Author Archives: Michele Humlan

About Michele Humlan

Welcome to River City Good Eats, a blog with recipes and cooking tips emphasizing seasonal ingredients and regional delights. Since making my first scratch cake at age eight, I have been enamored with cooking and all things food.

Jambalaya with Cauliflower Rice

february 6, 2015

jambalaya with cauliflower rice

Sometimes I think proponents of the Paleo Diet are on to something.  These folks eat the way our hunter-gatherer ancestors purportedly did, grain and dairy free, with a diet mostly composed of animals proteins, vegetables and fruits.  There is no sugar, and therefore no wine or alcohol,  and  no legumes,  thus no beans, lentils or peanuts. Bummer.  I am simplifying things a bit, but if you want a good read, Wikipedia is a good place to start.  Also no coffee.  Double bummer.

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Citrus Napa Cabbage Salad

january 23, 2015

citrus napa cabbage salad

 

It’s not always easy to eat “clean” in chain restaurants.  Even relatively upscale chains may offer foods that are pre-breaded or bathed in a flavor enhanced sauce, or chopped in a distant city and transported in brine to your town.  In short, chains are often loaded with processed foods.

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Spicy Grapefruit Mint Cocktail

january 9, 2015

spicy grapefruit mint cocktailWhen there is a chilly bite in the air, it’s time for winter citrus.  I enjoy lemon in my summertime tea, and lime juice in warm weather salsas and salads, but winter is when the perfume of pink grapefruits, tangerines, Meyer lemons and blood oranges is at peak and best enjoyed.

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Oysters in Leek Cream

december 26, 2014

oysters in leek cream

Cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock Oyster Company are putting Virginia oysters on the map, and on the plates of discerning diners across this great nation. The right kind of media attention has made heroes of these fellows, who were once derided for starting oyster aquaculture from seeds planted carefully in and around the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay, giving particular taste characteristics of “neighborhood ” oysters.

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Sweet Potato Custard

december 5, 2014

sweet potato custard

There are good reasons to covet pie fillings without the fuss of crust.  The making of a good, flaky pie crust is time consuming and, if you’re like me, you may find premade pie crusts lacking in quality and flavor.  Lots of folks are foregoing extra carbs in grains, making a homemade grain free  crust (made with ground nuts) attractive, but also time consuming.

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Smoky Rosemary Roasted Pecans

november 21, 2014

smoky rosemary roasted pecansThe holiday season is here and we need quick and easy snacks for entertaining that can be made ahead, ideal for guests dropping by for a little holiday visit.  Two operative words here are quick and easy.  For these smoky  roasted nuts , add two more words : delicious, and versatile.

My smoky rosemary roasted pecans are an ideal accompaniment to wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.  They elevate the most simple salad to exalted status when scattered atop dressed greens.  Have homemade  vinaigrette on hand for the healthiest salads. Use these nuts to gussy up substantial salads, too.

Chopped, they give the wow factor to dips and spreads when mixed into whipped cream cheese and sour cream.  Envision these nuts folded into a stuffing for roasted pork loin or seared chicken breasts.  Pureed soups will appear ready for their photo shoot with an artful drizzle of creme fraiche and a few roasted pecans.

smoky rosemary roasted pecans

Make these nuts up to a month ahead and store tightly covered at room temperature in a cool spot.  Package them in pretty holiday tins or jars and give some homemade kitchen love.

smoky rosemary roasted pecans

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company       smoky rosemary roasted pecans

makes two cups

ingredients

2 cups pecan halves
1 ½ tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt – I like La Baleine

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In mixing bowl, toss pecans with melted butter, smoked paprika and sea salt until all nuts are coated well.
  3. Add rosemary and toss until combined.
  4. With spatula, transfer nuts to ungreased heavy sheet pan and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Let nuts cool on baking sheet and when cool transfer to airtight container.
  6. Store at room temperature in a cool spot for up to one month.

 

 

Flounder with Balsamic Fall Vegetables

november 7, 2014

flounder with balsamic fall vegetables

Living close to the Chesapeake Bay means access to fresh seafood all year long and when the flounder are running, go with the flow and thank your lucky stars.

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Tuscan Kale and Goat Cheese Salad

…and a visit to Sullivan’s Pond Farm

october 24, 2014

tuscan kale and goat cheese saladWhen lifelong Virginians Rona and Tim Sullivan left city life behind in 1998, their goal was to live close to the land and enjoy a natural existence farming goats and chickens. Relocating to Virginia’s bucolic Middle Peninsula, an historic area rimmed with picturesque creek and river views, they eventually settled on a farm in Wake with rolling hills and big sky.

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Sour Cream Apple Crumble

october 10, 2014

sour cream apple crumble

 

Fondest memories of shopping roadside stands involve apples that grace markets with their myriad colors, aromas and levels of crisp-crunch.  Apple season in Virginia starts tentatively, with Ginger Gold and Piney River Gold fruits making their debut, followed by Honey Crisp and then the endless palettes of the reds.  Rome Beauty, Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious (nothing like the uber-polished tasteless pretties at the grocery stores), Empire and York, among others.

My favorite apple is any type one can incorporate into desserts.  So, really, any apple will do, although I profess a fondness for super crisp and slightly tart apples for eating out of hand.

The reds have arrived and I say let the dessert making begin in earnest, and continue for as long as there are apples at the stands.

stayman apples at Berry's Produce

Stayman apples at Berry’s Produce in Hanover, Virginia

This crumble is like an upside down pie, with a cinnamon scented buttery crisp topping serving as our convoluted crust, and a sour cream custard, not too sweet, binding thin slices of twice cooked apples.  Cooking the apple slices with butter, sugar and cinnamon until tender before baking avoids the problem of apple pileup, wherein your stack of fruit lies so high in the pan you can’t avoid overflow and there’s no room for custard or topping.  I like walnuts in the crumble topping, but you can substitute pecans or almonds, or eliminate nuts altogether.

sour cream apple crumble ingredients

This dessert is easy, feeds a small crowd and may be enjoyed chilled, at room temperature (best, I think) or lightly warmed.  Crowning with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream or cinnamon dusted whipped cream will elevate it from homey simplicity to elegant comfort food.

 

sour cream apple crumblesour cream apple crumble

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes ten to twelve servings

ingredients

2 ½ pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut in thin slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sour cream, preferably full fat
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
crumble topping
1 cup all purpose or gluten free flour (see apple  cake with caramel glaze for my favorite homemade mix)
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup chopped walnuts
one stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

directions

  1. Melt butter in heavy large wide skillet over medium heat, add apples and stir gently to coat.
  2. Add one half cup sugar and stir to coat all slices  with sugar.
  3. Cover skillet, turn heat to medium low and cook, stirring gently once, until apples are softened but still hold their shape, about 7 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, turn heat to high and evaporate most of the liquid, until a light syrup coats apples, about 5 minutes; turn heat lower if needed to avoid scorching.
  5. Add one teaspoon cinnamon and stir gently to coat.
  6. Allow mixture to cool completely.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. For sour cream custard, gently whisk eggs, sour cream, heavy cream, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in small mixing bowl until blended.
  9. In larger mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar until combined, add walnuts and then work in butter bits with fingers until crumbly but some butter remains in tiny pieces.
  10. Butter 2 quart baking dish, add cooled apples, pour sour cream custard over apples and then top evenly with crumble topping.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until crumble appears puffed at edges and center no longer appears wobbly.
  12. Let settle at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving to allow custard to set.
  13. Serve at room temperature, chilled or lightly warmed.
  14. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Parmesan Spoonbread Souffle

september 26, 2014

parmesan spoonbread soufflé

 

Spoonbread is the ultimate Southern comfort food.  Served hot from the oven with a generous dollop of soft butter, it satisfies.  Creamy and hot, and quite possibly made from locally milled cornmeal, spoonbread  can be made plain jane, with sweet milk or buttermilk, studded with kernels of fresh corn or with any number of variations like the pumpkin spoonbread currently on the fall menus of The Good Eats Company.

The word soufflé can strike fear in the heart of even the most dauntless chef or home cook. Failure to rise.  Lumpen appearance.  Gritty texture.  Their mercurial nature makes soufflés poor candidates for make-ahead prep; they must be served right away, and like all things that go up, they must come down, and sometimes before they are presented.

I don’t miss soufflés on restaurant menus because I never much cared for super fluffy foods that lack a certain heft – too airy for my taste.  But I do love a good spoonbread,  and retooling my favorite vintage recipe to resemble a towering soufflé, while bringing it down to earth with some freshly grated parmesan cheese, suited me (and my tasters) just fine.

Today’s spoonbread features not only colorful pastured eggs from Teal Brooks’ Pine Fork Farm, but also fragrant white cornmeal from historic Woodson’s Mill in nearby Nelson County, Virginia.

Woodson's Mill white cornmeal and pastured eggs from Pine Fork Farm in Quinton, Virginia

Woodson’s Mill white cornmeal and pastured eggs from Pine Fork Farm in Quinton, Virginia

Fine in texture and nutty in flavor, it makes the perfect cornbread (I use it to make the skillet cornbread for Little House Green Grocery’s Sunday Suppers) and heavenly spoonbread.  Since the late 18th century, the millstones of Woodson’s Mill have used water power from the Piney River to grind corn and other grains, providing sustainable, preservative-free products sold locally and beyond. This quick and easy bread (don’t be put off by the electric mixer) makes a great breakfast entree and would make a fine accompaniment to entrees like chicken with wild mushrooms and carrot and chorizo sausage with lentils and tomato.

Here is your weekend recipe for southern comfort, y’all. Enjoy!

parmesan spoonbread souffle

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes four servings                                                            parmesan spoonbread soufflé

ingredients

four eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 cups milk, preferably whole
1 cup white cornmeal
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons baking powder
directions

  1. Preheated oven to 350 degrees and butter four 10 ounce oven ready ramekins.
  2. In heavy two quart saucepan, bring milk to scalding (just to the boiling point) and gradually whisk in cornmeal to avoid lumps.
  3. Over low heat, whisk frequently and cook until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in butter, salt and sugar.
  5. Off heat, whisk in egg yolks.
  6. With electric mixer, beat egg whites just until peaks begin to form.
  7. Whisk parmesan cheese into cornmeal mix, then gently whisk in baking powder just until incorporated.
  8. With spatula, gently fold in about one third of the beaten egg whites, then gently add the rest until just combined – okay to see a few streaks of egg white.
  9. Working quickly, divide mixture between the ramekins and bake 20 minutes or until puffed and very lightly golden.
  10. Serve immediately with lots of good butter.

cook’s tips

  • eggs are easiest to separate while still chilled, but room temperature whites whip better
  • have all ingredients at room temp to avoid shocking or stiffening the cornmeal mixture
  • whip the egg whites just until they begin to hold peaks – overbeating gives a grainy texture
  • add part of the whites gently to lighten the cornmeal mixture, then gently add the rest, folding with a spatula and avoid whisking
  • baking powder, your leavening agent, is called double acting because it starts working when liquid is added, and when heat is applied; work quickly once baking powder is added to your recipe – letting mixtures sit on the counter will decrease rising power