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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Cooking with Shrimp in the Kitchen

Shrimp is the most popular seafood. It is a seafood that freezes well, so you don’t have to have a fresh supply locally to eat quality shrimp. When I was growing up, my mother would buy a large amount of fresh shrimp and freeze them for later use.

One of the biggest questions when buying shrimp is how they are sized. In recipes, shrimp are either listed by their size, i.e. medium, large, or by their numerical size, 31-35. I will explain what those designations mean. Shrimp are sized by the number of shrimp it takes to make a pound. The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp are. Here is the breakdown on the most common sizing. Extra Colossal U-10 ( ten and fewer), Colossal 11-15, Extra Jumbo 16-20, Jumbo 21-25, Extra Large 26-30, Large 31-35, Medium Large 36-40, Medium 41-50, Small 51-60, Extra Small 61-70. When buying shrimp, this size refers to headless with the shell on. Peeled shrimp are often one size smaller. Often, you will see a recipe calling for peeled and deveined shrimp. This refers to the black line that runs along the back ridge of the shrimp. To remove this, take a small knife and shallowly slice along the back of the shrimp. Pull the vein out of the shrimp. Now for some recipes.

BBQ Shrimp is a misnomer. It is not cooked on a grill. It was created at Pascal’s Manale restaurant. A customer had come in to the restaurant and described a dish to the chef that he had eaten in Chicago. Although it was not a match to the Chicago dish, BBQ shrimp was a hit. It is one of the most copied dishes in New Orleans. Here is my take on it.

BBQ Shrimp

3 pounds 15-20 or larger Shrimp Heads & Tails on
1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) Butter
1 1/2 cups Olive Oil
8 tablespoons Garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dry Basil
4 teaspoons Salt
3 teaspoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
4 tablespoons ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons dry Oregano
2 teaspoons dry Thyme
2 teaspoons BBQ Seasoning
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning

Over medium heat, melt butter in olive oil in a large pot. Combine all other ingredients, except the shrimp. Add the shrimp and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with plenty of French bread to soak up the sauce.

This dish is named for my mother-in-law. It started out as Shrimp Alfredo but I wanted to add more flavor to it. I reached for a few fresh herbs and added them. The dish was such a hit, it seems like it was the only meal that she requested. So I named the dish after her. I hope you enjoy the dish as much as my mother-in-law did.

Shrimp Pasta Lorraine

2 pounds medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound and 3 tablespoons Butter divided
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning
1 tablespoon Garlic, chopped
2 cups Milk
2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 1/4 cups grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped
3 tablespoons Fresh Oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley
8 ounces Cooked Spaghetti cooked al dente

Sprinkle shrimp with Creole seasoning and sauté over medium heat in 3 tablespoons butter until the shrimp start to turn pink 3-5 minutes. In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté garlic in 1/2 pound of butter for 3 minutes or golden brown. Add the milk and heavy cream. Heat until the edges start to bubble. Slowly add the Parmesan cheese and mix until well blended. Add the basil, oregano and parsley to the sauce. Cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are warm about 3 minutes. Serve over spaghetti.

Shrimp are a wonderful way to enjoy seafood. Just be careful not to overcook shrimp as they become rubbery.

Pork Dishes sure to be a favorite

New Orleans is not known for their pork dishes. Barbecue restaurants are just starting to make their mark. This past March, I was part of my brother’s team for the Memphis in May-like cooking competition Hogs for the Cause. Hogs for the Cause is a great charity event, benefiting Pediatric Brain Cancer research. It was a great experience that I can’t wait to next year’s event to arrive.

The most popular pork dish in Louisiana is Cochon du Lait. This is a suckling pig that is roasted whole. This slow cooked meat just melts in your mouth. It is often found in the Cajun Country at large get togethers. This was my brother’s first year entering the whole hog competition. We placed 20th out of 89 teams.

I am sharing with you some more traditional cuts of pork, the pork roast and pork loin. The pork roast is a cut usually taken from the shoulder, also known as the butt. The loin is often cut into boneless pork chops.

Here is a great use of the Cajun trinity. This recipe also shows the usage of three different peppers, Black, White, and Red or Cayenne. Black pepper is used mostly for flavor. White pepper is used to add bite to the seasoning. Red pepper is used to control the heat of the dish.

Cajun Pork Roast

1 cup Onions, Chopped
1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Celery, chopped
1 tablespoon ground Thyme
1 tablespoon ground Basil
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground White Pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 4 pound Pork Roast
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 cups Pork or Beef Stock

Preheat oven to 325℉.

In a small bowl, combine the vegetables, spices, herbs and garlic and blend very well. Make several slits in the roast and stuff the vegetable/herb mixture into them. Once you have filled several slits in the roast, rub the remaining vegetable/herb mixture on the outside of the roast. In a large heavy pot big enough to hold the roast, heat the olive oil and brown the roast on all sides very quickly. Next, add the pork stock, cover the pot, and bake in the oven for about 3 hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes. Cook until the roast is tender and done inside.

Coffee can be used for more than just brewing everyone’s favorite morning beverage. It makes a great crust for most meats. A pork loin benefits greatly from the added flavor of this coffee rub.

Coffee-Crusted Pork Loin

Coffee Rub

1 cup ground Coffee
1/2 cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
1/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper

In a medium bowl, stir together all of the ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.

Coffee-Crusted Pork Loin

1 (6 pound) Boneless Pork Loin
Coffee Spice Rub
Up to 2 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 Shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry White Wine
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
4 tablespoons Butter
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350℉. Rub pork on all sides with Coffee Rub. Place in a large roasting pan; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roast pork until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and place pork on a cutting board. Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and let stand for 15 minutes. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan ( add canola oil as needed to measure 2 tablespoons). Place roasting pan on stove over medium heat. Add shallots, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and keep warm. Thinly slice pork, and place on a serving platter. Pour any accumulated juices from the cutting board into the roasting pan with the sauce. Return sauce to a simmer, and whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, along with the pepper. Serve sauce over sliced pork.

Honor Mom with meal on Mother’s Day

My first weekend that I was no longer working in the restaurant business was the weekend of Mother’s Day. This was intentional. Mother’s Day is the busiest day for restaurants. All staff members work and it is a long day.

It also can be one of the worst experiences in a restaurant. Many places present an abbreviated menu and rush you through your meal so that they can seat as many customers as they possible can. If you are looking for a great relaxing meal, my suggestion is to cook at home.

That first weekend free, I was able to cook a Mother’s Day meal for my mom and family. Believe it or not, it was an easier day than if I was still working in the restaurant. It was also more enjoyable to be able to do for my mom what I was unable to do before.

So, to honor my mother, here are a few of her recipes. Two of them are appetizers and one is for dessert. All of them are recipes that I cherish.

My mother loved to cook with artichokes as an ingredient. She has numerous that use canned artichoke hearts. If you have fresh artichokes, you can substitute the same amount of cooked fresh hearts in place of the canned variety. Below was one of her go to recipes for gatherings.

Artichoke Squares

1 can Artichoke Hearts
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 Egg
Garlic to taste

Preheat oven to 350℉. Drain hearts and set juice aside in a bowl. Mash hearts and add bread crumbs, cheese, garlic and olive oil. Add egg and juice and beat. Add this to mixture and stir until well blended. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. Cut into squares before serving.

This artichoke dish is the one that received the most request for the recipe as well as most request to be prepared. The key to this dish is the boiling of the artichokes. If you over boil them, the leaves will not stay attached. If you under cook them, the leaves will be hard and you don’t get the full artichoke flavor.

Stuffed Artichokes

2 Artichokes
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
1/3 cup Olive Oil

Boil artichokes for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350℉. Mix the dry ingredients. Saturate the dry mixture with olive oil. Stuff the leaves of the artichoke with the mixture. Bake, covered with foil for 1 1/2 hours in a large dish with 1 inch of water in it, to keep the stuffing from drying out. Serve warm.

This is a recipe that I did not know about until after my mother passed. One of her friends made it and brought it to the house for the guest after my mothers funeral. My older siblings remembered my mom making this dish. However, the younger group were not aware of it. It is one of the moistest cakes I have eaten. In this day of cake mixes that line the grocery store shelves, this cake is as easy to make as a mix.

Sour Cream Cake

1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
4 tablespoons Cocoa
1 cup Boiling Water
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sour Cream
2 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Cream butter and sugar. Add cocoa and mix well. Add unbeaten eggs and blend. Add sour cream, then flour gradually. In a separate bowl, pour water over baking soda and add to the above mixture and mix well. Add vanilla and mix. Bake in a greased and floured pan for 30 to 35 minutes. For a 2 layer cake, divide batter equally between two pans. When cake has cooled, top with your favorite icing.

I hope that you enjoy my mother’s recipes as much as I have over the years. Her recipes are ones that I never change. I enjoy them and the memories just the way they are.

Down Home Favorites

New Orleans is known as a city with great restaurants. However, not all of the great cooks are found in restaurants. You can find a great cook just by knocking on most neighborhood doors.

From Gumbo to Jambalaya to Red Beans and Rice, these one pot dishes are staples in kitchens across Louisiana. They can also be found in the finer restaurants in town. In the home kitchen, these dishes are as easy to prepare as they are to clean up after.

Another down home dish that can be found around Louisiana is the Natchitoches Meat Pie. Mrs. Wheat’s pies can be found in many grocery store freezer sections. However, they are not difficult to make and taste much better when they are home made.

The traditional Monday meal in New Orleans is Red Beans and Rice. Monday was wash day. Wives needed a dish that would cook long and slow. Red Beans is the perfect dish. Women would have used whatever meat was leftover from Sunday’s meal, usually pork. Traditionally, Red Beans are served with sausage, either smoked or Andouille. But many neighborhood restaurants offer them with other meats, like fried Pork Chops. Try it one Monday or whichever day you do laundry. Just remember to put the beans on to soak on the night before.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried Red (Kidney) Beans, I prefer Camellia Brand
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Tasso or Ham, chopped
1 1/2 cups Onions, chopped
3/4 cup Celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
1 1/2 pounds Smoked Sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons Garlic, minced
10 cups Chicken Stock
4 cups Cooked White Rice

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and set aside. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the Tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and start to thicken, about two hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more stock, about 1/4 cup at a time). Remove from heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Remove Bay Leaves before serving over rice.

The Natchitoches Meat Pie is Louisiana’s answer to the Central American Empanadas. Natchitoches is located in the North Central part of Louisiana. It was made famous in the movie Steel Magnolias. But I think that the Meat Pie is their real claim to fame. A soft flaky dough filled with seasoned meat, deep fried to perfection.

Natchitoches Meat Pies

1 pound Ground Beef
1/2 pound Ground Pork
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Flour
1/2 cup Onions, minced
1/4 cup Celery, minced
1/4 cup Green Bell Pepper, minced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1 15oz package refrigerated Pie Dough at room temperature

Preheat Deep Fryer to 375℉.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until it is a nutty brown color, 2-3 minutes. Stir in vegetables and cook until soft and onions are transparent, about 5 minutes. Add meats and brown until they are no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the Creole Seasoning and drain the fat. Cool to room temperature. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Use a 5-inch cookie cutter to cut circles in the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture and put it in the center of the dough round. Fold the dough over and seal the edges using a fork. You may need to combine and reroll the dough scraps to make 15 meat pies. Deep fry pies in small batches until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve while hot.

Red Beans and Rice was a favorite of New Orleanian Louis Armstrong. He would sign any correspondence with Red Beans and Ricely Yours. One day I will share with y’all his family recipe.