Long before Isaac Hayes became the voice of “Chef” on the wildly popular and irreverent television show “South Park,” he was a food lover. His fondest and most enduring memories are those associated with his Tennessee boyhood and helping his grandmother to prepare traditional Southern soul food. Hayes’ commercial successes in music, film, television, and radio came and went and came again — but always there was the food. Check out the recipes from his book, “Cooking With Heart and Soul,” for a soulful holiday meal.
PIPIN’ PEAS WITH ONIONS
For me, what makes a dish of vegetables extraordinary instead of just a plain old side dish is the seasoning. I’ve become a big fan of Spike, a premixed combination of herbs and spices that really awakens the taste of certain foods. I buy the salt-free kind, but if sodium isn’t a concern for you, try them both. Another good choice is Mrs. Dash.
Serves 2 to 4
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10 pearl onions, peeled
2 cups fresh green peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
Spike or Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh basil, or
1/8 teaspoon dried
In a small saucepan, boil the onions until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and peas and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions brown. Add Spike seasoning and basil and stir well. Remove from heat and serve.
SALMON BAKED IN FOIL
Salmon is one of my favorite kinds of fish, and this recipe is a real favorite. It’s healthy, it tastes great, and it’s as easy to make for one person as it is for 10. The blend of spices is key, of course, as well as keeping a close eye on how fast your broiler flame browns the top.
Pinch of Spike seasoning
Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Pinch of curry powder
Pinch of Old Bay seasoning
Pinch of dried tarragon
Pinch of dried sweet basil
Pinch of Jamaica allspice
4 4-to-6 ounce salmon fillets
4 tablespoons water or dry white wine
4 pinches of ground cumin
4 teaspoons soy sauce
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil each large enough to enclose 1 salmon fillet. In a bowl, mix the Spike, spice powder, curry powder, Old Bay seasoning, tarragon, basil, and allspice and sprinkle over the center of each piece of foil, dividing evenly. Top with a salmon fillet; sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon water or wine, a pinch of cumin, and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.
Fold up the corners of the foil to enclose the fish. Tightly seal the packets and place on a baking sheet. Bake packets for 10 minutes.
Preheat the broiler.
Carefully open the top of each packet and broil 3 to 5 minutes. The salmon should be slightly browned on top, but be careful not to overcook it.
ZESTI-LUV LEMON MERINGUE PIE
There’s something about a lemon meringue pie that always gets my juices flowing, but, I promise you, this home-style recipe bears no resemblance to some of the sticky, tasteless versions you may have eaten over the years. This has real lemon flavor to it, plus the extra “oomph” of orange peel and pineapple. (Don’t let the prospect of making the meringue topping get you nervous — just use a clean bowl and separate the egg whites carefully.)
Serves 8 to 10
1 14-ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
6 lemons, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1 egg yolk
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 7-ounce package moist sweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 graham cracker pie shell, baked
1 12-ounce box vanilla wafers
6 egg whites
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a blender, combine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, orange juice, and egg yolk. Pulse to combine. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the pineapple, half of the coconut flakes, and the lemon and orange zest. Mix well.
Sprinkle the walnuts over the bottom of the piecrust and spoon the lemon filling mixture on top. Make a cross of vanilla wafers over the top of the pie. Fill each of the four open parts on the sides of the cross with more wafers, then line the side of the pie with wafers by sinking them into the pie, between the filling and the crust. Bake until the pie is set and the wafers start to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large, clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer at high speed. When the egg whites are foamy, gradually add the confectioner’s sugar. When the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites form stiff peaks, spoon the mixture on top of the pie. Sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut flakes.
Bake the pie until the tips of the meringue begin to brown. Cool the pie and refrigerate until chilled.
Excerpted from “Cooking With Heart and Soul” by Isaac Hayes and Susan Di Sesa. Copyright © 2000 by Isaac Hayes. Published by Putnam Pub Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.
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