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Thursday, February 9, 2017

IT'S MARDI GRAS TIME!!!

chicagotimes
Now that football season is officially over, I'm looking for something to celebrate!  I'm in Atlanta, Georgia - a long way from New Orleans, but - I can still enjoy good food in the comfort of my home. So grab some friends, family, neighbors and sample this menu:

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!!! 
(let the good times roll!)
aka FAT TUESDAY - FEBRUARY 28, 2017

MENU:
OYSTERS BIENVILLE
RATATOUILLE
SHRIMP ETOUFFEE

BANANAS FOSTER

SAZERAC

OYSTERS BIENVILLE
(Adapted from epicurious)
epicurious
This recipe is from famed Antoine's in New Orleans.

1 bunch shallots, finely chopped
2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 egg yolk
Ice cream salt
1/3 cup dry white wine
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
2 dozen oysters on the half shell
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté the chopped shallots in the butter and slowly stir over a very low heat until the onions are well cooked, but not brown. Sprinkle the shallots with the flour and cook until the flour begins to brown. Add the chicken broth and the mushrooms and mix well. Beat the egg yolk into the wine and add to the chicken broth mixture, beating all the while. Season with the salt and cayenne, and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.
Heat a pan of ice cream salt in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Place the oysters on the half shell in the hot ice cream salt and return to the oven for about 5 minutes. Spoon the sauce over each oyster and sprinkle with a mixture of the bread crumbs and cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the bread crumb mixture is lightly browned. Two dozen oysters served this way will serve four.


RATATOUILLE
(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
foodnetwork
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup diced zucchini squash
1 cup diced yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes.

Add the green and red peppers, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.

SHRIMP ETOUFFEE
(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

foodnetwork

6 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell peppers
2 cups chopped celery
2 TBSP minced garlic
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBSP Essence, recipe follows
1 quart shrimp stock
3 pounds medium shrimp (21 to 25 count per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
Steamed white rice, for serving
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion tops, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until the color of peanut butter, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the shrimp stock.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of Essence and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP salt
2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP black pepper
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP cayenne pepper
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Can be made and stored in an airtight container in advance.

Shrimp Stock:
1 lb (about 1 quart) shrimp shells and heads
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrots
3 smashed garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
Place the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander and rinse under cold running water for several minutes.
Combine the shrimp shells and remaining ingredients in a heavy 6-quart stockpot, add 4 quarts water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim to remove any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, skimming occasionally.
Remove the stock from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container; let cool completely. Refrigerate the stock for up to 3 days or freeze in airtight containers for up to 2 months.

BANANAS FOSTER
Brennan's
brennans
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
1/4 cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet.
Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.
When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.
Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

SAZERAC
Esquire
esquire

1 Sugar Cube
2 1/2 oz. rye whisky
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters
absinthe
lemon peel
old-fashioned glass

In an Old-Fashioned glass (not a mixing glass; it's part of the ritual), muddle a sugar cube with a few drops of water.
Add several small ice cubes and the rye whiskey,* the Peychaud's bitters, and the Angostura bitters.**
Stir well and strain into a second, chilled, Old-Fashioned glass in which you have rolled around a few drops of absinthe (no substitute really works, but you can try either a mix of Pernod and green Chartreuse, or Absente) until its inside is thoroughly coated, pouring off the excess.
Garnish with a twist of lemon peel (some insist that this be squeezed over the drink and discarded; Handy wasn't so picky).

* Esquire says: Use the good stuff, if you can find it: Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (13 years old), or Sazerac Rye (18 years old).

** Optional. It's not in the original recipe, but it's traditional nonetheless, and it's not bad.

Here are a few fun facts about Mardi Gras (from the Chicago Times) I thought were interesting:
* Thank Pope Gregory XIII for adding the event to the calendar in 1582 on the day before Ash Wednesday, which Lent, the 40 days of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter Sunday.
* Another name for Mardi Gras is "Shrove Tuesday." The word "shrove" comes from the "shrive," which means "to confess." Going to confession is an unofficial practice of Catholics to prior to starting the 40 day spiritual journey of Lent.
* International names for Mardi Gras include: Martes de Carnaval in Mexico, Fastan in Sweden, Martedi Grasso in Italy, J'Ouvert in Trinidad, and Karneval in Germany.
* Like many holidays we celebrate today, the festivities include evidence of pagan tradition.  Feasting and masquerades, which are important parts of today's Mardi Gras celebrations, were also parts of the ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

* It wouldn't be Fat Tuesday without purple, gold and green beads, but how did those colors come to be symbolic with the holiday? The King of the first daytime carnival in 1872 selected those colors based on their associated meaning and he would toss them to people he thought fit that meaning.
Purple = justice
Gold = power
Green = faith
* New Orleans was not the first American city to host a parade for the occasion. That was Mobile, Alabama. Louisiana is where the celebration originated in North America, though, and for that we can thank France for sending  the LeMoyne brothers in 1699 to defend France's claim in Louisiana, as they brought the holiday with them.
*  New Orleans held its first Mardi Gras parade in 1837. Floats appeared 20 years later.
* Lawmakers in Louisiana made Mardi Gras a legal state holiday in 1875. It is still observed in parts of the state and is also a state holiday in Alabama and Florida.
Masks are a fun part of Mardi Gras, but if you're riding on a float, don't leave home without one. It is illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras parade float in New Orleanswithout wearing a mask.
* Mardi Gras may be the day before Lent, but it also marks the end of Carnival season, which begins Jan. 6.
* It is also known as Pancake Day or Paczki Day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 SUPERBOWL!!!


Super excited that our favorite hometown NFL team is headed to the SUPERBOWL!  Sadly, we didn't get picked in the lottery for season ticket holders, so we'll be watching the game at home with friends.  But the good news is, we can sort of tailgate at home with great food and we get to see all those fun commercials!


VS



MENU:

SALTY:
BEEF BRISKET SLIDERS
LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN WINGS
CHEESY BACON SPINACH DIP
SMOKED GOUDA CHORIZO DIP
CHIPOTLE SALSA AND CHIPS
THE BIG SALAD

SWEETS: GERMAN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

DRINK DU JOUR:
THE DIRTY BIRD

BEEF BRISKET SLIDERS
(Adapted from Rachel Ray)
rachelray

1 flat-cut beef brisket (4 lbs.), trimmed
1 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp EVOO
1 can (12 oz.) cola
1 can (14 oz.) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
16 small potato rolls or 8 potato sandwich rolls
1/2 cup chipotle-flavored mayonnaise
4 small dill pickles, cut on an angle into thin slices
16 thin slices swiss cheese

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the brisket dry, cut into 6 equal pieces and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the chile powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Drizzle the EVOO over the meat and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the chile powder mixture and toss again. Add half of the meat to the hot skillet and cook, flipping once, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large, lined slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining meat.

Pour 1 cup cola into the skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spatula. Pour the cola mixture and tomatoes into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until the meat is tender, about 6 hours. Wash the skillet.

Transfer the meat to a plate and let cool. Pour the juices from the cooker into a 1-qt. glass measuring cup and let stand until the fat rises to the top. Skim the fat from the juices and discard. Pour the juices into the cleaned skillet. Bring the juices to a boil over high heat, cooking until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Shred the meat with 2 forks. Add to the skillet; toss with the juices and remaining 1/2 cup cola. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Preheat the broiler. Open the rolls but do not separate, then place cut side up on 2 baking sheets. Spread with the mayo. Place 2 pickle slices on each roll bottom. Lay a slice of cheese, folded lengthwise, across the entire roll. Broil the rolls, 1 sheet at a time, until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sheet of rolls. Using tongs, transfer the meat to the buns. Fold up and serve.

BAKED LEMON PEPPER WINGS
(Adapted from The Wicked Noodle)
4 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 TBSP Lemon Pepper seasoning

Preheat oven to 400F.
Toss chicken wings and oil. Place wings on a wire rack set on a baking sheet, taking care not to crowd wings. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Remove wings from oven. Mix melted butter and lemon-pepper seasoning and brush liberally onto wings (stir butter mixture as you go to make sure you have plenty of seasoning for each wing).
Place on platter and serve immediately.

Be sure your sheet pan has sides to catch the grease! If you use a flat pan that has no sides, the grease will drip onto the bottom of your oven and cause it to smoke.


CHEESY BACON SPINACH DIP
(Adapted from damn delicious)
damndelicious

6 slices bacon, diced
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 TBSP mayonnaise
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 TBSP fresh chives or 1 tsp dried chives
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Alternately you can cook the bacon in the microwave, and then drain on paper towels.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie dish with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, Parmesan, mayonnaise and Worcestershire.

Stir in bacon, spinach, chives, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread bacon mixture into the prepared baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheeses.

catebogue
Place into oven and bake until bubbly and golden, about 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with more bacon and parsley, if desired.

SMOKED GOUDA CHORIZO POPPERS
(Adapted from Food Network)
foodnetwork
2 links Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1/2 pound smoked gouda, shredded
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1 egg
1/2 cup cream cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon hot sauce (recommended: Frank's Red Hot)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 large jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Brown chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese, red onion, egg, cream cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste. Press into jalapeno halves and assemble on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

CHIPOTLE SALSA
(Adapted from Closet Cooking)
closet cooking
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (preferably fire roasted)
1/2 cup white onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
2 TBSP lime juice (~1 lime)
salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything in a food processor.




GERMAN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
(Adapted from Averie Cooks)


catebogue




Good German Chocolate Cake is my favorite cake, so when I stumbled upon this recipe for German Chocolate BROWNIES, I just HAD to try them!  They're made with dark chocolate, so they're decadently rich and chocolatey and then topped with the traditional German Chocolate Coconut topping - - - OMG!  They're THAT fabulous!

Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 TBSP brewed coffee (leftover or cold coffee is okay), optional but recommended
1 tsp instant espresso granules, optional but recommended
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

Topping/Frosting
1/2 cup (4 ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and quartered
2 large egg yolks (discard whites or save for another use)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes
heaping 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted if desired

Brownies - Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil leaving overhang and spray with cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan; set aside.

To a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, chocolate, and heat on high power to melt, about 2 minutes. Stop to check and stir after 1 minute. Heat in 15-second increments until chocolate has melted and mixture can be stirred smooth.

Allow mixture to cool momentarily before adding the eggs so they don't cook ~ 5-10 minutes. Then add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, optional coffee, optional espresso or instant coffee granules, and whisk vigorously to combine.

Add the flour, salt, and stir until smooth and combined without overtaxing.

Turn batter out into prepared pan (I usually give it a good "thwack" on the counter to make sure the batter is even in the pan).

Bake for about 22 to 26 minutes, or until center has just set and is no longer glossy. A toothpick should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow brownies to cool in pan on top of a wire rack while you make the topping.

Topping/Frosting - To a medium saucepan, add the evaporated milk, butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, and heat over medium-low to low heat for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened.

Whisk constantly or there's a likelihood you'll have scrambled eggs in the bottom of your saucepan. The mixture should be boiling gently while whisking.

Remove pan from the heat, add the vanilla, and whisk to combine using caution because the mixture could bubble up.

Then add the coconut, pecans, and stir to combine.

Allow topping to cool in pan for about 5 minutes. How gorgeous is this?:

Then spread the topping over brownies, using a spatula. YUM!

Allow brownies to cool uncovered for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving. If you can, cover after they're cooled, and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight --- they're much easier to slice when chilled.
catebogue


THE DIRTY BIRD
catebogue
This drink is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy and the red color supports both teams, but I created it for the Falcons!
1 oz vodka (for 4 drinks = 4 oz or 1/2 cup)
3 oz cranberry juice (for 4 = 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice)
4 oz lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite or Fresca (for 4 drinks = 2 cups)
Lime wedge




Combine first 3 ingredients in a glass and stir.  Top with a lime wedge.

GO FALCONS!!!!


google images


PS - the Falcon's didn't pull off the Super Bowl win sadly, but we had a ball "tailgating" while watching the game (well at least pre-game and the first half, the 2nd half of this year's super bowl - not so much!). Will be licking our wounds a long time after this game...

*all photos are mine unless otherwise noted
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