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.

December 30, 2012

Church St. Scrabble

Not the ordinary chex party mix.

My grandmother made batches of her Scrabble to give to friends during the holidays and to have on hand around the house for us nibblers. She also made the mix many times throughout the year. Her version of the chex mix is very addictive. It is a must at any cocktail party, goes well to picnics and always travels with us during our stays at the beach. Grandmother also made another snack mix, one she called 'Nuts and Bolts', consisting of cheerios (nuts), pretzels (bolts), rice chex, nuts, cheese tidbits and a savory blend of seasonings. This mix was a mainstay at every bridge club table as I remember each player having a bowl at their side.

This year at my house, a new version of Scrabble was formed, a combination of Grandmother's two snack mix recipes. I followed the customary giving to neighbors and in doing so, made two batches. It was well received and enjoyed. Like Grandmothers recipe, this one is addictive too. Many have requested the recipe, so here it is. Enjoy!

Church St. Scrabble
makes about 8 -1 quart containers

2 sticks salted butter
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
6 cups rice Chex cereal
6 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups cheddar tidbits (fish, penguins or any fun shape)
3 cups pretzel sticks, broken in half
3 cups cheerios
2/3 cup sesame sticks
2 cups mixed nuts
2 cups whole pecans
salt if needed

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and add Worcestershire, soy sauce, garlic and onion powder, celery salt and Tabasco. Whisk to incorporate. Set aside.

In a large roaster or 2 medium deep pans, gently combine the remaining ingredients. Slowly drizzle about 1/3 of butter mixture over the mix. Gently stir to mix and drizzle another 1/3 of butter mixture. Gently stir to mix followed with the last of the butter mixture. Stir and place in the oven.

Remove pan every 15 minutes and gently stir to lifting mix from the bottom. Cook total of 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.

Spread mix on newspaper or sheets of craft paper to cool. Allow to rest at least 2 hours. Store in airtight containers.

Grandmother's Scrabble and Zig's Nuts and Bolts is published in our family cookbook, Grits to Guacamole.

December 27, 2012

Holiday Breakfast Pudding

Start the New Year Off Right...

... with a scrumptious, ooey gooey and yet hardy breakfast casserole full of everything needed to jump start the day. Well, as you can see, I did add a helping of creamy stone-ground grits to each plate.

Many times folks refer to this type of casserole as a Strata but the way I put it together, it just ain't so. You see, a true strata is a casserole made up from layering varying ingredients on top of each other. A true breakfast strata consists of a bottom crust of bread followed with (in no particular order) a layer of cheese, bacon, sausage and/or ham, a medley of sauteed vegetables followed with another layer of cheese before lastly smothered in a seasoned egg/milk mixture.

The recipe today is more like a savory bread pudding, kinda like the sweet dessert type where everything is jumbled together and placed in a casserole before baking. When cooked, the egg mixture transforms the toasted English muffins into a firm bread pudding, and with the help of the coddling of the cheeses and sauteed vegetables, both keeps the casserole moist and flavorsome. Like most bread based strata recipes or those for breakfast puddings, an overnight rest is essential. Enjoy!

Holiday Breakfast Pudding
a blend of favorite vegetables that pairs well with the cheesy egg breakfast pie base

8 servings

1 pound fresh thin asparagus, ends trimmed
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup small-diced cooked ham 
1 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped
6 English muffins, split and toasted
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Remove the tips from the asparagus; put aside and cut the remaining stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Keep the tips and stalks separated.

In a large skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel and remove all but about 1 teaspoon of bacon grease. Add the butter and when melted, add ham and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms reduce to about half the original size. Add the bell pepper, onion and asparagus stalks and cook until onion is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until slightly beaten. Whip in the milk, salt, mustard and black pepper. Fold in the cooked vegetable mixture along with the bacon. Fold in the scallions and half of each of the cheese. Lastly, break or cut with kitchen shears the toasted English muffins into 1/2-inch pieces. Fold muffin pieces into the egg mixture. Pour mixture into a well-greased 3-quart casserole.  Sprinkle the asparagus tips on top followed with the remaining cheeses.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and allow to set out for 3 minutes. Place casserole in center oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until center is set and cheese is nice and toasted.

Remove, cut into servings and enjoy with a side of fresh fruit, grits or fried breakfast potatoes.

Note: The photos show a halved version in a 1 1/2 qt. casserole.

December 16, 2012

Cajun Christmas Chips

. . . as in Spicy Pickle Chips.

Sweet and spicy with a little spunkiness, just like most Cajun folks I know, these pickle chips are always a hit no matter what time of year you make 'em. For some reason, these are associated with the Holiday season and I suppose it is because not only are these inexpensive and a snap to make but also so darn wonderful when received.

One of the best little snacks around and a must on the appetizer tray, these chips are the kind of thing that will make folks say 'bet ya can't eat just one.' Now if you do not like hot, then don't come near these because they do carry a little bite. I mean, if you can't stand a little heat, I sure do not want you swearing my name. No, don’t do it. Most folks like to mix up a solution of sugar and hot pepper sauce but I like to add the garlic for flavor and crushed red pepper for an even added depth of flavor (it’s a different layer of flavor than the hot sauce, don’t you know), not to mention the Christmas-like specks of color. Enjoy!

Cajun Christmas Chips
makes about 6 half-pints for gifting
(or 24 -4 oz sample jars as shown used for promoting the launch of Drick's

2 -46 oz jars whole dill pickles (not Kosher)
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced garlic
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Drain and discard the pickling juice from the dill pickles (or save the juice and use to marinate chicken wings).

Slice the pickles in thick, nice size chips, (larger than quarter-inch, less than half-inch) and place in a large bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Allow to rest for about 2 hours. Stir from the bottom several times. The sugar will dissolve and the pickles will produce its own liquid.

Place the chips in jars distributing the liquid among the jars. Seal and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days before enjoying and gift giving.

Holiday Wreath Label, c. 2010, Carol Egbert

December 12, 2012

Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

This is One Fun Cake

Ann Pillsbury taught all of America, and the world too, a thing or two about baking when she starting publishing her collection of baking "secrets" early in 1944. Her many cookbooks, most often 64-page booklets, dealt with cakes and sweets of all kind and popular of the time, her no-knead concept of making bread. She told everyone that baking was fun, even named a booklet as such. She creating a fun market for Pillsbury flour, even coming up with a 6-page series of 'Tasty Talk' short pamphlets. These shorts included Fun With Cookies, Fun With Breads, and Easy Tricks for Picnic and Patio Fun. "Fun" being a big part of the gimmick. You see, "Ann Pillsbury" was a fictitious character created for marketing purposes and essentially represented the members of the Pillsbury Home Service Department.

Now in 1952, Ann Pillsbury published another 62-page booklet, Kate Smith Chooses Her 55 Favorite Cake Recipes. The Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake recipe became an instant top favorite. It brought the taste of brown sugar back into the cooking scene ever as popular as the star's radio singing did to Berlin's God Bless America.

The recipe today is very similar to Ann Pillsbury's version but it contains what I think are elements traditionally found in Southern recipes like the use of buttermilk, an extra egg and a quadruple amount of brown sugar. Shortening, brown sugar, flour and chocolate squares are the steadfast ingredient in both recipes. Oh, the Fudge Icing is my take on one from my family. Now, candied cherries would never appear on such a cake. As my grandmother would say 'this is pure foolishness', but hey, its Christmas, a time for festive doings, fun and silliness. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Chocolate Cake
makes 3 layers

1/2 cup shortening
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 -1 oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, cream the shortening to a fluffy consistency. On medium speed, slowly add the sugar, tablespoon at a time until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat; use a rubber spatula along the sides so that all are mixed well.

Combine the sifted flour, salt and soda in a bowl. Alternately add the flour mixture with the buttermilk in about four additions beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides and mix just until batter is blended. Stir in the vanilla well but do not over-beat.

Pour the batter into 3 well greased caked 8-inch round pans. Even out the batter and bake in a preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until center of cake tests ready. Use a toothpick, cake tester (comes out clean) or the 'indention' springs back' method. Remove and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Revert to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

Use the icing below as a filling and as a frosting for the top and sides. Decorate with nuts and candied cherries for Holiday fun.

Brown Sugar Fudge Icing
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
4 1/2 tablespoons shortening
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons Southern Comfort

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, cocoa, shortening, butter, salt and milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a good simmer stirring frequently. Continue simmering and stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and Southern Comfort. Beat with a hand mixer for about a minute or until icing is smooth and creamy. Add several drops of milk if icing becomes too stiff. Use as a filling and to frost cakes.

December 7, 2012

Ambrosia Cookies, a Southern Tradition

Don't call these Fruitcake Cookies.

Much as fruitcakes are to some, these treats are traditional quintessential cookies baked in most southern kitchens.

The recipe varies from household to the next, from grandmother to mom and from country living to that of city, but one thing each version has going is the great, old-fashion taste based on a recipe from yesteryear. The test of a good, hand-me-down Ambrosia Cookie recipe is making sure certain key ingredients are included like, brown sugar, coconut, pecans, dried fruit and flavors of citrus (much like a fruitcake). And just like the Ambrosia many Southerners know and enjoy in salad form, it is no myth that these cookies are so prized by generations of good cooks for a reason. Like many desserts, sweets, cookies and pies, the immortal gods of the South know a thing or two about preserving tradition. It is done for a reason because recipes are worth sharing and preserving.

That said, this recipe comes from my kitchen, from one I remember some 30 plus years ago. Like most of my recipes, it somewhat resembles the original in carrying-on the basic idea of what an Ambrosia Cookie should be, one with the key ingredients of course, and in my opinion (and additions) one that is moist, full of citrus flavor with an alluring developed aftertaste.


Ambrosia Cookies
makes about 8 dozen

Juice of 2 satsumas, tangerines or sweet oranges
1/4 cup golden sherry
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup golden raisins (or part raisin, dried apricot or pineapple mixture)
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups uncooked rolled oaks
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, slightly toasted
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
4 dozen candied cherries, halved

Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, heat the satsuma juice and sherry over medium heat and boil until liquid reduces to a syrup. Place the dried fruit (not cherries) in the saucepan with the warm sherry reduction for about 10 minutes to soften. Stir occasionally. Drain well if needed or lightly press liquid out of fruit with paper towels. Fruit should be plump but not totally wet,

In a bowl, cream the butter with electric mixer until pale yellow; slowly add the sugar beating at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and add the remaining ingredients, including the plumped fruit, but not the candied cherries. Combine and stir well.

Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Lightly press a cherry half in the center of each cookie, rounded side up. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to racks to finish cooling. Store in a tightly covered tin or container when cookies are firm to the touch.

Note: I found (after my first batch) the oven temperature to be a little too high at my first setting of 350 degrees therefore, I reduced the temp to 340 and baked for 14 minutes with much better results. Your oven may differ.

December 1, 2012

Thick and Creamy, Rich and Cheesy, Mac and Cheese

Another Mac n Cheese recipe.

There are, I imagine, just as many recipes for macaroni and cheese as there are cooks making it, and that folks is a awful lot with a few too many.  What makes us want or need to create a new recipe when many of us already have plenty darn good ones in our repertoire is beyond me but here I am, jumping on the wagon and playing fiddle with the best of you.

I used the new Barilla White Fiber pasta shells, one of three new types of pasta from this company. The other two are mini penne and mini rotini. All contain three times more fiber than regular pasta and with each 3.5 ounce portion, that's 30% of our daily whole grain recommendations and I am one who likes the extra fiber.

This recipe is based on one I have made many times using only cheddar while many of my other recipes contain various types of cheese. This time I fiddled with the taste by adding the vegetables of southern cooking (known as the trinity) along with a can of condensed milk, which is an invention from the Great Depression and whereby many recipes using the long-lasting canned milk became popular.

I hope you try it, it was a hit during the holidays - ever so creamy and cheesy - by golly, I think that is what I will name it. Enjoy!

Creamy, Cheesy Mac
about 10 servings

1 -12 oz box sea shell pasta
1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced celery
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 -12 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
1 -5 oz Kraft Old English sharp cheddar cheese spread
2 cups shredded mild cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheese, divided
2 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, about 4 quarts, for 6 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add butter to a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the onion and celery cooking until tender. Stir in flour until smooth and cook for 1 minute. Add pepper and slowly stir in both the milks increasing the heat to medium high. Stir constantly until sauce thickens. Add the jar of cheese spread and whisk until smooth. Add the 2 cups mild cheese, 1 cup sharp cheese and stir until smooth. Fold in the red peppers. Remove from heat and combine with the cooked pasta. Mixture should be soupy. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 3-quart casserole.

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Add remaining cup of sharp cheese and dust lightly with paprika. Bake for 5 minutes to melt the topping.

November 28, 2012

Sugar Cured Creole Ham Recipe

Sugar spiked, sugar glazed, sugar crusted ... this is one sweet ham.

Sweet as in 'gooda' (better than good) is the meaning here even though sugar is incorporated in three different stages of preparing this amazing ham. The ham is actually not really that sweet, but moist with a delectable, very southern and distinguish flavor.

This is one fine way to cook a ham and it is one suitable for many occasions, holidays and special meals. Heck, this is one to cook for no reason at all other than it's that good.  Enjoy!

Sugar Cured Creole Ham

my version of a honey baked ham but with southern flavors
serves 8-12

1 -6 to 8 pound spiral-cut ham
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 -12 oz ginger ale
1/2 cup Southern Comfort
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons Creole mustard, or a brown grain
3 tablespoons Alaga syrup, or cane syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pan drippings
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning, salt-free
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Place the ham in an extra-large zip-lock bag (or large container). Mix the next 3 ingredients together in a saucepan and heat until slightly warm. Pour marinade over the ham. Seal removing as much air as possible and allow to cool just a bit. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Rotate if possible, especially if using a container.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove ham from marinade and pat dry. Discard marinade. Place ham cut side down in a roaster on a large sheet of wide aluminum foil; enough to enclose the ham. Mix the next 3 ingredients together and rub over the ham. Seal foil and place in the oven.

Bake ham for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Test after an hour with a meat thermometer and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Be sure not to place probe into a fatty area or next to the bone. During the last hour, baste with the pan drippings.

Right before removing ham from oven, place remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil stirring constantly. The mixture should be thick. Pull away the foil and position ham on one of its long sides. Normally, the top has a thin layer of fat. Spoon glaze over the ham and turn oven to broil turning up the heat. Watch carefully. Allow glaze to crystallize. Remove to serving platter and serve warm.

Note: The ham I used was pre-sliced and pre-cooked, I believe the packaging said 'fully cooked'. Thanks to Lea Ann for bringing this to my attention.

November 24, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

Southern Style

Around the south, as mentioned in an earlier recipe, rice grows nicely in many areas and is a very important crop for many states.  Even so, wild rice, the grayish-brown grain, the real deal, remains fairly expensive compared to the white rice varieties which many grow.  In the grocers of many, around these parts and I suspect nationwide as well, is a very affordable New Orleans style mixture of rice, Zatarain's Long Grain & Wild Mix, and it is already seasoned too.  It is a quick fix side-dish for many meals and a useful ingredient in recipes as the one I am featuring.

November 20, 2012

Bodacious Turkey Bone Soup

What to do with your leftover turkey?

Some folks make turkey hash with the slices of turkey, gravy and dressing (or stuffing), others might make a casserole using up leftover side-dishes and turkey meat or even a turkey pot pie. Or some might make something that is a favorite around these parts, Turkey Bone Gumbo. But I suspect many make soup wisely using the carcass and any leftover turkey meat.

Some folks being resourceful add several cups of leftover side-dish vegetables to their soup, even several spoonfuls of sweet potato casserole will give it an altered, slightly sweeten taste and also will help thicken. And if you are feeling really experimental, go ahead and make some dumplings from the leftover dressing to float on top of the soup at serving. I think that would be well received.

We always manage to eat up most of our sides, or save 'em for another round of helpings the next day. For some reason, left-over holiday side-dishes are not so bad the second time around. But for this soup, I like to use new ingredients after salvaging the board cuttings of the turkey, any remaining slices of meat and the carcass of course which is loaded with tiny goody bits of meat and flavors that are actually good for you too. Now, you can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have or ones you like. This is how I like to do it. I cook the potatoes in an early stage of simmering the soup as a thickening base and I add the vegetables later to simmer until just tender.


Bodacious Turkey Bone Soup
a most flavorful after-holiday turkey and vegetable soup
makes about 5 quarts

1 leftover turkey carcass
1 quart chicken broth
3 quarts water
1 large onion, halved
1 carrot, halved
1 celery stalk, halved
2 bay leaves
2 garlic toes, minced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, diced
4 large carrots, diced or thinly sliced
1 small rutabaga, chopped in 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups greens (collards, spinach or cabbage)
1 -14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or 4 small fresh tomatoes, peeled)
1 -15.5 oz can navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil 
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 -7 oz box long grain and wild rice mix or 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
up to 3 cups leftover chopped turkey meat

In a large stockpot, add the turkey carcass (skin too), broth, water, the onion, carrot, celery halves and bay leaves. (I also added the outer leaves of the cabbage.)

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and allow to slow simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Strain broth through a fine mesh stainer or sieve (lined with a wet cheese cloth if you want a clearer broth) and discard the solids.

Wipe out the stockpot to remove scum. Heat butter over medium low heat and saute the garlic until aromatic. Toss in the celery and onion and allow to onions to wilt. Add the turkey stock, potatoes and increase heat. When at boil, decreased heat to medium low and simmer about 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the rice and turkey meat, increasing heat if desired. Allow soup to come to a second boil and reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 30 minutes. Add rice stirring often to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom and cook another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the turkey and allow soup to reheat. Ladle into bowl and serve with hot biscuits, toasted bread or cornbread.

Note: You can add leftover mashed potatoes to thicken even more if desired or thicken with a little cornstarch or arrowroot.

November 17, 2012

Sausage and Pecan Dressing Recipe

Stuffing or Dressing?

Yup, it's that time of year again, a time when many ponder what to call it or where the name comes from. Romans are credited with the first mentioning of stuffing foods, mainly meats with vegetables, herbs, nuts and a type of cereal known as spelt. The term dressing came about in Victorian England.

Now, in our family, this time of year we make dressing. It is a side dish. We do not stuff the bird. Period. If we do, maybe Cornish hens, then we call it stuffing, but never do we put out a casserole and call it stuffing. Why, it just ain't done. And to be honnest here, I suspect where you live or rather, where your mother was born, determines if you call it stuffing or dressing. You see, I think

November 14, 2012

Roasted Citrus Turkey Breast

Satsuma time on the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast, specifically the area encompassing Mobile's delta, is an ideal climate zone for growing many citrus fruits. We enjoy a wide range of tropical fruit as well; figs, pears, blueberries, plums, scuppernongs, bananas, jelly palm even the not-so-often mentioned pawpaw as well as the citrus tastes of grapefruit (many early, mid and late varieties), blood oranges, limes (Key and Persian) and hybrids too, Meyer lemons, Asian persimmons, ‘Ponkan’ mandarins, tangerine (Clementime, Darcy, Tangelos and a host of others), sweet orange, kumquat, Calamondins and our beloved satsuma. These are just a few of the 'fruits' of our backyard labor we coastal folks enjoy seasonally and to go out in the yard, pick a fresh satsuma or two and use it in a recipe is a rewarding treat, a feeling of pride that turns any ol' recipe into extraordinaire.

There are so many ways to cook turkey. Back in 2010 I smoked a turkey breast using a Satsuma Kumquat marinade that was out of sight and since then, I have used the same principle in creating many other recipes using roasters, pork ribs, crown roast and a pork loin. In fact, I used satsumas in several recipes in my new cookbook, Journal of Mobile's Southern Cookery (see sidebar) and tell of the importance the crop had at one time for our area. The recipe today brings about a slightly less savor of citrus than the marinating method but it still produces a very tasty, ever-so-moist bird using the seasoned satsuma butter rub.


Roasted Citrus Turkey Breast
a moist and tender method with a slight fruit flavor
6 to 8 servings

1 - to 10 pound turkey breast, thawed
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning, divided
juice of 1 satsuma (or tangerine)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 satsuma (or tangerine) sectioned
1 apple, cut in eights
1 celery stalk, cut in thirds
1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove giblet pack from cavity and rinse turkey under running water. Pat completely dry with paper towels. Sprinkle inside of cavity with 1/2-tablespoon creole seasoning.

Mix butter, 1-tablespoon creole seasoning, satsuma juice, salt, pepper together in a bowl and put aside.

Carefully separate skin from the meat on the top side of the breast. I use a stiff thin rubber spatula but fingers do just as well. Spoon about 1 1/2-tablespoons of butter mixture under skin on both sides of the breast. Massage skin to evenly distribute mixture. Rub remaining butter mixture over the top and sides of the breast. Place on a rack in a roaster and stuff the cavity with the satsuma, apple and celery. Position remaining fruit and celery under the sides.

Pour the broth in the bottom of the roaster and place pan in the center of oven. Turn oven temperature to 325 and roast for 30 minutes.

Baste with the pan drippings and every 15 minutes hereafter. Cover breast with foil to prevent over browning and to aid in moisture retention (yes, lift the foil to baste each time). Cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees on a meat thermometer. Be sure to place thermometer deep into the breast but away from bone.

Remove from oven and let rest before slicing.

Note: The drippings make a wonderful base for gravy.

November 3, 2012

Wragg Soup

The legend and making of Wragg Soup

From the swamp lands of old Mobile come many things and in today's time, the area once known as Wragg Swamp contains a couple of indoor malls, corridors of commercial buildings, parking lots and strip malls, the new Red Cross building and a softball complex scattered among many neighborhoods.   Being flat, the land once was a fertile place to grow vegetables and crops year round, long before 'civilization' arrived into the area. And before it was first plowed, before the swamp and bog-like area filled in with vegetation and soil, it was a haven for outlaws, bandits and misguided folks. The land dubbed it's name for George Wragg, a native of Manchester, England who established himself in Mobile by 1840. He built a series of water driven mills in the marshy lands west of Mobile, hence, Wragg Swamp. It is also recorded in the 1869 Mobile City Directory that he was in the wholesale grocery business at 61 N. Water Street.

October 27, 2012

Parsley Rice

Rice history in the US
and a good rice recipe.

The cultivation of rice in America began in reality by accident when a storm-battered ship sailing from Madagascar limped into the Charles Towne harbor (Charleston SC) back in 1685. To repay the kindness of the colonists for repairs to the ship, the captain offered a gift of a small quantity of "Golden Seede Rice" (named for its color) to a local planter.

October 23, 2012

Brown Sugar Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes and Onion Gravy

A recipe steeped in Southern tradition

There are a few folks, a handful, that know a thing or two of how pork entered into our native land. The folks I am referring to have in possession a first peek at my latest cookbook, an online digital copy featuring recipes of our Mobile area and of our area's history, folklore, trivia and at times, plain ol' storytelling. And, in this recipe 'book' contains the story of how pork as we know it, gained foothold on our land and in our Southern area, first brought to us by the Spaniards. If you remember, these folks were the winners of a contest last year and the cookbook was a prize to weekly winners.

October 20, 2012

Green Beans, Herbs and Tomatoes

Garden Fresh Taste,
a Perfect Side Dish for Fall and Winter

I just love green beans and when I see a bin of them at the market, all nice and fresh, I want to buy the whole shebang, not that the bin is that large mind you, but more than I could possibly cook at one time.

Now, for those of you who do not know or are curious like myself, having heard the expression all my life, I thought it implied to something of quantity.  Turns out the first mention of shebang in American print comes from Walt Whitman back in 1862 referring to a dwelling or rustic hut. Later Mark Twain used shebang to size up an automobile in 1872. Many say the term comes from the French char-à-bancs - carriage with benches. So now you have it, at least what I could find on the matter. Somewhat confusing...

October 18, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower

The best cauliflower, yet.

This is my new way in enjoying cauliflower!


Roasted to perfection, with a crisp, savory coating - zippy and tangy from the Creole spices and lemon, this is one snappy side dish that will be making a comeback in my kitchen many times. A great way to enjoy cauliflower.

Hope you try it as I think you will like it too.  Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch
good dash of lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Whisk the garlic, salt, Creole seasoning, cornstarch with the lemon and oil in a medium bowl.

Wash the cauliflower with cold water and toss thoroughly with the seasoning mixture.

Arrange florets on a baking pan and roast for 8 minutes. Turn the florets over and roast for 7 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the florets over and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to a serving dish or individual servers.

October 14, 2012

Creamy Crust Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

A Pot Pie with a Dumpling topping
Yeah, I think the name pretty much sums it up.

There have been a whole lot of recipes like this one all over the place lately, photos of just about every chicken pie or dumpling casserole going viral on the internet. Must be something good about a chicken casserole, huh?

Well, this one is a take on many. After looking at several photos, I decided what I wanted my casserole to taste like, a pot pie with a creamy, almost dumpling-like topping. This fits the bill. Enjoy!

Creamy Crust Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
6 to 8 servings

1 rotisserie cooked deli chicken
2 cups chicken stock (homemade or reduced sodium broth)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups frozen vegetables ( from a 16 oz bag)
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
1 cup self-rising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon shortening or oil
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 extra-large Knorr chicken bouillon cube
black pepper and salt

Remove skin and debone chicken. Tear the meat into bite size pieces and put aside in a large bowl.

Defrost the vegetables with just a little water in a medium bowl. Drain in a colander and toss with the chicken, thyme, oregano and however much salt and pepper you desire. We like a good bit of pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add butter to a 9x13-inch casserole and allow to melt in the oven. Place the chicken mixture into the butter.

Mix the flour, baking powder and shortening with a whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk and carefully pour over the mixture. Do not stir the layers.

In the medium bowl, heat the chicken stock in the microwave until warm. Whisk in the the chicken bouillon until dissolved and then add in the chicken soup. Gently pour this over the batter mixture. Do not stir the layers.

Bake in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the top turns nice and golden.

Note: For the vegetables, I used a soup mix (because that is what I had in the freezer) which was great with carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, tomatoes, onions, okra and celery. I especially like the tomatoes and okra; the only missing vegetable from the 'normal' blend was the english pea.

October 12, 2012

Loaded Meaty Lasagna

Meat, Meat Please

First, let me say, this is in no way an 'authentic' Italian recipe. It does contain many Italian ingredients and flavors, but ya not gonna find it in the Encyclopedia of Regional Italian Cuisine. Like most of my recipes, I just made it up.

This one is for the folks, ya know who you we are, that like a lot of meat in casseroles. Yup, those 'meat and potato' fellers that line up at diners across Americana eateries. Layered in this easy-to-make chunky pasta sauce is four kinds of meat not to mention (okay, I will) five vegetables and a blend of yummy cheeses. Go ahead, loosen up your belt, roll up your sleeves and make a meal out of this one. Enjoy!

October 9, 2012

Helluva Spinach Casserole

It's one Helluva Casserole

The name has nothing to do with the brand of dairy products. I gave it that name because of the taste: slight heat and awesomeness.

Momma made a casserole similar to this one, and when company came a'calling, she would add chopped cooked eggs to make it 'extra-special'. How many of you remember that? Back to a time when adding nuts, water chestnuts and other thingies made side-dishes fancy. Maybe it was small town living, maybe occurring in the south, I dunno, but I suspect all mothers did it.

This recipe results in a stiff, firm casserole meaning it sets up solid yet it still remains moist with a creamy texture. Cut it into squares if you like and dollop each serving with a smidgen of diced tomatoes or pimento. Whoa, that is my kind of eating and one craving for good eats! I halved the recipe to test it out but I cannot wait to make this again as I wrote it when company comes a'calling. Enjoy!

Helluva Spinach Casserole
6 to 8 servings

2 -10 oz packages frozen chopped spinach
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon Adobo seasoning or Season-All
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted margarine
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/2 cup french fried jalapeno strips

Cook the spinach according to package directions (I use the microwave version) and drain. Squeeze spinach between several layers of paper towels to remove the moisture.

In a bowl, mix the eggs, cottage cheese and Adobo seasoning (or All-Seasoning) together. Mix in the spinach and then the melted margarine. Fold in the cheddar cheese.

Spoon mixture into a greased 2 1/2 quart casserole and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until center is set. Top with the fried jalapenos and bake another 5 to 10 minutes to brown.

Note: If you cannot find french fried jalapeno strips, the onion variety would be another option.

October 5, 2012

Sweet and Zingy Buffalo Wings

My best take on
Buffalo Wings

After several attempts of dabbling with ingredients, many wings later and many tips discarded, I finally tweaked my recipe to my liking. Hopefully, you will like them too.

Now I am a true believer in using a brine with wings mainly to get them all pump up with extra moisture, which of course helps 'em from drying out. It also adds another layer of flavor to the sweet meat. It doesn't take but an extra few minutes of prep time and about 30 minutes in the fridge is a good rule of thumb, although I do it longer. A reader once wrote on another recipe that he had never used a brine on wings but after doing it once, will never cook them again without it. It really does matter - so I think too.

Although you might think hot because of the name, these wings are to me fairly mild - with just enough heat to carry the name and with just enough slightly sweet flavor to make you want more. Enjoy!

Drick's Buffalo Wings
8-12 appetizer servings

24 wings, separated, tips removed
brine solution or salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup Franks Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Go ahead, do it - place the chicken wings in a sealable bag and add a brine soulution. This time I used I used 2 cups water, 1/3 cup Kosher salt, 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon crushed oregano. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or no longer than a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the oil, butter and remaining ingredients in a saucepan. Allow mixture to come to a simmer over low heat. Stir to incorporate and let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Drain wings and pat dry with paper towers. Arrange on baking pans (sprayed with cooking oil) separated so each are not touching skin side up. Place in oven, reduce heat to 375 and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook 10 minutes.

Remove wings to a casserole or deep pan. Pour sauce over wings, toss to coat and return to oven. Cook about 15 minutes tossing occasionally or until most of the sauce has cook onto the wings.

Note: I know these would be exceptional cooked outside on a grill, however, the weather did not co-operate this time. I plan to do it soon by cooking the wings off heat, medium high until cooked followed with several baths into the buffalo sauce.

October 2, 2012

Shredded Chicken Enchilada Recipe

A Saucy Casserole 
to Feel Good About

How many ways can we make enchiladas? Something about these rolled packets of goodness makes us come up with so many different ways. We have veggie filled, arnitas style, rancheros, suizas, verdes and sarapas ways of serving; fillings of shrimp, beef, spinach, pork, chicken and cheese, just to name a few.

I like the way this recipe turned out not only 'cause it was easy; the chicken cooked in the enchilada sauce with a twofold purpose - to soak up the wonderful flavor of the sauce and to add more flavor to the sauce. Give and take. Now, many times I will soak the tortillas in the sauce and give them a light fry before rolling them up, but this bake method works pretty good too. Enjoy!

Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic toes, minced
1 tablespoons flour
1 -28 oz can Enchilada sauce or make your own
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 -4 oz can diced green chiles, drained
12 -6 inch corn tortillas
cilantro for garnish if desired

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the enchilida sauce, chicken stock and bring to a low boil. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts and place in the sauce. Cover the chicken with the sauce and allow to come to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and set sauce aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Shred the chicken using two forks. You do this by holding one fork into a chicken breast steadily while the other fork with its prongs facing backwards, 'scrapes' the edge and shreds the chicken by pulling away. Place the shredded chicken into a bowl and add about half of the sauce. Add half the cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses along with the green onions. Gently combine the mixture.

Brush each side of every corn tortilla with just a little oil and randomly place on a baking sheet.  Do not stack more than 2 high. Place in the oven and cook until hot, leaving the tortillas pliable and soft, not crisp. Remove, stack and wrap in paper towers.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F.Spray a casserole (9x13 inch) with cooking spray.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla and gently roll the tortilla firmly around the filling. Place each seam side down in the casserole. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the tortillas turn golden in color.

Reduce oven to 400.  Stir the chiles into the remaining sauce and pour enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas. Top with the remaining cheese, cilantro if desired and lightly cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 to 10 minutes until cheese begins to turn brown.

Allow enchiladas to stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

We like a good dollop of sour cream, pico de gallo, and a side of rice and beans.

September 28, 2012

Old-Fashion 2-Meat Chili

Spice up your Bowl with Goodness

So, what makes this old-fashion you ask?  Mainly it's the way I was taught to make chili, Alabama style. No box mix or spice package, this one is made just the way many kitchens did with simple ingredients found in most cupboards, crisper drawers and meat compartments.

Chili is such an ideal food for casual entertaining, football watching and extra good during the winter months. Served steaming hot, it will put a big ol' smile on a frosty face, warm the tummies on cool nights and perk up those with Autumn doldrums.

Old-Fashion Chili
Gooder than good ... actually, damn gooder!
about 12 servings

1/2 pound dried pinto beans or 2 -15.5 oz cans rinsed and drained
2 pounds lean ground beef (from the shoulder area is fine)
1 pound lean ground pork or venison (pork loin is pretty cheap with little fat)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
2 garlic toes, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 to 6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 -10.5 oz can condensed beef broth (Campbell's)
water or tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 -28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 -6 oz can tomato paste

Soak overnight the beans or use can ones if you are in a really big hurry. Drain and rinse either way; put aside.

In a Dutch oven of medium stockpot, brown both meats. Ya might have to add a little oil if you meats are really lean. Drain meat into a bowl and wipe out any oil.

Add the oil to the pot over medium high heat and saute the onion and bell pepper until the onion goes limp. Toss in the garlic and give it a stir. Add the cumin, chili powder, flour, paprika, black pepper, sugar, oregano, vinegar, cayenne and stir to coat all the vegetables. Add the bay leaf, the can of beef broth, enough tomato juice or water to thin the consistency and the parsley. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer; fold in the meat and beans. Return mixture to simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Make sure the beans are as tender as you like them before adding any tomato product. If tender, add the tomatoes along with the paste. Stir and add just enough water to your liking. Allow chili to come to a simmer and cook another 30 minutes.

Serve with a simple pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired. Cornbread sticks are very appreciated.

September 25, 2012

Fluffy Potato Casserole

sort of Soufflé,
mainly Casserole...
one great side dish

Now I have made a rendition of this recipe many ways, the best with the proper beating in of egg yolks into the potato batter after which, frothy egg whites are folded into the same batter and which later, when cooked, the whole shebang blows-up, as it should. That is the essence of souffler, the French word loosely meaning to blow-up and the term where soufflé comes. All in all, any way you cook a vegetable soufflé is pretty darn good but when I can skip a step or two, in this case, the beating of the egg whites, heck, I'm all for it. Okay, just so you know, we got to eating and I forgot all about taking a photo. The picture you see was taken the next day, stone cold, right from the fridge. It kinda lost a little of the stouffler effect.

Not too many times do I hear complaints when I serve potatoes, no matter what form or whatever I call it. This creamy blend of potatoes with cheese stands up mighty proud at any occasion, the crunchy topping makes it extra special. It might not be a real soufflé, but it sho' is good.


Fluffy Potato Casserole
8 to 10 servings

3 pounds yellow potatoes
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1 -8 oz package cream cheese, softened
3 green scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (about 1 strip) diced cooked bacon
1/2 cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
au gratin topping of crushed croutons or fried onion rings

Peel and cut potatoes into 2-inch cubes. Boil in lightly salted water until fork tender. Drain well.

Beat whipping cream, eggs and flour at medium speed in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add potatoes, butter, salt, pepper and cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Fold in by hand the scallions, bacon and cheese.

Scrape mixture into a 2-quart casserole and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for about 25 minutes or until it souffles. Add the crushed croutons (mixed with a little melted butter) or the French fried onion rings. Return to oven until au gratin browns, about another 10 minutes.

September 22, 2012

Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Jalapeños

Seafood stuffing is perfect for jalapeños

There are so many ways to stuff jalapeños, heck, I suspect thousands. All kinds of names for them too from Texan Armadillo Eggs to Cajun Firecrackers, After Burn Tomorrows to Deviled Scotch Eggs, even one called Chicken Cordon Blowout. And jalapeños are filled with everything imaginable; Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack to mention a few cheeses. Choose your meat and it's been poked in a pepper as well, pork, chicken, beef, fish, shellfish and other critters. Yes, every flavor I suspect known to mankind has shared camaraderie with the jalapeño. Now, why is that?

What makes a jalapeño so darn envious of other foodstuff that every thing on earth feels the need to want to jump right in? I dunno but I do know most everything I have ever put in there myself is rewarding whether grilled, fried or baked. Wrapped in bacon, battered up or left naked as a jaybird, it's all good to me.

This past week, as soon as we got back from our trip, I had a hankering for seafood. So I went down to my favorite shrimp and fish house (oyster too) and loaded up on enough to get us through an afternoon of our favorites. Two being stuffed jumbo shrimp and these jalapeños made with an old fashion way of making a dressing (very little breading at all) of lump crab meat blended with creole goodness.

I use the same recipe - Crab Stuffing for Shrimp, Flounder etc. - as I do when I stuff jumbo shrimp, flounder, lobster or even when I make deviled crabs and boulettes. I sometimes add tiny salad shrimp to the crab and veggie mix in stuffing jalapeños. It makes for one fine taste.

Hope you try these little delights as they are some kind of good - enjoy!

You can find the recipe here. Add about a cup of cooked salad size shrimp to the mix if desired.

Mound crab dressing into jalapeños halves and roll in the cracker/panko mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven until tops are slightly brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce or try one on mine; Creole Seafood Sauce, Louis SauceCreole Rémoulade Sauce or Horseradish Sauce.

September 21, 2012

Panéed Flounder with Shrimp, Crabclaws and Vegetables

Jubilee feast!

Mobile Bay is fed from rivers, creeks and estuaries of our delta which is the second largest in the United States; our boarding neighbor Mississippi boasts the largest. From this bay, multitudes of fresh water fish as well as salt water seafood and shellfish are harvested daily. The recipe today is a prime example of bounty that comes from our beloved bay.

Now, a few terms used in today's recipe:

Panéed cooking is a southern term meaning to quickly pan fry breaded meats in hot oil or butter. The favorite meats being thin pieces of veal or chicken which are dusted in flour, breadcrumbs or a mixture of both. The meat is then removed and most often served with an accompanying sauce. That lies the difference in a meunière style of cooking.

Meunière is a French technique in which meats are breaded in flour and sautéed in normally a clarified butter. The name Meunière is also used for the sauce version similar to a brown butter sauce and most always includes lemon and capers. The meats are returned to the pan and coated in the sauce to meld together.

Both Panéed and Meunière styles of cooking meats will create a softer crust or skin than deep-frying. Both are heavily used in the Creole kitchen.

Southern style Bordelaise is basically a warm beurre blanc butter sauce made heavily with a white wine reduction and with garlic, green onions, shallots and parsley. Like the Creole Monter au Beurre, cold butter is whisked into my version at the end creating a very loose yet velvety texture riding with the rich flavor of the wine sauce. Good for mopping up with crusty French bread.

This recipe is actually two dishes but is served together on the same plate along side a bed of rice and a vegetable of choice.


Panéed Flounder with Garlic Seafood Medley
in a delightful Bordelaise style sauce
4 servings

First, lets get three key steps out of the way: having the clarified butter ready and making the reduction for the garlic-wine sauce along with prepping the vegetables will speed the recipe along.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

To make the clarified butter - Heat a skillet over low heat and melt butter. Cook until all bubbling action stops and skim the foam from the top. Pour away the clear butter at the top from the solid part left at the bottom of the pan which will be just a little bit. The clear butter is the clarified butter needed for this dish.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic toes, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 cup sherry or white port wine
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock

For the reduction sauce, in a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium and stir until onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the two wines and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cook until liquid reduces to about 2 tablespoons, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and boil until liquid reduces to about 2/3 cup, about 30 minutes. Pour sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl pressing on the solids to release all viable liquid. Set aside sauce and discard solids.

White the butter is melting, prep the vegetables for the reduction sauce. To save time, prep the vegetables for sauteing and for the bordelaise while reducing the sauce.

4 flounder fillets, about 1/4 pound each (use grouper, snapper, tilapia or any white fish)
1/2 cup of clarified butter
salt, black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Heat the clarified butter in a large skillet on moderate heat to about 300 degrees. While the butter is heating, season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in the flour and shake off any excess. When butter is hot, add 2 of the fillets in the pan making sure there is good flesh to surface contact. Do not overcrowd the fish. Cook until nice and brown, no more than about 8 minutes total. Test the fish for doneness by inserting a paring knife into the thickest part about halfway into the flesh. Tilt the knife to one side to check the meat which should be flaky white yet moist if done. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Continue cooking remaining fillets. Place fillets uncovered in a warming drawer or a low oven to store until serving time.

Note: Soak the fish in milk for about an hour if desired. Soaking fish fillets in milk will certainly sweeten the flavor, but most of the time we do it to help form a good crust on the surface.

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup small artichokes, halved

Add the oil to the skillet and when hot add the mushrooms. Saute until brown on both sides and liquid is reduced from the pan. Add bell pepper and cook until about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, dry the shrimp completely and lightly season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the skillet making sure shrimp comes in contact with the surface of the skillet, move the mushrooms and peppers around as needed. Increase the heat if needed to quickly cook the shrimp. Saute about 1 minute on each side or until bright pink. The flesh should be opaque throughout. Remove to a large bowl and keep warm in the same area with the fish.

remaining clarified butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
6 garlic toes, minced
1 pound crabclaws (some folks call these fingers)
2 teaspoon unsalted Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
reduction sauce from above
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into equal parts

Wipe out the skillet. Add remaining clarified butter and return over medium high heat. Add the shallots, minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crab claws and sprinkle with the Creole seasoning. Toss and shake the claws around in the pan to cook evenly for about 2 minutes. Add the reduction sauce and lemon juice. Bring to a simmering boil reducing heat to low just as it starts to boil. Toss claws to meld ingredients together. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce is slightly velvety in appearance. Remove from heat and with a skimmer, strain claws into the bowl with the shrimp and vegetables. Whisk the cold butter into the pan 1 tablespoon at a time until thickens a bit.

To serve: Plate the fish fillet on one side followed with spooning the shrimp, crabclaws and vegetable medley on the other. Sprinkle the green onions on top of the shrimp and claws. Top with the Bordelaise sauce. Serve with hot, crusty French bread to mop up the glorious sauce.

Pairs well with any rice dish and a steamed vegetable like asparagus. Broccoli would be great too.

September 18, 2012

Jumbo Lump Crabcakes

Devilish Delicious

Many folks associate deviled foods with traits of spice, richness and tempting indulgence of gormandizing. While not spiced as in overly seasoned, these crabcakes are purposely blending with luring ingredients that indeed warrants a feel of richness and epicurean luxury. Each ingredient adds depth in a balancing way to make the crab meat shine and come to the forefront of taste - that is the reason of making a crabcake, is it not?

To me, a crabcake should be, well all about the crab meat. Notice in this recipe there is a scant one-quarter cup of breadcrumbs, large Panko at that, for the entire 1-pound of crab meat. Everything else, the vegetable 'fillers' and Creole essence, are added in creating that deviled, outright sinful savor of luscious crab.


Jumbo Lump Crabcakes
There are crabcakes, and then there are these devilish cakes. Recipe based on my experience at Mr. B's Bistro, NOLO
Makes 8 cakes

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced fine
1/3 cup whole mayonnaise
1/4 cup Panko
3 scallions, sliced thin
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Ravigote Sauce as accompaniment

In a large bowl combine bell peppers, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, scallions, lemon juice, hot sauce, and Creole seasoning.

Carefully fold in the lump crabmeat, being careful not to break up lumps. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to meld the flavors.

Using a round biscuit cutter (2 1/2 or 2  inches wide) or a small tuna can (with each end removed), fill cutter with mixture and form into cakes. Place on a baking sheet.

Chill cakes in the refrigerator, uncovered, 3 hour to help set the crabmeat.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper on a plate and using a thin spatula, move cakes one at a time into the plate of flour by pressing the cake into the mixture. Carefully turn each cake over to coat the other side. You can sprinkle with a few Panko on each side if desired.

In a large skillet (a griddle works best) melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add half of cakes and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Cook the remaining cakes in the same manner. You can keep the cakes warm in a low oven for about 30 minutes.

Serve cakes with the Ravigote Sauce or a favorite aioli, seafood sauce or remoulade.

Note: I noticed the third time making these that the red and bell peppers contained much more moisture than the previous two times I served these. That is, after finely chopping, the peppers, an unusually large puddle of liquid formed on the cutting board. Fearing too much moisture in the cakes, I drained the peppers on paper towels just to be safe. 

September 14, 2012

Ravigote Sauce with Crab Cakes

A sauce to yelp about . . .

A finishing sauce can make or break the best prepared meal. Poorly seasoned or improperly executed, a sauce will destroy your best intention in a flash not to mention ruin your budgeted dollars and reputation. There are so many types of sauces. The one today is influenced from our French forefathers who knew a thing or two about a good sauce. There are basically two Ravigote sauces; a velouté type riding in white wine and vinegar, butter, cream, with mushrooms cooked in the liquor, usually served hot and the other is the one I am featuring today.

This ravigote is a classic sauce that is great to use when there is no liquid or stock from the cooked meats and normally is reserved for fish, shellfish and white meat.  Served slightly warm or cold, this lightly acidic and highly flavored sauce blends herbs and finely minced vegetables into a creamy dressing.

These photos are from Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans where this boasting Ravigote sauce played right alongside to their amazing jumbo lump crab cakes. The crab cake recipe will follow later in the week, but first ya gotta make the sauce. One bite into the crab cake, with a hint of this sauce and you will know what I mean about a sauce worth letting out a little yelp.

Ravigote (ra-vee-gawt) Fr. 1820's derivative of ravigoter, to refresh, vigor, vigorous

Mr. B's Bistro (NOLO) on Royal near Canal, fine dining famous for Creole cuisine and known for fresh, local and regional fare, be sure to order their famous barbecued shrimp - clubby, relaxed and casual - the wait staff and chefs are very eager to address the cuisine and at times, will hand out a recipe or two...

Ravigote Sauce
Serve with all sorts of seafood - shrimp and crab, crawfish, fried oysters, crab cakes and white meats too.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 large Anaheim chile pepper or green bell pepper, diced fine
1 hard-boiled egg, pulverized
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 3/4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1 teaspoon tiny capers

In a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice and dry mustard. Whisk in mayonnaise, bell pepper, chile, egg, parsley, horseradish, mustard, tarragon, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Lastly, fold in the capers.

NOTE: The first time I made this sauce, I cheated and used a small blender to chop the vegetables. DO NOT do this as it will pulverize the peppers too much.  Finely dice the vegetables by hand and as told, the eggs are actually pounded with a mallet.

The most amazing foods come from the kitchen of Mr. B's Bistro, NOLA