Several items, all probably indigenous only to the South, are the in-betweens, neither sweet nor savory, but a delicious, unexpected combination of both. I’m thinking of having two at our party (one of which I’ll ask DS to make a couple of big pyrex pans of---“HIS” Pigs in Blankets. I can work for several days on a party, and when he walks in and sets down whatever he's bringing---it's like a vacuum, drawing all things to it. I just beam, 'cause I taught him).
They’re the usual tiny kielbasa-type sausages wrapped in neat strips of Pillsbury’s Crescent Roll dough, and then a honey/butter/brown sugar syrup poured around and amongst them before baking. They are crusty and crispy and golden on top, as usual, but the bottom part is almost like a sweet dumpling bubbled down in that lovely syrup. The combination of rich salty sausage and crisp bread and the luscious syrupy softness of the dough---it answers all the senses but hearing, I suppose, and you wouldn’t care if Bach were playing---live from Leipzig on your IPOD--- when you taste these.
You pat out a pack of rolls, all into one sheet, finger-tapping the little perforations closed. Cut with a pizza cutter into small strips. Wrap each sausage with the ends showing, and with the overlap at the bottom (prettier that way, and more dough down in the syrup). Spray the pan---it should be one you can take to the table, because these need to be served "As Is" and As Soon As they come from the oven.
Mix 1 stick melted butter, ¼ cup honey and ¼ cup brown sugar. Drizzle in between all the rolls, and bake 375 for 18-20 minutes. Serve these directly from the dish---nobody minds when the taste is this good. And better make a pan for each 10 guests you expect, for most occasions, like brunch. Tea-time allows for a more dainty serving, but don’t always count on it.
I got this next recipe from a lovely Italian neighbor, along with the family recipes for ravioli (I was surprised when she sent me a half-gallon jar of the lovely little pillows in broth. It’s customary to make them that way when all the ladies of the family get together in one kitchen to make hundreds at a time. That way, each family can use their own recipe for sauce once they get them home). And the latugi---they used to send us great cardboard boxes of the wonderful crisp bows, tucked into themselves just so and deep-fried before being rolled in sugar or cinnamon-sugar.
She served an oddly-juxtaposed cheese dish at a wedding shower at her house, and I think we all took a dainty bit, then went back for seconds.
It’s grated sharp cheese, a nice garlicky aoli, and cracked black pepper, stirred well together and formed into a small ring in a Jello mold---somehow lots of Southern recipes are predicated on the idea that simply evvabody has an aspic mold. Then when it’s turned out to serve, you pour a jar of store-bought strawberry preserves or fig preserves into the center, and serve with melbas or Carr’s.
This last one is kinda like that conversation in Saturday Night Fever, when Tony says, “I made up that dance.” “You did?” “Well, I saw it on TV and then I made it up."
I saw Miss Paula make bowties and serve with chocolate sauce for dipping. I wanted a kinda betwixt/between, and on most of the occasions for these, we serve strawberries with hot fudge for dipping, so I decided to make them with the same egg wash for glue and glaze, but instead of just sugar sprinkle, I tried Turbinado, some almost-pretzel-salt and toasted sesame seeds, pressed into the dough after the glaze went on.
Line cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat. Roll the thawed puff pastry into a 12” square for 1”x2” bows, brush egg wash on top only, and sprinkle with dry mixture:
In a small bowl, mix:
3 T. turbinado sugar
1 tsp. Maldon salt
¼ c. toasted sesame seeds.
Sprinkle carefully over the entire top of the glazed pastry. Roll the pin back over the whole thing, pressing lightly, so the dry toppings will adhere. Press the edge of a ruler into the top to mark off 1”x2” sections, then cut with a zigzag pizza cutter into strips.
Pick up each one and give it two twists in the middle so the toppings are on top. It’s kinda messy, and you might want to pick up any spillage and press them onto the tops. Place bows in rows on cookie sheet, with a little room for spread.
Chill the whole cookie sheet of bows, then bake as directed on the puff pastry box. Makes 6 dozen. And whatever is stuck to the bottom side gives them a lovely something extra, like the crunch on a palmier.
The fried bowknots are wonderful, but I prefer not to be deep-frying when I’m getting ready for a pretty party, so these are perfect---they keep for three days, in an airtight container.
The combination of sweet and salt and the rich depth of the toasty seeds---a lovely bite, especially with tea or coffee as the twilight deepens and the party winds down.