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Bama Brisket??? Thanks to Meat Boss, These Words Can Now Actually Co-Exist

16 Apr mb menu board

MB sign

Meat Boss has only been open for a few short months. But they have already created quite a stir in a town that prides itself in knowing a thing or two about good BBQ. The Brick Pit has a very large following. The Shed can make a similar claim. And Moe’s Original BBQ has recently opened a location in downtown Mobile. Then there’s Dick Russell’s — and Big Al’s — and Tilmo’s — and Ossie’s — and … well, I think you get my drift. So is there room for another pitmaster to stake his claim? If you’ve already had the good fortune of dining with the Meat Boss (aka Benny Chinnis), you know the answer to this pressing question is a resounding SIR,YES, SIR!!!

mb smoker

This is where the small batch BBQ magic happens at Meat Boss

mb wood

Yes, they use real wood! That alone sets them apart from many

mb ext

The quarters can be cramped, but the wait is certainly worth it

mb open sign

This sign at Meat Boss is only lighted three smokey days a week

mb verse

These are good, God-fearing folks. Witness the chalkboard above

mb testimonials

Testimonials are pouring in from Leroy, Alabama – and beyond!

mb menu board

Order lunch for one or carry out a feast and make some friends

mb bag

Now this is my kind of brown bagging!!!

mb q plate

OK, let’s talk a little bit about the chow. The one thing that really separates Meat Boss from the local competition is their brisket. Beef brisket — especially the chopped or pulled variety (see above) — can be hard to find outside of the Lone Star State of Texas. Meat Boss does it right. I have lived in Texas and have eaten my share of brisket (good and bad). This is the good stuff. Smokey, lean and satisfying. And a lot more affordable than a plane ticket to Austin or Dallas. Several sauce options are available. I selected the sweet and spicy version for this first visit. It was an inspired choice — and certainly made more sense than the vinegar-based options. All the sauces are made right here and the TLC was clearly evident in every drop.

mb jelly

Another sure sign of a quality BBQ joint are sides made with pride and joy. That is the case at Meat Boss. Case in point being their baked beans, their “sweet” bread, and the hand-crafted Jalapeno jelly. The beans are not just dumped out of a can. They are made with care and contain meaty strands of charred pork. The jelly is divine — a just right blend of sweet and heat. And don’t be afraid of my sweet bread description. I am not referring to the dreaded organ meat. I am talking bread here. Kind of a cross of Texas toast and King’s Hawaiian bread. Really good — more so if smeared with the aforementioned jelly.

All in all, Meat Boss is a welcome addition to the Mobile BBQ scene. Everyone has their niche and it appears that there is plenty of room for a new kid in town. But this is no kid. This dude is large and in charge. He is the Meat Boss and he is currently your best bet for Texas quality beef brisket this side of the Big Muddy.

Meat Boss – 5401 Cottage Hill Road, Suite D, Mobile, AL 36609

(251) 591-4842; www.meatboss.com

Moonshine Jelly — The Breakfast of Champions!

11 Feb

Yes, folks — there really is such a thing. And, for this, we owe a hearty thanks to the people at Southern Cider Company of Oxford, FL. Now this Oxford is not home to any institutions of higher learning, yet they surely could teach you a thing or two about crafting fine ciders and jellies.

I first spotted this product at a roadside tourist trap in Florida and it immediately struck me as a novelty gift item. But how good could it be? And how much moonshine do they really incorporate? Yup, I had my doubts about this product and chose not to purchase any that day. Days and weeks passed and the concept somehow lingered on my mind. OK, I admit it — I’m a bit of an odd bird. Stuff like this keeps me awake at night. I eventually broke down and sent an email to Southern Cider’s Jan Montanaro expressing my curiousity. She didn’t seem the least bit surprised and was very gracious in offering to send us a sample 18 oz. jar via US Mail. The package arrived at our Alabama home just a few days later.

Upon further inspection of the product’s ingredients, we were pleased to see that this is pretty much an all-natural jelly. Sugar, white wine, water, pectin, lemon juice and moonshine (corn whiskey). I popped a piece of wheat bread in the toaster, cracked open the jelly jar, and gave it a shot. And you know what? I liked it. It is very good. And you can really taste the moonshine. The good stuff too — no funky aftertaste. Jan, I am extremely impressed!

Sure, this product is obviously a conversation starter. But that doesn’t mean it can’t taste good. We enjoyed it and think you will too. So if you’re bored with your usual grape or strawberry jam, let Southern Cider Company’s Moonshine Jelly give your breakfast a kick in the pants. And as the old hillbilly song goes, “Them that refuse it will be few.”

www.southernciderco.com

Espy’s Fabulous Tomato Chutney from Tybee Island, Georgia

29 May

Savannah Food Writer Damon Lee Fowler tipped us to this wonderful product. We receive sample products all the time and rarely do they leave such a lasting impression on us. A chef (Espy Geissler) in Tybee Island, GA created this magical pairing of sweet and spicy (jalapenos!).

I have long been a chutney lover. And I am not easily impressed. But this product will totally knock your socks off. Yes, it is that good. Trust me. However, you may find it difficult to acquire if you (like most of us) live outside the greater Savannah area. Thankfully, Espy’s has a Facebook page — I have provided a link to that page at the bottom of this review. So go get you some. I have never been so confident that you will love a product.

*It makes a sublime compliment to fried green tomatoes & meat loaf.

Espy’s Tomato Chutney – Tybee Island, GA

chefespy@bellsouth.net – For direct orders

 http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Espys-Tybee-Island-Tomato-Chutney/220445967971293 

Regina’s Kitchen Adds Some Class to Mobile’s Government Street

4 May

It was a dark and stormy Tuesday in Mobile, but things were bright and cheery inside Regina’s Kitchen. I had entered the eatery once before. That was a few weeks back. I had been there to meet the owner in hopes of discussing an advertising opportunity I was pitching. She seemed like a lot of fun and the place looked great. The building had previously housed the French Market Cafe. That restaurant offered authentic New Orleans soups and sandwiches, but ultimately succumbed to financial difficulties and the owner’s health challenges. I was sad to see them go. They made a fine Roast Beef Po-Boy.

The interior at Regina’s is not altogether different than the French Market Cafe. It’s a very comfortable, welcoming space. Plenty of dining room inside and it appears they need it all. The crowds over the restaurant’s first year in operation have been strong and consistent. The lunch rush is a equal mix of attorneys, housewives, accountants, and little old ladies dolled up for a day out. I even spotted a couple “men of the cloth” dining in black & white at a nearby table.  Regina’s actually does a steady drive-thru business too.

Regina’s Kitchen features red & white checkered table cloths and a healthy menu of soups, signature salads, and sandwiches. Finding something appealing on the oversized, double-sided cardboard menu was easily done. Final decisions were tougher. I eventually opted for the day’s lunch special: Sliced Turkey on Croissant with Brie Cheese, Granny Smith Apples and Chutney Mayo. The tipping point for my decision was the wedge of iceberg lettuce doused with a housemade blue cheese dressing. The salad came along with the sandwich at no additional charge. $7.95 for the entire package — what a deal!   

My sandwich was quite satisfying. My lettuce was really good too, although I wish I had asked for a little more blue cheese dressing. The dressing was excellent — not too goopy with large chunks of pungent cheese. Guess they were watching my waistline … Lord knows I don’t often do the same. Iceberg is often thought of as a “poor man’s lettuce,” yet it’s a nice treat once in a while. Especially if the wedge is big, cool and crunchy. A nice milky dressing is always an ideal foil.    

Not sure who John (above) is — but I gotta try his special sandwich. A “BPT” ??? A “PBT” ??? Not sure which name (if either) fits. I just love pimento cheese (I prefer homemade, not the mass produced stuff) and adding bacon to the party seems like a stroke of Dixie genius. ***Note: The only store bought pimento I can heartily recommend is Palmetto Pimento Cheese out of Pawleys Island, SC. It is nothing short of phenomenal (www.palmettocheese.com).  

My dessert (I don’t often treat myself at lunch) was Regina’s Mississippi Mud Cake. I saw it lurking in a metal serving pan behind the front register and I just could not resist it’s many delights. Glad I didn’t. It was a heavenly marriage of a dense chocolate brownie/cake topped with melted marshmallows and a rich fudge icing. It left me with a broad smile and a massive sugar buzz that lasted well into the afternoon.

Regina’s Kitchen is now on my regular weekday lunch rotation. That honor is not easily accomplished. But you just can’t beat a place that offers a clean and cheerful dining environment, a variety of fresh and healthy menu options, fair pricing, and “treat you like family” service. Well done, Regina. You are carrying on your family’s restaurant traditions with true grace and style!

Regina’s Kitchen – 2056 Government St., Mobile – (251) 476-2777

www.facebook.com/pages/Reginas-Kitchen/130215213681624

Lunch at Aunt B’s Country Kitchen

16 Apr

We sometimes joke about places being “out in the boondocks.” Sometimes it’s just a loosely used expression. But there are other times when the description fits perfectly. The latter is the case with Aunt B’s Country Kitchen. They are technically in Theodore, Alabama (a Mobile suburb – and I use the term suburb very loosely here).

The exterior of Aunt B’s place looks like someone’s home. And I guess that is the point. The owners want you to feel comfortable. The estate is a restored 1901 farmhouse. It’s pretty hard not to feel relaxed in settings such as this. Only the small, circular Coca Cola sign above the front screen doors tip you off that this might actually be a real place of business.

The period dinner bell at Aunt B’s is a nice feature — not sure how much use it actually gets. I would imagine youngsters would give the rope a strong tug whenever they visit with their families. There are a few wooden picnic tables in the front yard. Not a bad place to eat out if the weather is conducive.

Aunt B’s front porch is a peaceful place, for sure. I was almost expecting Sheriff Andy Taylor to grab a seat and begin strumming his six-string. The stacks of soft drink bottles almost gives the joint a general store feel.

Once inside the dining room, you’ll discover that Aunt B’s is slightly more uptown than you originally thought. The shelves a plum full of gourmet food products — sauces, jams, jellies, pickles and mixes. It’s all top quality stuff and the variety offered is impressive. But don’t look for any bargains here. Prices are comparable to most kitchen specialty/gourmet stores across the USA.

I found a seat at a quiet 2-top near the back of the restaurant. An old cast iron stove beckoned beneath a massive flat screen TV. Quite the juxtaposition, wouldn’t you say? I was happy to find that the tube was tuned to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel. Tony was in Chicago and it looked like fun. But I was quite content to be dining with Aunt B’s near the Alabama coastline. I gazed out the back window at the sprawling green pastures and tall pecan trees that had obviously been here for a very long time.   

I placed my order for the Cajun shrimp stuffed pork tenderloin lunch special. It was in front of me in a flash. Now that is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a not so good thing. It appeared freshly sliced and the stuffing looked (and smelled) amazing.

It tasted just as good — although I must add that the large pork medallions were not exactly piping hot. That aside, the dish was a smashing success – thanks in great measure to the stuffing. I’m not sure exactly was in it. I asked but didn’t exactly get a detailed answer. Shrimp, Cajun spices, some chopped veggies – that’s about all the manager was willing to share with me. I could have sworn I tasted some tasso or andouille, but I was told I was off base on that guess.     

My side of stewed squash was really fine too. There just wasn’t enopugh of it. I found myself wishing that Aunt B was a little more generous with her portions this particular afternoon. The squash had been bathed in sweet onion, butter, and herbs and tasted much like the squash I often prepare at home in the Spring and Summer months.

My entree also included a mound of cold macaroni salad. This is one of my favorite picnic foods, especially if it’s nice and cold and not totally drowned in fatty mayo. This side was nicely conceived and quickly scarfed down.

It was now time for dessert and I was ready for some sweet potato pie. The choice was not easy. Aunt B was also offering a Strawberry Shortcake and I was wavering a bit. But I stuck to my guns and I was repaid with a slab of pie that was, well, sticky. And gooey. And not exactly what I was hoping for. It was far too sweet and had a very unpleasant gummy texture. A cross between pie and chewing gum. Should have gone strawberry!

But let’s not finish on a downer. This is a cool place and a welcome addition to the Greater Mobile area dining scene. And it’s actually only about a 20 minute drive from Mobile’s I-65 and I-10 interchange. Aunt B’s is open for lunch only on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday thru Sunday hours are 11 am – 4 pm and 5 pm – 8:30 pm.

Dinner options listed on the take out menu include Baked Chicken and Dressing, Crooks Corner Shrimp n Grits, Pecan Crusted Chicken, Shrimp Creole and Chicken n Dumplings. Sides listed were highlighted by Roasted Butternut Squash, Tomatoes Rockefeller, and Asparagus with Deviled Eggs. Now how can a true Dixie Dining devotee resist all that?

So take a drive out to the country — the Country Kitchen, that is.

Aunt B’s Country Kitchen – 3750 Bay Rd, Theodore, AL

251 623 1868; www.shopauntbs.com

Gulf Coast Foodways Organziation is Officially Unveiled

24 Mar

 

Gulf Coast Foodways is a new community of foodies on a mission to preserve and promote the rich culinary culture along the US Gulf Coast through education, events, documentaries, seminars and more. Gulf Coast Foodways will be a member driven organization and we’re currently looking for charter members and sponsors.

How exactly are we going to do all of this, you ask?  Through the development of thematic maps and tours, we can drive food tourism to our region. Through video documentation, we can capture and show off the unique culinary culture of our coast.  Cookbooks and published compilations of local food writings and treasured family recipes will draw attention to the traditional foodways of our area. 

We plan to hold periodic meetings for members to make connections and network. These events will include guest speakers on local topics and you can always count on a good meal or two along the way. Our annual symposium weekend is now in the initial planning stage.  Hotel and restaurant industry members will always benefit from the trails, meetings, and symposiums.

We’d like for you to play a key role in the creation of this tasty “gumbo.” 

 Your annual membership or sponsorship will:

 *Help finance research projects

*Promote food-related businesses along the Gulf Coast

*Document local traditions & businesses preserving them

*Promote and grow food tourism along the Gulf Coast

*Underwrite any necessary administrative costs

 In return, your benefits will include:

 *Bi-annual e-newsletter

*Profile feature on the Gulf Coast Foodways blog: www.gulfcoastfoodways.wordpress.com 

*10% off all Gulf Coast Foodways event registration

*Priority registration for events

*Discounts at participating restaurants/shops

 We urge you to join this worthy cause today.

Contact Eileen or Gary Saunders at gulfcoastfoodways@yahoo.com.

***Pass this note along to your friends and LIKE us on FACEBOOK.

Jammin’ with Sallie’s Greatest Hits

3 Dec

Sallie’s Greatest Jams are really good — and really unique. I mean, how often have you tried flavor combinations such as Peach Mint, Blueberry Lime, Peach Pepper Ginger, Blueberry Lavender, and Strawberry Basil? Here’s the back story on founder Sallie Dent Porth (“Canner in Chief”) and her fabulous small batch creations …

After more than twenty years of living the corporate life on planes, trains and automobiles, including an escape from NYC on 9/11/01, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back home living the good life in Calhoun County in rural South Carolina. In 2004, I returned to my roots and found myself living in the middle of a huge field with a garden-loving husband in my hometown of Cameron, SC, where farming is a mainstay. One perk of my time in corporate America was an expense account which afforded me the opportunity to experience fine dining across the country, cultivating my knowledge of unique food and flavor combinations. This interest in flavor pairings combined with my creative nature and life in the field led to the creation of Sallie’s Greatest.

Thanks to my partnership with local farmer Monty Rast of Longview Acres, my specialty line of herbal fruit jams is made with the freshest produce possible – straight from the field to the jar! In addition to our line of jarred projects, we’re also developing a cookbook, Party in a Jar, giving cooks on all levels the tools needed to turn an everyday meal into an extraordinary dining experience with the simple twist of a lid. For years, my friends and family have raved over my creations. I feel that it’s just plain selfish to keep this secret in my inner circle…and being selfish isn’t being Southern!

“Love Thy Farmer”

Order yours today at www.salliesgreatest.com or call (803) 823 – 9075

Email Sallie at salliesgreatest@gmail.com — tell her Dixie Dining sent ya!

Granny Hester’s Alabama Sweet Potato Biscuits are made with L-O-V-E

27 Oct

These babies are simply amazing — chunks of real sweet potatoes in every bite. Try them with butter and some Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup for a real treat! We were thrilled to find these at our local farmers market and urge all of you to seek them out. It’s a true taste of days gone by.

Granny Hester’s Homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits have been a Southern original since 1943. Always a family and friend favorite, Granny handed down her biscuit recipe to her granddaughter, Tracy Johnson. Tracy began filling orders for friends in 2005, and as the biscuits became more and more popular, Tracy used a friend’s coffee shop to bake and sell them. Tracy and a partner opened Granny Hester’s Fine Foods, LLC in 2008, on Gault Avenue in Fort Payne, Alabama—the exact location her grandparents owned and  operated the Fort Payne Bakery until 1971.

At one time they were only available around her dinner table in Alabama; now, Granny Hester’s biscuits bring southern hospitality to mealtime all over America. After being passed down from generation to generation, the recipe remains the same and folks all over still crave Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits.

You can find these delicious homemade biscuits at several farm markets in the great state of Alabama — or order some straight from Granny’s kitchen in Ft. Payne, Alabama!

www.grannyhesters.com

————————————

Apple Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit Crust 

1 can apple pie filling

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon sugar

6 Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits    

Mix pie filling, cinnamon, and brown sugar and put them into a 9-inch pan. 

Thaw frozen biscuits until they can be split open.  

Place biscuits on top of apples and top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until done.

Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter

15 May

I first learned about this wonderful product in one of my favorite magazines – Garden and Gun. We had to try it and, thankfully, the folks at Cunningham Farms were nice enough to send along a sample jar. I slathered some on my toast yesterday and I can tell you this jar will not last us long. The first word that comes to mind when describing this Sweet Potato Butter is “fresh.”

Hand crafted in small batches in Hancock County, Tennessee, Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter is made with only the finest natural ingredients. Organic sweet potatoes, apple cider, and organic spices all play a major part in this tasteful blend. The spread is not exceptionally thick and murky, I’m guessing because it contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Preservatives? Hah! You may even polish off the whole jar in the first day!  

You can definitely taste the ground clove in each jar. The overall flavor profile is sort of a cross between a really fine homemade apple butter and sweet potato pie. Spread it on biscuits, bagels or English muffins in the morning. It can also be used as a glaze for pork and chicken. No matter how you plan on using it, just use it! And did I tell you it’s delicious?

Cunningham Farms provides a gourmet version of an old favorite-Sweet Potato Butter. Our product is handmade in small batches using organic sweet potatoes and locally made apple cider; yielding the highest quality gourmet Sweet Potato Butter. Hints of organic cinnamon and clove and the full flavor of the sweet potato couple with fresh apple cider to create a velvety smooth, slightly sweet spread that’s great with a wide range of foods. It’s not too sweet, just rich, warm and invocative of autumn-certainly enjoyable for every meal.

Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is perfect on toast or a croissant in the morning, on a ham sandwich, as a glaze for chicken or pork and as a topping for cake or ice cream. Also, one jar of Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is the perfect filling for a delicious sweet potato pie.

Besides providing a delicious product, Cunningham Farms is also committed to enriching our community. Our gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is handmade in the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen, and Cunningham Farms is a member of the Appalachian Spring Cooperative in Hancock County, Tennessee. The Cooperative was created as a microenterprise incubator for entrepreneurs to make and sell value added food products. By producing our Sweet Potato Butter at the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen we are creating jobs in one of the poorest counties in the nation. Cunningham Farms’ goal is to grow so that we can continue to help the people of our community.

Sweet Potato Butter & Cream Cheese Appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp very crisp bacon pieces
  • 2 Tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Frost cream cheese with Sweet Potato Butter
  2. Sprinkle with bacon pieces
  3. Sprinkle with pecan pieces
  4. Top with scallions
  5. Serve with crackers. May serve immediately or refridgerate.

Submitted by: Joan Bertaut – Jackson, MS

http://www.cunninghamfarms.com

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