Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Italian Styled Eggs Benedict with Pesto Hollandaise

Once again, it's weekend breakfast time and that means instead of gulping down a cup of hot tea and running out the door, I get to play in the kitchen.  It also meant I put a little imagination into the regular old English Muffin Eggs Benedict. 

Let's use some toasted Italian bread....then a layer of prosciutto...a few basil leaves, some sliced tomatoes, a beautifully poached egg and then some Hollandaise with a few teaspoons of pesto gently mixed into the sauce. 

If you've never poached an egg, don't be intimidated.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Bring a medium pot of hot water to a very gentle simmer over low heat.  Add a teaspoon of white vinegar.   Break an egg into a bowl and slowly pour the egg into the simmering water.  Cook for 3 minutes and using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the egg out of the water and place on a small saucer lined with a paper towel to absorb the water.  If you want, very gently trim away the excess white.

To make the Hollandaise sauce, you'll need the following:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t. pesto

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.   Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the jar of a blender.   Blend for 15 seconds.   With the blender running, slowly pour the hot butter into the blender and blend for 30 seconds, until the sauce is thick.  Add pesto.

You can leave it in the blender at room temperature for up to 1 hour.   If it is made in advance, add 1 tablespoon hot tap water and blend for a few seconds before serving.  (Thanks to Ina for this EASY method!)

Now you have to admit, this does look delicious, doesn't it?

Hollandaise Sauce with Pesto

Ah.....hollandaise sauce.  Simply put hollandaise is an emulsion of egg yolk and butter, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and a little white or cayenne pepper.
It is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy with a rich, buttery taste and texture.  
Hollandaise is one of the five sauces in the French cuisine "mother sauces."  Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient of Eggs Benedict (my Italian styled benedict is shown above) and is simply perfect over steamed or roasted asparagus.  But honestly, I could eat it with a spoon.  By itself.  For the dish pictured above I had a teaspoon or so of pesto in the finished sauce.
There are many methods of making this sauce.  I've tried several that require skill to master the correct balance of temperature and timing to prevent the sauce from breaking.
Here's Ina's version which is simple, direct and will make you a star in your kitchen.

Red Beans & Rice with Conecuh Sausage

Fall is falling in Alabama and it's time to start thinking about those wonderful comfort food dishes that make your tummy and heart happy.  And because I am not a citizen of New Orleans I can eat this any day of the week.  I do not have to wait until Mondays!
1 lb. dried red kidney beans (New Orleanians use Camellia beans)
1/2 lb. fatty ham or another seasoning meat, such as salt meat, pickle meat, or smoked ham hock
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large bay leaf
1 to 2 t. Creole seasoning
Black pepper to taste
2 T. chopped fresh parsley, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped green onions (green part only)
Hot cooked rice for serving
Hot sauce for serving

Pick over the beans to remove and stones or broken beans.   Soak overnight in a large bowl with about 3 inches of water to cover.   Drain the water, rinse the beans, drain again, and set aside.

Render the ham or seasoning meat in a Dutch oven over medium heat to obtain the fat, then remove the meat and set aside.  Saute the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in the rendered fat, adding a little oil if needed, until softened.

Add the beans, return the meat to the pan, and pour in 8 to 10 cups water, or enough to cover everything by at least a couple of inches.  Bring to a boil.   Add the bay leaf and Creole seasoning to the beans, then reduce to a simmer and gently cook, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender.   Add more water while cooking, if necessary.

Toward the end of the cooking time, mash some beans with a spoon against the side of the pot to make the mixture creamier, if desired, and add the salt and pepper to taste, the parsley, and the green onions.  If you prefer, use the parsley and green onions as a garnish.   Discard the bay leaf and serve in bowls over white rice.

 Pass the hot sauce.

Sweet Harold grilled some Alabama Conecuh County Sausage to serve with the red beans.  Deeeee-licious.

This recipe comes from Cooking Up a Storm - Recipes Lost and Found from the Times Picayune of New Orleans.  It is an excellent source of recipes that were lost and found after Katrina.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bay Scallops with Pesto Sauced Spaghetti Noodles

I promise you it will take longer for the water to boil for the noodles than it does to get this dish on the dinner table.  You can use either home made or store bought pesto.  You don't like bay scallops?  Use shrimp or even chicken instead.  This will definitely be on the Lolly Rotation.  Try it and you'll see?  It will be on your rotation, too!
8 oz. thin spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup butter
1 t. granulated garlic
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 pound bay scallops
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1/2 cup pesto
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add granulated garlic, onion powder, oregano, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Add scallops and wine and cook until scallops are firm and opaque.
Reduce heat to low.  Stir in pesto and heat through.  Add drained spaghetti noodles.  Add to skillet and use tongs to toss and coat with sauce.  Serve immediately.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Devil's Food Cake Bars

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want something ooey, gooey, rich, chocolatey and completely devoid of any "good for you" values whatsoever?  Here's the recipe for those days.  Trust me.  And after you make this.....come back here and leave us some loving comments!  You know who you are.  And yes, I know you will make this. 
1 Devils Food Cake Mix
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
42 - 45 Nutter Butter MINI Cookies, crushed up a little

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil  and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Place cake mix, butter and egg into a large bowl, mixing to combine.   Press into prepared baking pan.

Now add those broken pieces of cookies.

Pour sweetened condensed milk over cookies.  Yes, you have my full permission to save a spoonful or three to eat with a spoon all by yourself!

After you wipe the Eagle Brand Milk from your mouth, top with the peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 - 28 minutes, until cooked through.   Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. 

Remove from pan by lifting out with the foil and let cool completely.  Remove foil and cut into bars.  Or just get a fork and enjoy yourself!

Slow Cooked Kale with Smoked Ham Hock and Onions

Continuing to find all sorts of wonderful ways to enjoy this Super Food.  How better to add a little pork to the cooking pot and let the green slowly braise over very low heat all afternoon?
1 smoked ham hock
2 T. bacon fat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups water
1 t. chicken base
12 cups kale, washed and thick stems removed
Melt bacon fat in heavy cooking pot and brown ham hock over medium heat.
Make sure all of the kale is thoroughly washed!
Remove the ham hock from the pot and set aside for a few minutes while you brown the onions.  After they get soft and translucent, add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.
Add the kale a few handfuls at a time, allowing it to cook down some before adding additional kale.  Add the ham hock back to the cooking pot.  Then add water and chicken base.
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a very low simmer. 

Check on the kale occasionally and stir.  Let it simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Enjoy all the great vitamins and anti-oxidants!!!

Green Onion Sausage and Shrimp Gravy

We were in the mood for something different. I had some green onion sausage tucked away in the freezer from our last trip to New Orleans. A quick search of Chef John Besh's recipes and I knew we had to try this one. Note to self:  next trip to New Orleans bring back LOTS of green onion sausage!
1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat
1 pound green onion pork sausage, removed from casings
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon flour
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pinch allspice
2 dashes Worcestershire
1/3 cup diced canned tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock 
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
1 green onion, chopped

Melt the bacon fat in a large heavy-bottomed pan over high heat, then add the pork sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is browned, 12–15 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring often with the spoon, until the onions are deep brown, about another 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to moderate, then sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to mix it into the sausage and onions. Cook for about 2 minutes to remove the raw flavor from the flour.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then add them to the pan, stirring and tossing them with a spatula. Sauté until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while you continue making the sauce.

Add the bell pepper, garlic, pepper flakes, allspice, Worcestershire, tomatoes, and chicken stock to the pan, stirring well. Increase heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Add the thyme, green onions, and shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nathan's Favorite Chicken Pot Pie

My son loves chicken pot pie.  As a little boy that was his favorite comfort food and now that he's a grown man and a daddy himself, he still loves them. 

Two pie crusts (either homemade or store bought)
For the filling:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup with herbs
16 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies, thawed
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
3 T. chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a pie plate with one of the pie crusts.

Add all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Carefully spoon into pie crust and gently place second pie crust on top. You can either crimp the edges together or for a more rustic look, let it drape over the edges. 

With a sharp knife, cut a few 1/4" inch slits in the top pie crust. Place in oven and cook for 35 - 38 minutes. Watch the crust carefully, you don't want it to get too brown.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

I adore pecan pie...I will always cherish sweet potato pies....but chocolate meringue pie!?!  My all time favorite forever.  This recipe is the exact chocolate pie that I grew up loving.  Thank you to Southern Pies by Nanci McDermott.  Make this one and you'll thank her, too!
Pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie (either store bought or home made)  cooked and cooled
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
For the meringue:
3 egg whites
6 T. sugar
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt and stir with a fork to mix well.
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and egg yolks.  Whisk to mix well.
Add the sugar-cocoa mixture to the saucepan and whisk to mix well.
Place over medium high heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan often until the filling becomes shiny and thickens to a silk, rich texture, 3 - 5 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and pour the filling into the baked piecrust.  Set aside at room temperature while you prepare the meringue.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy.  Increase the speed to high, and beat until the egg whites begin to thicken to the texture of cream. 
Add the sugar 2 T. at a time, beat well each time, until the meringue is thick, shiny and able to hold curly firm peaks.  Spread the meringue evenly over the cooked pie filling, sealing the edges to the crust completely and then piling the egg whites higher in the center of the pie.  Use the back of a spoon to form curly peaks all over the meringue.
Place the pie in the oven and bake until the meringue is golden brown, 10 - 15 minutes.  Cool to room temperature and serve.

Spinach and Kale Three Cheese Pot Pie

I adapted this recipe from the lovely book Potpies, Yumminess in a Dish by Elinor Klivans. This is a pot pie spin on a Greek classic, Spanakopita which is basically a cheese and spinach turnover. I substituted oregano for the called for dill and used some of our wonderful garden grown kale in place of half of the spinach.

6 phyllo pastry sheets, thawed if previously frozen
1 T. olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 bag baby spinach leaves
3 cups packed kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 15 or 16 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded jack cheese
2 large eggs
2 T. dried oregano
3 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
4 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until they soften, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add spinach and kale and cook until it is wilted. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir the onions, greens cheese, eggs, oregano, parsley salt and pepper until well combined. Spread half the filling in the baking dish.

Place 2 pieces of the phyllo pastry on top of the filling and brush with melted butter. Top with one more piece of phyllo. Tuck under any edges. 

Spread the remaining filling over the phyllo. Top with two more pieces of pastry and brush them lightly with butter. Top with one additional piece of pastry and brush it with butter as well. 

Use a sharp knife to mark 12 squares by cutting through the top layers of pastry. Bake until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling gently, about 40 - 45 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut through the squares and a spatula with a wide blade to remove and serve.

Buffalo Chicken Soup with Blue Corn Bleu Cheese Nachos

I love buffalo wings, but they can be very messy to eat. Also, Sweet Harold doesn't really care for what he calls the "twang" of wing sauce. Thankfully, I found a brand of wing sauce he approved and I went forward with the idea of Buffalo Wings in a soup. I used ground chicken, but I'm positive the shredded rotisserie chicken or cubed b/s breasts or thighs would work great.

2 pounds ground chicken
3 T. olive oil (divided)
2 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
3 stalks celery, diced (save some of the "leaves" to garnish!)
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cans diced, fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cup of your favorite chicken wing sauce (I used Louisiana brand)

Garnishes:  Celery sticks, chopped celery leaves and bleu cheese crumbles!

Brown chicken in 2 T. olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add the remaining 1 T. olive oil and butter.  Saute onions, carrots and celery until softened, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

Add the softened veggies and the stock to the browned chicken.

Next add the tomatoes....

Now add the cream cheese and the wing sauce....

Lower the heat to simmer and let bubble away gently for about an hour.

Right before serving place a single layer of blue corn tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle bleu cheese crumbles over chips and put in oven until cheese begins to soften.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Steamed Kale

The kale crop continues to impress!  I filled the steamer pot with hot water, brought it to a boil added the steamer basket and loaded it with fresh kale leaves and kept adding more kale as they wilted down. 
After about 8  - 10 minutes of steaming time, I removed the steamer basket and separated the kale leaves and tossed them with a little S and P, drizzled on some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then grated some fresh Parmesan over the top.  An excellent, healthy side dish!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Asian Style Pork Burger

I've decided to start my burger experiments once again. This went beyond my expectations. Dinner guests gave their approval as well.

2 pounds ground pork
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T. finely grated fresh ginger
1 t. Asian sesame oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. Five Spice Powder

4 buns, split and toasted

Cole Slaw:
2 cups coleslaw mix
2 t. rice wine vinegar
1 t. soy sauce
1/2 t. sesame oil
2 T. minced water chestnuts
sprinkle of Five Spice Powder
1/2 t. grated fresh ginger

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a large bowl, mix the pork and the next five ingredients. Shape the meat into four 3/4 inch thick patties.

Grill the burgers, turning once, until cooked through, about 8 minutes or so. Lightly toast the buns on the grill.

While the burgers are cooking, toss the coleslaw mix with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place the burgers on top of the buns, top with the slaw and serve.

I mixed mayo with Sriracha hot sauce and added a few slices of seedless cucumber for a little crunch in lieu of pickles!

Adapted from Food & Wine

Italian Cream Cake

The holidays will be here soon!  But this cake is perfect anytime.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1 (3 1/2 oz.) can flaked coconut
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. cream of tartar

Grease 3 9-inch round cakepans; line with wax paper.  Grease and flour wax paper.  Set aside. 

Beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture alternatively with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Mix at low speed after each addition until blended.  Stir in pecans, coconut and vanilla.

Beat egg whites at high speed until foamy.  Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a wood pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans and peel off wax paper.  Cool layers completely on wire racks.

Spread with cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.  Garnish with additional chopped pecans onto sides if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16 oz.) package powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with electric mixer until smooth.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla.  Put a thin layer of icing between layers and then gently frost cake's sides and then top.  Garnish with chopped/sliced pecans, if desired.

Berry Brandy Toddies

Yes, look PAST the pound cake, the strawberries and the whipped cream.....look PAST that....See the brandy sniffer?  There ya go.

Gently warm 1/4 cup brandy in small saucepan over low heat (do not boil).  Remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons Chambord or other raspberry liqueur.

Pimento Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

We all know how I love pimento cheese. I've posted several variations of the recipe on the blog. I prepared some for a friend's wedding reception over the weekend and kept a little bit out to stuff into mushroom caps.

Here's the basic recipe which you can double, half, triple or make a regular batch, stuff some mushrooms and enjoy the rest on crackers or bread.

8 oz. block of sharp cheddar, shredded
4 oz. block of mild cheddar, shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 - 1/2 cup mayo (depending on how creamy you want the finished product)
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 T. Worcestershire
1 small jar diced pimentos, drained
salt to taste (I normally don't add but a dash at most)

Take a bite to determine if you need to adjust any of the seasonings for your taste preference.

Combine and refrigerate or use immediately.

I put the mushrooms in the toaster oven with a drizzle of olive oil over them for about 8 minutes on 300 degrees to soften them a little. Increase the time for larger mushrooms. Remove them from the oven and stuff them with the pimento cheese and return to the toaster oven until the cheese is gooey and warm.

They were delicious.

Grilled Rib Eye with Caramelized Onions in Creamy Bleu Cheese Sauce

Oh yes, a charcoal grilled rib eye is perfection. But add caramelized onions and heavy cream and bleu cheese???? Yes, sir! Have I mentioned life is good!?!

Here's our ingredient list and then we will begin the process:

4 rib eye steaks (about 5 ounces each) (remove from fridge about 30 minutes before grilling)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stick softened butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
3 to 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat the grill to a high heat or light your outdoor grill. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper and smear both sides of the steaks with 1/2 stick of the butter.

Grill the steaks until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes per side, and then remove from the heat and keep warm. (You can also saute them in a skillet over medium-high heat if you prefer.)

Melt the remaining 1/2 stick of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions.


Saute the onions until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.

Pour in the cream and a dash of salt and pepper

Add the Worcestershire sauce.  See my pretty fleur de lis measuring spoon?

Let it bubble up, then add the bleu cheese and stir together to melt, adding more pepper or Worcestershire sauce as you wish.

Ahhhhh, isn't that pretty?

Place the steaks on plates and spoon the sauce over the top.  Enjoy the friends you have made for life!

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Apple Tart with Apricot Glaze

As I have said many times before, you can never go wrong with an Ina recipe.  The delicate puff pastry with thinly sliced apples and the apricot glaze......I bet you could get a marriage proposal with this dessert.

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
4 small (6 ounce) Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
3/4 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
3 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares.  Divide the pastry between the prepared sheet pans and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem.  Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.  Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices.  Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally across the pastry and place one slice of apple on each side of the arranged slices.  Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and dot them with the butter.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown.  Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tarts will be fine!  When the tarts are done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados until bubbly and brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tarts with a metal spatula so they don't stick to the paper.  Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Note:  I reduced the temperature from the original recipe.  Also check the time at about 20 - 25 minutes and adjust accordingly.  I only cooked mine for 30 minutes and they were beginning to brown.  A LOT. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Super Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Ree Drummond, a/k/a The Pioneer Woman, called this a restaurant style potato salad.  I called it delicious.  Thanks Ree!

5 whole large red potatoes
1 stick butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated
3/4 cup sour cream
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 whole green onions, sliced, plus more for topping
Salt (add plenty!)
Freshly ground black pepper (ditto!)
3/4 cup French fried onions

Poke a few holes in the potatoes and nuke (or bake in a 400 degree F oven) until fork-tender.  Add to a large bowl and smash with a potato smasher.

Immediately add the softened butter, cheese, sour cream, bacon and green onions, and stir with a rubber spatula.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the French fried onions and fold in.  Serve hot, sprinkling on extra green onions.

Yummy with grilled steak or chicken.