Put some spring in your menu

March 20, 2013 

Spring's here; today it's officially spring, though the season really started last weekend with the gorgeous sunny days.

Spring and picnics are perfect pairings. Both Allen's and my families always held picnics after church on Easter Sunday. It was a great way to have Easter egg hunts for us kids and enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon for the adults.

There was glazed ham, maybe some fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans and, of course, deviled eggs. Easter picnics wouldn't have been the same without deviled eggs and home-canned bread-and-butter pickles.

I thought today that I might get readers started thinking about Easter meals or perhaps family picnics with a few basic recipes: a raisin sauce for the baked ham or pork loin, strawberry butter for homemade or Sister Schubert rolls and corn salad that packs well for picnics or potlucks.

All these recipes come from "Feeding the Flock," a cookbook published in 1997 by Mississippi Aglow.

Please share your favorite Easter recipes, but get them in quickly.

CORN SALAD

2 cans shoe peg corn (2- 1/2 cups per can)

1 can French-style green beans

1 can petite English peas

1 small jar diced pimento

1 green bell pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon green onion, chopped fine

Sauce:

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup Crisco or Wesson oil

1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, celery seed

Cook until sugar melts. Put drained vegetables in a bowl and mix in sauce. Let set overnight or at least four hours.

-- Recipe by Betty Jo Krouse

STRAWBERRY BUTTER

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup strawberry preserves

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a food processor or with a wooden spoon. Pack into a crock, cover and refrigerate. Makes 2/3 cup. Serve at room temperature.

-- Recipe by Glenda Fleming

RAISIN SAUCE

1 cup raisins

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cloves or 5 cloves (simmer 10 minutes)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Cover raisins with water; add cloves and simmer 10 minutes. Add brown sugar, cornstarch (mixed with a little water). Add salt and pepper. Cook until thickened. Add butter, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Serve over baked ham, pork loin or pork chops.

-- Recipe by Glenda Fleming

Souper recipes

A reader from "up North" asked for a good tomato soup recipe, and the recipes are still coming in. Here are some good ones that have not been shared, including a low-fat one. Rodger E. Carey and Pat Kerstetter share these recipes. Kerstetter also shared a good Creole onion one, too, which would be a great starter for an Easter meal.

BEST THICK TOMATO SOUP

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

8 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon oil

2 cans diced tomatoes

3/4 quart milk

Make a mixture of flour and milk in a bowl.

In a large pan melt butter or margarine in oil, add tomatoes and simmer then add flour/milk slowly while stirring. It will thicken. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Note: it should be quite peppery.

As it is quite thick, the diced tomatoes will stay in suspension. The soup stores well in fridge.

-- Submitted by Rodger E. Carey

CREOLE ONION SOUP AU GRATIN

8 medium-sized onions

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

2 quarts meat broth

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Rounds of toast

Grated Parmesan cheese

Slice onions thinly, add flour and brown in butter. Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and simmer until onions are tender. Pour soup into ovenproof bowls, arrange toast on top, sprinkle with grated cheese and place under the broiler until cheese melts and browns. Serves 8.

-- Submitted by Pat Kerstetter from "French Acadian Cookbook," published in 1955

CREOLE SOUP A LA MADAME BEGUE

1 tablespoon chopped green pepper

1 tablespoon chopped red pepper

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 tablespoon flour

1- 1/2 cups soup stock

1 cup tomato pulp

1/2 cup canned corn

Salt and pepper

Brown peppers lightly in melted butter; blend in flour. Add soup stock and tomato pulp slowly, continue to stir until soup boils. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain, add corn and season to taste. Serves 6.

-- Submitted by Pat Kerstetter from "French Acadian Cookbook," published in 1955

LOW-CAL CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup water

2 chicken bouillon cubes or vegetable bouillon

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup 2 percent milk

1 (28-ounce can) pureed tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon each: thyme and basil

1/2 package Sweet & Low

Saute onions in 1/2 cup water and 1 bouillon cube until tender. Add salt and flour to onion mixture to thicken. Slowly add milk, stirring well.

Puree tomatoes in blender and slowly add to milk mixture. Add thyme and basil and extra bouillon cube if desired. Simmer 30 minutes. Entire recipe only has 365 calories.

-- Submitted by Pat Kerstetter

Wanted: Rice pilaf

Deb Melton asked readers for help in finding Phoenicia Restaurant's recipe for rice pilaf.

One reader, who did not give her name, found a rice pilaf recipe online that she thought was similar to Phoenicia's. The rice is boiled first and then steamed with meat and other ingredients. Check out www.azcookbook.com for recipe details.

Would the chefs at Phoenicia share the recipe for their rice pilaf? Readers, if you have a good pilaf recipe, please send it to me.

Thoughts on chocolate cake

"I was shocked that your recipe for Texas sheet cake did not include 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. You do not taste the cinnamon, but what it does for the chocolate is almost magical," Susan Bogart said. "For instance, my mother and I made several of the cakes, cut them in small pieces and wrapped them in foil and colored ribbon, to be used at a family wedding for groom's cake. My young son ate one and came and asked me what went wrong with his favorite cake. I told him he probably got a piece baked by Gramma because she didn't think cinnamon was a good idea in chocolate cake. Later, she had some of mine and declared it turned out the best she had ever tasted, not knowing what the difference was.

"Anyway, I am very glad you published the recipe. It is an elegant cake, plus quick and easy and meant to be shared. Many thanks," Bogart said.

Next time I make my grandmother's cake, I will try the cinnamon addition.

Andrea Yeager, who can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net, takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.

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