bungalow to go: mac ‘n cheese ‘n collards

Mac and Cheese 6This week’s Bungalow To Go at Ocmulgee Traders is TOTALLY not Whole30 (see previous post for details), but lucky for me, I made it last week and enjoyed all the cheese and pasta I could.

While this dish is easily recognizable as one of the most popular comfort foods around, it also featured a local beauty: collard greens from Babe and Sage Farm. Collards are high in nutritional value, giving some much-needed vitamins and minerals to this decadent dish. Don’t worry, though: you’ve still got plenty of gruyere and white cheddar to satisfy your cheesy, ooey gooey needs.

I’m so proud of this dish, and I hope you’ll try it yourself by picking up the recipe card and ingredient box at Ocmulgee Traders this week.

Mac ‘n Cheese ‘n Collards
Serves 4, generously

8 oz. collard greens (Babe and Sage Farm)
1 stem of green garlic (Babe and Sage Farm)
8 oz. sharp cheddar
4 oz. gruyere
2.5 cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. butter
3 pieces of bread (rolls or slices)
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

What You Need at Home:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
box grater
1 medium pot
1 small pan
1 large, deep pan
8×8 baking dish
1 knife

STEP 1: Assemble Ingredients
Read over each step to familiarize yourself with the process of the meal. Heat oven to 375 F. Fill the medium pot with water halfway and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and the macaroni, cook for five minutes (to al dente), then drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

STEP 2: Shred the Cheese
Using a box grater, shred the blocks of cheese on the large shred side.

STEP 3: Prep and Cook the Garlic and Greens
Cut the stem and bottom off the garlic, peel it, then mince it. Slice each collard leaf into 1/2 inch ribbons, removing the stems as you slice. Heat olive oil, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper over medium-high heat in a small pan. After about 1 minute, add the collard ribbons in batches, about 1/4 at a time, tossing with tongs. Once the last batch is added, toss for about 1 more minute, then remove from the heat and set aside. Collards should be slightly wilted, but should still retain some structure.

STEP 4: Prep Breadcrumbs
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a small bowl in the microwave (about 40 seconds on high). Using your hands, tear the bread into small pieces, then mix with the butter, adding 1/4 tsp. salt, until all of the butter is absorbed in the bread.

STEP 5: Create the Sauce, Assemble the Dish, and Bake
In the medium pot you used for the macaroni, add the milk and heat over medium heat. Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in the large pan at medium heat. When it begins to bubble, slowly whisk in the flour; this creates the roux for the sauce. When the flour and butter are combined into a paste, slowly whisk in the warmed milk, taking care that the roux gets absorbed into the milk. Keep whisking until the thickened liquid begins to bubble slightly, then add in the nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk, then add in the macaroni and sauteed greens. Whisk until fully combined, then pour contents into the 8×8 baking dish. Top evenly with the buttered breadcrumbs, then bake for 20 minutes.

STEP 6: Cool and Serve
When the dish has baked for 20 minutes, the edges should bubble and the breadcrumbs should turn golden brown. Take the dish out of the oven and let rest on the counter for about 5 minutes. This dish serves 4-6 comfortably as a main dish, so dip up as much as you like and keep the rest for lunch tomorrow.

tasty tuesday: steak and scallops, collards, bourbon dijon cream sauce

2014-11-18 19.42.18

Man, it has been a long time since I have graced these pages. Way too long, which is why I had to bring something special this time. Part of my being so sparse has been due to being alarmingly busy, and this night was no different. Attending meetings after work, however short, can put a hamper on a meal’s preparation, so I had to pick foods that didn’t require a lot of effort to bring together in a big way. So, a simple surf and turf is what you get… a sear here, an sear there, and a tasty dish anywhere!

The real star of this dish may well have been the sauce, which is the only thing here that involved more steps than seasoning and searing. The steak received nothing more than salt and pepper on all sides before being seared over high heat with some butter, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare on the tenderloin cuts. The scallops only got salt, pepper and paprika before being seared over medium high heat in olive oil, about 2 minutes per side. The collards were gut into strips and sautéed over medium low in nothing but salt and olive oil. All very quick, very easy, and very pretty.

The sauce was only slightly more complex.

Bourbon Dijon Creme Sauce

1/2 cup bourbon
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating a deep saucepan over medium high heat. Heat at least 10 minutes (gas) before melting the butter in the pan. Slowly pour in the bourbon, which will catch on fire! Let the flame die and cook the bourbon for about 2 minutes before stirring in the dijon and garlic. Pour in the cream until it simmers and reduce heat. Whisk occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Sauce should be relatively thick.

As you build your plate, put a little bit of sauce beneath the collards then atop the steak and scallops. This will being the dish together well and provide a little more sauce which is sure to be a hit!

This dish was super delicious and easy. Don’t be afraid to try at home!

wild card wednesday: brown butter catfish with stir-fried collards



“The Mississippi Delta is shining like a national guitar,” a line from Paul Simon’s “Graceland” from the album of the same name is a great analogy for the food of the region. Among the many dividing line’s the nation has, the Mississippi River is peculiar in that it is permanent and literal, and that it also leads to the truth that we are one great melting pot. The delta is a place that calls us all out on our iniquities while also pointing to the fact that we, from our founding, have been a nation of self-reliance (and perhaps cosmic irony). Tonight’s meal is a tribute to the forgotten, the cast-offs, and the offal that shows that even in the dredges there is beauty. I have learned so much about this region and its culture through this challenge and carry a much fuller respect for Southern Foodways because of it.

Catfish is a bottom feeder, collards were considered an inferior to turnips and designated for servants, and hominy hardly has an identity of its own. The people of the delta–this wonderful, multi-cultural area– made these foods delicacies that are now regularly finding their way to the menus of America’s greatest chefs. This meal is an ode to all the cultures that make this region special (I learned in researching the area that several Asian-Americans settled in the region after the California gold rush ended and added immediately made collards part of their cuisine to replace bok choy and other cabbages common in Asia).

In other words, America might have learned to farm in the mid-atlantic, to hunt in the wilderness, and to fight in colonies, but the delta is where America learned to cook. This meal is an ode to those who found a way to make plates from scraps and build society around compost.

It was also delicious.

Brown Butter Catfish

1 stick butter
8 Filets catfish
2 cups water
1/4 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
30ish whole peppercorns
Pinch salt

To begin, melt the butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Allow the butter to froth and then calm down. When brown flecks begin to appear, swirl the pan. Keep cooking for about 7-8 minutes until the butter is mostly brown. Heat another minute and pour into a container away from heat.

Add the water, wine, garlic, pepper, salt, and bay leave to a deep frying pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Uncover and raise the heat to being the liquid back to a boil. Cut the temp to medium low/simmer and place the filets into the liquid. Poach for about five minutes.

Turn broiler on. Place the catfish filets on a foil lined broiling pan. Pour enough browned butter on each filet to cover. Broil 4-5 minutes until the butter is bubbling. Remove and serve immediately, with lemon if you choose.

Velvety smooth.

Velvety smooth.

Stir fried collards

1 lb (bunch) collards
3 strips sliced country ham, chunked
1 can golden hominy
1 tbsp bacon fat
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce

Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil and prep an ice bath. Chop the collards into 2-inch squares. Blanch the collards in the boiling water for about and minute. Remove and dunk in the ice-bath. Lay a double-layer of paper towels on the counter and place the collards on the. Cover with an additional layer of paper towels to dry.

In a deep pan at medium high heat, saute the ham and hominy together in the bacon fat for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper and saute about 3 minutes. Add the canola oil and then the collards. Stir in the fish sauce for 2 minutes and reduce heat and continue to cook about 5 minutes.

Corn and Pork, the South in food.

Corn and Pork, the South in food.


Plate with the collard mix in a dish and top with fish. Enjoy. Keep bounding into Graceland.

tasty tuesday: shrimp piccata with collard noodles with country ham and turnips

Shrimp, shrimp of the south.

Shrimp, shrimp of the south.

Circumstance forced ole JAM into the tuesday duty again this week and also left me with a short amount of time to pull a meal together. After a weekend that featured ribs and chicken and sweets and stew and carbs on carbs, I thought it was time for a quick, fiber-filled light supper. My mind went back to a meal I knew a few weeks before at Dovetail— a collard “noodle” dish that really satisfied. For protein, I wanted to go away from something on the buttery side and, well, shrimp are a top five food. So, after a few ideas came together and quick whirl around the store, I came up with this meal that can done in no more than 10 mins cook time and only about 15 mins prep for two people. It was a risk, sure, but the flavors meshed really well and the “noodles” worked great.

Shrimp Piccata

1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
Zest of 2 lemons, Juice of 1 1/2
3 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp capers
2 glugs of white wine <– Technical term

Start by shelling shrimp and setting aside. Combine the onion, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, and oil in a bowl and whisk. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes to meld. Use this time to prep the collards (below).

Heat a pan over medium high heat and pour in your sauce mixture. Stir for a couple minutes until onions soften. Add capers and stir. Add the shrimp and cover in the sauce and pour in the white wine. Stir again lower heat. Keep stirring until shrimp are just cooked through. Serve atop collards.

Collard Noodles

1 1/2 bunch collards
6oz of country ham strips, cut into bite size morsels
1 small turnip, chopped
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar

Cut the collards like so:

Linguine? Fettuccine?

Linguine? Fettuccine?

It is best, if the greens will lay flat to cut with towards the stem, using just the tip of the knife. One fluid motion will cut clean through and make the process quick and easy. It really needs to go one at a time, as the leaves are all different sizes.

Heat a deep pan over medium. Toss in the ham until it sweats and add the turnips. Coat with oil and heat until the turnips begin to soften. Add the collards and stir until coated in grease. Add the vinegar, stir, and lower heat. Be sure to keep stirring to keep green color throughout. The greens should cook about 6 minutes before heat is killed.

Plate in bowl and top with pepper, and a squeeze of lemon if you desire.

Be sure to get some ham, shrimp, and collards in a nice twirled bite. So delicious! Such nice, quick, Southern meal. I highly recommend.

meatless monday: “birdless nest” with crispy rice, braised collards with a garlic soy vinegar sauce, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, fried egg

So much flavor.

So much flavor.

So, I was in Athens on Saturday. I checked instagram and saw that Hugh was in town at Five and Ten. We didn’t get reservations and didn’t get to go, but my mind went back to a delicious brunch I enjoyed at ESS on the day after my birthday. His “Farm Egg” with a fried egg, crispy rice, greens, and pork belly. It was delicious and I thought I would pay homage to one of my favorite people to internet stalk.

Of course, I couldn’t do pork belly to flavor and add extra protein to the dish so I had to make some moves of my own. I took the the flavors of Asia with fantastic results.

I started this meal with cooking the rice, which this time was part brown basmati and part long grain white with a little quinoa. Cooking the normal way first (boiling water, adding the rice, bringing back to boil, simmering until the water is gone (about 15 minutes)) and then frying it in canola oil to make it crispy. After boiling, remove the rice from the pan and stir to allow it cool. Heat a pan with enough oil to cover the rice over medium heat. Add the rice in spoonfuls and even out. DO NOT STIR. Allow to fry until the popping slows. Remove from the oil and drain. It’s that easy!

While the rice is boiling, its time to cook your collards. You’ll need:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Red Pepper Flake
Salt and Pepper

Clean the collards and pull until the pieces are about bite sized. Heat a pan with the olive oil and add the shallot and garlic until both have color. Add the collards and allow to saute until they wilt. Add the liquids and spices and stir. Allow the liquids to boil and cover for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the 10 minute mark, your rice should be ready to rest and you can then get your mushrooms ready. Cut the shiitakes into strips and add directly into the collards and stir. Keep the braise going for a couple of minutes and then add 1/4 cup of cashews to the pan and stir. Keep simmering for five minutes.

While the rice is frying and the collards, shrooms, and cashews are simmering, fry your eggs. In a non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp butter PER EGG over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble slowly crack the egg into the pan and let it set. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow to slowly cook through, covering shortly to lightly cook the top.

Assemble the dish with rice on the bottom, collard mix, and then the pretty egg.

Feel free to make the collards and mushrooms however you like, but the soy and vinegar really work well. Shiitakes are your best bet for that route because they will compliment the dish and complement the soy. Add meat if you must, but it doesn’t need it!

Happy Monday!