The pickle man

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! black eyed peas, cornbread, cabbage, and chocolate mousse

I'm resolving to start back up the blog - I miss it!  Surely I can manage once a week?

I may have to go back and do some catch-up recipes - posts I started but never finished.   But for today, let's focus on New Year's Day food - which at my house means black-eyed peas for "jingling money" or good luck - depending on who tells the story - cabbage (or greens) for "folding money," and cornbread, because that's just what you are supposed to serve with black-eyed peas and cabbage. 

First, the peas:
I froze a bag of purple hulls that I bought at our farmer's market this summer 

You can use black-eyed peas, purple hulls, field peas, cow peas, cream peas, lady peas... whatever you can find in your freezer or in the freezer at the grocery store.  Don't use canned!

2 cups (roughly) of frozen peas
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
several pieces of ham, ham hocks, hog jowls, again - whatever you have on hand - or even bacon.  I had frozen leftover sliced ham from Thanksgiving, so that's what I used.

Saute the onion and meat in a pan large enough to hold the peas.  Cook until the onion is soft, then add the garlic.  Cook 2-3 minutes.  Add the peas and enough water to cover them by about 2 inches.  Cook for a long time (approx. 2 hours) on low, stirring occasionally.  Add more water as needed - don't let them dry out. Add cooked white rice and hot sauce to make "Hoppin' John" - or just serve them plain. 

   -  As a side note, for two interesting stories on the relationship between this dish and luck, check out
Southern Living's story and an article in the New York Times

On to the cabbage. My mother never served cabbage.  I mean never.  I don't even think I ever had cole slaw when growing up, much less cooked cabbage.  So I turned to my husband for his mom's recipe.  His response - "she cooks it with lots of butter.  Like a whole stick."  Since my mother-in-law is not Paula Deen, I called her for confirmation.  I should always trust my husband when it comes to butter.

So here's the cabbage I started with - grown in the winter garden!

And here's the butter.  Maybe the title of this should be "How to take perfectly healthy, organic vegetables, and turn them into resolution-ruining meals" - but I have a feeling this is going to be delicious.  (And in years since, I've lowered the butter to about 1 tablespoon... with no complaints).

So, roughly chop the cabbage.  Melt 1 stick salted butter in a skillet.  Add 1/4 cup of water, salt, and pepper to taste, and 1 scant spoonful of sugar.  Cover and cook over medium heat 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so.

According to my mother-in-law, you need to "stop cooking it before you think it's done."  Since I've never made this before, I went with the 15 minute time limit.

And finally, some Southern cornbread.  I read somewhere that the key is to start with a hot skillet.  It makes all the difference - amazing, crispy outside.

I use a cast iron skillet:

The recipe:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar (you can use more if you like sweeter cornbread)
4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1 cup milk (or buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 425.  Put the skillet in the cold oven with the butter in the bottom of the skillet.  Take it out when the oven gets to around 350 - or whenever you smell the butter :)
Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the middle.  Add the egg, milk, and oil.  Stir until combined.  Pour into the hot skillet - it should sizzle!  And it will have yummy browned butter all around the edge.

Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve with more butter.  I mean, what's the difference at this point.

The Meal:

William is going to be lucky this year, too:

As for Michael's New Year's Resolution - after I "made fun of him" (his words) last night for not eating leftovers, he says he's going to start.  For today, he had the leftover chocolate mousse that I made for the New Year's Eve party I attended - recipe follows:

Chocolate Mousse:

12 oz semisweet chocolate (I like Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips)
4, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs coffee or other flavoring (raspberry or orange liqueur, brandy, etc.)

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar on high in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 3-4 minutes, until pale yellow and thick.  Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl placed over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler).  Add the flavoring of your choice (I recommend starting with coffee) to the melted chocolate and stir until combined.  Cool the chocolate to room temperature (it helps if you take it off of the heat before the chips have completely melted).  Pour the chocolate into the egg yolks and beat. 

Using a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff using the whisk attachment on your mixer.  Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture (do not beat or use the mixer - this will flatten the mousse!).  In the same bowl that you used for the egg whites (no need to wash), beat the cream until stiff.  Then fold it into the chocolate mixture.  Chill and serve with more whipped cream OR for something extra fancy...
I piped the mousse into cream puffs and topped with a raspberry sauce (1 pint of raspberries, cooked down for 10 minutes with 1 Tablespoon of sugar, then strained).  YUM!  Sorry, there were none left to photograph.  But I promise, they were tasty.

For cream puffs, I recommend Ina Garten's recipe.  She puts ice cream in the middle of hers - equally delicious :)

Happy New Year! 


  1. You can use margarine or butter and if you are only cooking a small amount then 1/2 stick will do.

  2. The cabbage was delicious - even though Dixon refused to eat the "hot lettuce." And I may have overcooked it a tad - Michael said it was almost as good as yours :)

  3. I am certain that eating leftover dessert does NOT qualify as eating leftovers. Welcome back, I've missed you!

  4. HA HA! Michael ate leftover black-eyed peas tonight!! YES!

  5. If you need a good reason for the cornbread, other than that it is YUMMY, I've heard that it represents gold. So you can have your jingle money, your paper money, and your gold bars. ;)
    Love the blog, and I really hope to see you soon!