Wednesday, August 27, 2014 New Orleans Night

It's been a long day.  Heck, it's been a long week.  And it's only Wednesday.  And I have Friday off.  Gosh, now I sound like I can't make it through five days of work.  But I promise, it's been rough.  So instead of waiting for the weekend, I decided to try out a drink recipe a little early.  And it's fantastic.  Think liquid pralines.  Yum!

New Orleans Night
Adapted from

¾ ounce vodka
½ ounce praline liqueur
2 ounces cream of coconut
1 ounce heavy cream

Shake and pour over ice.

Makes 1 cocktail

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Southern Living: Barbecue Sauce Baked Catfish

I had never heard of barbecue sauce on catfish.  Catfish coated in cornmeal?  Check.  Catfish grilled?  Check.  Barbecue catfish?  Nada.  Surprisingly, it's awfully good.  I'm not sure what it would taste like with a bottled sauce, but the included sauce recipe is pretty darn good.

Barbecue Sauce Baked Catfish
Adapted from Southern Living magazine, May 2003

¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon Jamaican jerk seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced
5 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Stir together first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper; arrange in an even layer in a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined broiler pan. Pour barbecue sauce over catfish.

Bake at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Garnish, if desired.

Makes 5 servings

Monday, August 25, 2014

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook: Sunshine Carrots

This may be one of the first recipes I made on my own.  I'm sure my mother was hovering in the background to make sure: 1) I didn't accidentally do something like substitute salt for sugar and 2) I didn't burn down the house.  To this day I have a kind of fondness for these carrots.  Plus it's always fun to get your vitamins when they're smothered in a yummy sauce.  Wait, does sugar undo the vitamins?

Sunshine Carrots
From the 1974 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

5 medium carrots
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Dash salt
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cut carrots into chunks.  Cook, covered, until just tender, about 20 minutes.

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, ginger, and salt.  Add juice; cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in butter.  Toss with carrots and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Food and Wine: Wild Mushroom Beef Stroganoff

I've been wanting to make beef stroganoff for a while now.  I don't know how I get these ideas in my head; they just seem to pop up one day and won't leave until I do something about them.  No, I'm not crazy.  Yet.  Although I'm sure the clerk at Central Market thinks I am after ringing up five different bags of mushrooms.  Hey, what can I say, I like mushrooms.  This particular mixture was cremini, shiitake, hen of the woods, and oyster.

Wild Mushroom Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound mixed wild mushrooms
Salt and pepper
1 pound sirloin steak, sliced across the grain into ¼-inch strips
¼ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup dry white wine
1 small onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ cups beef broth or stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of dried thyme
1 tablespoon brandy
½ cup full-fat sour cream

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until melted.  Add the mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat until softened, about 3 minutes.  Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute longer.  Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.

Generously season the steak with salt and pepper.  Toss the steak with the flour until evenly coated; gently tap off the excess.  Heat another 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet.  Add the steak slices, without touching, and cook until richly browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the steak to the bowl with the mushrooms.  Add the wine to the skillet and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Add the wine to the mushrooms and steak.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter until melted and bubbling.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Return the contents of the steak bowl to the skillet.  Stir in the broth, Dijon mustard, and thyme, and simmer over moderate heat until the pan juices thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy and sour cream.  Season the stroganoff with salt and pepper and serve over buttered egg noodles.

Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sour Cream Corn and Bacon

There's a gas station near downtown Dallas (Fuel City!!!) that has the best, I mean BEST, corn.  It's just canned corn, but it's fantastic.  The Mexican ladies make you a cup and layer it with margarine, crema, lemon pepper, hot sauce, and cheese.  I think it's supposed to be a snack, but I could get a big cup and just have that for lunch.  And woe to the person who tries to nab a spoonful.  But here's my homemade slightly-kicked up version for the between times, based on an old family recipe.

Sour Cream Corn and Bacon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup sour cream
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
Dash cayenne pepper or hot sauce (or as much as you can handle)
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1½ teaspoon pimento
1 (15¼-ounce) can corn niblets, drained
Grated Parmesan or Cotija cheese for the top

Melt the butter and saute the onion and green pepper until the onion is translucent.  Sprinkle with the flour, salt, and sugar.  Allow the flour to cook for a minute or two, but do not let it brown.  Slowly add the sour cream, stirring, until it is all incorporated and smooth.  Stir in the garlic powder, lemon pepper, and cayenne.  Stir in the corn and heat through.  Just before serving, stir in the bacon and pimento.  Serve topped with cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bon Appétit: Passion Fruit Syrup and The Gumbo Pages: Hurricane Cocktail

I have a friend who is a pretty darn good home bartender, so I'm always thinking up drinks I want to try.  Especially if they're fruity and girly and make him roll his eyes.  This just passed muster due to the fact that some people go to Pat O'Brien's on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  And that's it for their trip.  Warning: these are ridiculously strong.  And the passion fruit syrup is NOT optional.

Passion Fruit Syrup
From Bon Appétit magazine, May 2006

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
½ cup passion fruit pulp (from 4 to 7 ripe passion fruits)

Combine all ingredients in a heavy small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to low; simmer until syrup is reduced to 1½ cups, about 15 minutes.  Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, cover, and chill.  Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep chilled.

Hurricane Cocktail
From The Gumbo Pages

1½ ounces light rum
1½ ounces dark rum
½ ounce Bacardi 151
1 ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces passion fruit syrup
1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled Hurricane glass or tiki glass.  Garnish with a "flag" made of an orange slice and a cherry on a cocktail pick.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cooking Light: Broiled Salmon with Marmalade-Dijon Glaze

Whenever I see a beautiful piece of salmon at the store, I just can't help myself.  I have to buy it and cook it.  Salmon is just so buttery, so tender, so perfect of a fish.  Heck, I eat it raw in sushi as often as I can get it.  And there's so many things you can do with it.  Skip the lemon and dill for once.

Broiled Salmon with Marmalade-Dijon Glaze
From Cooking Light magazine, April 2006

½ cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Place fish on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Brush half of marmalade mixture over fish; broil 6 minutes. Brush fish with remaining marmalade mixture; broil for 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Pioneer Woman: Chicken Spaghetti

It seems almost silly for me to give a recipe for chicken spaghetti.  Everyone does it differently.  And that's the beauty of it.  Hate tomatoes?  Leave them out.  Love mushrooms?  Add more.  Think there should be some garlic involved?  Ooohh....good idea.  As long as you have the basics (chicken, noodles, broth, canned soups) you can go off the reservation just as much as you want.  The end result is a creamy bowl of comfort any way you bake it.

Chicken Spaghetti
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 whole raw chicken, about 4 pounds
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 pound thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
2½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10¾-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel tomatoes and green chiles
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken, salt, and pepper to the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, and then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, about 45 minutes, until tender.  In a separate pan, saute the onion and mushrooms in the butter until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms start to brown.  Set aside.

Remove the chicken and 2 cups of the chicken cooking broth from the pot. When the chicken is cool, remove the skin and pick out the meat (a mix of dark and white). Discard the bones and skin.

Cook the spaghetti in the chicken cooking broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When the spaghetti is cooked, combine with the chicken, 1½ cups of the cheese, seasoned salt, soups, Rotel, cooked onions and mushrooms, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the reserved chicken cooking broth, adding an additional cup if needed.

Place the mixture in a 9x13-inch casserole pan and top with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake immediately until bubbly, about 30 minutes. (If the cheese on top starts to get too dark, cover with foil.)  Top with sliced green onions, if desired.

Makes 8 servings

Friday, August 08, 2014

Saveur: Cherry Almond Clafoutis

I'm really trying to cut back on my flour and sugar intake.  I swear.  I may not be wholly succeeding, but I'm trying.  And that's what matters.  And one of my successes is this beautiful French pudding.  This pudding that made my entire apartment smell like a Black Forest cake.  I could barely wait long enough to not burn my tongue before seeing if it tasted as good as it smelled.  The answer is OMG.

Cherry Almond Clafoutis
Adapted from Saveur magazine

Butter, for greasing the baking dish
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided use
2 tablespoons kirsch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 large eggs
Kosher salt, to taste
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup almond meal
3 cups black cherries, pitted

Heat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking dish with butter; set aside.

Combine milk, cream, ½ cup sugar, kirsch, vanilla extract, almond extract, eggs, and salt in a blender. Blend for a few seconds to mix ingredients, then add flour and almond meal and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Pour batter into buttered skillet or baking dish, then distribute cherries evenly over top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.  Bake until a skewer inserted into batter comes out clean and a golden brown crust has formed on top and bottom of clafoutis and center barely jiggles, about 30 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, July 27, 2014

P.S. Heart: Vanilla Bean Blueberry Chip Ice Cream

I am so bad with produce.  I see something amazing at the store or the farmer's market, and I get so excited.  I buy whatever beautiful fruit or vegetable it is, and then a couple of weeks later, I find it in the back of my fridge growing a penicillin colony.  Horrible.  I've tried to do better (really!), but I almost ended up losing a pint of organic blueberries that I had coveted.  Since they weren't perfect like they were when I bought them and should have used them, I figured a different application was in order.  And what's better in the summer than homemade ice cream?  NOTHING.

Vanilla Bean Blueberry Chip Ice Cream
Idea from P.S. Heart blog

4 egg yolks
1½ cups sugar
3 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup whipping cream
2½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 pint blueberries, cooked down with a little water to about 1 cup (do not add sugar when cooking them down!)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Whisk ½ cup of sugar into the egg yolks. Combine the egg yolk mixture with the milk, half and half, whipping cream, remaining sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Stirring constantly with a whisk, cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly and lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the cooked blueberries. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until cold.

Pour the cold mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and run. When the mixture gets thick, about 25 minutes, add the chocolate. The mixture will still be only soft-serve texture. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container, and freeze until solid.