Last week, I turned a whopping forty four years of age. This would be the year I would finally break down and get glasses. My eyes have apparently joined a union and have been on strike for the last two years. I thought I could wait them out as I don't believe in unions but wouldn't you know it...I can't see a damn thing.
During some happy birthday wishes from friends, Leigh Vickery, who is currently the food editor for the Tyler Paper, inquired as to what my birthday menu might be. Well, Mrs. Vickery, I'm so glad you asked.
For starters, I placed my big black pot on a hot creole fire from Louisiana. This is a dish I've been preparing for the last twenty years. I used to make it in college when we had more time to sit around and drink beer. Remember that? That thing we called time?
This is one of my favorites but be prepared to cook on it for a while. It's about a 6 to 8 beer marathon.
Baked Creole Red Snapper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 16-oz can whole tomatoes, chopped with liquid
2 medium bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 Tbs of sugar
red pepper to taste
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
3 medium whole Red Snappers
1 sliced lemon and juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
Saute onion and celery in oil in large skillet. Add tomato paste, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper and sugar. If sauce is too thick, add water a little at a time. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Rinse and dry fish. Salt and pepper inside and out. Pour cooled tomato mixture over fish in a Dutch oven. Add Worcestershire, lemon juice, lemon slices and parsley. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
This is to be served over wild rice.
Next on the block, we'll head up to Highland Park where Pam Kernie's spinach salad
made the birthday cut. Every time we've ever made this salad, someone will inquire
as to the recipe. The secret is in the sugar and bacon. Two things that always work out well together.
Pam Kernie's Spinach Salad
First, fry up an entire package of bacon. You can do half a pack if you want but we're talking about bacon here. Why would you want less bacon?
Chop up bacon and set aside.
Dressing is as follows:
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 medium onion chopped fine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
Place these ingredients in a blender and let her rip.
Serve over fresh spinach and sprinkle bacon and goat cheese on top.
Last but not least would be the cake and it hails from Tyler, Texas. My father's best friend was a guy by the name of Charlie Dickerson. Charlie was married to Linda Dickerson and this was her recipe. It is my favorite cake and if you're a coffee drinker, it's sure to be yours as well.
Linda Dickerson's Mocha Spice Cake
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda, and salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
6 Tbs butter, softened
1 egg yolk
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 and 1/2 Tbs hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Cream shortening with granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Stir in extracts. Pour in prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes or until the center is set. Set aside to cool.
To prepare icing, cream together butter, egg yolk, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and coffee until smooth and fluffy. Add another tablespoon of coffee or more sugar if needed to improve the texture. Frost top of each layer and sides of cake.
NOTE: MY MOTHER RECOMMENDS DOUBLING THE ICING
Happy Birthday to Me!