Dinner Party: A Taste of Scotland

Scottish Highlands | Culinary Cousins

Food. TV. Scotland. Three of my favorite things.

Scotland’s been on my mind lately. Primarily because of my Outlander obsession, but also because of the upcoming independence referendum this week. It’s not my place to explain the issues or to take a side, but I do feel sad. England or Scotland — it’s like watching your parents fight. I love them both. I don’t really want them to separate, even if that might be what’s best and healthiest for everyone.

But back to Outlander. Are y’all watching this show? If not, drop what you’re doing (well, after you finish reading this) and get a Starz subscription, or at the very least run to a bookstore. The story is seriously, beautifully, wondrously epic. Continue reading

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole | CulinaryCousins.com

I know what you’re thinking…”her first post back in the blogging world and she chooses breakfast casserole? of all things??” Yes. It’s delicious, healthy, and only takes about five minutes to make. Who wouldn’t love that?

It’s summer and the LAST thing we want to do is slave away in the kitchen for hours on end…that’s best saved for those wretched winter months, when everything outside is grey and horribly dreadful. (I really hate winter, can ya tell? Summer is where it’s at.) I’m looking for quick 10-minute meals, using fresh ingredients, that are really satisfying. Breakfast casserole fits the mold. Continue reading

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Homemade Chocolate Syrup | Culinary Cousins I ate a brownie the other day, and I didn’t like it.

This is not a usual occurrence in my world. I was born with my family’s propensity for chocoholism, and I never turn down the opportunity to inhale it. But this was a luncheon brownie, at a catered workplace barbecue, wrapped in plastic and glistening with chocolate(or is it?)-y icing and, well, chemicals.

I don’t eat a lot of processed stuff — especially baked goods — so I think I’m attuned to the artificial when it appears. Ick. That’s a key reason that chocolate syrup in the brown, nostalgic bottle doesn’t permanently reside in my fridge, as it does in many others’. I like chocolate syrup, and everything it is used to create, but I can’t get over the fact that it’s really just gloppy corn syrup with some chocolate flavoring. Double ick. Continue reading

Winter Root Soup

Winter Root Soup at www.culinarycousins.com

The Polar Vortex, Part Deux, is still hanging around town. We’re not alone in that, I realize, but this time it brought us the dreaded S word … snow. I’m sure you saw how our “measly” two inches debilitated us.

{Let me go off on a tiny rampage for a second. This week I read some disturbing stuff on Facebook and around social media: those snow aficionados (see, I didn’t say Yankees) scoffing and making fun of us in our “snowpocalypse” crisis. It’s no laughing matter. Not to Atlanta. Nor Charleston. Definitely not to Charlotte. It snows here once every 2-3 years, and we have like four brine trucks to service 100 square miles on 12 hours notice. And our snow isn’t pretty and fluffy and magical and fun. It’s mostly pellets of ice on top of a layer of ice, and we don’t know how to drive on it. So, yes, I run home like every other smart southerner, by way of the grocery store with requisite bread and milk tucked under my arm, as soon as that first flake falls. I’d much rather be snuggled warm and safe in my house than waiting outside at the elevated subway on my way to work in a blizzard, as I did in my former life. It’s no badge of honor.}

So, anyway. It’s cold. And last Sunday, it was 60 degrees. I’m not sick (yet), but everyone around me seems to be. Continue reading

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (in the Crock Pot!)

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls at www.culinarycousins.com

I love grandma food.

That’s what I call comfort food that either was or could have been made by a grandmother.

In the South, it’s chicken and dumplings or cheese grits or mac and cheese or any number of homemade cakes and pies. But it’s also slow-cooked Italian Sunday “gravy” over pasta, roasted beef and chicken, pierogies. Those foods that grandmothers of all cultures made with love and fed us in childhood. Ones that don’t have a place in our everyday diets, or we think take too much effort, but warm our souls when we do eat them. Continue reading

Perfect Cheese Grits

Perfect Cheese Grits | Culinary Cousins

Hi, all. I don’t know what happened. The Culinary Cousins accidentally took a little hiatus. But we’re back. Hopefully for good!

Now, let’s talk grits. They’re such a polarizing food.

Some people — mostly southern people, I’d say — are obsessed with them. Other people — usually not southern people, probably — absolutely despise them. If you’re southern, or remotely had a southern relative anywhere in your family, I think they’re just in your blood. Continue reading

Ginger Soy Tuna

Are you a Sushi lover? I’m not. To be honest. I’ve tried and tried to like it, but something about it sort of grosses me out. Seaweed, no problem. Rice and Vegetables, great. Fish, love it,  as long as it’s COOKED. That’s where Sushi and I have our differences. (But, I do love any sort of Sushi roll that is only vegetables or tempura fried shrimp (who wouldn’t?). )

So, to better acquaint myself with raw tuna, I bought a gorgeous sashimi-grade (read: you can eat it raw, top quality, kept frozen always) block of tuna. This type of fish is best served medium rare or, heaven-forbid, raw (ewww).  I thought the best way to serve it would be to eat it with some sort of sweet-salty-tangy glaze. Fortunately, I was right on. It was phenomenal with the glaze. Loads of fresh ginger made it really tasty. I served it over a bed of mixed greens tossed with some of the glaze that I made into a vinaigrette.

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This is exactly what great quality tuna should look like, not grey or dark purple. Pink and fresh.

Continue reading

Candied Lemons

Candied Lemons at www.culinarycousins.com

My lemon cheesecake adventure continues. What’s a dessert without decoration?

To finish, the lemon cheesecake is topped with candied lemons. Once lemons are cooked — especially when doused in syrup — they are completely edible, rind and all. You just slice lemons thinly, cook them in a sugar syrup mixture and leave them to cool. The work is not hard but the results are pretty impressive. You can mound the lemons artfully in the center of the cheesecake, or you could lay them flat in a pattern on top, like a pretty food doily. Continue reading

Southern Chicken and Dumplings

Here it is. Some real, traditional, down-home southern food. From scratch, yet so easy that you can do it.

Chicken and Dumplings at www.culinarycousins.com

I wish I could claim that this is my great-grandmother’s legacy recipe for chicken and dumplings, but it’s not. I think I found it in some cookbook claiming it’s a copycat of the Cracker Barrel dish. But I’ll take it.

The stock part of this recipe has become my go-to for basic chicken stock, which I make as often as I can. The stuff in the box is great and easy, but there’s nothing like the taste of homemade stock. Continue reading

Strawberry-Rhubarb Custard Crumble

One of the best things about spring is seeing new fruits and vegetables appear in the grocery store. In April, strawberries go on sale, and a unique vegetable appears among the greens: rhubarb.

I’ve always been intrigued by rhubarb, but I’ve never cooked with it — and I never actually ate it until last year in London. On the run, I grabbed a cute little dessert at a convenience store: a rhubarb-apple custard crumble. Rhubarb/apple compote was covered with rich vanilla custard and a crunchy topping, and it was a total revelation. I think I ate one every day.

rhubarb crumble

As soon as I saw rhubarb in the grocery store this week, I wanted to see if I could recreate that traditional English dessert. Continue reading