I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. The COVID rollercoaster seems to continue to be in operation. It’s been so long since this thing started I’ve almost forgotten what life is like without it although my fur family doesn’t have a clue!
Yes, the cats are on a hooligan rampage. I think they’ve broken everything possible in the house. I shrug. It’s just stuff. So here’s a tip: if you ever adopt young cats lock everything up that has any value, although I think Miz Boo can pick locks. She surely knows how to turn the water on. Speaking of which, not sure if I shared this last time but she fell in the toilet. Henry, my Yorkie was the one who alerted me to the swimming shenanigans. As crazy as her stunts are she makes me laugh out loud.
August is hot and sticky down here. Every year it seems to get hotter and stickier. I love to sit on my rocking chairs on my front porch but lately I feel like I’m melting. Back into the A/C to see what the hooligans have destroyed in the half hour I’m outside.
Lots of new books coming out soon. Hidden, the first in a new series is coming next month in paperback with an interesting cast of characters. In October we’ll have Santa Cruise, a madcap adventure on the high seas in hardcover; and then the mass market of The Brightest Star. Lots of fun and inspiring reading for the fall. I hope you enjoy them.
This month’s contest will be a signed copy of Hidden. I’m very excited about this new series.
Now on to food! I’m featuring several recipes from friends for a Southern dinner. My editor at Kensington, Esi Sogah offered up a flourless cake for dessert. Many people turn up their nose to collard greens—I for one am one of those people—but this is made with bacon. Everything is better with bacon. The recipe comes from Ashley Fenimore, a beautiful young pharmacological oncologist who won the Charleston Magazine contest for side vegetables. Her work is very grueling so she relaxes by cooking. Another friend Carolyn Williams gave us her family recipe for fried chicken. And of course, every Southern meal has to have potato salad.
Enjoy the rest of the summer. Stay cool, stay well, stay safe, and most of all stay sane!
TUSCAN STYLE COLLARD GREENS (A LITTLE BIT OF ITALY)
- 2 large bunches local collards
- 16 oz. low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 large leeks, washed, white part diced (slice 2-3 rings for garnish)
- 1/3 lb. pancetta or bacon chopped
- Cut or tear collard leaves off stems.
- Clean by rinsing repeatedly in cold water Soak and use a salad spinner if you have one.
- Cut into two-inch strips.
- Place in a large pot, cover generously with vegetable broth (reserve 1/3 cup broth for later), and bring to a low boil.
- Cook until collards are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Sauté garlic for two minutes, or until tender. Using slotted spoon, remove garlic to a bowl.
- Add diced leeks to pan, and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes—do not brown.
- Remove leeks to garlic bowl. Add pancetta/bacon to frying pan, and sauté until browned.
- Return garlic and leeks to pan.
- Add reserved vegetable broth and collards.
- Stir gently and thoroughly until collards are completely cooked, about three minutes. Serve.
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
- Cut up whole chicken
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cup corn meal
- 2 tablespoons sea salt season salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 3-4 cups Wesson or high heat oil – enough to cover frying pan by at least 1 inch
- Wash Chicken – soak in slightly salted water for 10 minutes.
- Blend dry ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil until a drop of water sizzles.
- Dip chicken in buttermilk.
- Dredge chicken through dry ingredients and place in hot oil.
- Keep an eye on the chicken—when it’s brown on one side turn over and cook other side.
EASY POTATO SALAD
- 2 lbs New Potatoes or red potatoes cubed and cooked – let cool a bit
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup ranch dressing [with or without bacon] or add your own
- ¼ cup bacon bits or crumbled bacon
- Mix together and serve or refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE – ANOTHER CONTEST WINNER!
- 4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.
- Chop chocolate into small pieces.
- In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.
- Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture.
- Add eggs and whisk well.
- Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
- Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust.
- Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.
- Dust cake with additional cocoa powder. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, in an airtight container, 1 week.)