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About the Author:
From the restaurateur and television personality Alex Hitz comes this cookbook of more than 175 all-time favorite Southern dishes. In My Beverly Hills Kitchen, Hitz blends the home cooking of his mother’s Atlanta kitchen with lessons he learned from some of the world’s great chefs and hosts to come up with classic, satisfying comfort food.
These step-by-step recipes are so clear that anyone can do them. Hitz shows you how to prepare a meal for two or twenty and that quality is achievable on any budget. He reimagines best-loved dishes and adds that little something extra to make them more delicious than you ever dreamed possible. The twelve chapters include such signature recipes as Sweet Potato Vichyssoise, Cold Pea Soup with Mint, Scrambled Eggs with Caviar, Dorothy’s Baked Cheddar Grits, Millionaire’s Macaroni and Cheese, Salmon Pot Pie, Perfect Roast Tenderloin of Beef, Dorothy’s Fried Chicken, Salted Caramel Cake, Apple Pear Crumble, and Molten Chocolate Cake with Bourbon Whipped Cream. There are also recipes and stories from Hitz’s famous friends who were known for their simple but fantastic food—Bill Blass’s Sour Cream Soufflé, Nan Kempner’s Bacon Sticks, Connie Wald’s Penne with Vodka Sauce, and Betsy Bloomingdale’s Peach Ice Cream.
Hitz suggests perfect menus for every season and will show you how to make every day a special occasion. He shares his secrets about entertaining, ingredients, and cookware that guarantee the best results and will make a difference as you become a great chef and host on your own.
Comfort food has never been this irresistible—or easy.
A graduate of Peter Kump’s Cooking School in New York and Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Alex Hitz was a partner of Mary Boyle Hataway at the renowned Atlanta restaurant The Patio by the River and now appears regularly on HSN with his own line of luxury prepared comfort food, The Beverly Hills Kitchen.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
My philosophy on hors d’oeuvres is simple: less is more. With apologies, I will continue to say this phrase throughout this book. These days, I find hors d’oeuvres just too complicated. They should set the stage for the main course to come, not try to usurp the role.
When I give dinners, I rarely serve more than one hors d’oeuvre, sometimes two, and never more than three. They’re always passed, small (generally one bite—which all hors d’oeuvres should be), and fairly simple. Hors d’oeuvres should whet one’s appetite for more. They’re small microcosms of flavor, a tiny burst of sensuality that is there, and then gone. Maybe you should have another, or maybe you should just wait until dinner.
Dorothy’s Cheese “Straws”
Which aren’t straws at all, but, actually, wafers
Anyone who has ever lived in the South knows what a cheese straw is: a savory, salty cocktail cookie shaped long-ways like a straw, made of sharp Cheddar cheese, butter, flour, and cayenne pepper, and always on hand for that Southern habit of dropping by. Seemingly every household has its own version, and great pride is taken in the exploitation of its subtleties.
Dorothy Davis, our beloved family cook, rarely used a recipe, but I had the foresight to write this one down. The secret to Dorothy’s cheese straws is that they featured dried dill and chopped pecans. These days, perfectly delicious cheese straws are easily purchased, but few are as delectable as Dorothy’s.
yield: 60 small wafers
1 pound extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups flour
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons dried dill
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, cream the butter and cheese together until they are light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.
Mix together the flour, cayenne pepper, salt, pecans, and dill in another bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients slowly. This whole process should take no more than a couple of minutes, and the dough will be coarse and dense.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and place it in the refrigerator for an hour. Take the bowl from the refrigerator and pour the dough onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 equal portions, and roll each portion with your hands to make 3 balls, making the balls into logs about 2 inches thick.
Be sure the dough is condensed so there are no air holes. Roll the logs in wax paper and put them in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the logs from the freezer and slice them into half-inch slices. Place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake them for approximately 10 minutes, until they are golden but not yet brown in color. Let them cool at least 15 minutes and either freeze them or serve them.
Note: These will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
My Cheese “Straws” (Parmesan Tuiles)
Note: These aren’t straws either?.?.?.
With no disrespect to Dorothy, my “straws” are easier, quicker, and infinitely lighter. Try both and make your own decision: there’s no way to go wrong with either one. Please note this recipe calls for shredded Parmesan, not grated. Shredded Parmesan, when it melts, will make a sturdier “straw.” I pass these little gems around with Champagne, put them in small silver bowls on the bar, or serve them with any hot or cold soup.
yield: 16 medium-size tuiles
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place a small (1 1⁄2-inch; I prefer small, but you decide how large you like them) biscuit cutter on the parchment and drop 1 tablespoon of shredded Parmesan into the circle. Repeat, spacing the piles about 1 1⁄2 inches apart.
Bake the tuiles for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the tuiles are beginning to become golden. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, while the tuiles are still hot, grind some black pepper over the tops. Remove the tuiles from the baking sheet with a spatula and either serve them or store them in an airtight container or freeze them to serve later. They will keep at least a week, but I bet they will disappear the day that you cook them.
I pride myself on being a fairly disciplined person but have an embarrassing weakness for these incredible cheese puffs. I simply cannot stop eating them. Gougères are a staple in France, hailing from Burgundy, with a similar omnipresence as the cheese straw in the South. Their flaky lightness, breathless beauty, and craggy complexity suggest that a super-skilled pastry chef has prepared them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are essentially fool-proof, and exponentially worth the minimal effort they require. They can be served hot or cold, and are just as good when done ahead and reheated. Once you master this version, get creative, and substitute other cheeses for the Gruyère, or throw in some bacon, or sautéed onions, or any herbs you choose, and we’ll see just how disciplined you are!
yield: 80–100 puffs, depending on the size
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1⁄2 cup water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 1⁄2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (or 3⁄4 cup grated Gruyère and 3⁄4 cup crumbled Roquefort), firmly packed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, firmly packed
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, water, butter, and salt to a rolling boil. Add the flour all at once, and begin stirring quickly. Keep stirring until the dough begins to come together and pull away from the sides of the pan. This whole process should take no more than a minute or a minute and a half. Remove the pan from the heat and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, spoon the dough into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat it on medium speed, adding the eggs, one at a time. If the dough separates, don’t fret! It will come back together. After adding all the eggs, increase the mixer speed to high and beat in the cheeses, mustard, and cayenne pepper for about 3 minutes. The dough should be shiny and sticky—gorgeous!
Using a measuring spoon, scoop the dough in 1-teaspoon increments onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, each mound approximately 2 inches apart.
Turn the oven down to 375°F. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the gougères for 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake them for another 4 to 6 minutes, until their tops are golden brown.
Remove them from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before serving, or let them cool completely and freeze them. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. Reheat them, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes at 350°F and serve them warm.
Mushrooms Stuffed with Blue Cheese
These are easy, quick, and gorgeous. You can substitute hollowed-out cherry tomatoes for the mushrooms, if you’d like.
yield: 12 to 14 bite-size hors d’oeuvres
12 to 14 whole medium mushrooms, stemmed
4 ounces blue cheese (Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton)
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
12 to 14 roasted whole pecans
Wipe the mushrooms with a cloth dipped in acidulated water (1 1⁄2 teaspoons lemon juice or white vinegar to 2 cups water) to remove the grit. Do not rinse or wash the mushrooms in water as they will get soggy, bruise, and generally not hold up well when stuffed.
In a small mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, Cream the blue and cream cheeses together with the half-and-half and lemon juice.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the cheese stuffing mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the mixture into the mushroom tops, neatly and in a pretty pattern.
Place a whole roasted pecan on top, and serve.
Mushrooms Stuffed with Mushroom Duxelles
This warm hors d’oeuvre is slightly more challenging than the previous cold one, but not enough to dissuade you from trying it. It is also excellent for stuffing chicken breasts, beef tenderloins, or roasted quails. You can also substitute it for the Gruyère in the Gougères (page 161). Don’t be afraid to use it in just about anything else that could benefit from a rich, savory stuffing.
yield: 24 hors d’oeuvres
24 medium mushrooms
6 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1⁄2 pound medium mushrooms, minced
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup minced green onions (both white and green parts)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. When the foam has subsided, add the minced mushrooms and stir.
The mushrooms will release a fair amount of water as they are cooking. When all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are very soft, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of the butter, the brandy, cream, and onions. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until all the ...
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