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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Plan ahead for your 4th of July picnic

The fourth of July is a great day for a picnic. Many towns have firework displays to celebrate the nation’s birthday. It’s a great day to spend time outdoors with family and friends.

What are the best foods for a picnic? There are too many answers to that question. In my opinion, the best foods for a picnic are dishes that can be eaten at room temperature. That’s what makes these following recipes great for picnics. They can be transported without refrigeration or ice and does not need to be heated to be enjoyed. Fried chicken is a popular food on Mardi Gras day. It is often bought the night before or early in the morning and enjoyed all day.

Is Fried Chicken a New Orleans dish? Of course it is. Popeye’s, the second largest chicken chain, was created in New Orleans. Al Copeland’s spicy chicken is known the world wide. His daughter Bonnie, a friend of mine, has told me stories of eating chicken 7 days a week, while Al was developing his recipe. I spent 2 years managing a Popeye’s in New Orleans. One day, I thought I could duplicate his recipe. Here is my result. If you wish, you can leave out the cayenne pepper.

Fried Chicken

Canola Oil
2 Fryer Chickens, cut into 8 pieces each
Creole Seasoning
1 cup Buttermilk
4 Eggs, well beaten
1/3 cup Water
2 cups Flour
2 tablespoons Granulated Garlic
4 teaspoons Granulated Onion
4 teaspoons Paprika
4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

Preheat large skillet filled with 2 inches of oil to 350℉.

Wash Chicken pieces and pat dry. Sprinkle generously with Creole Seasoning.

In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and water; mix well. In another bowl, mix dry seasonings with flour. Dip chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Fry chicken for approximately 10-15 minutes until brown on both sides. Chicken is done when juice that runs out shows no trace of red. Drain well on paper towels before serving.

Perry Street is in New Orleans. It is where my wife and I lived before we moved to Searcy. This dish was created there. It is easy to prepare and great for any type of gathering. I often bring it to summer events, since it is delicious served cold or at room temperature. It is also one of my most requested recipes.

Perry Street Pasta Salad

24 ounces Rainbow Rotini, cooked al denté
1 medium Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 medium Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 medium Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 bunch Green Onions, sliced thin
1 pint Grape Tomatoes, washed
1 can (2.25 ounces) Sliced Black Olives, drained
1 pound Ham, diced
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
1 tablespoon Granulated Garlic
1 bottle (16 ounces) Robusto Italian Dressing

Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool with running water. In a large bowl, add pasta, vegetables and ham; toss well. Add dry seasonings to the salad and toss. Add salad dressing and mix well. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to blend. Toss before serving. This can be served either cold or at room temperature.

My wife, Peggy, loves pecan pie. It is a dessert that is often asked for. Looking for a variation, I saw a picture of a Chocolate Pecan Pie. After a few attempts, here is the results. Now, I get as many request for this as I do regular pecan pie. It is the perfect balance of chocolate and pecan.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

3 cups Sugar
Pinch Salt
7 tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa
4 large Eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla
1 can (12 ounces) Evaporated Milk
1 stick Butter, melted
1 cup Pecan Halves
2 unbaked Deep Dish Pie Shells

Preheat oven to 350℉.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, salt and cocoa together. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir into the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and stir until well blended. Sprinkle pecan halves in the pie shells, about 1/2 cup per shell. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The pie is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July!

A Different take on Cooking Class Dishes

There are many of things to do in the city of New Orleans. One of the popular attractions is the New Orleans School of Cooking. Located in the French Quarter, The New Orleans School of Cooking is the premier learning experience. Since 1980, the staff, now headed by Chef Kevin Belton, has been teaching tourists and local alike the finer points of Creole and Cajun cooking.

You have a choice of attending a cooking demonstration or participating in a hands on cooking class. Both classes feature dining on the items that are being prepared. What dishes are featured you may ask? Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Pralines and Bread Pudding are among the dishes that fill their calendar. After the classes, you are encouraged to browse thru the Louisiana General Store. Here you will find Cookbooks, Spices, Gift Baskets, and Cookware among other things.This week, I will share with you my interpretation of two of the dishes they teach, Crawfish Pie and Grillades and Grits.

This is a cliché Louisiana dish. Immortalized in the song Jambalaya by Hank Williams, crawfish pie is a dish that is learned early in Louisiana culinary education. Of course, it is best made with leftover crawfish from a boil but feel free to use the frozen crawfish tails. When buying frozen tails, make sure they are Louisiana crawfish and not imported tails.

Crawfish Pie

1 9-inch Deep-Dish Pie Crust
1/4 cup Butter
1 cup Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon White Pepper
1 cup Diced Tomatoes
1 pound Crawfish Tails, peeled
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Seafood Stock

Place the pie crust into a deep-dish pie plate. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the onions, bell pepper, celery and dry seasonings, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crawfish tails, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3 minutes to marry the flavors, stirring occasionally. Whisk flour and stock together in a bowl until the mixture is smooth, and pour it into the crawfish mixture. Bring the filling to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 to 30 minutes to finish thickening.

While the filling is cooling, preheat the oven to 400℉. Pour the filling into the pie crust, and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Grillades and Grits are a perfect brunch dish. Most restaurants in Louisiana use veal for the grillades but beef works well also. The keys to this dish is cooking the meat long enough to ensure its tenderness and using a good quality grits.

Grillades and Grits

2 pounds Veal or Beef Round, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
3 tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
Creole Seasoning
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 small Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 cup Tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped
3 cups Stone Ground Grits, cooked

Cut the meat into 3-inch squares. Season with Creole seasoning, and then dredge in the flour and shake off the excess. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Brown the meat lightly and drain on paper towels. Make a roux in the skillet with two tablespoons of the flour and the remaining oil, cooking the roux until it is a rich dark color. Add all the meaning ingredients, except the grits, to the roux and simmer until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Return the meat to the pan, cover the skillet and cook until tender, about 1 hour, stirring often. Serve the Grillades and sauce over the grits.

If you are looking for something to do in New Orleans, I highly suggest spending some time here. I have often thought about doing some cooking classes in White County. I am not sure where to have them or if anyone would be interested. If you are interested or have an idea where to have some classes, drop me a line,