Mobile Bay’s Top 10 Recipes of 2017

It's no secret Southerners like to eat, and boy, do we eat well. Enjoy this collection of 10 of the most delicious recipes featured in Mobile Bay this year.

Photo by Matthew Coughlin

1. Classic Pimento Cheese

Featured in “You Gotta Get Cocky With It, ” January 2017

1 cup sharp white cheddar, freshly grated
1 cup sharp yellow cheddar, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, sliced*
flatbread, for serving
crackers, for serving
* If you do not want to roast your own pepper, a small jar of sliced pimentos, well drained, will work.

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1. In the bowl of a food processor, add grated cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and red bell pepper. On pulse control, mix until well combined.
2. Serve chilled with flatbread or crackers for dipping. Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered container for up to one week. Serves 4 – 6.

Photo by Blair Merrills

2. Martha Rutledge’s Crab Strudel

Featured in “Calling on the Queen, ” February 2017

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 scallions chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
2 teaspoons chopped flat parsley
juice of 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
20 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup dry plain breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan. Add the scallions and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder.
3. Drain the crabmeat and pick through for any remaining shell pieces. Shred crabmeat in a bowl and add parsley, lime juice, salt and pepper. Add the seasoned crabmeat to the scallion mixture.
4. Melt remaining butter in a small saucepan. Unfold 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean, dry workspace. Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with a small amount of the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo over the first sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with breadcrumbs until 5 sheets have been used.
5. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along one long edge of the dough. Roll up dough like a jelly roll. Brush the top with melted butter and set aside. Repeat the same process using all the phyllo dough and crab filling.
6. Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the strudels on the pan and score diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
7. Bake for 12 minutes or until the top is light brown. Slice along the score lines and serve. Makes 4 strudels/Serves 10 – 12.

Photo by Todd Douglas

3. Thai Summer Roll Salad

Featured in “A Verdant Table, ” April 2017

2 zucchini, spiralized or thinly grated
2 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked quinoa
Peanut Dressing (see below)
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons each fresh basil, mint and cilantro, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 lime, cut into 4 pieces

1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, kale and quinoa. Top with half of the dressing (or to taste) and toss to coat.
2. Divide the salad between 4 plates and top with red bell pepper, almonds, herbs and scallions. Drizzle a small amount of dressing over salad and save the leftovers in the refrigerator for another use. Serve with a lime wedge. Serves 4.


2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1-inch knob of ginger, grated
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup almond milk
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
water, as needed

1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add a tablespoon of water as needed to thin out the dressing until pourable.

4. Heirloom Tomato Hoecake Stack

Featured in “Rooted in Local Flavor, June 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1 pint size bag of fresh pink-eyed purple hull peas
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup gluten-free cornbread mix (Sally likes Bob’s Red Mill Brand)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
4 large ripe heirloom tomatoes

1.To cook peas, rinse peas in a colander. Place the peas in a heavy pot with just enough water to cover. Add bay leaves and Creole seasoning. bring to a boil and then reeduce to simmer. Cook until peas are soft, about 2 hours. Remove bay leaves and drain, reserving the liquor.
2. To prepare hopping John, in a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, black pepper and sugar. Press with fork until ingredients turn to a paste. Emulsify the olive oil and vinegar and add to mixture. Add one cup of the cooked peas and chopped bell pepper. Toss to combine. Refrigerate overnight to marinate or up to 1 week.
3. Before you wish to serve, add the remaining peas to a blender or food processor and pureé. Add enough pea liquor back to the peas until the mixture becomes the consistency of gravy. Set aside.
4. To prepare hoecakes, mix together the cornbread mix, egg, sugar, butter-milk, water and 1/4 cup canola oil. Add more water or buttermilk if needed to get a pancake consistency.
5. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet on medium heat. Use about 2 tablespoons batter per hoecake. Brown on both sides. Makes 16 hoecakes.
6. Remove tops off of tomatoes and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Add black pepper to taste.
7. To plate, spoon a bit of the black eyed pea puree onto each plate. Top with a hoecake and then a tomato slice. Repeat each layer again, and then top with hopping John. Serves 6.

5. Gluten-free Crab Cakes

Featured in “Rooted in Local Flavor, June 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1 ear fresh silver queen corn
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
8 ounces fresh lump crabmeat
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon butter 

1. Cut corn from the cob into a medium-sized bowl. Add egg, sour cream, mustard, salt, Creole seasoning, almond flour and red onion. Use a fork to combine. Gently fold in crabmeat and chives.
2. Divide dough into fourths and form into 1/2-inch thick patties. Place the crab cakes on a platter lined with wax paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and let melt, coating pan. Add the crab cakes and cook 4 to 5 minutes on one side without moving, until the bottoms are browned. Very carefully lift each crab cake with a spatula. Add some of the remaining butter to the pan and lower each cake back into the skillet. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

6. Cuban Black Beans

Featured in “Kitchen Diplomacy, ” July 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1/4 cup olive oil
2 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
2 pounds cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups hot water
cooked white rice for serving (optional)

1. To make a sofrito, heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add green pepper and onion and cook, stirring, until softened, another 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, oregano, cumin, black pepper and salt and stir for another minute. Pour in vinegar and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.
2. Place 1 cup of beans in a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork. Add these and the remaining beans to the sofrito pot. Add bay leaves, brown sugar and water, and stir well.
3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.
4. Remove bay leaves. Add additional salt to taste and serve over white rice. Serves 8.

7. Sheet Pan Fajitas

Featured in “One-Sheet Wonders, ” August 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers, cored and sliced into strips
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely diced garlic
8 small corn or flour tortillas
sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa and/or jalapeños, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro for toppings, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, combine dry seasonings. Set aside.
3. Place peppers, onion and chicken onto baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over pan and sprinkle garlic and seasoning mix over the top. Toss evenly to coat and then spread chicken and vegetables evenly across pan.
4. Roast, tossing once halfway through cooking, until veggies are tender and chicken has cooked through, about 18 – 25 minutes. Do not overcook or the chicken will become dry.
5. Wrap tortillas tightly in aluminum foil and warm in oven during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
6. Remove from oven and pile chicken and veggies on tortillas. Finish off with favorite toppings. Serves 4.

8. Midtown Mule

Featured in “Making Mudcakes, ” September 2017

1/4 cup vodka (Titos preferred)
2 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 basil leaves
1 bottle Reed’s Extra Strong Ginger Beer
dash of Angostura Bitters
lime slice for garnish

1. Fill a Copper Mule Mug or tumbler with ice. Add the vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice. Crush the basil leaves between your fingers to release the aromas and add to the glass. Top with ginger beer. Give the drink a quick stir and finish with a few drops of bitters and a lime slice. Makes 1 serving.

9. Shrimp Toast with Butternut Squash and Mustard Green Salsa Verde

Featured in “The Chefs’ Thanksgiving, ” November 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

1 butternut squash
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped small
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
1 egg white
5 slices thick white bread
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
Mustard Green Salsa Verde (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split the butternut squash from top to bottom, remove seeds and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tender, about 35 minutes.
2. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat of the squash with a spoon and place in a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree till smooth. Set aside.
3. Sauté sweet onion and garlic in a pan until soft, 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a food processor, place shrimp, parsley, green onion, cooked onion and garlic, paprika, allspice, cayenne, salt, black pepper, lemon juice and egg white. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl until mixture is well combined and a paste consistency, about 1 minute. Put mixture in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Lightly toast white bread. Cut off crusts. Spread a thin layer of the butternut squash puree on one side. Top the puree with the shrimp mixture, making a layer as thick as the bread. Cut each piece of toast into 4 triangles.
6. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place toast shrimp-side down and fry till crispy. Serve hot or room temperature topped with Mustard Green Salsa Verde. Serves 8.


1 large Granny Smith apple
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon chili flakes
pinch of salt, to taste
1 1/2 cup packed chopped mustard greens
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
pinch of salt and black pepper

1. Peel apple and grate on a box grater onto layered paper towels. Squeeze paper towels to remove excess liquid.
2. Finely chop garlic and chili flakes together with a pinch of salt until a paste forms.
3. Combine grated apple, garlic and chili flake mixture and remaining ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

10. Bake My Day’s Carrot Cake

Featured in “The Chefs’ Thanksgiving, ” November 2017

Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with baking spray.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. Set aside.
3. Using hand or stand mixer, mix oil, sugar and eggs until well blended.
4. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture a little at a time until well blended. Add vanilla and mix well. Add carrots, then add pecans.
5. Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tester comes out clean.
6. Cool cakes completely. Frost with Cream Cheese Icing (see below). Makes 1 three-layer cake.


2 sticks butter
16 ounces cream cheese
2 pounds sifted confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Using hand or stand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and mix well.
2. Frost cake immediately or store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

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