Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Will these black-eyed peas become a new tradition?

We thought we would take a look back and see just how many "new" recipes we made this year - after checking our records, we came up with 461! I think our highest amount was made during October for some reason as we made 53 in that month alone. It is actually slightly less than we made last year, but only because a large amount of time this year was spent selling the house back in MD, buying the house here in MN and all the traveling back and forth! I wonder what our number will be for 2008?!

Jeff and I have never really thought about making a special meal for New Years Day, but this year we thought we would try something different! Neither of us are from the south, but we thought we would try taking a couple ideas from a southern tradition - having black-eyed peas and greens! Apparently having them will bring good luck and "financial enrichment"... we're a little skeptical, but we are willing to give it at try at least! As Jeff grew up in PA, I'm sure his mom would rather us be making their traditional pork and sauerkraut, but Jeff wouldn't touch it then and has no plans to start (it doesn't sound all that inviting to me either... sorry!).

Anyway, we decided to make a recipe for Hoppin' John with Mustard Greens. First we needed to get a bunch of chopped onions softened in a bit of olive oil to get us started on this dish. We then added basmati rice (any long-grain white rice would do), finely diced ham and a few cloves of minced garlic to the onions - this gives the rice and garlic a chance to slightly toast to bring out their flavor. The original recipe called for water as the cooking liquid, but rather than miss a chance to add extra flavor, we added vegetable broth instead. Along with that broth went in grainy mustard and thyme. When the rice was almost completely cooked through, a few cups of cooked black-eyed peas (these are so much better if you can prepare them yourself rather than using a tinned variety!) and trimmed mustard greens are placed into the pot. The greens added a nice bitter contrast with the ham bringing a bit of smokiness to this hearty bowl of peas and rice. I think we found another combination of ingredients that we both quite enjoyed and we may have just started a new tradition for us each new year!

Hoppin' John with Mustard GreensCorn bread is supposedly a traditional accompaniment, so we kept the theme going and made some Chile-Cheese Corn Bread. We thought about making half of this recipe as it makes a big batch, but doing so would leave us with a couple half empty cans of ingredients. It should freeze well, so we just made the whole thing.

This golden corn bread was moist, yet dense and had a mild spicy kick from green chiles. With only a couple tablespoons of sugar for a big recipe, the corn bread is not very sweet. We thought this was a good thing though as the extrasharp cheese and chiles made it decidedly savory. The cream-style corn called for did add a little more sweetness, but it mostly brought flavor and moisture. Buttermilk helped to keep the corn bread tender and added a little twang. We liked that this had a slightly higher proportion of yellow cornmeal to flour - this added a slight crunch and nutty flavor.

Chile-Cheese Corn Bread


  1. hi! it's nice to have come across your blog..its clean and informative! will be back for more:)

    Wish you a happy and healthy 2008!!

  2. Wonderful New Years food. I love seeing everyone's blogs about blackeyed pea dishes, yours being greens with cornbread. This is more south like where my dad came from and it looks scrumptious. Happy New Year to you.

  3. Dori - I hope the new year has been treating you well!