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TIP OF THE DAY: Seafood Gravy With Biscuits Or Toast

Biscuits & Gravy

Biscuits & Oyster Gravy

Fried Egg, Biscuits & Gravy

Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

Shucked Oysters

[1] Elevate your biscuits, like these kabocha sage biscuits. Here’s the recipe from Betty S. Liu. [2] Simple oyster gravy. Here’s the recipe from Anson Mills. [3] Put an egg on it (photo courtesy Pillsbury). [4] Surf and turf: oyster gravy over ham and biscuits (photo courtesy Pillsbury). [5] Shucked oysters. Your store may also sell a container of shucked oyster meats (photo courtesy The Spectator Hotel).

 

Biscuits and gravy is a popular breakfast dish in the southern United States, a comfort food of biscuits smothered in sawmill or sausage gravy (see the different types of gravy, below).

It’s a hearty gravy, made from the drippings of cooked pork sausage, white flour, milk, and often bits of sausage, bacon, ground beef or other meat. The meat gives heft to the dish as a main dish.

Last year we featured biscuits and gravy as a Tip Of The Day. Check out a classic recipe and the history of biscuits and gravy.

This week, Anson Mills sent us a recipe for oyster gravy on toast, using their local Sea Island oysters. It sure is an improvement on butter or jam.

If fish for breakfast sounds strange, think of:

  • American shrimp and grits, smoked salmon Eggs Benedict, bagels and lox, smoked salmon scramble (a.k.a. lox and eggs), and brunch dishes like seafood quiche or frittata and crab casserole.
  • British kedergee—smoked fish with rice and eggs (based on the Indian khichri, from the days of the Raj).
  • Chinese congee (porridge).
  • Japanese grilled fish*.
  • Scandinavian smoked fish and pickled fish.
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    GRAVY CULTURE

    Time out for an accolade: Anson Mills, founded by food visionary Glenn Roberts, has managed to reclaim America’s heirloom grains from oblivion. Bred for flavor, not for efficiency and profit, whatever products bear their name are the best of breed.

    If you want the best, or know someone who does, take a look. You’ll be overwhelmed at the riches, so be prepared to return.

    Says Glenn Roberts: “We won’t quibble with anyone outside our region over Southern ownership of gravy culture. But we will go to the mat defending the high art and undervalued virtues of seafood gravy.

    “Stop and think about it: When was the last time you heard anyone talk about seafood gravy? When did you last hear someone utter the phrase ‘gravy culture’?”

    Oyster Gravy Recipe

    Seafood gravy “flowed exclusively from the Sea Islands of Carolina and Georgia,” says John. About the oyster gravy recipe, he elaborates:

    “…This recipe is really about secret ingredients within a lost cannon of Sea Island slave food culture: one from the big house larder, the other from hidden gardens.

    “From the big house, the aforementioned beurre manié—made with local butter and white lammas wheat flour grown on the Sea Islands—to thicken this gravy and create a silk and satin finish to match the voluptuousness of fresh shucked oysters.”

    In his recipe, the deglazing liquid is white wine and the flour is added at the end, in the form of beurre manié (a mash of flour and butter).

    And, he serves the oyster gravy over toast (photo #2), in the manner of another old breakfast favorite, creamed chipped beef on toast. But biscuits are an easy substitute.

    Here’s the recipe. Try it for breakfast or brunch, or:

  • As a first course at dinner.
  • As a tea-time snack, instead of tea sandwiches.
  • When you need some comfort food, more elegant than mac and cheese.
  • Whenever life gives you a bounty of oysters.
  • As surf-and-turf, topping a slice of ham on the biscuit.
  • With specialty biscuits, like these sage and kabocha squash biscuits, or these dill biscuits with smoked salmon.
  •  
    Which Oysters To Use?

    The freshest ones! If you live on or near one of the coasts, ask for the best. Size doesn’t matter since you’ll be quartering them. Any plump, briny-aroma oysters will do.

    Anson Mills chose local oysters, but you can make seafood gravy with any fish or shellfish or snails. Or, order the best oysters, whole or already shucked, from Willapa Oysters.

    Seafood Gravy

    Fish gravies are parts of global cuisines from Indian fish curries to African fish gravy, a breakfast and dinner dish.

    TIP: You can add oysters or other seafood to a hearty mushroom gravy recipe.

    DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRAVY

    Gravy is a category of sauce made in its simplest form from flour (a thickener), fat (and pan drippings) from meat and poultry and seasonings (salt and pepper). Vegetables can be added, as well as wine and additional thickeners, such as cornstarch.

    The word originally referred to a sauce made from the drippings (fat and uses) from cooked meat and poultry, there are now vegetarian and vegan gravies, and gravies that add milk or buttermilk, even tomato.

    Jus (pronounced ZHOO), is the French term for a meat gravy that has been refined and condensed into a clear liquid.

    All gravies are sauces, but not all sauces are gravy.
     
    In classic American cooking, gravies are white or brown. Popular gravies include:

  • Brown gravy, made with the drippings from roasted meat or poultry.
  • Cream gravy is the white gravy used in Biscuits and Gravy and Chicken Fried Steak. It is a béchamel sauce made with meat drippings and optionally, bits of mild sausage or chicken liver. Other names include country gravy, milk gravy, sawmill gravy, sausage gravy and white gravy.
  • Egg gravy is a béchamel sauce that is served over biscuits, essentially cream gravy with a beaten egg whisked in. The egg creates small pieces in the gravy.
  • Giblet gravy is a brown gravy that includes the giblets of turkey or chicken, and is served with those fowl. It is the traditional Thanksgiving gravy.
  • Mushroom gravy is a brown or white gravy made with mushrooms.
  • Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.
  • Red-eye gravy is a gravy made from the drippings of ham fried in a skillet, a Southern specialty served over biscuits, grits or ham. The pan is deglazed with coffee, and the gravy has no thickening agent.
  • Vegetable gravy is a vegetarian gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables plus vegetable stock, flour and fat. Wine and/or vegetable juice can be added.
  •  
    And let’s not forget our favorite dessert “gravy”: chocolate sauce, made with fat (butter), flour, cocoa powder and sugar.
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    *A traditional Japanese breakfast is what Americans might order or dinner at a Japanese restaurant: rice, grilled fish, miso soup, pickles and a Japanese-style omelette (tamago). Here’s more information.

      

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

    February 25th is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day.

    While you can easily head to the nearest store to pick up some chocolate-covered nuts, nut clusters or turtles, chocolate-covered nuts are something that you can easily make at home.

    Prefer to buy them?

    Our favorites are the Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates, coated in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

    They’re also made in Mint Chocolate Almond and in Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-COVERED SEA SALT ALMONDS

    The recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction, a wonderful place to find delicious baking ideas.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, plus setting time; total 1 hour.

    Ideally, use the 3-pronged tool from the chocolate tool set to lift the nuts out of the chocolate pool and shake off the excess chocolate. We used fondue forks; but if we make these again, we’re going for the chocolate tools.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, high quality*/li>
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raw, unsalted whole almonds*
  • Sea salt
  • Turbinado sugar or other raw sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the almonds by spreading them on a large baking sheet; bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven. Allow to slightly cool before coating with chocolate.

    2. LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

    3. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl at 30-second increments. Stir every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

    4. STIR the almonds into the chocolate, making sure to coat each one. Using a dipping tool or a fork, lift the almonds out one by one. Gently tap the fork against the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place the nut onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds.

    5. SPRINKLE the almonds with a bit of sea salt and turbinado sugar. Allow the chocolate to completely set. You can place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the setting.

    6. STORE the almonds in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, in an airtight container.

     

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Sally's Candy Addiction

    [1] Warning: addictive!. Photo and recipe © Sally’s Baking Addiction. [2] For you or a friend: Sally’s Candy Addiction, the cookbook. [3] Our favorites to buy, Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates.

     
    ________________

    *Dark, milk, white: Use whatever chocolate you prefer, as long as it’s a premium brand. Ditto with the nuts: You can substitute hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Margarita Vs. Not A Margarita

    Cherry Margarita

    Grape Margarita

    Guava Margarita

    Classic Margarita

    Smoked Salt Rim Margarita

    Margarita Glass

    Will the real Margarita please stand up? [1] Cherry Margarita (photo courtesy Created By Diane). [2] Grape Margarita (photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission. [3] Guava Margarita (photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann). [4] and [5] The real deal, from Casa Noble Tequila: a classic Margarita and the classic with a smoked salt rim. [6] A Margarita made with GranGala orange liqueur in a Margarita glass.

     

    Around this time of year, we get bombarded with every imaginable recipe for National Margarita Day (February 22nd).

    In fact, most of these drinks are Margarita in name only.

    Because Margarita and Martini are the two most popular cocktails in America, some tequila companies (who know better) and establishments (who should) call too many concoctions by one of these names. Grape Margarita? Avocado Margarita? Seriously?

    Here are just a few of the oh-so-wrong Margarita recipes we’ve received in recent weeks:

  • Avocado Margarita: blanco tequila, triple sec, lime, avocado (one entire avocado per drink!), fresh cilantro, cayenne pepper.
  • Mango Scotch Bonnet Margarita: tequila tequila, lime juice, 3 slices of scotch bonnet pepper, diced mango, mango jam.
  • Raspberry Margarita: oro tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, black raspberry syrup, fresh raspberries.
  • Spicy Raspberry Margarita: reposado tequila, Chambord, Sprite, sour mix, Tabasco.
  •  
    When did this all begin? In our experience, it was the mid 1980s, when we first saw a “Peach-arita” featured on a menu in East Hampton. It substituted peach schnapps for the Cointreau.

    It was delicious—we had two—and the name was delightfully catchy. Many variations have appeared all over the ensuing 30 years. But in retrospect, they aren’t Margaritas at all; just cocktails riding on Margarita’s coattails, appropriating the name.

    We are complicit: We’ve published numerous poseur Margarita recipes, because they were really good cocktails. But the madness (at least ours) stops today.

    We’ll still publish good cocktail recipes, but any faux Margarita will be linked to this conscious-raising rant.
     
    WHAT IS A MARGARITA?

    The original Margarita combined tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice: a orange-flavored tequila cocktail with a salt rim, served with a lime wheel (here’s the Margarita history).

    Unless you’re talking Frozen Margarita—where any flavor can be added via fruit purée—Margarita is an orange drink, not a cherry, grape or pineapple one.

    Once you take great license with ingredients, you create a different cocktail.

    Would you make a Pineapple Cosmo, substituting the standard cranberry juice with pineapple juice? Create a Grapefruit Screwdriver?

    A Screwdriver combines orange juice and vodka. Grapefruit juice and vodka is a Greyhound.

    Adding cranberry juice to a Greyhound produces a Sea Breeze.

    And that’s how it should be. Cocktails should observe a nomenclature, like everything else.

    MARGARITA VARIATIONS

    That being said, there is license to slightly vary the original ingredients. Each change marginally alters the original flavor profile, but the drink is still recognizable.

  • Tequila: You can use reposado or anejo tequila instead of the original blanco (silver). But you can’t make a “Mezcal Margarita,” any more than you can make a Vodka Margarita. Call those drinks something else!
  • Cointreau: You can use a different orange liqueur. Many bartenders quickly adopted the less expensive triple sec (generic orange liqueur); Grand Marnier promoted the “Grand” Margarita, making it seem a better choice (although Cointreau is the most expensive of the orange liqueurs—$10 more per bottle than Grand Marnier). GranGala did the same, calling a Margarita made with its liqueur the Ultra Margarita. We received an Orange Blossom Margarita recipe that included both Grand Marnier and Pavan Orange Blossom Liqueur—all right—but further added agave and club soda. We’d call that an Orange Blossom Fizz.
  • Lime juice: You could substitute or add a different citrus juice, creating a Blood Orange Margarita, a Grapefruit Margarita, a Lemon Margarita.
  • Rim: Instead of plain salt, use flavored salt (chipotle, smoked, whatever) or a seasoning blend like Tajin, a blend of chile, lime and salt.
  • Garnish: This is where you can express creativity without altering the integrity of the drink. You can add to, or substitute, the lime wheel with a wedge, and with something decorative (a red chile on a pick), or tossed into/onto the drink: jalapeño slices, berries, a sprig of cilantro or tarragon.
  • Glass: The original Margarita was served in a rocks (Old Fashioned) glass. Over time, bartenders chose whatever they had on hand, such as a Martini glass or a coupe. A “Margarita glass†” was invented in Mexico, and can be found in use at Mexican restaurants in the U.S.Use whatever you like.
  •  
    If you want to add a fruit flavor (guava, mango, strawberry, whatever), add purée to the original recipe. We’d even grant passage to a something like a Mango Basil Margarita, with the purée and torn basil leaves in the shaker.

    But a recipe of tequila, lime juice, spicy mango syrup, grapefruit bitters and basil leaves? Call it something else—even if that’s Margarita’s Sister.

    Ditto, an Apple Cider Margarita, tequila, apple cider, lemon juice and a cinnamon-sugar for rim.

    Ditto, tequila and lime juice with muddled cilantro.

    If you get rid of the orange liqueur and lime, it’s not a Margarita.

    Give your raspberry-tequila cocktail another name—or look it up: There aren’t many combinations that haven’t been otherwise named.

    (That said, We just looked up “raspberry tequila cocktail” and got the usual slew of Raspberry Margarita recipes, although Deliciously Organic forthrightly called it a Raspberry, Lime and Tequila Cocktail. Right on!)

    Final rant:

    The Margarita is the most popular† drink in the country.

    Give it the respect it deserves.

    Create a new name for your cocktail—just like every other drink recipe has done.

     
    ________________

    *The Margarita glass is a variation of the classic champagne coupe, and is used to serve blended fruit Margaritas and frozen Margaritas. The same glass can be used to serve shrimp cocktail and other appetizers and desserts. The glass was originally made from recycled Coke bottles, and the mottled green color of the original survive.

    †Some industry reports place the Martini first. It depends on the survey and the year.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Chicken Salad Without The Sandwich

    Like chicken salad, but trying to cut back on bread?

    If you want to avoid the bread, croissants and wraps, there’s always a scoop of chicken salad on greens, in lettuce cups, or stuffed into a bell pepper, tomato, or avocado half.

    But we thought these ideas from Willow Tree Farm add allure to a long-time favorite.

    Whether a filling for celery or fennel stalks, or a base for mini “cucumber sandwiches,” these make fun appetizers or snacks.

    Use your own chicken salad, or one from Willow Tree Farm.

    cucumber sandwiches. Serve #Sriracha Chicken Salad between two cucumbers for a crunchy, cool and spicy bite.

     
    RECIPE: CHICKEN SALAD STACKS

    For snacks, with beer, or as an amuse bouche before dinner. For something sweeter, you can use apple slices.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 container of Willow Tree Farm Sriracha Chicken Salad (or your recipe)
  • Garnish: cilantro or other herb
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the cucumber into 1/2″ slices

    2. PLACE the chicken salad on half of the cucumber slices. Top with a cucumber slice.

    3. ROUND the edges with a spatula. Garnish with cilantro and secure with a toothpick.

    THE HISTORY OF CHICKEN SALAD

    It may come as a surprise—because modern mayonnaise was invented around 1800——but the Chinese were the first to serve variations of “chicken salad” (see below).

    The ingredients were not the same as what we call Chinese chicken salad*, but included pieces of chicken mixed with a variety of spices and oils and another binder, such as rice.

    The American form of chicken salad was first served in 1863 by Town Meats, a meat market in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The owner, Liam Gray, mixed leftover chicken with mayonnaise, tarragon, and grapes. It became such a popular item that the meat market was converted to a delicatessen.

    Modern Chicken Salad

    In the U.S., chicken salad is a cold salad with chicken as the main ingredient, and typically bound with mayonnaise with optional mustard. Other ingredients can include bell pepper, celery, hard-boiled egg, onion, pickles or pickle relish, plus herbs, such as dill, rosemary or tarragon.

    It can also include diced apples, grapes or dried fruit, such as cherries, cranberries or raisins. Diced mango is another popular addition as are nuts, such as almonds, pecans and walnuts.

    In some areas of the U.S., especially the South, chicken salad may be a garden salad topped with fried, grilled, or roasted chicken, sliced.

    While today chicken salad is mostly served in a sandwich or wrap, it has a history as a ladies’ luncheon staple, served on a bed of greens with sliced tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, bell pepper rings, and olives or other garnish, served with crackers.

    Variations were inevitable, using ingredients specific to regional and international cuisines.

  • Chinese chicken salad is made with celery, sliced almonds, fruit (diced apples, mandarin orange segments or pineapple chunks) and mayonnaise, and topped with fried Chinese noodles.
  • Southwestern chicken salad includes avocado, black beans, cilantro, corn kernels, diced tomatoes, onion, shredded cheddar cheese and a garnish of crushed tortilla chips (recipe).
  •  
    Modern recipes expand the concept of chicken salad to pasta salad or Caesar salad with chunks of chicken; add wing sauce and blue cheese for buffalo chicken salad.

    Binders can include anything you like: blue cheese dressing, hummus, pesto, remoulade sauce, Russian dressing, Thai peanut sauce, and on and on.

    In other countries, chicken salad can be made with any number of dressings, along with couscous, pasta, rice and vegetables.

    So don’t be wary: Experiment!

    Fancy presentations serve it in a lettuce-lined coupe; molded into a ring; or scooped into a toast cup, avocado half or pineapple half.

    As with any recipe, add whatever you like; from bacon to capers to pickled jalapeño.

    ABOUT WILLOW TREE FARMS

    Willow Tree Farms makes pot pies and chicken salad from premium white meat.

    In addition to original chicken salad, there’s a flavorful selection of:

  • Avocado Chicken Salad
  • Buffalo Chicken Salad
  • Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad
  • Sriracha Chicken Salad
  •  
    The products are sold at major retailers, including BJ’s, Stop & Shop and Whole Foods in New England and the East Coast. Here’s a store locator.

     

    Chicken Salad Celery Sticks

    Chicken Salad Cucumber Stacks

    Chicken Salad In Wonton Cups

    Mango Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado

    Southwestern Chicken Salad

    Avocado Chicken Salad

    [1] Filled celery sticks and [2] cucumber stacks from Willow Tree Farm. [3] Chicken salad in wonton wrappers (here’s the recipe from Shared). [4] Mango chicken salad in an avocado (here’s the recipe from The Real Food Dieticians). [5] Southwestern chicken salad recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. [6] Avocado chicken salad (here’s the recipe from Whole And Heavenly Oven).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Peppermint Pie

    February 19th is Chocolate Mint Day. You could grab a York Peppermint Pattie, or you could make this easy pie.

    It contains both white and semi-sweet chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candies, plus an Oreo cookie crumb crust.

    The active time is 30 minutes, but it takes 6 hours to set in the fridge. So get started!

    Note that, like a mousse, this recipe is not cooked. So if you have any health concerns, use Safest Choice pasteurized eggs.

    HOLIDAY NOTE: If you make this during the holiday season, you can garnish it with miniature candy canes.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE MINT PIE

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (about 20 round, striped candies like Brach’s)
  • 1 nine-inch pie crust (baked pastry crust or crumb crust such as graham cracker or chocolate may be used)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips, melted
  • Optional garnish: Junior Mints, halved miniature York Peppermint Patties, miniature candy canes
  •  

    Chocolate Peppermint Pie

    Red Striped Peppermints

    [1] A pie you can call “refreshing” (photo courtesy Safe Eggs. [3] Use round striped peppermint candies, unless you have a stash of candy canes (photo courtesy Stock Exchange).

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar in large bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

    2. REMOVE a half cup of the cream cheese mixture and set aside.

    3. ADD the white chocolate to the sugar and eggs, beating on medium to combine. By hand, fold in the whipped cream. Gently stir in the peppermint and pour into the pie crust. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    4. STIR the chocolate chips into reserved 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture. Remove pie from refrigerator. Slowly pour chocolate mixture over pie. Spread to cover pie, or use knife to swirl chocolate. Freeze, covered, until firm.

    5. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
     
    MORE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT RECIPES

  • Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies
  • Chocolate Mint Cookies (like Thin Mint, but better)
  • Chocolate Tarts With Peppermint Cream
  • Homemade Peppermint Patties
  • Hot Chocolate Peppermint Bark Ice Cream Float
  • Inside-Out Peppermint Patties
  • Mint Chocolate Lava Cake
  • Oreo Peppermint Truffles
  • Peppermint White Hot Chocolate With Chocolate Peppermint Bars
  • Two-Layer Chocolate Peppermint Pie
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn Bark
  •   

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