Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Orleans Seafood Gumbo

Another great recipe from Cajun-Creole Cooking. The original recipe calls for frog legs. I have substituted chicken thighs. I don't usually mix up the seasonings for the chicken. I just sprinkle seasoning on the chicken. Also, don't worry if you don't have all this seafood. I've made it just with shrimp and crab meat. Substitute what is fresh and what you like.

8-10 servings

Seasoning for chicken:
1/2 tsp each salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder

1 1/2 recipes Cajun Roux (recipe follows)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 qts Seafood stock
2 lbs uncooked shrimp, shelled & deveined.
1 tbl minced parsley
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbl fresh
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt to taste
1 lb lump crabmeat
1 lb skinned redfish fillets, or any mild white fish, cut into chunks
1/2 lb bay scallops

5 cups hot cooked rice
3 1/2 tbl file powder
chopped green onions
chopped parsley

Cajun Roux
1 cup crisco
1 cup flour
Melt crisco in a 12" iron skillet and add flour. Stir well and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until the roux is mahogany colored. If you are doing other things, you can turn this off and let the residual heat from the pan continue to cook it. Then when you return, stir and turn the heat back on. This will take about 30-45 minutes.

Seafood Stock
Shrimp shells, tails & heads
Trimmings from fish
1/2 onion
1/2 celery stalk
1 garlic clove
8 bottles clam juice
2 1/2 qts water
2 bay leaves
1 medium lemon

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, skimming any scum that rises to the top, for about 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Strain.

Prepare the seafood stock and let cook while you prepare the roux. Both these things can be done ahead & refrigerated if you like. Season chicken and add to hot roux. Cook, stirring, until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic; cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the seafood stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Add parsley, thyme, black pepper, cayenne, and salt. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. (You can make ahead to this point and refrigerate. Reheat before proceeding.) Add shrimp, crabmeat, fish, and scallops. Cook over medium heat 15 minutes. Taste & adjust seasonings. Spoon gumbo over 1/2 cup rice in a bowl. Sprinkle with file powder, green onion & parsley.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Another great recipe from Cajun-Creole Cooking. This is a delicious gumbo. I don't usually mix up the seasonings for the chicken. I just sprinkle seasoning on the chicken breasts.

8-10 servings

Seasoning for chicken:
1/2 tsp each salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder

8 boneless,skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup Crisco
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
3 qts canned chicken broth (I like Progresso the most)
1 lb andouille sausage or kielbasa, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
black pepper
2 cups sliced fresh okra or 1 10 oz pkg frozen
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup minced parsley
5 cups hot cooked rice

Place in a plastic bag and sprinkle liberally with seasoning mix. Add flour and shake chicken. Remove chicken, shaking off excess flour. Reserve flour. Heat crisco in a large dutch oven and brown chicken in batches. Remove chicken and add reserved flour to pan and stir over medium low heat until you have a mahogany colored roux. Remove from heat and add onions, peppers, and celery at once, stirring to blend. Return to heat and cook until vegetables are wilted. Slowly stir in stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add sausage, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add chicken and simmer 25 minutes, stirring often. Add okra & cook 20 minutes. To serve, stir in green onions & parsley & serve over rice in soup bowls.

Bread Pudding

This recipe was originally from Cajun-Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson. I change it to suit what I have in my pantry. I tend to use the leftover bread that I have. I've used croissants and other breads as long as they aren't strongly flavored. I don't use the coconut. I have also changed the cooking method to a bain marie. For your bain marie, place a roasting pan in the oven and fill it about 1/4 full with hot water.  Let it heat as the oven is preheating.  Then place your baking pan into the roasting pan full of water.  The water should come about halfway up the sides of your baking pan. 

7 tbl butter,melted
1/4 cup butter, melted
16 cups lightly packed, dry French bread cubes
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbls vanilla extract
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups milk
3/4 cup dark or golden raisins
(3/4 cup flaked coconut)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans

Hard Sauce
1 cup butter @ room temp
1 1/2 cups confectioners'sugar
1/2 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 and place a roasting pan (big enough to hold the 13 x 9 baking dish in the oven) 1/2 full of water in the oven.

Pour 7 tbl butter into a 13 x 9 baking pan & swirl it around to coat bottom & sides.
Pour excess butter & additional 1/4 cup butter into a small bowl & set aside. Beat eggs & sugar until light & thick (about 3-4 minutes). Add remaining ingredients including reserved butter. Add bread cubes, mix to coat, and let stand for 30-45 minutes to absorb custard. Turn all into baking pan, stir to evenly distribute raisins & nuts. Bake in a bain marie 45-60 minutes or until golden brown.

Hard Sauce

Beat butter with sugar. Add bourbon and mix well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Southern New Year's Menu

The two must-have menu items are black-eyed peas and collard greens, peas for luck and greens for riches. After that, you can add or subtract any menu items.

Roast fresh ham

black eyed peas

collard greens

fried okra

fried corn

pickled peaches

Heavenly Hash

Corn bread

Pecan Pie

Lemon icebox pie

Christmas Dinner Menu

Shrimp Bisque

Standing Rib Roast

Horseradish Sauce

Broccoli-Cauliflower Timbales

Twice baked potato casserole



Christmas cookies

Grasshopper or Pink Squirrel Pie

Cayenne Toasts

From Canjun-Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson, serve these with sundried tomato spread over goat cheese or with soups or salads.

12-18 Servings

3 French bread loaves, cut into 1/4" slices

1 cup olive oil
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder

Preheat oven to 200. Mix all ingredients except bread together. Lay slices on baking sheets and brush with topping mixture. Whisk mixture often. Bake in oven about 1 hour. Cool on wire racks and store in airtight containers. Cooled toasts can be packed in freezer containers and frozen up to 2 months. Recrisp frozen toasts in 350 oven for 5-7 minutes.

Sundried Tomato Spread Over Goat Cheese with Cayenne Toasts

This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cajun Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson. Every recipe is fantastic! This is easy and do-ahead. I changed this to use oil-packed tomatoes because it saves the step of rehydrating the tomatoes. If you want to use the dried tomatoes, steam them for about 45 minutes and proceed.

8-10 servings

approximately 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves
2 sprigs parsley
5 basil leaves or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of sugar
1 green onion, coursely chopped

2 (4 oz) goat cheese rounds
Cayenne toasts, crackers, or little french bread toasts

Place all ingredients except cheese and toasts in food processor. Process until almost smooth. Place goat cheese on serving dish, pour spread over cheese. Serve with cayenne toasts or crackers

New Orleans Dinner Menu

Sundried tomato spread on goat cheese with cayenne toasts

Shrimp Creole

Red Onion and Mandarin Orange Salad w/ Poppyseed dressing

Bread Pudding with hard sauce

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops

I made these last night for dinner & they were incredible. I thought that they were very easy to make, although they do take a while to bake in the oven. These are not the typical stuffed pork chop, overflowing with stuffing.  The stuffing merely serves to flavor the meat and keep it moist. 

I served this with rice pilaf, but orzo would be nice also.

Serves 4-5

Preheat oven to 325

For stuffing
5 tbl Italian flavored bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup or more extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp rosemary or thyme
salt & pepper

5 boneless, double pork chops

2 tbl olive oil
1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbl tomato paste
salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Add enough oil to make the mixture moist. Taste & season with salt & pepper.

Cut a pocket in each of the pork chops & fill with stuffing. Salt & pepper each side of chops. Heat olive oil in skillet and add chops, browning well on each side. Reduce heat & add wine, stock, and tomato paste. Bake in oven for about 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes & add some water if it's beginning to look a little dry. (You can also add some water at the end of cooking if the juices have become too concentrated.)

Parmesean Popovers

Super easy and delicious--popovers are the solution when you want hot, homemade bread for dinner.
Preheat oven to 450

6 servings

1/4 Cup fresh grated parmesean cheese
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tbl butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs

Place oven rack on next to lowest shelf. Grease 6 deep muffin or custard cups and sprinkle with parmesean; set aside.

Combine milk, flour, butter, and salt in bowl. Beat in eggs just until blended. Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 (do not open oven door.) and bake 20 minutes more. Carefully remove popovers with spatula and serve immediately.

Toasted Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Sandwiches

This recipe is from Bon Appetit via I thought these were delicious, but very rich--great with red wine. I changed this recipe to an open face sandwich in order to serve it as an appetizer.

Makes 24 wedges
The caramelized onion jam can be prepared three days before you make the sandwiches.

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 large white onions, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 2 tablespoons chopped golden raisins
* 4 5 1/2x3x1/2-inch slices rustic country bread, such as walnut, pecan, or walnut-raisin
* 2 6-ounce wedges soft blue cheese (Bon Appetit calls for Cambazola or Gorgonzola dolcelatte. I like Maytag), sliced

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook until just beginning to color, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add sugar and cook until onions are deep golden brown and very soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vinegar and raisins. Season caramelized onions to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat broiler

Toast both sides of bread slices. Arrange bread slices on jelly roll pan. Top each with 1/4 cup caramelized onions. Top with cheese, dividing equally. Put pan under broiler and broil until cheese is melted. Transfer to cutting board. Cut each sandwich into 6 wedges.

Apricot Nut Bread

This recipe came from Gourmet magazine. I first made it for a buffet that we had after Patrick's baptism in Birmingham. I still make these for Christmas. They are just delicious served with ham.

Preheat oven to 375

6 oz dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup currants
2 tbl softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 Cup milk
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tbl grated orange rind
3 cup flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 Cup chopped pecans

Combine fruits with 1 cup boiling water; let stand 20 minutes & drain.

Cream butter & sugar; add eggs, milk, oj, and rind. Sift dry ingredients together and add. Place in well buttered 7 1/4 x 3 11/2" pans. Bake 60-80 minutes. (Reduce heat to 350 if loaves brown too fast.) Cool 10 minutes & turn out onto racks. Makes 2 loaves.

Banana Bread

I can't remember who I got this recipe from, but it is absolutely the best! Sweet and moist, full of banana flavor, you will love this banana bread. If you have ripe bananas, but no time to make this, throw the bananas in the freezer until you do have time. Take them out, defrost, and proceed.

I don't grease & flour my pans. I use Baker's Secret which saves time & mess.

I usually bake these in the miniature loaf pans and decrease the cooking time to 35-40 minutes. This also makes great banana cupcakes too. I'll decrease time 20-25 minutes. I think that these would be fantastic with cream cheese icing. I'll have to try it sometime.

The last time I made these, I prepared them entirely in the food processor. If you have one, it's super easy. Instructions follow.

1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 C shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 C flour
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk
1 C chopped pecans or walnuts
3 mashed ripe bananas

For a mixer: cream sugar & shortening together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Sift together dry ingredients and add them in thirds, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla, nuts, and bananas. Bake in a greased, floured loaf pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour @ 350. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes and turn out on racks to cool completely. For cupcakes, line about 15 muffin tins with liners, fill 3/4 full and bake 25 minutes.

For the food processor: Chop nuts and remove to another bowl. Chop bananas and move to bowl with nuts. Cream sugar & shortening together. Add eggs one at a time, processing well after each. Sift together dry ingredients and add them in thirds, alternating with buttermilk. Add the mixture to bowl with nuts, and bananas and add vanilla. Stir all together. Bake in a greased, floured loaf pan for 45 minutes to 1 hour @ 350. Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes and turn out on racks to cool completely. For cupcakes, line about 15 muffin tins with liners, fill 3/4 full and bake 25 minutes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lemon cheesecake with strawberry compote

This may be the perfect spring dessert. It's a variation of the amaretto cheesecake recipe. I love this because it's so easy. You can make the entire thing in your food processor. Next time I make this I think I'll make a graham cracker crust instead.  If strawberries aren't in season, you could certainly do this with other berries, or even with frozen berries.

Make this the day ahead.

Put a roasting pan half full of water into oven. Preheat oven to 350


40 vanilla wafers
3/4 C finely slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C, plus 2 tbl melted butter

3 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
4 eggs
1/3 C whipping cream
1/3 C fresh lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons

1 C sour cream
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 Tbl sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Crust: Spray a 9" springform pan with Pam.
Put pan onto a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and mold the foil up the sides of the pan. In a food processor-process ingredients & press evenly over bottom and sides of pan.

Filling: Process cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing in between. Add cream, process. Add lemon juice and rind and process well. Pour into crust. Place pan (wrapped in foil) into bain marie (roasting pan full of water). Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 225 and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cook on rack 5 minutes. (Can be frozen at the point. Defrost to room temperature before proceeding.)

Topping: Combine all ingredients and spread over cake. Bake 5 more minutes. Cook, cover and refrigerate overnight. Unmold and serve.

Strawberry Compote

1 quart of strawberries, Washed, hulled, and chopped
1 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon

Place strawberries & sugar in small saucepan. Bring slowly up to heat and let cook, stirring occassionally, until thick. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Leg of Lamb studded with rosemary & garlic

* 1 (7-pound) semi-boneless leg of lamb, aitchbone removed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick, and lamb tied
* 4 garlic cloves
* 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Pat lamb dry and score fat by making shallow cuts all over with tip of a sharp small knife.

Slice garlic into slivers & cut rosemary into small pieces. Stud the lamb all over with garlic & rosemary. Salt & pepper lamb. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roast lamb in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into thickest part of meat (do not touch bone) registers 130°F, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 15 to 25 minutes (internal temperature will rise to about 140°F for medium-rare).

Goat cheese with basil and lemon

I made this yesterday for Easter. I thought it was delicious. If you are not a goat cheese fan, this would be good over cream cheese or ricotta cheese as well.

Serves 8-10

1 6" log goat cheese
1 bunch fresh basil, sliced into chiffonade
1 lemon, grated rind & juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano


Make a vinegrette of the lemon juice & olive. Add rind, basil, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Place goat cheese on serving plate & pour vinegrette over. Grate pecorino romano over all. Let stand and serve at room temperature.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cornish Game Hens with Garlic and Lemon

I made these last night for dinner. They were very easy and delicious. I served them with a simple rice pilaf that baked in the oven with the hens. I also fixed a ragu of mushrooms,red peppers, and zucchini, and plain green beans for your dad.

Serves 3-4

2 cornish game hens, cut in half lengthwise
3 fat cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1/2 onion, cut in quarters
1 lemon, rind & juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Place hens in a plastic ziplock bag and add all remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to 350 and dump hens & all the marinade into a roasting pan. Arrange hens skin side up. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Pea Soup from Michael Chiarello (food network)

This may be my Easter soup. It sounds great, but I would use frozen tiny peas.  I have rarely been able to find fresh peas that weren't old and starchy.  Frozen peas are reliably delicious and -- no shelling-- much less work.


* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
* 1 1/2 cups sliced leek, white and pale green parts only
* 3/4 cup diced celery
* 2 1/4 cups chicken stock mixed with 2 1/4 cups water
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 4 1/2 cups shelled English peas (about 4 1/2 pounds unshelled)
* 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1/8 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid (1 tablet vitamin C crushed)
* Sea salt, preferably gray salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Creme fraiche, basil oil, finely sliced fresh chives, or prosciutto bits, optional


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for about 1 minute, then add the sliced white and pale green parts of the leek and celery. Stir often while cooking until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Do not let them color. Then pour the diluted stock into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Add the cream to the vegetable mixture and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and return to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the peas are just tender, about 8 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and simmer for 1 minute longer, then remove from the heat. Transfer in batches to a blender with the ascorbic acid and puree, adding more of the stock-water mixture as needed to thin the soup to a pleasing consistency. Pour soup into a bowl set in an ice bath and stir until cooled. (we want to cool it down as quickly as possible) Serve soup with optional garnishes.

Chef's Tip: Ascorbic acid helps keep the green color in pureed herbs and vegetables. If you have vitamin C tablets on hand, just crush one with a rolling pin and add it to the mixture in the blender. Note that you'll need a blender to puree the soup. A food processor doesn't make it smooth enough.

Easter Dinner 2009

We're going to have leg of lamb studded with garlic & rosemary, roasted asparagus, and scalloped potatoes. I decided to make a lemon cheesecake for dessert and served it with fresh strawberries and blueberries, as well as a strawberry compote. Great dinner, great wines.


Goat cheese with Lemon and Basil

Leg of Lamb studded with garlic and rosemary

3 Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Steamed Asparagus

Sister Schubert's Dinner Rolls

Lemon Cheesecake with strawberry compote and fresh berries

Thursday, April 09, 2009

California Chicken Salad from

I haven't tried this yet, but I already know that I'm going to change a few things.
I may try this with left over chicken. I won't cook the corn. It is sweet, delicious, and slightly crunchy when uncooked. I will also substitute grape tomatoes for plum tomatoes. They are so pretty, cut in half, in a salad. Also, I will probably use real bacon because I don't usually keep turkey bacon in the house. Oh, and I think that 2 tbls of mustard is too much. I'll use 1 tbl and see how that tastes.


* 6 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon rice wine (or apple cider) vinegar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


* 3 boneless, skinless whole chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
* 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon sweet chili powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Vegetable oil cooking spray
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 3 ears of corn, husked
* 1/2 pound asparagus stalks (about 10), ends trimmed, cut into thirds
* 3 plum tomatoes, diced
* 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoons pine nuts
* 3 slices turkey bacon, cooked as directed on package, chopped


Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender. Sprinkle chicken with garlic and chili powders, salt and pepper. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet over high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add chicken. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 6 minutes per side, turning halfway through. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool chicken and slice thinly. Boil corn in a medium saucepan 5 minutes; cool, then cut kernels off cob; place in a bowl. Steam asparagus in 1 inch boiling water 3 minutes; drain and cool 1 minute. Add to bowl along with remaining vegetables. Heat a dry pan over medium heat. Add pine nuts. Cook, stirring often, until toasted, about 6 minutes. Place salad on a platter; top with chicken, bacon, pine nuts and dressing.