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Lee - Frank Stitt's Southern Table

Lee's picture

I've been meaning to start using this book since I first bought it a couple of years ago.  Chef Stitt worked at Chez Panisse (for free!) early in his career, and spent time working in Provence, including a year's stint working with the great Richard Olney.  He returned to his native Alabama and opened his restaurant, Highlands, in Birmingham.  His food is Provencal-influenced southern, and the recipes are mouthwatering.  My first foray will be tomorrow's dinner:  Warm spinach salad with pecans and goat cheese and corn bread crostini; roast chicken stuffed with lots of herbs, lemon slices and a whole, halved head of garlic (asparagus, carrots and spring onions are added to the pan to cook with the chicken during the final hour).  I haven't decided on a dessert, but I'm thinking of making one of the cookie recipes to serve with fresh strawberries.


I'd like to make a complete meal from the book each week, but there aren't 52 entrees, and some of them call for ingredients that are very difficult to find here, such as live crawfish and blue crabs.  As a result, I'm going to take on two books, alternating menus from each every week, and use as many sides, salads and starters from this book as I can with "regular" meals.  I'll post a second thread on the other book.   

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #1 of 134)

Just a thought--the crabs and crawfish are going to end up "dead", so frozen might work OK.  I know he makes the point that he is in seafood "heaven".


 


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #2 of 134)

I've never seen frozen blue crabs here, and the previously frozen crawfish I once bought weren't very good.  As I think about it, I'll bet I might find live crabs at one of the Asian markets.  I'll have to do some research on the crawfish.  I have a Swedish friend who does a traditional crawfish feast every spring.  I'll ask her where she gets them.

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #3 of 134)

Oh, no, not frozen whole crabs anywhere!! I was talking about crabmeat (and actually not frozen--in the cold case).  Picking crabs is NOT my favorite thing anytime anywhere. I'll have to look at his recipe.

Gretchen

Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #4 of 134)

Last night's menu was:


Warm Cabbage Salad with Goat Cheese and Corn Bread Crostini


Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables


NO dessert (penance for the dinner out we'd had the night before)


The salad is similar to a wilted spinach salad using thinly sliced red cabbage (spinach is given as an option).  Bacon lardons are cooked in a skillet with a little oo and removed to drain, then  garlic and a dried hot chili pepper are added, then the cabbage is added and cooked just until softened and finished with sherry vinegar, s&p.  The crostini are thin slices of his wonderful skillet cornbread drizzled with oo, spread with fresh goat cheese and warmed in the oven for 3 or 4 minutes.  DH is not a fan of cooked cabbage, but this is lightly cooked and still fresh tasting.  The flavors are delicious.  I'll make this again with cabbage and I'll try it with spinach.


The chicken is sprinkled with kosher salt, wrapped loosely in a towel (I used paper toweling) and refrigerated overnight.  A copious amount of chopped fresh herbs (8 large sprigs thyme, 3 large sprigs rosemary, 5 large sprigs each marjoram, savory, parsley and tarragon; I dislike tarragon and omitted it, adding more parsley) is mixed with 1 tb olive oil and sea salt, then stuffed into the cavity along with 3 lemon slices and a whole, halved head of garlic.  The chicken is coated and subsequently basted with some melted butter combined with a bit of rendered chicken fat and roasted at 325F for 30 minutes (on a rack in a roasting pan; I used a shallow one); asparagus (I used thick, peeled stalks), carrots and halved spring onions are added to the pan to cook with the chicken for the remainder of the roasting time (the onions and asparagus took 45 minutes, 1 hour for the carrots and chicken).  The veggies and resulting pan jus were fine and the chicken was flavorful and juicy, but the thighs and back were pale and not at all crisp, and the breast skin, although crispy, was only lightly browned.  I'll use the herb/lemon/garlic aromatics again, but prefer my T&T method of roasting chicken.


I'm going to make his Almond Macaroons today to have with strawberries.  They aren't French style macarons and are made in the fp, then piped onto a lined baking sheet.


 

Wolvie's picture

(post #67197, reply #5 of 134)

what was it you said - you were going to have to buy the book? hmmm - likewise, I'm sure. :-)


everything sounds yummy!


"Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be."


Kahlil Gabran

 

Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #6 of 134)

LOL!

Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #7 of 134)

I made the Almond Macaroons earlier today.  They're amazingly easy to put together.  For about 2 dozen small, dainty cookies:


Pulse 6 ounces unblanched almonds in the fp until finely ground, about 2 minutes; add 3/4 cup sugar and pulse to combine well, about 1 minute; with the machine running, add 2 egg whites and 1/4 tsp almond extract and combine well, another minute or two.  Put into a pastry bag with a large, plain tip and pipe 1 to 1 1/2-inch cookies onto a parchment lined sheet (I moistened my fingertip and smoothed down the little peaks); bake in a preheated 300F oven for 10 to 13 minutes (took about 18 minutes) until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges, but still soft in the center.  Cool in the pan before removing from the parchment.


I just tried one.  It was nice and chewy, but the almond flavor isn't as strong as I would like.  They're worth trying again, with added extract. 

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #8 of 134)

Lee, I'll post this on your thread since we are "sharing" dear Frank.


I am planning to make the Basque style chicken tomorrow.


And in looking for a polenta recipe to go with it, I got to reading his "grits" recipes.  That is pretty much polenta down heah.  I may even make the spoon bread.


The one recipe I also am going to do when we again have "help" at dinner (as tomorrow night) is the pork on pork--pork butt cooked with pork belly!!


Another one I am intrigued with, probably for a fund raising party we are having at the end of the month is the pork on crostini--cured pork with a sweet potato brandade! 


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #9 of 134)

All of the recipes you mention look soooo good.  We love grits and spoon bread, and if his cornbread is any indication, they'll both be wonderful.  The basque chicken was one I was going to do sooner rather than later.  The pork on pork may wait until the weather gets cold again, although we went from 74 yesterday to 28 today with a 40 mph wind!  I did some last minute shopping today and had trouble standing up at times.


Two other dishes I'm looking forward to trying are the seafood pirlau and the red rice with shrimp.   

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #10 of 134)

The red beans and rice with shrimp is SO good looking.  It's a neat book. Will report tomorrow or Friday morning. Kids coming for dinner. Serving with asparagus. Might have to make his 'tini, as it were.


I don't know if you read that one reason we may be interested in this is for DH's GRAND FOOD TOUR.  I would love to go fly fishing down around Aberwacky and stop off in Birmingham for the GFT  DH projects.  We have 'way too many ideas for travel!!


 


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #11 of 134)

I'll look for your post tomorrow.  We leave Friday morning and I won't be checking in until we get back.


I missed the GFT post.  What is it?

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #12 of 134)

DH has collected various travel notices of places to eat and drink our way across the country!

Gretchen

Gretchen
debpasc's picture

(post #67197, reply #18 of 134)

Frank was on Martha the other day and they made the pork on pork.  I almost drowned salivating!  It looked spectacular.

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #13 of 134)

Made his Basque style chicken and spoonbread last night for us and DS and DDIL.  Boy, following a recipe gives me a headache!!  It's hard!!


The dish was delicious and pretty--braised in a tomatoey broth and then broth is strained and concentrated. Three colors of peppers--red, yellow and poblano green are sauteed  quickly. Country ham (or prosciutto or Bayonne) in the braising liquid and in the pepper saute. LOTS of garlic in both.
BUT if I had followed his instructions the chicken would have been SO overcooked. Per instruction, I removed the white meat after 15 minutes and left the dark to cook another 20 (his instruction was 40!). It was very very done.
There was a lot of liquid and I simmered and simmered. Felt like a real chef pushing the strained  out veggies through the colander holes!


Now, the spoon bread. DELICIOUS--but it didn't get done in more than the time it was in the oven--supposed to be 25 minutes. I cooked it at least 35 or 40 and it was still soupy but really really good.  Yellow self rising cornmeal, Grana Padano, cream, butter and buttermilk.


Had steamed asparagus with lemon zest, juice and butter, and heart of palm, avocado, and tomato salad with a good garlic dressing.


We drank a Cline Ancient Vine Zin which was equally delicious.


Oh, and made Michael Chiarello's parmigianno salsa for appetizer--DS pronounced it addictive, and it is. Served it with my NYTimes "polenta" bread.


Gretchen
Gretchen
MadMom's picture

(post #67197, reply #14 of 134)

I find it absolutely maddening when recipes don't give semi-accurate times.  I know we all say just "cook till it's done" but when you're trying to get everything on the table at once, you have to assume the recipe is close...or at least that one recipe won't be ready in half the time and another one from the same book won't be ready in twice the time.



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Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #15 of 134)

The chicken was reheating in the oven while the spoon bread was cooking. And I could have even waited a bit more, but was really surprised it was so soupy.

Gretchen

Gretchen
Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #16 of 134)

Dinner with friends here last night was soft shelled crabs with brown butter vinaigrette and red snapper with a provencal sauce.


The crabs were just unbelievable with that sauce. We always just "eat" them and drool. This sauce was SO good. Brown butter that you put 2 diced shallots in to "marinate", drizzle in balsamic and sherry vinegars and whisk. Saute the floured crabs until brown and crispy. I served it on flat leaf parsley (no mache, needless to say!!) with the vinaigrette.  SO SO good.


the snapper itself was just gorgeous and delicious. The provencal sauce was very so so. You cook stuff together and then either puree it or food mill it or push through a sieve. I did the latter.  The sauce just lacked oomph--I tasted the "leavings" and the flavor certainly wasn't there either.  I prefer a provencal style sauce to be chunky with tomatoes, etc.  It is served with boiled fingerling potatoes and sauteed fennell.  Everyone raved about the meal and it was good, but this sauce was just not there.


And following a recipe exactly is just irritating!!


Gretchen
Gretchen
Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #17 of 134)

Dinner last night with DS and DGS.  A REAL winner, a good idea and some obversaions on the rest.


The winner was his Pan Roast Oysters!! Would make a delicious supper--we ate them as an appy.  Saute 2 big shallots and garlic cloves--add some vermouth, a pint of oysters and some shrimp (subbing for crawfish tails). Cook until barely plump, add lemon juice and butter and serve with baguette slices. Absolutely delicious!!!!


DGS was unsure about any seafood except salmon so I fixed him some and thought the shredded roast potato cakes would go well. They did amazingly well and would be a good potato dish to use for convenience.


Main dish--red snapper with rice, peas and fava beans.  He called for basmati which would not change my opinion of this dish.  It is sauteed snapper (SUPERB!! nothing wrong here) served with a side of rice and stuff.  No samce for the snapper.  As wth other things, I am sure in a restaurant setting this is a lovely dish.  Very uninteresting in the home setting, to me.
We had steamed broccoli also, and really enjoyed the dinner, but it was the snapper that was the star.


And, I did use some of my Carolina Gold rice.  Don't bother.  But I'm glad for the experience. It looks almost like broken rice grains--very small and round. I cooked as directed (they need to work on it--need to say "salt", which I did). It is sticky.


 


I am going to make cornmeal madeleines today maybe.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #26 of 134)

Soft shells were around $5 each last year, and very, very scarce even at that price.  Hopefully, I'll be able to find some and try this recipe, which sounds delicious.


I'm surprised to hear you weren't thrilled with the provencal sauce as it reads like it's a good take on it.  It's a recipe I had flagged to try soon.  I'll report on my conclusions.

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #27 of 134)

Soft shells were $5.99 last week (and $4.75 another place). Of course, it was the first week, but they don't go down much. It's what I paid at Whole Foods last year too and they were HUGE.


Just read an over the top prep in the Best of 2005 cookbook. Make a crab stuffing and stuff the soft shell under the ''wings" and then deep fry!!


I'll post the picture of ours from the cookbook. The sauce was absolutely out of this world.  Again I'll hope for a kind soul to re-size.


The Provencal sauce was OK--I just thought it needed more herbs--maybe some peppers.


Gretchen
Gretchen
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DeannaS's picture

(post #67197, reply #28 of 134)

I wouldn't even begin to know what to do with that if it were served to me. I really have to find someone that grew up with good seafood to teach me what to do with it.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #29 of 134)

You cut it up and eat every sliver!! Heaven on earth.  And that sauce only made it better than ever.

Gretchen

Gretchen
DeannaS's picture

(post #67197, reply #36 of 134)

Hm...I can't quite image what that would taste like. Part of my reluctance with seafood - it's expensive and if I don't like it it's a big waste of money. Ah well.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #37 of 134)

The claws and legs are just "crunchy".  The body has sweet meat under the "soft" shell, which is usually pretty crisp (maybe chewy) when sauteed or deep fried (not bad if they don't over do the salt and the batter--good sandwich). It cuts with a knife (duh!) and the body is juicy and sweet. Nothing like them.


There is a crab "place" in Murrell's Inlet near our place. We have gone up there to see how this happens. They have the crabs in troughs. When it looks like they are about to lose their shell they isolate them (under milk crates so the other crabs don't eat them)--they get a sort of red look to some part (forgotten).  You have to clean them fresh killed.


Gretchen
Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #38 of 134)

I made the Red Sanpper with Provencal Tomato Sauce tonight.  I couldn't find snapper, so I used his suggestion to sub halibut.  The sauce is sauteed diced fennel stalk, leek, onion and garlic to which you add canned tomatoes, fennel seed, sherry vinegar, a bit of sugar, S&P, cover and simmer gently.  The sauce is pureed and, if desired, pushed through a fine sieve.  I omitted that step. Just before service, grated orange zest and olive oil are mixed in.  The fish is simply pan cooked.  The other components of the dish are braised fennel wedges and boiled fingerling potatoes.  I couldn't find fingerlings anywhere (!) and had to settle for red potatoes.  I followed the fish with a simple mesclun salad with sherry vinaigrette, then pears and Maytag Blue cheese.


Gretchen made this same dish recently and was underwhelmed with the sauce.  We loved it.  The pureed sauce was very thick, almost paste-like, so I thinned it with water.  It was very well balanced with a light fennel flavor, and the orange zest provided a nice counterpoint, very Provencal.  It was an excellent accompaniment to the mild fish as were the fennel and potatoes.

Edited 4/25/2007 9:49 pm ET by lee

Edited 4/25/2007 10:28 pm ET by lee


Edited 4/25/2007 10:30 pm ET by lee

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Gretchen's picture

(post #67197, reply #39 of 134)

I did push the sauce through a sieve and I think that was a loss, although I even tasted the "leftover" and it still didn't have a lot of flavor. 
I need to say our guests were wowed, and it was a lovely dinner with the freshest snapper I've had since my family lived in Florida. I think the sauce would have been better pureed with more texture. The sauce was indeed a lovely color.

Gretchen

Gretchen
Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #40 of 134)

Was your sauce super thick after you sieved it?  The sauce in the photo is a deeper red and looks to be thinner than mine, evan after I thinned it.  I think next time I make it I'll try thinning it with fish or shrimp stock, if I have either, or perhaps some clam broth instead of water, or perhaps I simply won't cook it down so much to begin with.


Did you notice the lemons that are included in the dish in the photo?  Nowhere do I find a mention of lemons.  One of my pet peeves is a photo of a dish that contains components that aren't mentioned in the recipe.  Those lemons have charred edges; were they roasted at high heat, charred in a dry pan, or what?


I'm going to make the Basque-style chicken tonight, and I think the snapper with fresh pea and fava pirlau will be next.  WF had both favas and English peas yesterday. 


Edited 4/26/2007 10:23 am ET by lee

courgette's picture

(post #67197, reply #41 of 134)

I HATE it when they put stuff in the photo that is not in the recipe. Magazines do that all the time. If it looks better with whatever in it, why is it not in the recipe??????


Mo

Wolvie's picture

(post #67197, reply #42 of 134)

they do that in Boulevard with some of the recipes. Le sigh. More garnishments than anything - those photos in the book have to look fantastic!

"Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be."


Khalil Gibran

 

Lee's picture

(post #67197, reply #43 of 134)

I should get my shipment with Boulevard next week.  I'm looking forward to going through it.