If you read my blog, you know how much I love real, full-fat buttermilk made with no gums. It’s hard to find these days, but when I do, I make some kind of buttermilk treat. So I recently found it and made this Buttermilk Pound Cake with Buttermilk Custard Sauce from Southern Living’s Southern Cake Book.
This recipe makes a lovely pound cake. I liked the buttermilk custard sauce, but some of my friends are not partial to the sour taste of buttermilk and didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. You can also top with fresh berries.
Standard Foods is the perfect name for this Raleigh restaurant by former Herons executive chef Scott Crawford. All the foods here are locally sourced, whole foods. And there’s a market attached so you can purchase them to cook at home. Kudos to you if you can cook them with an expert hand like this chef. I’ll stick with dining at the restaurant.
My friend and I started with smoked pecans from the snacks section of the menu. I guessed they would have some kind of seasoning on them. But they tasted like they had been cooked in a smoker. They are so wonderfully addictive.
We ordered a turnip and apple salad from the small plates section. Is this the first time someone is writing that a turnip salad was absolutely delicious? But this one is. All the elements, including the creamy dressing and cheese, work well together.
We followed with a nice, slightly sweet butternut squash ravioli.
The roasted chicken breast and leg cooked in duck fat with mushrooms and carrots is a very generous large plate. The chicken breast was cooked perfectly. The leg was very rich. We shared this dish, so it worked out well for two. The carrots had a delightful sweet glaze.
The potato puree arrived in adorable Le Creuset cookware. I really liked this very smooth version of mashed potatoes.
The sopping bread was a very nice multigrain bread from Boulted Bread.
For dessert, I got the sweet potato cheesecake, a deconstructed version of cheesecake with these caramel popcorn pieces and a creme fraiche. Divine! Just wish the serving was bigger!
escarole and beans
Escarole and beans is an Italian soup. It’s great this time of year because it’s a healthy recipe that’s perfect for a post-holiday detox. We always called this shka-roll and beans, as the Neapolitan dialect pronounced sc as a sh sound (which is done in Tuscan/standard Italian only when followed by e or i).
Escarole and Beans
1 lb. dried cannellini beans (or 2 cans cannellini beans)
2 medium bunches of escarole
1/4 cup olive oil
1 or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced or not
salt and red pepper flakes to taste
If using dried beans, soak them in water overnight. (Make sure they are covered with water but do not cover the bowl.) The next day, drain the water. Put them in a soup pot and add enough water to cover them. Add the salt, red pepper flakes, parsley, tomato paste, olive oil and garlic. Cook beans for 2 hours. While they cook, wash the escarole. You want to do this carefully, as escarole can be dirty. Chop it into bite-size pieces. In the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, add the escarole. Stir it in and let it cook down. Serve with parmesan or romano cheese. If you are using canned beans instead, rinse and drain them. You do not have to cook them for two hours. Just bring to a boil with all the other ingredients, simmer a few minutes, add the escarole and cook for 10-15 minutes until escarole is cooked.
I made these Martha Washingtons or bonbons from Our State magazine. With pecans, cherries and coconut, these no-bake treats are very popular for the holidays.
St. Lucia’s Day Cuccia
St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13. It is a holiday celebrated in Sicily and Southern Italy as well as Scandinavia. In Sicily and Southern Italy, two recipes are made on this day, a soup and a custard, both called cuccia or cucia. Part of my family is from Potenza in Basilicata and this soup is from there. There are many recipes for both the soup and the custard/pudding. Some soup recipes are very basic with no seasonings or vegetables for flavoring. Some custard recipes use milk or ricotta or no dairy at all and are similar to the wheat dessert for All Souls’ Day.
According to legend, the people of Southern Italy and Sicily were starving, so they prayed to Santa Lucia. A ship arrived with plenty of wheat, but there wasn’t time to bake bread. So the people made pudding instead, and this dish became a tradition on December 13, the Feast of Santa Lucia.
Saint Lucy is the patron saint of Syracuse, Sicily, where she was born and died. She was killed in 303 during the Diocletian persecution of Christians. St. Lucy is the patron saint of those who are blind, of eyesight and the eyes and of the poor. She would not renounce her Christian faith and either gouged out her own eyes or had them gouged out as punishment. But her sight was restored.
2 cups chick peas
2 cups whole wheat berries
2 cups corn (corn is included in the Basilicata version–I got this blue and yellow corn mix from Whole Foods)
2 cups lentils
salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
crushed red pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
The night before, soak the chick peas and the wheat berries in water (in separate bowls). Drain them. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 4 hours. Add water as necessary during cooking.
Posted in Holiday, Italian
Tagged cuccia, cucia, custard, December 13, eyes, pudding, Santa Lucia, Scandinavia, soup, St. Lucia's Day