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Showing posts from February, 2011

Creole Jambalaya

Sorry for the lack of postings, but I'm traveling. In London last night and Eindhoven, The Netherlands today. However, continuing on the Cajun/Creole theme, here's a new recipe.


When you look closely at the word jambalaya, you notice that it is actually three words. “Jambon”, from the French for ham, “ala”, as in the style of and “ya”, the West African word for rice. Shortened and pronounced as jambalaya.



Jambalaya is one of those dishes that seems to be claimed by both Creole and Cajun alike, so here’s my hat in the ring.

Ingredients 

3 Tbsp. Butter 1 lb. lean Pork, cut into ½ inch squares ½ lb. Tasso ham or other baked ham, cut into ½ inch squares 1 lb. Andouille, Creole or Chaurice sausage, cut into ¼ inch pieces 2 large Onions, finely chopped ½ cup green Pepper ½ cup green Onions 4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Parsley 3 Sprigs fresh Thyme, or ½ tsp. dried thyme Pinch of ground Cloves A few grindings of fresh Black Pepper 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper, if you do not like i…

How to make a Roux

A roux is the fundamental base for many classic sauces and is essential in Cajun and Creole cooking. It is a wonderful way to thicken a sauce and is easy to make. The one key to a roux is that the flour must be cooked long enough for the flour to lose its raw taste.


Ingredients 

1/2 - 1 cup of vegetable oil or butter, but not olive oil. 1/2 - 1 cup of flour, all purpose 
Note: If you don’t need this much roux, just use less ingredients, but keep the equal parts ratio.


In a heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven and turn the heat onto medium. Let it heat for a few minutes and then add the oil and allow it to heat for a few more minutes. This is my trick to allow the oil to heat first, as I find that this can allow you to make a perfect dark roux in as little as 30 to 45 minutes.

Now add the flour and stir with a figure eight motion for as long as you need to reach the darkness of the roux you need. I like to use a wooden spoon to make my roux, and the only key at this point is don’t stop stirring or …

Cajun 101- Gumbo

Gumbo can be made so many different ways and books have been written about just the different combinations.However, this is one of my favorite versions as it is smoky and dark. The flavor needs time to develop, so don’t try and rush it. The slower it cooks the better it will be.

The key to a great gumbo is the roux. Making a good roux is easy, if you follow the steps exactly and again don’t rush. Check back to the earlier posts on making a roux.
Always serve with freshly steamed white rice. I like to medium grain, as it gets nice and sticky. It seems to hold up better with gumbos and jambalayas.

Ingredients 

3/4 cup of vegetable oil 3/4 cup of all purpose flour 2 large onions, chopped 1 large green pepper, chopped 1 cup of celery, chopped with the leaves included 1 lb. of Andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced in half and then in ¾ inch pieces. 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes, or skinless chicken thighs 6 cups of hot water 1 Tbsp salt ½ tsp. cayenne pepper 3 bay leaves ½ tsp. thyme, o…

The King Arthur Flour Catalogue

Such a busy week, but finally a moment to post and such a wonderful surprise today in the post. The King Arthur Flour catalogue arrived today and what a joy. It is certainly one of my favorite catalogues and has so many great recipes, specialty flours and first class baking pans and fun gadgets.

Make sure you visit their site at www.kingarthurflour.com and sign up so you can receive their catalogue. Here is the link to request a catalogue http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/landing.jsp?go=DefaultCatSignup&ref=pub1

Tomorrow I will post one of their scone recipes.

Now, back to the champagne.

Ciao

Onion Tart with Gruyere and Thyme

This tart was epic, so I wanted to share the recipe. I was really happy with how it turned out and once again it was so easy to prepare. The only time involved was in reducing down the onions, but you don't need to do much, it just takes time.



As I have said before I am a big believer in frozen pie crusts as long as they are of the best quality. I have found a brand at Whole Foods which are excellent and frankly, I can't tell a big  difference from made from scratch. The brand is called Wholly Wholesome and they are the Organic Traditional 9" Pie Shells. www.whollywholesome.com


However, pie crusts was never one of my specialities, so if you enjoy making crusts, then go ahead and I'm sure it will be stunning.


Ingredients

4 large Onions, peeled and very thinly sliced 4 oz of Butter 4-5 springs of fresh Thyme, with herb stripped away and stems discarded 4 Eggs 1 pint of Heavy Cream, also known as whipping cream or double cream 1/2 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese Freshly grated Nutm…

Pistachio Sauce

I think this sauce is wonderful and it is just perfect on any sort of kebab or grilled meat. I have not tried it on chicken yet, but I can imagine it would be great.


As it keeps well in the refrigerator, you can make a batch and then just allow it to come up to room temperature before serving it. You can always add a bit of water to thin it down as well.


Ingredients

10 oz of pistachios, shelled and ground in a small food processor
1/2 cup tahini
Juice from three lemons
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup of water


Begin by grinding your pistachios in your food processor. You want them to be finely ground, so the sauce will be smooth. Then add the lemon juice, garlic and pulse until mixed. Add in the tahini a bit at a time. It will get very thick, but don't be concerned, as you will add your water to thin it down. If it is still thick, you can always add more water. You want it to be the consistency of a thick sauce.


When you are ready to serve it, just pour it over your keba…

Kebabs with Pistachio Sauce

I have been awful, not writing for a few days and after promising all of these yummy recipes. Most sincere apologies. Hopefully you will think this one is worth the wait.


I really like this recipe for a few reasons. One, it is easy to prepare, two, it can be made in advance and three, it tastes amazing. For me, this ticks all my boxes.


The important part here is to make sure you read through the recipe first. Also, have your meat ground twice. In other words, ask your butcher to run it through the grinder a second time, and three would be even better. It really integrates the fat into the meat and gives you the moistest kebabs you can imagine.


I would recommend serving this with a Pinot Noir, or if you prefer white, a bold German Riesling.


Ingredients

2 lbs of ground lamb or beef or combination of the two.
3 garlic cloves, crushed
10 oz of finely chopped shelled pistachios, I find it easier to grind/chop them in a small food processor.
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked hot …

Prawns with Orange and Cilantro

This is a perfect light salad or mezze to compliment any sort of kebab, or even on it's own. The freshness is just stunning and carries the prawns to an entirely different place.


12 large Prawns/Shrimp, shelled and boiled just until they turn pink.
2 Blood Oranges, or if not available, a normal orange or tangerine, peeled, segmented and seeded
15 small Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Shallots, chopped finely
1 Garlic clove, chopped
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 inch piece of fresh Ginger Root, grated
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 /2 tsp Cumin
1/4 Sea Salt
4 Tbsp chopped Cilantro


Peel, segment and seed the oranges,  and set aside. Boil the prawns until just pink, maybe 3-4 minutes maximum and allow to cool and then mix with the oranges in a serving dish.


Slice the tomatoes and then add with all other ingredients into a food processor and blend, then toss over the prawn and orange mixture and serve or refrigerate.

This would be great with a Pinot Grigio or an Albarino from Spain.

Sunday Dinner by the Bosporus

Sunday is always one of my favorite days to cook, as I can relax and make it a real event. This Sunday was no different, and I made a Turkish feast. Here was the menu:
Beef Kebabs with Pistachio and Tahini Sauce Tomatoes with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac Prawns with Blood Orange and Cilantro Hummus Pita Bread Cardamom Ice Cream from Carmela’s in Pasadena

It was quite the feast and showed me once again how amazing and varied the food from the east can be. The flavors were unique, well matched and tasted great. Everything had a freshness and lightness that really satisfied without being heavy. Suffice to say, it was a great meal.
As I’ve said before, there is a well of recipes and tastes to be had from the foods of Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco, Persia and Greece. The more I discover, the more I want to expand my knowledge.


Wine 101- The Absolute Basics

I have been asked by many readers to give some basic information on wine. I have been trying to find a way to take a subject which is massive and concentrate it down into the essential basics and I think I finally have it, so here goes.


Wine has been around since ancient times. It is the result of grapes which have been pressed and then the juice is allowed to ferment. 


In ancient times wine was not aged, as there was no method to keep the wine airtight, so wine was normally drunk when it was young. In ancient Greece and Rome wine was packed  into clay amphora or large barrels. 


During the early Middle Ages and even somewhat in ancient times it was not unusual to dilute wine with water or flavor it with herbs to soften the flavor. As very few people drank water, this was essential as wine and or beer was drunk throughout the day.


As technology progressed they began to cork wine bottles and then often dipped the neck in wax to further seal it. This is first seen in approx. the 1770's. …

Pasta ala' Amatriciana

This was a specialty of Florence’s in the North End of Boston. The North End has traditionally been a home for Italian immigrants and is packed with great restaurants and bakeries. In addition, it is also the home of Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church. If you visit Boston, it is well worth a visit.

After I moved to the West Coast, I tried to develop Florence's recipe, and I think this is very close to the original.
This sauce can be made thicker and more concentrated by just using one can of tomatoes. It’s your choice.
I would serve this with any rich Italian red wine. One from the south of Italy would be regionally appropriate.

Ingredients
1 large finely chopped Onion 5 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped ½ lb. Pancetta (Italian Slab Bacon), either cut into ¼ inch cubes or ¼ inch strips 2- 28 oz. cans of crushed Tomatoes, or whole tomatoes that are lightly chopped in the processor. San Marzano’s are the best. 3 tsp. Red Pepper flakes or a few whole red chili peppers - Optional …

Ravioli with Fresh Thyme and Ginger

This is my interpretation of a meal I had in the Piedmonte region of Italy. We drove for hours into the hills above Turin and finally reached an old villa, and I ordered this dish. It was stunning and well worth the drive.
It is an interesting and subtle flavor. The combination of the fresh thyme and the fresh ginger really work well together. Use only fresh thyme and fresh ginger, as otherwise the results will not be acceptable.
Ingredients

8-10 fresh Ravioli or Tortellini, a simple cheese or vegan option would be perfect. 4 Tbsp Butter or non dairy spread such as Earth Balance 5 fresh Thyme sprigs, whole not chopped 1 tsp freshly grated Ginger Root Parmesan or non dairy substitute to finish
Start the water for your pasta. Heat your sauté pan and add the butter, thyme and grated ginger root and gently sauté. Do not brown.
Cook the pasta in salted water until just slightly under done. It will cook very quickly, so watch it carefully. 

Drain the pasta and transfer to the sauté pan with the butte…

Beef Stroganoff- A classic dish from a bygone era.

This is a classic dish that has fallen off of many European restaurant menus, but has remained as a house specialty in a few. The Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, is just such a place.

A meal at the Mount Nelson is like a trip back in time to colonial South Africa. Many dishes on their excellent menu are reflective of the new South African cuisine, but this one is a classic of an age gone by.


This dish was originally named for the Stroganoff family of Russia. During the time of Imperial Russia, they were probably the most wealthy and influential family second only to the Czar and his family, the Romanoff’s.
It is quite easy to prepare and just requires a bit of organization to get it right. As the French say, “mis en place.” Loosely translated to “everything in its place.”
Since it is very rich, I would recommend serving it with a Burgundy(Pinot Noir), St Emilion or a Rhone. I do not recommend this with a big meaty Cabernet Sauvignon or other Bordeaux, as it will be potentia…

Cheese Store of Pasadena - Go for a visit.

This is a reprint of one of the older posts, as I want to make sure everyone knows about this great store.

We finally have a proper cheese shop in Pasadena, so let's make sure we support them. This store is a joy to my taste buds.

The Cheese Store of Pasadena officially opened it's doors on October 10, 2010. Founded by husband and wife team, Louis and Natalia Pastis, it is a very welcome addition to our neighborhood.

It is light, airy, smells lovely and has a wonderful selection of cheeses from the rare and exotic to the basics. A knowledgeable staff, of which special mention must be made of Heidi and Sebastian, rounds out this perfect shop.

They offer more than ample samples of whatever strikes your fancy and generously offer up tastes of what everyone else is trying as well, so you have a mini cheese tasting while you try and decide what you want to take home. The key word here is try.

I chose a mixture of my favorite washed rind cheeses and a lovely English cheddar, chevre a…

Bolognese Ragu- True Cucina Italiano

A ragu’ is a sauce from the central section of Italy, specifically Bologna. It can be made a multitude of different ways, but there are some special preparation tricks, which will make it taste amazing.
It does take time to prepare, but if you like pasta and want a truly authentic Italian classic sauce, this is it. It's not a difficult recipe, but you need to follow the steps. It really can't be rushed.
You can use any meat you want, but I have found that the following recipe makes a really special sauce. In the central part of Italy, sometimes they use wild game like venison, duck, wild hare or cingale (boar). If you’re feeling adventurous, go for it!


Since this is such a dense and rich sauce, make sure you don’t overload the pasta. In Italy they toss the pasta gently with the sauce, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and serve it immediately.
This is one of those recipes that is great when served with fresh pasta. Traditionally, tagatelli or papardelli is the most common.


I w…