Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stuffed Creole Tomatoes

Mmmm, I've added a new delicious side to my repertoire.

I picked up these Creole tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday. They were on the small end of the spectrum, but it was no matter. I just allotted two for a serving, though I'm sure with larger tomatoes, one would be sufficient.

Another note on the tomatoes: I'm not sure about the availability of this variety, but if you're not available to procure the Creole tomatoes, feel free to substitute with beefsteak or what have you. It shouldn't make too much of a difference.

I began by hollowing out my tomatoes--using a serrated knife to cut out a square around the stem of the tomato, then twisting out the whole top. Because these tomatoes were so small, I mainly used my fingers to remove the pulp.

At this point, you can either reserve the pulp to mix into the filling, or you can forget to do this and use Bloody Mary mix instead. I "chose" option B, and it was amazing.

But that's a little ways down the road. I preheated my oven to 350 and prepped the ingredients for the rest of my filling.

Hollowed tomatoes, roughly chopped mozzarella, garlic, onions, diced turkey breast
I heated a 12-inch skillet to medium-high, added a bit of olive oil, and then threw on the onions and garlic. (I wish society would allow me to perfume myself with the scent of simmering onions and garlic. Just a little dab behind the ears and on the nape. I would make the people so famished, oh, how they would hunger. (Benefit two: no vampires.))

Once they had softened, I added in the diced turkey breast and sauteed it until it began to brown.

Then I added in salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, and about a tablespoon and a half of Bloody Mary mix. I stirred up the ingredients to combine, then took it off heat and stirred in the mozzarella.

I spritzed a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and then positioned the hollowed tomatoes.

I de-hollowed them with delicious filling and sprinkled breadcrumbs over each tomato.

Then I topped them with a sliver of butter and placed the baking sheet in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling started to bubble.

These babies accompanied--and threatened to outshine--filet mignon (seared in my cast-iron skillet and finished in the oven) and smashed potatoes (prepared by my wonderfully helpful--and grateful--boyfriend!)

Stuffed Creole Tomatoes
Serves 2 (as a side)

5 small creole tomatoes (or 2 - 3 large tomatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 turkey breast slices, diced
1/3 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 teaspoon dried thyme (next time, I'd love to use fresh herbs)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon butter


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mahjouba (Algerian Crepes)

It's the weekend, which means I actually have time to cook!

Last night we went to Texas de Brazil, that glorious house of delicious steak bites and Parmesan chicken and garlic-crusted pork and an unfairly vast salad bar. We kind of jumped the gun on celebrating Andy's graduation, Christmas, and two and a half years together (which have been amazing, and I absolutely can't wait for whatever's next.)

But this evening I rejoiced in cooking for myself again.

I saw this recipe on Saveur.com, and I set out to recreate it as best I could with the help of Fresh Market. I was unable to find semolina or red Holland chiles, but I substituted brown rice flour and Anaheim green peppers.

I began by chopping up the onions, carrots, and chile.

Then I put the mixture into my food processor and chopped the vegetables up until they were finely processed.

I heated up three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and added the vegetable mixture. I cooked them, stirring often, for about twenty minutes--until all the components were very soft and tender.

Then I stirred in the tomato paste. After a few minutes, I added the freshly crushed tomatoes to the mixture. I continued to cook in a very stirry fashion for about forty to forty-five minutes.

Meanwhile, I made the crepe dough. I combined the rice flour, salt, and water in a bowl, kneading it together in a large ball. I then formed six smaller balls out of the motherlode.

I froze four of these balls--planning to make more crepes soon with different fillings! One with ham, swiss, dijon, and a bechamel sauce sounds absolutely delicious--and let the others rest under loosely draped plastic wrap for thirty minutes.

Once the filling was done caramelizing, I stirred in the chopped cilantro and set it aside to cool.

I took the dough balls one at a time and placed them on a (highly) floured work surface, sprinkling more flour on top, because these buggers were sticky.

I used the heel of my palm to press the dough out, flattening it into a vague rectangle about 10x12.

Mid-pressing. I would never commit any dough-wielding crimes, because the fingerprints would be a nightmare.
Once the dough was fully spread out and paper-thin, I placed 1/2 cup of filling in the center and spread it into a smaller rectangle.

I then gently lifted the long sides of the rectangle with a flour-dusted pastry cutter and folded them over the filling.

Then I folded over the shorter sides. I heated up a 12" skillet to medium and carefully placed the crepe seam-side down, toasting it for about eight minutes on each side.

And here we have it! A nice, fairly healthy and exotic Sunday night dinner!

Mahjouba (Algerian Crepes)

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 Anaheim pepper, de-stemmed, de-seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 14-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes

3 cups brown rice flour
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons salt

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rice-Seared Trout with Sage and Walnut Butter

I've been subsisting off leftovers since Thanksgiving, like most thankful Americans, but I broke the streak last night by going out for delicious Lebanese food with my boyfriend. And now tonight I've actually cooked for myself!

I combined a couple of trout recipes I looked up, did a little improvising on my own, and came up with this little beauty. Flavorful, juicy, and--rumor has it--healthier than turkey, cornbread dressing, and spinach madeleine.

First I made the sauce to be drizzled over the cooked fish. I combined the ingredients (listed at the bottom of the recipe) and whisked them up right nicely. The sauce was where I found myself improvising most, adding ingredients to taste. The grapefruit juice--for instance--was on a whim, but it worked wonderfully!

I set aside the sauce and used my food processor--or rather, the food processor attachment to my immersion blender--to grind up the jasmine rice. This stage of the recipe made me realize that if I ran a meth lab, it totally would have blown up my neighborhood a long time ago. With much lower stakes, I merely had a kitchen floor and counters full of grains. When my spice grinder was giving me far too many unattractive arm muscles--and consuming a lot of time--in producing ground rice, I attempted to use my immersion blender in a cereal bowl full of rice.

No bueno.

I got a deeper bowl!

...still no bueno.

I realized the rice needed to be safely contained to control its eruptions, which is when I arrived upon the absolutely ingenious idea of the food processor. It's fortunate that my blades are much sharper than their wielder.

I heated up a skillet to medium high, added the rice, and toasted those jumpy buggers.

I placed the toasted rice to the side to cool.

Then I took my cast-iron skillet and melted the butter over medium-high heat, adding in the sage chiffonade at the same time.

Once the butter was completely melted, I added in the walnut pieces. Once the butter had browned, I strained it into a bowl and discarded the sage and walnuts.

I took each filet and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Then I coated it in butter and dredged it in the toasted rice. (I chose to keep the skin on my filet, but everyone else had their filets skinned.)

I reheated my cast-iron to medium-high, then added two filets at a time, skin-side down. Pressing down on the filets with a spatula, I seared them for about five minutes (until the skin was opaque) and then flipped them over and gave them another 10 - 20 seconds.

After that, I simply drizzled the fish with the sauce I'd made earlier and it was ready to serve! I kept the sides simple--a steamer bag of shelled edamame and toasted ciabatta bread. A lovely return to the kitchen, all in all.

Rice-Seared Trout
4 trout filets
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice

Sage and Walnut Butter
1/2 cup sage leaves, chiffonade-style
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
6 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eggs Hussarde (Classic New Orleans Breakfast)

I attended the Louisiana Book Festival this past weekend, which was coupled with gorgeous, brisk weather. I got to spend the day running into friends and exploring the State Capitol.

In addition to all that, I picked up a copy of Brennan's New Orleans Cookbook, published in 1961 and jam-packed with recipes from the historic New Orleans restaurant. I love old cookbooks, even if I frequently find myself gaping at the amounts of butter called for and clucking, "Okay, Mrs. Antoine Deshotels, maybe not THAT much."

This recipe I chose for this morning is essentially Eggs Benedict with the addition of marchand de vin sauce and a tomato slice.

The key here was timing, with making the sauces from scratch and poaching the eggs. I started with the marchand de vin sauce. My dad used to make this for beef tenderloin, and it's a rich, silky beaut of a sauce.

First I melted the butter (so much butter, so I cut down on it slightly), and then added the chopped mushrooms, onions, shallots, garlic, and ham.

I sauteed these for about 7 minutes, until the onions were golden-brown, and then I added in the two tablespoons of flour and Tony Chachere's seasoning (if this isn't available in your area, add salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne).

I let the mixture cook for another 8 or so, minutes, then added in the red wine and beef stock. I brought the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Normally this would be the time when I'd enjoy a glass of wine or watch something on TV, but it was 11:30 in the morning and I also had to get moving on the other components of the dish.

First the hollandaise sauce. I made a double boiler by filling a medium saucepan with water, and heating it up to medium. Then I fitted a stainless steel bowl over the top of the pan and added the four separated egg yolks and lemon juice and beat them together lightly. I didn't want the water to come to a boil and cook the sauce too quickly, so I monitored the heat and kept it fairly low.

Then I added the butter (diced up so it would melt more easily) and stirred the sauce almost-constantly with a wooden spoon, adding the butter in chunks.

Once the butter was stirred in, I added salt and pepper and let it cook on low until the sauce had thickened.

Meanwhile, I heated up two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium skillet and added the Canadian bacon slices and asparagus, sprinkling them with Tony Chachere's.

I also filled a large saucepan with water and a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar, then brought it to boil for the poached eggs.

The ham cooked for about three minutes on each side, and the asparagus cooked for about a minute longer than that. I set those aside and added in the tomato slices.

As the tomatoes cooked (about 3 - 4 minutes on each side), I took both the sauces off heat and set them to the side.

Then I began poaching the eggs, taking them one at a time. I cracked each egg into a measuring cup (1/2-cup size would be best), then brought the cup close to the surface of the water and poured the egg gently into the pan. Each egg took about 4 - 5 minutes to poach.

As each egg cooked, I compiled my ingredients into the final product, creating a little bed for the poached egg to nestle in once it was done.

First I placed a toasted English muffin (and a side of asparagus) on each plate.

Then I added the Canadian bacon.

Next came the marchand de vin sauce.

Then the browned tomato slice.

Then I carefully removed the poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon and placed it on top of the tomato.

Finally, I spooned hollandaise sauce over the egg.

Then I died of happiness.

Eggs Hussarde (Classic New Orleans Breakfast)
(ingredients listed serve 2, though each sauce creates more than enough for additional eggs, tomatoes, etc.)

2 English muffins, toasted
2 slices Canadian bacon
2 tomato slices
Tony Chachere's seasoning (or substitute mixture of salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder)
Marchand de vin sauce
Hollandaise sauce
1 bunch asparagus, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Marchand de vin sauce
1 stick butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced ham
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's seasoning
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup beef stock

Hollandaise sauce 
4 egg yolks, separated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks butter

Monday, October 8, 2012

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Ooooh, boy. What a mix of deliciously tangy catfish with fresh vegetables and sweet coconut milk. Each bite was impressively flavorful.

It was so nice out today that I didn't get started cooking till it was dark out, just because I wanted to sit outside and bask in the sun I rarely get to enjoy at work.

Then I got to chop up vegetables, drink wine, listen to The Mountain Goats, and hang out with my lovely boyfriend--so I didn't necessarily neeeed the fish stew to make my day, but I welcomed it anyhow. I have a generous spirit.

Once those on Dice/Slice Row had been dispensed of, I tossed the fish pieces with lime juice, olive oil, half the minced garlic, salt and pepper, then set them aside.

I heated up two tablespoons of olive oil in my Dutch oven, setting it over medium-high heat. Once the oil was heated, I added the remaining garlic, the large diced onion, and half the diced green pepper. I cooked these until they were tender and translucent (about four minutes.)

Then I added the diced tomato, cooking it down for five minutes. As it began to mush, I poured in the coconut milk, wine, and vegetable oil. The mixture came to a boil, at which point I added the fish and cooked it for about six to eight minutes.

I then added remaining veggies (sliced tomato, sliced onion, and other half of the green pepper) and stirred to combine. I covered the oven and let it cook for another five minutes--don't reduce the heat!

I then removed the lid, stirred in the cilantro and basil, and seasoned the dish (after tasting) with salt and pepper.

Ladled it over rice, snapped some pretty pictures, and then sat down to enjoy the stew with the latest episode of Homeland. Perfect.

Brazilian Fish Stew
Serves 3 - 4.

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless catfish fillets, cut into 2-in. pieces
2 large tomatoes, one diced and one thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons olive oil (one for fish, two for cooking)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 cup basil, minced
2 cups white rice, cooked

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jambalaya with Cajun Roasted Chicken and Sausage

Time again to share the best aspect of Louisiana culture with "all y'all."

I'm so glad the weather's starting to take a turn toward bearable, because I've missed boots and warm comfort foods and light jackets and all that. Also, I do hate to wilt.

We made this delicious jambalaya last weekend because I'd picked up chicken, sausage, and file powder at the farmers' market and I needed to put them to good use. With the help of my illustrious sous-chef Kayla (who likes to dice things while she drinks--a very useful quality I look for in friendships), I was able to enjoy this during my wonderful work-less weekend.

(Side salad: I'm having difficulty making it through the writing of this post without Seinfeld's Newman gushing "JAMBALAYA!"  in my head. Not completely painful, but a bit distracting...)

First I needed to cook the chicken. I preheated my oven to 325 degrees. Then I mixed together Tony Chachere's seasoning, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. I rinsed my chicken and patted it dry, then rubbed it with olive oil and the spice mixture.

I put the chicken in my trusty cast-iron skillet and arranged the onion slices around it, then drizzled oil over the pan.

I put the skillet in the oven and let it roast for two hours, re-oiling it halfway through.

Once the chicken was done cooking (it should be at an internal temperature of 180 degrees), I removed the skillet from the oven and  let the chicken rest for ten minutes before cutting into it. As for the broth and onions, I reserved them for the jambalaya.

After the aforementioned ten minutes, I carved into the chicken, slicing the procured meat into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, Kayla arrived and helpfully chopped up all the ingredients that needed chopping and added new playlists to my Spotify (after we went to get amazing corn dip), so obviously she was very good company.

In my Dutch oven, I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and added the sausage slices. I didn't use any seasoning here, because this sausage is to die for and I don't believe in messing with perfection. But if you are dealing with less-than-heavenly sausage, please sprinkle a little cayenne or Tony's in there! Treat. Yo. Self.

I sauteed the sausage until it was cook through, then set it aside with the chicken. I added fresh oil to the Dutch oven, then added in the peppers, onion, celery, and garlic and cooked them about five minutes, till they were translucent.

Then I stirred in the crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper, salt, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and file powder. To all this magical, well-seasoned, tomato-iness, I added the meat. I made sure the mixture was well-combined and then let it cook for about ten minutes.

Not the prettiest picture, but take my word that it all ended up more than OK.

Finally it was time to add the rice and the chicken stock (part of which I gleaned from the roast chicken, the rest supplied by store-bought broth), which can be a bit stubborn when it comes to cooking (unlike yours truly, who has never been bull-headed in her life, especially not in the kitchen.)

I brought everything to a boil, then let it simmer (covered) for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the liquid was gone and the rice completely cooked.

Then we scraped the pot clean.

Cajun Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, 2 - 3 lbs.
2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil


Cajun Roasted Chicken
10 oz. Cajun sausage (such as andouille), sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon file powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
10 oz. uncooked rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (part of which you can get from the cooked chicken)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grilled Whole Chicken Stuffed with Sausage, Greens, and Peppers


I went to the farmers' market yesterday and watched a cooking demonstration in which the brilliant, confident chef stuffed up her chicken with a sausage mixture and then grilled the whole bird up. The presentation just made me so happy and inspired that I had to rush home and turn my market bounty into a damn good dinner.

I (or rather my cousin Wade) heated up one side of the grill to medium-high, leaving the other side unheated so we could perpetrate some indirect grilling. This method allows you to semi-slow-cook the fowl beast into tender perfection without burning the outside first.

Then I removed the innards of the bird and rinsed it out, then set it aside.

For the stuffing, I heated up two tablespoons of olive oil in my skillet till shimmering. I tossed on the peppers and sliced sausage and let them sizzle for 3 - 5 minutes.

Then I added the greens and let them wilt (as they are wont to do). I kept adding chopped greens until I'd gotten a fair amount in the mix. I also added a bit of Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's if you can get it.)

I took the mixture off heat once all the greens had wilted, the sausage had cooked, and the peppers had grown tender.

I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and oregano.

Then I opened him up and stuffed him!

I probably had too much fun with this part.

For the stuffing, I used the sausage mixture and intermittently added garlic chevre. I packed the stuffing in there tightly.

Then I put it on the grill!

We closed the grill and let it cook for 30-40 minutes on the unlit side of the grill. It was able to get lots of good heat and browning this way.

Then we flipped the bird (unintentional!) and let it cook covered for another 30 minutes.

We took the chicken off the grill and let it rest for ten minutes before carving it.


Grilled Whole Chicken Stuffed with Sausage, Greens, and Peppers
1 whole chicken (mine was a bitty one, just 2 lbs., but I'd recommend 4 or 5 lbs.)
2 - 3 cups sliced Cajun sausage
3 small red and/or yellow sweet peppers, diced
3 handfuls mixed greens, chopped
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons oregano