B. Smith’s Swamp Thang with Deep Fried Julienne Vegetables

The Late Barbara Smith (1949-2020), was a famed fashion model and was the first African American woman to appear on the cover of Mademoiselle magazine. She went on to build an empire that included television shows, restaurants, her own furniture line (another first for an African American woman), and other lifestyle products from rugs to kitchenware. Called “one of the most formidable rivals of Martha Stewart” by The Wall Street Journal, Barbara Smith not only shattered glass ceilings, she also brought America a casual, elegant, easy style that is all her own. This recipe is from “B. Smith Cooks Southern-Style”, published in 2009. This cookbook focuses solely on the food – no table settings, no party plans – and gives readers more than 200 recipes and colourful tales from her incomparable career. Readers and home cooks alike will find a number of mouthwatering dishes based on Southern cuisine. One of her most popular dishes, The Swamp Thang ,was created at her Union Station restaurant in Washington D.C. The list of ingredients include shrimp, scallops, crawfish that are combined in a creamy light Dijon mustard sauce and napped over collard greens. The dish is finally dressed with deep fried julienne vegetables.
I would order this signature dish every time I visited her establishments in both D.C. and New York. And even though it always tasted slightly different every time I had it, I was never disappointed. The dish is Southern comfort food that has been elevated. The food always reflects the soul of the person who cooks it. And as a cook, I get the feeling that the dish was spontaneously created by whatever items were left in the pantry. It has a feel of a kitchen sink kind of recipe, which in my opinion are the best kind, because it leaves so much room for interpretation and the imagination of the cook. So as one who like to experiment, I added my own spin to the dish, by searing the scallops rather than adding them to the mustard sauce. It makes the dish all the more visually appealing.
Adapted from
“B. Smith Cooks Southern Style”
2009
Serves 6 to 8 Ingredients: For the Seafood Mustard Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided               
1 cup white onion, finely
1 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper                  
1/2 cup finely diced celery          
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound medium scallops 
1 cup white wine                      
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves        
1 bay leaf                                  
2 cups fish stock                        
1 tablespoon lemon juice              
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce           
1 cup heavy cream                     
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound crawfish tails, peeled
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Cooked Collard Greens,for serving
Deep-Fried Julienne Vegetables, for garnish (Recipe Follows)
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Directions: In a medium Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, until vegetables are soft and the onion is transparent. Add the wine, thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and return to a boil. Stir in the heavy cream, mustard and the Old Bay Seasoning. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the shrimp and crawfish tails. Cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and discard. For the Scallops: Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. In a separate skillet heat the 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Place the scallops in the skillet in a single layer, spaced about an inch apart. The first scallop should sizzle on contact. If it doesn’t, wait a few seconds to let the pan heat before adding the rest. Do not crowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Cook the scallops undisturbed for 2 minutes. If the scallop doesn’t release easily from the pan, let it cook for another few seconds until it does. Flip the scallops over. Cook the scallops on the second side undisturbed for 2 to 3 minutes more. Both sides of the scallop should be seared golden-brown and the sides should look opaque all the way through. The scallops should feel firm to the touch, but still slightly soft, like well-set Jell-O; do not overcook or the scallops become tough and chewy. To serve, place a helping of collard greens to the center of a plate. Nap the seafood mustard sauce over the collard greens. Garnish with the deep-fried julienne vegetables. To finish the dish, add the seared scallops and sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy this classic signature dish from B. Smith. For the Deep-Fried Julienne Vegetables: Ingredients:
1 cup 1/4-inch julienne zucchini            
1 cup 1/4-inch julienne yellow squash       
1 cup 1/4-inch julienne carrot              
1 cup 1/5-inch julienne sweet potato        
1 small julienne shallot
1 cup whole milk    
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Directions: Add the vegetables an milk to a 1 gallon resealable plastic bag. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200 o F. In a deep Dutch oven or caste iron skillet, add enough oil to reach a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium high heat to 350 o F. In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper. Using a colander, drain the vegetables and toss them into the seasoned flour. Transfer the vegetables to a large sieve and shake off the excess flour. Working batch, deep fry large handfuls of the vegetables in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a wire spyder or skimmer, or slotted spoon, remove the vegetable from the oil and drain on paper towels. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.
Photo Credit: Tangie Holifield, 2020
Photo Credit: Tangie Holifield, 2020
Cook’s Notes: Shrimp or even chicken broth will  work well in this recipe. If you cannot find fresh crawfish, you can substitute frozen crawfish tail, just make sure that you defrost them before using. Remove the side muscles from the scallops if needed. The side muscle is a little tag of muscle tissue on the side of the scallop that secures it to the shell and may still be on the scallops. It will feel a bit tough and its fibers run opposite the rest of the scallop. Just pinch it with your thumb and first finger and pull it away. If you miss one, don’t worry; they’re a little tough to chew, but are safe to eat. Cook the scallops as the last thing you do before serving dinner. Prepare everything else so that the scallops can be served immediately after cooking, while they are at their best.

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Veggie Fried Rice with Sunny-Side Up Eggs

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Staples like boil-in-bag rice can be a time-saving shortcut in this vegetarian version of a popular takeout stir-fry that’s topped off with eggs, a budget-friendly protein.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

One 14-ounce package boil-in-bag rice
2  tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large carrots
2 tablespoons vegetable, divided
1/2 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup green beans
1 rib celery, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
One 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
2 green onions, sliced
4 large eggs

Directions:

Prepare the rice according to package’s stovetop directions. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil.

In a wide pot, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high. Add garlic and carrots. Cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the stir-fry vegetables. Cook  2 to 3 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Pour rice from the bag into the skillet, along with soy sauce mixture. Cook 2 minutes stirring often. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and  cover to keep warm.

In a 12-inch nonstick  or cast iron skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of  oil on medium-high. Add the eggs and fry for 1 – 2 minutes, until whites are mostly set. Cover skillet and cook  for an additional 2 minutes or until yolks are at the desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place the eggs on top of fried rice.

Cook’s Notes:

If you cannot find all the vegetables at your local supermarket, feel free to substitute one 16-ounce  bag frozen Asian stir-fry blend in this recipe. Make sure that the frozen vegetables are thawed  and drained before cooking.

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Roasted Turkey Legs with Root Vegetable Mash

Roasted turkey leg recipe

Served up as a large dish to share, this edible mountain made up of turkey legs, pancetta and a root vegetable mash  will bring a sense of adventure to your dinner table. This imaginative recipe makes a delicious centrepiece for a Christmas dinner.

Recipe Adapted from
Lisa Goodwin-Allen

Great British Chefs

November 2019

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the Turkey Drumsticks:
3 turkey drumsticks,  1 1/2 pounds (800g) each
1 large onion, large dice
2 carrots, large dice
2 celery stalks, large dice
2 garlic cloves, bruised
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups (1000ml) chicken stock
2 1/3 cups (500ml)   apple juice
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground black pepper

For the Root Vegetable Mash:
3 large potatoes, peeled and large dice
4 carrots, peeled and large dice
2 parsnips, peeled and medium dice
2 1/2 tablespoons (30g) of butter
3/4 cups (150ml) of milk
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of ground black pepper

For Serving:
2-3 cauliflower florets
2 slices of pancetta or bacon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to  300º F (150˚C/Gas Mark 2).

For the turkey, place the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs in a deep roasting tray.

Combine the chicken stock and apple juice in a pan and bring to the boil.

Season the drumsticks with salt and pepper and place them on top of the vegetables and herbs and pour in the hot stock, ensuring half of the turkey drumsticks are submerged and the other half are exposed. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes.Remove from the oven, take off the foil and turn the drumsticks over. Return to the oven, uncovered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour – until the meat is cooked and tender and the exposed part of the turkey drumstick is nicely browned

Meanwhile, lay each slice of pancetta down on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place another piece of baking parchment on top, followed by a tray to press down – this will stay on top during the cooking to prevent the pancetta from curling while cooking. Place in the same oven as the turkey for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.

For the root vegetable mash, place the potatoes, carrots and parsnips in a saucepan and cover with cold water

Bring to a gentle boil and cook until tender, approximately 10-15 minutes. Drain in a colander and allow to steam for 5 minutes.

Return to the pan and place over a low heat, adding the butter, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Once combined, remove from the heat and mash as desired

By this time the turkey should almost be ready. Remove the pan from the oven and take the drumsticks out of the liquid and place on some kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture. Reserve the liquid.

To serve, spoon the mash across the center of a large dish or serving platter.

Using a pair of tongs, arrange the turkey drumsticks onto the mash with the small ends sticking up and meeting in the middle to form the peak of the mountain. Garnish with the crispy pancetta.

Using a fine grater or micro-plane, grate the cauliflower over the final dish to make ‘snow’ and serve with the braising liquid as gravy, on the side in a gravy boat.

 

 

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