Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear friends and followers, I want to wish you all a very happy and thankful holiday. I am thankful this year, and every year, for my family and friends. I have a job and I am also able to communicate with like minded folks like my fellow foodies out there. Have a great day, eat lots of turkey, and give thanks.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Easy, Creamy, Dreamy Biscuits

Since the holidays are coming up, and you'll have lots of opportunities to use all kinds of breads, I thought I'd give everyone my favorite biscuit recipe. This was given to my by my late Uncle Haskell Harkleroad. Technically he was my father's cousin, but I always referred to him as my uncle. He was a great cook and these are great biscuits.

I know some of you will be making all kinds of meats around the holidays like hams, turkeys, pork roasts, etc. and these biscuits are great biscuits to serve with them. Or you can also adorn them with the traditional toppings like bacon, sausage, or country ham. These are easy and delicious tasting. Thanks Hack for this recipe.

2 cups self rising flour
1 cup of heavy cream
pinch of salt

That's it, using a fork, mix it in a bowl, turn out onto a floured surface, knead it about 10 times, roll it out about a ½ - ¾ of an inch, cut into biscuit rounds.

Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake in a pre-heated oven @ 425º until brown on top, about 12 - 15 minutes. You can dab a little butter on top before baking, or brush them with butter after they come out of the oven.



Turkey and Dressing Soup with Dumplins

Turkey Day is fast approaching. This is my recipe for, I think, the best after-holiday turkey leftover soup. I don't usually measure out the turkey meat, I usually use most of the remaining breast meat. Around 3 lbs I would think. I use a lot because this recipe makes a lot of soup.

3 lbs turkey breast meat (roasted, shredded coarse in big chunks)
½ stick butter or margarine
1 large onion (diced)
4 ribs of celery (diced)
½ tsp garlic (minced)
8 cups water
4 cups milk
4 cups turkey or chicken stock (if using stock from your turkey be sure to skim the fat off)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box dressing mix (cornbread variety)
1 tbs Tony C's cajun/creole spice mix
1 tbs kosher salt
½ tbs black pepper
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves

In a large pot on MED/HI ( I use a 7 qt. dutch oven ) melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery until softened. Add garlic, spice mix, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and bay leaves. Let this go for about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, after 5 minutes add the turkey. Let this cook for about 10 minutes then add the water and milk. Bring this to a boil and pour in the dressing mix and the cream of chicken soup. Bring back up to a boil for about 10 minutes, turn down to MED/LO and let cook for an hour to tenderize the turkey. Check the celery in the soup to see if it is soft before adding the dumplins with the recipe below. By the way, this soup is great by itself, but the dumplins really top it off.

Dumplin' mix

1 cup flour (self rising or use plain and add 2 tbs baking powder)
2 tbs oil ( don't use olive oil, use a light vegetable oil )
1 pinch salt & pepper
milk or water

In a bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper, oil, and enough milk or water to make a mix about the consistency of cake frosting. Turn soup down to MED/LO and drop half-spoonfuls into soup. The dumplins will puff up and float to the top of the soup. Have a great holiday, enjoy!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving's Coming!

Here is a pumpkin soup recipe that I made recently, and I thought it was great. Be sure to use "sugar" or "pie" pumpkins when making this, as opposed to Jack O' Lantern type pumpkins. Pie pumpkins are meatier and have a darker flesh. I cut mine into quarters and baked them after brushing a little oil on the inside. I cooked them about an hour at 300º until the flesh was soft.

I then scraped the meat out of the darker orange skin. This is what you cook with, discarding the skin. About 5 or 6 cups of pumpkin are needed. Two small sugar pumpkins should do it. Drain off any moisture after you scrape the meat out of them.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's great for friends coming over to knock the November chill off. Slow cooking really helps infuse these flavors greatly.

Pumpkin & Andouille Soup

5 - 6 cups cooked pumpkin (2 cans canned)
1 ½ cup onion (diced)
1 cup celery (diced)
1 tbs garlic (minced)
1 tbs Tony C's Cajun & Creole Seasoning
2 cups Chicken stock (warm)
2 cups milk
1 stick butter or margarine
3 tbs flour
½ tbs each salt and black pepper
1 tbs rubbed sage
½ tsp nutmeg
⅓ lb Andouille Sausage (grated)
1 cup Half n Half
2 bay leaves

Sauté the onions, celery, garlic in half of the butter or margarine. Add sage, nutmeg, Tony C's, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cook until onion has softened. Add remaining butter and flour, stir until flour browns a bit. Add 2 cups of warm stock and stir well.

Add sausage and cook for 10 minutes, then add milk. Bring this to a boil for 5 minutes, and then turn down to MED. Add the pumpkin and cook for about 30 minutes. Place the pot covered in a 300º oven and cook for 2 hours.

After cooking for 2 hours, remove from the oven and, using an immersion blender, pureé the entire pot of soup. If you don't have one of these, spoon everything into your food processor or standard blender and pureé. Check your seasonings for salt and keep warm. Serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds. For a unique serving method, hollow out another larger pumpkin, brush the inside with oil, and bake for about 30 mins. Serve soup inside this pumpkin. Impress your friends!

Enjoy the Holidays!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Andouille Sausage in LaPlace

I have been wanting to get some authentic Cajun Andouille for some time now. I am usually stuck using Richard's or Savoie's, nothing against these, they are fine products but I wanted some of the real deal. On Halloween day while visiting friends in LaPlace, I axed them to take me Andouille shopping. In case you don't know what Andouille is, it is a smoked pork sausage, which is chunkier than say... Hillshire Farms, and uses REAL smoke for their curing. It was created by Cajuns to flavor their gumbos and other dishes.

Jacob's Andouille in LaPlace is an award winning boucherie specializing in Andouille of all kinds. Of course their bread winner is pork, but as you see from their menu on the wall, they have chicken andouille as well. I bought about 3 sticks of the original to take home and a small segment off of another stick to munch on while driving to Baton Rouge, This stuff is amazing. I have yet to make a gumbo with it, but I hope to next weekend.

A very small place, all the work is going on backstage. so to speak. You go to a counter and order, or you can serve yourself to the items that are in the cooler to the left. They also make boudin, tasso, Italian sausage, smoked chickens, bacon, smoked pig's tails, and cracklin's to name a few. In addition to their patient and friendly counter service, they have a very thriving mail order business as well. I have been to their site and you can order nearly everything they make from it. The Andouille mails well because it doesn't need to be refrigerated.

If you want great andouille for your cooking, you can't beat Jacob's. Gumbo, Andouille Cheese Grits, Red Beans, Jambalaya, to name a few, are awesome with the inclusion of this wonderful smoked meat. If you'd like a great Chicken and Andouille Gumbo recipe, here you go! Enjoy and be sure to check out Jacob's if in New Orleans, (it's about 15 mins. out of town, past the airport) or go to their site and have it delivered to your doorstep.


Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

1 cup cooking oil
1 ½ cup plain flour
1 lb (2 cups) smoked Andouille sausage
2 lb boned/skinned chicken thighs (Diced bite size)
2 cups onion (diced)
1 cup celery (diced)
½ cup green pepper (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups crushed, canned tomatoes
¼ cup green onion (sliced thin)
¼ cup parsley (chopped)
2 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs hot sauce (Tabasco or Crystal)
3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
8 cups chicken stock (hot)

In a 7 qt., cast iron Dutch Oven, heat oil on MED/HI, when hot, add flour and stir continuously until the roux reaches a dark brown color. Add diced onions and cook until onion is transparent, about 5 mins. then add celery, green pepper, and garlic, and cook another 10 mins.

Add chicken, bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Stir to combine, cook 10 mins. Whisk in 2 cups of the hot stock, add the Andouille and cook 10 mins. Now add remaining stock, tomatoes, 1⁄2 the green onion, and 1⁄2 the parsley, bring to a boil for 5 mins., then turn it down and let it cook on MED/LO for an hour or more. Serve with rice, topped with remaining parsley and chopped green onions.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Middendorf's Restaurant for great seafood.

I had been hearing about this restaurant for nearly two years from my friends Beth Fury and Henry Harmison from The NOLA food forum, and on their LADay Rides Blog. " Oh you have to go to Middendorf's, it's great". "Oh yeah? What's so great about it," I would ask. "Thin catfish is their speciality", they would say. This was intriguing to say the least. I love catfish, but sometimes it can be thick and greasy because it takes longer to cook when it's a big fat filet. This thin catfish caught my attention.

OK, they do not have their catfish on a diet, they just slice them about one third of an inch thick, dust them in a light cornmeal, and deep-fry them nice and crispy for your dining pleasure. Let me say, I had a seafood platter, so as to get a sample of everything, and the catfish was not only the best thing on the plate, but it was the best catfish I have ever eaten... ever! You can't imagine how good this stuff was. I usually have lots of tartar sauce on hand, but I didn't really want to mask the flavor of this catfish delicacy.

First, a little about the restaurant itself. Started in 1934 by Louis and Josie Middendorf, the restaurant opened with Josie doing the cooking and Louis tending bar and chatting up their customers. In 1970, Middendorf's was already popular, but it became even more so after I-10 opened between Metairie and LaPlace. Then recently the restaurant was purchased from the family by husband and wife Horst and Karen Pfeifer. Knowing a good thing, they haven't changed the recipes or the specialities from the ones that made the place famous. Horst and I are pictured above.

They had a nice gumbo, maybe a little heavy on the worcestershire sauce, but still was nice. The also had crab fingers, (shelled blue crab claws) served with an odd parsley sauce of some sort. The shrimp remoulade looked great as well as the shrimp Po-Boy that Henry ordered. I had some shrimp on my platter and they were very lightly breaded and flavorful. The shrimp and the oysters rounded out the platter very nicely. Nothing could stand up to the catfish though, it was the belle of the ball.

Beth's husband Darryll had the fried oysters, which I got a couple of those on my seafood platter as well, and they were great. Honestly everything I got was great with the exception of the stuffed crab. I am sad to say was very dry and tasteless. Might have gotten a bad one, I am told they are normally quite tasty. If you use too much filler in crab cakes, or deviled crab, it can ruin it. No worry, the rest of the platter more than made up for this unfortunate crustacean.

They make their own ice creams and had several flavors on hand including the standard chocolate, vanilla and the best strawberry I ever tasted, and I don't usually like strawberry ice cream. I actually chose the peach, it was alright but I should've had the strawberry. All in all the homemade ice cream was excellent.

Henry, Nan, Barbara, Beth and Darryl were great company, and Beth is a great trip planner. I hadn't seen Barbara in over a year, and it was great meeting Nan, such a sweetie, and Darryl for the first time. We all went to Berry Town Market in Ponchatoulas. It was great. We also did some antiquing, wading deep into the Manchac swamp, and bought some andouille at Jacobs in LaPlace. What a day. Again, Beth and Henry, thank you so much for a great Halloween afternoon and letting me get to know a little more about Louisiana than just New Orleans. Be sure to get out to Middendorf's when visiting the area.


Boiled Peanuts

I love boiled peanuts, I always have, since I was introduced to them in Savannah Georgia as a child. It was my Dad that started me on what he called "boilt' beanuts." Here is a picture of some I got at a place called Berry Town Produce in Ponchatoulas, LA. I have never seen peanuts this big in my life, and they made the best boiled peanuts I've ever eaten. The nut inside was enormous!

If you can't get any of the ones pictured above, or don't want to bother boiling your own, try Peanut Patch brand boiled peanuts. They are really good and very inexpensive, being available at WalMart among other places, like your local grocery store. These are surprisingly tasty, well of course they are, considering they're made in South Caroline you know they would be. I love that as you drive through SC you will see about every convenience store or gas station selling boiled peanuts.

If you want to make a go of it, I also have a recipe for you...

4-5 lbs green, raw peanuts
6-8 qts purified or distilled water
1 1/2 cup kosher salt

In a large stock pot, bring the water to a boil, add salt, peanuts and boil for 6 to 7 hours, or until the peanuts are done. The only way to tell is to taste them. The consistency of the peanuts should be that of a cooked bean, just this side of mushy. The freshness of the peanuts to begin will help determine if they’re done or not. You can add garlic powder, creole seasoning mix, or just some cayenne pepper to the mix for a taste variation. Be sure to use kosher salt to keep your peanuts looking fresh. Iodized salt will turn the peanuts black. You might have to add water as they cook.

Try boiled peanuts sometime, it is an acquired taste, but you might love them.