Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

September 30, 2009

Kung Pao Shrimp

Shrimp of the Week

My good neighbor brought over a nice bag of these fine Kung Pao peppers so naturally I thought of cooking what else - yeah, original I know. I returned the favor with several branches of Tabasco peppers - hey, the plants needed pruning so I just broke them off and besides, she could put them in water if wanting to prolong them. What, you think I had time to pick them off - must of been a hundred of those tiny buggers.

The peppers she gave me were fresh but I needed dried ones for this recipe although I do not know if it would have made a difference. Therefore, I set out to dry them in the oven. Here is what I read to do: Lay muslin cloth on the oven racks and place peppers about an inch apart. Turn the oven on low or about 140 degrees F. and place an oven mitt to ajar the door about half-an-inch. It didn't tell me how long so I waited. Checked the peppers after several hours. Waited some more. Checked them again and waited still some more. Oh, the heck with all that I finally thought, just throw the swiveled things in the wok when the time comes and hope for the best. As it turned out, it didn't really matter.

Kung Pao Shrimp
4 to 6 servings

1 1/2 lbs medium peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Peanut oil for frying
4 to 6 small red dried hot chili peppers
3 cloves of garlic -minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts (or peanuts)
2 medium green onions -sliced
1 small white onion -diced
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 green bell pepper -chopped
1/2 red bell pepper -chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine the 1 tablespoon sherry, the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a medium bowl mixing well. Add the shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients together well and refrigerate.

Using a wok or large fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil along with chiles and stir fry until the peppers begin to char just a little. Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add about 1 teaspoon more oil and stir fry the garlic and ginger for 15 seconds. Add the cashews and remaining vegetables cooking for a couple of minutes tossing all while. Cook until the onions begin to turn clear.

Return chile peppers to the wok, add the shrimp and toss to cook about 2 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink and meat is opaque.

Increase the heat and pour in the sauce. Cook stirring until the sauce thickens and is bubbly.

Remove from heat and serve with white rice.

September 29, 2009



Soft, creamy textured truffles - so intense and fruity.
The slight sharpness of the apricot, with a hint of orange, provides a delicious contrast to the dark chocolate in these luscious truffles.

makes about 30

2 oz dried apricots -chopped (about 1/2 lightly packed cup)
2 tablespoons triple sec
1/2 cup heavy cream
6.5 oz bittersweet chocolate -finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
4 oz milk chocolate -finely chopped
very small pinch of salt
sifted cocoa

In a double boiler, combine the apricots, triple sec and cream. Cover tightly and cook over barely simmering water for an hour or until the apricots fall apart and absorb most of the liquid. Do not let the mixture boil but evenly simmer. Let mixture cool and puree in a blender to a smooth consistency somewhat like mayonnaise.
Melt the chocolates in the top of a double boiler over hot water and stir in the hazelnuts. Let come to room temperature and combine with the apricot mixture adding the salt.
Drop the candy in rounded teaspoon size lumps onto wax paper. Refrigerate until set and firm enough to handle. Work with 5 or 6 at a time keeping remaining ones refrigerated. Roll truffle mixture into balls. Place sifted cocoa in a bowl and roll each ball to coat completely. Place on a cooled cookie sheet until all candies are finished. Cover with plastic wrap or store in a tightly closed tin in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Remove and let come to room temperature for the finest flavor.

September 28, 2009

Cream of Potato with Garlic & Nutmeg

So many times when I’m in the kitchen, mustering up a new recipe, I tend to go beyond the necessities in making foods simple. I mean, not all dishes have to be complex in the usage of ingredients but this is the way I cook. To me, tossing in a little of this to balance out that augments the result. ‘This’ is needed and without ‘that’, the balance is off. Other times I tend to layer ingredients in order to bring out the underlying tastes of each flavor. Sometimes it is not necessary. Creole cooking is alike in the way it harmonizes regional foods with imported spices and merges French, Spanish and Italian cooking methods (just three in the melding pot) in creating layered, complex dishes. I’m going to say, that is the reason I tend to overdo.

When serving these multifarious dishes, many times in course style dining, I like something a little simpler to, as they say, cleanse the palate. As I say, a mouthwash. Like today’s simple, uncomplicated soup. Yes, many times soups are served as the first course but remember, I tend to do things a bit different. Simple in ingredients and without any type of meat broth, this one quickly becomes sophisticated enough to stand up with any type of meal. Enjoy!

Cream of Potato with Garlic & Nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter
3 cups peeled cubed white potatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced onion
5 cups of water
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1 large bay leaf
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
whole nutmeg

In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. When it starts to sizzle, add the potatoes, celery and onion. Slightly lower the heat and stir every so often until the vegetables are covered with the butter. When the edges of the potatoes turn translucent, add the water. Stir in the whole garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer on low for an hour and fifteen minutes. The vegetables should fall apart. Remove the bay leaf and using a immersion blender or counter blender, puree the soup to desired texture.

Add the cream to the puree and heat slowly until hot. Adjust with more salt if needed. Ladle soup into serving bowls and grate nutmeg over the top just enough to speckle the surface.

Note: This is a thin soup but if you prefer it thicker, make a paste using 2 tablespoons each of softened butter and flour. Whisk in pieces of mixture into the hot soup and cook another 10 minutes to thicken and cook the raw flour.

Do not attempt to garnish with chives, parsley or anything else to enhance the appearance. The potato, garlic and hints of nutmeg are all you need and the flavors should be undisturbed.

September 27, 2009

Marinated Braised Roast Beef

Sunday Dinner Idea

Today's dinner inspiration comes from, well, the fact that rump roast is on sale. I decided to treat it with a little more respect than just tossing it into a scorching pot for my regular pot roast or with the suffocating sprinkling of seasoning before shoving the poor thing in the oven. It look so impressive, almost brazen laying out there shamelessly on the counter, so I decided to dignify it by getting it good and well intoxicated before sending it to it’s peril. Here’s how I did it. Enjoy!

Marinated Braised Roast Beef

2 cups dry red wine
3 carrots -chopped
1 medium onion -chopped
1 stalk celery -chopped
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
2 whole cloves
1 -3 to 4 pound bottom round or rump roast of beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 -8 oz fresh button mushrooms

Make the marinate combining the first 7 ingredients and pouring over the beef. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours turning every so often.
Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the marinade.
In a Dutch oven or casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Pour the marinade into the pot with the beef. Add the beef broth and cover. Simmer on low for 2 to 3 hours adding more water or stock if necessary. Stir in the tomato paste and season with salt. Add the mushrooms, sliced if desired, and simmer uncovered an additional 30 minutes.
To serve, slice the beef into thin slices and plate with the mushrooms. Serve with the sauce and your favorite side dish.

September 26, 2009

2 Hot & Spicy Mexican Dips

Dip Day on Mexican Saturday 

More recipes from yet another cookbook I have in progress. Gee, if I keep posting these, maybe I won't have to publish them. Both have Mexican flavors and centers on artichokes. Enjoy!

Kicking Chicken & Artichoke Dip
delightful, devine and delicious

2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 -14 oz can artichoke hearts -drained and chopped fine
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds
4 garlic clove, minced
5 to10 minced chipotle peppers in sauce

Combine all ingredients and spoon into a medium baking dish. Cook in a 350 degree F. oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture just starting to bubble along the edges.

Remove and serve with thick-style tortilla chips, sliced vegetables or toasted bread.

Note: for a milder flavor, wash the sauce from the peppers or use another type of pepper.
photo from BHG

Artichoke, Chiles & Spinach Dip

a Mexican remake of spinach dip

2 -8 ounce packages cream cheese -softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 -10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach -thawed and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic -minced
1/4 cup canned chopped jalapeno peppers -drained
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 -12 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts -drained and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pimento
1 -4.5 ounce can chopped green chiles -drained
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise together. Stir in the spinach really well. Stir in the next five ingredients and fold in the remaining three.

Spoon mixture into an oblong baking dish,top with the Mexican cheese and bake for about 30 minutes or until slightly browned on top.

Serve with your favorite chips.

September 25, 2009

Baked Fish with Tomatoes

Another Friday Fish Story

After finally reading Good Eats in South Florida over on Michelle’s Brown Eyed Baker site, memories of restaurant good eats filled my head. Particular those in Florida. I was fortunate to spend many summers with my family in Laguna Beach and with friends at Seagrove, both just west of Panama City Beach. A favorite dining out spot of my family was in the actual town of Panama City on the Grand Lagoon. As a kid, I was fascinated with all of the maritime artifacts that abound throughout the restaurant and the atmosphere of dining right next to large fishing vessels nestled dockside made the experienced more exciting. Captain Anderson’s remains a mainstay to all who visit the area and if you ever go there, this is the place for the real deal in seafood.
What I also remember is many of the foods have overtones of Greek cooking. They cook many types of fish on an open-hearth charcoal grill and with Greek seasonings. The Patronis brothers have managed the place since they bought it from the Anderson family in the mid-sixties and it’s won so many awards mainly because it’s just so good. Like today’s fish, I mean - no awards, but just plain good. And plain meaning simple Greek style cooking. Enjoy!

Psari Plakie
Baked Fish with Tomatoes

1/2 cup virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 or 3 tomatoes, sliced
1 pressed garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped parsley -divided
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon
3 pounds fish fillets (grouper, snapper, bass, etc.)

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add onions and cook until translucent. Add wine,  half of the parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes.
Cut the fish in sections if needed and place in a large baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over the top. Cover with the sliced tomatoes and then with the sauce. Sprinkle remaining parsley over and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 25 minutes. Fish should easily flake and will be moist.
Serve with a nice Greek salad.

September 24, 2009

Lemon Coriander Prawns, Salmon Roll, Fontina-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates, Mushroom & Jalapenos with Chorizo Stuffing, Isabel’s Shrimp Boats

Week 4 - Eatin' High on the Hog

Tailgate Football
Skybox Eats

Today, we're getting out of the parking lot and watching the game in style. Inside the box, so to speak.

With Alabama playing Arkansas this Saturday, I hope to have the luxury of eating high on the hog, so to speak, with a win over the razorbacks. But, if not, then at least I’ll be living it up with these fine appetizers from my Foodbuzz friends. Enjoy!
Photo from Dolphin Stadium in Miami

Lemon Coriander Prawns
First up is a wonderful and ever so delightful shrimp (or prawn) appetizer with a sauce so darn delish, you might just want to drink it. The recipe is from my friend in the Philippines, Divina and she sent it to me with much excitement. She wrote that she misses watching football with her brother but somehow, I think she will find a way to get back to the game. You can find the recipe at the Rouxbe Cooking School site, which features internet video recipes. Check out the recipe and video for Lemon Coriander Prawns.
Thanks Divina! Visit her on her site, Sense & Serendipity.

Next is a heavenly little dity that I can't wait to try. Look at it, can't you just taste it right now. This one is from my friend Raquel and from her blog, Cafe Nilson.

Salmon Roll

1 1/4 lbs salmon fillet, skinless and cut lengthwise in 4 strips
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1tbs chopped shallots
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp capers, rinsed
4 tsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven 400 degrees F. Coat 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, oil, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, capers and thyme until combined.
Take one strip of salmon and pat dry with paper tower. Spread 1 tsp mayonnaise on salmon and then spread 3 tbs of breadcrumb mixture over mayonnaise.
Starting at one end, roll salmon tightly. Insert a toothpick through the end to keep from unrolling. Repeat with the remaining salmon.
Place in baking dish and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Remove toothpick before serving.
Find more tastebud tingling salmon recipes and other fab findings at Cafe Nilson.

One thing about partying with my friends is that I will never go hungry and I can always count on the best, like this beauty sent to me from Brown Eyed Baker. And what better way to describe it than in her words - "combining moist, sweet dates with creamy cheese and salty, crisp bacon creates a flavor combination that is nothing short of fabulous."

Fontina-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Prepare 3-4 dates (or more!) per person
Fresh dates

Fontina cheese, cut to fit inside the dates
Bacon, cut into 3″ pieces

1. Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Slit the dates open, keeping the bottom in tact. Place a piece of cheese inside each date. Wrap bacon around the stuffed date, overlapping the ends on the bottom.
3. Broil for approximately 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn!
Want more wonderful recipes like this one - visit Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker.

Moving on to a different taste altogether is this one from Austin TX and one of my newly discovered sites, Texas to Mexico. It is a favorite way to stuff mushrooms and jalapenos. This is how Dee does it.

Mushroom & Jalapenos with Chorizo Stuffing

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
6 jalapeno peppers, seeded & split
8-10 large mushroom caps, stems removed & gills removed with spoon.
8 oz. hard Spanish Chorizo, casing removed & diced
1/4 cup black Spanish olives, seeds removed & roughly chopped.
2 cups homemade breadcrumbs*, divided
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 inch cubes of Manchego Cheese

Saute the Chorizo over medium heat in a large skillet until the pieces begin to crisp and brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of breadcrumbs and the chicken stock and saute for another couple of minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Make the toasted breadcrumbs by brushing the breadcrumbs with the butter and quickly running them under the broiler. You’ll want to watch them the entire time to ensure they don’t burn. Once they come out of the oven, mix them with the parsley, olives, next add in the cubes of Manchego cheese & blend well.
Stuff each pepper or mushroom cap with as much of the stuffing as you can fit and set aside. Once they’re all stuffed, place into an oven safe dish & bake @ 375 for 20 minutes or until tops of stuffed peppers/mushrooms are browned & crispy looking. Serve immediately. *We ate these with a nice Alamos Malbec wine.
If you are like me and love really good Mexican eats, then check out Texas to Mexico for her regional specialties.

Now here is one from my mother's recipe box. It's an easy to make, delicious to eat creamy shrimp appetizer. Two or more just might fill you up 'till the end of the game.

Isabel’s Shrimp Boats

1 -15 oz can condensed shrimp soup
1 -15 oz can condensed mushroom soup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup diced pimento
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups diced cooked shrimp
Salt & pepper to taste
10 to 12 Pistolettes or small oblong hard rolls
Melted butter

Combine the soups in a large heavy saucepan adding the Worcestershire and lemon juice. Simmer until heated. In a sauté pan, add the celery, garlic and green onions and heat on medium low to wilt the vegetables. Stir in the pimento, olives, almonds, cayenne, cooked shrimp and season to taste. Fold into the soup mixture and keep warm. Cut the top from each pistolette and hollow out the insides of the rolls. Brush the insides with melted butter. Just before serving, place rolls under a broiler and toast until lightly brown. Fill with the hot shrimp salad, replace top and serve.
This also makes a great hot dip.

Join me next week as we head back to the parking lot for some more Tailgating fun.

September 23, 2009

Bayou Stuffed Shrimp

I mentioned last week of boats coming in with pretty good numbers of shrimp and a lot of nice, jumbo size showing up. This is my favorite way to eat ‘em up. Enjoy!

Shrimp of the Week

Bayou Stuffed Shrimp
About 6 servings

40 jumbo shrimp, de-headed
1 stick butter or margarine
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, divided
1 pound lump or claw crabmeat
3 eggs -beaten
4 slices stale bread, crust removed
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon season-all
3/4 cup cracker or breadcrumbs or Panko
2 tablespoons plain corn meal
-Wash the shrimp under running water and remove shell leaving the tail on. Butterfly each shrimp by running a sharp knife down the backside to the tail. (Sometimes I marinate these in a little Creole seasoning and hot pepper sauce in the fridge for an hour.)
-Add the stale bread to the eggs and let soak about 15 minutes.
-Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium low; add the onions, bell pepper and 1 cup of celery and sauté on low until soft.
-Stir in the crab meat and cook for 10 minutes. Remove bread and quickly mash into the sautéed vegetables using a fork until the bread is a mush. Stir in the green onions and the next 8 ingredients mixing well. Cook a couple more minutes. Remove from heat until cool enough to handle.Fold in remaining celery.
-Mold 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of stuffing on each shrimp.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer about half-inch apart.
-In a small bowl, combine the mustard with the melted butter, season-all, crumbs and cornmeal. Sprinkle the tops of each shrimp with this mixture.
-Bake in the oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until the tails curl up and shrimp meat is bright white. Place under a broiler a couple of minutes to brown the top if desired.Do not over cook the shrimp.
-Serve with drawn butter and lemon wedges or over a rice dish with a vegetable if desired.

September 22, 2009

Romano Crusted Chicken

I enjoy visiting the sites of my friends and reading their recipes. My recipe box is overflowing with things I one day intend to try and many I have saved just for inspiration. Like the one from the other day, from Frank on his web blog Memorie di Angelina . His remarkable homemade ravioli recipe makes me want to whip out my own pasta, another something I intend to do ... one day. Reading his recipe and directions, seeing his beautiful photos, my mouth salivated just imagining the taste. Today I will not attempt making homemade pasta but I do crave something Italian in nature. Therefore, I offer my taste buds this, an oven baked version of Romano chicken served with a quick creamy red tomato sauce over spaghetti. Enjoy!

Romano Crusted Chicken Dinner
4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil –or canola oil
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded Romano cheese –or Parmesan
3/4 cup panko crumbs, Italian or plain breadcrumbs can be substituted
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
About 8 ounces dry spaghetti noodles (4 cups cooked)
2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or your own recipe
1/2 cup half-and-half
Chopped parsley - optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick foil if desired. Coat the foil or pan with the olive oil.
Place a chicken breast on a flat surface between 2 sheets of wax paper and pound with meat mallet until about 1/4 inch thick. Remove to a plate and continue with the remaining chicken breast.
Break eggs into small mixing bowl and beat until smooth and lemon colored. In medium bowl, combine Romano cheese with panko, pepper, and garlic.
Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg, then press into the cheese mixture to coat both sides of chicken breast. Place breasts on a rack for 15 minutes to dry then on the prepared pan. Spray the top of the chicken with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Bake in oven until golden and cooked throughout -about 30 minutes.
While chicken is baking, bring water for the spaghetti to a boil and cook noodles until just tender. Drain well. In medium saucepan, heat the marinara and cream over medium heat, stirring with a whisk.
Serve each chicken breast with a serving of noodles, the sauce and top with the parsley. If desired, serve noodles blended with the creamy tomato sauce and top with the chicken.

September 21, 2009

Red Beans & Rice - The Real Deal, pt 2

The making of the real dealRed Beans and Rice
Part 2 of 2

So, you’ve made Red Beans before and some of you might have eaten it in New Orleans. Visiting there, it would not be hard to find red beans & rice on a menu. It’s a given dish and signature to many restaurants. My favorite is at the Gumbo Shop and Mother’s Restaurant serves up a mean dish as well. Believe it or not, Acme Oyster House rates up there with the best also. To those of you who have been there, ate that, you may ask, “why does it not taste the same when I get home?” Well, if you paid attention last week you will have the secret ingredient ready in your refrigerator (or freezer). Many purists still cook it the old Creole way. Let’s get going…
– See part 1 for the Pickled Pork recipe.

The following recipe is from a cookbook I am currently working on. Enjoy!

Many prefer to soak beans overnight, but with this dish, I think it is actually beneficial not to do so. Slow cooking the dried beans is essential in releasing the starch needed to thicken this dish. If possible, never use canned beans when making red beans, use dried ones and start out a little earlier.

New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice
8 servings

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
3 large stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 6 pieces pickled pork* cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
6 cups water or chicken stock
1 pound Louisiana red beans, rinsed and picked over (or red kidney beans)
1 -8 to 12 oz can tomato sauce

Place the oil in a large 7-quart cast iron pot or a Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper. Stir frequently and cook until the onions and celery are tender and the bell peppers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork. Note: the more you add, the stronger the pickling flavors. If this is your first time, start out with just a few pieces. Add the next 8 ingredients along with the beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil stirring frequently, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady low simmer (not boiling) and continue to cook for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the beans are tender to your liking. Add water as needed to maintain a good amount of liquid. Do not add the tomato sauce until the beans are tender. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered or until the sauce is thick. If you prefer a more creamier texture for a delicious sauce, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cook time, see my rice recipe for perfect Creole white rice, and serve the beans over the rice. Many folks, like me, also serve a link of sausage on top of the beans. To cook the sausage, pierce the skin of desired amount and place a skillet. Add about a half-inch of water and simmer turning occasionally until all water evaporates and the sausage turns nicely brown.

There is an ingredient in this recipe that most do not have - Do you know what & why? Send me your comments.
*Picked pork is available at most Cajun grocers or see recipe.
photo from Goya

September 20, 2009

Say it -The Best Dumplings Ever

A Movie, Anguish & a Recipe

Last night after watching a movie, as I prepared for bed I could not help but think of today’s post. The movie was about an adorable couple smitten with young love, enjoying a nurturing relationship that would last forever, or so it seemed, until a family member began interfering and everything went against the lead actor. No, it wasn’t a food movie like Mostly Martha, Like Water for Chocolate, What's Up Tiger Lilly, and certainly not, Julie & Julia. It had nothing to do whatsoever with food.

Midway through and after the anticipated breakup, we watched with eagerness for a resolution between the two and hopefully, the meddling brother being booted out of the movie. Fat chance. But, what we did get to watch, for some unknown reason, in the last moments of this flick is something we knew or sought from midpoint - that they would get back together despite the haughty actions from the controlling sibling. Of course, the reunion never happens, just a flash of a moment occurs with the two of them finding each other and just when you realize that it’s all going to be okay, well, the lead actor is hit by a truck . . . I know, an awful ending.

So what the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, it reminds me of how we spend much of our time nurturing a recipe in it’s early stages, developing it, testing it - only to not get it right, sometimes by external factors beyond our control and many times because we tend to be a little stubborn. This recipe is not going to be good, no one will ever eat it and they certainly are not going to like it. Then, with just a simple replacement, an additional ingredient or a smidgen extra nudge of seasoning, it becomes right. This is going to be good you say, everyone will love this and there’s not going to be even a spoonful left. So you proudly make it one more time - it’s finally really good, and you serve it up. Now, here comes the truck - no one in your family says a word. Nada. You find yourself having to fish for compliments. If you’re lucky, you just might get a “that was good” response. That’s when you look at your spouse and say, “Fine, then go live with your meddling brother.”

This is a recipe I created several years ago. After the initial ‘hit by the truck’ experience, it has gotten praise at every serving.

Pork Roast, Chicken & Dumplings
Not your everyday dumplings

3 pounds fresh pork roast, boneless loin or chops
3 boneless chicken breasts
1 medium onion -chopped
1/2 bell pepper -chopped
6 leeks -washed thoroughly (white and pale green parts only), sliced thin crosswise
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1 -12 oz package frozen dumplings (or make your own)
1/2 stick of butter
Paste of flour & butter

Place first ten ingredients in large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and continue cooking at a low simmer for a couple of hours. Remove meat and let cool enough to chop into bite size pieces, set aside. Let stock cool and skim fat from the top. Bring stock to a boil adding the butter and add 3 to 4 dumplings breaking into small pieces. Cook for 15 minutes, bring back to a low boil, add remaining dumplings a few at a time and simmer until almost done. Add a thickener if needed - mix together softened butter and flour to form a paste and stir into the pot. Add chopped meats, and simmer on low for a few minutes.

Serve with hot cornbread for a true southern experience.

September 19, 2009

Beef Brisket - Cowboy Style Dinner

Today's Mexican dinner goes north, just across the border for some fine
Cowboy Dining

Now if we were in the old west, going back in time, we might come across a campfire with some vittles like these. Fine eating on the trail, cooked over smoking embers, cowpunchers had it pretty good when it came to cooking fresh beef. As told, the birth of the old west cowboy actually has roots from the early cowboys of Mexico, the mestizos or the Indians who took on the horse roping skills from the Spanish conquistadors.
But enough of that, let’s get right on to today’s post. Smoked Brisket - one of my favorites and with a side order of Western Pinto Beans. A little bread is about all you need to finish off this dish. Here’s how I do it.

My brother-in-law Joe, a Texas native, taught me a thing or two on choosing a good brisket. His technique and criteria for a brisket is in my cookbook, Grits to Guacamole as are these two recipes. The most important thing to look for is one lean in fat with good marbling throughout. You want some fat on top, at least one-eighth of an inch but no more than one-quarter of an inch. Now choose a good rub that you can trust like the one below, my BBQ Rub for Texan Brisket.

Wash off the brisket, pat dry and mix the rub ingredients together. Sprinkle the mixture heavy-handedly coating the brisket all over. Let set while you prepare the fire.

Now Joe cooks his brisket in a smoker as I have many times also, but some of you might not have a smoker, so we’re going to do it on the gas grill.

Place desired amount of wood chips (Joe likes mesquite while I like hickory) on a double layer of aluminum foil and fold into a packet. Prick holes along the topside as shown.

After you let the brisket set in the fridge for several hours or until you can’t stand it any longer, place the foil packet in the grill preferably on a grate but above the flames. Hopefully you haven’t lit the grill yet. Place the brisket on the opposite side and turn on the fire, medium-low, on the wood chip packet side. Do not light the side with the brisket. Now close the lid and wait. After about 30 minutes, the smoke should have done its thing. Turn the heat to low and from this point, cook for about 2 hours basting every so often as mentioned below.

During the smoking time, make a basting solution like my Brisket Mopping Sauce to keep the brisket moist the last 2 or 3 hours of cooking time. Oh, I forgot to mention this is an all-afternoon event. Add the oil and spices to a medium saucepan, heat until it just start to sizzle, as shown, then carefully add the liquids and the lemon. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool.

Always use a mop to apply the basting solution as above; using a brush will disturb the rub. You do not want to wash it away, just keep the brisket moist during the cook time. Most folks can tell just by looking and poking the brisket when it is done but to be on the safe side, cook it until the internal temperature of the largest area reads 165 degrees F. When it reaches this point, remove and wrap tightly in several layers of aluminum foil and return to the grill, placed off the heat again, for another hour.

After finishing making the mopping sauce, start cooking up the beans. Hopefully you soaked them overnight, if not, well move on to something else.

Rinse the beans under running water several times. chop the onion and bell pepper and put aside,

In a large stockpot, add 4 cups of water, 2 smoked ham hocks (or use any smoked meats or substitutes for flavor) and the seasonings listed below. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour. Remove the hocks and put aside to cool. Add the vegetables and cook another 30 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes along with any meat from the hocks and simmer on low for 2 or 3 hours. Adjust seasonings to your liking. I sometimes will add Mexican spices, cayenne or more peppers depending on my mood.

Check the beans after the first 2 hours, add more water if needed and cook until desired consistancy. I like to mash up a cupful making a creamier base.

Now, it should be about time to remove the brisket from the grill. The internal temperture should be about 195 degees F. (This is one time you want beef to be at this temp.) Let set at room temperature for 30 minutes. When slicing, be sure to cut across the grain in thin slices.  Serve up with the pinto beans and enjoy. About the only thing that might be missing would be some hot corn pones and extended britches.

BBQ Rub for Texan Brisket

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Mix and rub into brisket. Let set refrigerated at least 4 hours. Store remaining mix in an air-tight container.

Brisket Mopping Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup beer (any kind you are not drinking)
1 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire
1 lemon -quartered
Place the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the spices. Just as this begins to sizzle, carefully pour in the vinegar followed with the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Western Pinto Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans -soaked overnight
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
2 smoked ham hocks or smoked meats
1 large onion -chopped
1 small bell pepper -chopped
1 jalapeño -seeded and diced
1 can chopped tomatoes -optional
Soak beans overnight in water. Drain, rinse well and set aside. In a large stockpot, place hocks and the seasonings. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour or so and then remove hocks. Add vegetables and simmer another 30 minutes. Strip meat from bones and return to pot along with the tomatoes. Add water to cover and simmer on low 2 to 3 hours stirring every so often. I like to check the flavor after an hour or so, adding additional seasonings or peppers to suit my mood of the day. Serve with green onions on top.

September 18, 2009

Southern Fried BBQ Fish Sandwich

Friday’s Fish (Story)

Many times when researching recipes for my way-too-many cookbooks I have in progress, I come across ones that are regional specialties like the one urging me to create for today’s post. There is a lot more to such a dish than just the ingredients. I’m talking about ones that stand the test of time, those that are rooted in communities and are entrenched in the lives of the people living blocks and even miles around such eateries. The history behind the food is what excites me. Just knowing a little bit more about the lives of those who enjoy it makes these foods more rewarding.  The photo shown, from Ulika Food Blog, is one that struck home in such a manner. It was taken at TJ's Bar-B-Q & Fish, and is in north Nashville TN on Franklin Street, a street famous for some really great BBQ. Here is what he writes of the area:

“Jefferson Street is the historic heart and soul of Nashville's African American community. It is home to the city's three historically black universities - Fisk University, Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University. In the 40s, 50s and 60s, Jefferson Street was a thriving hotspot of jazz and R&B, with artists like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ray Charles, Fats Domino and Little Richard regularly playing the clubs and ballrooms that lined the street. But the construction of Interstate 40 in the 1960s ran roughshod through this district, and by all accounts it has never been the same since. Today, it is an area that has felt the sting of years of urban blight, though there continue to be efforts of renewal in some patches.”
Ulika Food Blog specializes in BBQ

Fried fish sandwiches are not anything new and certainly not just southern in origin. But seeing this one, presented in such raw fashion makes it appealing to me. Now, why would I want to mess with it, I don’t know. Nevertheless, here is my creation of this specialty with a little twist - marinated and oven-fried.

Southern Fried BBQ Fish Sandwich

2 pounds catfish fillets or other (see below) cut in serving-size pieces
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1 Tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cornflakes
1 cup Panko
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs
Bread of choice

Arrange fillets in a shallow, nonreactive baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the next 8 ingredients with a whisk. 

Spoon this mixture over the fillets and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. Flip the fillets and spoon the sauce over the top. Place in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or mild-tasting vegetable oil.

Place the cornflakes in a plastic bag and run over it a couple of times with a rolling pin. I like the crumbs to be somewhat coarse. Add the Panko, salt and pepper to the bag and shake to mix it all up. Pour into a wide shallow bowl.

Beat the eggs adding just a tad of water and place in another shallow bowl. Drain the fillets from the mixture and pat dry. Dip the fillets into the eggs and press into the crumb mixture coating both sides patting to help the crumbs stick. Place on the prepared pan an inch or so apart.

Cook the fillets for 8 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for an inch of thickness. Remove when internal temperature is about 138 degrees F. or when tested in the thickest part, the meat is opaque and white. Remove and make a sandwich to your liking. Splash on some hot pepper sauce or a BBQ sauce if desired - lettuce, tomato and onion are optional too.

Use any whitefish you prefer. Whiting is the choice in most BBQ joints but snapper, halibut or orange roughy are even better. Fish like cod, flounder and haddock will do also since you are baking them and not flipping to cook.

September 17, 2009

Chicharrónes, Ranch Pretzels, Soft Pretzel Recipe, Cheddar Ale Spread, Sweet & Zesty Snack Mix

Week 3 - First String Snack Attack
Tailgate Thursday

Today it's all about armchair quarterbacks, and what better way to start the game than with the first string of munchy snacks.

KathyVegas - Chef living in where else but Las Vegas, has some amazing good eats on her site and I think this one is perfect to start out for all of us beer drinking, know-it-all, never-coached-a-thing-before, sideline football fans. It's the quintessential for pigskin rallying (and eating).


2 lbs pork skin
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
Cooking oil for deep fat frying

Trim almost all the fat off the skin and cut into 2-inch squares. Sprinkle with salt, spread on cookie sheet in one layer and bake in a 250 F oven for 3 hours.

Cool and set aside until ready to use. When needed, pour oil to about 1/3 the depth of the pan and heat to 375 degrees (medium hot). Fry pork the pork skin until puffed up, crispy and light brown. Drain on paper towels.

My good friend Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker sent me a very nice list of great snacks geared for some football fun. She is one of my favorite blogging buddies and she out scores me all the time over on Foodbuzz. That's okay though, I was told a long time ago, you're not worth a toot in playing if you can't help your team out during the game. The next three today are from her blog along with her comments. Enjoy!

Ranch Pretzels

(Source: Amber’s Delectable Delights

My measurements were to scale for the size bag of pretzels I used – adjust as necessary

9-oz. bag pretzels
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-oz. packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dips
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Place the pretzels in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Add the oil, seal the bag and toss to coat. Add the dry ingredients to the bag, seal and toss again until all of the pretzels are coated
3. Spread the pretzels out on a large baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the oil has absorbed into the pretzels. Cool and store in an airtight container

Soft Pretzel Recipe
(Source: i shot the chef)

Ahh, the beloved soft pretzel. Before this past winter I didn’t realize that making them at home was so relatively easy. Sure, it takes some time with the rising and the baking soda bath, but each step is pretty simple and they are well worth it! The last time that I made homemade soft pretzels, I used this recipe, and they turned out great. The major difference in this recipe is the rising time, which doesn’t exist in the other recipe. I think that’s what makes these much more plump. Also, the egg wash at the end gets the pretzels to brown up really nicely. I loved these pretzels, and I will be keeping this recipe as my standard soft pretzel recipe.

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (or 2-1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soda Bath
6 cups water
3 Tablespoons baking soda

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons coarse sea salt

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes to bloom. Add the water/yeast along with the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and 2 3/4 cups of the flour to your heavy-duty mixer and knead dough for about 8 minutes, adding the last 1/4 cup of flour if necessary (I never needed to add this). You can also do this by hand. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but very uniform and smooth. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled.

2. Punch down, and divide the dough into 12 equal shapes and form them into small balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes. Roll them into 20″ lengths and form them into pretzel shapes. If you notice them getting hard to roll (springing back), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling out. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the pretzels to rise for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

3. In a large pot, bring the baking soda and water to a boil. Add the pretzels one at a time to the boiling water for 1 minute. Press down into the boiling water with a spatula. Remove and place on a cooling rack. When cooled, transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, until dark brown.

Note: To ensure the dough is thoroughly kneaded, take a small piece and roll it into a ball. With your thumbs, stretch the dough until either it tears or becomes transparent in the center, also known as a window. If you cannot stretch the dough to form a window, knead a little longer.
Note #2: If you have a kitchen scale, use that to weigh out the 12 balls of dough. They should be right around 2 oz each.
Makes 12 Pretzels

And here is a great dip for pretzels and gal-sticks.
Cheddar Ale Spread
(Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

This cheese spread has a fabulous tangy flavor, thanks to a small amount of dijon mustard and beer. The recipe calls for an ale, and I think you could really use just about anything so long as it’s not a light beer; I used one of my new favorites – Blue Moon. I processed this pretty well in the food processor, but you could easily choose to pulse it for a chunkier consistency if you would prefer.

8 oz. cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup beer (pretty much anything but a light beer)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I substituted 2 teaspoons dried)

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream, and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley until just dispersed.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refrigerate.

Find more remarkable recipes at Brown Eyed Baker.

Now team, here's a quarterback sneak, a great munchy snack from my cookbook, Grits to Guacamole:

Sweet & Zesty Snack Mix

1 stick butter
1 cup Karo syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 bags Quaker traditional snack mix
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups pecans

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir in the next five ingredients. Cook until this begins to bubble stirring to combine. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix the snack mix with the nuts and pour sauce over stirring to coat evenly. Spray a deep roasting pan with cooking spray and pour in the snack mix. Cook in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Pour this out onto wax paper, coated with cooking spray, and let cool. Break apart and store in an airtight container.

Next week, we're going to watch the game - highfalutin' in style. Check back in for details.

September 16, 2009

Spicy Grilled Shrimp Salad with Papaya Salsa

Shrimp of the Week

Today I offer a fun salad that is so good for you, full of things we all like and with a taste we won't soon forget. Enjoy!

Spicy Grilled Shrimp Salad with Papaya Salsa
4 to 8 servings

1 pound large Alabama shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons Cointreau
1 teapsoon morita chipotle chile powder (or any smoky, hot chile powder)

6 cups baby mixed field greens, washed and dried
1 cucumber sliced
1 carrot sliced
1 celery rib sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red bell pepper, small cubed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 small serrano, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh limejuice
1 papaya (about 1.5 lbs.), peeled, seeded and cubed

Marinate the shrimp in the soy sauce, orange juice, Cointreau and chipotle for 30 minutes.
In a large bowl, add the field greens, cucumber, carrot and celery. Sprinkle with the lemon juice followed with the oil tossing to coat, set aside.
Add the remaining ingredients in a bowl to make the salsa, set aside.
Oil a grill pan with additional olive oil and grill the shrimp on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove and cut into bite size pieces if desired.
To serve, arrange greens mixture on plates, top with the shrimp and spoon on the papaya salsa.

September 15, 2009

Penne A La Vodka

Okay folks, I know this has been done so many times but it's still a great dish and who knows, maybe you haven't tried a version like mine.

Penne A La Vodka
About 6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 -35 oz can of Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 to 8 fresh basil leaves -torn
1/2 cup quality vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 pound of penne -cooked & drained
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium to low heat in a large sauté pan. Add onion and carrot, cook until carrots are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes stirring well. In a food processor, add tomatoes with juice, the carrot mixture and pulse to desired consistency. Return mixture to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, basil and vodka. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cream, ricotta and mozzarella. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Stir in the cooked pasta to the pan, toss to coat and heat on low for just a few minutes.

Serve on warm plates with Parmesan on top, with a side salad if desired and toasty garlic bread.

September 14, 2009

Red Beans and Rice - The Real Deal

Creole Monday (Wash Day)

The making of the real deal – Red Beans and Rice

Part 1 of 2
The following excerpt is from a new cookbook I am currently working on. Enjoy!

“This is a classic dish treasured just about everywhere and especially beloved to the Creole cooks here in the south. We find various bean and rice dishes all over the world but this recipe comprise only the flavorful recipes using beans, rice and spices inspired from the Creole kitchens. The most favored bean is the southern Louisiana red bean, a milder and smaller version of the red kidney bean. As for rice, most often the long grain variety is preferred.

Like many Creole dishes, the spices from Latin and Caribbean countries contribute to the flavor that makes this dish so agreeable. Spices such as bay leaves, thyme and cayenne pepper are pretty much always in the recipes along with the flavors using the trinity: onion, bell pepper and celery.

To the purist, as I learned from my dear friend Bob Handley, the true Louisianan way of cooking red beans is with pickled pork. The pork is a staple in this dish stemming from the days before refrigeration and commercial curing plants. Many like cooking red beans with a ham bone, the one left over from Sunday’s dinner, while others use the likes of sausage, bacon or ham hocks. Cooking red beans on Monday, back in years past, gave the servants time to do other duties, like wash clothes. Therefore, for many still today, Monday is washday and also red beans and rice day.”

So lets start today with the making of the pickled pork. Next week, we will actually make the Red Beans and Rice dish. First, let us get to pickling. Like all recipes, and there are numerous ones, most all use at least a half-dozen of the same ingredients. I have tried several recipes and came up with this one, which is  my favorite.

Pickled Pork
Pickled meat is the soul of red beans & rice dishes

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
6 whole allspice
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch sections or cubes

Combine all of the ingredients except the onion and pork in a non-reactive saucepan set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid along with the onion. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove the pork from the brine and freeze in individual bags.

Note: Some folks use spare rib tips, which is fine, but then you have to deal with the bones. Pickled Pork is available at many southern and Cajun grocers and here online. Pork photo from the Cook's Thesaurus

Next week we will use this to make my delectable Red Beans recipe. Ya'll come back now!

September 13, 2009

Farmers Chicken Casserole

For today’s Sunday Dinner Idea,
I’m taking it easy.

The recipe below is a regular dish served at farmhouses and tables across the nation. Created and cooked in various forms, this dish has one thing in common - using what the farmland provides and in this case, the chicken coop and few items from the pantry. Enjoy!

Farmers Chicken Casserole
4 servings

12 oz boneless cooked chicken meat, skin removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 small potatoes, cubed
1/4 small head summer cabbage, shredded
1 -14 oz can tomatoes, drained and chopped
12 oz cooked long-grain rice (4 oz uncooked)
1 -7 oz can sweet corn kernels, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped chives
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Bread crumbs or Panko, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the margarine in a large saucepan, add the onion, celery, carrots, potatoes and fry for about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until the cabbage begins to wilt, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the chicken, tomatoes, rice, corn and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place mixture in a buttered rectangle casserole and top with bread crumbs if desired. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove cover, sprinkle the cheese on top and cook until cheese melts. Remove and sprinkle with chives and serve at once.

September 12, 2009

Red Snapper Veracruzana for Trix

A tasty treat for Tasty Trix.

This is my favorite version of a specialty served down Mexico way and among many eateries in the states as well. It is no surprise that it is so popular, Mexican flavors mingling with Mediterranean - Old World vs New - fresh fish, chiles, tomatoes, olives, this is just making me hungry. Hope you and everyone else enjoy this one!

Filetes de Pescado a la Veracruzana de Pescetarians or,

Red Snapper a la Veracruzana for Trix
6 servings

6 -6 ounce red snapper or other firm white fish fillets
1/4 cup fresh limejuice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup capers -divided
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeño peppers -divided
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup sliced black olives -if desired
Flat-leaf parsley sprigs -for garnish

Lay the fish fillets in a dish and sprinkle with limejuice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the garlic cloves and cook 2 minutes longer. Slowly stir in the tomatoes, add the green olives and 2 tablespoons capers, 2 tablespoons jalapeños, the chopped parsley, oregano, chipotle, sugar and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil stirring well and then reduce to medium low. Cook, stirring often until mixture reduces to about 6 cups, about 30 minutes. Stir in remaining salt at this time and remove bay leaves.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour the hot sauce over the fillets and bake, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes. Test fish to make sure it is still moist in the center of the dish and flakes easily with a fork. Remove and sprinkle on top the black olives, remaining capers and jalepenos. Garnish with parsley sprigs if desired.

For appetizers - try Vegetable Tostadas Stacks, Irresistible Bean Burritos or Mixed-Up Corn Nachos

Posted for my foodie friend Trix -  visit her for more Pescetarian recipes

September 11, 2009

Marinated Salmon in Herb Oil

This recipe is sooooo good, you will want to know why you haven't cook it before now - try it and I promise you will like it. 
You can use flounder or halibut, haddock or just about any type of fish to your liking.

Friday's Fish

Marinated Salmon in Herb Oil
4 servings

4 large salmon steaks
4 garlic cloves -crushed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper -to taste
2 teaspoons of bourbon
2 cups olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt -to taste
Lime wedges for garnish

Place the garlic, herbs, black pepper to taste and bourbon in a food processor and chop coarsely. Rub the mixture on both sides of desired fish and place in a glass baking dish. (Do not add the salt or the lime at this time) Add the oil and turn the fish a couple of times.

The fish should be nearly or completely submerged in the oil, if not, add more. For best results the fish should be covered and refrigerated overnight. But it is also pretty good to marinate it for just a few hours.

When ready to cook, pat off excess oil and lightly salt to taste. Grill, broil or bake to your liking. I prefer to grill. Brush the limejuice over the fish during cooking. Do not overcook. Serve with lime wedges at the table.

Note: Use lemon in place of lime and soy sauce instead of the bourbon.

September 10, 2009

3 Great Hot Dog Recipes + my homemade HD Chili

Week 2
This Blog has gone to the Dogs!

A quick look into dog recipes found me wondering exactly how many college football mascots are dogs. Here is my short list.
Uga is the most famous of all mascots and also leader of the bulldogs. You can find him every game day over at Georgia.
Yale has it’s bulldog named, rightly so, Handsome Dan, and is the oldest continuous mascot.
Georgetown breeds English Bulldogs, no surprise there.
Mississippi State loves bulldogs too. Again, no surprise.
Texas A&E has Reveille, an American Collie. That's a surprise.
Smokey, the blue-tick hound finds home at Tennessee.
An Alaskan malamute leads the Washington Huskies.

How many more can you come up with? Send me a comment and let me know.

3 Great Dog Recipes

Old Fashion Slaw Dogs
8 servings

All you need for this is 8 hotdogs, 8 buns, homemade slaw and 4 hungry people (or 8 single servings)

To make the Slaw, you will need:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 small white onion, grated
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon celery seeds
3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small head of cabbage, cored, finely shredded
1 large carrot, finely shredded

Whisk together the mayonnaise, onion, sugar, celery salt, vinegar and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cabbage and carrot and stir to combine, season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving or make it up the day before.

Grill the dogs 2 to 3 minutes on each side or to your liking, toast the buns and assemble with lots of slaw!

Fancy Fixin' Dogs
8 servings

8 all-beef hot dogs
8 hoagie buns
1 -9 ounce jar mango chutney (such as Major Grey's), any large pieces chopped fine
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard plus additional for serving

Mix chutney, onion, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon mustard in bowl. Make this a day ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare grill to medium high heat and grill hot dogs and buns until heated through. Add mustard if desired to the bun, the hot dog and spoon on the relish. Enjoy!

Raging Cajun Nawlins Cheese Dog
makes 8 dogs

8 all beef, extra long hot dogs
8 hot dog buns
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
3/4 cup (mild or hot) pickled jalapeno slices, drained

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the seasonings and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk and whisk. Turn up the heat and when mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Allow mixture to simmer stirring constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 20 minutes.
Add the cheese, the chopped jalapeno slices and whisk until cheese completely melts. Remove from the heat and serve or store until needed
Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, then reheated on low heat, with a little liquid added if necessary.
On game day, grill your dogs, toast your buns and top your dogs with this spicy cajun cheese sause.
Optional assorted garnishes: diced yellow onions, sauerkraut, grain mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, diced tomatoes, sweet or dill pickle relish, lettuce, and/or chili.

Tame those dawg-gone whiners (or how to smother a wiener).

Okay, so everyone likes hotdogs - right? Polling around I found a whole lot of you did not care for them at all and if made to eat roasted franks, would need to take a gourmet approach to satisfy your epicurean taste. So I thought about it, probably too much, of coming up with recipes using specialty links from organic raised and grazed animals, grilled with spicy fruity glazes, chutney type relishes made with fresh gourmand ingredients and whole grain rustic rolls or even tomato basil wraps. As I began to note the many ideas and the list spilt over to the next page, that’s when I stopped and thought - now wait one #@*^&%* minute. We’re talking about football here, tailgate parties and grilling out. And as I wadded up the notepaper, it occurred to me - do what any true football grilling man would do. Serve ‘em what you want them to have and if they don’t like it, well, cover it up!

My famous hot dog chili recipe:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion -diced
2 garlic cloves -minced
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Tomato juice as needed
In a medium saucepan brown beef in oil stirring and chopping until it is fine in texture and fully cooked without liquid. Drain and remove any oil. Add the onion and garlic to the meat on medium low heat and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except tomato juice and bring to a low simmer. Add just enough tomato juice to create a very loose but not soupy mixture. Cook on low about 15 minutes.

Now if you really want to dress 'em up, sprinkle on a mound of finely grated cheese, the kind men like to eat - Velvetta.

See ya next week for more Tailgate Thursday fun.