Sunday, October 25, 2020

BISTRO FRENCH ONION SOUP

 I love a good bowl of French onion soup, especially on a cold winter's night. Serve this with a green salad. This is a truly romantic dinner for two while you listen to the music of French cabaret singer and songwriter, Èdith Piaf. Je suis Paris!



2 T avocado oil
4 T unsalted butter
6 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry sherry 
2 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
6 cups beef broth or stock
4 cups chicken broth or stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
8 oz shredded Gruyère cheese
4 oz shredded Emmentaler Swiss cheese
1 baguette, sliced

Heat oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over low heat.  
Add onions and cook over low heat, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
Remove lid and continue to cook for another 20 minutes, until golden, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
Add sherry and cook another 2 minutes, to reduce.
Add thyme sprigs, bay leaves, beef broth, and chicken broth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer another 20 minutes.
Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

While soup is simmering, arrange slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until toasted, then set aside.

Ladle broth and onions in ovenproof soup bowls set on a baking sheet.  
Add the toasted bread, two per bowl and sprinkle with cheeses. 

Heat broiler with rack 6 inches from element.  
Place baking sheet with bowls of soup under the broiler and broil until cheeses are browned and bubbly, about 4 to 5 minutes.

6 servings


 


GRAND MARNIER FRENCH TOAST

 When making French toast, you first have to start with a good dense bread. I used a locally made artisan bread, that I sliced myself. You also need to soak the bread in the custard mixture for 2 to 3 minutes. You can divide the recipe in half to serve two for breakfast or brunch. A Mimosa would be excellent to serve with this for brunch.




6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 T granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
3 T Grand Marnier, or other orange flavored brandy
1 t vanilla extract
½ t ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground nutmeg
8 slices sourdough, artisan, challah, or brioche bread
2 T unsalted butter, for cooking
2 T avocado oil, or other neutral flavored oil
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Pure maple syrup, for serving

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs very well.
Whisk in the milk, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, brandy (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Dip 2 slices of bread into the mixture, letting it soak up some of the custard for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Lift bread out of custard, letting excess drip back into the bowl.

Cook slices in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with some of the butter and the oil.
While bread is cooking, put two more slices of bread in the custard mixture to soak.

Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 225 degree F oven while frying the rest of the bread.

Place 2 per plate and serve with a garnish of confectioners' sugar and maple syrup.

Serves 4 


Saturday, October 10, 2020

CAJUN-STYLE ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE, CHICKEN, & SHRIMP FILE GUMBO

 Here is another recipe for Cajun gumbo with andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp. If you can't find andouille sausage, substitute kielbasa.  This is a great dish to serve to company.  "Jambalaya and crawfish pie and filé gumbo. For tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher a mio.  Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o.  Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou."



4 slices applewood bacon, cut into small pieces
24 oz to 2 lbs smoked andouille sausage, halved lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
2 boneless chicken breasts or 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes.
3 T avocado oil
3 T unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 T Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (if you want a little more heat)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
4 bottles clam broth
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced okra
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

Steamed rice
1 bunch chopped scallions, for garnish 
Louisiana or Crystal hot sauce, for the table

In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, fitted with a lid, add the bacon pieces and cook until brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl and set aside.
Add the sausage and cook until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to the large bowl with the bacon.
Add the chopped chicken and cook until light brown, about 4 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to the same bowl.

Add the oil and butter to the pot and in whisk the flour.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. 
Let the roux cook until it’s the color of peanut butter.
Lower heat to medium-low and let roux cook until it’s the color of an old copper penny, about 5 to 8 minutes more.

Stir in the “holy trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the Cajun Seasoning, paprika, cayenne, Worcestershire, clam broth, beer, bay leaves, bacon, and the browned sausage and chicken.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and shrimp and simmer another 3 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder, cover with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes. It should still be very hot, if not, turn the heat on again for a couple of minutes.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with scallions and serve with cooked white rice and crusty bread.

Serves 4

Cajun Seasoning
3 T paprika
2 T sea salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T dried thyme
2 T ground black pepper
1 T ground white pepper

Pour above ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. Shake well and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

To make Creole Seasoning for a Creole dish, to the above, add 1 T dried basil and 1 T dried oregano.

Monday, September 28, 2020

BACON, LETTUCE, & FRIED GREEN TOMATO SANDWICHES

BLTs are a favorite lunch time meal. This is a Southern version of the classic sandwich, made with fried green tomatoes. Make your Roasted Garlic Aioli in the morning or the day before. You can use regular mayonnaise, if you prefer.




4 slices applewood smoked bacon
4 medium green tomatoes
½ cup corn flour 
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Dash of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
2 T buttermilk or milk
1 t granulated sugar

Peanut oil or avocado oil, for frying
Toasted multi-grain bread
Lettuce
Roasted Garlic Aioli (recipe follows)

Fry bacon in a cast-iron skillet, until crisp on both sides.
Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Pour out all but about 1 teaspoon of the bacon grease.

Cut each tomato into about ½-inch slices, discarding ends
In a shallow bowl, combine the corn meal, panko, and cayenne pepper.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In another shallow bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, and sugar.

Dip the tomatoes in the egg mixture and then dredge them in the corn flour mixture, coating both sides well.

Add the peanut or avocado oil to the skillet and heat to medium-high temperature.
Fry the tomatoes until brown and crispy on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Spread some Roasted Garlic Aioli on each slice of toasted bread.
Add some lettuce, two slices of fried green tomatoes.
Add two slices bacon, some more lettuce, and top with another slice of toasted bread.
Cut in half and serve.

Roasted Garlic-Lemon Aioli
1 large whole head garlic
1 t avocado or extra-light olive oil
1 cup mayonnaise
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ t Dijon mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fine ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut off the top (not root end) of the garlic head and place in a small ramekin (oven-proof custard cup). 
Drizzle with oil and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until garlic is soft.
Remove from oven and remove foil. 
Let cool until cool enough to handle.
Squeeze out the garlic from each clove into the bowl of a food processor.
Add the mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, Dijon, cayenne, and extra-virgin olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Process until smooth.
Spoon into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
The rest will keep in a small clean mason jar for about one week.
Makes 2 Sandwiches

Sunday, September 27, 2020

CLASSIC APPLE PIE

My favorite apple for baking and eating is the Honey Crisp, but it is only available in the autumn. McIntosh, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Fuji, Gala, Braeburn, and Granny Smith are much easier to find year round and are also great baking apples. Use a combination of two or three of the above baking apples for a more complex and interesting apple pie.




Double 9-Inch Crust
¼ cups cake & pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar                           
1 t salt
12 T (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut up and placed in freezer for 10 minutes
1 t apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
½ cup ice-cold water                          

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until combined.
Add butter and pulse until butter pieces are the size of peas.
Pour vinegar or lemon juice into water and through shoot, slowly add it and process briefly until mixture comes together.
Alternatively, you can do this in a bowl with a pastry cutter.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. 
Divide dough in half (one slightly larger than the other) and wrap each piece in plastic wrap, trying not to touch dough with your hands, by gathering up in the plastic wrap.  
Press each piece into a disc and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out. 

Apple Filling
9 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups water                                                                          
¼ cup cornstarch                                           
½ t ground cinnamon                                                             
¼ t ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of ground allspice                                                            ½ t salt
3 T unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg mixed with 2 T water

Core, peel and thinly slice apples and place in a large bowl.
Toss with lemon zest and juice.

Place the sugar, water, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and salt in a large saucepan.

Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a boil while whisking for one minute.
Add apples to saucepan and stir to coat with the sauce.
Lower heat to medium, cover with a lid and cook until the apples have softened, about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and add the butter to the pan and stir until melted.
Cool the apple filling for 15 minutes and transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into 2 circles of 14 inches.   
Rotate dough not rolling pin and loosen from work surface with an offset spatula.
Place one into a 9-inch pie plate and spoon apple pie filling into shell.
Roll top dough on top, fold edges up and over and then crimp or make marks with a fork.
Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough to allow steam to escape.
Brush surface with eggs wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Place pie on a baking sheet or pizza pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F degrees and continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cool a couple of hours before serving.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or a slice of sharp cheddar cheese.