Thursday, August 5, 2021

On Cooking Southern: Hooray, Time to Kick Off Another Tailgating Season

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SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK
Like white on rice: Expression of undetermined but much speculated-upon American Southern origin, where rice has been grown for 400 years … implies one is on top of an activity (inextricably close and can’t be pried apart). Think Lucy and Ricky or Southerners and football.


Are we ready for some football?

Well, wait no longer. It’s the first weekend in September. That means it’s Labor Day weekend – the annual holiday excuse for end-of-summer bashes. More importantly, it’s kick-off time for regular season football, the date all Southerners have anticipated since last February.

Here in Oxford, the air is abuzz with more than gnats and mosquitoes as thousands of Grovers pile into a town already bursting at the seams from expanded freshman enrollment. Our highly competitive SEC tailgate crowd is preparing to top past years’ efforts.

We take our open-air partying seriously in this town.

Experienced residents know that during football season, all shopping and errands must be completed by Wednesday in order to avoid the Atlanta-esque traffic jams and post-Katrina-ish supply shortages.

The Old Bride has found it useful during past football seasons to maintain an emergency stockpile of processed cheese, wine, powdered and canned milk, and a freezer full of bread, garden veggies and frozen egg substitutes.

My advice to Grove novices: Get your groceries before hitting the city limits. The local stores look like Pharoah’s Egypt after Moses’ locusts stripped the fields.

Be mindful of the new Grove rules prohibiting sneaky space saving on Fridays. And be sure to put on your happy faces before hitting The Grove on Saturdays. The gastronomic displays under red, blue and white tents will dazzle the senses. You’ll find that most Old-School Grovers are eager to share their hospitality with smiling newcomers.

TIP OF THE DAY: For games with early kickoffs, remember, it’s Mimosas BEFORE, and Bourbon AFTER …


BAR NONE YOU’LL LOVE THESE TAILGATING TREATS

It’s still too hot for Grove-ing with marinated shrimp and endless trays of deviled eggs. So this week, we’re focusing on sweet treats that provide a nice balance for finger sandwiches, salty munchies and dips.

Make up these recipes ahead and freeze until ready to use. Take them to The Grove still frozen, and they’ll be perfect when it’s time to eat.

LAYERED ALMOND BARS

creamcheesealmondbars-DSCN1217

1 c (2 sticks) salted butter

2 c all-purpose flour

7 T confectioners sugar

8 oz cream cheese

4 large eggs

2 c white granulated sugar

2 tsp almond extract

3.5 oz pkg of honey-almond slices (or almond slices)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Use a pastry blender (or forks or knives) to blend the butter, first flour and first powdered sugar until crumbly. Loosely pat into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes until puffed but not brown. Cool.

Make filling by mixing cream cheese, eggs, granulated sugar, second flour (2 T) and almond extract. Pour filling over hot crust. Crush the sliced almonds (I use a rolling pin) and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to rack.

Cool completely, and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours before cutting into 20-24 bars. Keep refrigerated or on ice (if not frozen) until serving.

LAYERED LEMON BARS

This is based on the same recipe used in the almond bars above. It makes for a creamier and less tart version of the popular lemon square.

lemonbars-DSCN1384

1 c (2 sticks) salted butter

2 c all-purpose flour

7 T confectioners sugar

8 oz cream cheese

4 large eggs

2 c white granulated sugar

2 T fresh lemon juice (or 2 tsp lemon extract)

Zest of 2 lemons

2 T all purpose flour

1 c confectioners sugar

2 T lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Use a pastry blender (or forks or knives) to blend the butter, first flour and first powdered sugar until crumbly. Loosely pat into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake 20 minutes until puffed but not brown. Cool.

Make filling by mixing cream cheese, eggs, granulated sugar, second flour (2 T) and 2 T lemon juice (or 2 tsp lemon extract). Pour filling over hot crust. Bake at 350˚F for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While bars are baking, make up sugar glaze by combining second powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Smooth glaze over baked bars while pan is still hot. Cool completely. Chill, covered for at least 2 hours before cutting into 20-24 bars. Keep refrigerated until serving.

CHOCOLATE COLA CAKE SQUARES
This classic recipe relies on everybody’s favorite original cola beverage – Coke, RC or Pepsi, depending on where we’re from – and the amazing chemistry that occurs between the carbonation in the drink, the cola, the cocoa powder, the baking soda and the buttermilk. It’s a downright fizzy party in a pan. This cake never falls; I’ve even made it successfully in those throw-away aluminum pans which require readjustment of the partially baked batter after the pan warps.

Cola Cake
Cola Cake

Cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup classic cola (not diet)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup whole cultured buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa and cola and heat on medium, stirring with wooden spoon until it reaches a rolling boil.

Remove from heat and vigorously whisk or stir in flour, sugar and baking soda until blended. Stir in buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and marshmallows, stirring about two minutes, until marshmallows begin to melt.

Pour into greased 13-by-9-inch pan. The marshmallows will float to top of the batter, so disperse them evenly in the pan. Bake on middle rack for 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick stuck in center comes out clean. While cake is baking, make icing (see below).

Remove from oven and spread cola icing evenly across top. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing into 20-24 bars with sharp knife. To prevent cake and frosting from tearing along cut edges, dip knife into water and wipe clean between cuts. (NOTE: If baking in a throw-away aluminum pan, place the pan on a baking sheet in the oven and expect the bake time to be slightly faster.)

Cola Cake pictured with Lemon Bars
Cola Cake pictured with Lemon Bars

Chocolate Cola Icing:

6 T classic cola (not diet)

3 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 c (1 stick) butter

4 c confectioners’ sugar

1 c chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

1 tsp vanilla extract

While cake is baking, combine the cola, cocoa and butter in medium saucepan and heat on medium, stirring until blended. Keep stirring until mixture reaches rolling boil. Remove from heat and stir in confectioners sugar, vanilla and chopped nuts, or reserve the nuts and sprinkle over top once cake has been frosted. Frost top of cake while icing and cake are still hot.


Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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