Friday, December 27, 2013

Cranberry Bread Pudding

I bought what I thought was Mediterranean olive loaf that turned out to be cranberry bread (one of my favs) it being the Christmas season I went looking for a bread pudding recipe. And wouldn't you know it I found one by  Emeril Lagasse I was able to adapt. His called for making a cranberry compote & adding it to a standard pudding where as I had a loaf of cranberry bread; however the volumes are similar since I adore cranberries I did add more Crains.

(Prep Time:45 min -- Cook Time 1 hr -- Serves 10)

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
(I used crystallized sugar cane juice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecan pieces, toasted and rough chopped
2 cups half-and-half (I used milk)
8 slices stale bread (I chose not to remove crusts but
cut into 1/2 inch cubes about 4 cups)
Shaker confectioners' sugar
Sprigs fresh mint

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 6-cup (9 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 2 3/4-inch) loaf pan with butter.
Whisk together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla until very smooth. Stir in half-and-half. bread and pecans. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until the pudding is set in the center, about 55 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Garnish with confectioners' sugar and mint.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Green Bean and Aritchoke Casserole

        2 lbs green beans
        1 9-oz. package frozen artichoke hearts.
        1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
        1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
        1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
        1 onion, finely diced
        6 - 8 cloves garlic, minced
        Salt and freshly ground black pepper
       (to taste)

    If you're using fresh green beans and you don't mind the extra labor, split them lengthwise Cook/steam  the green beans until just tender. Medium-dice the artichoke hearts.
    Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil. In a large bowl, mix the beans, bread crumbs, cheese, hearts, and the oil with the onions and garlic. Season liberally with black pepper; salt to taste.
    Put the mixture into a 9"x14" baking dish, and sprinkle the top with additional bread crumbs and cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 - 30 minutes.

Cornbread, Andouille Dressing

(Yield: 10-12 servings)
    6 cups cubed cornbread
       (one large loaf)
    6 tablespoons butter
    1 pound andouille, diced
    3 red bell peppers, 1/3" dice
    2 bunches green onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
    8 shallots, chopped
    1 small sweet onion, 1/3" dice   
    3 ribs celery, 1/3" dice
    The leaves from the celery stalks, chopped
    2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
    2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
    1/2 teaspoon minced bay leaves
    4 large eggs, beaten
    1-1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Heat oven to 350°F.
  Cube cornbread and spread on a large baking sheet. Bake the cornbread until and slightly toasted, (about 10-20 minutes) Transfer to large mixing bowl and cool.
  Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add andouille, green onions, shallots and sweet onions; sauté until transparent, (about 8 minutes) Add celery, garlic, thyme, sage, allspice, cayenne and bay leaves and sauté until vegetables are just tender and the mixture is moist, about 10 more minutes. Mix the vegetables into the corn bread thoroughly. Moisten with just enough stock to keep it from being too dry, making sure it doesn't get soggy. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mix in the eggs.
  Butter a 13x9x2" baking dish and add the dressing. Cover tightly with foil, then bake 'til stuffing is firm and heated through, (about 45 minutes) Uncover and bake until the top just begins to brown, about 15 minutes.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Creole Culture Casserole

(Prep Time: 40 Minutes Serves: 10 - 12)

This casserole is an amalgamation of the many foods and spices that make up the Creole culture and can be found in Panderina Soumas' Soumas Heritage Creole Cookbook. As with the culture itself, the ingredients are all mixed together creating a special dish to enjoy!

2 tsps Creole Seasoning                            
1/2 stalk celery, chopped                       
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 (10 ounce) can cream of celery soup
1 (10 ounce) can cream of shrimp soup
1 cup okra, chopped or frozen
1 (10 ounce) can black beans (drained)
1 (10 ounce) can kidney beans (drained)
(or 1 cup left-over red beans)
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn (drained)

1 loaf French bread, cut or broken into pieces
1 pound of your favorite link sausage, sauté-ed (drained)
1 small (5 ounce) package dried shrimp, (soaked, dried and chopped)
3 - 4 fresh tomatoes, or 1 small can of whole stewed tomatoes, chopped
breadcrumbs for topping (optional)

Combine all ingredients except breadcrumbs in a large bowl and mix well. Pour mixture into a large casserole dish sprayed with a non-stick spray and spread evenly. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top and bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until top has formed a nice cultural crust.

Note: You may wish to add a little water to thin the cream of celery and shrimp soups.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Baked Pumpkin Lafourche - Madewood Plantation

Pumpkin is one of the first vegetables given to the early colonists by the Native American Indians was pumpkin. In those days, the seeds were as important as the entire pumpkin. These seeds were the snack foods for the children. This candied pumpkin recipe could be therefore more American than apple pie. This particular recipe (Baked Pumpkin Lafourche - Madewood Plantation) comes from Chef John Folse  y'all may know him from the Food Network and his time on Iron Chef. Madewood  Plantation, known as Madewood, is a National Historic Landmark in Napoleonville, Louisiana. It was built for the Pugh family in 1845 and designed by architect Henry Howard and was the originally part of a sugar plantation.  It is now a tourist attraction and a bed and breakfast which  I believe Chef John Folse's company runs the B&B.

Prep Time 1 1/2 hours - Serves: 6-8)
    1 large pumpkin or cushaw
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup melted butter
    3 large apples, diced (peeled or unpeeled your reference)
    1/2 cup Louisiana cane syrup
    1/2 cup honey
    cinnamon to taste
    nutmeg to taste
    allspice to taste
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup golden raisins
    1 ounce sherry
    marshmallows (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using a sharp butcher knife or cleaver, cut the pumpkin into three inch cubes, peeling on. Scoop out all of the seeds and stringy pulp from the cubes. In a two gallon stock pot, place pumpkin in enough water to cover by two inches. Add sugar, bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until pumpkin is tender to the touch. Remove from heat and strain one cup of poaching liquid. Cool pumpkin under cold running water. Using a paring knife or large spoon, scrape the softened pulp into a large mixing bowl. Once all the pulp has been removed, drain off excess water and set aside. In a heavy bottom black iron pot, melt butter over medium high heat. 
  Add apples and sauté two to three minutes. Add pumpkin, cane syrup, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Stir to blend all of the ingredients well. Add raisins and sherry and cook on medium high heat until mixture is heated thoroughly. Ladle a small amount of the poaching liquid as needed to keep the mixture moist. Once well blended, pour the mixture into an oven-proof casserole dish and top with marshmallows. Cover and bake twenty to thirty minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. Serve as a starch accompaniment to any entree or add three whole eggs and use as a pie or turnover filling.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Creole Grilled Mirliton Ratatouille

Another way of  preparing Mirlitons (pronounced MEL-lee-tawns or MER-lee-tawns) the  type of squash I mentioned earlier) I ran across this recipe by Chuck Taggart who says if you don't want to grill the mirlitons and eggplant, you can instead brush them with olive oil and bake them on a sheet pan until half-cooked.

    2 pounds mirlitons (chayote squash)
    1 pound eggplant                                     
    1 pound onions
    4 red bell peppers
    2 pounds tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
    10 cloves garlic
    6 ounces olive oil
    2/3 cup chopped parsley
    2 bay leaves
    2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
    1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut the mirlitons in half and scoop out the seed, then slice into 1/2" slices. Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/2" slices. Slice the onions crossways 1/4" thick, then cut each slice in half to end up with semicircular pieces of onion. Core and seed the peppers and chop into 1/2" dice. Chop the garlic. Prepare the tomato concassé. ( a cooking term meaning to rough chop)

Brush the mirliton and eggplant slices with olive oil and grill (or bake) until about half-cooked. (Some nice cross-hatch grill marks would be particularly nice.) Sauté the onions and peppers in the remaining olive oil until half-cooked. Add the garlic, and sauté for one additional minute.

Cut the grilled mirliton and eggplant slices into large dice. Combine the veggies with seasonings into a heavy saucepan. Cover and cook in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the flavors are well-blended. If the vegetables are too juicy, cook uncovered on the stove top for a few minutes stirring frequently to avoid scorching. (Serve hot or cold)

YIELD: About 20 four-ounce portions.