Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CREOLE-STYLE PRALINE CHICKEN

Praline is a delicious Creole confection introduced to New Orleans by French settlers in the seventeenth century. 
Chicken breasts browned and then baked in this Praline Pecan Sauce have a sweet and spicy kick. 


½ cup chopped pecans

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ cup all-purpose flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 T water
2 T avocado oil, for frying

Praline Pecan Sauce
3 T unsalted butter
3 T dark brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 t Creole seasoning
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a dry 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, toast pecans for just a couple of minutes, don't walk away and let them burn.
Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

Cut chicken in half, lengthwise and place on a pizza pan or platter.
You will have 4 boneless chicken breasts.

In a shallow bowl, add the flour and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In another shallow bowl, whisk the egg with the water.

Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess.
Dip chicken in the egg and then again in the flour.
Set aside on the same pizza pan or platter.

Heat oil in the same cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Fry chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Transfer to a clean plate and set aside. Save skillet.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter.
Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, toasted pecans, Creole seasoning, and cayenne.
Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Place chicken in skillet and pour praline sauce over.

Bake in preheated oven until sauce is bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Serve with Creole-Style Potatoes Au Gratin and a green vegetable.

Serves 2 to 4

Monday, May 29, 2017

CREOLE-STYLE POTATOES AU GRATIN

If you go to New Orleans, you will see this side dish on practically every menu. This is ultimate Creole comfort food! 
You can make it in a large casserole or au gratin baking dish or individual baking dishes.




4 large Yukon Gold potatoes
4 T unsalted butter
1 shallot or ½ small yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ t cayenne pepper (optional)
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel and thinly slice potatoes and set aside in a bowl.

In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the shallot or onion and sauté a minute.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the milk and whisk another 2 minutes.

Stir in the cheddar cheese and cayenne with a wooden spoon until melted.
Add half of the Parmigiano and stir until combined.
Season with salt and pepper.

Place half of the potatoes in a 2-quart casserole dish or au gratin dish.
Pour half of the cheese mixture over the potatoes.
Add the rest of the potatoes and pour the rest of the cheese mixture over.
Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano cheese.

Cover with parchment paper and then a sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
Remove parchment and foil and bake another 20 minutes until top is lightly brown.

Serves 4 to 6

* You can also bake in individual ceramic containers, such as small au gratin dishes or ramekins.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

CHEDDAR-GARLIC DROP BISCUITS

When I was first married, I would make these drop biscuits with Bisquick. They are the easiest biscuits to make. Making them with either White Lily flour or Southern Biscuit flour (not self-rising) makes these biscuit so light and fluffy. If you can't find these flours, by all means, use all-purpose flour. 



2 cups all-purpose White Lily flour or Southern Biscuit flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 T granulated sugar
1 T aluminum-free baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t garlic powder
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t paprika
½ t fine sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 T snipped chives

Butter Topping
3 T unsalted butter, melted
½ t garlic powder
1 T minced Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Place rack in center of oven.

Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt.

Slowly mix in the buttermilk and melted butter with a wooden spoon.
Gently fold in the cheddar cheese, and chives.

Using a medium ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop out batter and place on baking sheet.

Bake in oven 10 to 12 minutes.

Brush with Butter Topping as soon as you take the biscuits out of oven and serve immediately.

Makes 16 biscuits




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CHOCOLATE SWIRL HAZELNUT CHEESECAKE

This is quite a decadent dessert and very impressive to serve as dessert at a dinner party. I actually sent my guests home with some of the cheesecake. You can omit the hazelnuts and/or hazelnut liqueur, if you wish.


Crust 
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
¾ of a package chocolate wafer cookies 
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 t pure vanilla extract

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet until lightly browned and fragrant.
Remove and place in a clean tea towel or flour sack towel and cover completely.
Using both hands, rub the skins off of the nuts and then roughly chop.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Place chopped hazelnuts, cookies, and brown sugar in a food processor and pulse to make fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and add the melted butter and vanilla.
Stir to combine and press into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan.
Use a metal (¼ cup) measuring cup to press around the edges and up the sides of the pan
Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Filling
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 T cornstarch
2 T hazelnut liqueur, optional
1 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Reduce temperature of oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water. 
Stir until smooth, turn off heat and set aside. 

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
Slowly pour in the sugar and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Beat in the cornstarch, hazelnut liqueur, vanilla extract, and eggs, one at a time.
Scrape filling into the pan with the cookie crumb crust.
Using a rubber spatula, add mounds of chocolate around the top of the batter. 
Using a knife, swirl in the chocolate a few times.

Bake for 30 minutes and without opening the oven door, turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in oven for one more hour.
Remove and let cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Remove cheesecake from pan and place onto a serving plate.


Serves 8 to 10

Sunday, May 21, 2017

EASY EGGS BENEDICT

Eggs Benedict is the ultimate breakfast or brunch entrée. English muffins, Canadian bacon, and heavenly hollandaise sauce . . . what's not to love about this dish! Read through the recipe and place everything on the counter. The Easy Hollandaise Sauce is made in the blender and kept warm in hot water while making your foolproof poached eggs.

Lee’s Kitchen Tips:
If your eggs need a little bit of tidying-up, trim the edges with "kitchen only" scissors before placing on top of ham.
If you want to poach your eggs in advance, poach them for 3 to 4 minutes and place eggs immediately in an ice bath and refrigerate. 
Just before you want to serve and you have the plates ready, gently drop the eggs in gently simmering water for about 30 seconds, to reheat.



Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce
2 large egg yolks
1 T water
1 T fresh lemon juice
½ t sea salt
6 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Dash of cayenne pepper

In a blender, combine the egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and salt.
Blend until mixture is light in color and frothy.

Heat butter on top of stove in a small saucepan until it starts to bubble.

With blender running on slow speed, pour the hot butter in a thin stream through the top and blend until well combined and thickened. 
This could take a minute or two.

Set blender in a bowl of warm water while making the eggs.

2 T unsalted butter, divided
4 slices of good country ham or honey glazed ham
2 English muffins

4 eggs, room temperature
1 T white vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
A few snipped chives, for garnish

In a cast-iron skillet, over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter.
Brown the ham on both sides then set aside on a plate, cover and keep warm.

Add the other tablespoon of butter to the skillet and place the opened English muffins face down in the skillet to brown and soak up the flavor of the ham slices.
Turn off the heat and keep muffins warm.

Foolproof Poached Eggs
Halfway fill a 2-quart saucepan with water. 
Bring to a gentle boil and add the vinegar.

Crack eggs into four small bowls.

Using a large slotted spoon, stir the water to make a little whirlpool in your pan.
Gently slip eggs into the swirling water.
Turn off heat, cover the pan with a lid and set your timer for 4 to 5 minutes, depending upon how you like your yolks.

To Assemble
Place one or two slices of English muffins on each plate.
Top with the browned ham slices.
Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs, one at a time and hold over your other hand with a tea towel to catch the water.
Place the eggs on top of ham, upside down.
Add some black pepper and spoon Hollandaise Sauce over.
Sprinkle with a few chives and serve.

Serves 2 to 4

Saturday, May 20, 2017

HAMBURGER STEAKS WITH ONION-MUSHROOM GRAVY

My mom would make hamburger steaks (AKA Salisbury steaks) for weeknight meals. She preferred to roast a chicken or beef or make fried chicken on Sundays and I am the same way. This is such a Southern comfort meal. Mama didn't add the mushrooms, but I love mushrooms. Serve this with mashed potatoes and a side of collards or peas.




1 lb lean ground beef
1 t sea salt
½ t fine ground black pepper
½ t paprika
½ t garlic powder
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
¼ cup plain dry breadcrumbs
2 T unsalted butter
1 yellow or sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
6 white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and thinly sliced 
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 t beef concentrate or Kitchen Bouquet

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, egg, and bread crumbs.
Shape into 4 somewhat oval patties.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the butter.
Once butter has melted, brown the patties on each side for about 5 minutes.

Remove patties to a plate and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the sliced onion and mushrooms.
Cook onions and mushrooms for 15 minutes, stirring often.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mushrooms and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the beef broth and beef concentrate or Kitchen Bouquet and stir well.

Return beef patties to the skillet, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.

Serves 4