Louisiana Tea Cakes

After World War II, my grandparents Wilbert and Elenora Western moved to California from Shreveport, Louisiana.  With the help of the G.I. Bill, they bought a double lot in East Los Angeles before it became Watts 🙂  At that time the neighborhood was mixed with both whites and blacks, mostly veterans, with beautifully kept lawns and gardens.  My grandparents lived in a large house facing the street and had a smaller house behind that was occupied by Lillie Belle Adams, a cousin/housekeeper/I don’t know exactly, who came with them from Shreveport.  This is the house and time I knew, where I spent many  vacations.  1459 East 50th Street.  I wonder what it’s like now…..

Anyway, my grandmother made the best “down home” southern cuisine I’ve ever tasted and that’s the only kind she cooked; catfish, fried okra, battered tripe, chicken and noodles, greens with ham hock, fried pork chops, liver and onions, etc.  The only cornbread I’ve ever liked was hers; thin, baked in a black skillet and not sweet like cake.  She did make pies, cakes and desserts but when I was not visiting, all I thought about were her “tea cakes”.

Plain Janes but buttery, with hints of vanilla and lemon with a cake like texture.  Not a cookie and not too sweet.

Tea Cakes

1/2 cup butter soft

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

3 cups of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs until blended.  Stir in the extracts.  Set aside.  Sift the baking powder and salt with the flour, then stir into the butter mixture.

Form the dough into a ball, then knead 2 or 3 times.  Roll out and cut into round shapes with a water glass or cookie cutter.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake the cakes at 325 F for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Cuisses de Grenouille

My father and his beer buddies used to capture live frogs to bring home for frogs’ legs parties.  Sometimes these were served with rabbit stew and cornbread.  The frog legs were such a treat for the children of the family.  I can’t say we watched the butchering and prep but we were there when the legs came out of the skillet.  Delicious.  Like chicken 🙂

I know that many of you are going  “eww gross”, that’s why I wrote the title in French, to make you look 😀  Frogs’ legs are found on the menu in many upscale restaurants in France, though the legs are somewhat smaller, maybe delicate, but just as delicious.  They are served deep fried or sauteed in butter with garlic and herbs.

I found these big boys at The Butcher Shoppe in Pocono Lake.  This post is dedicated to Bob Lynch.

 

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Grilled Pork Belly Sandwich and Bok Choy

Before the plague, I ordered and froze a 5 pound pork belly from D’Artagnan, thinking of an Easter family barbecue.  I was a tad disappointed because the pork belly was more long than thick, which would be fine for sliced bacon but I had my doubts about the grill.  Accepting that the plague will be with us a while, I decided to cut the long piece of belly in half and take my chances on the grill, thinking of sandwiches for two.

As a sandwich go-with I steamed some bok choy for one of my favorites; bok choy with spicy vinaigrette.

The bok choy can be served hot or at room temperature.  Either way for us.  Delicious each time!

I overnight refrigerated the really thin piece of pork belly with a salt rub, then some Emeril’s essence for crispy skin.

 

The pork looked pretty good on the grill but was just slightly overcooked.  The sandwiches were great!

 

 

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Attitude Readjustment

Having lost our joy because we realized that we are probably not going to France this autumn because 1) we might be barred from France, because we’d be coming from a country with the most lackadaisical, irresponsible and dangerous response to the Corona virus in the world.  2) Also we’ll probably be too afraid to get on the plane quite possibly incubating the virus from others in our country who didn’t follow science and medical guidelines.

Rather than wallow in this disappointment, we chilled some Cremant(Vieux Ambal Blanc deBlancs) and made a “gouter” (taste, snack/small meal).  The majority of French eat their main meal at noon.  Towards the evening, they will prepare a small snack before TV/bedtime.  I’ve always like this because the meal is usually interesting, with tastes of this and that, but not too filling for the evening.

Before leaving Sens last December, I exchanged good-bye  presents with my neighbor Catherina; she got canned cranberry sauce and I got foie gras stuffed quail.  We were both happy.  Canned meat products from France are a major cut above our spam or vienna sausages and this quail stuffed with fois gras from a farm in Dordogne was a “delice”(delicacy).

The quail comes out of the can ready to be eaten at room temperature or lightly warmed in the can in simmering water before serving.  We chose room temperature.

The quail was preserved in a sauce of mushrooms, duck fat and herbs, maintaining the shape and keeping the meats moist and succulent.

There are no true baguettes in our part of the country.  They do sell a long, thin loaf with a gummy texture that while not what we’re looking for, toasts fine.

I made some butter, garlic and parsley croutons that are good with soup or as a fresh cracker for spreads or topping with slivers of meat or confits.

The deviled eggs, scented with dill never disappoint.  My herbs are slowly returning to the garden, even with the snow/cold/icy rain weather we’ve been having.  The plum trees are starting to bloom, along with the apple trees, dogwood, daffodils and tulips. My husband has planted a 4 types of vegetables in a small garden out of boredom.  Maybe it will work 🙂

A la French style, we stretched this meal our for several hours; eating, drinking, talking and laughing.  Disappointingly, the brie we found was tasteless, horrendous and took 30 minutes to soften in the oven.  How is it possible!?

Still it was a good day and restored our joy.  I’ll have to set up a gouter from time to time, even though this eating style reminds us of friends and fellow trenchermen/women whom we miss a lot 🙂

 

Posted in Appetizer, Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Hors d'oeuvres | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

There is an obscene amount of chicken in the freezer!  What were we thinking?  Avian influenza?  There is so much that I am not at all excited about cooking chicken.  And my husband, always a doomsayer a la Poe’s The Raven, reminds me at least twice a week that we have a lot of chicken in the freezer.  Annoying.

This cute and normal size freezer chicken made me feel better about cooking chicken.  I decided to go with a simple and easy oven chicken with vegetables, roasted in my shamefully neglected tajine.

I used the vegetables that I had on hand.  While not the freshest, they were good to go; onion, fennel, carrots, potatoes, celery and a whole garlic bulb with the top sliced off.

Except for the fennel bulb, I cut the vegetables into large pieces so they wouldn’t overcook with the chicken.  The fennel was sliced thin.  I also mixed the vegetables with olive oil and some herbs before placing on the bottom of the tajine.  Use whatever vegetables you have that can last for an hour in the oven and STAY AT HOME.  If you must go out remember mask, gloves and my new thing, shoe covers 😀

I rubbed the chicken all over with a paste of Emeril’s essence and olive oil, laid it on top of the vegetables with the garlic between the legs, then roasted at 400 F for 1 hour.

The skin was crisp and the vegetables tender.  I squeezed a few of the buttery garlic cloves on some bread as an appetizer 🙂

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

2 1/2 – 3 lb whole chicken, spatchcocked

Olive oil

2 tbsp Emeril’s essence

1 large onion, quartered

3 carrots, cut into 4 pieces each

3 celery branches, cut into 4 pieces each

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 large baking potatoes,  cut into 8 pieces each

1 large garlic bulb, top sliced off

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp sage

1 tsp rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil

Make a paste with the Emeril’s essence and rub all over the chicken.  Set aside.  Mix the remaining ingredients together and place in the bottom of a roasting pan/tajine.  Place the chicken skin side up on the vegetables and put all in a preheated 400 F oven for 1 hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Miso Marinated Sablefish with Sugar Snap Peas

The State of Pennsylvania, among others, is an “open carry” state.  Which means that it is your constitutional right, based on the 2nd amendment, to take your gun openly into any establishment, event, park or wherever, except to a hospital, the courthouse and, I imagine the police station.  Most open carriers have a holster but I think you can just carry it in your hand, the better to be prepared in case anybody else has a gun, then you don’t have to worry about being the fastest draw in Honesdale.

New to Pennsylvania, I first saw a crazy looking man with a holstered gun when my husband pressured me in to going to Walmart with him.

Me:  He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun!  Let’s get out of here!

My husband:  It’s okay, it’s his constitutional right.

I said all of that to say this:  I needed to go to Super Duper, masked and gloved, to rapidly grab vegetables from the shelves, while maintaining 6 feet social distance from other shoppers who were neither masked nor concerned with social distance.  While backing up, skipping around and dashing sideways I quickly grabbed two bags of what I thought were snow peas while racing to the register and out.  You don’t dare suggest or protest the lack of social distancing to any of the other clients because besides open carry, there is also “concealed carry”(unlike open carry, you do need an easy to get permit) that allows you to have a gun in your purse, jacket, pocket, stuck into the back of your pants covered with your shirt or in your bra.  Aside:  There was a stand-off  in the local pizza parlor between two concealed carry ladies who, whatever the argument, arrived at the conclusion that the disagreement just might be a killing offense.  So that’s why I made sugar snap peas.

I sweated garlic, ginger, onion and yellow bell pepper in olive oil to add interest to the peas.

I also stirred in a teaspoon of garlic chilli sauce because we like it that way 🙂

Sablefish or black cod is a superior fish and when smoked, has a buttery flavor.  Before I knew the plague was coming, I bought about 24 of these filets online for the freezer.   So happy I did!  They are truly gourmet.

The sablefish should be marinated in the refrigerator for 2-3 days with miso paste, sugar, sake and mirin.  I used Aji-mirin because that’s all I had but would have preferred hon-mirin.  Hon-mirin has no added salt and sugar and a higher alcohol content.  High enough that I can’t get it from Amazon because it’s considered a wine.

After the fish has marinated I lightly brush off any excess marinade before cooking.  Decades ago, my husband suggested I use cheap paint brushes for applying barbecue sauce instead of the more expensive kitchen brushes made for that purpose.  I didn’t care and still don’t.  It makes him happy and I spend so much more money on really cool kitchen tools 😀

I love this fish!

Asian Flavored Sugar Snap Peas

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp chicken broth

1 tsp garlic chilli sauce

2 tbsp peanut oil

1/4 onion,  chopped

1/4 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 tsp grated garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

8 -12 ounces sugar snap peas

Mix the soy sauce, broth and chilli sauce together and set aside.  Sweat the onion, bell pepper, garlic and ginger in the oil until soft.  Add the peas and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the reserve sauce, bring a to boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Miso Marinated Sablefish

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup hon mirin or aji mirin

4 tbsp white miso

3 tbsp sugar

6  4-6 ounce skin on sablefish fillets

1 tbsp peanut oil

Mix the sake, mirin, miso and sugar together, then slowly heat, stirring over a flame until the sugar has dissolved.  Cool, then place in a zip lock bag with the fillets, gently squishing to thickly cover the fish with the marinade.  Refrigerate for 2-3 days.

Heat the oil in a hot skillet, add the fish skin side down, cooking for about 2 minutes, turn and cook for 2-3 additional minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, side dish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Butter Beans

There were several generous leftover chunks of baked ham in the freezer that were buried under the frozen chicken.  You’d think I’d organize the freezer.  After all, it’s a stand up with 5 shelves!  But what the heck, so boring and I like surprises 😀

I vaguely remembered buying some lima beans and thought, “My mother’s butter beans!”  After ransacking the pantry, I found a bag of oldish lima beans.  I knew that old beans, even when soaked overnight, take longer to cook than fresh ones.  So, I soaked them overnight, then brought the soaked beans to a boil, removed from flame, covered and allowed them to sit for 1 hour before cooking.  Using this method makes for a perfectly cooked and creamy bean.

Hmm.  I have lots of onions but it looks grim in the fridge for carrots and celery.  No problem.  I can cook lots of other things that don’t call for carrots and celery.  Low stores of onions and garlic would be critical!

See that buttery looking film on the top of the bean pot?  That’s butter 😀

Butter Beans

1 lb bag of lima beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, diced

3 celery branches, chopped

2-3 ham hocks, or about 1 lb leftover baked ham

4 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

4 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tbsp Emeril’s essence

4 tbsp butter

Heat the soaked beans with its water to boiling.  Remove from heat, cover and allow to rest for 1 hour.  Drain and set aside.

Saute the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until the onion is soft.  Add the ham, broth, water, bay leaves, garlic powder, thyme, black pepper and crushed red pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.  Stir in the drained beans and butter.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.

 

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Browned Brussel Sprouts with Onions

My husband went to the store for bottled spring water , masked and gloved, and saw some brussel sprouts he wanted.  I have no idea if it’s the season or what but we both like them so……  I wanted to make them with pancetta but there was none in the freezer so I browned and cooked them simply with onions. Quite nice !

We have tons of meats, including steaks, in the freezer.  I wonder if it’s possible to empty my freezer during “the troubles”.  We’ll see.  I bought a lot of frozen vegetables in case we can’t get fresh, God forbid.  Otherwise, we’re okay and the family is okay.  I hope all of you are hanging in there.

Browned Brussel Sprouts with Onions

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

2 cups fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp chicken broth

Melt the oil and butter together in a large skillet.  Add the sprouts and season with salt and pepper.  Saute until the onions and sprouts have browned.  Add the chicken broth, cover and steam until just done to taste.

 

 

Posted in American, Cooking, Food and Wine, Recipes, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Posole/Pozole

This is probably the best posole/pozole I’ve ever made!  It tastes like the Mexican food of my childhood; spicy hot, thick and rich.  I’ve finally found some “correct”  chili powder and all my other spices and herbs are newly purchased, not like in France where my friend Vero has criticized the years past using dates in my spice rack 😀

Posole is a spicy Mexican stew that features hominy, pork and hot chillies.  Hominy is dried maize that has been treated with an alkali and puffs up into large, soft white or yellow kernels, is canned and used in Mexican or Southern cuisine and also to make hominy grits.  My mother, Texican that she was, made posole and also served hominy with butter as a side dish.  Everybody liked it.

Perfect time for a comfort stew with loads of onions, garlic and chillies. It’s March 23rd and snowing but we made the 10 mile trek over the border to New York.  The Pennsylvania governor has closed all stores except for life sustaining businesses; pharmacies, grocers, gas stations, beer distributors (really).  We can get wine, such as it is, in New York.

On the way out of town there is a small grocer called the Sunrise with a local selection of meats, dairy, eggs and vegetables.  There I found 2 butcher prepared 3 1/2 lb rolled pork loin roasts.  One for the posole and another for the freezer.  I should have gotten all three but I’m trying not to hoard 🙂

I cut the pork into large chunks for browning with the aromatics and chillies.  I chopped 1 serrano and one habenero chilli, seeds in, but you could half the amount and remove the seeds if you’re not looking for real Mexican hot and to set your soul on fire 😀   The mixture of the other ingredients still make a delicious stew.  I saw hominy on Amazon.com for $7-$10 per can.  That’s ridiculous!  The normal price is between $1.25 -$1.32 per can.  Look for canned hominy in both supermarkets and ethnic grocers.

Mexican Posole

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, coarsely chopped

4 garlic cloves, coarsely choppe

1 habanero and 1 serrano chilli, coarsely chopped, seeds in

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

4-5 scallions, sliced

2 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

4 tbsp good chili powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp black pepper

3 tbsp flour

1 bottle of beer

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 quarts chicken stock

4 cans hominy, yellow or white or mixed, drained

Garnishes: sliced scallions, chopped fresh tomato, cilantro

In a large skillet, saute the onions, garlic, chillies, cilantro and scallions until the onions have just wilted.  Add the pork and continue to saute until the pork is lightly browned.  stir in the paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper for about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle in the flour, stirring, for another 2 minutes.  Slowly pour in the beer and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the tomatoes and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Finally, add the hominy, return to a boil, then reduce to simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with scallions, tomatoes and cilantro.  Serve with flour or corn tortillas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lapin a la Moutarde

This rabbit, from The Butcher Shoppe in Lake Pocono was imported from Montreal and you just knew that the French were involved in some way because the important inner organs came with.  However, for good or bad,  you also could tell that the proximity of Montreal to the United States has had some influence on food prep;  no head 😀

My bay leaf plant survived the winter beautifully indoors!  The dog did snack on the leaves from time to time but they were probably good for her and it didn’t damage the plant too much.

My husband grew up in Sullivan County, New York, walking his father’s lands, trapping and hunting.  I imagine this lead to his studying and receiving his undergraduate degree in forestry.  He knows a lot about edible plants and animals in the forest and if we had to, which we might, I think we could live off the land.  I’ll cook anything as long as he cleans it.  But not mushrooms, he knows zip about mushrooms and that’s more than I know.  Otherwise, I could make some lovely stews, soups from forest plants and herbs.  Just mushroomless 🙂

Until I started cooking and eating rabbits, I wasn’t very interested in them as animals/pets.  Dogs and cats seem to have a lot more personality than rabbits and rabbits that I have seen kept as domestic pets get odd growths on them.  Yeech!

Unlike chickens, rabbits don’t have much meat on the breast area but have a very meaty back section called rable or saddle.  Before browning, cut the legs from the carcass and cut the rable into about four sections.  Brown these parts along with the the organs and breast bones for a richer taste.

I didn’t have lardons but in the U.S.,  pancetta works fine.  Speaking of lardons, our village in France, Sens, has been completely shut down and a police permit is needed to leave your home for the necessaries.  If you are out without a permit, the fine is 135 euros.  What is poor M. Parret going to do?  There are 12 cases of coronavirus in the town with 1 death but M. Parret (83 years old) says that the man who died was elderly.

Braised rabbit reminds me so much of Sens and our friends.  The way this circus is going on in the U.S., with no one to blame nor competent in the White House, we probably won’t be able to travel there in September.   I can imagine France saying no to Americans who want to go to France.  Time to take out our handy-dandy Irish passports 😀

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce with Mushrooms

1 rabbit, cut up

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup pancetta

1 generous knob of butter

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 celery branches, sliced

1 lb mushrooms, halved

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Season the rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, brown in a skillet in the olive oil, then place in a casserole or tajine with cover and set aside.

In a clean skillet, brown the pancetta, add the butter, then the shallots, celery and garlic. Saute until the shallots are soft, then add the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms start to release their water.  Add the wine and boil vigorously for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the broth, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper until smooth.

Pour the sauce into the casserole with the rabbit and gently stir.  Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for about 45 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, French, Main dishes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments