Babe Blue Oxtail Stew

Oxtail Stew


“Nose to tail” eating has carried a stigma throughout the ages and around the globe.   During the Antebellum period of the United States, leftover animal parts were used to feed slaves on plantations.  As a result, dishes comprised of offal (organ meat) and cheap cuts of meat became associated with African-American culture and Southern fare.

During the Victorian era, the stigma of “nose to tail” eating persisted in Europe.   French chef Alexis Soyer despaired that so much good food was going to waste.  He could not understand why the British turned their noses up at it while countries like France ate the whole animal without worrying about such things.  Oxtail soup, which is similar to oxtail stew,  had its origin during the Reign of Terror in Paris in 1793, when many of the nobility were reduced to starvation and begging.  Fresh hides were sent to the tanners without removing the tails, and in cleaning them the tails were thrown away.  One day one of the noble beggars, while happening to pass a tannery, noticed a pile of discarded tails, and asking for one it was willingly given to him.  He took it to his lodging and made what is now famous – the first dish of oxtail soup.  He immediately told his friends of the good luck he had, with the natural result that the tanners were soon annoyed to such an extent by the demand for oxtails that a price was put on them.

For anyone that has not tasted oxtail soup or stew, it is best compared to braised short ribs, but with much more flavor.  Today, the limited availability of oxtail as a grocery item, has made it a very expensive one.  It is no longer a cheap cut of meat.  Oxtail stew is savory and easy to prepare.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox



Although oxtail soup has European origins, oxtail stew would still be a fitting meal for an American lumberjack.  Anyone familiar with North American folklore has heard of Paul Bunyan.  His name evokes images of massive strength and unusual feats.  Paul Bunyan is described as a giant lumberjack, and is often accompanied in stories by his animal companion, Babe the Blue Ox.  Legend has it that Babe was given to him by pioneers, Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.  I’m sure frontiersmen had huge appetites, and would appreciate a hearty warm meal – like oxtail stew.  Sorry, Babe.

Oxtail Stew
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Author: [url href=””]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Oxtail stew is a hearty dish that can satisfy the biggest appetite.
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 lbs oxtails
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway
  • 1 cup carrots (chopped)
  • 1 cup potatoes (peeled and quartered)
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Add onion, celery, tomatoes, chicken broth, oxtails, salt, pepper, thyme, and caraway to a large crock pot. Let it cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. Add carrots and potatoes, then cook for another 2 hours.
  3. Drain liquid and reserve in a separate bowl. Whisk 2 cups of the liquid with cornstarch and pour over oxtails. Stir oxtails, then cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Peter’s Oyster Shooter

Oyster Shooter

peter and the wolf

My husband:  “What’s Russian about it?”

My response:  “Everything!”

That was the conversation that took place, when I told my husband that an oyster shooter was my idea of a Russian themed dish.  Let me explain…

I was looking for something Russian to pair with “Peter and the Wolf”.   For those who aren’t familiar with the tale, “Peter and the Wolf” is a Russian folk tale about a boy who encounters a wolf.  The American version of this story has Peter hunting the wolf with a pop gun.  Now here’s how I translated all of that into a dish.  I thought about the Russian cuisine I’ve had over the years, and there it was at every meal…vodka!  Vodka led to shot glasses which led to an oyster shooter.  To me it makes sense.  An oyster shooter is the perfect Russian dish.

According to legend, the oyster shooter originated in the United States on the West coast.  It was created in a San Francisco restaurant around 1860 by a miner back from the gold fields.  Being hungry, the miner asked on the the restaurant’s waiters to bring him a plate of California raw oysters with some ketchup, horseradish, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a whiskey cocktail. After drinking the whiskey, he put the oysters into the goblet, adding salt and pepper, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and ketchup. The restaurant keeper looked on with interest. “What sort of mess do you call that, partner?” he asked.  The miner responded, “That is what I call an oyster cocktail.”   The next day a sign appeared in the restaurant’s front window:  OYSTER COCKTAIL – FOUR BITS PER GLASS.  Within a week, every restaurant in San Francisco was serving the new dish.


Oyster Shooters
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Author: [url href=””]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Add zing to your meal with oysters shooters.
  • 6 raw oysters (shucked)
  • 6 tablespoons cocktail sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shallots (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon grass (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vodka lumpfish caviar
  • 6 oz vodka (chilled)
  1. Mix cocktail sauce, shallots, lemon grass, Sriracha sauce, and caviar in a small bowl.
  2. Place each oyster in an individual vodka glass. Top with cocktail mixture.
  3. Add 1 oz of vodka to each glass. Gently mix. Garnish as desired with celery or basil, and serve immediately.
Bluepoint oysters are recommended.[br]Best served in a chilled vodka glass.

Mouse Family Fondue



In 1875, fondue was presented as a Swiss national dish.  Fondue brings to mind the imagery of rustic mountain life.  Whereas in reality, fondue was a town-dwellers dish, because peasants couldn’t afford an expensive cheese like Gruyere.  In the United States, fondue achieved popularity in the 1960’s and 1970’s when many American families would gather around a communal pot to dip their fruit, vegetables, and bread in cheese fondue.  Life was simple, people bonded over cheese.  Today there are a few fondue restaurants in existence, but less people serving it at home.  I enjoy fondue and decided to create a recipe for making it at home.

Town Mouse and Country Mouse




The fairy tale paired with this dish is going to be “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”.  The contrast of country versus town living is reflected in the perceptions of fondue, which makes it a natural fit.  Plus, everyone knows that mice love cheese, and you’ll love this Swiss fondue.







Swiss Fondue
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Swiss
Author: [url href=””]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Fondue is a great dish for conversation and bonding with family and friends.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup cherry brandy
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese (shredded)
  • 1 cups Emmentaler cheese (shredded)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch
  • dash of white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg (ground)
  1. Rub inside of fondue pot with cut garlic clove.
  2. Pour wine, brandy, and lemon juice in fondue pot. Cook over medium heat until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and gradually stir in cheese with a wooden spoon.
  3. In a small bow blend cornstarch with kirsch. Blend into cheese and continue to cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture is thick and smooth. Do not allow fondue to boil. Season as desired with white pepper and nutmeg. Serve with selection of bread, vegetables, and fruit.
Serve with cubed French bread, apples, and carrots.





Little Red Hen’s Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip


Tailgating is one of my favorite activities during football season.  There’s always a bunch of team hype, trash talking, and good food.  Buffalo chicken dip is a nice dish you can make ahead of time and bring to a tailgate party.  You can serve it hot or cold.  Fans of buffalo wings will LOVE buffalo chicken dip.  I tried this dish at a bunco party and begged the host for her recipe, which is posted.  I’ve tried other buffalo chicken dip (sold in supermarkets), but this is absolutely my favorite.

The Little Red Hen


Buffalo chicken dip is such a fun dish that I really wanted to include it in the fairy tale feast series.  The trouble was, I couldn’t think of any fairy tales that seemed like a good fit.  Eventually, I came up with “The Little Red Hen”.   It’s the story of a hen that finds a piece of grain and asks for help from the other animals to cultivate it.  At each stage – planting, harvesting, threshing, milling, and baking – she asks for help and no one assists her.  Once she’s done, the little red hen asks who will help her eat the bread, and all of the animals who previously declined now volunteer to help.  She declines their offer to help eat the bread and decides to eat all of it with her little chicks.  The moral of the story being “of any man will not work, never let him eat.”

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: [url href=””]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Buffalo Chicken Dip adds to a tailgate party.
  • 1 whole rotissere chicken (boneless, skinless)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 12 oz hot chicken wing sauce
  • 16 oz blue cheese dressing
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese
  1. Shred the chicken and pour the wing sauce over it. Mix it together in a bowl.
  2. Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Layer the chicken and wing sauce mixture on top of the cream cheese.
  4. Pour the blue cheese dressing on top of the chicken and wing sauce mixture.
  5. Spread mozzarella cheese on top of the blue cheese dressing layer.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Bake in a shallow dish about 2″ deep.


Brer Rabbit’s Gullah Gumbo



Chew on this:  What would Brer Rabbit eat?  He would opt for a Southern regional dish, in my opinion.  Something full of flavor and heritage – like gumbo.  In case you’re not familiar with Brer Rabbit, he is a central figure of the Uncle Remus stories set in the Southern United States.  Brer Rabbit is a trickster who succeeds by his wits rather than by brawn, tweaking authority figures and bending the rules as he sees fit.  The Brer Rabbit stories can be traced back to trickster figures in Africa, particularly the hare that figures prominently in the storytelling traditions in West, Central, and Southern Africa. These tales continue to be part of the traditional folklore of numerous peoples throughout those regions.  Some scholars have suggested that in the American incarnation, Brer Rabbit represented the enslaved Africans who used their wits to overcome adversity and to exact revenge on their adversaries, the White slave-owners. Though not always successful, the efforts of Brer Rabbit made him a folk hero.brer rabbit

Like Brer Rabbit, gumbo has ties to the Southern United States and West Africa.  It is a dish that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century.  It was an attempt to make bouillabaisse in the New World, but was heavily influenced by traditional West African dishes.  Gumbo combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including West African, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Native American.  The Spanish contributed onions, peppers, and tomatoes; Native Americans contributed filé, or ground sassafras leaves; the French gave the roux to the stew and spices from the Caribbean. Over time it became less of a bouillabaisse and more of what is called gumbo. Later the Italians added garlic.  The Germans contributed potato salad as a side and even started the practice of eating gumbo with a scoop of potato salad in it.

My recipe is slightly different from typical Creole gumbo, in that I’m using a smoked country sausage in lieu of Andouille sausage.  This act alone is probably enough to get me banned from the state of Louisiana, but I wanted to make the dish more “Gullah”.    The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Low country region of the United States of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands.  My version of gumbo is full of flavor and heritage – just like Brer Rabbit.

Now, here comes the hard part boys and girls.  It doesn’t take a lot of talent to make gumbo, but it does take time.  To do it properly, you need seafood stock.  My suggestion is to make the stock in advance.  It’s a great ingredient to have around.  Stock up on stock.  Make a big batch and freeze the left over portion for later use.


Gullah Gumbo
Recipe Type: soup
Cuisine: American
Author: [url href=”” target=”_blank”]Once Upon A Tine[/url]
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
Gumbo is full of flavor and heritage. It combines the ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures.
  • 1 1/4 cups butter (divided)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 2 cups onion (chopped)
  • 1 lb smoked country sausage (sliced 1/4” thick)
  • 4 1/2 cups seafood stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 16 oz okra (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 2 lbs medium shrimp (peeled, deveined) – use shrimp from seafood stock
  • 1 lb crab meat (remove any shell pieces) – use crabs from seafood stock
  • 1 lb crab claws (half open claw shell with meat)
  • 2 lb small scallops
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon gumbo filé powder[br]
  • Seafood Stock
  • 2 lbs medium shrimp (with head and shell-on)
  • 6 blue crabs
  • 8 tablespoons of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts water
  1. [i]Make the seafood stock[/i]: Peel and devein shrimp, removing shells and heads. Set shrimp bodies aside in a small bowl. Set shells and heads aside in a separate larger bowl.
  2. Add salt and water to a large pot, then bring to a boil. Add the crabs and salt. Cover the pot, and boil for 7 minutes. Drain immediately and set the crabs aside to cool. Don’t discard water. It will be used later.
  3. Peel the front flaps and tops off the crabs and place in the large bowl with the shrimp heads and shells.
  4. Take the remaining crab body and scoop out the “yuckiness” from the middle of the crab. (Yuckiness is defined as anything in a crab that is orange, yellow, or green; literally a bunch of crap to be discarded.)
  5. Breakout the crab bodies and crab claws, and scoop out as much crab meat as you can. Set aside crab meat for the gumbo. Put any additional crab shells into bowl with other crab and shrimp shells.
  6. Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the crab and shrimp shells and shrimp heads. Stir until the shells turn pink – about 3 minutes. Add the onion, celery, garlic, paprika, saffron, bay leaves, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and gently simmer for 1 hour.
  7. Remove the stock from the heat and strain, discarding the solids. Voila! You have seafood stock![br][br]
  8. [i]On to the gumbo: [/i] Melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Add bell pepper, onion, and celery. Cook until tender.
  9. In a separate skillet, cook sausage until down – approximately 10 minutes – then add to saucepan with vegetables.
  10. [i]Make a roux: [/i] In a large pot, heat 1 cup of butter and flour. Whisk over medium heat until roux has a rich brown color. Do not burn roux.
  11. Add stock, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; stir well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Skim any foam and grease off the top.
  12. Add sausage and vegetables to pot. Stir well, then add Cajun seasoning, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, and thyme; mix well. Stir in okra, shrimp, crab meat, crab claws and scallops. Slowly add filé while stirring constantly. Lower heat and stir 5-10 minutes until scallops are cooked. Serve with rice or potato salad.