Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crawfish Etouffee

I made this yesterday (Mardi Gras) for a special. The flavors are deep, rich and spicy. The really dark Cajun roux is a little unnerving, and the ingredient list is long, but the results are satisfying and delicious. Based on a Paul Prudhomme recipe. I love Paul's use of three peppers (black, white, and cayenne), and I also admire his technique of plunging the aromatic vegetables (green bell pepper, onion, and celery-known as the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking) into the hot roux to instantly cook them.

2 teaspoons of salt

2teaspoons of cayenne

1 teaspoon of white pepper

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of dried basil

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

mix well and reserve

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3 cups fish stock or clam juice

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 pounds of crawfish tails, plus extra fish for garnish

1 cup minced green onions

cooked rice

Put the oil in a heavy bottomed pot and heat until smoking hot, add the flour and whisk continually until the flour reaches a dark reddish brown color. This will take up to 5 minutes and the mixture is extremely hot-be careful-and must be stirred continuously less the flour scortch and burn. Remove from the heat and add the vegetables and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix, stir until slightly cooled.

Add the stock to the roux and bring to the boil, simmer over low heat for several minutes.

In a separate saute pan, saute the crawfish in the butter, add additional seasoning mix to taste.

Combine the crawfish and the sauce and blend. Serve with steamed rice garnished with the green onions and whole fish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lebanese Spinach and Oil

I got this recipe from a book called "Lebanese Mountain Cookery" by Mary Laird Hamady. It is such a refreshing and simple treatment for fresh spinach. I added some garlic to the recipe and some fresh red currants. I was at Trader Joe's in the morning and could not resist the fresh currants, and I just added them to the spinach at the last minute.
1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup roughly chopped red onion

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 pound fresh spinach

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Juice of one lemon

Red currants (optional, but tasty and pretty-toasted pinenuts and golden raisins would also be good

Heat the oil in a saute pan and add the onion and garlic, saute over low heat until they are softened.

Wash the spinach and leave it a bit damp to help steam the leaves.

Add the spinach to the saute pan and wilt the spinach, remove from the heat.

Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red currants.

Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine's Dinner

We had a really successful Valentine's dinner. Sold out without any reservation cancelations or no shows-you almost always get that last minute cancellation so late you can't re-book it. Dinner started with three appetizers-cayenne candied bacon, tenderloin stuffed mushroom s with blue cheese crust, and seared tuna with ginger, wasabi, and sweet soy.

A chopped salad of mixed lettuces (romaine, chicories, baby greens), artichoke, hearts of palm, fennel, and toasted pine nuts dressd with lemon-mango vinaigrette was served next.

The entree was Tournados of Tenderloin with Morel mushrooms, roasted asparagus with Balsamic and almonds, and Potatoes Scalloped with Fontina and Roasted Peppers.

Dessert was a lovely chocolate cake, filled with white chocolate raspberry mousse, raspberry sauce.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Chicken Hash with Fried Eggs

I've been eating hash all my life, although my mom usually made it from left overs from a Sunday Roast Beef dinner. Probably the most famous is corned beef hash, but left over chicken is also tasty. I had some left over grilled chicken that I turned into Sunday breakfast.

2 Tablespoons butter

2 cups left over chicken diced

2 cups left over cooked potatoes, I used halved fingerlings

1/4 cup diced onion, red onion adds color

1/4 cup diced celery

1 red pepper, roasted and diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

Salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to taste

4 eggs

Melt the butter, and add the vegetables. Sautee everything for 10 to 15 minutes until they are soft and begin to caramelize and brown.

Add the chicken to heat through and season with the salt, pepper, and paprika.

Push the hash to the perimeter of the sautee pan, leaving the bottom of the pan completely exposed. Add a bit more butter or oil to prevent the eggs from sticking.

Gently break the eggs into the center of the hash, cover the saute pan and steam-fry the eggs until set, but leaving the yolks soft, dust the tops with additional smoked paprika.