Monday, December 14, 2009

White beans and sausage

With this cold weather comes one pot meals. And I had a real hankering for "Beans and rice".
I love the traditional "Red beans and rice", but the "IBM" in me wanted some white beans.

"IBM" is short for "Italian By Marriage" Not mine, I saw it on a T-shirt at Nor Jo's.

So like in any good bean recipe I soaked the beans. Usually I soak beans over night, but White beans cook faster so I soaked them for 4 hours.

Next step is to get the classic trinity in the pot.

1 green bell seeded and diced
1 onion diced
2 celery sticks diced
1 bay leaf

Place in a large pot with a little oil, salt and pepper. Saute until tender.

While that is going start getting the smoked meat ready. I was at the Tuesday Farmers Market and picked up some smoked sausage and venison loaf. (this is a new product offered by Acadian Foods)

Just cut bite size rounds and add them to the pot. Saute them so that they can release some of their fat and flavor. Remember Fat = Flavor.

Next you want to add your drained beans to the pot. And cover with cold water. You always want to start with cold water.

Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat so that it stays at a simmer. A film with build up in the beginning, just take a ladle and skim the scum off the top as needed.

Now just let it simmer, add water if you need to. Also I wait to season until it has been simmering for an hour or so. This way I can tell how salty the meat is. Now you can salt and pepper to taste.

After about 2 to 3 hours check the beans, they should be done or close to done. Once they have no bite left they are close to done. Turn up the heat a little and stir. The stirring breaks the beans up a little and makes them creamy by releasing the starch.

Once the beans look creamy and are cooked through, you are done now all that is left is to serve yourself up a bowl.

To go with the beans I like to serve a little green salad. This time of year there is a great abundance of them at the Farmers Market. The Monica's have some beautiful radishes.

I just use what I have for a quick salad. Sometimes it just may be greens and radishes.

An easy way to make a vinaigrette is to just pour all the ingredients in a small mason jar and shake. Here I have 2 parts oil, it can be any oil you like, and one part vinegar, again any you prefer. Salt and pepper to taste. Here I have used Lemon juice for the acid and Olive oil for the fat. This can keep in the refrigerator for a week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pink Lady pumkin two ways

Here are the two dishes I made this week with Tony's (Accardo Gourmet Produce) beautiful Pink lady pumpkin. I used the Pink lady because I had never eaten it before and I was curious to cook with it. But you could use any of his beautiful pumpkins or squashes for this recipe.

1 pink lady pumpkin or any other pumpkin or Squash
1 onion diced
1 head of garlic pealed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 carrots diced
2 stocks celery diced
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 qrts chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
salt and pepper to taste

First thing to do is to roast the pumpkin. You could just put the squash in the pot with the veg and stock, but roasting it first gives it a nice caramelized flavor profile. Plus it's so easy.

You want to Cut the pumpkin in to manageable pieces and peel the skin off.

Once you have peeled the pumpkin and taken the seeds out you need to cut it into bite size cubes. Place it on a sheet pan with 1/4 cup of olive oil, onion, garlic, generous salt and pepper. Mix so that everything is evenly coated.

Place the sheet pan in a 350 degree oven and roast for about an hour, just until the pumpkin is fork tender. You will want to stir every once and a while to insure even browning. ( you may need two sheet pans depending on the size of the pumpkin)

Place the other 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pot with the carrots, celery, and thyme and saute over medium heat until tender. Add the roasted pumpkin mixture into the pot. I set aside some of the roasted pumpkin for dinner that first night.

Cover with the stock. and bring to a boil. Once the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and bring down to a simmer. Let simmer for a half an hour. Test for salt and pepper, adding more if you need to. After the half hour let the soup sit and cool a little. Once cooled place a little at a time in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. I then take the pureed soup and run it through a sieve. This however is not necessary. It just depends on how smooth you like your soup. Do this with the remainder of the soup.

Now you could have the soup that day. I like to let it sit for a day. I just seems to enhance the flavors. I also like to place some of the cold soup in to small zip lock bags and keep them flat in the freezer for future consumption. And they are a perfect one serving portion.

If you would like to church up the soup a little, I like to garnish it with some of Paul's Parsley pesto and a little Creama (or you could use sour cream)

Now for the roasted Pumpkin that you set aside. This makes a perfect side dish for a meal. I pared it with some of our new vendor, Cajun Grain, Brown Jasmin rice. If you had not tried this you really need to. It is amazing!! I also kept it simple by roasting off some chicken thighs for protein.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Grilled Zucchini with lime, cilantro and pine nuts

This dish is so incredibly easy and packs a great flavor punch. I am posting this for my customer Ellen and her husband who had mentioned that they don't really cook and usually its an item that can go on the grill! So this if for them.


4 medium zucchinis

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup pine nuts

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of two limes

salt and pepper to taste


Place the pine nuts on a sheet pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes until toasted.

Slice the zucchini length wise into 1/8 inch thick slices. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat up the grill! You can grill these outside or on a stove top grill. You want to grill them until tender. Be sure to not over cook them or they will become mushy.

Now to make the dressing, use the bowl you had the zucchini in, the left over olive oil and garlic should still be in it. Add the lime juice and the cilantro to it. Taste it and make adjustments. You may need to add more salt and pepper or you might find you want more olive oil or lime juice. You be the judge.

To finish the dish off toss the zucchini in the lime cilantro dressing, add the pine nuts and serve. You can eat this hot, but I prefer it at room temperature.


Zucchini and suqash saute

This is a dish that my mom used to make all the time when I was growing up. It is a great way to use zucchini and squash in a way that is tasty to even kids.

My moms version is pretty much the same except that she cubes the pork and sautes them first in the pan and adds them back in the end. But since I was cooking for my in laws, I thought I would church it up a little and serve whole pork chops.

I picked up these Zucchini and squashes from the Monicas. Choose ones that are not too large. I like mine a litter smaller for this recipe.


3 medium zucchini, large diced

3 medium yellow squash, large diced

1 yellow onion, diced

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 tomatoes *

1 table spoon tomato paste*

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese optional

*if you want you can use 1 medium can of crushed tomatoes in place of the fresh tomatoes and the tomato paste.


Heat up the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and let cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is tender. Add the zucchini and squash, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 5 minutes until they start to get tender. Add the tomatoes and the tomato lower the heat and let simmer for about 1o minutes. Every thing will release their juices and all the flavors will meld together.

Now the optional part, you can stop and enjoy it as it is or you can add the cheddar cheese and add a cheesy loveliness to it! But it is up to you.

As you can see, I served this as a side dish with jasmine rice and pan seared pork chops. But you can serve it with what ever you would like.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chestnut and Andouille stuffed Quail

I had bought these Quail from Mr Dobie with Briarhill farms at an earlier visit to the market. They come frozen, 4 to a pack, which makes them easy to store for future use.
I saw that he also had fresh Chestnuts which bring back fond memories of walking through Piazza Novona in Rome with my husband, eating hot chestnuts from a cone. So of course I had to get some.
So with these ingredients I decided that I would stuff the quail with a chestnut and andouille cornbread stuffing. Accadian foods has great block andouille. This is a great combo because the cornbread adds a little sweetness, the chestnuts of course add nuttiness, and andouille adds great smokiness
First I started with the cornbread. It has to have time to cool before you make the stuffing.
1/2 cub butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Place in a oiled 1/4 sheet pan or an eight inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and a tooth pick comes out clean. About 25 to 30 minutes.
I also roasted the chestnuts in the oven with the cornbread. Wipe them with a wet paper towel and make an "X" in the shell. The first time I cooked them was during Christmas and we were decorating our tree, drinking hot butter rums and the chestnuts started to explode in the oven because the steam inside them caused them to erupt. What a mess! The chestnuts take about 20 minutes to cook. You will know they are done because their shells will split.

Once they are cool, peel and chop them.

Now to make the Stuffing you will need.
1 onion chopped
2 bell pepper chopped (I used red and yellow but you can use green)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 pound andouille diced
1 recipe of cornbread crumbled and broken up
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pint of chestnuts roasted and chopped
3-4 cups of chicken stock
You want to use a large skillet to make this. Place the olive oil in the skillet over med. heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and andouille. Saute until the peppers are tender and the andouille releases its oil. Add the chestnuts. Next add the cornbread and mix to that everything is evenly distributed. Add the chicken stock a little at a time. You want the stuffing wet enough to stick together with out being soggy. If you notice I did not add any salt. The andouille has enough to season the rest. You might need a little depending on the sausage.
Let the stuffing cool and than form it into 4 large balls. (I made 8)

Next you need to get the quail ready for stuffing. Now just an FYI, when you get your quail from Mr Dobie at the CCFM, it is a little harder to stuff them because he cuts them down the breast bone and usually them come cut down the back bone so they stuff a little better. But Mr Dobie's quail are some of the best I have ever had.
So just take a minute to cut out some of the extra chest bones. you can cut the wings off if you would like. I keep the trim and place it in a stock pot with some oil and brown them. Then add a little salt and pepper, deglaze with wine and add about 2 cups of chicken stock. I let this reduce to about 1/2 cup
Now just take the stuffing balls and place one in the center of each quail. With Mr Dobie's quail I had to use some butchers string to keep them closed. With the quail cut down the back you will be able to completely wrap the quail around the stuffing. I also make a small slit in one leg and stick the leg of the other in it to help keep it together.
To roast the quail, set the oven at 350 degrees. Place the quail on a oiled sheet pan and salt and pepper them. Place them in the oven for about 20 minutes take them out and baste them with honey, I like the honey from Paw Paw at the market. Return them to the oven and repeat again in 10 minutes. They should be done after 35 minutes. Take them out and rest them for 5 minutes. After you plate them, pour the quick sauce you made with the bones over them.
I served them with mustard greens from the Monicas. I washed and chopped them, then sauteed them with some garlic and olive oil, salt and pepper.
I also made Brabant potatoes. I reduced 2 cups of cream to about 3/4 cups, set this a side. Dice 3 Idaho potatoes, blanch them till tender. Let cool. When ready to eat, saute the potatoes in canola oil until they get a little color. And the reduced cream, salt and pepper, and cook until the cream is thick and coats the potatoes.
Now all that's left is to make yourself a plate and enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fried Seafood Misto

First let me say, "YEAH, IT'S SATSUMA SEASON!" Welcome back Linda from L'Hoste family farm.

This week our in laws are in town from Ohio, and they love the seafood here in New Orleans. (Duh right) Well when they came to the Farmers Market to see me they just could not help but get a few pounds of shrimp from Kay, at Four Winds seafood. Which worked out great because I had Clara, from Gercia seafood, hold me a couple pounds of her beautiful Sea bream, and some soft shell crabs.
Now with all this beautiful fresh seafood I could of boiled, steamed, grilled or sauteed it. But no, I wanted to fry it. I used to joke around when I first moved here from Seattle about all the fried food. "If it ain't fried, it ain't food", but of course I now see that there is a time to fry and this was the time.
I used the word "Misto" which if you are ever in Italy means fried. It just sounds prettier.
So we had the seafood and is there anything better than french fries to go with fried seafood? Not in our house. So we picked up a couple of Idaho potatoes and started frying.
First I started with the french fries because you have to fry them twice. And this way while they are resting after the first fry you can get the seafood cooked.
French Fries
3 large Idaho potatoes
Wash and peel the the potatoes. Next you want to slice them thin about a qtr inch thick. Now you cut them into match stick size sticks. If you prefer a larger french fry, go a head and cut them the size you prefer.
In a large, thick bottom pot, place about 1/2 gallon of oil in the pot. You need to have room for everything to move and grove.
Bring the oil temperature up to 250 degrees. This is called "Blanching", it will cook the fries slowly so that they are cooked all the way through without getting dark and over cooked on the outside. Cook in batches so that you don't over crowd the pan. Cook for about 5 min. This may vary with the size of the fries. Jut take one out and test it. It should be cooked all the way through with the slightest bite to it. When done remove from the oil and place on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. At this point you can let them cool at room temp. or place them in the refrigerator and they will hold for a few hours.
To finish them off, raise the heat of the oil to 350 degrees and again fry them in batches until golden and crisp. Remove them from the oil and salt them to your taste while they are hot.
(I finish them off after I fry the seafood)
3 soft shell crabs- Cleaned (lungs, eyes and sac removed) and cut in half
2 lbs shrimp- peeled and devained
1lb sea bream - I used the smaller pieces, or you can get the whole filet's
1/2 cup corn starch
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
1/4 cup Spanish paprika
1 1/3 cup water
1- 12 oz bottle of beer
( 2 cups flour, keep separate)
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend. add the liquid, a little at a time and whisk until incorporated.
Place the 2 cups of flour on a plate or platter.
Now your ready to fry.
Pre heat the oven to 250 degrees, and heat oil to 350 degrees.
I like to fry each item separately, they have different cooking times. I salt and pepper each before I drench them in the flour. So you salt and pepper the crab, drench it in the flour and then into the batter. Place in the hot oil. Fry turning each to get even color. Fry for about 5 min. a good way to to tell is if it floats its finished. Salt when hot.
Place the fried crab on a sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags and place in the heated oven. Continue with the remainder of the seafood. The fish and the shrimp will take less time to cook. Again remember when it floats is finished, and don't forget you can always pull one out and test it. Give the fries their second fry to finish them off.
Now just sit down and enjoy your fried feast!
Boun Appetito!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stuffed pork loin with fresh market beans

This simple but beautiful dish is really satisfying. I again am cooking for our dear friends Heather and James. They are hard at work opening up "Coulis" their new breakfast/lunch restaurant where the old "Blue bird" restaurant was on Prytaina street. So it is nice to share a meal with them so they can relax after a long day.

The Crescent City market was bustling on Tuesday. It had been a long, rainy weekend. The only light we saw was the Saints kicking some butt on Sunday!

For this meal I was inspired by the beautiful mix of fresh Beans from B&B Farms. I purchased a pound each of the Baby Lima, Pink Eye Sue, and the Crowder beans. I then Picked up a couple of Creole tomatoes from the Monicas and some goat cheese from Ryals Goat dairy, and I was on my way to a great meal.

Fresh bean salad
1lb each fresh baby Lima, pink eye sue, crowder beans
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 creole tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil each type of bean separately in salted water. (I do each separately because they all have different cooking times.) Boil each until tender with a slight bite because we will cook them a little more later. Each should take between 5 and 8 minutes to cook. Just test them as you go. I don't have a specific time, the fresher the bean, the quicker it cooks.
Pour hot bean into a strainer and cool with cold water. This will stop the cooking process.
Next heat up a large non stick skillet. Place the olive oil in and let it heat up over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic and shallots. Let them cook for about 3 minutes to infuse flavors into the oil and soften up. The tomatoes will release their juice.
Add all the beans into the pan. Mix so that everything is well incorporated. Salt and Pepper to taste. (I always say to salt and pepper to taste because every ones pallet is different and ingredients are different also.) Now just let them simmer all together for about 5 to 10 minutes so that some of the liquid evaporates and the flavor all melds together. Be sure not to over cook the beans.
From this point you can add some fresh ricotta or goat cheese from the Ryals dairy if you would like and and toss it in for a different spin.
Stuffed Pork tenderloin

First we have to make the filling. This is so easy.
12 oz goat cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
6-8 sun dried tomatoes
1 bunch Italian parsley, tops only
1 cup pecans (or any nut you prefer)
zest of one lemon
Place all ingredient in a food processor and pulse until it becomes a chunky paste.
Set aside. If you do not have a food processor you can chop it all by hand and mix together.

Now we need to prepare the pork loin. you need to butterfly the pork loin, which means you just need to open it up. I will try to explain. Take you knife and cut down the middle length wise until you get down to 1 inch from the bottom. You do not want to cut all the way through.
Next take you knife and cut along the length of the loin on each side slowly rolling it open.

Salt and pepper well.
The next step is to spread the goat cheese filling over the surface of the pork.

Roll the pork up like you would a jelly roll. Tie with string down the length of the loin so that it will stay closed during cooking. Salt and pepper the out side of the loin.

Place 1/4 cup of canola oil in a large skillet. Heat on medium high. Place the pork roll in the pan and brown on all sides. Place the browned pork roll on a greased sheet pan. Bake in a pre heated 350 degree oven for approximately 40 min. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 min before slicing. this will let the juices go back into the meat.

Slice and serve with the Fresh been salad.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shrimp en papillote

My first job in New Orleans was at Mr B's, In the French Quarter. One day I came in to work my shift on the back line, and Chef told me that there was a new dish coming off my station, Gulf fish "en papillote". I thought,"cool", I had learned to make them in Culinary School. No problem, but then I realized I had to make at least 60 of them before the start of service.

Lets just say that I got to be real good at them!

Last night we had our dear friends over with their son, our godson, and I thought that Kobe might get a kick out of cooking his dinner in a bag. And I was right, he thought it was the coolest thing. So cool that he ate shrimp that was not fried for the first time with no complaints.

The most time consuming part of this dish is getting the compound butter made.

Compound butter:

1/2 (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 shallot, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are incorporated completely. Roll the compound butter into a log and place in the refrigerator. Let harden to a solid log. (or it can be placed in the freezer for future use.)


6 oz pasta per person
I used angel hair pasta, but you can use any pasta you like

Boil pasta until JUST "al dente" so that it still has a bite to it. This is important because the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

Blanch the pasta in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well, toss with olive oil to keep it from sticking, and set aside.

"Mis en place"

This is important when making papillote. It simply means "everything in it's place."
For this dish you need to have the following items set up and ready to go.

parchment paper - cut into a heart shape. If you don't have access to large parchment you can use two pieces for each portion.

Cooked cooled pasta

Compound butter - cut into 2 oz logs

Shrimp - peeled and devained. I like to leave the tail on. 6 to 8 per person

Melted butter- this is to coat the paper with so that it seals the bag and holds in the steam.

Salt and Pepper

First step is to brush the melted butter over the parchment paper. (As Kobe does with complete concentration)

Next you layer the ingredients on one side of the parchment. First I laid the pasta down, then the shrimp, topped it off with two pieces of the compound butter, salt and pepper.

The next step is to fold the ends of the parchment so that it makes a pocket around the food. Just fold a little as a time, making sure that it is completely sealed.

Place on a sheet pan. From this point you can place them in the refrigerator to hold until you are ready to cook them or you can put them directly in the oven.

Bake them for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

When you pull them out of the oven they will be puffed up from the steam inside. Now you just need to put them on a plate, cut the top oven and enjoy!