Saturday, July 31, 2010

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish usually come fully into season midway through Lent. As a result, one of my family's favorite Easter dishes is Crawfish Fettuccine. It's a nice fattening celebratory splurge after the restrictive fast of the Lenten period so this is the only time I make it!! This dish is absolutely fabulous and really not all that difficult to prepare. You will need a very large pot and two large 9x13 casserole dishes (or equivalent), however. This recipe makes enough for a fairly large gathering or you can have plenty of leftovers. It also freezes well. Just put it into gallon size ziplock bags and squeeze all the air out before sealing the bag closed. Lay the bag on its side and flatten it as much as possible before placing it in the freezer. Shrimp may be substituted for the crawfish. Beware! Crawfish Fettuccine produces cravings!!!

2 lg onions, chopped
1 bellpepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 sticks butter
2 12oz pkgs fettuccine
¼ cup flour
1 qt Half & Half
1 can mild chopped green chili peppers
4 lbs crawfish tails with fat (or peeled Small to Medium Shrimp)
1 lb Mexican Velveeta cheese, cut up into chunks
Grated Parmesan cheese

Put pasta on to cook. In the large pot, saute vegetables in 2 sticks of butter. Add flour, blend well. Add peppers & crawfish. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until crawfish are done. Raise heat a little, add cheese and Half & Half slowly. Stir frequently until cheese melts. Drain cooked pasta. Add remaining stick of butter to crawfish mixture and allow to melt. Stir well. Mix pasta and crawfish mixture together until well blended. Separate mixture into 2 lg greased casserole dishes. Sprinkle liberally with Parmesan cheese and bake @ 350 for approx 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and browning on top. Serve with a nice salad and french or garlic bread.

Apple Bread

I love apple bread any time of the year! More importantly, I love the warmth it brings to my home and that wonderful apple cinnamon aroma that lingers for a day after! Through the years, I've tried several recipes until I finally found this one and it's the best I've ever had! This recipe is very moist, wonderfully soft and best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea in the winter or sweet iced tea in the summer.

8 Tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 apples (Any apple will do, I prefer JonaGold)
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4-6 oz chopped pecans (optional)

Peel and core the apples. Dice into small cubes, set aside. Mix softened butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and milk, mix well. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to the butter and sugar mixture and blending well. Mix in the apples. Lightly mix in the optional pecans. Carefully pour mixture evenly into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and bake at 350 F for one hour. Remove from oven and let rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.

***If your oven runs hot, it's been cooking less than an hour and the bread looks ready, reduce the heat to 300 F or lower and continue cooking for an entire hour or your bread will be raw in the center.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gourmet Chicken Salad with Snow Peas and Water Chestnuts

Southern Belles love their Chicken Salad and it is a summer staple in kitchens throughout the South. While there are many variations, I developed one myself that is a hit in my own home as well as at parties and luncheons! Snow Peas and Water Chestnuts give this chicken salad an Asian flair while the garlic and Tony's lend a delicious Cajun flavor. Lots of garlic is key in this can't go wrong with this version! Serve it with sweet iced tea, a Chardonnay, freshly baked croissants and fresh cut fruit.

2 pkgs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lg onion, ¼ chopped fine
3 lg stalks of celery, 1 stalk chopped fine
4 cloves garlic minced
4 green onions chopped
1 lb snow peas
2 cans sliced water chestnuts
1/3 cup White wine
Reserved chicken broth

Place chicken breasts in large pot. Cover with water (1” over top of breasts). Cut length of 2 celery stalks in half and ¾ of onion and add to pot. Season water with Tony’s & garlic powder (or salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic powder). Cover and cook until breasts are just done and firm but not falling apart. Remove breasts, reserve broth and allow both to cool.

While chicken is cooking, add about 1 cup mayo, white wine, garlic, green onion and remaining chopped onion and celery to a large mixing bowl. Season liberally with Tony’s and stir well. Add water chestnuts and snow peas, stir well to coat and allow to sit while chicken cooks and both chicken and broth cool.

When chicken is cool, cut it into large bite size chunks and place in the bowl with the seasoned vegetable/mayo mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of broth, more mayo as needed and stir, doing so until you get the desired consistency and the chicken is coated well (I like mine a little dry). Check seasonings adding more garlic, Tony's and salt, if necessary. Yummy!

***Note: I place the cooled broth in a ziplock bag and freeze it for future use! Seasoned homemade broth is better than store bought any day!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Creole Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee (pron: Ay-too-fay) is sometimes mistaken for Crawfish Stew. The difference between Cajun cooking and Creole cooking is Cajun food is more "country" cooking and Creole food is more refined "city" or French cooking. The Cajuns used roux's and heavy seasoning whereas, the Creoles used delicate, rich creams and their food was lighter in color and taste. This is a fine example of Creole Crawfish Etouffee. Compare the ingredients and photographs to my Crawfish Stew recipe.

1/4 pound butter
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half-and-half
4 lbs crawfish tail meat

Melt butter in large heavy-duty pot. Add onions, peppers, garlic and all seasonings. Saute, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add flour and mix thoroughly for 1 minute, stirring often. Add whipping cream and half-and-half. Cook until cream thickens but does not boil, stirring often.

Add crawfish tails. Stirring often, cook until meat and vegetables are done. Crawfish may be substituted for shrimp.

Here is another version:

4 lbs crawfish tails
2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 can cream of celery soup
2 lg onion, chopped
2 bunch green onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbs parsley, chopped
2 sticks butter
Tony's seasonings

Saute' onions, green onions, and garlic in butter in a pot until onions are browned and wilted. Stir in cream of celery and cream of mushroom. Increase heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in crawfish and Tony's seasoning. Cook for about 10 minutes and reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle parsley on top. Serve over hot rice.

Court of Two Sisters

One of my very favorite places to go in New Orleans is to the Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. I always request, and wait for, a table on the patio. The food is divine, the atmosphere relaxing, the setting gorgeous and of course the music is live New Orleans Jazz!

The history behind this wonderful restaurant was two Creole sisters and the notions shop they owned on this site that gave The Court of Two Sisters its name. However, 613 Rue Royale has long played a significant role in the history of the French Quarter and old New Orleans.

Originally known as "Governor's Row", the 600 block of Rue Royale was home to five governors, two state Supreme Court Justices, a future Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and a future President of the United States. It is not surprising, then, that the original resident was Sieur Etienne de Perier, royal governor of colonial Louisiana between 1726 and 1733. It has also been rumored that the outrageous Marquis de Vaudreuil, the colonial royal governor who transformed New Orleans from a marshland village into a "petit Paris", was once a resident of 613 Rue Royale.

The two sisters, Emma and Bertha Camors, born 1858 and 1860 respectively, belonged to a proud and aristocratic Creole family. Their "rabais", or notions, outfitted many of the city's finest women with formal gowns, lace and perfumes imported from Paris. Marriage, reversals of fortune, widowhood - nothing could separate the sisters. Indeed, as the New Orleans Times-Picayune was to report, the sisters died within two months of each other in the winter of 1944. United in death as in life, the sisters lie side by side at St. Louis Cemetery #3.

The best time to go is in the spring when the wisteria over the patio is in full, fragrant bloom and the weather is cool and pleasant.

While there, tour the entire building as it's an exquisite example of New Orleans French Quarter architecture.

Crawfish Stew

In my younger days *ahem*, I spent the weekend on a dear friends houseboat on Lake Verret in Louisiana and went waterskiing with friends up and down Bayou Corne. We attended a bonafide Cajun wedding on the bank deep in the bayou and the reception was held in a shack up on pilings high above the water accessible only by boat and you had to climb this TALL ladder to get in the house!

We had a huge crawfish boil one night and some local cajun friends joined us. After everyone finished eating, several of us peeled all the remaining crawfish and packed the tailmeat in ice chests.

The next day an older cajun couple came back to visit and the cajun woman taught me how to make Crawfish Stew. I learned alot that weekend from her and others. That's when I learned how to Cajun dance too!

The difference between Crawfish stew and Crawfish Etouffee is the stew is a cajun dish and is made with a dark brown roux while the etouffee is a creole dish and is made with cream.

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup flour
1 lg onion, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 bellpepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 lg can tomatoes, chopped
¼ tsp tobasco
2 tbl worchestershire sauce
4 lbs crawfish tails
salt pepper cayenne & Tony's to taste
Approx 1-1/2 – 2 cups water
Cooked rice

Make a roux with oil and flour. Add vegetables except tomato and saute until cooked. Add tomatoes, sauce and seasonings blending well. Add crawfish tails and water, stir well. Simmer on low heat until cooked down, about 1 hour. Serve over hot rice with a salad and french bread.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Southern Fried Corn

A southern summer favorite, Southern Fried Corn is one of the dishes my grandmother used to make from fresh home-grown corn that we would go pick and shuck ourselves. She would serve it with fried chicken and sliced home-grown tomatoes. It was my favorite summertime meal! This dish is great for anyone who cannot eat corn on the cob such as children with missing front teeth or who are in braces. It is certainly not a low fat dish but, darn, is it good! It's a lot of work so I usually only make it once every summer and put some up in the freezer for later.

12 ears of fresh corn (white or yellow)
2-3 tbl bacon grease (trust me!)
2 sticks butter
1/2 can evaporated milk
salt & pepper to taste

Shuck and clean corn. In a large bowl, holding the cob tip down, take a sharp knife and cut the tops of the kernels off down the length of the cob from base to the tip.

Then using the blade, scrape the knife down the length of the cob to the tip to remove the pulp.

When the cobs are clean place them on a rectangular baking pan, add 1/4 inch of water to the pan and soak all turning them to get the cobs wet. Then "wring" them to remove the corn "milk" and set it aside.

In a large 16" skillet, heat bacon grease and butter until melted, then add the corn and corn "milk". On a medium high heat, fry until it is mostly cooked and has turned a darker yellow, stirring to prevent scorching. Add evaporated milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Check seasonings and serve!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Bedroom Balcony

This is the view of my bedroom balcony. It's so gorgeous, I thought I'd share it. You can see why I refer to my bedroom as "The Tree House"!

Odds And Ends Cooking

I love making a great meal by just pulling odds and ends out of the fridge. Last nite, I had 1 lb shrimp, leftover cooked angel hair pasta, butter, garlic, green onion...ok, I thought...Shrimp Scampi. Then I found some heavy cream and fresh grated parmesean cheese! Shrimp Alfredo! Gotta love cooking from scratch! Accompanied by a side salad with romaine and a home grown tomato, a little green onion, a pinch of anchovy paste, a splash of Italian dressing, salt, pepper...YUMMY

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Edith Head's Chicken

Edith Head was a famous Hollywood costume designer who worked for Paramount and Universal from the late 1930's to the early 1980's. She designed gowns for famous actresses such as: Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly and was the costume designer for equally famous movies: Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Rear Window and Breakfast at Tiffany's. She also designed Tippi Hedren's wardrobe for The Birds! This is one of her favorite recipes that my grandmother found in Life Magazine in the 1960's. It became one of my grandmother's favorites as well as my mother's and mine.

2 pkgs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 lb fresh sliced mushrooms
2 lg cans black olives
1 bunch chopped green onions
3 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 cans chicken stock
1/2 cup cooking sherry or dry white wine
1/2 stick butter and 1/3 cup olive oil
salt pepper, paprika
Tony's, to taste
Rotini spiral pasta

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Saute in butter and olive oil until brown. Add mushrooms, olives and green onions, cover and simmer until vegetables are wilting. Sprinkle with flour and stir until blended. Add chicken stock, garlic and wine, stir. Sprinkle with paprika and blend. Simmer till tender. Serve over rotini pasta.

***See Tips and Information on Tony's.

Spinach Madeline

A Southern Holiday favorite for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Easter or any special occasion, this versatile dish is excellent year round. It compliments any type of entree: roast beef or steaks, turkey or cornish hens, baked ham and fish. It can also be served as a dip with melba toast as is or by adding lump crabmeat or steamed shrimp. I sometimes make it just because!

2 packages chopped spinach, frozen
4 tbsps butter
2 tbsps flour
2 tbsps chopped onions
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup reserved spinach liquor
½ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp celery salt
¾ tsp garlic salt
6 ounces Velveeta Mexican cheese, cubed
salt and red pepper to taste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquid. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onions and sauté 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Add evaporated milk, spinach liquor and Worcestershire sauce slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook mixture until smooth and thick, stirring constantly. Add seasonings and cubed cheese. Stir until melted and combine with cooked spinach. This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs. The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350.

***Note: See Tips and Information on Velveeta Mexican Cheese

Shrimp Creole

Shortly after college graduation in December, 1990, I was staying at my paternal grandparents for Christmas. All my cousins and I were gathered there and were watching "Driving Miss Daisy" that night with my grandmother as she had been given a VCR and that video for Christmas.

After a filling Christmas lunch, we began to get hungry again so my grandmother pulled out some Shrimp Creole for us to thaw and eat. I hadn't eaten Shrimp Creole my entire time in college and it was warm, comforting and soothing. I asked my grandmother where she got the recipe. She said one of my aunt's made it and she pulled out an old, small, yellowed pamplet-type cookbook and showed it to me. Funny, it was produced by family members of my maternal great-grandmother! I was stunned!

My maternal great-grandmother was Bernadette Landry of the Landry family from Sorrento, Louisiana who settled there after migrating from Nova Scotia. Her cousins founded Don's Seafood, an old establisment in Donaldsonville and Baton Rouge back in the 1930's. Since then the business has expanded all over Louisiana and into Texas. This is their recipe taken from that same small recipe pamphlet Don's produced back in the 1960's. It's one of my favorite winter comfort foods, is so easy to make and very healthy!

2 lbs peeled shrimp
1 med onion chopped
½ bellpepper chopped
4 stalks celery chopped
4 green onions chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 lg can tomato sauce
1 lg can tomato paste
2 tbl parsley
½ cup oil
1 tsp sugar
3 cups water
salt, pepper, cayenne, Tony's to taste
Parboiled Rice

In a bowl, season shrimp with Tony's, salt, pepper and cayenne. Heat oil in large pot, cook vegetables (except garlic) until wilted. Add tomato paste and fry 5-10 min until it begins to brown or change color, stirring constantly. Add tomato sauce and cook another 5 min. Add 2 cups of water. Cook about 40 min or until the oil comes to the top, stir constantly. Use more water if mixture gets too thick. Add shrimp garlic and sugar, stir well. Check seasonings. Cook 30 min or until shrimp are tender. Serve over cooked rice.

***See Tips and Information on Tony's and Parboiled Rice.
*** I double and sometimes triple this recipe so that I can freeze it for later use!