Great Grandma Lucy’s Grits Soufflé

Creamy, fluffy & delicious grits baked to perfection as a soufflé. A simple and elegant twist on breakfast and brunch.

Grits Soufflé. Of all of the many things that I heard of my Great Grandma Lucille cooking her Grits Soufflé ranked pretty high on the list. I think that it was partially because she made it so well and partially because it was one of my Dad’s favorite dishes. And although I never knew my Great Grandma Lucy, I have heard so many stories about her that make me feel like I did know her. She was a professional cook for nearly her whole life and whenever I cook dishes that she made, I feel like she’s somehow there with me in the kitchen.

This recipe has been a long time in the works. I had no recipe from her to work off of but only an idea of how to make grits and a rough idea for how to make a soufflé. But eventually it came together and here it is now. I hope you enjoy it.

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Great Grandma Lucile’s Grits Soufflé

  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 1/2 c milk (at room temperature; add more milk as needed)
  • 1/4 c hot water
  • 3 TBSP butter (softened)
  • 1 TBSP parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 3 eggs separated (egg yolks and egg whites in two separate bowls)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/190C.

Grease a soufflé pot with 1 TBSP of butter.

To prepare the grits: Add the grits, hot water, milk and salt (to taste) in a sauce pot. Stirring frequently, cook the grits on a low simmer for about 10 minutes, gradually adding more milk as needed. (Note: the grits should be thick like oatmeal but nice and creamy.) At the very end, stir in the remaining 2 TBSP of butter and the 1 TBSP of parmesan cheese. Remove the grits from the heat and set aside.

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Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Temper the egg yolks by adding a few tablespoons, spoonful at a time and whisking in between each addition.

Then add the egg yolks into the grits and set aside.

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In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

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Then fold the egg whites into the grits gradually.

Then pour the grits into the greased soufflé pot and bake for about 15-20 minutes or just until the souflee has risen and is golden brown on top.

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NOTE: Please don’t open the oven. It will be very, very tempting to do so in order to check on it, but for this recipe, just look through the glass part of the oven or just trust the process. Opening the oven door prematurely can cause the soufflé to drop and although it will still taste delicious, it will not have the same beautiful, tall souflee appearance.

Remove from the oven, serve immediately and wow your family and friends. Because you just made a soufflé and you made it out of grits so I think that calls for an applause.

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Golden brown but still soft & delicate.
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Nice and fluffy like eating a cloud…
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…so delicious. Grandmas always know.

“Love you Lucile. You made the world a better place in more ways than one.”

 

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Recap: Thanksgiving Abroad in Jerusalem + Being Thankful Everyday

A twist on my traditional Thanksgiving meal inspired by local ingredients.

Every year that I spend Thanksgiving abroad, it’s always a new and unique experience. Sometimes we celebrate it with a big group of people and other times it’s just my husband and me celebrating it together. Regardless, it is still a good celebration. Since my husband is from Europe, our focal point for Thanksgiving is really about reflecting and giving thanks. Thinking about all that we have to be thankful for. Undoubtedly, there is always so much to be thankful for.

Also I was inspired to create a Thanksgiving meal based off of the local ingredients in Jerusalem. Instead of using butter and herbs for my turkey, I used labneh (a thick, strained, creamy yogurt) and za’atar (a blend of spices found commonly throughout the Middle East and North Africa). For my stuffing, traditionally I would prepare a cornbread stuffing, but this year I used “Jerusalem Bagels.” They are very long (nearly three or four times the length of a traditional “American bagel,” the texture is softer and they are coated with sesame seeds. It’s very common to see vendors selling them throughout the Old City and I have a favorite bakery just beyond Damascus Gate that sells them hot and fresh.

Preparing this meal reminded me of my first Thanksgiving abroad in New Zealand. I went searching everywhere for turkey only to finally “settle” for a sushi feast (not a bad Thanksgiving option if you ask me). It was not what traditional according to what I would consider traditional, but it was a nice change.

What I’ve learned about celebrating Thanksgiving and other holidays abroad is:

  • Change Can Be Good: It doesn’t have to look exactly like your typical celebration and that’s okay. It brings you back into awareness that you are in a new culture.
  • Going Local is Best: In terms of buying ingredients, local ingredients are the way to go. It’s true that you probably will not find a local equivalent for everything on your list but you can find something else that is equally (if not more) delicious. Plus, going local is more environmentally friendly, supports the local economy and is much friendlier on your wallet.
  • Expand Your Celebration: Invite others to experience a feast. Last year I had the privilege of inviting many guests to our house. I was cooking all day long and it was so rewarding to see so many people gathered and just having a great time. Our group represented nearly 10 different countries.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day. As cheesy as that may sound, it is true in the spirit of celebrating the holiday as a day of truly giving thanks for all that you have. Today and everyday, I always have many things to be grateful for and I am sure if you’re reading this right now, then you do too. Thanks for reading. Remember you are loved, you are cherished, you are unique and special.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Okra & Tomatoes: A Taste of Home

Tender baby okra, ripe tomatoes, sweet onion and a simple spice blend; Okra & Tomatoes is a classic Southern recipe that has been cooked for several generations in my family.

Okra and tomatoes was something normal in my household. Frequently prepared on Saturdays or Sundays is was a simple and satisfying dish. It was also something that I heard about my grandmothers and great-grandmothers making and so when I make it in my kitchen, no matter how simple the recipe, it still feels so special.

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Here’s the recipe:

Okra & Tomatoes

  • 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups fresh baby okra (or the smallest size that you can find)
  • spice blend: salt, black pepper, sweet paprika, red pepper flakes)*
  • 1/2 cup water

*Note: this was not an exact measurement but moreover to taste.

Preparation:

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Wash the okra and cut off the tips and top “crown” of the okra (where the stem was).

Add the olive oil and chopped onion to a frying pan and sautee until the onions are tender.

Then add the spice blend and sautee just until the spices become fragrant.

Then add the tomatoes and okra and half of the water, stir and cover.

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Simmer the okra and tomatoes on medium low heat, checking occasionally to add more water. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the okra is tender. Screen Shot 2018-11-20 at 6.33.20 PM

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

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Fresh Fig Tart Recipe

Ripe & sweet fresh figs, layered on a butter-crust and drizzled with a cinnamon-honey butter!

Figs are one of the oldest fruits recorded in human history and I think one of the most underrated. They are sweet and satisfying to eat a couple but I also love creating recipes around them.

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For this recipe, it is important to have fresh figs so if you cannot find them, try substituting another fruit like apples, peaches or plums.

Here’s the recipe:

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Fresh Fig Tart

  • 15-20 fresh figs (cut into quarters)
  • 1 pre-prepared pie crust
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • flour (for dusting & rolling out the dough)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.

Cut the figs into quarters.

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Dust a large countertop with a bit of flour and proceed to roll out your pie crust until it forms a nice circular shape (approx. 14 inches in diameter).

Then brush 1 TBSP of butter onto a parchment lined baking sheet and transfer the dough onto the parchment paper.

Brush the center of the dough with 1 TBSP of melter butter.

Then arrange the fig quarters to create a beautiful design. Note: I like to go in a circular shape with the figs facing flesh side upward.

Then in a small bowl, whisk together the honey, butter and cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, brush the figs with the cinnamon-honey butter.

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Then fold up the sides of the tart, piece by piece towards the figs. Note: there’s no science to this but I love to overlap of the dough as I fold. I think this creates a really rustic but beautiful end product.

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Then bake until the dough is lightly browned and the figs are bubbly and delicious (approximately 20-30 minutes)

Allow the tart to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then cut slices (like a pizza), enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream (if you wish) and enjoy!DSC09286IMG_5260

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Fresh & Simple Creamed Corn

Tender, sweet, fresh corn with just a touch a milk and cream. A delightfully simple & delicious dish!

 

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Creamed Corn

  • 2 ears of fresh corn (approx. 2.5 cups if using frozen corn)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1.5 cups of milk (slightly warmed)
  • 1-2 TBSP cream
  • salt & pepper (if desired, to taste)

Preparation:

Shuck the husks from the fresh corn and rinse thoroughly to remove the stringy pieces. Pat them dry gently.

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Then place the corn in a large bowl and carefully with a knife, cut off the corn kernels from the cob. (Note: it is good to do this in a large bowl or else the corn kernels will fly everywhere, lol!)

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Once all of the corn kernels are removed, use the back of the knife (the dull side) and scrape it against the cob to remove some of the natural “milk” from the corn. Set aside.

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In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk quickly to form a roux. Then gradually add about 1/2 cup of warm milk, while continually whisking. Remove from the heat and add in the corn. Pour over the remaining milk and stir thoroughly.

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Place back on the stove and cook over medium heat for just 10-15 minutes or until the corn is tender. Then add the cream, salt & pepper (if desired) and enjoy immediately.

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It is simply splendid.

Enjoy!
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Baklava: How to Make it at Home (Simple & Delicious)

Layers and layers of flaky crispy dough filled with pistachios and walnuts and covered with a perfectly sweet glaze. 

Baklava making is indeed an art. In the large businesses you will find huge, cold rooms reserved for rolling out he dough (called yufka, also known as phyllo) and preparing this delicious dessert.

Although baklava is found throughout the world especially in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, it is almost always prepared differently. No matter who I ask, they always tell me that the baklava from their country is the best and proceed to explain to me why.

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As for me, I find it a beautiful thing to simply appreciate the differences. Yes I have my favorites but at the end of the day, how it is prepared is a beautiful reflection of collective cultures and societies.

Making baklava at home is actually quite simple especially if you buy the pre-prepared dough like I did. Essentially, it just takes time and patience to carefully and steadily build layer upon layer of this dessert.

Here’s the recipe:

Baklava

  • 200 g melted butter
  • 400 g yufka or phyllo dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 lemon

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven on 200C/392F.

Grease your baking dish with butter using a pastry brush. (I used a glass 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish; this is not the traditional type of pan but it works well)

Then keeping the yufka covered with a damp kitchen towel, peel layer by layer and carefully place it in the dish, brushing the dough gently with butter after each addition.

After about 15 layers, it’s time to add the nuts.

On one side I added the pistachios and on the other side I added the walnuts.

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Then I continued layering about 18 more sheets of the dough, adding butter after each addition.

Once the final layer is added, gently cut the baklava into diamond or square shapes, being careful not to tear the dough.

Cover with the remaining melted butter and place the baklava in the oven.

Meanwhile, to make the simple syrup combine the sugar with 2 cups of water and the the lemon wedge and simmer on low heat, stirring frequently for about 8-10 minutes.

Once the baklava is golden, remove it from the oven and pour over the simple syrup on top. The baklava will rise and sizzle and it will look and smell absolutely delicious.

Allow to cool and then serve and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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