Friday, March 3, 2017

Crawfish Étouffée


A couple days ago, I shared the recipe for the King Cake we made for Mardi Gras.  But we had some tasty Cajun food before we had the King Cake - we made crawfish étouffée.  We used the recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.


Ingredients:
  • Seasoning Mix
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. dried sweet basil leaves
    • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 cup chopped onions
  • 1/8 cup chopped celery
  • 1/8 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3/8 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups seafood stock
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails (get Louisiana crawfish if you can - they are much better than the Chinese ones!)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped green onions
  • 2 cups hot cooked rice
Yield: 4 servings



Thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.


In a separate bowl, combine the onions, celery, and bell peppers.


In a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron), heat the oil over high heat until it begins to smoke (about 4 minutes).  With a long handled metal whisk, gradually mix in the flour, stirring until smooth.  Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the roux is a dark red-brown (about 3-5 minutes).  Be careful not to let it scorch in the pan or splash on your skin.


Remove from heat, and immediately stir in the vegetable mix and 1/2 tbsp. of the seasoning mix.  Continue stirring until cooled (about 5 minutes).


In a 2 quart saucepan, bring 1 cup of the stock to a boil over high heat.  Gradually add the roux and whisk until thoroughly dissolved.  Reduce heat to low and cook until the flour taste is gone (about 2 minutes), whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and set aside.


In a 4 quart saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the crawfish and green onions, sauté about 1 minute, stirring constantly.



Add the remaining 1/2 stick of butter, the stock mixture, and the remaining 1/2 cup of stock.  Cook until the butter melts and is mixed into the sauce (about 4 to 6 minutes), stirring constantly.


Add the remaining seasoning mix, stir well and remove from heat.  Serve immediately by mounding 1/2 cup of rice on each serving plate, topped wth 3/4 cup of the étouffée.


This was really yummy, if you like Cajun food, I definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Cream Cheese King Cake


Did you have good Mardi Gras?  We did!  We celebrated with crawfish étouffée, King Cake, and Hurricanes!  Today I'm going to share the recipe we used to make the King Cake - I'll be putting up the étouffée and Hurricane recipes later this week.

To make the King Cake, we used the Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake recipe from Southern Living with a few changes.

Ingredients:
  • Dough
    • 8 oz sour cream
    • 8 tsp. sugar
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1 (1/4 oz) envelope active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1/2 tbsp. sugar
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 3 to 3 1/4 cup flour
  • Filling
    • 3/8 cup sugar
    • 1 8-oz package cream cheese
    • 1/2 egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • Creamy Glaze
    • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. melted butter
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp. lemon zest
    • 1 tbsp. milk
  • Purple, green, and gold sparkling sugar sprinkles

Makes 1 King Cake (approximately 8 servings).


Cook the sour cream, 8 tsp. sugar, 2 tbsp. butter, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often until the butter melts. 


Set aside and cool the mixture to 100ºF.


Stir together the yeast, 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 tbsp. sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  The mixture should bubble like in the picture above.


Beat the sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, egg, and 1 cup flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixture until smooth.  Reduce the speed to low and gradually add enough remaining flour (about 2 cups) until a soft dough forms.


Place the dough in a well-buttered bowl, turning to grease the top.  


Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough in doubled in bulk.


To make the cream cheese filling, beat 3/8 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1/2 egg, vanilla, and 1 tbsp. lemon zest at medium speed with an electric mixture until smooth.


Punch down the south and roll it into a 22 by 12 inch rectangle.  Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly on the dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders.  Instead of putting a plastic baby in the cake, we like to put a pecan in the filling - it definitely tastes better!


Roll up the dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion.  Place the dough roll, seam-side down, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bring the ends of the roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching the edges together to seal.


Cover and let rise in a warm place about 20-30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.   Then bake at 375º for 15 minutes or until golden.  Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.


To make the creamy glaze, stir together 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp. melted butter, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, and 1 tsp. lemon zest.  Gradually stir in the 1 tbsp. milk until you reach a spreading consistency.  The glaze should be fairly thick.  Drizzle the creamy glaze over the warm cake.



Sprinkle with the colored sugars, creating bands of purple, green, and gold.


Enjoy!


Did you make anything special for Mardi Gras?  Are you giving anything up for Lent?  Let me know!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cinnamon Cake Donuts


Last week, we made cinnamon cake donuts for brunch.  These make a great quick breakfast or snack to grab when you're on the go - but they don't last long since they're so tasty.


Ingredients:
  • 1/4  cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • peanut oil
  • Cinnamon Sugar
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon


Cream the shortening.  Then add the sugar and eggs and beat well.  


Add the baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.  Add the flour alternatively with the milk (I did one cup of flour and about 1/4 milk each time).


Add enough flour to make a dough that is stiff enough to handle.


Put the dough on a floured board or a pastry cloth.  If you have granite countertops, you can roll the dough out directly on them.  Roll the dough into 1/2 inch thickness, and cut with a donut cutter.


Fry in the peanut oil, turning over as soon as the first side is golden brown.


Remove from the oil when the other side is golden brown and drain on a paper towel.


While the donuts are still warm, put them into a brown paper lunch bag (doubled is best) and shake with cinnamon sugar.


These donuts make a tasty breakfast!


Have you ever tried making donuts before?  Let me know!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Screaming Pussycat Cocktail


I thought I'd share another one of my original cocktail recipes today - I call this one the Screaming Pussycat.  I named it after my cat Travis, who is by far the most vocal of our three felines.

Ingredients:
  • 2 oz grapefruit vodka
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz orgeat
  • 1 cup crushed ice
For the vodka, I like Deep Eddy's grapefruit vodka, but any good grapefruit vodka will work.  Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup and it can be a little difficult to find, but it is a necessary ingredient in a lot of tropical cocktails, including Mai Tais.  You'll probably want to go to a big liquor store to look for it - you might want to call to make sure they have it.  If you can't find it locally (I could never find it when I lived in Boston), you can order it online at Finest Call or a lot of other places. 


Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.


Serve in a tiki mug or your glass of choice.


And here's our very own Screaming Pussycat.  MEOW!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Eggs Benedict


Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a recipe for Eggs Benedict - it's a great way to make a tasty brunch for your someones special.  Or even just yourself!


Ingredients:
  • 8 eggs
  • 8 pieces of Canadian bacon
  • 4 English muffins
  • Hollandaise sauce
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
    • Dash of Tabasco
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Break the English muffins in half and lightly toast each half.  Heat up the Canadian bacon in the microwave for 1 minute.


Poach the eggs in simmering water on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until cooked.  We use poach pods which makes poaching eggs easy and keeps the egg from feathering in the water.  I really recommend these - they make it so much easier to do!  If you use them, lightly coat the pods with cooking spray before putting the eggs in them.


When you're done, you have perfectly poached eggs!


To make the Hollandaise sauce, I used the blender method in James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.


Combine the egg yolks, salt, Tabasco, and lemon juice in a blender and blend on the high setting, just enough to blend the mixture.  


Heat the butter until it is bubbling, but not to the point it is browned.  Remove the insert from the lid of the blender, turn the blender on high and pour the hot butter in a thin, continuous stream.  When the butter is absorbed and the sauce thick, turn off the blender.   If you need to thin the hollandaise, add 1 tablespoon hot water into the sauce while the blender is running.


Assemble the Eggs Benedict by putting one slice of Canadian bacon on an English muffin half, then put the poached egg on top of the bacon.  If you used poach pods to poach the eggs, turn the poach pod upside down over the Canadian bacon and gently push on the bottom - the egg should slide right out.


Pour the hollandaise over the eggs and salt and pepper the eggs to taste.


Eggs Benedict makes a tasty brunch or a delicious breakfast-for-dinner dish.

Are you planning on cooking anything special tomorrow for Valentine's Day?