Like almost any southerner I’m a sucker for a good mac and cheese. What’s more comforting than carbs and cheese? Simple: carbs, cheese, and a crap ton of seafood. I based this recipe off of a traditional macaroni pie recipe, but with some switched up cheeses as well as the addition of shrimp, scallops and (admittedly imitation) crab.
I’m still not 100% sure if putting an entire sandwich through the tempura process was a stroke of genius or madness. See I have a very strong passion for hot ham and cheese sandwiches. I touched on it years ago with my croque madame recipe, but I needed more.
Part of the inspiration for this dish comes from the famous Disney parks monte cristo with blackberry preserves. The other half of the inspo comes from my love of Japanese techniques and flavors I tend to use more when I cook for myself vs. for the blog.
As soon as I took my first bite I was taken on a journey. This sandwich has crunchy, salty, sweet, fruity, spicy, and gooey all in one. It’s one of those things that’s perfect, but also its mere existence is terrifying at the same time.
During most of my day to day life I like super simple, clean cooking. But I have a special tradition I like to call “fuck it Friday.” It’s a similar concept to a cheat day, but without the gross guilty connotation, and it allows me to set it on a schedule.
One of my big go tos for this moment is some kind of alfredo pasta. But what happens when I feel the need to be sneaky during the week, or on the other hand slide a vegetable into my Fridays? The answer is simple, why not both? Enter alfredo mashed cauliflower.
It’s super rich and decadent. But making cauliflower the base at least lets me pretend I’m being somewhat healthful. I’m a huge believer in the magic of cauliflower, and if you weren’t before then there’s nothing a little parmesan won’t solve.
Coming into this recipe I had never worked with lamb before. And even when I’ve eaten it it was almost always in the form of a gyro, or a burger that tasted like one.
Yet despite it being this big mystery I really wanted to dive in headfirst. Coming in here’s what I knew: lamb needs to stay pink, and that it can stand up to some heavy flavors and condiments. I brought back an old favorite with my roasted garlic mayo from my mushroom swiss burgers. But I also used this as a chance to dabble in something I’ve wanted to for a long time, jam making.
I’ve made some berry jams for breakfast items before and even tried my hand at the dark art of chia jam. But what about savory jams? I’ve heard of tomato jam but wanted to bring new life to the concept with a good vinegar hit and fresh herbs. Plus the leftovers are really good on toast with some soft cheese!
All together this burger is a flavor bomb, but the lamb still doesn’t get lost. It’s that magical moment where every component brings its own special flavor that hits all parts of the tongue. Truth be told I made them for my best friend to help me try and we both ate two in one sitting!
Ok let’s be real, 2020 has been a fairly zero stars experience. I took time away from recipe blogging because it just wasn’t feeling right with everything going on in the world.
But this doesn’t mean I stopped working, and planning, and developing recipes. I really wanted to stretch myself and take the time of isolation to work on recipes that would bring a cool variety to my little collection. So here we have the first Fancy Redneck original dessert (the other dessert recipes were ones I stole from my mom that she made when I was little).
I must say this pie does it all. The yuzu is sharp but adds a floral note that you wouldn’t get in a normal lemon pie, and the gingersnaps add a more savory and almost spicy element to the pie that’s tempered by a super fluffy meringue. I really wanted to write a dessert that would make the tongue dance.
While I’m still not 100% sure if now is the time for blogging I am damn sure it’s always time for a good pie.
Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.
And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.
In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.
He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.
Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.
Honestly there’s not much of a cool story to this. I just randomly got an urge to make a recipe with grapes because I think they’re sorely underused, and somehow thought peanut butter jelly and salad should have a baby.
Honestly how I got there’s a mystery but I’m glad I did. What I did was whip up a peanut dressing with a good hit of acid and a little spice and paired it with grilled chicken and the sweetest grapes I could find.
I ended up with a really cool childhood meets adulthood plate of food that I’m really into. And this is coming from a salad hater. So let’s get into it, yeah?
Ok so in the past I’ve gotten bad about feeling the need to do some intense diet and exercising for the new year. I usually lose weight for a while, but end up feeling restricted, overworked, and not very happy by Summer. Instead for 2020 I’m going with a goal of “happy food.” I aim to cook what’s making me happy in that moment no matter how weird or out of my normal culinary zone it may be. I’m on a new path of chasing after happy dances.
That being said, like many of you this holiday season got me jacked up. Spiked hot cocoa, tons of red meat, and all the latkes I can eat are really cool, but I needed a major reset button to start 2020 feeling fresh and clean.
One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a huge mug of matcha to get me perked up and ready to go, which was the jump off point of this dish. The surrealistic pondscape consists of some of my favorite clean flavors: salmon, cucumber, nori, roe, and dashi. The effect is a really cool combination of oceany flavors from the fish and dashi with the earthiness of matcha to create something that feels very nature inspired.
Even though we’re in the middle of winter the lightness and freshness of this dish can’t help but make me feel like spring is around the corner. Another cool perk is it can be served at any temperature and still work.
Picture it: Belton 2001. One day when the Marshall Primary School menu for the next week was released everyone’s attention was immediately captured by something we never heard of, bird dogs. None of the other kids knew what it was, and to add insult to injury none of the adults did either. Not even the lunch ladies!
What we got was a total game changer. Bird dogs consist of chicken fingers, bacon, honey mustard, and cheddar tucked into a hot dog bun. When I explain it to people who never lived in Anderson county, South Carolina they never seemed to get it, but honestly it’s so perfect. Somehow the hotdog bun proportions are so much more satisfying than the normal chicken sandwich and I will die on that hill.
Clearly I’m not the only one to think so because these little buns of glory became a cultural icon in my hometown. They worked their way into mom and pop restaurants, sleepovers, and I even went to a banquet where they were served!
If you ever wanted a super obscure southern dish that you can’t even find on Google that doubles as stoner food then look no further! I mean come on, look at that!