Monday, June 27, 2016

Louisiana - Cajun and Creole Cuisine

On the Menu

 Cajun Spice Mix

Yields 1 Cup

½ cup paprika
¼ cup black pepper
1 ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons granulated onion

Combine the spices thoroughly and store in an air tight glass container in a cool dry area up to 6 months.
Whole Spices
Blackening Spice
Yields approximately ¾ cup

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
½ teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients.  Store excess in an airtight glass container refrigerate if you are not going to use within the next 6 months.
Remoulade Sauce
1 ½ cups

¼ cup Creole or whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon Cajun Spice Mix
¼ cup green onions, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup grapeseed oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor and pulse once or twice until thoroughly mixed.
With the machine is running, add the oil in a slow steady steam, blending until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Louisiana Crab Cakes
6 Cakes

1 lb crabmeat
¼ cup green onions, chopped, fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped, fine
½ red pepper, chopped, fine
¼ cup parsley, chopped, fine
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped, fine
1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Mix [recipe to follow]
¼ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup tomato puree or sauce
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Finely ground cornmeal or flour
2 – 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil for frying [for all 6 cakes]

With the exception of the cornmeal or flour and vegetable oil, mix all ingredients until everything is thoroughly combined.
Shape into patties and lightly coat each patty with cornmeal or flour then refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
Pour 2 – 3 tablespoons of oil in a non stick skillet and heat to medium high.
Once oil is hot fry the cakes in batches 3 – 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side.  
 Seafood Gumbo

Serves 8
½ cup grapeseed oil
⅔ cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves
½ cup celery, chopped
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups tomatoes with juice
½ cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons Cajun Spice Mix
1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound raw prawns, peeled and deveined
1 pound crabmeat, cleaned
¼ cup chopped scallions
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons file powder
Cooked rice        

Heat oil in a large pot add the flour, mix thoroughly and cook over medium low heat until flour reaches a peanut butter brown, stirring occasionally.  Adjust your heat so that the flour do not burn.
Stir in the onion, pepper, garlic and celery and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat.
Add the stock, tomatoes, sherry, spice mix, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook over medium low heat 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add more stock if the mixture seems too thick.
Add the prawns and cook 3 minutes, add the crabmeat and cook another 3 minutes.
Remove gumbo from the heat and stir in the scallions, parsley and file powder just before serving.
Server in a bowl over rice with file powder and Tabasco on the side.

 Blackened Flounder
4 Servings
Note: Although we chose flounder to blacken, you can actually blacken any fish/fillet. Since the blackening spice burns easily, it's best to use thin cuts of fish.  I have  blackened thicker cuts like salmon and tuna but you have to be very careful that you don't burn it.

4 – 6 oz pieces flounder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup grapeseed oil

Wash fish and pat dry with a paper towel.
Combine salt, onion powder and garlic powder, then sprinkle mixture on both sides of fish and set aside (this process can be done the day before).
If fish is too moist, gently pat dry with a paper towel.
Combine the blackening spice and spread it out on a plate.
Press fish in the seasoning, brushing off any excess. 
Heat a heavy pan over high heat; pour in just enough oil to prevent sticking.  Make sure pan and oil are hot before adding fish.  (We're not deep frying, so watch the oil)
Place 2 pieces of fish in the pan. Make sure they are not touching each other. 
Cook for 3 – 5 minutes on the first side (depends on how thick the fish is).
Reduce heat to medium or medium/high, flip fish over with a spatula and/or tongs and cook an addition 2 – 3 minutes on the second side.
Transfer fish to a platter, remove any excess crumbs from pan, and add more oil.  Let pan and oil get hot again before adding another batch of fish.

Note:  Only turn fish once, it should be 50% done before turning it over.  You can tell because the color will change to opaque.  Keep an eye on the heat level.  If it’s smoking and cooking too fast, adjust the heat gradually.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Sunday Dinner June 26, 2016

On the Menu 

Southern California is already experiencing the Lazy Hazy Dog Days of Summer so our Sunday Dinner is going to be on the light side

Fresca Salad
4 Servings
12 ounces arugula or baby spinach
1 hot house cucumber, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
2 Oranges, peeled segmented and diced
   For the Dressing
juice of 1 lemon/lime
just of 1 large Valencia orange
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ - 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ - 1 teaspoon granulated onion
½ teaspoon crushed chili peppers
¼ - ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 - 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
On a platter or serving dish, place down a bed of lettuce.  Neatly arrange the cucumber slices, tomato wedges and diced oranges, refrigerate until ready to serve.
Meanwhile whisk together all of the salad dressing ingredients and refrigerate until time to serve.  
To serve, divide salad into 4 servings use 1 - 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving.  
Store leftover dressing in an airtight container 3 - 4 weeks. 
Dressing can also be used as a marinade for vegetables, fish, chicken or beef.
Sonoma Chicken salad
8 Servings
2 cups water
4 pounds chicken breast b/s
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
½ pound red grapes
½ bunch celery
¼ - ½ pound pecans
  Sonoma Dressing
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
teaspoons poppy seeds
½  teaspoon sea salt
½  teaspoon pepper
Place the water chicken, bay leaves salt, pepper, granulated garlic and granulated onion in a pot and bring to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to medium and cook 30 minutes.   Once chicken is done, let it cool down then dice.  Place chicken in a medium bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Meanwhile, place all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Wash grapes and slice in half.
Wash celery and slice on the bias.
Once chicken is cold, add the grapes, celery, pecans and dressing mix and serve.

Caprese Pasta Salad
8 Servings
8 cups water
1 pound pasta (angel hair, orzo or penne)
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ - ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound fresh mozzarella, ½” dice
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small bunch fresh Basil, chiffonade
In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil, add pasta and bring the pot back up to a rapid boil then stir.
Cover pot, turn off the burner and let pasta sit, undisturbed 6 – 8 minutes (see package for exact cooking time). 
Drain pasta in a colander then transfer to a large bowl.  While pasta is still hot, stir in the salt and mix thoroughly.
Add ¼ cup olive oil mix until pasta is coated with oil then refrigerate until pasta is cool.
Once pasta is cool, add pepper, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and remaining oil if needed.
Mix thoroughly and refrigerate until salad is cold.
  Blueberry Lemonade
6 Servings
½ cup granulated Sugar
1 cup blueberries
¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the blueberry simple syrup, combine sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Stir in blueberries and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until blueberries have broken down, about 3-4 minutes.
Strain blueberry mixture through a fine strainer and let cool.
In a large pitcher, whisk together blueberry simple syrup, lemon juice and 5 cups water. Place in the refrigerator until chilled.
Serve over ice and frozen blueberries, if desired.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sunday Dinner June 19, 2016

On the Menu

Citrus Grilled Asparagus
6 – 8 Servings
2 bunches asparagus
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
oranges or lemon slices

Preheat Grill
Wash and trim off bottom of asparagus.
Combine olive oil, orange and lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Toss asparagus with dressing and let it marinade on the counter 1 hour.
Place asparagus on the grill and grill 3 - 5 minutes, turn and grill another 3 minutes.
Toss lemon or orange slices on grill and grill 1 minute turn and grill another 30 seconds.
Top grilled asparagus with the grilled citrus slices and serve.

Roasted Baby Carrots with Dill
2 Servings
12 ounces baby carrots
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Toss carrots in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper and dill. Transfer to a baking sheet in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until browned and slightly tender.

  Portabella Penne Pasta w/ Chicken
6 – 8 Servings
For the Chicken
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
For the Pasta
1 pound penne pasta
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 medium portabella mushrooms
1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil             
1 bunch scallions                                                   
1 cup whole garlic                                                                                                  
1 cup sun dried tomatoes                          
1 bunch parsley                                                      
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, chopped                                                                
1 sprig fresh sage, chopped                                                         
3 sprigs fresh thyme chopped                                          

For the Chicken
Season chicken with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and onion
Grill or roast in oven until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F
Let chicken cool enough to handle then cut on the bias and refrigerate.

For the Pasta
Cook pasta until it is al dente.
Drain, rinse in cold water until pasta is cool enough to handle.
Transfer to a large bowl, add salt and pepper, mix thoroughly then place pasta in the refrigerator to complete the cooling process.
Wash mushrooms, remove stem and gills
Brush mushrooms with oil and grill.  Let them cool than slice in to ½” strips.
Grill scallions then cut them on the bias and set aside.
Slice garlic and saute briefly in oil. Drain and set aside
Re-hydrate sun dried tomatoes.
Rough chop the herbs
In a large bowl combine the pasta, chicken, tomatoes, scallions, garlic, mushrooms and herbs and mix thoroughly.
Add ½ of the balsamic vinaigrette dressing and refrigerate until salad is cold.
Use the remaining dressing to toss on the salad just prior to serving.

For the Vegetarian/Vegan version, eliminate the chicken

Melon Salad
8 – 12 Servings
⅓ cup honey or agave syrup
½ cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
¼  teaspoon crushed red chili peppers - Optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cantaloupe, seeded, peeled, diced
1 honeydew melon, seeded, peeled, diced
1 watermelon, seeded, peeled, diced
In a small bowl, combine honey, orange juice, lemon juice, chili peppers and mint, mix well.
Place melon cubes in large serving bowl and pour honey mixture over. Toss gently to coat and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving time.

                                                         Deep South Ice Tea
                                                                 8 Servings
5 to 7 individual tea bags, (Luzianne brand preferred)
1 quart of cool filtered or bottled water
Pinch of baking soda, optional
1 (4-cup) glass Pyrex measuring cup for steeping
2 quart glass pitcher filled with ice
1/2 to to 1 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
Fresh lemon, sliced or wedges, and some mint sprigs, optional

Method Boil one quart of cool filtered or bottled water, bringing to a full, rolling boil then turn off heat. Steep tea bags in the hot water for 9 minutes. Gently squeeze bags of excess water and remove. Whisk in sugar (and baking soda if using) until dissolved and set aside. Fill pitcher with ice, and carefully pour the hot tea concentrate over the ice. Stir well and pour over ice filled glasses, garnishing with a sprig of mint leaves and a nice juicy slice of lemon. Savor. Makes 2 quarts.

Cook's Notes: For a milder tea, use 5 bags; for a more robust tea, go with 7. Increase sugar as needed to your sweetness level. Never pour hot tea directly into a glass pitcher without ice in it! To conserve your ice and use the tea per glass, fill the 1/2 gallon pitcher with 1-1/2 quarts of water instead of ice, and top with the steeped tea.