Rosemary Infused Oil

Sometimes you just want a little extra hit of rosemary like for the coating on roasted potatoes or in the oil you’re using to cook chicken or shrimp.

Infusing oil isn’t a difficult process:

Cut enough fresh rosemary to fill a Mason jar. Wash the rosemary in water, and allow to completely dry.

Pack the clean Mason jar with the clean rosemary.

Fill the jar with olive oil, until the rosemary is completely covered. Secure a lid on the jar. Place the jar in an out of the way place for about a month.

Strain the infused oil into a clean jar. Throw away the solids.

rosemary and oil




Corn on the Grill

Is there any better way to welcome summer than to have fresh sweet corn that you eat off the cob, dripping with butter? It is just sooo good.

Sometimes, though, instead of boiling the corn, I will soak it in water and put it on the grill. It slowly steams in the husk and has a slightly smokey flavor.

corn on grill

Yesterday, I did 30 ears that way and ate three off the cob before taking the rest and cutting the kernels into a big bowl. Make sure you scrape down the cob with the back of the knife to get all the milky goodness.

corn off ears

I use the corn in salsa, dips (cheesy corn dip) corn casserole and a distinctly Louisiana dish called Corn Maque Choux (pronounced mock-shoe). It is the Cajun version of succotash (which suits me fine as I don’t care for lima beans).

Maque Choux

2 generous cups grilled corn, cut from cob
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 onion, finely minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tomato, peeled and coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
Melt butter in a heavy skillet; add onion and sauté over medium heat until onion is translucent. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for two minutes. Stir in corn kernels, cream and tomato. Cook, stirring fairly continuously, until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and serve.

You can do this recipe with uncooked corn. Just add it after the onion has cooked for 5 minutes and cook about 5 minutes before adding the cream and tomato.


Love Grows Here – Penzey’s Spices

I buy a lot of Penzey’s Spices and, after the email I got from them, I’ll be buying a lot more. I already knew they were good corporate citizens but their highlighting of LGBT families as a celebration of marriage equality brought tears to my eyes.

From the letter from Bill:

Here is the direct link to the stories:

As their catchphrase goes (and the free bumper sticker says): Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.


Soft Boiled Eggs

I was watching America’s Test Kitchen and heard Christopher Kimball say that they they went though more than a thousand eggs to develop their foolproof soft boiled egg method.

That’s right – more than a thousand eggs!

soft boiled eggs

Their method does work! You take fridge cold eggs, put them in less than an inch of boiling water, cover the pot and mainly steam for 6 minutes. The yolk is runny and the whites are set. Even better, the method works with up to six eggs at a time because you’re more steaming than boiling, so the introduction of the eggs doesn’t impact the temperature of the water.

As you can see from the picture, I enjoy mine in a bowl with torn up toast and pieces of bacon but these work perfectly well in an egg cup, too.

Pound Cake Day

We were in the mood for something sweet but not too sweet so we decided to make pound cakes that work as dessert and, lightly toasted, for breakfast, too. Also, we had a package of sour cream we wanted to clear from the fridge.

Here is the result:

lemon and poppy seed pound cakes

Don’t be like me and assume both cakes use baking soda! Aside, to correct for adding baking soda when the recipe calls for baking powder, put in double what you put in of baking soda of cream of tartar. The taste wasn’t affected, although it didn’t rise as far as the other.

Sour Cream Poppy Seed Pound Cake

3 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup poppy seeds, divided

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Cream butter, sugar and egg yolks. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture, alternately with the sour cream (start with the flour).

Fold in the egg whites. Fold in the vanilla. Fold in all but 2 teaspoons of the poppy seeds. Pour into two loaf pans. Sprinkle a teaspoon of poppy seeds on the top of each loaf.

Bake 1 hour in a 325 degree oven. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan before turning out onto rack to cool completely.


Lemon Pound Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest (or as much as the lemons you’re going to use)
1 cup sugar, plus 2 T
5 large eggs


1/2 cup Confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with butter; dust pan with flour, then tap out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl. Stir sour cream and lemon juice together in second bowl.

Using fingers, toss lemon zest and sugar together in large bowl until clumps are gone. Add butter and beat with electric mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add beaten eggs in three additions, mixing until smooth and scraping down bowl after each addition (mixture will begin to look curdled). With mixer on low, alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream mixture, stopping as necessary to scrape down bowl. Mix on low until smooth, about 30 seconds. Use rubber spatula to give batter final stir.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack.

Brush with glaze if desired.

Chocolate Oblivion Torte

Michelle requested a dark chocolate torte for her birthday and this is the darkest, most chocolatey torte I know. It comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum and is absolutely intense. The 8″ torte will feed 10 to 16, depending on each individual’s capacity for chocolate.

torte slice use

 Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

1 lb bittersweet chocolate. I prefer the 70% Sharffen Berger Dark Chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons sugar

Butter an 8″ inch springform pan and double wrap the outside in aluminum foil to prevent any leakage. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper circle to fit the bottom of the pan and butter well. Also prepare a 10 ” pan for a water bath.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over warm but not boiling water, stirring occasionally.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar in the top of another double boiler until the eggs are just warm to the touch. Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs until they are about triple in volume (about 10 minutes).

Fold half the eggs into the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Be sure and fold the eggs into the chocolate (and not chocolate into eggs) for the lightest texture. Fold in remaining eggs until all the streaks are gone. Be sure and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that the torte is well mixed.

Pour chocolate mixture into the 8″ pan and smooth the top. Place in the pan for the water bath and pour in enough hot water to come up about an inch. Bake for 5 minutes. Cover with a piece of buttered aluminum foil and back for 10 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

To unmold: Cover a serving plate at least 8 inches in diameter with plastic wrap. Run a thin metal blade around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Place the plastic-wrapped plate on top and invert. Wipe the bottom of the pan with a hot, damp towel. Remove the bottom of the pan and the parchment/waxed paper. Reinvert onto the serving plate.

If not using a springform pan, put the bottom of the pan over a low flame or burner for 20 to 30 seconds to loosen.

Bring the torte to room temperature before serving. The full flavor of chocolate is best appreciated in its softened state. Slice into narrow wedges with a sharp, thin blade that is dipped into hot water between cuts.

This torte can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Freezing changes the texture, so I don’t recommend it.

mary and michelle bday

Photo taken by Samantha Barnes


Petra’s Greek Lebanese Cafe – Hattiesburg

My phone went swimming during our kayak trip down the Okatoma on Saturday so we had to make an unplanned trip to Hattiesburg yesterday. After a suggestion from the woman at the Verizon store, we decided to go to Petra Cafe. Located across from University Southern Mississippi, they serve Greek and Mediterranean cuisine in a casual atmosphere.

We started with the falafel patties with Grecian sauce. Fresh from the fryer, it had very fresh flavor with the chickpeas, onions and spices. The sauce was so good we asked for more.


I had the chicken shawarma gyro. The marinated chicken was quite tasty and they had stuffed the fresh, warm pita full to overflowing with meat, onions, tomato, lettuce and yogurt sauce.

gyro 1

Michelle went with the lamb shawarma gyro and enjoyed the lamb slices. She also took all the lovely pictures as my replacement phone won’t arrive for another day and I forgot my camera.

lamb gyro

We finished with the baklava. A very sweet way to end a rather enjoyable meal. They used pistachios and it was yummy.


The service was excellent with a friendly waiter and manager. We were there late and he was quite attentive and even left us the pitcher of Lebanese iced tea (tea with orange blossoms, pink lemonade and pine nuts) because we enjoyed it so much we were draining our glasses.

I’d definitely recommend this place and will probably stop by again myself.

Strawberry Ice Cream

We had gone into Mayders and Taters in Seminary, Mississippi for some strawberries and they gave us their last three pints. The plan had been to make Watermelon-Strawberry sorbet (see recipe here) but, with the extra pints, we decided to do Strawberry Ice Cream, too.

It is an easy recipe that is very, very strawberry as you use one full pound.

strawberry ice creamStrawberry Ice Cream

1 pound strawberries
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla or an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau


Hull and wash strawberries. Place all ingredients in the blender, and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold, and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer_s instructions. Transfer to plastic container(s), and freeze until firm.


Ribs In the Oven

Sometimes I don’t have a place to grill but I still have a hankering for ribs. Here is a way to cook them in the oven and have them turn out succulent and almost as beautiful as if they had been about the fire.

Oven Baked Ribs

One rack of St. Louis Style Ribs
Favorite rub (I like Emeril’s Rustic Rub)

Bring the ribs out of the refrigerator so that they can come to room temperature before cooking. Remove membrane from bone side of rib rack. Start it with a dull knife and pull up with your fingers – trust me, you don’t want to skip this step.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top. Lay the ribs on top of the rack in a single layer to allow for heat circulations on all sides of the ribs.

Coat the ribs in the dry rub and let sit while the oven pre-heats to 300 degrees F.

meat with rub

Set the ribs in the oven on the middle rack. Roast for 3 to 4 hours for St. Louis style ribs. Halfway through cooking, brush ribs with basting sauce (basic mop sauce recipe below) and continue to baste every 30 minutes thereafter.

If ribs are getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil.

The ribs are done when a knife slides easily into the thickest part of the rib meat. Let them rest, covered, for about ten minutes, and then cut between the bones to separate the individual ribs. Serve immediately with barbecue sauce for dipping.

cooked meat

Basic Mop Basting Sauce

1 cup apple cider (or use water)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
4 shakes hot sauce

Stir the mop ingredients together in a small sauce pan and warm the mixture over low heat.

Emeril’s Rustic Rub

  • 8 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne
  • 5 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme

Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Yield: 2 1/4 cup