Monday, December 31, 2018

SOUTHERN HOPPIN' JOHN

When you cook your black-eyed peas with rice, it is known as Hoppin' John. The southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year's day is believed to have started after the Civil War. It was first planted as food for livestock and the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as General Sherman's Union troops destroyed other crops. It became a nourishing food source for the surviving Confederates who considered themselves lucky. For the complete tradition, serve them with either, collards, mustard greens, or turnip greens, which represents paper money, and cornbread, which represents gold. Flavor them with ham and bacon and the tradition is complete. These legumes are a good source of calcium, folate, fiber, and vitamin A. 


1 ½ cups dried black-eyed peas
2 slices bacon, diced
1 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
½ red or green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t red pepper flakes
5 cups chicken stock
1 t dried thyme or 1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup diced ham (preferably Virginia ham)
Minced parsley, for garnish
Hot sauce, at the table

Pour black-eyed peas into a bowl and sort through them to make sure there aren’t any small pebbles.

In a saucepan, add the dried peas and cover with water to 2 inches above peas.
Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and let sit 3 to 4 hours.
Drain the peas and set aside.

In the same saucepan, cook bacon pieces until crisp. 
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Pour out most of the bacon grease and add the butter and sauté the onion, celery, and bell pepper for 10 minutes.
Add garlic and red pepper flakes.
Sauté another 2 minutes.
Add chicken stock, thyme, and black-eyed peas.
Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
Cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
Add rice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer slowly for 15 minutes, add a little more chicken stock or water, if too dry.

Stir in the diced ham and spoon into a warm serving bowl.
Garnish with bacon and parsley and take hot sauce to the table.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

CAJUN-STYLE SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO

Here is another recipe for Cajun gumbo with shrimp and andouille sausage. If you can't find andouille sausage, substitute kielbasa.



½ cup avocado oil or peanut oil
12 oz smoked andouille sausage, halved lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Cajun Seasoning 
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional, if you want a little more heat)
2 t dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
4 bottles clam broth
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced okra
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

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 oil and cook the sausage until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

To make the roux, whisk the flour into the oil in the pot.
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 10 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, thyme, Worcestershire, clam broth, beer, bay leaves, and the browned sausage.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and shrimp and simmer another 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder and let sit for 5 minutes.

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

Serves 4

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

CREOLE-STYLE SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO

To make a Creole or Cajun gumbo, you first have to make a roux. I like to use my well seasoned cast-iron stew pot to make gumbo. I also like to use a little less oil to flour ratio than most gumbos call for. Let your roux come to the color of an old penny before adding the "trinity".
I also added my recipe for Cajun Seasoning. Cajun seasoning does not contain dried oregano and basil. Traditionally Cajun food does not contain tomatoes. This recipe is for the more city-style version.




1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup peanut oil or avocado oil
12 oz smoked andouille sausage, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Creole Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional, if you want a little more heat)
2 t dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 (14.5-oz) can fire roasted tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes
4 bottles clam broth
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped okra, fresh or frozen
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

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

Place shrimp in a bowl and refrigerate.

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

To make the roux, whisk the flour into the oil in the pot.
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 10 minutes more.

Stir in the “holy trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the Creole Seasoning, paprika, cayenne, thyme, Worcestershire, tomatoes, seafood stock or clam broth, bay leaves, and the browned sausage.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and simmer another 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and simmer for 2 more minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder, cover with a lid, and let sit for 5 minutes.

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

Serves 4

Creole Seasoning
3 T paprika
2 T sea salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T dried thyme
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
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.


CAJUN-STYLE CHICKEN & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO

Cajun-style gumbo is a hearty stew created from the melting-pot of Louisiana cooking. The first known recipes were in the early 1800s. In the spring the gumbo would include crawfish, catfish, and other freshwater fish. Late summer was the time to make it with chicken, duck, goose, or other fowl raised at home. In the autumn and winter, it was common to use duck, squirrel, rabbit, and other wild game brought home by the hunter. 




½ cup avocado oil or peanut oil
12 oz smoked andouille sausage, halved lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional, if you want a little more heat)
2 t dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
3 cups chicken stock
6 to 8 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat and cut into 3 to 4 pieces
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced okra
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

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 oil and cook the sausage until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

To make the roux, whisk the flour into the oil in the pot.
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 10 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, thyme, Worcestershire, chicken stock, cut up chicken thighs, beer, bay leaves, and the browned sausage.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and simmer another 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder and let sit for 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with scallions and serve with cooked white rice and French bread or corn 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.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

BAKED BRIE WITH PECANS, DRIED CRANBERRIES, & POMEGRANATE SEEDS

This is a delicious appetizer to serve during the holidays.



8 oz round of Brie cheese
¼ cup honey
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Place cheese on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes, just to soften.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, simmer the honey, vinegar, cranberries, pecans, and pomegranate seeds for 5 minutes.

Place cheese on a serving plate and spoon sauce over the cheese and serve with crackers.



TWICE BAKED CHEESY POTATOES

Who doesn't love twice baked potatoes with cheese and bacon? My son and daughter love these at Christmas with a prime rib roast and Yorkshire Pudding. I just served these with pork chops and a big green salad. 


4 baking potatoes (Russet)
4 slices bacon
4 T unsalted butter softened 
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese or combination of cheddar and gruyere 
¼ cup whole milk 
¼ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ t paprika
¼ t granulated garlic
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper 
Chives for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Scrub potatoes with a brush under cold running water.
Dry potatoes with paper towels and brush with a little avocado oil or other vegetable oil. 
Stick the tines of a fork into the potato in a couple of areas.
Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp then crumble and set aside.

Let potatoes cool for 15 minutes then place potatoes on a cutting board and cut potatoes in half lengthwise. 
Scoop out most of the flesh with a spoon and place in a bowl.
Mash with a potato masher then stir in the butter, most of the cheese, milk, sour cream or yogurt, scallions, and half of the crumbled bacon.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Spoon back into the potato skins, top with the rest of the cheese and bake in the oven until cheese is melted and lightly brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and top with the rest of the crumbled bacon and garnish with a few chives, if desired.

Serves 6 to 8

Monday, November 19, 2018

CLAMS, CHORIZO, & BEANS STEW

Here is a Spanish inspired clam dish. The chorizo gives the stew a robust flavor.





½ lb dry-cured Spanish chorizo, sliced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 14-oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14-oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb fresh small clams, cleaned
½ t red pepper flakes
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil

Place a paella pan or large cast-iron skillet fitted with a lid over medium heat.
Add the chorizo and cook until crisp.
Add the onion and cook another 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the tomatoes, beans, and wine.
Simmer 10 minutes until the liquid is slightly reduced
Scatter on the clams, red pepper flakes, and half of the parsley.
Cover with a lid and cook until clams have opened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Ladle into 2 warm soup bowls and garnish with the rest of the parsley.
Drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil.

Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 2