What Would We Do Without Slaw?

Coleslaw is shredded cabbage with mayonnaise, vinaigrette or other dressing. There are multiple slaw options – Have you tried broccoli slaw? Other ingredients may include carrots, chopped onion, celery, or pickles. The truth is that almost everyone has their own personal favorite.

Whatever it is and however you make it, slaw is an integral and unique part of so many Southern meals. I personally love it with fresh vegetables. It provides just the right crisp, tart texture and flavor and is even the essential accompaniment to fried fish and barbecue. Many catfish restaurants give you a choice of mayonnaise or vinegar based slaw. To confuse the issue even more, some people order half mayo and half vinegar!

Oh, I can’t forget about mustard slaw, which also brings up the question of how you prepare the cabbage? My dear mother grated it on a hand grater, but most slaw today is shredded or chopped a little coarser.

With multiple versions of slaw and occasions to enjoy it, I will make the decisions a little easier and tell you how I make my favorite slaw. It’s simple – shredded cabbage and carrots (sometimes I cheat and buy the slaw mix in the produce section). My dressing of choice is mayonnaise with a little lemon juice for a touch of additional flavor and a sprinkling of sugar and salt.

This is my favorite version of slaw – how do you make yours?

Cool Summer Suppers

Over the years I’ve learned some strategies to avoid cooking in a hot kitchen on a summer evening. Shopping once a week forces you to have meals planned in advance. Eliminating that last minute rush to the grocery store goes a long way in keeping the cook cool.

Save time by grilling meats like chicken breasts, bratwurst, ribs and pork tenderloin, as well as vegetables over the weekend to use during the week. Corn in the shucks and roasted red pepper are especially good grilled. I put anything that won’t be eaten until the end of the week in the freezer. Another tip is to cook peas, green beans or corn off the cob and refrigerate or freeze for later use as well.

The grilled chicken can be used to make chicken salad – we love it with pineapple chunks and toasted walnuts. I often slice the warm chicken breast, bratwurst or tenderloin to serve with the cooked vegetables the first night. Later in the week, a green salad with chicken, roasted corn kernels, avocado and roasted red peppers is delicious.

Another strategy to help keep your kitchen cool is to avoid using the oven. For an old fashioned vegetable supper, peas, beans, and corn can be warmed in the microwave. No vegetable supper is complete without cornbread.  Try this Martha White® Sweet Milk Corn Cake recipe and top dinner off with a delicious slice of Martha White White Chocolate Raspberry Pie.


Sweet Summer Trifle

The Classic English Trifle is made with sponge cake or lady fingers, spread with jam and layered with custard, beautifully combined in a glass bowl and topped with whipped cream.

When the trifle became popular, it was created with many variations and numerous names to reflect the variety of ingredients. Trifles can be prepared by using various baked goods, fruits of choice and layers of different flavors of custard. Layering these 3 main ingredients in a tall glass bowl is really what makes a trifle.

Very Berry Triple Berry Trifle came to us as a Martha White® Muffin Mix Challenge recipe contest winner. With inspiration from the classic, the recipe creator streamlined the process by making the cake with a Martha White Muffin Mix. The custard is a combination of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, instant pudding mix and whipped topping. It’s easy to make, rich and flavorful. Layered with frozen mixed berries, the presentation is impressive and perfect for a special summer dessert.

There are many ways you can create your signature trifle by varying muffin and pudding mix flavors and using compatible fruits. If you like chocolate, try making a chocolate trifle using chocolate chip muffin mix, chocolate pudding and raspberries. The variations are endless.

If you don’t have a trifle bowl you can still make this dessert.  Try layering the ingredients in a glass, parfait or a canning jar. Trifles are fun to make and easy for the kids to help put together.

Three Crust Styles Create Variety for Southern Cobblers

When my mother took me blackberry picking, it was an adventure. The blackberry plants grew wild among the weeds along old fence rows behind our house. Because there were briars, mosquitoes and Alabama sun to contend with, we suited up like bee keepers and trudged over to the pasture. Every summer she had enough blackberries to make several cobblers and enough jelly to last us through the winter.

Blackberry cobblers were our absolute favorites. Mother made them with flaky pie crust – bottom and top – baked in a large pan. Another easier version is made by topping the fruit mixture with rich biscuit dough.

And the easiest cobblers of all are made with a pour batter. Some recipes call for pouring the batter over the fruit. Others call for spooning the fruit over the batter which miraculously rises to the top and bakes up crisp, buttery and golden brown like this Lazy Days Blackberry Cobbler.

No matter what style cobbler you choose, just remember this is the time of year to take advantage of the fruits and berries at the peak of their flavor and celebrate summer with a fruit cobbler.

Tell me about your favorite cobbler flavors and styles.

Refreshing Key Lime and Macadamia Bars

Several years ago I was working on some recipes for summer entertaining and decided I wanted to include a bar cookie. First of all, let me just say that I’m a huge fan of bars. They are so easy to make. You don’t have to roll out, drop or shape the dough and they are baked in one pan. No endless batches in and out of the oven.

The other thing about dessert bars is that many recipes combine layers of complementary textures and flavors. I especially love the ones that have a buttery crust layer pressed in the bottom of the pan topped with a sweet filling, like lemon. The result is a bar with a salty, buttery, crisp crust topped with a sweet, tart, creamy filling. Delicious!

Lemon is a good summer flavor, but I’ve already shared a good lemon bar recipe. Lime seems to offer a uniquely refreshing flavor to many summertime recipes from key lime pie to a glass of cold limeade. So why not simply convert our favorite lemon bar recipe to a lime bar by using lime juice in the filling and macadamias in the shortbread crust? Key Lime and Macadamia Bars are one of my favorite summer desserts and I’m happy to share it with you.

Do you have a favorite bar cookie that you like to make?

Reinvent Corn Cakes as Stylish Appetizers

As many of you know, Martha White® has been associated with bluegrass and country music for many years beginning in the early 50’s. During that time, we were planning a release party for a new bluegrass album. We wanted food reminiscent of the roots of Bluegrass, but with a little flair, too. My friend Mindy suggested we serve mini corn cakes topped with barbecue. I thought it was a fabulous idea and so did the guests.

Of course, in the intervening years, we’ve seen creative chefs reinvent traditional Southern recipes in an amazing variety of creative ways. I’ve been so impressed by young cooks who are serving traditional Southern food, like grits, collards, fried green tomatoes and catfish, in their trendy restaurants. These talented chefs, along with cookbook writers and traditional home cooks, have reminded us to pass on our food heritage to the next generation.

There are so many wonderful examples of how simple recipes like corn cakes can be transformed into a delectable appetizer. My favorite is Roasted Corn and Red Pepper Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa. Enjoy!

Sides Make the Cook-Out

In the South, we love to cook outside and invite our friends to enjoy the fun. From burgers and hot dogs, to ribs, chicken, brats and steak, cooking out just seems to create an atmosphere that is fun for everyone.

But it’s the side dishes that often make the meal. Guests are almost always happy to bring a dish to add to the menu and it is often one of their favorite recipes – tried and true baked beans, deviled eggs, beans or pasta salad – so you get the cream of the crop!

Potato salad is almost as ubiquitous as the burgers, but recipes are incredibly diverse. In an informal survey among my co-workers, I was amazed at how many variations (and commonalities) there were among a limited sample. Here is a quick recap:

• Potatoes: Boiled, baked and new red
• Pickles and pickled: Sweet and dill pickles, sweet and dill pickle relish, olives with pimento, pimento
• Onion: Onion, red onion, scallions, no onion, onion powder
• Other vegetables: Celery, red pepper, cucumber
• Other: Boiled eggs
• Dressing: Mayonnaise, salad dressing, mustard, red wine vinegar, cider vinegar
• Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, sugar, paprika, onion powder, celery salt
• Other: Soft cream cheese, butter, bacon and bacon drippings

Based on frequency of mentions from 23 people , it looks like the favorite ingredients around here are baking potatoes or red potatoes with onion, celery, eggs, mayonnaise or salad dressing, sweet pickle relish and mustard. Of course, there were many variations, combinations and additions to these ingredients, but I think it does show that traditional potato salad is alive and well. What’s your favorite?