Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dining Out - Southeast - Cajun Steamer

On a recent trip to Trussville, I was treated to a late afternoon respite at the Cajun Steamer located at at the Pinnacle. Surprisingly, it was very comfortable for late August and we chose to sit outside on the patio.

I started with a Citrus Martini. I neglected to write down the description of this lovely drink, but it wasn't as tart as a Lemon Drop Martini.  Very refreshing!

My dining companion chose Crawfish Enchiladas:  Creamy crawfish rolled into two flour tortillas then topped with a rich crawfish cheese sauce.  $9.95.  Not a lot of seasoning on these.  They could have used a good dose of spice.

However, the spice level on my Crawfish Etouffee was very good!  Crawfish tails mixed with a golden seasoned roux over white rice. $9.95

Service was acceptable. They need to work on the consistency of the spice / seasoning level of their dishes. No dessert on this trip.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Baked Apple Hand Pies

I've been wanting to attempt "fried" pies for quite a while now. There's all sorts of decisions to make before you begin I learned. What type of fruit? Do you want to make your own crust, use pre-made, canned biscuits, etc.? The first decision I made was not to fry them! Baked instead of fried was a great choice for me. Next time, I'll fry them in a cast iron skillet, but for this batch, baked was perfect.

I had apples in the freezer already peeled, cored and sliced. So, apples it was! You'll need about 3 cups of fruit.

1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples (Granny Smith or Red Delicious)
3/4 t. ground cinnamon
2 T. dark brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and granulated sugar together. Add chopped apples and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Stir apples occasionally. Remove from heat and add cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir to blend together and taste. You may decide (based on the tartness of the apples) that you need a little more sugar and/or cinnamon.  Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Now let's make our pastry crust.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour, divided
1/2 cup Crisco
2 T. granulated sugar
yolk from one egg
1/2 cup ice water
cinnamon sugar

Cut the Crisco into 2 cups of flour until mixture is crumbly. Stir in the sugar, egg yolk, and ice water until dough is sticky. Turn out onto a floured surface and sprinkle more flour on top. Work the dough until it is smooth. Roll out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut pastry into 4 - 6 inch circles. I found this handy dandy little gadget at World Market. You can use a biscuit cutter, a drinking glass, a saucer, you get the idea. If you have one of these little pie makers, place the dough carefully inside the form.

But whichever method you use, you will add 1 - 2 T. of the apples onto half of the circle.

Fold over the handle and gently press down and the edges will automatically be crimped together.

In the alternative, you can add the apples, carefully fold over the other half of the crust and crimp together with a fork.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make a few small slits in the dough to allow the steam to escape. Brush the tops of the pies with some of the juice from the apples or an egg wash. Sprinkle the top of the pies with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

adapted from Deep South Dish

Monday, August 24, 2015

Surf & Turf (Seared Scallops / Filet Mignon with Rosemary-Red Wine Pan Sauce)

Yes, sometimes Mondays DO call for an elegant meal after working all day. Yes, sometimes Mondays are horrible and all you want to do is get home, put on your comfy clothes and order a pizza. Yes, today was one of those Mondays at Chez Lolly. But I put on my big girl smile and took about 45 minutes and then sat down to a delicious meal that took away some of the sting of this Monday.

You can choose what kind of "Surf" you want and whatever sort of "Turf" you'd like. I decided that Filet Mignon and seared scallops would suit me just fine.

First of all, we'll get the supporting characters all situated. How about some mashed potatoes and asparagus?  

For a dinner for two:

Mashed potatoes:
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 T. butter
2 - 3 T. heavy cream
salt and pepper

Add potatoes to a pot filled with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Drain and add potatoes back to the pot. Mash and add butter, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.

1 large bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed
olive oil
salt and pepper
shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat toaster oven or oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and let cook for 10 - 15 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and add shredded Parmesan cheese.

NOW on to the main event:

For the steak:
1 lb. Filet Mignon steaks, cut 1 1/2 - 2 inches thick
3/4 T. coarse grain salt
1 1/2 t. black peppercorns
1/2 t. dried minced garlic
1/2 t. dried minced onion
1/4 t. fennel seeds
1/4 t. dried red pepper flakes
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 T. butter, divided
2 T. minced shallot
1 T. dried minced garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
1 cup beef stock

For the scallops:
1 lb. scallops
salt and pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. butter

Remove the steak from the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to allow to reach room temp while you prepare the side dishes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add salt and next 5 ingredients to a mortar and pestle and coarsely crush.  If you have a favorite store bought steak rub, feel free to use that instead.

Drizzle tops of steaks with extra virgin olive oil, then generously sprinkle on spice rub and rub into steaks. Repeat on other side.

Pat scallops dry between layers of paper towels, season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large, oven safe cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat, then add 1 T. butter. Once melted, add steaks then sear until steaks have formed a golden brown crust on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Using tongs, turn steaks.

Then place entire skillet into oven and roast for 10 minutes for medium. Adjust the time depending on how thick the steaks are and how you like them cooked. Remove steaks to a plate and cover with foil to rest while you make the pan sauce.

 Place skillet back over medium high heat, then add shallots and saute for 30 seconds.

Add rosemary, garlic, and wine and simmer until wine is reduced by half.

Now add beef broth and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced, 7 - 9 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon butter, taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Set sauce aside.

Now time for the scallops!

While the pan sauce is reducing, melt butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place, seasoned side down, in hot skillet and sear for 90 seconds.

Season tops with salt and pepper, then turn and sear for 90 seconds more.

Add potatoes to the plates, then add steaks and scallops. Drizzle steaks and potatoes with the rosemary-red wine sauce. Drizzle scallops with browned butter sauce. Add a serving of asparagus to each plate.  


 Adapted from www.iowagirl.eats.com

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tomato, Watermelon & Corn Salad

A few nights ago, I prepared corn on the cob with Caribbean Jerk seasoning. Today, I used the remainder of the corn to make this fresh, healthy salad. This would be a great alternative to your regular salad for the next cookout or potluck you host or are invited to attend.

2 cups diced Roma tomatoes
2 cups chopped watermelon 
2 cups cooked corn kernels
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. white wine vinegar
1 t. McCormick Caribbean Jerk Seasoning
few grinds of black pepper
1/2 t. sea salt

Combine vegetables in a medium bowl. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and pour over vegetables.  Gently stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Lunch at Romano's Macaroni Grill


On a trip to Birmingham, we chose Romano's Macaroni Grill for lunch. Our server, Savannah, was a delight and as we were seated let us know that we were there during brunch time and Mimosas and Bloody Marys were $2 each. We happily ordered one of each. They certainly didn't skimp on the flavors. Both were delicious.

While we read the menus, freshly baked hot bread was delivered to the table along with a seasoned olive oil for dipping.

The appetizer portion of the menu is divided into two separate sections. You may order individual appetizers or choose two for $9.50. We selected Baked Prosciutto & Mozzarella for $6.00. Thin slices of prosciutto are wrapped around bites of mozzarella and baked in a rich, flavorful tomato sauce served with charred flatbread. A perfect beginning for the meal.

Harold decided to select his entrée from the brunch menu. The skillet breakfasts are baked in one skillet in a brick oven. He chose the Farmhouse Skillet: three eggs, fonduta, thick bacon, Italian sausage, peppers, onions, arrabbiata sauce, crispy Parmesan potatoes and ciabatta crostino. $12.00

How could I possibly pass up an opportunity to enjoy Lobster Ravioli? Freshly made ravioli filled with lobster and covered with a chardonnay cream sauce $18.00. I added a Caesar salad for an additional $3.20. Rich, decadent and creamy. I ate every bite. But it IS the beginning of my birthday week celebration so I justified the calories and fat grams that way.

Unfortunately, no room for dessert this visit!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Corn on the Cob with Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

It's prime season for fresh corn on the cob. Aren't these beautiful? Some people cook their corn on the cob in the microwave, others give them a few minutes in a pot of boiling water. However you cook yours, slather on some butter and sprinkle with this delicious seasoning blend.  This was the perfect side dish for the Cuban Sandwich Sliders.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cuban Sandwich Sliders


After seeing these pictures, do you really NEED any encouragement to make these sliders?? I bet you don't. Instead of making large pressed sandwiches, I knew I could combine my love of sliders with the wonderful flavors that make up a Cuban sandwich.

Let's go down our flavor checklist. Hawaiian sweet rolls? Yes! Pulled pork? OH YES, YES! Thinly sliced deli ham? Duh! Swiss Cheese? Well, y'all know my love of cheese. Dill pickle slices? As a person who has been known to eat them straight from the jar, YES! Butter and Dijon Mustard? Is that question necessary?  These are so incredibly easy to make. Absolutely delicious little sandwiches to carry to a party, serve as an appetizer to a crowd, or make new friends at a tailgating party.

Here's what you'll need:

24 Hawaiian sweet rolls (sliced to separate tops from bottoms)
1/2 lb. smoked pulled pork 
4 oz. thinly sliced deli ham
10 slices Swiss cheese
Dill pickle slices
1 stick butter, melted
3 T. minced onion
3 T. Dijon mustard

Let's make our sliders!

Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes......then remove foil and back into the oven for 10 more minutes.