Monday, June 30, 2014

Figgy Jam Muffins for #MuffinMonday

Fig jam adds a lovely sweetness to these fluffy muffins. Smear on a little more butter and call these breakfast or mid-morning snack. Perfect with a cup of hot coffee or tea.

This summer, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t go home home, to the little town where I was born. The town of homemade Tabasco sauce and fig preserves, of TG&Y and Easter baskets, of Christmas stockings and eggnog, of grape Crush and Maytag service calls, of vegetable gardens and crawfish, of freedom and backyard bonfires, of first cousins and bubblegum snow cones. Some of my happiest childhood memories hang like Spanish moss from ancient oaks in the New Iberia city park on the Bayou Teche. No matter where I live, I always go home home each summer to visit my grandparents, until finally, last summer, in my 51st year, I didn’t have one anymore.

A few years ago, I happened to be there over the Fourth of July holiday and it occurred to me that it had probably been years since my grandparents had seen fireworks. So we loaded up the car and found ourselves a spot on the bayou that would give us a good view of the city show. We took the seats out of the back of the minivan and set them up like comfy chairs for the old folks to sit on. And together, four generations ooohed and aaahed in the rockets’ red glare, some of us still children, all of us like kids again.

Part of the joy of writing this blog is the satisfaction that comes from searching my own memory and making connections with my heritage and those old folks I miss, even while adapting to what I have available. Figs weren’t wonderful this summer and the sad few I did buy and eat seemed weirdly dry and flavorless, so there was no point in making preserves. But I couldn’t let the season pass without something figgy to enjoy, even if it meant using store-bought jam. As the saying goes, needs must.


2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup or 75g butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup or 160g fig jam
1/2 cup or 120ml milk

To garnish: Several dried Black Mission figs, optional

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Butter your muffin pan or line it with paper liners.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.

In another smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, fig jam and milk

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just mixed through.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cups.

Top with a slice of soft dried Mission fig, if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until golden.

Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy! If you celebrate Fourth of July, who are you watching the fireworks with this year?

They smell soooo good! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rosemary Nectarine Sparkling Cocktail

Herb-infused simple syrup is an easy way to make a cocktail special, adding flavor and freshness to the original mix in this Rosemary Nectarine Cocktail.

Food Lust People Love: Rosemary simple syrup adds a refreshingly fresh flavor to this  rosemary nectarine sparkling cocktail.

Every summer I go for what I call the Annual Mashing. I lost one precious maternal aunt to breast cancer and my paternal grandmother was a survivor so I know there is potential from both sides. If you are my friend on Facebook, you’ll know that I always post a message when I go, reminding everyone to make an appointment too. If only one person takes heed and gets a mammography in time to catch something before it gets bigger and less treatable, then the message is worth sharing. (In case you weren’t paying attention, here’s my public service announcement: Make your appointment NOW. Your family will thank you.)

One upside of the Annual Mashing is the nice magazines in the waiting room. This year I thumbed through a beautiful issue of Saveur while I waited for my turn and came across an article on a peach farmer in California, complete with recipes using fresh peaches. I couldn’t wait to get home to try the sparkling cocktail. And, after the mammogram, I figured I deserved it!

This week Sunday Supper is sharing picnic food and this lovely cocktail is perfect for serving outdoors. You make up the rosemary simple syrup and nectarine puree and transport them in clean jars in a cooler with the bubbly, mixing each glass as needed. Many thanks to our host Jane from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner and Heather from girlichef for her behind-the-scenes help.

For the simple syrup:
4 sprigs rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

For the nectarine puree:
2 medium nectarines
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 bottle (750ml) sparkling wine or Champagne

In a small pot, heat the water, sugar and rosemary sprigs until the sugar completely dissolves and cook for a further few minutes at a low boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.

Once cool, discard the rosemary sprigs and pour the simple syrup into a clean jar. Yield: about 1 1/4 cups or 300ml of rosemary simple syrup.

To make the nectarine puree, simply cut the nectarines up in chunks.

Mash with a hand blender until smooth. You can peel them if you want to but I like the pink shade that the peels add and don’t mind the little bits of peel in my drink.

Pour the puree into a clean jar and add the lemon juice.  Shake to combine. Yield: Just over 1 cup or 250ml nectarine puree.

To serve the cocktail, add 1-2 tablespoons nectarine puree and 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons rosemary simple syrup to each glass.

Top up with chilled cava, sparkling wine or Champagne.

Food Lust People Love: Rosemary simple syrup adds a refreshingly fresh flavor to this  rosemary nectarine sparkling cocktail.


Are you planning a picnic for Fourth of July or just to celebrate summer? Check out the fabulous list of picnic friendly recipes we are bringing to the Big Virtual Picnic!

Sandwiches and Wraps

Pin this Rosemary Nectarine Sparkling Cocktail!

Food Lust People Love: Rosemary simple syrup adds a refreshingly fresh flavor to this  rosemary nectarine sparkling cocktail.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dubonnet Gin Cocktail and Thank You

Made from French fortified wine marketed under the name Dubonnet and a good London gin,  this refreshing libation is well known for being the favorite tipple of the late Queen Mother and her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. 

Like the queen, this blog has two birthdays. The first one was just a few weeks ago marking the date I created Food Lust People Love as a Tumblr blog. It didn’t take me long to realize that Tumblr, at least in its native form, didn’t work for what I wanted to achieve with this blog so I changed over to Blogger and I added the 12 Tumblr posts all in one day – 24 June 2011, to be precise. So that’s the official blog birthday I celebrate each year.

My very first post is still one of my favorites. It wasn’t even a recipe, but a series of photos from a recent trip we had taken to Italy of the market in Florence. I want to live there! Who's coming with me?

That said, my early food photos are laughably bad. Post number two was a delicious dessert made with whipped cream, meringues and blackberries. With the ugliest photo. I’m not kidding. And yeah, I’m going to make you go look if you really want to because it’s just too awful to add again here. *Shudder*

Without further ado, I’d like to share a cocktail with you that I raise in thankful salute to all the people who have supported me in this three-year journey. To my family and close friends first and foremost, for putting up with my experiments, for waiting to eat while I take photos of the food and for allowing me to tell their stories and share their photos on occasion. To my fellow bloggers who have taught me so much about food photography, website optimization and social media with generosity of spirit and endless camaraderie. And finally, to you, my readers. You leave me kind comments and send me recipe suggestions. You share links to my posts with your own friends and family. You give me great joy and it is my privilege to meet you in this space. Thank you!

As I was researching this drink, I found recipes that varied depending on whether it was the Queen Mother who was drinking it or Queen Elizabeth, the former preferring more gin than Dubonnet and the latter preferring more Dubonnet than gin, so feel free to mix yours however you like. I went with Queen Elizabeth’s two-to-one proportions.

Twist of lemon and lime peel
2 oz or about 60ml Dubonnet
1 oz or about 30ml good quality gin
Ice (The queen reportedly likes three cubes of ice. What is it with the British and their dislike of ice?!)

Add the twists of lemon and lime to your glass along with the ice.

Measure in the Dubonnet and gin.

Cheers! And, once again, thank you so much for your support!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cherry-O Mini Muffins for #MuffinMonday

When cherries are in season, there is no better fruit to add to a tender muffin. These sing of sunshine and sweetness, with bonus fiber from the cereal that also adds a delightful nuttiness. 

With my summer holidays in the States coming to a close, I thought it only appropriate to bake one last time with cherries, which have become more affordable since I baked my cherry sweet bread twist a few weeks ago. I also added some honey nut O’s in an effort to use up store cupboard items. Ditto with the whipping cream. You could probably substitute more milk for that but then the muffins won’t be as rich. And that would be a shame.

For 24 mini muffins:
1/2 cup or 90g chopped, pitted, fresh cherries
1 cup or 80g crushed honey nut O’s or similar cereal
1/2 cup or or 65g flour
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup or 60ml heavy whipped cream
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil
1 egg

For decoration:
6 cherries cut into quarters
24 honey nut O’s

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin pans by greasing them or lining them with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and crushed cereal and stir well.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, oil and egg.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Fold in your chopped cherries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and top each muffin with a quarter cherry and a honey nut O.

Bake in the preheated oven about 10-15 minutes or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.

Look at those golden bottoms!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mango Ginger Bundt Cake #BundtBakers

Mango and ginger are best friends in the tropical department, combining sweetness with a little spiciness to make a moist, beautiful Bundt.

This month my Bundt Baker group is channeling the tropics and all fruits tropical. Mangoes are sweet and cheap right now in Houston – three for a dollar! – so I couldn’t resist baking them into a delicious Bundt, adding ginger for a little bite. As with many of my baked goods lately, I took it up to my sister’s lake house last weekend and, once again, received a family seal of approval.

Many thanks to our host this month, Lauren from From Gate to Plate!

1 cup or 200g granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 115g butter
2 eggs
2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup or 300g fresh mango puree
1 teaspoon vanilla

For serving: confectioners' or powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease and flour your Bundt pan.

Put all your ingredients into your mixing bowl and mix on low until everything is completely combined.

Turn the mixer on high and beat for three minutes.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden on the outside and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then invert on a wire rack.

Cool completely before sprinkling with confectioners' sugar to serve.



Do you love baking with tropical fruit? Look no further for inspiration than this great list of Bundt Baker recipes. 
 #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Spicy Southern Fried Chicken

A picnic in the southern United States just wouldn’t be complete without some fried chicken. My grandmother always fried hers in peanut oil because of its health benefits with the added bonus of a very high smoke point, ensuring the chicken will get crunchy on the outside, keeping it tender on the inside.

Did you know that today is International Picnic Day? Yep, that’s right. Why it falls on a Wednesday is anybody’s guess but at the very least, even if you have to work today, let me encourage you to take your lunch outside and find a picnic bench and enjoy it in the sunshine. 

If you’ve read my About Me page, you know that my grandmother’s fried chicken is one of those things I keep trying to duplicate. Mine’s good, because all crispy fried chicken is good, but it just isn’t the same as when she made it for me. I am also open to trying other people’s fried chicken recipes. Because, once again and repeat after me, there is no bad fried chicken. 

A number of years ago my daughters gave me Maya Angelou’s memoir/cookbook, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table.  *Affiliate link* Her fried chicken recipe calls for marinating the chicken for an hour in a generous quantity of fresh lemon juice. I was a little skeptical at first, but I can tell you, it brightens the flavors beautifully without being overwhelmingly lemony. I like to add a bunch of cayenne too to make it spicy but otherwise, this is essentially Maya Angelou’s fried chicken. Just one more reason to admire our late poet laureate and mourn her recent passing.

1 chicken (Mine was a huge fryer, about 6 lbs and a pack of just wings)
2 cups or 480ml fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons cayenne

For dredging the chicken:
2-3 cups or 250-375g flour

For frying:
3-4 cups or 710-950ml peanut oil

Wash and dry the chicken with some paper towels and cut it into pieces.  Put all the pieces into a big Ziploc bag or a large bowl and add the fresh lemon juice.

Put it in the refrigerator for one hour, turning the chicken halfway through to make sure the top pieces get their share of lemon juice time.

Rinse, dry and season the chicken generously with salt, black pepper and cayenne.  I say three teaspoons of cayenne in the ingredients list but truth be told, I just keep sprinkling it on until the chicken is covered in red. We like our chicken spicy.

Put your flour in a paper grocery bag. This was something my grandmother insisted on. Plastic would not do.

Dredge the seasoned chicken in the flour.

Heat your oil in large pot. I use a heavy roaster, just like my grandmother did. Ideally, the oil should be at 375°F or 190°C when the chicken is added. Add a few pieces of the chicken and cover.

Fry on high until brown on both sides.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pot leaving just a small gap, and cook for 30 more minutes.

Remove from heat, drain on paper towels (an extra paper grocery bag also works well) and serve hot.  I pop mine into a warm oven if I am not serving immediately and to keep the first batch warm while I fry the rest.

Repeat the process until all the chicken is cooked.


This leg is for you!