Friday, April 20, 2012

Off to Amsterdam....

I love Amsterdam so much.  I'm headed back to one of my favorite places today where I will be taking in the Spring tulips at Keukenhof.  Tulips and beautiful flowers as far as the eye can see!  Check out the color explosion here.

....stay tuned for all of the gorgeous photos next week!

Have a weekend filled with laughter, some good food ;) and beauty (look's everywhere!)

The Southern Stump

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The perfect hangover cure...THE FRY UP SANDWICH!!!!

The man and I had a lovely dinner last night with our friends and their little beautiful baby girl born a few weeks ago.  Our cuisine of choice...TURKISH!  We visited Levante,  a local turkish gem with fresh food cooked in clear view of the customers.  The amazing smells of all of the flavors just surf around the restaurant.  It makes for a really a nice Saturday evening.

You can see that we enjoyed a few brews along with some treats including Hummus,  Turkish Sausage and Grilled Halloumi Cheese. If you have never had Halloumi,  try and track some down...grill it like you would a steak (I'm won't melt) and put it over a salad with some tomatoes and light dressing...change your life.  

This AM,  one of us wasn't feeling on top of his A game so I decided to whip up a hangover cure sandwich that I thought I would share with the Southern Stumpers!!!  It's super easy and can be thrown together in ten minutes tops!  It's taking the amazing traditional British Fry up and throwing it into some bread ....result...THE FRY UP SANDWICH.

What you will need:

2-3 pieces of thick cut bacon (or any bacon)
1 egg
two slices of multi grain/whole wheat bread or a roll...the thicker the bread, the better!
Ketchup, HP Brown sauce or no sauce at all...up to you!

First get your bacon into a frying pan and let it get working.  After about 2 minutes,  add your sliced onions.  Don't chop them too fine...just easy strips as you see above.

Meanwhile,  prep your bread.  I keep some butter out in one of my mini croquettes out of the fridge so it is nice and soft when I need it.  I recommend this as it just makes butter spreading on much easier!  

Toast the bread and spread over your butter and sauce of choice.  I'm an HP Brown sauce girl but my man likes the ketchup so there you go....

Move your bacon and onions over to the side of the pan and adjust the surface so they are off the direct heat from below (this applies more to gas grills).  Crack open an egg and start to fry.  Take a fork and open the yolk.  This way the nice flavor is spread over the entire egg and not just in one place...

Depending how you like your eggs...cook accordingly.  Give it a flip and you're almost there...

Set your finished egg on one side of the bread and the bacon/onion mixture on the other. 

Join the two sides and out! This sandwich will KNOCK YOU OUT!!!!

This is a super easy sandwich to throw together and a perfect way to start your Saturday or Sunday morning!!!


See you all back here at The Southern Stump soon!!!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The rain in SPAIN!

I was recently debating deleting this blog but after checking out the stats and seeing that people from multiple countries are stopping by the Southern Stump made me realize..."The blog must go on!!!!"

Things have been insane for the last few months.  The Southern Stump (that's me) got engaged so wedding planning is in full swing.

...but there is plenty of time to dish about that so for today,  let's go to Spain!!!

I surprised my fiance with a trip to Barcelona last weekend.  It was a late birthday bonus for him after he surprised ME on his day back in January.  For his birthday,  I got him the Linda McCartney "My life in Photographs" coffee table book which is really great.  He got me a trip to Ireland and an engagement I felt like I wanted to return the surprise to him!!!

Before we dive into Spain,  take a look at some of the photos from Linda McCartney's book.  She captures moments between the Beatles and her family that are not photoshopped,  posed, set up etc.  These are always the best photographs.

There are too many favorites in the book.  I think this is a great addition to any coffee table as it is just filled with beautiful photographs that spark conversation and make you appreciate her work.  You can buy the book HERE

Now,  off to BARCELONA!  I told my guy to meet me in town around 8:00 after my Bikram session so we could go to dinner.  He was bringing items for the weekend which I told him to pack.  About midway through dinner,  he asked "Where are we going?  It's 9:30 and we are still in London!!".  What he didn't know was that I booked a room at a hotel next to Heathrow as our flight was EARLY the next morning.

When we got to the airport,  I managed to get him all the way to our gate without him having any idea what was going on!  Once at the gate,  he got excited that he didn't know so he turned his boarding pass over and snuck onto the plane none the wiser.  It wasn't until the Captain came on and said "Ladies and Gentlemen,  we'd like to welcome you aboard this nonstop service to Barcelona!"....that he realized. He was very excited.  I was excited too.....a new country with new sites and FOOD!!!

First Stop:  Sagrada Familia,  a Roman Catholic Bascilica located in the heart of Catalonia.

Architect Antoni Gaudi designed this stunning building with the idea of bringing nature and religion together to form a masterpiece.  You can see his vision brought to life when you enter the massive space.

The columns supporting the space branch out to look like trees.  I have never seen a ceiling so high.  It was really beautiful.

When you look up,  it looked like you were standing in a forest.  This picture doesn't do justice but it gives you an idea.  

The building is still being completed.  Gaudi died in 1926 after being struck by a passing tram.  He knew that he would not live to see his work completed,  so he left countless descriptive documents to advise any future architects and engineers who would work on the project.  The result is this stunning building.  It is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Barcelona.

All of this art had us hungry! We found a lovely square and enjoyed some wine, sandwiches and Spanish Beer.  

Next stop was another work by Antoni Gaudi appropriately called "Gaudi's Garden".  It is a beautiful park and trail where his aesthetic is illustrated in the small structures scattered throughout.  We had a nice walk there.

Looking around other spots in Barcelona,  we got to see some amazing views.  It is such a stunning city.  You look to the left....mountains.  Look to the right...the beach.  You can ride a bike from the hills to the sea in 1/2 hour.  I was instantly in love!

The Catalan flag flies over the city.

We were only in Barcelona for a few days but we got to have some amazing food while there.  Here we have fried calamari and bread toasted and then covered with crushed tomatoes.  They were delicious.

THE STAR OF THE SHOW!  PAELLA!!!  The word paella is was created by the Catalan people even though it is considered a dish from the Valencia region of Spain.  The french world "paelle" means pan and, as you can comes in quite a pan!!!! We had the seafood version and it was absolutely amazing! 

Yes,  I think I will....have seconds ...and thirds!  Spain was fantastic and I am an admitted full on travel addict now!  I can't wait to see where the adventures take The Southern Stump next!!!!

Have you ever made Paella?  It looks VERY intimidating but if you can track down the ingredients,  it is actually quite easy to make.  Take a look at this recipe and give it a try!  Take it from me,  it is worth the will be a STAR in your family!    This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.  

Serves 6

This recipe is for making paella in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12 inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can also be made in a paella pan (see instructions below). Dry-cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for paella, but fresh chorizo or linguiƧa is an acceptable substitute. Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In our version, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to 6.


1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined

olive oil

8-9 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)

 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise

 1 red bell pepper , seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips 

8 ounces Spanish chorizo , sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (see note)

1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained, minced, and drained again 

2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio

 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup dry white wine

 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads , crumbled

1 bay leaf

1 dozen mussels.  (Southern Stump Note:  Make sure your mussles are slightly open and close when you tap them (i.e. they are alive).  If they have NOT opened fully after cooking,  throw them away.  

 1/2 cup frozen green peas , thawed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 lemon , cut into wedges, for serving


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.4. 

4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

5. Optional: If soccarat (see note) is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.
6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

7. If You're Using a Paella Pan A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14 to 15 inches in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1 1/2 minutes for even browning.

Searching for Soccaret
Soccarat is the toasty, browned portion of rice that forms along the bottom of the pan. It is the hallmark of authentic paella. To create this crusty bottom layer of rice, return the Dutch oven to the stovetop for five minutes once the paella has finished baking.