Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crawfish Bisque

I love, love, love Crawfish Bisque but it's one of those things that I have never tackled on my own because it's so labor intensive. When I go out to eat, I always order something I wouldn't or don't make at home and this is one of those dishes.

However, I've helped others make it many times and it's always fun to do as a group because that's how we roll in Louisiana! Food, drinks, people = PARTY!!! Because we get a group together, we all chip in on the ingredients and make enough for everyone to take a good quantity home. That's the way to do this really...just turn it into a Crawfish Bisque party. Supply the kitchen, snacks and cocktails, invite friends over and cook!


2 lbs crawfish tails
60 cleaned crawfish shells
1-1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped bell pepper
2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
salt, pepper and Tony's to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grind crawfish tails, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and parsley in a home-style meat grinder or food processor. Once ground, add eggs and enough bread crumbs to hold the mixture together but not so that the stuffing becomes too bready. Begin with 1 cup. Season to taste. Stuff equal amounts into the 60 crawfish heads. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and fully cooked. Remove and set aside.


3 lbs crawfish tails
1-1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tbs minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3 quarts crawfish stock****
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt, pepper and Tony's to taste

In a heavy dutch oven, heat oil and flour to make a dark brown roux. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic; sauté until vegetables are wilted, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add crawfish tails and tomato sauce, blend well. Slowly add crawfish stock until sauce-like consistency is achieved. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and add stuffed crawfish heads. Stir well and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green onions and parsley and season to taste. Serve over white rice.

*** I would use Better Than Bouillon seafood paste and water for the stock and season with Tony’s.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Greg and Clifford, The Big Red Dog

When I was six, my family moved into a house with a very large yard in a nice neighborhood with lots of kids. To my incredible delight, next door lived a boy about 14 years old. He was a big, tall, strapping, muscular, tanned, shaggy haired blonde, blue eyed, handsome hunk of burning love! Did I say I was six??? I was IN LOVE!!!

Everyday, when Greg's bus was due to come down the street, I was already outside waiting, absolutely breathless, with butterflies in my stomach. You know, that electric feeling you get when you're madly, passionately in love? Again, did I say I was six?

At first, he was happy to see me when he gallantly hopped off the bus and ran towards me, but then, after a week or so, he became embarrassed as most boys that age do. However, as soon as the bus rounded the corner and was out of sight, he would come bounding out of his house to play with me....or do "homework" together, for which he would invite me over to his house to do. Oh my! A study date! Did I say I was in love and that I was six? Be still, my heart!

I would gather up my mimeographed coloring exercise and my little black, bound writing book with the white speckles all over it and go to Greg's to "study". There, I would work hard (tongue out and touching the center of my upper lip) to color and stay "in the lines" and write my name...and his....perfectly in my book while copying his every move. He would put his left hand under his did I. He stretched his left arm out parallel to his book, so did I. He would pick up a section of the newspaper and "flick" it to read, so did I. Then, he would break down into laughter and take me outside to play. He was the man of my dreams! He knew me inside and out and all of my worldly needs! Did I tell you I was six and in love?

When it would start to get dark and time for dinner, he would walk me home, give me a hug and kiss my cheek, and I would go in and tell my mother all about my "date" with Greg. She would listen and laugh and tell me that I had a crush on him and it was "puppy love". Well, she said that once too many times and I got really mad! Indignantly, I told her.....

MOM! It's not a crush! It's not "puppy love"! It's a CLIFFORD, THE BIG RED DOG KINDA LOVE!!!!! And ran crying from the room!

One of my favorite dishes at the time was Chicken And Spaghetti, so my mom used to make it for me when my feelings were hurt (turns out that it was his favorite too). It reminds me of Greg and my huge Clifford, The Big Red Dog stuffed animal that sat on my bed, in the center of my pillows by day, and slept with me at night and the even more humongous crush I had on him.

Actually, Greg and I kept in touch through the years and I truly, deeply loved him...we had a special bond, this admiration and respect, that grew out of this puppy love I felt for him and his love for me, the little girl next door. Greg passed away in the early 80's this month. There are a few more stories that I want to share about him, but I'll leave them for later.

Chicken and Spaghetti

1 large fryer, cut up OR
1/2 pkg boneless breasts or tenders AND 1/2 pkg boneless thighs
1 - 2 large jars Ragu Traditional Spaghetti sauce
1/2 bellpepper, chopped
3 large stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 lg bay leaves
salt, pepper to taste

Cut whole chicken fryer up into pieces. Brown pieces in oil on both sides. If using the tenders and thighs, just brown them, as is, in oil on both sides. Remove from pot. Add chopped vegetables to the pot and saute until wilted. Add sauce and half a jar of water, seasonings and stir. Return chicken to pot and allow to simmer until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool. If using cut up pieces, remove meat from bone and tear into bite size pieces. If using boneless pieces, tear or cut into bite size pieces. Return all to pot and allow to simmer while you cook the pasta. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary. Drain pasta and serve!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a very festive New Year celebration. We were all sick for the holidays, hence the lack of recipe postings for Christmas and New Year's. Yep, things got that bad. We stayed in our jammies, watched Christmas movies and ate my Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup (that I previously put up in the freezer) for Christmas. And for New Year's, I thawed out some of my Best Chili. Ya do what ya gotta do! Although we were sick, it was still relaxing to just lay around and not do anything. We did go out to eat later in the week, to celebrate Christmas but it's just not the same and I'm still feeling like I'm waiting for Christmas to come!

However, it's never too late to have your traditional New Year's dinner and actually that's what I did. Earlier this week, once I felt up to it, I went grocery shopping and bought a couple of pork tenderloins to cook. Since I was still feeling a bit under the weather, I bought (forgive me) cans of black eyed peas and mustard greens. I know...shame on me, but I've found some canned items that are just as good as homemade and since I still didn't have my strength back, I heated them up instead. I like Trappey's Black Eyed Peas with Smoked Bacon (primarily) or Bush's, if I can't make my own. And for greens my favorite is the Glory Seasoned brand, Mustard or Turnip Greens. All are as close to homemade as you can get in a canned product and worth it when you can't make your own.

The Stuffed Pork Tenderloin recipe is one that I have made with a larger beef tenderloin and it was fabulous! Because the pork tenderloins are smaller than beef tenderloins, I just simply "eyeballed" the size of the meat and adjusted the quantities accordingly. That's kinda how I roll with cooking, if you want to know the truth. Anyway, here's how I make it.

1 pork tenderloin
1/3 stick butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbl green onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 lb bacon

Using a sharp chef's knife, make a cut about 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep down the length of the tenderloin. Turn the tenderloin over a bit and keep following that lengthwise cut maintaining the depth of 1/4 - 1/2" until the tenderloin is unfurled and is a flat piece of meat about 1/4 - 1/2 inches thick. Some people make one or two deep vertical cuts but I like the "pinwheel" or "cinnamon" roll effect as it helps baste the meat from the inside once it's prepared, therefore maintaining moisture and preventing dryness and it's just as easy to do.

To the softened butter, add the minced garlic and combine well. Once the tenderloin is unfurled, season with salt and pepper on the inside only. Spread with garlic butter mixture and evenly sprinkle with chopped green onion.

Once the tenderloin has been spread with the garlic butter mixture, roll the tenderloin up and wrap it with bacon, then secure all with toothpicks being careful to secure the pork loin as well as the edges of the bacon.

Now, you can either bake it in the oven on a roasting pan or cook it outside on the grill. Inside, in the oven, bake at 350. On the grill, sear on high coals/heat, close the lid and cook until done. Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness.

Garlic Cheese Grits

GRITS! Yep, it's a totally southern dish but GRITS also stands for Girls Raised In The South! Ha! While it's historically been a breakfast food down here in the south, over the years, we've modified the traditional grits recipe to adapt it to the lunch and dinner table.

Previously we added scrambled or fried eggs to it, or added crumbled bacon, browned ground meat or sausage to it or some people spooned sausage or red eyed gravy over it. However, Southern Grits has finally grown up and made it as a special and beloved food on dinner tables and holiday menu's here in the south. No matter where you live in the contintental United States or abroad, if you can find grits, you can enjoy this satisfying, comforting and special side dish to grace your table be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy this wonderful cheesy garlic version!

**This is the original recipe from the early 1960's. Now with instant grits available, you can cook it according to the directions and add the cheese, garlic, butter and seasonings accordingly, to taste. I still make it the original way.

1 cup grits, uncooked
4 cups water
1 tbl salt
1 stick butter
1 lb cheddar cheese, diced, sliced or grated
3 tbl minced garlic
2 tbl worcestershire sauce

Cook grits in the salted water. When cooked, add butter, garlic, cheese and worcestershire sauce. On low heat, combine well until butter and cheese are melted. Salt and pepper according to taste. This can be served as is or placed in a casserole dish, topped with more cheese and baked at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes.

***Note: Shrimp is a favorite addition to grits, particularly Garlic Cheese Grits. I simply steam some peeled shrimp in seasoned water, drain and add to the grits. To steam peeled shimp, place shrimp in a microwavable bowl, add enough water to cover, season with Tony's, salt, garlic powder. Stir and heat in microwave until cooked, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to grits.