Sunday, October 23, 2016

Betty Crocker: Shrimp Creole


I was just thinking the other day about how my mom was actually pretty open in trying different recipes when we were kids (hello, eggplant parmesan).  I mean, within her ability to find ingredients at the grocery store, where even fresh asparagus was unusual.  We ate shrimp creole every once in a while, probably when shrimp was on sale.  And, as a kid, I never really thought further about it.  But now that I'm all grown up, I realize that this is a creole recipe from Louisiana, and it has a surprising amount of spice for the usual dinner.  So tonight I made my mom's recipe and tweaked it a little bit for authenticity, and it was just as delicious, and adventurous, as I remembered.

Shrimp Creole
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Good and Easy Cookbook

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ large onion, minced
2 ribs celery, diced
½ green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 (14½-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups shrimp stock or water
2 cups frozen cooked salad shrimp
¼ cup parsley, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)

Melt butter over low heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent. Blend in remaining ingredients except shrimp, parsley, and green onions. Cook slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Stir in shrimp, parsley, and green onions. If desired, make a slurry with the cornstarch and liquid from the pan, and then mix into the shrimp creole.  Allow to cook for several more minutes until thickened.  Serve on hot cooked rice.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Smitten Kitchen: Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats


At a lunch last week at Nick & Sam's Grill, the table was given a specialty dessert that included blueberry ice cream, cotton candy, and browned butter Rice Krispie treats.  I know, sounds crazy, and it was...crazy good.  But I kept thinking about those Rice Krispie treats.  I had never really eaten many as a child, so I don't have any sort of attachment.  But an adult version?  With browned butter?  And maybe some vanilla bean?  That definitely happened today.  Guess who's now a fan?

Vanilla Bean Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1 (10-ounce) bag mini marshmallows
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Butter a 9x13-inch cake pan.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as, while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, stir in the marshmallows. Melt and cook, stirring often, until mixture turns pale brown, then stir constantly until lightly browned but not dark, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan using a silicon spatula or buttered hands.  Let cool and cut into bars.

Makes 16 to 20 servings

Saturday, October 15, 2016

D'Artagnan: Venison au Poivre


They started carrying venison medallions at my local grocery, and I've spent most of the time since I first spotted them trying to figure out what I would do with these expensive beauties if I bought them.  I finally took a closer look at the package, and my dilemma was solved.  A delicious recipe right on the back!  Perfection!  And everybody loves a delicious peppered steak, right?  These definitely lived up to expectations, and the venison wasn't even gamey.  It was just perfectly fantastic.

Venison au Poivre
Adapted from D'Artagnan Foods

1 (14-ounce) package venison medallions (4 medallions total)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon duck fat or vegetable oil
3 ounces Armagnac or brandy
1 (7-ounce) container duck and veal demi-glace
4 ounces heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Season venison medallions on both sides with salt and cracked black peppercorns.  Heat duck fat in an oven-proof skillet over high heat.  Sear medallions until brown and crusted on both sides.  Put skillet into oven, cook for 2 minutes until medium rare.  Remove medallions from skillet and reserve.

Over medium heat, add Armagnac or brandy (watch for flames), add demi-glace and reduce by half.  Add peppercorns, heavy cream, and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Season to taste with salt.  Remove skillet from heat, add steaks and any drippings.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, October 14, 2016

Porcini Rice Pilaf


I love getting to the grocery store first thing in the morning.  When you're the first person strolling through the produce aisle, you're almost guaranteed to find something rare and delicious.  At least at my local store.  The last time I went, I ended up with a small bag of fresh porcini mushrooms.  Amazing score.  But then I had to stew over what I was going to make with my treasure, so they had to sit tight in the fridge.  Until now.  I've always love rice pilaf, so that's what I kept coming back to in my perusal of recipes.  Mushrooms, toasted orzo, tender rice...a fabulous side dish.

Porcini Rice Pilaf

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, minced
1 ounce porcini mushrooms
¼ cup orzo
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)

In a medium pan over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add shallots and mushrooms and cook until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have released their liquid.  Add the orzo and cook until lightly browned.  Add the remaining ingredients, lower heat to low, and cover.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and toss in the truffle oil, if using.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Homesick Texan: Okra Baked with Bacon


If you have a long history of cooking and reading cookbooks, you get pretty good at being able to tell how a recipe is going to turn out.  And this leads to a lot less disappointments when dinnertime comes along.  Unfortunately, I ignored the little voice in my head that was telling me that nothing "fried" in the oven ever comes out crispy.  I just knew that this would be the recipe that would prove me wrong.  I mean, 400°F!  That's a lot of heat!  Yeah, no.  While this okra certainly tastes good (thank you, bacon), it's just not crispy.  At all.  Plan for next time:  fry the darn things in bacon fat.

Okra Baked with Bacon
Adapted from Homesick Texan blog and the Fort Worth Star Telegram

1 cup cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 to 7 drops Tabasco sauce or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh okra, washed, dried and cut into ½-inch rounds
6 strips uncooked bacon, diced

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce or cayenne; close and shake to combine. Add the okra pieces and shake to coat the okra in the cornmeal mixture.

Arrange okra in prepared baking dish in two layers. Top with bacon. Bake for 20 minutes; stir lightly to make sure all pieces come into contact with the bacon. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more, until the bacon is browned and the okra is crispy on the outside.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Guava Passion Fruit Rum Jam


Okay, I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to make any more jam.  I know.  I think something may be wrong with me, because I just couldn't stop myself.  I saw this big pile of guavas at the store, and they smelled so fantastic.  Before I knew it, I was filling up a bag and telling myself what a fantastic jam they would make.  And they do!  Especially when you add a pop of passion fruit.  And don't forget the rum.  Because every good jam deserves some alcohol.

Guava Passion Fruit Rum Jam

7 to 8 passion fruits
3¾ pounds guava
4½ cups granulated sugar
2 ounces fresh lime juice
¼ cup spiced rum, such as Captain Morgan's
6 tablespoons powdered pectin
½ teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Prepare six jars with bands for canning.

Cut each passion fruit in half and scoop the seeds into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the pulp three or four times to loosen the seeds.  Press the pulp through a strainer, discarding seeds.  You should have ½ cup of passion fruit juice.  Set aside.

Top and tail the guavas, peel, and cut into quarters.  Put into a large pot with 2 cups of water.  Cook over medium heat, mashing the guavas, for 20 minutes, or until soupy and only some large chunks remain.  Press the guava mixture through a strainer, discarding seeds.  You should have 4 cups of guava puree.

In a large pot, combine passion fruit juice, guava puree, sugar, lime juice, and rum.  Heat over medium for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered pectin and add butter, bring to a boil, and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and mix in vanilla bean paste.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 half-pint jars

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Emeril Lagasse: Sautéed Rock Shrimp in Creole Cream Sauce in a Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent


It's not often that you see little rock shrimp at the store.  Rock shrimp have this ridiculously hard shell that is a pain to shuck, so they don't make much of an appearance.  But good gracious, are they tender and delicious.  So of course I had to find a way to bring out the beauty of the shrimp.  And I certainly don't mind a little spice.  So I went with this delicious recipe from Emeril, because all of his Louisiana recipes are fantastic.  I'm sure this would be just as good over some cheese grits if you don't want to fuss with puff pastry.

Sautéed Rock Shrimp in Creole Cream Sauce in a Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 (10-ounce) package frozen puff pastry shells (6 shells)
1 pound frozen rock shrimp (70 to 90 count)
1 tablespoon Emeril's Essence
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅔ cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Crystal Hot Sauce
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Bake shells according to package directions.  Set aside to cool while preparing the shrimp.

Season the rock shrimp with Essence seasoning. In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the rock shrimp in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until most of the liquid released by the shrimp has evaporated. Add green onions, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half and sauce covers the back of a spoon, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add butter and whisk thoroughly to combine, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

With the tip of a knife, carefully remove the top of each pastry. Divide shrimp and sauce between pastries, cover with reserved tops and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
2½ tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix well.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fresh New England: Concord Grape Muffins with Dark Chocolate Crumble


Well, I managed to get a hold of the last of the Concord grapes.  But I had already done the jam/jelly thing, so I wasn't sure what else I wanted to add to my repertoire.  Internet it was.  And the internet gods gave me a fabulous gift of this delicious muffins.  Having learned my lesson with my previous cache of supposedly seedless Concord grapes, I proceeded to halve and deseed all of them.  I wasn't sure how these grapes would turn out once cooked, but the muffins really reminded me of blueberry muffins.  Tender, sweet muffins with bits of tart grapes.  Good work everyone.

Concord Grape Muffins with Dark Chocolate Crumble

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups Concord grapes, halved and seeds removed
Dark Chocolate Crumble

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line muffin tin with paper liner and grease rims with butter.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients and add alternately with yogurt and milk.  Toss the Concord grape halves with 1 tablespoon flour.  Fold in by hand.  Fill muffin cups ¾ full.  Sprinkle crumble over muffin tops.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 30 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Crumble
⅔ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
⅔ cup old-fashioned oatmeal
½ cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Process ingredients in food processor until a crumble forms.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)


I said I had made the last jam, but this isn't a jam!  Because who the heck can resist candied jalapeños?  I would like to know.  No one.  Which is why I made them.  Plus, I still had all my canning supplies out, so laziness played a role in the decision.  These were super easy to make, and you get some pretty fantastic sweet, sour, and spicy tidbits.  Can't wait to slap some of these babies on nachos.  Or burgers.  Or pretty much anything.  Darn you, four week waiting period!

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)

2 pounds jalapeños
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
⅜ teaspoon ground turmeric
⅜ teaspoon celery seed
⅜ teaspoon roasted garlic powder
⅜ teaspoon onion powder
⅜ teaspoon bacon powder (optional)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Remove stems from all of the jalapeños and slice into ⅛- to ¼-inch rounds. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring the cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, bacon powder, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the pepper slices and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into clean sterile canning jars leaving ¼-inch gap at the top of the jar.

Turn up the heat, and bring the syrup to a full rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Pour the syrup over the jalapeño peppers in the jars, but still leave ¼-inch gap from the top. Make sure there are no air pockets by sliding a plastic utensil down the inside of the jars. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year.  Wait 4 weeks before trying the peppers; the flavors need time to meld.

Makes 4 half-pint jars

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spiced Rhubarb Angelica Jam


Okay, I swear this is the last jam.  THE LAST.  At least for the month of August.  No promises when the apples, pears, and pumpkins start rolling in from the fields.  But I just couldn't resist when I saw there was still some rhubarb to be snatched.  And I finally figured out something to use my candied angelica in.  I'm still trying to get past the general stringiness of rhubarb, but the jam is delicious and definitely worth the work.

Spiced Rhubarb Angelica Jam

3 pounds rhubarb
¼ cup candied angelica, finely chopped
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons brandy
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Place a small saucer in the freezer.

Slice the rhubarb into 2-inch sections.  In a large pot, combine all ingredients except for vanilla bean paste.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to medium.  Cook the rhubarb, stirring often, until it is soft and falls apart.  Continue cooking 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is thick.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste.

Remove the saucer from the freezer.  Test the consistency of the jam by placing a spoonful of the mixture onto the cold plate.  Return the plate to the freezer for two minutes.  Remove the plate again, and check the consistency of the jam. The jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.

Fill prepared jars with the jam mixture.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and place lids on the jars.

Place the closed jars in a large pot of hot water, covered by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full boil and boil for 10 minutes, then transfer the jars onto a thick towel to let cool. Leave them undisturbed for 24 hours. Check to make sure that all lids have sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If the lid moves, place the jar in the refrigerator.

Makes 6 half-pint jars