Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Eating

Sorry I've been so quiet darlings, it's been spring cleaning here at Chez Gourmet.  Combined with a weekend full of lovely friends, Eatie decided to put cooking on the back burner.  But I do have some recipes to share with you.  I like to experiment with different recipes, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.  I will share both the triumphs and the failures.

I slacked off this past week writing the blog.  Work was busy, so I was tired when I got home, and didn't want to write much.  I like quick and easy things a lot of the time, so the two recipes I'll share with you are pretty fast and flavorful, but not particularly complex.

Often I have my own ideas for dinner, but one night the hubby asked for meatlof.  He's a meatloaf guy for sure, so dinner was a pretty standard meat and potatoes. I made a cowboy meatloaf, stuffed with cheese:

Cowboy Meatloaf

2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. milk
2/3 c. dry bread crumbs
1/4 finely chopped onion
1 t. salt
pinch pepper
1/2 t. dried sage
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. diced Velveeta cheese
1/3 c. barbecue sauce

1. Combine eggs and milk in a bowl; add bread crumbs, onion, sage, salt, and pepper if you desire.  Add meat, mix well.
2. Layer half the meat in a loaf pan, make a well down the center of the meat, and add the diced cheese.  Layer the other half on top of the cheese.  
2. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Take loaf out of the oven, spread the BBQ sauce on, and then put it back in for 10 minutes.  When done, let loaf cool for 10 minutes before serving.

A note about meatloaf.  If you use lean ground beef you won't have a lot of grease to drain off your meatloaf.  And it's best cooked in a glass loaf pan.  A Pyrex loaf pan will run you a whopping $5. Trust me, it's an awesome investment for numerous reasons.  The next recipe will involve the loaf pan too, and it's suddenly paid for itself.  :)  I serve the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and sometimes that South African Brai salad that I shared with you.  It makes a filling and yummy plate. 

The other recipe I tried this past week was a Savory Garlic and Chive Bread adapted from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Around My French Table (I have this book right now, review to follow shortly).  Dorie runs a French Fridays blog, which I would love to try, but it scares the crap out of me.  However, another cook online, Soup Addict made some minor changes to the recipe, and posted it. So I gave her recipe a try and I'm sharing it here.

Savory Cheese and Chive Quick Bread

Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt (full teaspoon if you are using a mild cheese)
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
3 lg. eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 T. prepared brown mustard
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 generous cup coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte Emmental or cheddar cheese
2 oz. Gruyere, Comte Emmental, or cheddar cut into very small cubes (1/2 to 3/4 c)
1 bunch chives, minced (can also use scallions)
1 t. dried basil
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease Pyrex loaf pan with butter.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
3. Whisk eggs in bowl for 1 minute, until foamy, then whisk in milk, mustard, and oil.
4. Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture, and use a rubber spatula to gently mix until moistened. Stir in grated and cubed cheese, the herbs and walnuts to form a thick dough.  Transfer to loaf pan and make it even on the top.

4. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until bread is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn it out, putting it right side up to cool before cutting and serving. 

Okay, here are some tips for this bread.  It was pretty dry, so I would put a little bit more liquid in it, most likely a bit more milk rather than oil.  I think that I overdid it on the cheese, and that actually helped dry it out.  I want to try it again with the walnuts, to see if the oils from the nuts infused the bread with a bit more moisture and flavor.  The flavor was great.  I may have also overcooked it.  I'm notorious for doing that sometimes.  It's certainly a quick bread that I would like to play with, and it came together quickly (hence quick bread, heh).  It's probably something that I would take to Easter dinner, or toast on a griddle and spread an onion and chive cream cheese on for breakfast. 

That's about it for tonight.  Stay tuned later this week when I share a dinner fail I just had.  Bake well darlings! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Eatings

It was a busy but very lovely weekend, and full of food!  I hope everyone had as fabulous a weekend as I did, filled with food and laughter and lots of fun.

It started on Friday night with dinner at a place that is a pretty well kept secret in Lafayette.  I am a big fan of little hole in the wall restaurants.  The ambiance may not be anything to talk about, but the food is always good and cheap.  I feel like with smaller restaurants you're really much more aware of where your food is coming from.  At Mi Cabañita, you can experience essentially Mexican home cooking.  This is about as authentic Mexican as you can get (there are a couple other places, but I'll talk about them another time).  I am making assumptions here, but I believe the owners of the restaurant are from the state of Zacatecas, located in the central part of Mexico, on the elevated plateau.  Many of the other Mexican restaurants in town serve food that is Tex-Mex, or from the states of Jalisco or Oaxaca, so it's fairly rare to find cuisine from the heart of Mexico.

Mi Cabañita reflects the Mestizo cuisine, the blending of traditional indigenous flavors with European influence.  The Zacatecas region is famous for dishes made of the Nopales cactus, and that is a item that is certainly on this menu (as far as I can tell), though I didn't try it this time.  I tend to be a little more conservative with my first tries at a restaurant.  Bring your Spanish-English dictionary, because there isn't much in English on the menu, it's almost exclusively in Spanish.  I knew I had picked a good place to eat, because I felt out of place in the restaurant, being one of two people (the other being my hubby) who wasn't a native Spanish-speaker.

I ordered the Asada (steak) tacos and the Al Pastor (marinated pork) tacos.  Each taco had two very thin corn tortillas, soft, and obviously handmade.  There was a generous amount of meat in each taco, and topped with onion and cilantro.  I found it amusing that the server asked us if we wanted the cilantro and onion on our tacos, because I have noticed that many Americans find cilantro a little too strong for the average palate.  I love how fresh cilantro makes everything taste.

The steak in the Asada was a little overcooked, but still tasted great, but the real star of this show was the Al Pastor tacos.  Al Pastor is a rural dish - pork marinated over chiles for a day or two and then cooked with a piece of pineapple and onion.  This pork also had finely diced apples in the mix, which I think added an extra sweetness to the spicy marinated pork.  Next time I eat there, I'm going Al Pastor all the way!  There were some ingredients coming out on other people's plates that I didn't even recognize.  Maybe next time, I'll work up the courage to ask what they are.  Hubby and I each ate enough to fill us up and our total bill was $20.  I highly recommend Mi Cabañita, located at 2601 Teal Rd.  Right next door to the used car lot, and kitty corner from the Shell station. 

Well, one of these days I'll figure out why this blog insists on posting my pics sideways, but so far, no luck. No matter, you get the idea of how tasty this looks! 

The next stop was dinner with very good friends before a party.  They were grilling out for the first time, so I wanted to make something that went great with grilled food.  My brother-in-law is from South Africa, and the South African version of grilling out is called a Brai.  Meat is slow-cooked over white hot coals that started out as fruit wood like pear or apple. It's an all day affair.  But my friend did a fabulous job on his brand-new smoker/grill and I was happy to see that my Brai Salad disappeared.  It's one of my favorites, and is a great cold salad for summer or anytime, and it's so easy to make, it takes about 5 minutes to put together.

Brai Salad
2 cans french cut green beans, drained 
1/2 onion, diced
1 1/2 t. salt 
2 T. sugar 
1/4 c. mayonnaise 

1. In a medium size bowl, add the two cans of green beans.  Add the diced onions and mix together.

2. Add salt, let sit for two minutes.  Then add sugar and let sit for another couple minutes.  This is going to pull a lot of moisture from the beans. 

3.  Now, add the mayo and mix it in.  You can add a little less or a little more mayo to your taste. 

4. Adjust taste to your satisfaction, adding more salt or sugar.  It should be slightly sweet, to bring out the green bean flavor.  Chill for 30 minutes to an hour, serve, and watch it disappear! 

Whew!  I'm only halfway done with this weekend's cooking stuff.  I have two more recipes to share with you, but it's late, and Cupcake Wars is over, so I have to hit the sack.  I'll pick it up tomorrow and share more.  Sleep well darlings, and dream of good food! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Fun!

Hello Darlings!

Not much to report this morning, I was too busy consuming copious amounts of alcohol for St. Paddy's Day last night, so no cooking for me.  Although, I might have been a little stewed.  So, today I'll just share some music and a cocktail with you to kick off your Friday the right way.

First up, a song about food - Honeysuckle Rose sung by Sarah Vaughan:

And...a cocktail called a Honeysuckle Rose created by Washington D.C.'s Christopher Martino.  He's Mixicologist on Twitter if you're interested.

Honeysuckle Rose:

• Barbancourt Cinq Etoile (rum) 1.5 ounce
• Lime Juice .5 ounce
• Gran Marnier .25 ounce
• Honey Syrup (2:1) .25 ounce
• Rosewater 1 dash
Flamed orange zest for garnish
To begin, in a chilled cocktail glass flame the orange over the empty glass and rub the peel around the interior and mouth. In a shaker filled with ice, add the rum and other remaining ingredients. Shake until well chilled and pour into seasoned glass, strain out any flecks of ice if desired/necessary.

A note about Barbancourt Cinq Etoile Rhum.  It's a top shelf  Haitian dark rum, distilled twice in copper pots, aged 8 years in white oak barrels.  It's been considered the "cognac of rum" because the distilling method is very similar to the production of cognac and it can be sipped straight.  Barbancourt offers smooth, smoky flavor with a finish of vanilla.  The most likely place to find it in Indiana is at a United Package store, although, when I looked on their website, it was not listed as an item they sell anymore.  But they can probably order it for you. It runs around $25 a bottle, so it's not out of one's price range for a top shelf liquor.  However, another higher end dark rum would most likely suffice as a replacement. Meyer's is a little too heavy for this cocktail, the copper and molasses flavors would overpower the rose and honey.  I would suggest Bacardi Gold, since it's probably going to be the easiest to find around my area, and it retains the vanilla flavors that work well in this cocktail.  There.  I'm done being an alcohol snob.  Unfortunately, I have champagne taste, and a Bud Light budget, so my home bar is a little puny at the moment.

Although, I was contemplating taking a crack at making Falernum this weekend.  Stay tuned and see if it happens! 

That's enough out of me.  Enjoy your Friday darlings!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Word on Leftovers

I have never, ever been able to successfully cook for two people.  I am perfectly content noshing on the same thing for lunch or dinner for three days.  If it's cold pizza, you can throw breakfast in there too, because there's nothing finer than a cold slice of 'za to start your day.  Consequently, I always cook for at least four, usually six. 

This would be great...if my husband would eat leftovers.

He doesn't refuse, it just sits there in the container until I've eaten it all or it grows fuzz.  He even forgets to eat cupcakes that I leave for him (I'm debating whether that's grounds for couples counseling, or a psychiatric evaluation).  So, after 11 years of living with this guy, I've learned to creatively disguise leftovers by making it into something else.  Unfortunately, I haven't quite figured out how to make half a leftover cheeseburger look like something new.

For example, if there happens to be leftover steak or porkchops, The next day I'll slice it thin and sautè some peppers and onions and throw it in a tortilla with some chilis in adobo, or whisked with a little milk to make a light sauce.  Or, I'll dice up some veggies and make some rice and make fried rice with the steak or pork.  But, one of my favorites is what I do with leftover spaghetti.  I make Spaghetti Pizza Pie.

I usually make this after we've had spaghetti the night before and the noodles are a little sticky and not as appetizing as they were the first night.  I make an entire box of spaghetti because otherwise it's just swimming in sauce, and neither D or I like it that way.  I usually have a bag of mozzarella in my fridge (the normal size bag is equal to 2 cups) and a bag of Hormel Pepperoni in my fridge, so there's almost always the fixins for this dish.'s my extremely simple recipe:

Spaghetti Pizza Pie 
Makes 4 servings

1/2 lb. leftover spaghetti (with sauce)
2 C. Mozzarella cheese (a little less is fine)
20-30 slices of pepperoni
**that's the basics...if you want to get fancy add:
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
black olives
additional favorite pizza toppings

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. I find I never have to grease the pan, but you can if you want to.  In a 8x8 or 9x9 (if you want to load it up) square baking dish, spread half the spaghetti on the bottom of the pan.
3. Add your onions, peppers, olives etc, distributing them evenly across the spaghetti.
4. Sprinkle one cup of mozzarella cheese over the top.  Add pepperoni (I like to lay mine out in even lines).
5. Spread the other half of the spaghetti mixture, repeat steps 3 and 4, ending with the layer of pepperoni on top.
6. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until mozzarella is slightly brown and bubbly.
7. Let dish sit for 5 minutes before slicing, this will make it easier to slice and serve. 

And there you have it.  Usually there's not a lot of leftovers with this one, but if there are, I usually eat them and it's a reasonable amount, and I don't get tired of eating it.  Quick, easy, and something new with something old. NOM!

Do you have any good recipes for leftovers and would like to share?  Email me at and I'll feature them here on Eatie!  Until next time darlings!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Foodness

Admittedly, because my work doesn't involve food, and sometimes I have to do laundry, vaccuming, and other domestic chores, I don't always have time to cook.  So I'm not whipping up gourmet food every day.  So, here are some things I've eaten in the last few days:

These are crab enchiladas with bacon orange sauce.  I found this recipe on Talk of Tomatoes, a food blog I really like.  Here's the recipe.  I'm used to a little bit of heat in my enchiladas, so these were a surprise because they were very mild.  The citrus was a nice compliment to the crab, and the bacon and Parmesan added salty flavor to the dish.  If I made this again, I would probably tweak the sauce a bit, maybe adding more pepper and up the orange zest a bit.  But I would definitely make these again.

It's always nice when other people feed you.  I went to see my friends Paul and Michael in Indy, and they spoiled me rotten feeding me chili and cornbread.  It was a lovely evening, full of good friends and laughter.  I also learned that Land Shark Lager is an ok pair for chili.  It's nothing spectacular, but there's a citrusy finish that goes well with the heat of chili.  It's not a microbrew, but it's not a Bud Light.  Which is funny since Land Shark is brewed by Annheuser Busch and not in Jacksonville, Florida where it is distributed.  So, you might as well squeeze a lime in a Bud.  After eating we lay around with protruding bellies waiting to have enough room to devour the Mississippi Mud bars that were dessert.  It took me longer because I kept drinking beer (because Darrell was driving), and poaching from the Easter Hershey's Kisses and Assorted Candy Bars that were set out in bowls (I love the Krackle bars, and even more when they're presented in appealing pink foil).  It was a great evening.

Look!  Here's proof that I eat veggies too!  I love the colors in this veggie plate, and that's the sesame ginger dip I made earlier in the week.  The sugar snap peas and the green peppers were my favorite, I love the burst of flavorful juiciness that you get in those two vegetables, where broccoli and cauliflower are "drier" vegetables by nature because they're cruciferous. But that's why I like pairing those with the peas and peppers.   

Annnnd...yes, I'm in my 30's and I still eat Ramen noodles.  This is actually an electric orange Maruchan Instant Lunch in cheesy noodle flavor.  It was as if Kraft Mac N Cheese and Cheese Waffles had a soupy love child.  Bizarre.  If in the Indianapolis area, visit Saraga International Grocery and see their "wall of Ramen"  there are super strange flavors available.

Well, that's about it, I'm sitting here writing to you watching Chopped: All Stars, and it is getting intense, and then there's Food Network Challenge after that.  So I've got to sign off and watch, getting ideas and learning new stuff.  All for you my darlings!  Keep reading, keep cooking, keep enjoying life!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cookbook Review - Heart of the Artichoke

Whew!  It's been a flurry of cooking for the past few days.  I don't want to give you the wrong idea and make you think that I am sitting down to fillet of sole with crème fraiche (you have no idea what I had to go through to get that accent mark up there) for lunch.  I eat fast food and ramen noodles just like everybody else with my income.  I do my best not to, but there are days when life gets in the way.  Today?  Doughnut at staff meeting...wait, I have a story about this:

We have donuts at our staff meeting.  It's a small consolation for sitting in a meeting at 8 am.  There are several boxes of assorted doughnuts.  I am a big fan of the chocolate iced/cream filled ones.  Not Bavarian cream, the fluffy white cream that's mostly lard and powdered sugar. So, I generally don't eat those types because I can't pick up every doughnut and look at the conspicuous "filling port" to make sure it's the right kind of cream.  Besides, I kind of feel like I'm checking to see if the doughnut is male or female and then it's just dirty and I've lost my appetite. But today...I was feeling the chocolate.  I selected my doughnut, take a biiiigggg bite...and BAVARIAN CREAM!  I had chosen...poorly.  I ate around the edges as much as I could.  I feel bad for wasting a doughnut, but I am just not a fan of Bavarian cream.  As a self-proclaimed "foodie" I should be more tolerant of taste, but I like what I like.  I don't like raw tomatoes, anchovies, or Bavarian cream (the list is longer, but that's not the point). 

Then I had Chinese for lunch, and I'm going to have a late dinner of leftover chili that my friend Michael made.  It's pretty awesome, especially with a dollop of sour cream and some of those tiny saltines on top (they're so cute).

So I didn't do a single shred of cooking today, but this blog isn't called What Mandie Cooked (see What Katie Wore), it's about more than just my food, it's about everyone else's food too.  So, without further adieu, I give you Heart of the Artichoke: and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis. 

David Tanis is the co-chef at Chez Panisse in Berkley, California.  He's a co-chef because he spends half the year in California and the other half of the year in Paris.  But this Ohio-born chef knows something about kitchen rituals, the comfort of cooking, and the pleasure of home-cooked meals,  no matter how gourmet.  I was first attracted to the title, and then to the gorgeous photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer. 

I'm one of those strange people who love to read cookbooks.  I'll sit down and slowly flip through the pages, pausing at a recipe that piques my interest, reading through the ingredients and the steps, and I can see the process of cooking that dish in my mind's eye.  But my favorite cookbooks are the ones I can really read.  There are stories behind  many of the recipes, and the writer shares personal stories of theirs.  Those are cookbooks I can spend Sunday afternoons with.  David Tanis is one of those writers.

The first fifteen or so pages are devoted to something he calls "kitchen rituals."  I love this term.  They are things that he loves to cook, make, or take along.  For example, he has an emergency food kit he takes with him when traveling.  It consists of "a tube of harissa, the spicy Moroccan paste that's better than most commercial hot sauces; a jar of good mustard; a few fresh chiles; a couple of limes; a little packet of sea salt, and one of red pepper flakes; a pepper mill; a hunk of cheese; a paring knife; and a corkscrew.  You get the idea."  Not only do I think that it's a brilliant idea, the image of a little basket filled with these things riding around in the car or packed in a suitcase makes me happy.

Tanis encourages seasonal eating and local and organic produce, and his menus reflect this thinking.  The cookbook is organized by season, including recipes from many different cultures: French, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, and many more.  The menus are not exhausting lists of seven courses, but 3-4 dishes that blend together for a complete meal.  For example, the first menu in the Summer section is one with the most dishes: Tabbouleh, Pita with Za'atar and Olive Oil, Tomatoes and Olives with Coriander Vinaigrette, Spicy Lamb Burgers with Grilled Eggplant, Cucumbers and Yogurt, Apricot Tart. It seems labor intensive, but the first three recipes don't involve cooking except for toasting spices.  Okay, it's also my favorite menu in the entire cookbook, so I'm perhaps a little biased.

Tanis unfortunately includes a lot of ingredients that are hard to find in Indiana, let alone in Lafayette.  You can tell that the author lives in France and California where certain ingredients are easier to find.  For example, I'm pretty sure that I can't find fresh squid here.  However, there are plenty of recipes that contain ingredients that I can find, and those that I can't, I can probably substitute. 

I would say that this cookbook would be for someone that has moderate to strong cooking experience.  He expects the reader to know how to cut fish across the grain and how to debone a chicken enough to flat-roast it.  His ingredient lists aren't a mile long, but many of the recipes also include long marinations, or overnight preparations, so be sure that you read the recipe thoroughly before you commit to the dish.  You might find out that you have to let dough rise, or a marinade sit for an hour or overnight.  And if you're dying to know how to make roast suckling pig - it's in here.  I don't even know where I'd get a suckling pig (even though there are plenty of pork producers in my area...maybe D&R Food Market?  They've got a great butcher), let alone fit it in my oven.

He blends heavy recipes like the suckling pig with light, fresh recipes like Sicilian Salad or Fennel Soup.  Obviously, the heavier stews, roasts, meat-dependent dishes, and heavy starch dishes are in the Fall and Winter, so it makes sense to load up on meat and carbs and then go fall asleep in front of the television. He also has a very nice section at the end called "Simple Feasts for a Long Table" in which he includes recipes to feed 12-14 people. I love a suggestion he has in the introduction to this section about "farming out" dessert.  People always ask me what to bring, even though I haven't said it's a pitch-in, but if I've got a baker friend I'll consider telling them to bring a dessert.  It's a new way of dining together folks.  It's not bad form anymore to have people pitch in, bring wine, or eat outside.  Sharing meals in a relaxed setting is back, and this chef encourages it.  Why wouldn't he?  Living in California.  I bet it's not threatening to snow there.

I would suggest that you take a look at this cookbook, if not for making the recipes, then simply for reading the pleasurable stories, traveling with him, and indulging in the gorgeous pictures.  You know where to buy it online, but I'm making a case for buying at your local bookstore, or better yet, check it out at your local library.  Trust me, my library has it.  I found this on the "new" books cart.  And remember:
Cooking is an art, but feeding people...takes heart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

See? Those four semesters of French really paid off. Happy Mardi Gras everyone! For those folks about to be miserable for the next 40 days - I salute you! Then there's people like me who gave up giving things up for Lent for Lent and use Mardi Gras as an excuse to eat Cajun food and drink.

I would love to be in New Orleans right now, mostly because it's warm. But also for the food, parade (BEADS! BEADS!), and the spectacle. Oh, to be on a balcony or stuffed in a doorway taking random photos of crazy drunk people. But that's not really what Mardi Gras is all's the FOOD!

So, because I'm putting the "fat" in Fat Tuesday I'm giving you a couple recipes to enjoy. I was going to put a recipe for King Cake on here, but you're not supposed to eat it after Mardi Gras, so I figured today's a little late. So instead, you get two original recipes! Yes, I made them up (well, adapted, it's not like they're something never before seen), so you can blame me if they suck. I think they're ok, I wasn't poisoned or anything.

The first recipe originated because I love po' boys. They're portable meals - hearty, satisfying, and on crusty French bread. But, living in the land-locked state of Indiana, it's a little harder to get your hands on coastal seafood, which is what makes a Louisiana po' boy distinctive. Traditionally, these sandwiches are filled with fried shrimp or oysters, but you also see a lot of soft shell crab, crawfish, catfish, creole hot sausage, and roast beef in po' boys. However, mine is with baked shrimp, because the rest of these ingredients are awfully hard to find in Lafayette, Indiana. Not to mention expensive when you find them. So I make do until my blog becomes famous and I can afford to have fresh seafood shipped to me. *snorts* I baked the shrimp instead of breading and frying them or using breaded shrimp because it's a little bit lighter. This is a calorie sink, let's face it. Just wait until you get to the cupcakes. So, here is my Indiana version of a Louisiana po' boy:

Hoosier Po-Boy
Makes 4 large sandwiches

1/2 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. cajun seasoning
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 lb. shrimp, uncooked, shelled and deveined (let’s admit it, I use frozen. GASP)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
2 loaves French bread (the crustier the better)
Hot sauce of choice
Mayo or Remoulade
Cheese of choice (Provolone or Monterey Jack I think taste the best)

Combine olive oil, Cajun seasoning, lemon juice, parsley, honey, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake until shrimp are cooking through, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

While shrimp is cooking, sauté 1 yellow onion and green pepper in 1 T. oil. When the onions begin to look translucent, add 1 T. tomato paste and 2 T. water. Toss yellow onion and pepper until coated with tomato sauce and sauce is warm. Add in a dash or two of hot sauce to fire up this po’ boy if you wish. I use a little Siriacha. How Asian Fusion of me. Then “dress” your sandwich the way you like: pickles, tomato, lettuce or slaw. If you add the remoulade, I would leave off the cheese.

If you want to take this sandwich over the top, leave out the hot sauce in your peppers and onions and make this spicy remoulade:

Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Adapted from Sunny Anderson (“Cooking for Real,” via
For the best flavor, make this sauce several hours in advance.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup stone-ground mustard (preferably Creole)
1 clove garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
Dash of Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

**This recipe found on Ezra Pound Cake blog*

Next, a word on King Cake - I don't do it. I have said it before and I'll say it again. I don't do stuff that has to rise. I am entirely too impatient for it. And the few attempts I've made have resulted in dense, miserable failures. So, I give you an alternative to King Cake (but not even closely related) - The Cinnamon Praline Cupcake (with Bourbon Frosting...awww yeah).  Well, I tried to recreate some of the flavors in the King Cake with the cinnamon and the pecans, but that's as close as it gets:

Cinnamon-Praline Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
½ cup milk (at least 2%, but whole is better)
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
¾ cup plus 2 T. sugar
½ t. vanilla extract
¾ cup praline pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Stir milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat just until butter melts; set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar until thick enough for the batter to fall in a heavy ribbon when the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture; beat just until blended. Beat in the milk-butter mixture just until blended. Add the pecans. Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
2 T. bourbon
1-2 T. whipping cream or milk

Mix together sugar and butter until blended, then increase speed on mixer and beat for 3 minutes. Add bourbon and 1 T of cream and beat on medium speed for another minute, adding more cream to reach desire consistency. **NOTE: Because you don’t cook the icing, the bourbon still contains the alcohol** If you don’t want to use real bourbon, use Cook's Bourbon Extract.

If desired, sprinkle cupcakes with green, purple, and yellow tinted sugar for a nod to a Mardi Gras King Cake.

Well, that's about it. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Mardi Gras, and not just today, but always...LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!

Monday, March 7, 2011


So, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  There are so many  food traditions connected with religion that I could probably have a blog exclusively devoted to "religious foods."  And I'm not excluding Lutheran Basement Ladies from those traditions (more on that at another date).

No, the tradition that I'm talking about is one that I did not grow up with, but one of my Besties did.  She often fondly reminisces about making food with her family, and food from her childhood.  She will spoil me on a regular basis by making amazing pierogi and let me burn my tongue eating them fresh from the pot.   But I'm talking paczki today.  It's pronounced PUNCH-key, and you risk getting punched if you don't say it right.  Trust me, this Teutonic girl was pronouncing it PATCH-key, and was firmly corrected by my Bestie doing a mighty fine imitation of a Polish babcia (grandmother), with kerchief on her head and all.

No, I'm truly grateful that she invited me to participate in a food ritual that she associates with home, love, traditions, her mother, and comfort.  Our food rituals are sacred and intimate, and it is an honor when someone not only lets you in, tells you stories about them, but also lets you photograph the process AND has agreed to share the recipe with me.  Now that is something special.

She speaks so fondly of her heritage and the food, that I love to hear her tell the stories surrounding her family's food traditions.  And they are strong let me tell you.  And they have sustained this family through a lot.  She talks about the "Red Book" which is the Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans.  Here is her copy:

BUT...that's not where her recipe comes from.  I'd love to say that her recipe comes from generations of Polish women, handed down from generations...but it's from the Buffalo News.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get it for you, I'll get it in the next few days and amend this.  Promise!

First, a little history of paczki before I make with the pretty pictures.  Paczki (one is called a paczek (pohn-check) by the way) have been around since the Middle Ages.   Traditionally, they were made to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the larder before Lent when Catholics were/are forbidden to eat these things while fasting.  They resemble bismarcks, but they are a richer dough than a doughnut.  They are coated with either powdered sugar or a granulated sugar mixture and then filled.  Plum jam and rose hip jam are the traditional fillings, but just about any type of fruit filling are being substituted in commercially made paczki (don't let them fool you with the custard-filled ones, those are just bismarcks in disguise). They are darker in color than doughnuts, and this is a good way to spot the authentic paczki rather than a cheap imitation.

 So, without further adieu, here we dive into the paczki adventure!

She recommended Crisco to fry in because it has a lower melting point and does not soak into the dough as much as vegetable oil.  They were beautiful.  She also had the advantage of having a digital probe thermometer (jealous!) to watch the temperature and ensure that the oil didn't get too hot.

A mixture of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and orange oil sat beside the frying station.  Every time I opened the bag it smelled like Christmas.  I was the appointed sugar shaker, but she was whipping those little suckers out as fast as I could coat them!  So I found myself slacking off, mesmerized by the little islands of dough spinning around in pan, trails of bubbles propelling them from one side to the other.  Sometimes they became unbalanced as they swelled with fluffy goodness and capsized to the raw side, forcing my Bestie to hold the poor paczki down in the oil until it was done.  Then I gave it a good shake in the sugar bag and tossed it in the mixing bowl with the others.  So brutal!  We were forced to eat some of the less than uniform ones...ok, a lot of and moist and fluffy, little puffs of steam bursting as you bite into them, just cool enough not to blister your lips.

Because she decided to make smaller versions of paczki, they were too small to be filled, not to mention that is a long and complicated process, so she made a delectable sauce for dipping.  Red currant jelly, plum and apricot fruit paste, a splash or two of good balsamic vinegar, and a few grinds of pepper melted down into a sauce that cut the sweetness of the paczki.  I would love to see these become full size paczki with a filling similar to this one.

And that's the end of my paczki tale.  As you can see, it was a pretty sweet one.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Buttercream, Butterscotch, and...Broccoli?

  Here's what my Saturday consisted of:

I started off going grocery shopping with one of my Besties.  We're polar opposites, because she hates to grocery shop and I love it.  I can spend all day in a grocery store, and longer than that if it's a specialty store.  Anyone know where I can find cake yeast in Lafayette, Indiana?  I know, I know it's a culinary hotbed.  Actually, we're getting better, there are a few restaurants that are trying really hard, but I would kill for a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's.  I'm addicted to TJ's cheap wine and Himalayan Pink Salt. 

Anywho, I came home and whipped up another batch of Butterbeer Cupcakes.  See the corridor of buttercream and ganache above.  I will admit, they're pretty labor intensive, but so very worth it.  I'm not even going to tell you what some of my male friends said about those cupcakes.  I'll give you a moment to let your imagination run wild.  Right, moving on...Here's another shot of these incredibly rich cupcakes.  Seriously, more than one of these may kill you.  I'm afraid to eat two because I am just convinced that it's going to end up like Pop Rocks and soda.  Hey, just because that was an urban legend...  And by the way, Pop Rocks aren't just for kids, you can make cocktails out of them. 

Then I made the Sesame Ginger Dip from the Power Foods cookbook.  It's supposed to go with baked tofu, which I'll make at a later date, but I was off to a party, and wanted something tasty and transportable.  So I just made the dip and cut up broccoli, cauliflower, red pepper, green pepper, and cherry tomatoes.  The dip looked like thin peanut butter but it was delicious!  There was just enough ginger in it that it was slightly sinus-clearing, but not burn-your-face-off hot.  It was also stupid easy to make.  It took me about 7 minutes to make. Because of it's consistency I can see this as something to toss stir fry veggies in, or mix a bit into some noodles for a Pad Thai-ish tasting dish.  It's definitely something I'm going to experiment with.  I just had to take a pic of the broccoli in my colander though, it looked so tasty and pretty.

There was a huge project yesterday as well, but I think it needs its own blog post tomorrow.  I know, you're all drooling in anticipation aren't you?  All two of you.  Until next time!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blame It On The Bossa Nova

I suppose I'd better introduce myself, or at the very least explain myself.  I am a librarian.  I am a cook.  I am a food porn-ist.  I love to look at food, talk about food, draw food, eat food, make food, go to restaurants that serve great food, read books about food (yes, those include cookbooks), and take pictures of food.  I'm sure that this can be classified as obsessive, and probably has a gorgonzola-ish whiff of compulsive eating disorder, but it makes me happy. 

Why start this blog?  
 Because I'm sure that my friends and family are getting tired of the incessant links to various recipes, pictures, cookbooks, etc. that I splatter all over social networking sites on a regular basis.  I am to the point where I can't wait for my iPhone because I want to join Foodspotting.  So here is place that I can wax poetic about my obsession/passion.  It also stretches my writing muscles, which have atrophied in the last several years.  I was a creative writing major for crying out loud, and I'm doing diddly with it.  So this keeps me a little honest (until I forget about it and go on to another pursuit like the ADHD chick I am).  This also gives me a place to talk about my successes, failures, and experiments, and review both restaurants in my area and cookbooks that I read.  Hey, if someone can blog entirely about cupcakes (and it's fabulous), then I can write about any food I choose!  P.S. The butterbeer cupcakes on that blog nearly killed me. 

What's up with the name? 
Eydie Gorme (what? no accent function? ridiculous.) is a singer who I happen to like, and who just happens to have a name that I can cleverly pun off of.  'Nough said.

Are you just going to write about food? 
I must warn  you, there may be other topics that weasel their way into this blog.  If you're wanting the blog about nothing but bacon, I ain't it.  That's here by the way.  I am a librarian, I may have to rant about various things in library land, or crow about a book or two.  Don't worry twinkie, you'll get over it. Just skip past those and on to the luscious food.  I will hopefully be posting pics of a lot of what I cook and eat.  However, I have been known to eat Kraft Mac n' Cheese with a can of StarKist thrown in, and I don't think you need pictures of that, so it won't be EVERYTHING I eat (also because my doctor would be appalled at my eating habits).  If you're wanting pictures of the three graham crackers I had as a snack, I'm gonna disappoint you.  Not to mention that's a little micro-creepy.   So, here we go, and let's hope that there are folks out there who will keep me honest about writing in this blog.