promise that they will love it!

I have adjusted this recipe to feed a smaller group of 4 - 6. Double it for a bigger group.

Classic Lasagna

1 qt. tomato meat sauce

8 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked al dente

15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese

8 oz. small curd low fat cottage cheese

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

1 tsp. basil

8 - 10 oz. grated part skim mozzarella cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook your noodles "al dente" (about 6 - 7 minutes). While they are cooking, make the cheese filling:

In a big bowl, mix together the ricotta, cottage, and Parmesan cheese. Add in the egg and basil and stir well until combined.

When the noodles are done, drain them well and rinse with cold water. I normally DO NOT rinse my pasta, but this helps to keep them from sticking together and makes them easier to handle.

Spray deep 8.5" X 8.5" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom. Start to build your lasagna, by cutting 3 noodles to fit the bottom. Top them with the cheese mixture. I find it works best to put 3 spoonfuls on each noodle and gently spread them to meet, covering the entire noodle. Add a layer of sauce and a big handful of mozzarella, spreading to cover the entire surface. For the next layer, rotate the direction of the noodles, and repeat the procedure above, a layer of cheese, a layer of sauce, a layer of mozzarella. Do it again. Then finally top your lasagna with noodles, sauce and mozzarella. Cover it carefully with some foil sprayed with the non-stick cooking spray -- you don't want to loose any cheese by having it stick to the foil!! Place the dish on a cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Lasagna is done when it is bubbly around the edges and hot all the way through. I had a little leftover noodles, sauce and cheese mixture, so I made this cute little single serving to freeze for later or to give away. It only has 2 layers, but it's still a hefty serving!