Thanks for thinking of me during my absence -- it was a very interesting time away with family to celebrate my aunt's life, but I'll post more about those things in days to come.
Today I'll post about my New Year's Day preparations, including the recipes I'll be using for "my" version of Spicy Hoppin' John. E.R. has included some high-faluting, hoity-toity French inspired recipe on his blog. Not to say his version wouldn't be wonderful, but hey, mine is simpler and only takes one big pot. (And I'm not dissin' E.R., but good gawd, his has parsley in it! We may have to have a taste-off one of these days and see which one is best -- I'm game for eating a few bowls of his version just to be fair...)
I've already given you some background on where the dish came from, combining African legumes (the black-eyed peas) with Carolina rice dishes.) No matter the history of the food, it's a good substantial meal for starting the new year.
Spicy Hoppin' John
1 lb. (2 c.) dried blackeyed peas
8 c. water
1 medium ham hock
16 oz. tomatoes, cut up
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 c. long grain rice
Rinse peas, combine peas and water; let stand overnight (or bring to a boil, let simmer 2 minutes, cover and let stand 1 hour.) Do not drain. Add remaining ingredients except rice. Cover and simmer until peas are tender, about 1 1/4 hours.
Lift out ham hocks, remove meat from bone, dice and return to pea mixture. Add rice, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Add more water if desired. Remove bay leaf.
Makes 12 to 14 servings.
If you are in a rush, you can used canned blackeyed peas and cook onion and celery in a small amount of water before adding all the other ingredients.
This is so easy and so flexible. I've made it so often now that I dont' really consult the recipe all that often. The seasonings can be adjusted and varied, depending on what you have on hand. I'm happy as long as it has the black-eyed peas, onion, rice and pork.
Here's what I consider the world's finest cornbread recipe. It may be that I like it so much just because of the name of it. But it is wonderful, name not withstanding.
Crescent Dragonwagon's Skillet-Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread
1 c. stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 c. buttermilk, preferably Bulgarian style
1 large egg
2 to 4 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c mild vegetable oil, such as corn or peanut
Pam cooking spray
2 to 4 Tbsp. butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar to taste, and the oil, then whisk in the buttermilk.
4. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cast-iron skillet with Pam. Put the skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and heat until the butter melts and is just starting to sizzle. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and quickly stir together, using only as many strokes as needed to combine. Scrape the batter into the hot, buttery skillet. Immediately put the skillet in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.
Mmmm, mmm. Wipe my chin because this sounds too good to wait until tomorrow!
However you choose to dine tomorrow, I wish you a Happy New Year and hope that 2005 brings you blessing upon blessing!