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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Leap into something new with Frog Legs

First things first, frog legs taste like a cross between chicken and fish. Their mild flavor has people believing that they taste like chicken. Their texture is the same as chicken wings. You can prepare frog legs in many of the same ways as chicken.

Frog Legs can be considered either seafood or meat. This question is often brought up during the Lenten season, when some religions fast from eating meat on Friday. On menus, you always find frog legs listed under the seafood dishes. More often than not, frog legs are deep fried. As you can see from the recipes that follow, there are many other ways to prepare these delicacies.

One night, when my wife was out of town, I was looking for a different way to prepare frog legs. I thought that I would substitute the shrimp in my BBQ Shrimp recipe with the frog legs. My intuition was correct. The frog legs were just as tasty. It is a very easy and quick meal to prepare.

BBQ Frog Legs

3 pounds Frog Legs (cut the legs so they are single legs)
1 1/2 pounds Butter (6 sticks)
1 1/2 cups Olive Oil
8 tablespoons Garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dry Basil Leaves
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-high heat, melt butter in olive oil in a large pot. Combine all other ingredients, except the frog legs, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the frog legs and cook for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with French bread for dipping in the sauce.

This dish is named after our Yorkie, Abigail. As a puppy, she was attracted to the frogs we would get in our yard. She would chase and catch them, which caused a reaction when she had the frog in her mouth. While writing my cookbook, I wanted to include a recipe named after my sweet little girl. Frog Legs were the obvious choice. This is great served over pasta.

Frog Legs Abigail

16 pairs Frog Legs, separated
1 teaspoon Salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper, divided
1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
1 cup Flour
1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Clam Juice
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream
6 tablespoons cold Butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1 tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
Pinch Black Pepper

Lightly season frog legs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper. Combine flour with Creole Seasoning and the remaining salt and white pepper. In batches, dredge the frog legs in flour and shake off the excess. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add frog legs in two batches and cook, turning constantly until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Carefully drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan and return to the heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add clam juice and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add heavy cream and cook for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the butter, several pieces at a time, stirring constantly, until all of the butter has been incorporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the parsley and black pepper. Return frog legs to the pan and cook over medium heat to warm through, shaking the pan back and forth to coat the frog legs evenly with the sauce, about 1 minute.

If you have not tried frog legs, take a leap of faith and try them. If you like chicken, which most people do, you will like frog legs.

Chicken can be versatile

I feel that chicken often gets a bum rap. It is an inexpensive meat and many often turn to chicken to stretch their budget. It is easy to feed a family of 4 for under 10 dollars.

However, chicken is a very versatile protein. Its blank canvas lends itself to many different ways to cook it as well as things to serve with it. In the movie Forrest Gump, Bubba tells Forrest the many ways you can serve shrimp. I think there are as many, if not more ways, to serve chicken. My two recipes this week use two different cuts of chicken, cut up whole chicken and chicken breast.

Chicken Fricassee is a dish that I remember fondly. My grandmother cooked it often. I was once asked what the difference was between this dish and Chicken Stew. The difference is the cooking of the chicken. You cook the chicken in the roux for a few minutes for a Fricassee. This gives a crusty texture to the chicken. For Chicken Stew, the chicken is cooked after the liquid is added.

Chicken Fricassee

1 Chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces
Creole Seasoning to taste
2/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 cups Onions, Chopped
1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped
4 to 5 cups warm Chicken Stock
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons Green Onions, chopped

Season the chicken pieces generously with Creole Seasoning. Set aside.

In a large black iron or stainless steel pot, make a roux by combining the oil and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is dark brown. Add the onions and bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat well with the roux mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes. Slowly add the stock and the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about two hours, or until the chicken is tender. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Remove the bay leaves, then add the parsley and green onions. Serve immediately.

This dish is named after the buildings that surround Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The Pontalba apartments on the upper floors of these buildings are considered the oldest continuously-rented apartments in the United States. The dish was created at Brennan’s restaurant and is widely found on menus in New Orleans.

Chicken Pontalba

Olive Oil
8 6-ounce Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
Creole Seasoning
1/2 cup Butter
4 tablespoons Garlic, minced
2 cups Onions, chopped
2 cups Green Onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups Ham, diced
2 cups Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup Potatoes, diced and deep-fried about 2 minutes
3 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
3/4 cup White Wine or Chicken Stock
3 cups Bérnaise Sauce, recipe to follow

Preheat oven to 175℉.

In a large skillet, pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Season the chicken with Creole Seasoning. Sauté the chicken over medium heat until done, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and keep warm in the oven.

In a sauté pan, melt butter and sauté the garlic, onions, green onions, ham, and mushrooms until the mushrooms are brown. Add the wine or stock and reduce by 1/3. Add fried potatoes and parsley and cook 2 minutes. Put 1/8 of the potato mixture in the center of the plate. Place the chicken breast on top. Top with a generous amount of Bérnaise Sauce.
This is a variation of Hollandaise Sauce. A classic French sauce, Bérnaise is a great sauce to serve over chicken and steaks. This blender recipe is a simple way to make this sauce.

Bérnaise Sauce

2 tablespoons dried Tarragon
3/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Shallots, minced
2 Egg Yolks
1 Whole Egg
2 sticks (1/2 pound) Margarine
1 stick (1/4 pound) Butter
1 1/2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground White Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté tarragon, red wine vinegar and shallots for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture becomes paste-like and remove from heat. Melt margarine and butter over medium heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a blender, blend egg yolks, egg, vinegar, cayenne, white pepper and lemon juice. With blender on, pour melted margarine/butter slowly into other ingredients. Blend to thicken. Add the tarragon mixture and blend well.

Next time you are feeling creative, pick up some chicken and experiment away.

Getting Creative with Catfish

When I first arrived in Searcy, one of the first places my sister-in-law took us to eat was an all you can eat Catfish Buffett. Catfish was not as popular in New Orleans as it is here in Arkansas. Over the years, I have found that catfish is a versatile fish. It is mostly found fried in Arkansas. There are different ways, other than frying, to cook catfish. Today I am sharing with you a way to cook catfish on the stovetop and in the oven. I have also included a couple of sauces to top fried catfish with.

I have always said that Jambalaya can be made with any protein. One day, I had some catfish that I wanted to cook without frying or baking. Looking around the kitchen, I saw rice. The first attempt was good, so I knew I was on the right track. After a few more attempts, here is the best result.

Catfish Jambalaya

4 medium Onions, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 stalk Celery, chopped
2 sticks Butter or Margarine
1 (10 ounce) can Chopped Tomatoes
4 ounces Fresh Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 ounces Catfish Fillets
2 cups cooked White Rice
2 tablespoons Green Onions, chopped

Place all ingredients except the catfish, rice and green onions into a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to turn a light brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the fish and cook 15 to 20 minutes longer. Stir in the rice and green onions and serve.

Stuffed Trout is a dish that is often found in New Orleans. Since Speckled Trout is not easily found in Arkansas, I thought I would use catfish. The results were delicious. There is no need for me to bring trout back from New Orleans when catfish is readily available here.

Stuffed Catfish

1 pound Claw Crabmeat, picked thru for shells
1 stick Butter
1/2 cup Onion, minced
1/2 cup Celery, minced
1//4 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning

Melt butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the vegetables and parsley and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add crabmeat and remove from heat. Add breadcrumbs and Creole Seasoning and mix well. Set aside.

4 Catfish Fillets
Lemon Zest
1 cup Seafood Stock

Preheat oven to 325℉.

Take a 4 ounce ball of stuffing and wrap a fillet around it. Sprinkle a pinch of lemon zest over each fish. Add 1/4 cup of seafood stock to the stuffed fish and wrap it in aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. You can top this with any sauce you like.

Here are a couple of sauces that are perfect toppings for fried or stuffed catfish. The Cream of Crawfish can also be made with shrimp.

Cream of Crawfish Sauce
1/2 cup Crawfish Tails, slightly chopped
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning
2/3 cup Onion, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces

Coat crawfish with Creole Seasoning. In a medium sauté pan, add the crawfish, onions and Worcestershire sauce. Over medium heat, sauté for 2 minutes. Add heavy cream and reduce for 10 minutes. Add butter and stir until butter is melted and incorporated. Serve over fried catfish.

Pecan Meuniére Sauce

2 sticks Butter
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup Pecans, chopped

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter until it stops bubbling and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan begin to brown. Carefully add the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; the butter will foam. Cook until the foam subsides. Add pecans and serve over fried catfish.

Don’t hesitate to cook catfish other than frying. It is a great tasting fish however you cook it.

Preparing perfect pasta

Pasta is a dish that is often introduced early in our childhood. The softness of the pasta makes it a great meal for a child who is cutting teeth. Our fondness for pasta carries on as we get older. It is also a great meal if you are on a budget. Pasta doubles in size when you cook it.

Often you see the words al denté associated with pasta.The translation form Italian is “ to the tooth.” You want pasta to have a firmness to it. When you overcook pasta, the softness leaves no resistance when you chew it. Correctly cooked pasta adds more texture to your completed dish.

Some people suggest that you add oil to the boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking together. While it will prevent the pasta from sticking, it will also prevent your sauce from sticking to the pasta. The only thing you should add to the water is a decent amount of salt. This will add flavor to the cooked pasta.

This is one of my wife’s favorite dishes. She first had it at Drago’s restaurant in New Orleans. I have since recreated the dish so I can cook it for her whenever she wishes. For variety, you can substitute other seafood for the shrimp and crabmeat.

Shrimp and Crabmeat Pasta

2 cups Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon ground White Pepper
1 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2 pound raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound Crabmeat, picked thru for shells
1/2 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 pound Fettuccine, cooked al denté

Pour cream into a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just about boiling. Reduce heat and add herbs, salt, peppers, onions, and parsley. Simmer 7 to 8 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in seafood, cooking until the shrimp are no longer transparent. Stir in the cheeses, blending well. Serve over pasta.

This is Creole Italian cooking at its finest. This is not your typical meat sauce recipe. It has more flavor due to the addition of the Beef Stock and Worcestershire sauce. It is also chunky due to the chopped tomatoes.

Pasta Creole

3 cups Egg Noodles, cooked al denté
1 pound Ground Beef, sautéed

Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Green Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 cup Celery, finely chopped
1 cup Onions, finely chopped
2 cups Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Dry Thyme
3 Bay Leaves
6 cups Beef Stock
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Cornstarch
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Melt the butter over low heat in a large skillet. Add the chopped vegetables, paprika and sauté until soft and slightly browned. Add the bay leaves, thyme, beef stock, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 15 minutes. Mix cornstarch together with enough water to make a thin paste then add to sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sautéed meat and cook for 5 minutes Serve over pasta.

This is my interpretation of Copeland’s Shrimp and Tasso Pasta. This simple but delicious dish is what is commonly known as Alfredo. The addition of the Tasso gives it that Louisiana flavor. It takes longer to cook the pasta than it does to make the sauce. I always keep heavy cream and Parmesan cheese on hand to whip up an Alfredo sauce.

Shrimp and Tasso Pasta

10 tablespoons Butter, divided
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
2 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 dozen medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound Tasso, diced
8 ounces Bow Tie Pasta, cooked al denté

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté garlic in 8 tablespoons of butter for 3 minutes or golden brown. Add the heavy cream. Heat until the edges start to bubble. Slowly add the Parmesan Cheese and mix until well blended.

In a medium sauté pan, sauté shrimp and tasso in remaining butter until the shrimp are no longer transparent. Add shrimp and Tasso to the sauce. Keep warm for 3 minutes. Serve over Bow Tie Pasta.

You will want to keep Parmesan cheese to top your pasta dishes. I always keep a small wedge on hand to grate over pasta. It’s better tasting than the grated cheese you find in containers near the pasta.