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Habanero Peach Sorbet

I have a lot of other things to discuss with you today so I thought I’d get business out of the way first.  You remember my habanero dilemma, yes?  Not much has changed in that department.  Actually, if anything, I have more habaneros than ever.  They just keep on coming and the more I use the more flowers those damn plants put out.  Dear Nature, this is why people turn against you.  I’ve put up a batch of peach habanero jam, habanero simple syrup, spicy pickled red onions, I’ve froze and roasted them, I’ve given a bunch away, and I made this sorbet.  This sorbet, which is singlehandedly the weirdest thing I’ve ever created.  At first, it’s all sweet and refreshing.  And then, after you swallow it gets SPICY and there is that signature habanero low and slow burn.  Delicious, yet completely disarming.  If you like taste anomalies or have a lot of habaneros to use up, I suggest you try it.

The next order of business is a personal dilemma.  As you may recall, just over three months ago we moved from Takoma Park to Baltimore.  Our apartment in Takoma Park, while small, irregularly temperatured, and leaky, had one thing going for it- the kitchen.  The kitchen was beautiful and drool worthy and had completely amazing light.  I was able to take photos with ample natural light, which gave my subjects dimension and beauty.  As long as I was cooking when the sun was up I needed nothing but an unblocked window to get beautiful photos.  Oh, how I took that for granted.  And our new apartment (despite its incredible yard) has a kitchen whose giant window looks into an alley.  A dark alley with no direct sunlight.

At first I thought it would be alright.  The lights in the kitchen are pretty white, so I figured it would be possible to take decent photos.  And compared to the dozens (upon dozens) of other crappy apartment kitchens we saw, this one looked pretty great with its dishwasher and cabinet space.  I have discovered, however, that I am flailing.  The photos I’ve been taking the past few months, either here or over at iVillage, have been flat, slightly off colored, and unappealing.  They lack that beautiful allure that natural light provides, the light that makes you want to snatch that pie right off of the windowsill.  So I’m here today asking for your advice.  Now, keep in mind, money is a little tight.  I definitely don’t have the means to buy a lot of crazy new equipment.  I recognize that something has got to give, so any suggestions you might have for my particular problems.  Not necessarily a quick fix because I’m dedicated to changing the situation, but a better solution than me carrying pans outside into the back yard to photograph them as I cook.  Because that’s my next step.

Now, in other (happier) news, I have a very exciting something to announce.  Now, if you’re around on twitter or facespace you’ll have seen this or heard wind of it, but on Friday my mother and I were photographed for the May 2011 issue of Southern Living Magazine.  I KNOW, RIGHT?  It’s been pretty crazy exciting on this end.  This all came about almost a year ago when the lovely Marian Cooper Cairns reached out to me to see if I was interested in being involved with Southern Living.  It evolved from there through many stages of me telling myself not to be too optimistic and on Thursday Marian (the food stylist/writer), Alison (the stylist), and Jennifer (the photographer) arrived in Baltimore.  We went out for an awesome dinner on Thursday night at The Brewer’s Art and on Friday the shoot went down.  (Thanks to Megan for taking the photos).

We shot at Cylburn Arboretum, a gorgeous park just north of us.  And despite on and off rain all day we were able to take a few hours worth of photos.  The photo taking itself was pretty crazy, lots of posing and doing the same gestures again and again so that they could get exactly what they had in mind.  It was really interesting to watch them work, and really enlightening to see Marian’s vision come to life.  Mom and I both had fun and if Megan’s photos are any indication of what Jennifer’s will look like, it is going to be amazing.  Now we just have to sit back, relax, and cross our fingers that it gets published!

Habanero Peach Sorbet

4 peaches

2 habaneros

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Juice of 1 lemon

Slice your peaches into 1/2″ wide slices, skin on.  Cut small slits into each side of your habaneros.  Be very careful with your hands after handling the peppers.  Bring sugar and water to boil.  Add peaches, habanero, and lemon juice.  Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool to room temperature.

When your mixture is cool, fish out your habaneros and process the rest of the mixture in an ice cream maker.

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Habanero Grouper

Approximately two years ago, Dan and I planted a jalapeño plant and a habanero plant.  They grew, and they grew, and then they flowered… but our apartment didn’t get enough light (or heat) for them to bear fruit.  So they sat, for years, just barely hanging on.  Until we moved into this great apartment that has a yard! and full sun! and they got huge and started throwing dark green leaves out and finally, after so much waiting, came the flowers.  And slowly the flowers dropped and left behind tiny little peppers.  We were so excited.  We danced, we counted future peppers, and I started roasting and pickling peppers in my mind.

First the habanero put out a pepper.  More excitement.  More staring at it creepily as it grew.  Some concern about what we were actually going to do with a habanero.  Then came the jalapeño.  I started picturing future salsas.  Oh, the huevos rancheros.  But then something happened.  The jalapeño stopped getting longer.  Instead, it got fatter.  It looked, weirdly, just like the habanero.  Do you know where this is going?  You must.  You’re thinking duh! it’s not a jalapeño, dummies! you planted TWO habaneros!

We did.  Without realizing it, we harbored two habanero plants for years, the whole time dreaming about our wonderful jalapeños.  Because while I can handle a jalepeño, habaneros are the kind of vegetable that make me step back.  Blink.  Wonder what the hell I am going to do with a pepper that makes a grown man cry.  And not just one, but dozens.  You know what plants that haven’t been able to successfully reproduce for two years do?  THEY GO BUCK WILD.  We are swimming in habaneros, and I am having a nervous breakdown.

Thankfully, I have figured out a few things to do with habaneros.  First, I took a bunch down to my father’s house and then left under the cover of darkness.  Secondly, in a method more relevant to this food blog, I used them to create an underlying spice profile within a sauce.  My brilliant husband suggested that I pierce the habanero and let it simmer in a sauce, so that it might lend its flavor (ie heat), but not overwhelm anyone’s senses.  And it was such a hit.  I simmered a habanero in this brown butter brown sugar sauce for about an hour and the result was a dish that had afternotes of spice, and a low, consistent heat.  It was tasty and I was, thankfully, one habanero down.

In other news, this past weekend was the final weekend of performances for the water ballet I mentioned.  The ballet, Jason and the Aquanauts: 20,000 Legs Over the Sea was based on the movie of a slightly different name.  My scene, in which the hero Jason battles a skeleton army, was clearly the best.  I’ve included, as proof, the video of our scene and my makeup for the shows.  Terrifyingly awesome, I know.

Jason & the Aquanauts: Skeleton Scene from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

Habanero Grouper

1 habanero

1 stick of butter

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 grouper filet

Salt & pepper

Put a large skillet over medium low heat.  Melt butter.  Stir in brown sugar.  Pierce whole habanero with a fork.  Place the fork in the butter mixture.  Allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Pat your grouper dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a broiling pan.  Drizzle with butter mixture.  Broil on high 10 minutes.

Serve over rice, topped with butter sauce.

UPDATE: THEY’RE GETTING BIGGER BY THE MINUTE!

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Bacon Blue Cheese Burgers

Tonight Dan and I returned from a few day trip to Morehead City, North Carolina.  You may be familiar with Morehead from such post as this, this, this, or this.  It was a great weekend filled with diving, eating, family, and friends.  Also, we saw a giant shark and I got stung by a jellyfish in a reenactment of that scene in The Sphere.  I’m pretty exhausted so instead of giving you the full run down and ending with a comment about how delicious burgers are when you mix in bacon and blue cheese, I’m going to give you a photo montage of the recipe, and some highlights from the trip.  It was fun.

On the first day Dan and I spent a lot of time watching low tide, and then we discovered that we could manipulate the movements of the minnows and the hermit crabs and the real crabs with our shadows.  We were wildly entertained.

Our first day of diving was on a boat called the Indra.  We saw a giant shark, got caught in a bait ball, and made a free ascent, which was not exactly what we were going for.  Still, we had fun.  And then we got pizza.

This place is so beautiful, how could you *not* be happy here?

The second day, we went on two dives.  The first was on the Ario, the vessel everyone used to think was the Hutton.  The Hutton is actually what everyone calls the Papoose.  They think.  Did I mention we dive on shipwrecks?  Either way, we saw two more huge sharks (pictured below) that while smaller than the shark we saw on the Indra, were still impressive.

Giant, right?

Check out the teeth!

We also saw some starfish, they were wonderful.  And isn’t Dan dreamy?  This was before I got stung by a jellyfish.  That was on our second dive of the day, which was on a tugboat called the Titan.  That was a great dive because the boat is intact and fun to swim through.  Also, there were juvenile sharks on the bow that were kind of hilarious.

That night we made these burgers, which were delicious, and tried hard not to talk politics.  Later we went to Dairy Queen to get blizzards.  This post is not sponsored by Dairy Queen.

The next day it was super rough so we cancelled the diving portion of the day and instead took a family trip to Shackleford Banks.  There was anchor line volleyball, synchronized swimming, and back flips.  I got sunburnt.

This is what it looks like when a white dog tries to stalk a hamburger.  Unsuccessfully.

That night we made grouper (recipe to come) and went out for ice cream.  Because it is vacation.  Now we’re home, back to real life (sad), and our very comfortable bed (happy).  Thanks for putting up with this photo montage instead of a real post.  I’m off to catch up on Warehouse 13.

Bacon Blue Cheese Burgers

1 lb hamburger meat

1/2 cup blue cheese (crumbled)

6 slices of bacon (cooked and crumbled)

3 tbsp steak sauce

S&p

Mix together hamburger meat, cheese, (cooked and crumbled) bacon, steak sauce, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a large bowl.

Heat your grill.  For handfuls of meat into balls, and then use your hands to squish them into patties.  Cook on the grill 5-7 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 5-7.

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