Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Broccoli Rapini

     Italian Style Sautéed Rapini!
     Broccoli Rapini (Broccoli Rabe) has a bit stronger flavor than regular broccoli.  The Broccoli Rapini stalks, leaves and small florets are cooked and served intact.  Only the tips of the stalks should be trimmed.  Thick Broccoli Rapini stalks can be split lengthwise.
     Today's recipe is a standard Italian way of cooking Broccoli Rapine.  Garlic and olive oil enhances the strong Rapini flavor.  Broccoli Rapini can be served as a vegetable on its own.  Rapini can also be served with bread or pasta for a light lunch.

     Broccoli Rapini:
     This recipe yields 1 generous portion.
     Step 1:  Wash and clean 10 to 14 rapini stalks under cold running water.  (A fair portion is.)
     Trim the end of the stalks and split any thick rapini lengthwise.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add 2 to 3 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 3:  Add the broccoli rapini.
     Sauté and toss the rapini till it starts to wilt and become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2  cup of chicken broth.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Rapidly simmer and reduce till almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the rapini is al dente.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 7:  Place the rapini on a plate.
     Spoon the remaining garlic oil sauce from the pan over the rapini.  (Or spoon the garlic olive oil sauce over an accompanying portion of pasta!)
     Serve with Italian bread on the side.

     Italian Broccoli Rapini has a very satisfying flavor!  

Romaine Hearts with Dijon Caper Cider Vinaigrette and Garni

     A Simple Light Summer Salad!
     This is a busy looking salad that has a combination of light contrasting flavors.  The toasted pine nuts, egg and tomato add enough nutritional value to qualify today's salad creation as a light lunch.
     Not all cider vinegar is created equal.  Some of the bulk brands have a harsh sharp flavor.  Local small production brands of cider vinegar often are a better product.
     Capers have a strong brine flavor if they are not rinsed.  Briefly rinsing capers under warm water makes them much more palatable.  Soaking capers in water for 1 hour will yield an even mellower flavor.

     Pine Nuts Preparation:  
     Lightly toast 1 1/2 tablespoons of pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Shake the pan often, so the pine nuts toast evenly.
     Place the pine nuts in a container.

     Dijon Caper Cider Vinaigrette:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.  (Enough for 1 large salad.)  
     This vinaigrette should be slightly in the acidic side, so choose the best apple cider vinegar that is available!
     Pomace Olive Oil has a very mild flavor that is almost neutral.  Use canola oil or vegetable oil (soy oil) if the olive oil tastes too strong.   
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of rinsed capers.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.  (To taste.)
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Let the flavors meld for 5 minutes.
     Step 3:  Slowly add 3 1/2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil while gently whisking to create a loose thin vinaigrette emulsion.
     Set the vinaigrette aside and stir before serving.  

     Romaine Hearts with Dijon Caper Cider Vinaigrette and Garni:
     This recipe yields 1 large salad portion.  
     Step 1:  Cut a romaine heart into long thin wedge strips.  Cut enough romaine hearts for a fairly large portion of salad.
     Place the romaine heart strips in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Dijon Caper Cider Vinaigrette.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Stack the thin romaine heart strips on the center of a plate.
     Sprinkle 1/3 cup of chopped tomato over the lettuce.
     Sprinkle 1 chopped hard boiled egg over the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Spoon a small portion of the Dijon Caper Cider Vinaigrette the salad and onto the plate.
     Step 4:  Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the salad.
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the salad.

     Salad presentation styles like this are outdated by today's standards, but it was not long ago that this was a popular way to present a house salad in a restaurant.  This simple salad looks busy, yet the flavors go well together.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Cajun Jambalaya

     There are as many recipe variations of Jambalaya as there are cooks in Louisiana.  The two most famous are Red Jambalaya (Creole Jambalaya) and Cajun Jambalaya.  Red Jambalaya has tomatoes in the recipe and the base flavor is similar to a good Creole Tomato Sauce.  Cajun Jambalaya has no tomato in the list of ingredients.  Cajun Jambalaya requires making a dark brown roux, which gives this Jambalaya its dark color.  
     It is best to wear protective kitchen clothing when making a dark roux.  The roux is so high of a temperature, that just a little spatter can cause serious burns.  All of the meats and vegetables must be prepared ahead of time, because the vegetables are added to the hot brown roux to stop the cooking process.  The hot roux will instantly cook the vegetables and this is wear the great Cajun Jambalaya flavor begins!
     Cajun Jambalaya: 
     This recipe yields 2 hearty servings!
     Be sure to prepare all the meats and Trinity Vegetables ahead of time, because you must work fast after the roux is cooked! 
     Never cover a pot of Jambalaya with a lid!  Cook the Jambalaya uncovered, so the rice is lightly caramelized and crusty, just like making Spanish Paella. 
     Step 1:  *This vegetable mixture is known as the trinity. 
     Place 1 cup of chopped onion in a bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of mixed chopped green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped celery. 
     Step 2:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
     Add an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring with a whisk.  (The roux should look shiny, not caky.)
     Constantly stir with a whisk till the roux turns a deep brown color.
     Step 3:  *Adding the vegetables to the hot roux will create steam, so wear protective clothing!
     Immediately add the Trinity Vegetable mixture and wait for the steam to escape.
     Add 2 chopped green onions.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped garlic.
     Briefly stir till the vegetables start to cook.  
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to medium heat.
     Add 6 ounces of large diced raw chicken breast.
     Add 10 peeled large shrimp that have the tails removed.  (Devein the shrimp if the mud veins are dark!)
     Add 4 ounces of bite size pieces of Smoked Cured Ham.  (Use Tasso Ham if it is available.)
     Add 5 ounces of thick sliced Andouille Sausage. 
     Stir till the meats start to cook.  (The roux will stick to the vegetables and meat.  The jambalaya at this stage is almost like a thick solid mass.)
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 cup of shrimp broth.
     Add enough light pork broth to barely cover the ingredients.
     Stir the Jambalaya as it heats and thickens.  
     *The Jambalaya will turn into a medium thin sauce at this point.  Stir till the Jambalaya sauce becomes smooth.
     Step 6:  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1 bay leaf.     
     Add 2 pinches of basil.
     Add 2 pinches of tarragon.
     Add 2 pinches of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Spanish Paprika.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Stir the Jambalaya.
     Step 7:  Add 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice.
     *The amount of rice is a judgment call!  The proportion of rice should be 1 part rice to 2 1/4 parts sauce.) 
     Step 8:  Bring the Jambalaya to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.  
     Stir the jambalaya once every couple of minutes for the first 10 minutes.
     Step 9:  For the last 10-15 minutes, reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Simmer the jambalaya and do not stir it at all!
     *Allow the rice to brown and form a crisp crust on the bottom of the pan.  This is the key to making a great Jambalaya!
     Step 10:  After the rice is cooked tender, reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Scrape the browned crusty rice up from the bottom of the pan while stirring.
     Step 11:  Spoon a generous portion of the Cajun Jambalaya onto a plate.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     This tastes like is Louisiana Cajun Jambalaya heaven!  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Fried Catfish Nugget Salad with Louisiana Orange Remoulade

     Louisiana Style Summer Comfort Food! 
     Catfish is a sustainable fish and that makes today's summer salad all the better.  The meat is light and flakey with a light savory whitefish flavor.  Catfish is great for exotic preparations and classic French sauces, but selling catfish as a fine dining item is not the way to go.  This is because catfish is traditionally resigned to being down home country style comfort food.  
     Going to a local restaurant to get the "Friday Night All-U-Can Eat Fried Catfish Special" is an old fashioned southern treat!  At a restaurant or in a home kitchen, the best way to prepare catfish is pan frying or deep frying.  Corn meal and cracker meal coatings are the best choice for this fish.  
     I have mentioned that Louisiana remoulade sauces are usually identified by their color.  White and yellow color remoulade sauces originated in France.  The addition of ketchup turns the French remoulade sauces a pink or orange color.  If a remoulade has a pink or orange color, most folks simply refer to the sauce as being Louisiana remoulade.    

     Louisiana Style Orange Color Remoulade:
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.  (Enough for 3 or 4 large salad portions.)
     Yellow Remoulade is an old French style remoulade recipe that is made with the addition of yellow curry spices.  Adding ketchup to the recipe yields a Louisiana style orange color remoulade that tastes quite zesty.
     Louisiana style Creole Mustard is not always easy to find.  There really is no substitute for this specialty mustard. 
     In old Creole and Cajun recipes, the word shallot usually refers to scallions or green onions.       
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of mayonnaise in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of Louisiana Creole Mustard.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced capers.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced baby dill gherkin pickles (or Cornichon Pickles).
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced green onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of yellow curry powder.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of cayenne pepper.  (to taste)
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Mix the ingredients together.  The remoulade should have a yellow tint.
     Step 5:  Add just enough organic ketchup while stirring, to give the remoulade an orange color.  (About 3 to 4 tablespoons.)
     Place the remoulade in a container.
     Chill the remoulade in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.  
     Fried Catfish:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 large salad.
     It is better to have too much corn meal breading mixture than not enough.  Any extra can be sifted and frozen for later use.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of corn meal in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of Masa Harina (Nixtamal Corn Flour).  
     Season the corn meal mixture with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the breading mixture aside.  
     Step 2:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Whisk the eggs.
     Set the egg wash aside.  
     Step 3:  Cut a 5 ounce catfish filet into large bite size nuggets.
     Dredge the catfish nuggets in flour.
     Dredge the floured catfish nuggets in egg wash.
     Dredge the egg washed catfish nuggets in the seasoned corn meal mixture.  (Be sure that the catfish nuggets are coated evenly.)
     Step 4:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil or deep frying lard in a high sided pot to 360ºF.  
     Carefully place the coated catfish nuggets in the hot oil.
     Fry till the catfish nuggets are crispy golden brown and they are fully cooked.
     Step 5:  Use a fryer net to remove the fried catfish from the hot oil.
     Place the fried catfish on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the fried catfish nuggets warm on a stove top.

     Fried Catfish Nugget Salad with Louisiana Orange Remoulade:
     This recipe yields 1 salad entrée.
     Step 1:  Mound 2 cups of trimmed Boston Lettuce leaves on the center of a plate. 
     Place 4 tomato wedges on the plate around of lettuce.
     Sprinkle a few very thin slices of onion over the lettuce.
     Step 2:  Place the warm fried catfish nuggets on top of the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Spoon a generous amount of the Louisiana Orange Remoulade over the catfish nuggets and salad.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of diced red and green bell pepper over the salad.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sliced green onion over the salad.

     This is a nice café style salad entrée!  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pineapple Almond Chicken Salad

     Tropical Resort Style Comfort Food! 
     Today's salad recipe is pure tropical paradise stuffed into a pineapple!  This is a nice lunch recipe for those who wish that their bare feet were in the white sands at a Caribbean resort.  Of course this is a summertime recipe, but when the weather is still icy cold in late spring, dining on tropical resort style food can brighten the day!
     Pineapple Almond Chicken Salad:
     This recipe yields 1/2 stuffed pineapple that can be shared by two guests. 
     Salade Américaine (Mayonnaise Salad) stuffed pineapples are nice casual food.  Hollowing a pineapple half is not difficult to do!
     Sliced almonds can be toasted in a 300ºF oven or they can be tossed in a dry sauté pan over medium heat.     
     Step 1:  Select 1/2 of a chicken that weighs 1 1/2 to 2 pounds.  
     Season the chicken half with sea salt and black pepper.
     Place the chicken on a roasting pan.
     Roast the chicken in a 350ºF oven till it is fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Cool the chicken to room temperature.
     Chill the roasted chicken to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
     Step 3:  Remove the skin, fat and bones.
     Large dice the chicken meat.
     Chill the diced chicken till it is needed later in the recipe.
     Step 4:  Cut 1 pineapple in half lengthwise, through the fruit and green top leaves.  Save the other half for another recipe.
     Trim the leaf tips and cut off any sharp thorny tips.
     Step 5:  Cut a thin flat spot on the skin on the side of the pineapple, so it will stand upright on a platter without rolling over.
     Step 6:  Use a paring knife to remove the pineapple fruit and make a bowl inside the pineapple half.
     Chill the pineapple bowl till it is needed.
     Step 7:  Trim the fibrous core off of the pineapple fruit that was removed when hollowing the bowl.
     Discard the pineapple core.
     Large dice the trimmed pineapple fruit.
     Chill the pineapple fruit till later in the recipe.
     Step 8:  Place the chilled diced chicken in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced celery.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced onion.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Add 2 tablespoons of diced mixed green bell pepper and red bell pepper.
     Step 9:  Add the reserved chilled diced pineapple fruit from making the pineapple bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro.
     Add 2 tablespoons of lightly toasted sliced almonds.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Step 10:  Add 1 tablespoon of sour cream.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.
     Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the salad ingredients together.  (About 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup.)
     Mix the ingredients together.
     *Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper if necessary.
     Chill the chicken salad to 41ºF in a refrigerator.  
     Step 11:  Mound the chicken salad in the carved pineapple bowl.
     Set the pineapple bowl on a serving platter.
     Sprinkle some toasted sliced almonds on top of the salad.
     Garnish the plate with lettuce leaves and pineapple spears.
     This salad is lighter tasting than it looks because of the addition of pineapple fruit.  The almonds add flavor and crunch! 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fusilli Col Buco and Shrimp Marinara

     Fusilli Col Buco e Gamberi Marinara!
     Marinara is one of the world's greatest tomato sauces.  Marinara Sauce should always feature the finest Italian tomatoes.  This is the best sauce for showing just how good the tomatoes are.
     Marinara is not an overworked sauce or highly processed sauce, but it does require stirring every five minutes.  There is a large proportion of olive oil in Marinara Sauce.  Stirring frequently is the secret to combining the tomatoes with the oil, so the sauce does not take on a stewed tomato character.
     When Marinara is prepared ahead of time, the sauce can be chilled till it is needed.  Reheating Marinara to order is the best way to preserve the peak flavors.  For today's recipe, the shrimp are sautéed and Marinara is added.  After the Marinara reheats, the pasta is added and the meal is ready to serve.  This is a simple Italian restaurant style pasta that needs nothing extra added, because the flavor is great!  
     Marinara Sauce:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Classic Marinara Sauce
     Fusilli Col Buco and Shrimp Marinara:
     This recipe yields 1 pasta entrée.
     The Shrimp Marinara can be prepared while the pasta cooks.  After getting the pasta started, wait for 1 or 2 minutes before starting to cook the shrimp.  The shrimp and sauce only take a few minutes to prepare.  The goal is to finish the pasta and sauce at the same time!
     Step 1:  Start cooking 1 portion of fusilli col buco pasta in boiling water.  Cook the pasta till it is al dente.  (About 9 or 10 minutes.)
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 10 peeled and deveined large size shrimp (16/20 per pound).  Be sure to remove the tails!
     Season with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the shrimp are almost halfway cooked.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/2 cups of the Marinara Sauce.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce and shrimp warm till the pasta finishes cooking.
     Step 5:  When the fusilli col buco pasta is cooked al dente, drain the water off of the pasta.
     Add the pasta to the sauce.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together.
     Step 6:  Mound the Fusilli Col Buco and Shrimp Marinara on a plate.
     Pour any extra sauce in the pan over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese over the pasta.
     Serve with warm Italian bread or garlic bread on the side.
     No garnish is necessary!
     A simple delicious Italian Pasta!