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.