When you move away from your roots, at first you are excited to try something new and take yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s exhilarating meeting different people, learning new ways, but every so often you get the feeling you want to go back and experience something you “know”. That was case yesterday when I opened my home to amazing food blogger, Brooke Connery Bass and her charming, sweet mother, Cindy. Brooke and her Mom hail from Louisiana, my home state, but Brooke and I met since we now both live in Portland. A mutual Louisiana friend, Mia James, Baton Rouge Interior Designer, suggested we meet. Thanks to Mia a new southern friendship has blossomed.
The foundation of any good southern gathering is, of course, food and drink and ours’ was no exception. We invited a few other northwest friends to join us, and the blustery, rainy Portland day turned warm and cozy. As we were planning our day, Brooke gave me an idea of what she would make so we could choose just the right cocktail. As the prepping and cooking began, I knew we were in for a super southern treat. Our menu of oyster casserole made with chopped spinach and assorted fresh herbs was topped with the most delicious hand-made buttermilk biscuits I have ever had – really ever! Brooke was modest about her process but shaved, frozen butter, tenderly combined with flour, kosher salt and baking powder – they were just the perfect amount of flaky and tenderness on the warm casserole. Balancing out the table was a beautiful bowl of Gulf of Mexico pickled shrimp satsuma salad washed in a tangy vinaigrette dressing, tossed with red onions, and herbs.
Warm and crunchy on top and served in a beautiful cast iron skillet, the corn bread accompanied this fabulous meal as did a crunchy spinach salad with pomegranates, crumbled tangy goat cheese, and chopped toasted pecans drizzled with a fig vinaigrette dressing. The other star of this show was a piping hot from the oven pecan, praline glazed ham. Brooke encouraged us to taste the crunchy, caramelized crust on the edge and we kept going back for more.
Check out Brooke’s blog, Chocolate + Marrow, for more delicious recipes and information on her marvelous creations. What a talent!!
Our cocktails were prepared with love by Ali Peterson and as we researched just the right southern concoction, Ali, used her mixology skills to delight us.
Everything looks better in gold – as do our Southern Gin Fizzes – you know we southern folk love a good story and the Gin fizz doesn’t disappoint. Back in 1888, Henry Ramos, a New Orleans tavern keeper invented this theatrical drink. The secret to its froth is egg whites, heavy cream and a lot of shaking. Ramos brought his famous drink to DC while representing New Orleans to our nation’s capitol. The drink became famous with politicians and movie stars.
Here is the recipe- we made with a few embellishments:
Southern Girls Gin Fizz
2 oz of Gin or we used Mandarin Vodka
1 oz of heavy cream
1//2 oz of fresh lemon juice
1//2 oz of fresh lime juice
1 fresh egg white
2 teaspoons of fine sugar
3-4 drops of Peychauds Bitters (made in Louisiana)
Blood orange wheel or rosemary for garnish (we alternated)
Shake all ingredients in your best shaker with cracked ice and serve in your prettiest gold-rimmed goblet and splash it with mandarin sparkling water. Garnish it with Rosemary, or a sliver of blood orange.
A big warm southern hug and thank you to Brooke, Cindy, Lindsay and Ali. Can’t wait to do it again!
Photos by Lindsay Seligman