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