Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

Follow by Email

Monday, August 30, 2010

Margaritaville Conch Fritters

After indulging (a lot) the past few days, we decided we'd take it easy today.  A morning of fun on the beach and then leftovers from Firefly for lunch.  Then the rain deluge began and we thought Margaritaville would be just the spot to lift our spirits.  We sat outside on a covered deck and watched the rain come down in torrents. 

We shared an order of the conch fritters.  These were about the size of a golf ball and a half if that's a good description.  Six came with the order and were served with a side of Cajun remoulade.  Very tasty and just the perfect afternoon snack.  Especially fun was the Fiestaware saucers they used!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Apalachicola Oysters

Everybody knows the best oysters in the world come from Apalachicola.  PCB continues to torment us with on again/off again rain, so today we decided to take a road trip to Apalacicola to get oysters straight from the source.  We settled on Boss Oysters on Water Street.  Now remember Lolly's Rule:  Always, always order the food that's in the title of the restaurant.  So not only did I order one type of oyster, I went for three.

These freshly shucked oysters were the absolute best I've ever slurped down.  Perfectly shucked with no evidence of shell anywhere.  Ice cold and naturally briny, these were perfection.

Next up for me was the oyster stew.  Yummy cream base with at least a dozen oysters in the CUP of soup. 

True to his nature, Sweet Harold picked the grouper chowder which was topped with green onions and bacon.  He agreed the oyster stew was the better one.

I was on a roll with the oysters, so the fried oyster basket was up next.  28 fried oysters in the basket order.  I can't imagine how many would have been on the dinner portion.  They were perfectly seasoned and perfectly crispy/crunchy.  I can't comment on the fries or cole slaw because there was no way I was going to spare a spot in my tummy with silly generic curly fries, you know?

Sweet Harold ordered the grilled grouper.  Once again, he said my choice was better than his.  You'd think he'd learn!  He ate my slaw portion and reported it was very fresh tasting and mayo based.  He liked it. 

Perfect afternoon spent on the Apalachicola River eating the best oysters they had to offer.  4 forks out of 5 based on so-so (but typical) side choices.  

Birthday Dinner at Firefly

I was completely intrigued with Firefly's website.  http://www.fireflypcb.com/  It didn't take but a few minutes on the website to know this is where I wanted to celebrate my birthday.  Made reservations for 8 p.m. and when we arrived the restaurant was filled to the brim.  We had a great table in the dining room in full view of sparkly lights in the oak tree.  If you watched closely, you could see fireflies in the branches.  Just beautiful.

Our server introduced himself, apologized for any wait we had (actually we were ushered through the crowd directly to our table) and we told him this was a birthday dinner and we just wanted to take our time. 

He encouraged us to try the She-Crab Soup with Puff Pastry and Sherry.  Sweet Harold and I discussed trying different kinds, but we couldn't resist the pull of the She Crab Soup.  This soup almost defies description.  Smooth and creamy it was like drinking velvet.  I know, but that's the best way I can describe the texture. I'm still thinking about it, but I seriously think this may have been The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Seriously. This would be my last meal item on death row.

The bread was just an average crusty loaf with three different topping choices:  Pineapple Butter, an herbed cream cheese and a Roma tomato mixed with olive oil, basil and oregano.   With my dislike of pineapple, I didn't try that one, but Sweet Harold said it was tasty.  We both liked the other two equally, but the herbed cream cheese spread was a little heavy on the garlic.

You can take the Lolly out of the South, but you'll never take the South out of Lolly.  As soon as I saw shrimp and grits on the menu, I knew I'd have to taste Chef Paul's version.  HUGE Gulf shrimp wrapped in applewood smoked bacon served over stone ground cheese grits with red eye gravy.  Yes, I chose wisely. 

Sweet Harold will almost always choose Grouper in some version if it's on the menu.  Tonight was no exception.  His choice:  Sauteed Gulf Grouper served over shallots, fresh corn, grape tomatoes, sherry cream and jumbo lump crab sauce with a haystack of potatoes.  Absolutely beautiful isn't it?

Then, the grand finale:  white chocolate creme brulee.  Perfect pairing of the creamy white chocolate and vanilla custard and the delicate crunch when my spoon broke through the caramelized sugar topping.

Dinner at Firefly easily earns 5 out of 5 forks......with a spoon thrown in for another bowl of the She Crab Soup!

Happy Birthday to me yesterday!

We had an outdoor lunch at the Grand Lagoon Marina yesterday.  The Boatyard always delivers on service and food and the meal yesterday was no exception.

We started with a smoked tuna dip.  It's served with tortilla chips and a side of diced jalapenos.  The chips were warm and well salted and the dip had huge chunks of smoked tuna.  Perfect.

Sweet Harold studied the menu for at least 20 minutes before making his final selection.  Konrad's BLT (Bacon, Lobster and Tomato).  Menu description:  crisp, golden fried Florida Lobster served on grilled sourdough bread with Creole Remoulade, dressed with confetti lettuce, bacon, tomatoes and banana peppers.  He chose Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits for his side item.  In his words "This is FABULOUS!"

I went with the Seared Triggerfish Tacos.  Menu description:  Five spice seared Triggerfish medallions served in grilled flour tortillas with Creole Remoulade, shredded cabbage, jack cheese and pico de gallo.  They were served with a tropical melon salsa consisting of diced honeydew, cantaloupe, radishes, mango puree and cilantro.  My side item was Cuban black beans and yellow rice seasoned with cumin and tasso.  The cool salsa was the perfect compliment to the spicy triggerfish.  I loved these.

It was a gray, semi-rainy afternoon, but the food was great and sitting out on the marina watching the fishing boats was the perfect way to spend an hour or so.  Happy Birthday to me!  The Boatyard receives 4 out of 5 forks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dirty Dick's Crab House

Sweet Harold's turn to choose the restaurant.  After much thought and research, he chose Dirty Dick's Crab House.  Yeah, you read it right. 

Greeted by the hostess and sent off to a far back dark corner.  We told the person who had escorted us to this place of honor that we'd rather have one of the several window tables which were available.  I promised we'd be good and not do anything to have to sit in the corner.

Our server was attentive, knowledgeable of the extensive menu and very personable.  We told her we were in no hurry and would enjoy our appetizer and then decide on our entree choices.

Appetizer:  Geaux Geaux Shrimp.  Crispy fried popcorn shrimp tossed in a sweet and tangy Cajun sauce.

I questioned our server about the sauce.  It's a mixture of their house made pepper jelly and Creole Honey Mustard.  I'll be working on a duplicate of this at home.  This would have been a perfect entree' but oh no.....we ordered meals after this pile of shrimp.

After ordering, we were served a basket of their signature hush puppies.  Their version has whole kernel corn and were of the sweet variety. 

Sweet Harold chose one of the nightly specials:  Grilled Grouper with brabant potatoes and Creole Succatosh with Tasso.  Grouper is one of his favorites and he said this one rated highly with him.

I think if you go to a restaurant with a certain food in the title and you order that food they should deliver big time.  I chose the crab cakes and added hollandaise sauce.  It came with brabant potatoes and one of those dreaded vegetable mixtures.  The crab cakes were perfect.  No identifiable filler (!) and loaded with huge lumps of crab meat.  If they could have delivered on the sides this would have been a near perfect meal.  Unfortunately, my potatoes were very salty and the broccoli was cold in the center. 

Due to the "sides" issues, Dirty Dick's Crab House gets a 3 1/2 forks out of 5.  Sorry for the photo quality....Sweet Harold was so hungry we forgot the camera and had to rely on the cell phone variety for tonight's meal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mellow Mushroom

Mid afternoon meal which served as lunch and supper.  We chose one of our favorites:  Mellow Mushroom.  Our server was efficient and super friendly.  She also had extremely interesting teal blue, chin length hair.  Cool.

We started with artichoke/spinach dip.  It came out quickly, super hot with nicely toasted bread.  The shaved parmesan on top was a nice touch.

We decided on the Mighty Meaty pizza.  As is obvious from the name, this one is loaded with pepperoni, ham, ground beef and bacon.  Extremely thin crust but left in the pizza oven about 2 minutes too long for my taste buds.  The crust was almost to the scorched point. 

I had to deduct a "fork" from the rating system due to the waitresses calling me "hon."  Now an 80 year old waitress at a diner in Bonifay....I have no problem with that.  But a kid younger than my children taking the liberty of calling me that....uh, no. 

All in all 3 out of 5 forks. 

Vacation Time!

No cooking to speak of this week.  We're spending the week at the beach so I thought it would be fun to provide you with some restaurant reviews.  Please give me some feedback as I attempt to describe not only the food, but the ambiance, server pros and cons and overall dining experiences of the Redneck Riviera!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

This is Sweet Harold's favorite pie of all time.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
2 cups boiling water
juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
3 eggs, separated
1 baked pie crust, cooled

Mix flour, sugar, butter, salt, boiling water, lemon juice and rind and egg yolks in a double boiler.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thick.  Pour into pie crust.

Beat eggs whites with a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Top pie and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until meringue is browned.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Country French Pork Peppercorn Burgers with Zesty Dill & Celery Vinaigrette Potato Salad

A few months ago, I got on an "out of the box" burger kick. I'll post a few of my different variations in the weeks ahead. This one was a Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meal version. First of all, it took me a lot longer than 30 minutes. I guess it was because I don't have the chopping/mixing/slicing elves that Food Network employs. Also, my second issue with this recipe is that she made only 4 burgers.  Of course, that would have been some mighty huge burgers so I altered the recipe to make 8 instead. As always, use your (and your diners') appetite/eating habits as a guide to how many you want to make. These were definitely out of the box and quite tasty.

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 pounds ground pork
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Thick cut white bread, lightly toasted
8 leaves red or green leaf lettuce
8 baby gherkin pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 large shallots, thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup grainy mustard

Place peppercorns in plastic food storage bag to contain and crack them with mallet to a very coarse grind.  Combine peppercorns with pork, garlic, thyme and some salt. Form into 8 patties.  Heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.  Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Combine the cranberry sauce with the mustard.  Set burgers on bread slices or bun bottoms. Top with lettuce, gherkins, sliced shallots and mustard sauce.

Zesty Dill and Celery Potato Salad
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart pork or chicken stock (recommended: Kitchen Basics)
1 small bunch scallions, finely chopped
3 to 4 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 rounded tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon celery seed, optional
A generous handful dill, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cover potatoes with stock and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes 12 to 15 minutes until tender. Drain potatoes and place back in hot pot. Combine the scallions, celery, vinegar, sugar, horseradish and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over the hot potatoes to absorb. Season the salad with celery seed, dill, salt and pepper.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fudge! with a few variations

I am a purist when it comes to fudge.  Unfortunately, I tried for years to have the perfect square of melt-in-your-mouth fudge.  I've had it grainy, too hard to bite, so soft it could have been used as a topping for ice cream (and it probably was) and everything in between.  Finally, with this recipe from the Carnation website I reached the goal of perfect fudge.  Like I said at the beginning, I'm not a fan of the nuts, bits, and what have you in fudge.  But if that's your thing, add away!  Following the picture is a few of Carnation's suggested variations.  Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.  Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan.  Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract.  Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted.  Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.  Lift from pan; remove foil.  Cut into 48 pieces.

Substitute 1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Milk Chocolate Morsels for Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

Substitute 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels for Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels.

Substitute 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Morsels for Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts for pecans or walnuts.

New England Clam Chowder

This recipe comes to us courtesy of the Union Oyster House Cookbook. The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in the United States. It opened in 1826 in Boston. We thoroughly enjoyed.

1/4 cup diced salt pork
2 T. butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 T. flour
1/2 t. dried thyme
2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups canned clam juice
2 cups minced fresh or frozen clams (not canned)
1 cup half-and-half
salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, to taste

In a large pot over medium low heat, render the salt pork until it is crispy, about 5 minutes.

Add the butter and melt. Add onion and celery and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to form a paste and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.

Add the thyme, potatoes and clam juice and bring to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add clams and bring quickly to a boil, stirring almost constantly. Add the half-and-half and bring quickly to a boil. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pork and Tomatillo Stew

It's 16 days until Bama Football and I'm beginning to think of tailgating food! Or game day food because we don't tailgate....anyway. This is a good recipe to put in the slow cooker and enjoy at halftime.

2 T. vegetable oil
1 ½ lbs. boneless pork loin, cut into 3 inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim chile, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. mild chile powder
1 T. ground cumin
pinch of dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup ½ inch diced carrots
2 - 6 oz. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1 inch dice
hot sauce
chopped cilantro

In a medium Dutch oven, heat the oil.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the diced chilie, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the pork to a plate and shred with two forks.  Meanwhile, simmer the stew over moderate heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Stir the shredded pork into the stew and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler is the perfect balance of ooey-gooey with a crunchy topping.  This recipe is a super-easy because you don't have to roll out a crust.  This is one of my children's favorites and I love to make this for them. 

4 - 5 cups peeled, sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup of the sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well.  ring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt. Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk together and stir well to combine. Pour mixture over melted butter. Don't stir or mix to combine. Spoon the peaches on top.  Then gently pour in the syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Coq a Vin

We're still suffering from the heat wave and I'm dreaming of crisp Fall afternoons with slow simmered dishes.  File this one away for the first afternoon when there's a little nip in the air. 

Coq (chicken) Vin (wine)  how can you go wrong with that combination?

2 lbs. chicken thighs
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 c. red wine
2 T. olive oil
2 c. chicken stock
12 button mushrooms, quartered
12 pearl onions, peeled
2 T. parsley, chopped

Place the chicken, onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a stainless steel bowl or pan and cover with the red wine.  Allow all the ingredients to marinate overnight, two days is even better.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Strain off the vegetables and set aside, reserving the marinade.

Place the chicken on a paper towel and pat dry.  Heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium heat.  Place the chicken in the pan fat side down.  Cook the chicken until the skin is crispy.  Turn the chicken and cook the other side until its browned.  Remove from the pan and place it on a paper towel.

Add the reserved vegetables to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes.  Place the chicken back in the pan.  Pour the wine marinade and chicken stock over top.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Cover the pan with a lid and place in the oven.  Cook for one hour.  Add the mushrooms and pearl onions and cook uncovered for 30 more minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce the liquid by half to a light sauce consistency.  Serve over mashed potatoes or your favorite pasta.  Garnish with chopped parsley.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Sofrito Mashed Potatoes

What is sofrito?  An ingredient?  A way of preparing a specific ingredient?  Here's the answer to those questions and MORE!

Sofrito is a Spanish word referring to a culinary combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly (at least a quarter of an hour, but more usually half an hour) sauteed or braised in cooking oil.  Within the context of Spanish cuisine, sofrito consists of garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, and is used as the base for many dishes.  I hope you paid attention. There could be a pop quiz at any time, ya know.

2 tablespoons salt
2 pounds potatoes (recommended: Yukon gold)
3 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup chopped red onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup white wine
3 ounces tomato sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons salt
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

Fill a large pot with water, salt and potatoes and bring to boil.  Cook until fork tender. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium sauce pot over medium heat.  When oil is hot add onions and peppers and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown.  Lower the heat and add tomato paste and stir for 3 to 5 minutes.  Deglaze with white wine and reduce by half.

Add tomato sauce and bring to simmer for 5 minutes.  Then stir in butter and cream and set aside, covered to keep warm.

When potatoes are fork tender, drain water and mash slowly adding the sofrito mixture. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro.

From Food Network

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Adobo Pork Chops

I never pass up an opportunity to prepare and enjoy pork chops. They are my favorite part of the piggy. No wait, bacon is. No...ham is my favorite....oh well. I could argue with myself all day and into the night on this one.

Here's a different way to enjoy what may become your favorite part of the piggy!

6 boneless pork loin chops, cut 3/4 inch thick (but I used bone in)
(1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds total)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons hot chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced

Trim fat from chops. Place chops in a plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

For marinade, in a small bowl combine brown sugar, oil, orange juice, cilantro, vinegar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, red pepper (if desired), cinnamon, and garlic.

Pour over chops; seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours to 24 hours, turning occasionally. Drain chops, discarding marinade.

For a gas grill, preheat grill and reduce heat to medium. Place chops on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill chops until done (160 degrees F), turning once halfway through grilling. Makes 6 servings. Serve with Sofrito Mashed Potatoes!  

From Food Network

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

White Chocolate Cheesecake

This is one of those desserts that you think "This is going to be awesome." Trust me, it doesn't disappoint. It may use up your daily allotment of calories, but if you eat it slowly and spread it out over the entire day, it's worth it. Perfect for special occasions and holidays, it's just beautiful to look at and even better to eat. 

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ t. vanilla
1 cup flour

4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
4 eggs
12 oz. white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Heat oven to 325º.

USE A LARGE STAND MIXER to prepare the filling! (I learned this the hard way)

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl at medium speed with handheld mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, mixing at low speed until blended. Press onto greased bottom of 9-inch spring form pan; prick with fork.

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing at low speed after each addition, just until blended. Blend in melted chocolate; pour over crust.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with chocolate curls and powdered sugar.

From Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecake Cookbook

Monday, August 9, 2010

Greek Chicken with Penne Pasta

The past few weeks I've been dreaming of the Greek islands. That's my new fantasy dream vacation. To see the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, feel the warm breezes, tour the ancient ruins...........It's now become my mental happy place. During the next few weeks, I'm planning on dusting off the Greek cookbooks and experimenting with some new recipes. I hope some of them involve grape leaves and maybe figs and dates. For starters, here's a fun, easy way to begin our journey.  This chicken dish is a common, one pot meal of the Greek islands. Orzo, elbow macaroni or ziti pastas are all acceptable for this dish.  Enjoy!

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 - 4 ½ pound cut up chicken
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. dried oregano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chicken stock
1 lb. penne pasta, cooked for 2 minutes and drained
½ cup coarsely grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 400º. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat and sauté the chicken in batches until golden brown on all sides. Set aside. Add the onion to the pot and sauté until soft. Add the sun dried tomatoes, cinnamon stick, oregano, pepper flakes and tomatoes. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and return to the Dutch oven. Add about ½ cup of stock or enough to come about two-thirds of the way up the chicken. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is very tender. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Meanwhile, bring the remaining 1 ½ cups stock to a simmer. Add the stock to the cooking liquid, stir in the pasta and bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed, adding more stock if the pasta begins to dry out.

Place the chicken on top of the pasta and bake for another 10 minutes until the pasta is tender. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the cheese.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Marengo

Chicken Marengo was invented by one of Napoleon's cooks as the general's first meal after the Battle of Marengo, which Napoleon considered his greatest victory. The original recipe included crawfish, but that has disappeared from most modern versions. By all means get some crawfish to add to this recipe!

1 whole frying chicken, 3- 3 ½ lbs.
1 cup flour
1 T. salt
2 t. Creole seasoning
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 oz. brandy
1 cup chicken stock
2 medium, firm tomatoes, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 T. lemon juice
1 cup Louisiana crawfish tails (I suppose shrimp could do in exchange)

Cut the chicken into the standard pieces. Combine the flour with the salt and Creole seasoning and mix with a fork. Dust the chicken pieces with the flour mixture to coat thoroughly but lightly. (You probably won't need to use all the flour.)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Add the chicken pieces and brown, all round. Add the brandy and (if you like and are very careful) flame it off. Or if you're like me and just like to live dangerously, light a match to it! (You can also just let it boil mostly away.)

Add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring the pan to a light boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Cook on the lowest heat for 50 minutes, turning the chicken now and then.

After 50 minutes, add the mushrooms, crawfish tails and lemon juice. Cover and continue simmering for another ten minutes.

Place two pieces of chicken per person on plates. Adjust salt and pepper in the sauce and serve around and over the chicken.

Recipe from my friend BayouBQ

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chả Cá - Seared Fish with turmeric over rice noodles

I received this recipe via email from Serious Eats last week. Chả Cá is a Vietnamese dish with lots of different versions. The main ingredients of each version will include a white-fleshed fish like catfish or cod seasoned with turmeric which is seared with dill and green onions. It's then served over or with rice noodles, roasted peanuts and an assortment of herbs. I adjusted it slightly and added jalapenos and romaine lettuce to the mix. Although it was very delicious, it would have been just as perfect for me without the fish.

This recipe was done in a flash and was just perfect for a weeknight meal. Warning: the rice noodles are highly addictive.

Here's my version:

12 oz. fish fillets (catfish, salmon or cod)
Dill and green onions roughly chopped
2 jalapenos, diced
2 T. canola oil
White rice noodles, about 4 bunches

Buttermilk to cover the fish
1 T. ground turmeric
3 T. freshly grated ginger
2 T. shrimp paste

Oyster Sauce to taste
Soy Sauce to taste
Shrimp Sauce to taste
Lime juice to taste
Romaine Lettuce
Thai Basil
Roasted peanuts

Place the fish in the marinade and mix well to coat. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least a few hours. It's better if you can let it marinate overnight.

Cook the rice noodles in boiling water according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse and divide among four wide bowls for serving.

Heat oil in a wide skillet until shimmering. Remove the fish from the marinade and pat dry. Pan-fry the fish on both sides, about two minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Turn the fish carefully so as not to break apart the fillets. Take the fillets out of the skillet and keep warm on a plate.

Using the oil and juices in the skillet, lightly fry the green onions, jalapenos and dill until softened. Add sauces and lime juice and stir until thickened. Add romaine and stir until wilted and then add the roasted peanuts. 

You can layer either the fish on the noodles first or vice versa. Top with chopped herbs.