Chef Dee Day 3 In the Kitchen

I literally stumbled and plopped my body into the bed last night….although I like to think I am having an Martha Stewart moment and a love affair in my kitchen this holiday season. I am not Martha Stewart and must say she deserves every accolade she ever received for her contributions to cooking fabulous meals. I may not have all the proper utensils and pots to get it popping like her but being raised by strong African American women with very little is an education in itself. I watched as a child meals being whipped up by aunties, cousins and grandma enough to feed an army with the utensils and pots they had back in the day……it is amazing what a person can cook with just one large spoon if they put their mind to it. Cooking a large meal is really a task not for the meek at heart but an undertaking that one must wrap around their head to get the meal completed once you start to cook….otherwise there might not be any mash potatoes on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. As quiet as it is kept, trash day is today and there will not be another pickup before Thanksgiving Day. Lord knows I hate a pile of trash in our house. I am drinking my java….got the potatoes on the stove, the strawberries diced and ready for the freezer, the greens all bagged up and the water ready for my Macaroni and Cheese, Over the rainbow recipe from Patti Labelle “La Belle Cuisine” on page 154. Over the years I have learned everyone can’t make macaroni and cheese and thus far…..her recipe has been the best I have eaten. Back to preparation for my Thanksgiving feast……I hope your all having a fabulous day!


Norma’s Black-Bottom Sweet Potato Pie – this recipe is on page 194 Patti Labelle “La Belle Cuisine”

Basic Piecrust – I bought frozen pie crust

3 large orange fleshed sweet potatoes (Lousiana Yams)             8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar                                                         1/2 granulated sugar

2 large eggs, beaten                                                                                      1/4 cup half and half I used milk because I am tire of going to the store

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                                             1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat. Add sweet potatoes and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a  knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes in medium bowl. Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed potatoes. Keep extra for another use….blah blah!

Preheat oven to 400*F  uncover the pie shell and brush the interior with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not pick it……I bought frozen shell to avoid this step all together.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-half, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F Bake until a knife insert in the center of the filing comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. I totally missed this step and cook my first three pies on 400…..well they brown a little more than I wanted but they are still edible.

Patti Macaroni and Cheese over the rainbow on page 156 Patti Labelle “La Belle Cuisine”

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil                                                                                              1 pound elbow macaroni

8 tablespoons of butter plus  1 tbspn                                                                           1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Muenster cheese

1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded mild Cheddar cheese                                                         1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Monterey Jack                                                                     2 cups half and half

1 cup Velveeta, cut into small cubes                                                                             2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt                                                                                               1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350*F Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2 casserole. Bring large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is tender. Drain

In a saucepan melt 8 tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl mix all the cheese. To the macaroni, add the half and half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cube Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake until bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot

Patti’s Pointers. Ask anyone who makes incredible macaroni and cheese for his or her recipe, and I bet you that Velveeta will be in there. But my recipe does n’t stop there. To make my special macaroni and cheese, I also use Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese, each one adding its own flavor and melting consistency. If you don’t want to use all five cheeses, you can get away with just the Velveeta and sharp Cheddar-it won’t be over the rainbow, but it will be pretty good. And on special occassions, I sometimes add an extra stick of butter, in which instance, the macaroni goes over the moon. If you use two sticks of butter, substitute milk for half and half.

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