Sometimes you feel so alone only a giant pan of cornbread can assuage your broken heart.
That’s what author Ellise Pierce found out when she pulled up Texas roots and moved to France. The result of her despair (and ultimate adventure) is Cowgirl Chef, a collection of recipes and stories that blend the Lone Star State and the City of Light.
When I first moved to Paris, I was so homesick the only thing I could think to do to reconnect with Texas was cook my favorite foods. So I turned my tiny kitchen into a taqueria and made everything I missed, from beef brisket tacos to salsa and corn tortillas. Then I started a catering and cooking class business, thinking others might be missing these things, too — and I was right. It wasn’t long until I began to adjust to life in France, make friends, and develop a deep love for French cuisine. As I started to play around with French recipes, I’d add a Texas accent here and there, like making a peanut butter souffle with a chocolate middle; or I’d do the reverse, such as add Roquefort to a slaw meant for a taco.
This easy recipe for jalapeno pimiento cheese toast becomes the stuff of dreams when you top it with sliced tomatoes and crispy bacon.
Jalapeno Pimiento Cheese Tartines
4 c. grated cheddar cheese
¼ sm. red onion, finely chopped
1-2 md. jalapeno peppers (membranes and seeds, too, if you like the heat), finely chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper (jarred are okay), finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, plus a little more for serving
2-3 tbsp. roasted red bell pepper mayo (recipe below)
4 big slices of country bread, toasted
Sea salt and pepper
1. Gently mix together the grated cheese, onion, jalapeno, roasted red bell pepper, and dill in a bowl. Add roasted red pepper mayo and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
3. Spread on toasted bread and sprinkle with a little more dill.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Mayo
Makes about 1 cup
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 roasted red bell pepper (jarred is okay)
½ lemon, juiced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 c. vegetable or olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1. Put the egg yolk, egg, Dijon, bell pepper, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor and blend. While the motor’s running, very slowly add the oil. Season to taste.
Cowgirl Chef is available online at amazon.com, $16.50. For more recipes and information, go to cowgirlchef.com. Pierce will sign books on June 2, 2 p.m., at the SMU Barnes & Noble, 3060 Mockingbird Lane (214-891-9000).
Photo: Courtesy of Running Press