Bless Your Spoon: Culinary history worth telling about

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Some sights speak a thousand words. While spending a week in Southern Pines last week, I felt like I was back in my hometown, Nashville. Pristine white fences encompassed sprawling pastures where docile horses grazed — now that’s some true horse country there.

But the highlight of my week came when members of Moore County Hounds Club rode horses to the grounds of Weymouth. The historic home, Weymouth, once owned by the author, James Boyd,  is now a center for arts and humanities. Writers come from all over the state to stay in residence — to hammer out their next novel.

The Moore County Hounds is the oldest recognized pack of foxhounds in the state. At one time, the original kennels were kept on the grounds of Weymouth. On Saturday morning,  horseback riders, dressed in their finest, and pack of hounds converged in the backyard to commence their ritual fox-friendly, mock, winter hunt — for no reason other than the thrill.

While maintaining historic pageantry, riders were dressed in scarlet jackets called pinks, snug-fitting white breeches, black velvet hunt caps, and to the knees, black leather riding boots. Against a light blanket of white snow that covered the ground — colors popped in early morning’s sun. The sight was spectacular — one worth seeing and telling about.

No sporting event has more culinary traditions than fox hunting. Following the hunt, there is often a hunt breakfast — served any time of day. In day’s past, traditional hunt breakfasts might have been served at usual breakfast times. But today, the breakfast is more like dinner — maybe with a breakfast casserole thrown in. But whenever the breakfast was held and whatever food was served, you know the event was nothing less than a splendid occasion. Today’s recipes are both traditional and current — to be served at your next breakfast — even late in the afternoon.

But to maintain a culinary tradition of all traditions — a congealed mold or two, a platter of fruit cake slices, plenty of pastries, piping hot tea, steaming coffee and a grand punch bowl — will  always grace the sideboard.

Brandied Cheese Spread

• ½ lb. softened, crumbled blue cheese

• 8 oz. softened cream cheese

• 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

• 1/3 cup brandy

In a mixer bowl, gently cream together the softened blue cheese and cream cheese. Stir in nutmeg and brandy. Pack into a pottery crock, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving on toast rounds.

Country Ham with Red-Eye Gravy

• ¼ cup salted butter

• 6 1/-inch slices country ham

• ¼ cup packed brown sugar

• ½ cup strong black coffee

In a skillet, melt butter. Sauté ham in butter while turning several times until browned. Remove and keep warm. Into the pan drippings, stir the brown sugar. Cook over low heat while constantly stirring until sugar dissolves. Add coffee and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes while stirring. Serve ham with gravy and biscuits.

Chicken and Rice Ring with Mushroom Gravy

• 2½ lbs. diced cooked chicken

• 2 cups cooked rice

• 4 cups soft artisan bread crumbs

• 4 oz. jar chopped pimientos

• 8 beaten eggs

• 1½ cup chicken broth

• 1½ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. paprika

• ¼ tsp. dried rosemary and marjoram

• ½ cup melted, salted butter

• 6 cups homemade mushroom sauce

In a mixer bowl, combine cooked chicken and rice, bread crumbs and pimentos. In another bowl, beat eggs. To the eggs, add chicken broth, salt, paprika, rosemary and marjoram. Mix well. Pour egg broth over chicken rice mixture. Pour melted butter over the top and mix all well. Grease two 6-cup ring molds or a 12-inch mold. Line mold with foil. Grease foil. Turn chicken mixture into mold and place in a pan of hot water. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 60 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before unmolding on a large platter. Serve with fresh mushroom gravy and decorate around mold with fresh parsley.

Cheese Souffle

• 6 beaten eggs

• 2 cups whole milk

• ¾ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. dry mustard

• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 10 slices stale white bread

• 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

• Salted butter

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Beat in milk. Beat in salt, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Remove crusts off bread and cube. Butter grease 13×11 baking pan. Alternate layers of bread and cheese, ending with bread. Cover evenly with egg mixture. Refrigerate overnight. The following morning, bring to room temperature. Dot with butter all over and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

Mold of Egg Salad with Shrimp Sauce

• 1½ envelope unflavored gelatin

• ¼ cup cold water

• 12 chopped hard-boiled eggs

• ½ cup chopped celery and green pepper

• 2 Tbsp. grated onion

• 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion

• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• ¼ tsp. white pepper

• 1 cup premium mayonnaise

• ¾ cup hot water

Shrimp Sauce

• 1 can drained small shrimp

• ½ cup mayonnaise

• 1 tsp. chili sauce

In a bowl, dissolve gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, combine eggs, celery, green pepper, onion, green onion, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and gelatin mixture. Mix well. Add mayonnaise and hot water until thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased 6-cup mold. Chill until firm. Serve on toast points with shrimp sauce. For the sauce, in a bowl, combine small shrimp, mayonnaise and chili sauce. Stir together and chill. Serve on egg salad.

Sliced Sausage Loaf

• 2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

• 1 cup diced mushrooms

• 1 beaten egg

• 1 lb. fresh bulk pork sausage

• 2 cups dry artisan bread crumbs

• 1 tsp. paprika

• Salt and pepper, to taste

In a skillet, melt butter. Sauté mushrooms until soft. In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Add mushrooms with butter, sausage, bread crumbs and paprika. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake covered in a small roasting pan with rack in a 350-degree oven for ½ hour. Remove from oven and uncover. Return to oven and bake 30 additional minutes. Slice and serve with scrambled eggs.

Hunt Breakfast Potato Pancakes

• 1 cup grated raw, large potatoes

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 grated onion

• 1½ tsp. salt

• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Peel potatoes in a bowl, soak for three hours in cold water. Grate and drain. Add grated onion and beaten eggs. Mix well. Stir in salt and flour. Mix well. On a hot, well-greased frying pan, drop by spoonfuls onto pan. Brown on one side, and turn to brown other side.  Serve with sour cream. Yield: 20.

Spinach Florentine

• 8 oz. pkg. cooked, drained wide noodles

• Salted water

• 1 finely chopped onion

• ½ cup salted butter

• 3 beaten eggs

• 1 cup sour cream

• 20 oz. thawed, drained chopped spinach

• 1 tsp. salt

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook noodles until barely tender and drain. Set aside. In a skillet, melt butter and sauté onion. In a mixer bowl, combine butter, onion, eggs, sour cream and spinach. Mix well. Fold the noodles in gently until thoroughly combined. Place in a well-greased 6-deep ring mold. Place mold in pan of hot water surrounding mold. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Unmold and serve hot.

Cheese Grits Casserole

• 1 cup regular grits

• 2 beaten eggs

• 8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

• Drops of hot sauce, to taste

In a saucepan, cook grits according to pkg. instructions. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix well. While grits are still hot, stir in cheese of your choice. Season with drops of hot sauce per taste. Turn into a butter-greased 1½-quart casserole or 8-inch round soufflé baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until set.

English Buttermilk Scones

• 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

• 3 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. salt

• 4 Tbsp. sugar

• 1/3 cup salted butter

• 1 beaten egg

• 1/3 cup buttermilk

• Extra sugar

• Egg white

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until coarse and crumbly. In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Beat in buttermilk and mix well. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture, all at once. Mix to moisten. Spread dough out on a floured surface. Roll into a round that’s ¾ inch thickness. Cut into triangles. Combine egg white with 1 tsp. water. Brush each scone with egg white mixture. Sprinkle with large granulated sugar. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Fresh Fruit Marmalade

• 2½ quarts water

• 2 grapefruit

• 2 lemons

• 4 oranges

• 7 lbs. granulated sugar

In a pot, add fruits and 2½ quarts of water. Boil fruit whole in water for ½ hour. Cool and remove pulp. Put skins and fruit through a processor or grinder. Add fruit back to the pot and enough water to measure 3 quarts. Boil all for 45 minutes. Add sugar. Bring to a boil again for 15 minutes. Put in sterilized jars and seal. Serve with fresh butter and scones.

Fresh Apple Bread

• 1 beaten egg

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup Crisco shortening

• 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1/3 cup fresh orange juice

• 1 cup finely chopped apples

• 1 Tbsp. grated orange rind

• ¾ cup dark raisins

• 1/3 cup chopped pecans/walnuts

In a mixer bowl, beat egg. Beat in sugar and mix well. Beat in Crisco and mix well. Add flour, soda, baking powder, and salt while alternating with orange juice. Mix well. Fold in apples, orange rind, raisins and nuts. Mix well. Bake in a well-greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tests done.

Fresh Lemon Bread

• 2 beaten eggs

• 1 cup sugar

• 1½ cup all-purpose flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• ½ cup whole milk

• 1 grated lemon rind

• Pinch of salt

• Glaze

• 1 lemon, juiced

• 1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Beat in sugar and mix well. Add flour and baking powder while alternating with milk. Mix well. Fold in grated lemon rind and salt. Mix well. Bake in a well-greased and floured loaf pan in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour or until tests done. For the glaze, in a bowl, combine juice of 1 lemon and sugar. Stir. While bread is still hot from oven, drizzle glaze over the top.

Butter Pecan Crescents

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 cup salted butter

• 1 beaten egg yolk

• ½ pint sour cream

• 12 oz. can fruit filling

In a bowl, cut butter into flour as for pastry. In another bowl, beat egg yolk. Add sour cream to yolk and mix well. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture. Mix well. Form into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate overnight. Divide into 4 portions. Roll each portion into a 12-inch circle. Spread fruit filling evenly over entire circle. Cut into 16 wedges. Starting with wide end, roll to narrow end. Press to seal together. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Dust with powdered sugar. You can half this recipe.

Old English Trifle

• 1-pint homemade scratch custard

• 1 store-bought sponge cake

• 4 Tbsp. raspberry jam, plus

• 16 oz. drained, canned/fresh fruit salad

• 8 Tbsp. fruit juice

• 1 oz. chopped walnuts

• 10 crushed wafer cookies

• ½ pint whipped cream

• 2 Tbsp. whole milk

• Cherries

• Fresh mint

Prepare homemade recipe of custard and set aside. Split sponge cake horizontally in half. Place bottom half in wide-bottom glass bowl. Spread half of jam over cake. Place top half of sponge cake over jam. Spread remaining jam over cake. Strain juice from fruit salad or fruit of your choice. Arrange on top of sponge cake. Sprinkle with the fruit juice. Sprinkle chopped nuts and wafer cookies evenly over the top. Pour hot custard over all and allow to cool completely. Whip cream and milk together. Spread evenly over the top of custard. Decorate with cherries and sprigs of fresh mint.

Apricot Nut and Buttercream Torte

• 1 cup softened, salted butter

• 1 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

• 3 eggs

• ½ lb. crushed vanilla wafers

• Drained large can apricots

• 1 cup chopped pecans

• 1 pint whipped whipping cream

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Set aside. In another bowl, process vanilla wafers until fine crumbs. In another bowl, chop up apricots. Line an 8×12 pan with waxed paper. In layers, assemble trifle with crumbs on bottom — reserving 3 Tbsp. for topping —  then the butter mixture, layer of apricots, then nuts, and spread top evenly with whipped cream. Sprinkle top with reserved crumbs. Refrigerate 12 hours.

Hot Spiced Fruit Tea

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 cup water

• 12 whole cloves

• 2 1-inch cinnamon sticks

• 3 tsp. tea

• 2 quarts water

• ¾ cup fresh orange juice

• ½ cup fresh lemon juice

• 1 cup pineapple juice

In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water. Add cloves and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to stand 30 minutes. Reheat and bring to a boil again. Add 3 tsp. tea and steep for 5 minutes. While tea is steeping — combine water, orange, lemon and pineapple juices. Mix well. Strain the tea mixture into the fruit juice mixture. Heat and serve. Serves 20.

Dessert Royale Coffee

• ½ cup strong hot coffee

• 2 Tbsp. brandy

• Dollop of whipped cream

• Grated orange peel

For every ½ cup of hot strong coffee, add 2 Tbsp. of brandy. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle with grated orange peel.