Down-home holiday favorites

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
Servings:

Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

    • 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

Preparation

Baking Directions:

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
Servings:

Serves 4

Ingredients

    • 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

Preparation

Baking Directions:

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
Servings:

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients

    • 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

Preparation

Baking Directions:

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.) 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.

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