Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mediterranean Salmon Patties

I love experimenting with canned salmon. Now before you cringe and say "ewwww," hear me out. Salmon patties made with canned salmon are a Southern staple and delicacy. These have a unique flavor profile due to the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and capers added to the mix! Look for boneless skinless salmon and enjoy experimenting yourself!

If you're not feeding a crowd, or don't want leftovers, feel free to cut the recipe in half.

2 - 14 oz. cans boneless skinless salmon, drained
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 T. finely chopped onions
1 t. minced garlic
1 T. Dijon mustard
4 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
a few grinds black pepper
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 t. capers
2 T. vegetable oil

Add salmon to a large bowl, and carefully break up with a fork. Add next 10 ingredients and gently fold together until well combined.

Add vegetable oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Shape salmon into equal sized patties. Place in skillet and let cook 3 - 4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. 

Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and continue with remaining salmon.

Crockpot Butterbeans

Whether you call these butterbeans or large limas, a more apt description might be delicious. These are Sweet Harold's favorite dried bean and whenever he requests them, they're on the week's menu.

A soak overnight in cold water helps with the sometimes unpleasant aspect of enjoying protein and fiber packed dried beans.  

The ease of crockpot cooking shines with this recipe. 

1 lb. dried butterbeans, rinsed and sorted
water to cover
1 small ham hock
Salt to taste

Place butterbeans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, drain beans, place in a slow cooker and cover with fresh water. Add the ham hock and cover. Set slow cooker to cook on high 4 - 6 hours or low for 6 - 8 hours.

When beans are soft and cooked through, they're done! Taste and add salt if needed. Depending on the saltiness of the ham hock, additional salt may not be needed.

Serve with Lolly's Cornbread

Lolly's (no sugar added) Cornbread

I am definitely in the "cornbread does not need sugar" camp! Here's my very simple recipe that has stood the test of time since I won 4-H competitions in elementary school!

2 cups of self-rising white cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
2 T. bacon grease

Yes, that's it.  That's the entire recipe.  

I won 1st Place in every 4-H Bread Competition I entered in elementary and junior high school.  I bet you didn't know that, did you?  I decided if the recipe wasn't broken, I wouldn't try to fix it.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a medium mixing bowl, add cornmeal and then slowly stir in buttermilk until it's well blended.  

Put the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet and heat it over medium heat until a drop of the batter sizzles.

Pour the batter into the skillet and bake until golden brown about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest in skillet for a few minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Baked Tuscan Herb Grouper

As regular readers of the blog know, grouper is Sweet Harold's favorite fish. This beautiful fish was purchased at the Gulf in May has been waiting patiently in the freezer until tonight. I let it thaw in the fridge today and gave it a quick rinse and patted dry. A few minutes in a hot oven and dinner was served.  Grouper has a nice, clean flavor and cooks quickly. The Tuscan Herb olive oil and seasoning paired well with the fish and didn't overpower.

1 lb. grouper fillet
1 T. Tuscan Garlic Seasoning Blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Rinse the fish and pat dry.

Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. Lightly brush fish on both sides with the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Tuscan Garlic Seasoning Blend.

Place on baking sheet and let bake 10 - 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily.  

Turn on broiler and let fish brown briefly. Serve immediately with lemon or lime wedges.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Lolly's Game Day Chili

If we had a nickel for every pot of chili that's cooked on weekends during the Fall Football Season, we could all retire tomorrow! Regular readers of the blog know that I dearly love experimenting with new versions of chili. For this batch, I used equal portions of ground chuck and ground pork. Wow, this chili was tasty!

1 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
a few grinds black pepper
1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
3 - 4 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground cayenne
2 t. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
4 cups beef stock
2 cans Bush's Mixed Chili Beans

In a Dutch oven (at least 5 quarts), heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and jalapenos and cook stirring occasionally. Let the vegetables cook until the onions become translucent. Add garlic and salt and let cook another minute or so.

Add the ground chuck and ground pork, breaking the meat apart with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently until meat is cooked through. Drain any fat that has accumulated in the pot.

Add seasonings, tomatoes, beef stock, and beans. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Let chili simmer for an hour or two, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with crackers or corn chips and top with your favorite chili toppings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Asian Sweet Heat Chicken Wings

I knew I was going to have wings for dinner, but I had no idea what flavor they would be. I came home from work, went through my King's Olive Oil selection and went to work mixing and matching and tasting and here is the result!

The wings are seasoned with lemon pepper, ground ginger, and granulated garlic. While they bake, whisk together balsamic vinegars, olive oils, and other ingredients, which simmer to make a sweet, sticky, slightly hot glaze!  Yum!!

2 lbs. chicken wings, separated, tips removed
1 T. lemon pepper
1 T. ground ginger
1 T. granulated garlic

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the wings in a large bowl and sprinkle the lemon pepper, ground ginger, and granulated garlic over the wings. Toss to coat.

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place wings in a single layer on baking sheet and place in oven for 30 minutes.

While wings are baking, make the glaze.

2 t. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

In a small saucepan, whisk together the first four ingredients. Place saucepan over low heat and whisk in the garlic olive oil and sesame oil. Bring to a gentle simmer and let glaze thicken. Remove from heat.

Remove wings from oven after the 30 minutes and brush with the glaze. Return to oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and apply another coating of the glaze. Return to oven for 10 - 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Serrano Honey Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Tonight is Fajita Night! Sweet Harold commented after the first bite, "I think this is the best thing you've cooked in a long time." High praise indeed.

I used boneless skinless chicken thighs.  The chicken marinates in a serrano honey and garlic olive oil based marinade. The chicken is grilled and the vegetables are cooked in a large cast iron skillet on the grill. 

For the marinade:
1 T. chili powder
1 T. granulated garlic
1 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/2 t. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients and place in a large Ziploc bag. Add 3 - 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs and seal the bag carefully. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

While the chicken marinates, prepare the vegetables.

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced from root end to tip end
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/2 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced lengthwise
8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
2 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine well. Set aside.

Preheat grill on high heat. Place chicken on grill and allow to sear for 3 - 4 minutes. Do not attempt to turn chicken until it releases from the grill easily. Lower heat to medium high heat and grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Remove from grill and stack the chicken one on top of the other and wrap tightly in foil while you cook the vegetables.

Add 1 T. of oil the skillet and place on the grill over high heat. When an onion slice, placed in the oil sizzles, you're ready to add the remaining vegetables. Isn't that beautiful!?!

Close grill and let vegetables cook for 3 - 4 minutes. Using a  metal spatula, turn the vegetables and allow to continue cooking until vegetables soften and lightly char, but not long enough to become mushy!

Remove from heat. Unwrap chicken thighs and slice against the grain. 

Heat flour tortillas according to package directions (or by placing on the hot grill for about 10 seconds a side). 

Load up that tortilla with the sliced chicken, a nice helping of the vegetables, and top with lime juice, sliced avocado, cilantro, sour cream, etc.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cheese Plate Night

On those nights when cooking isn't an option, I like to keep a variety of new cheeses to try. Think outside the box and be open to experimenting with different varieties. We had two new kinds of cheese tonight and loved both of them.

Let's start out with one of my long time favorites:  Stilton Blue which is an English cheese. It's known for a strong aroma and taste. If you've only tried the blue cheese in prepared bottled blue cheese salad dressing, give this one a chance!

Next, Isle of Man White Cheddar which is a hard pressed, firm bodied cheese. It has a subtle, creamy flavor made from pasteurized cow's milk.  An ideal cheese for the entire family.

The next one was a new cheese for me. In fact,  I had never heard of Basket Cheese. It is a salt, soft white cheese shaped from small wicker-textured baskets. It has a very mild flavor with a taste between ricotta and mozzarella made from goat and sheep milk. Due to the very mild flavor of this cheese, I drizzled it with Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and then sprinkled the top with Tuscan Garlic Seasoning blend. We really enjoyed this one.

An another new cheese to try! Isle of Man Cracked Peppercorn Cheddar is a firm, creamy and full flavored cheese. It's blended with cracked black peppercorns which give it a very unique look and quite a bit of zing! It's aged for 10 - 12 months. I can't wait to try this one on a burger!

I added a few other nibbles to go along with the cheese.

Hummus with olive tapenade served with pita bread triangles. 

And my favorite Italian cured meat, capicola. I love it's spicy hot flavor!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Creole Seasoned Wings with Remoulade Sauce

This week's wings are, once again, baked at two different temperatures. Once, at a lower temperature to allow the fat to render down. Then, they are baked for a second time at a higher temperature to allow them to brown and crisp.

Remember to use the low-sodium or reduced salt version of your Creole seasoning. Otherwise, you may find the wings to be too salty.

2 lbs. chicken wings, separated and tips removed
Your favorite brand of reduced salt Creole seasoning

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Place wings in a large bowl and sprinkle liberally with Creole seasoning. Toss to coat and place on the baking sheet in single layer.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and increase heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for an additional 18 - 20 minutes or until wings have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Serve with remoulade sauce.

Don't neglect to make the remoulade sauce. It's very simple to mix together while the wings are baking. And the sauce adds so much to the wings! You don't want to miss out. This version is from John Besh, one of New Orlean's favorite chefs.

1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
1/4 cup Zatarain's Creole mustard
2 T. prepared horseradish
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. white wine vinegar
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. hot sauce
1/2 t. sweet paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
1/4 t. granulated garlic
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well, then add salt. Transfer the sauce to a container with a cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Crawfish Pepper Jack Soup

I had a version of this a few weeks ago at the Plaid Rhino in Hattiesburg. I was determined to duplicate this bowl of heavenly goodness and I think I came very close!

Filled with the trinity (onions, celery, peppers), garlic, Creole seasoning, and of course, crawfish, this soup can be served with rice a'la gumbo or as is. I'll be making this one again.

2 T. olive oil
1 leek, thoroughly washed and thinly sliced (only use the white part and a LITTLE of the green)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and membranes removed, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 - 2 t. Creole seasoning
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded, pulp removed, and diced
1 lb. crawfish tails, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
16 oz. block pepper jack cheese, shredded

In a 5 quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add leeks, onions, jalapenos, and celery. Cook for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook another minute or two.

Lower heat to medium and sprinkle in flour and, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock, one cup at a time, stirring to thoroughly incorporate the stock into the vegetable mixture. Now's the time to add the Creole seasoning and diced Roma Tomatoes.

Lower heat to a gentle simmer and let cook 25 - 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add crawfish tails and heavy cream. Do NOT allow mixture to boil after the cream has been added.

Slowly add cheese a little bit a time to allow to melt and and blend into the soup. Taste and add additional Creole seasoning and/or salt and pepper, if needed.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. You can serve over rice or with toasted garlic bread. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dining Out Southeast: Bistro Two Eighteen, Birmingham, AL

We recently went with friends to enjoy an evening in Birmingham. Luckily for us, our visit fell during Birmingham's Restaurant Week. 

Doubly lucky for us, we chose Bistro Two Eighteen.

Here's a blurb from their website:
Bienvenue! Bistro 218 combines the traditions of a French bistro with modern American cuisine. Located at 218 20th Street North, Birmingham native and professionally trained chef owner Tom Saab joins the revival of businesses in downtown Birmingham.
Bistro 218 features the elegant minimalist interior design of traditional French bistros while preserving the historical roots of the building, creating a comfortable romantic atmosphere. Bistro 218 brings French cuisine to every palette. Enjoy your bistro favorites, from quiche to duck confit! We strive to provide quality affordable food and impeccable service to all of our neighborhood friends.
The atmosphere IS comfortable and romantic. The mood changed as more people entered the dining room and the lively fun began. It was never so noisy to hamper conversation.
While perusing the menu, Chef Saab came through the dining room making a last minute check of everything before the dinner service began. He graciously agreed to a photo with me!
To begin our evening, I chose I chose a Sweet Tallulah ($11.00) made with sparkling wine, St. Germain, Lillet, Rose Water, and lemon. My friend chose a French 75 ($10.00) made with Gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and St. Germain topped with sparkling wine. Both were perfectly mixed, cold and served with appropriate garnishes.
The males of the group selected a Sazerac made with Bulleit Rye Whiksey, Peychaud's Bitters, Demerara Simple Syrup, Absinthe ($12.00).  Look at the PERFECT ice cube in that drink. It's this type of attention to detail that gets your attention! 
The next drink selection was a 1792 Small Batch Bourbon ($10.00). 
No complaints with any of our drink orders.  They were all delicious.
Our server was attentive and helpful with our menu inquiries. Because it was Restaurant Week, one of the options for dinner was a Pre Fixe Menu which included an appetizer, entree, and dessert for a price of $40.00. Everyone in our party chose this option. By doing this, our table had every item offered on this special menu! 
The bread selection offered during our ordering time, was a freshly baked and sliced loaf of warm, soft white bread with herbed butter.
Now on to our first course:
I ordered the New Orleans Style File' Gumbo which included crawfish, shrimp and andouille sausage. Regular readers of the blog know that I abhor a lukewarm soup or gumbo. No problem with that here. This cup was served steaming hot and had the velvet like texture you get when the roux has been perfectly cooked.
The other diners chose the Bistro Chopped Salad with a red wine vinaigrette and Parmesan Tuile. If the saying "we eat with our eyes first" is true, this one is a masterpiece. Everyone agreed this salad with nicely seasoned and dressed lightly with the delicious vinaigrette and loved the Parmesan Tuile.
Now on to the entrees!
Two diners chose the Blackened Louisiana Redfish served over McEwen's yellow corn grits, roast tomato burre blanc, with fried okra. Again, the presentation is exceptional! The fish was nicely seasoned (not too spicy!), perfectly cooked, and the grits won rave reviews. Notice the okra pods which were fried whole and used as a lovely garnish.
Sweet Harold chose the Tournedos au Poivre which translates to tenderloin medallions served with brandy cream sauce, potato gratin and braised kale. He ordered the tenderloin cooked medium rare and it was perfectly cooked. The brandy cream sauce was a nice compliment to the beef. He thoroughly enjoyed his selection.
Last, but not least, I chose the Free Range Chicken Pailards served with lemon butter caper sauce, over creamy risotto. If there is ever an option on the menu which includes "lemon butter caper sauce," I'm ordering! Once again, the presentation was just lovely. You have to agree this plate is almost too pretty to eat! But, no worries, I did eat.  Every bite!

At last! Dessert!! Our table went 2/2 on the selections for this round!

The crème brûlée was just as it should be, a rich custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. I did get a bit of this one and it was delicious!

Sweet Harold and I chose the Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart topped with sea salt and caramel. One word:  RICH!  But again, I ate every bite.
If you're in the Birmingham area and desire a unique dining experience with delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and excellent services, please visit Bistro Two Eighteen. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dining Out Southeast: Plaid Rhino, Hattiesburg, MS

We traveled last weekend to New Orleans for a few days. We spent the night in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and after checking into the hotel for the evening, we were ready for dinner. There were the usual chain restaurants located near the hotel. Then, we spied a sign: Plaid Rhino..

Now what is a Plaid Rhino? We debated for about a minute and then thought why not? I am so glad we decided to eat here. We were happily greeted and promptly seated.

Don't you love those glasses? And yes, we were encouraged to them with us when we finished our meal.

Harold ordered a Yuengling and I had a margarita on the rocks.

Our server was excellent and offered so many suggestions and answered all of our questions about the menu. When she realized it was our first time to visit, she quickly arrived at the table with a complimentary order of fried dill pickles with "comeback sauce." The menu lists them at $6.00. They were served piping hot, were extra crunchy, and the sauce lived up to its menu boast of "the best in town!"

There was a large crowd of college students who arrived and their order was placed before ours. The manager came by the table to tell us he didn't want us hungry while we waited on our order.....so he offered another choice of appetizer!

We chose the fried green tomatoes with Remoulade sauce. I loved the crunch on these and, once again, these were served piping hot! No heat lamp had been baking these for awhile. The sauce was spicy and perfect!  $6.00

If this wasn't enough......our server appeared and informed us that the manager wanted us to try the Crawfish Pepper jack Soup!  Cup $4.00 Bowl $7.00. Oh, my goodness. Imagine a cup full of spicy pepper jack cheesy goodness filled with crawfish and vegetables! Amazing goodness.

Trust me, this was enough food. We should have cancelled our burger orders!  Not!!! Especially when I realized they are all cooked over a wood fire grill.

Harold threw caution to the wind and ordered the Bom PC Burger. $13.00 Here's the menu description:

8 oz. Certified Angus Beef burger, grilled to your liking (he requested medium), smothered with sauteed onions and mushrooms, and covered with cheddar cheese, pepper jack, and applewood smoked bacon.  He chose sweet potato fries as his side. He loved it although it was almost too much for him to finish (but look what we had already been served!!).

And I chose the Plaid Burger, $9.00.  8 oz. Certified Angus Beef burger, grilled to your liking. Comes fully dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and pickles. I ordered mine well done. It was perfect for me.

Some of the other burger choices offered were Elk, Bison, and Ostrich!!!

The menu includes po'boy sandwiches, pastas, a wide variety of salads, steaks, and seafoods!  I know where we will be stopping on repeat visits through Hattiesburg!

One Skillet Meal: Smoked Sausage with Kraut

Most of us are familiar with the classic Kraut and Wienies. You know, you heat a can of kraut, chop up some hot dogs and cook it all together for about 10 minutes.  Well, this is a really elevated version!

1 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, sliced lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 T. minced garlic
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
32 oz. kraut, drained

In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for 1 - 2 minutes.

Add sausage and increase heat to medium high.  Cook until sausages have browned, about 8 - 10 minutes. Continue to stir so that onions/peppers don't stick.

At this point, you'd have a delicious meal! You could add this to a toasted bun or hoagie roll and have a lovely dinner.  

But then you add the kraut and stir to combine all ingredients and let simmer for 5 minutes or so over low heat.  There you go! A delicious one skillet weeknight meal.  

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dining Out New Orleans: Cafe Pontalba

One of my all time favorite places to "people watch" is at a table in the historic Cafe Pontabla right on Jackson Square with a direct view to the artists, musicians, and what have you going on right outside their doors.

When you're walking around the French Quarter in August with high temperatures and even higher humidity numbers, you need a refreshing drink.

And here was my choice.  The Cajun Cooler: a blend of vodka, orange juice, pineapple juice, topped with a splash of Midori Melon Liqueur .  VERY tasty!

Since I had oysters earlier in the day, I wanted some shrimp to nibble on while enjoying my drink.  Cajun seasoned fried oysters were the perfect nibble.  

And Harold decided he'd enjoy some shrimp as well, but he went with the po'boy version complete with the dressings of lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

I'm sure locals would call me out for recommending what to them is a "tourist trap." Well, I'm a tourist, and if a trap includes a lovely setting, cold beverages, a nice sampling of Louisiana fare ALL while enjoying one of the best people watching spots in the City, well......I recommend it!

Dining Out New Orleans: Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar

We got into the French Quarter just in time for a late lunch. We knew we wanted raw oysters, so after parking the truck, we made the .7 mile stroll through the crowds to Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar which is conveniently located at the corner of Iberville and Bourbon Streets.

Felix's has been serving the Gulf Coast and its visitors fresh, local seafood for over 70 years. Through its longstanding relationships with local fisheries and distributors Felix's sources the freshest, highest quality shrimp, oysters, and fish.

The atmosphere was lively, loud, and fun. What else could you expect on a Friday afternoon in the French Quarter? Service was attentive and prompt.

Of course, we started with a dozen raw oysters on the half shell.

Aren't those lovely? Even though August has no "R", these oysters were plump and tasty.

Plastic cups were provided to mix up your own special mix of ketchup, lemon juice, hot sauce, and of course, horseradish. Afraid you won't have enough horseradish to get just that amount of kick? No worries here!

Did we enjoy them? What do you think?

We also shared a bowl of gumbo full of shrimp and sausage. A big peeve of mine is being served lukewarm gumbo or soup. Thankfully, this bowl was served steaming hot.

If you find yourself craving oysters on the half shell and/or a tasty bowl of gumbo, check out Felix's in the Quarter!