Friday, December 23, 2011

Madeline’s Spinach

You know, it's funny how things come full circle, one day, just out of the blue. I was perusing the internet earlier this week and came across this article on . There it was! The origins of Spinach Madeline, a beloved South Louisiana recipe that I posted here on the blog last year for Thanksgiving and again last Christmas. I never knew the exact origin of the recipe or who made it up but here it is! I found it very interesting especially since I've been making it for the last 25 years!

Madeline’s Spinach

By Maggie Heyn Richardson

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Local retiree Madeline Wright caused a sensation and a renowned regional dish with her creation of Spinach Madeleine in 1956.

In 1956, St. Francisville native Madeline Wright was mulling over what to prepare for a bridge luncheon for friends when she spotted a six-ounce roll of Kraft jalapeño cheese in her refrigerator. She had picked up the new product from the supermarket a few days earlier with no specific plans for using it.

Maybe it would enhance creamed spinach, she thought. Despite her lack of cooking experience, she proceeded to toss together what seemed right: chopped spinach, diced onion, butter, flour, vegetable liquor, a few shakes of celery salt and garlic salt, chunks of the jalapeño cheese roll and Worcestershire sauce. Wright stirred the concoction until it was thick and creamy, placed it in a casserole and topped it with breadcrumbs. She plated it on good china and served it to her friends.

It was creamy, salty and spiked with unexpected spiciness. Her friends’ rave reviews inspired her to keep serving the dish at dinner parties and family events. Two years later, the Junior League of Baton Rouge asked its members to submit recipes for its first cookbook, and Wright handed over instructions for her go-to spicy creamed spinach.

She named it Spinach Madeleine, using the French spelling of her first name for extra flourish.

River Road Recipes was published in 1959 and quickly became a regional hit. Its success led to three subsequent volumes, which together form the best-selling community cookbook series in the nation. Generations of readers have discovered and cooked Wright’s recipe, and it has long been a standard item on local holiday tables. Spinach Madeleine became so popular regionally that when Kraft Foods discontinued its jalapeño cheese roll in 1999, fans of the dish showered the company with complaints. Kraft maintained its decision, forcing local cooks to turn to other jalapeño cheeses for the recipe.

Today, Wright still marvels at the unexpected attention earned by her bout of kitchen spontaneity.

“It’s really sort of funny and a little bit embarrassing, but it’s nice to be known for something,” says Wright, now 82 and still living in St. Francisville.

Cooking had not been one of Wright’s favorite activities. When many of her peers were learning to cook, she was earning dual bachelor’s degrees from LSU in psychology and sociology. As she approached her marriage to William Reymond shortly after graduation, her mother had a suggestion.

“She told me I ought to take a home economics class to learn how to cook,” Wright says. “My mother-in-law was also a well-known cook and hostess, so I had a lot of standards to measure up to.”

Wright and her first husband and their children eventually moved to Houston. She later created a company that leased plants to corporate offices.

She returned home to St. Francisville years later, and in 1992, she opened a bed and breakfast on family property called the Green Springs Inn. She closed it in 2005 to spend more time with family.

As for her famed dish, Wright says she has made it occasionally over the years, but not as often as its fans might think.

“Our B&B guests expected me to serve it for breakfast,” she says. “I’d do it only periodically. Usually we’d do a typical Southern breakfast of scrambled eggs, grits, biscuits and fresh fruit.”

Wright also laments the loss of the cornerstone ingredient, the jalapeño cheese log.

“It’s been a pain in the neck ever since,” she admits. “Now the dish has an entirely different texture. I’ve tried various things, but I find Velveeta too soupy. None of it is really satisfactory.”

Wright says she never benefitted financially from the recipe, and she says she still marvels at the enthusiasm with which people have embraced it.

“It was just a set of circumstances that fell together,” she says. “It’s been a lot of fun, and nobody is more surprised about it than I am.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Orleans Beignets

Beignet (pronounced "ben-yay" in French) literally means "bump". Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians from Canada who arrived there from France. These were fried fritters, sometimes filled with fruit. Today, they are a pastry made from deep-fried dough like a doughnut only square and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.

Shhhhhh! I'll share a little secret with you. Shhhhhh! You don't need beignet mix or make a dough from scratch to make beignets! All you need is a can of basic biscuits, nothing fancy just plain old generic biscuits.

You can leave them round, cut them to form squares or into rectangular "fingers" which are easier to eat. Using the leftover dough, form another square or finger biscuit; then deep fry them in hot oil. Remove from the oil and place on a plate covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil, then sprinkle confectioner's sugar over them. That's it!!! Now you can have your own Cafe du Monde experience at home!

Serve them with ice cold milk or cafe au Lait (which is coffee with lots of milk in it). Community Coffee can be found in most grocery stores around the nation. The New Orleans Blend with Chickory is what is served at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. My favorite is the Cafe Special.

Turn on some New Orleans jazz, make some Cafe au Lait and Beignets, transport yourself back to New Orleans and have a nice relaxing breakfast! Enjoy and you're welcome!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cream Of Crab And Brie Soup

One of my favorite restaurants in Louisiana has a Cream of Crab and Brie Soup that is out of this world. Another of my favorite restaurants has a Cream of Crab and Asparagus Soup that I also love. Of course (you know me!), I went home and poured through all my cookbooks looking for something comparable. I ended up taking several recipes, modifying them and came up with this one. You can make it with the brie, or not, and you can make it with the asparagus, or not! It's up to you. Either way you decide to go, this is a soup that is absolutely wonderful. Serve it as the main dish with some buttered french bread and a salad or as a side to a different main course like crab cakes. It's heaven in a bowl!

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup brandy, optional(increase the wine to 1 cup)
6 cups seafood stock
2 cups cream
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and cubed
1 pound crabmeat (backfin or lump, NOT She-Crab)
1 bunch asparagus spears, tipped to 1-1/2” (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt and/or Tony’s to taste

Melt butter in a dutch oven/pot over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour, stirring constantly, until a blond roux is achieved, about 6-8 minutes. Add onions, garlic and optional asparagus tips. Sauté 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Carefully add the white wine and brandy. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan. Gradually blend in seafood stock. Add cream and blend.

Bring to a gentle boil. Be careful not to scorch. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes until reduced to a thick, velvety texture. Add brie; stir constantly until cheese melts. Gently fold in crabmeat. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Add cayenne, black and white pepper. Season to taste with salt and/or Tony’s.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Michael Angelo's Chicken Piccata

Because school has me studying hard and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I have not been cooking (or blogging) like I want to. As a result, I've been buying frozen dinners fairly frequently. Lately, I was craving Italian anything, so I went to the grocery store and perused the frozen dinner section. I stuck with the usual (rhymes with Topher with an "S" in front) meals but a meat lagnasa by Michael Angelo's caught my eye so I bought one. It was great! Much better than the other brand.

I went back a few days later and decided to try several of the other Michael Angelo's products. Oh. My. God! The Chicken Piccata is to die for! I don't think I could make it from scratch any better than theirs! YUM! YUM! YUM!

I searched for a recipe like it but have come up empty handed as they add a few more ingredients than the recipes I've found. So, as soon as I have some time, I'm going to modify a recipe and make it. I'll let you know how it comes out and will post the recipe if it's as good as Michael Angelo's is! Otherwise, I'll be purchasing the family size Michael Angelo's Piccata!

At any rate, if you are in a hurry and don't have time to cook, the Michael Angelo's products, particularly the Piccata, are wonderful. Besides the Piccata I liked the Meat Lagnasa and the Baked Ziti with Meatballs. Back to studying now. Ciao!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shrimp Bisque

It's that time of the year again! Today, it didn't get above 64 degrees, Whoo Hoo! Winter is on the way. Time to make all those wonderful soups I love so much. One of my favorite cream soups is an old Louisiana recipe, Shrimp Bisque. I prefer this recipe as it doesn't have tomato sauce or paste in it which gives it a lighter taste and doesn't overpower the delicate shrimp flavor. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! C'est Ce Bon!

1 pound shrimp, peeled and chopped
4 cups Half & Half
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons of onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
Tony’s to taste

Saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Add the shrimp, sauté until done. Blend in the flour, salt, paprika and pepper. Add Half & Half gradually and cook until thick, stirring frequently. Check seasonings and add Tony’s to taste. Serve.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Only In South Louisiana....

From the US National Weather Service New Orleans Louisiana website:

This picture was taken down in St. Bernard yesterday following the deluge from Tropical Storm Lee. You gotta love South Louisiana, the only place where sometimes you have to swim to get to the swimming pool!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

One of the tried and true comfort foods is Chicken Pot Pie. It doesn't matter if it's summer or winter, if you're sick or well, going through a bad time or just stressed out, a really good chicken pot pie seems to help make it all better.

My mother never made homemade pot pies but always bought the frozen ones from the store; as a result, I never really cared for them. However, a few years ago while visiting a friend for the weekend, I had the great fortune of eating a pot pie made by a woman who was very well known for her recipe.

Oh. My. God. It was to die for! I called begging her to give me her recipe but she refused. So, I picked that silly thing apart until I pretty much knew what was in it (but not entirely, not the "secret" ingredient) and certainly not the quantities. I've searched high and low for a recipe that might be close to hers and I think I've finally found it. I've made it and if this isn't the exact recipe, it is darn close. Let me know what YOU think!

1 box Pillsbury Pie Crusts
1 ½ - 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup heavy cream
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 small red potatoes, cut in 1-in chunks
1-1/2 sticks butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
¾ cup frozen green peas
5 Tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup cognac or dry white wine
1 Tbsp dried tarragon
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
4 boiled eggs, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350. Salt and pepper the chicken and place it in a baking dish in a single layer. Pour the cream over the chicken and bake for 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Remove the chicken from the cream, reserving the cream for the sauce. Once the chicken has cooled, cut it into 1 inch pieces.

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes, then add the carrots and cook until both the potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Drain and set aside.

Sauté onions and celery in butter. Sprinkle in the flour; stir and cook 5 minutes, but do not brown. Remove yolks from egg slices. Slowly add the broth to the onion mixture, whisking until the sauce smoothes out and thickens. Add the egg yolks, cream, cognac, tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook 5 more minutes. Add the chicken, potatoes, carrots, egg whites and frozen peas to this sauce and mix gently.

Preheat the oven to 425. Place one pie crust in a round pie pan and pour in the chicken mixture. Place the second crust over the dish and press down the pastry edges, folding if necessary. Brush the top of the pastry with a little melted butter. Cut a few steam vents in the pastry and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lava Lamps

School is over for the summer, I just completed the semester on Wednesday. Now that I've had a few days to rest, I thought I'd post something that I plan to enjoy over the next week or two. Lava Lamps! Have fun!

1 chilled Martini glass
Fill it up with ice cold vodka, of your choice
Add 1 jello shot, flavor of your choice

Relax and enjoy!

For jello shots, follow the directions on the package, but add 1 part vodka and 1 part water...or stronger if you like. Just don't use all vodka or they won't set. Pour into empty plastic egg cartons, or small paper or plastic cups and refrigerate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Banana Split Pie

Today is my birthday! Happy Birthday to me! Yep, it's the big 5-0! But, it won't be official until 1:55pm, my actual birth time. Thank you, Thank you! I am a half century today.

When I make a birthday cake or dessert for myself or when asked what I would like for my birthday, my two favorite choices are Red Velvet Cake and Banana Split Pie. Because it's so hot at this time in July, the Banana Split Pie usually wins hands down! Here is the recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do!

1 stick butter, melted
1 box graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
5 bananas, sliced
1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (16 ounce) container Cool-Whip, thawed
1 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, stemmed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Chocolate Syrup, optional

In a 9x13 glass or porcelain dish, combine 1 stick of melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. With a fork, incorporate the butter until the crumbs are coated. Firmly press into a crust in the bottom of the pan.

In a medium bowl, cream together the other stick of softened butter, eggs and confectioners' sugar; beat for 15 minutes. Spread evenly on the graham cracker crust. Layer banana slices evenly on top of butter/sugar mixture; layer pineapple on top of the bananas. Evenly spread the Cool-Whip and garnish with cherries and pecans. Drizzle optional chocolate syrup over the top. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Keeps well refrigerated for about a week.

Note: we prefer this without the chocolate syrup

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicken Soup In A Pinch

I have a sick one at home today and didn't have time or the ingredients to make a pot of chicken soup. So, I improvised with what I had thus making Chicken Soup In A Pinch! It came out really great and only took about 7 minutes to make. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do!

2 cans chicken broth
1 heaping tbls green onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 heaping tbls canned chicken (optional)
Salt to taste

In a 2 quart bowl (or measuring cup) add all the vegetables, broth and salt. Heat in microwave for 6 minutes or until frozen vegetables are cooked. Add chicken, stir well and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Atchafalaya: Way of Life Swamped

The historic flooding by the Mississippi River of my beloved South Louisiana Cajun Country and Atchafalaya Basin is truly breaking my heart. The scenes on the internet and TV are just wrenching. I found this article on The Weather Channel website that so eloquently describes our way of life and the impact this flooding will have on my fellow cajuns. It was written by Becky Kellogg. The comments are worth reading. Here is the link:

"There's something real down here. People are more in touch with the earth and more in touch with each other," says Cajun and lifelong Louisiana resident Elaine Clement.

Louisiana's Atchafalaya Swamp is at the heart of the Great Flood Disaster of 2011. As homes become flooded and the Mississippi River swells to levels that haven't been observed in decades, all attention turns to the so-called Cajun Country.

Cajun Country is an area steeped in mystery and magic. Mornings dawn in the swamp with a thick coating of mist on the water. The only sounds you can hear are fish jumping and the occasional hum of a boat engine. It's one of the ultimate places you can reach for isolation and closeness with nature. But now, due to rising flood waters, this way of life could disappear.

"It's just ... different than the rest of the United States," says Clement. Clement, who grew up in Morgan City and now lives in Lafayette, would know. She has spent most of her life studying the Cajun culture and educating people about it. To her, the survival of the culture comes down to the astounding resiliency of its people. They live every day with the powerful forces of nature and weather. "We've had hurricanes the past 5 or 6 years, the oil spill last year, now this. There are some places people are starting to leave, but still... it's our home."

Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers was faced with a heart-wrenching decision. It either could save Louisiana's biggest cities or sacrifice one of its greatest treasures: the swamp. In the end, the cities won.
Few know much about the Atchafalaya, which sustains a life cycle both unique and necessary.
-Largest swamp in U.S.
-Includes 8 parishes
-Largest city is Morgan City
-30,000 people threatened by ongoing flood
-11,000 homes, buildings could be flooded

For those who've visited, and certainly for those who live there, the Atchafalaya is mystical. "I fell in love with the area and people right away. They make you feel instantly at home and like family," said Howard Sappington of The Weather Channel. Sappington traveled to the Atchafalaya Swamp with Jim Cantore to film an episode of "Cantore Stories."

"There’s something magical about being out on the Atchafalaya with the sun setting through those magnificent cypress trees," says Sappington.

Some people live deep in the swamp on houseboats or camps set up on stilts. Others live in the small cities and communities that have popped up on the dry land. They're in a constant battle with the water: building levees, filling sandbags, and hoping to hold back the water.

The Atchafalaya is the heartbeat of Cajun society in America. Many people still speak French and they have a patois all of their own. "They are warm, funny, outdoorsy people that love life and welcome strangers like family," says Sappington. "They are proud of their heritage, food and culture. Almost all of these Cajuns 45 years or older speak fluent French. They like to tell jokes and love for visitors to experience their culture, including their lovable alligators."

Still others head to the Atchafalaya to drop out of society, preferring the mist-covered waters to the daily interaction with people. "You've got the world here in some ways," says Elaine Clement. "We share each other's cultures. Cajun, French, Quebecois, African, Belgian. It's unique from the rest of America."

It's because of weather, and floods in particular, that the Atchafalaya Swamp and Cajun culture have been able to grow and thrive. "The reason South Louisiana exists is because of the flooding of the Mississippi River," says Clement. "The levees were put there because of the flooding. That deposited silt and eventually created land that people built their homes and cities on. The flooding essentially built this area. Now with the levees, the oil drilling, the hurricanes, it's hard."

Now, as the floodwaters continue to filter downstream at record levels, residents are really concerned about the strength of the levees. Many of these levees were built by cities, subdivisions and neighbors who are simply trying to fight the powerful force of nature. The only thing keeping the Mississippi River from invading their homes is a dirt dam. "That's the biggest problem right now. Will the levees hold? It's kind of a test. This is supposedly an historic flood," says Clement.

As the relentless onslaught of the floods continues, it's more than just a swamp that's threatened. One of the many unique cultures that make America a melting pot is in danger. "We are people that are very conditioned to picking up and moving on," explains Clement. "We thrive in a crisis. It struck me, too, that even during the hurricanes, nobody stayed in the shelters. That's because we took people in. We take of each other."

Why do they stay there when the constant battle with nature seems, ultimately, a losing fight? "It's home. We love where we live. Does it make it easy? No. But we keep on."

Hello, It's Me!

Hello, it's me. Is it me you're looking for? (conjuring up the Lionel Richie song)

I'm sorry that I've been incognito for the past month. My bad! In July of last year, I started this blog as a stress reliever; several people were asking me to share my recipes while others were asking about life in Louisiana. However, in January, I returned to school for the first time in over 22 years to pursue a second degree. I'm in pre-nursing and once I have fulfilled the prerequisites, I will apply to and, hopefully, be accepted to nursing school. Upon completion I will be a registered nurse! Whoo Hoo!

The coursework is brutal; it's been hard going back after all these years, hence the lack of posts. I'm taking two classes this summer so I'll have more time and hope to post more regularly but the following two semesters (fall and spring) will be difficult, so posting will be sporatic then.

Anyway, I'm still here and have several recipes and stories to share with you. I've been taking some much needed R&R to recharge my batteries so I'll see you in a few days!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crabmeat Stuffing

Per request, here is a versatile crabmeat stuffing recipe that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. I use it to stuff vegetables like baked tomatoes and mushrooms as well as for stuffed crab, shrimp and even stuffed chicken! It can also be formed into patties and pan fried in butter.

It's more economical to use the claw crabmeat unless you are making crab cakes or something special and want to use jumbo lump crabmeat in your recipe. If you want more crabmeat in your stuffing than what this recipe calls for, just add another pound. Additionally, you can add chopped shrimp as well as chopped crawfish for a different flavor. This recipe makes a large batch but you can either cut it in half or freeze the rest in an airtight container.

1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine
2 medium bell peppers - chopped
3 large onions - chopped
3 stalks celery - chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups bread crumbs
1 tbsp. Flour
3 eggs
1 handfull chapped parsley
1 lb. claw crabmeat, shells and cartiledge picked out

Melt butter in a sauce pan and saute onion, celery and bell peppers on medium heat until translucent - approximately 15 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne pepper.In a separate bowl, mix all other ingredients except the crabmeat. Add the sauted vegetables and mix well. Gently fold in the crabmeat.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana is the Crawfish Capital of the world and is home of the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival which takes place annually on the first weekend of May.

For those of you who have never been, this is an event to experience! It's full of Cajun traditions, music, dancing, food, fun and an opportunity to submerge yourself in the Cajun culture. If you have a opportunity to get away, you should make plans to attend.

Not only can you enjoy Cajun music and dancing but you can try crawfish prepared every way imaginable and by the best cooks! Also, you can get to know the locals, hear their wonderful cajun accents, become enthralled by the stories they tell and listen to some hilarious cajun jokes! It's truly an experience that you'll never forget. Just another snapshot into Life In South Louisiana! Laissez les bon temps rouler, Cher!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Drunk Ass Cabbage

I found this on another site and belly laughed hysterically! It's from
The site only has three postings but this one was priceless, so I had to share. I'll have to try the recipe as it sounds pretty good too!

March 17, 2011

Drunk ass cabbage for this drunk ass holiday

Hey Seamus McDrunky, it’s St. Patty’s day. The only time you and your significant other can indulge in flatulence fuel without hating each other (except for that place with the nickel burritos on Cinco de Mayo). I’m not going to tell you how to make fucking corned beef. I’m not Encyclopedia fucking Britannica. But you assholes ALWAYS mess up your cabbage. I swear to Jesus Tapdancing Christ if I smell another pot of your fart-smelling cabbage, I’m going to punch you in the goddamn throat. Use this recipe, or your family will hate you forever. If they don’t already.

1/2 a head of cabbage, chopped to shit
1 red onion, sliced so thin you can see your crappy kitchen through it
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of white wine, if you can manage to not guzzle it all.
1 Tbsp garlic, minced with a big fucking knife
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Heat up a big-ass skillet over medium heat with the oil in it. Toss the cabbage and onions and salt in there and stir it like you fucking mean it. Add the wine and cover the pot for about 15 minutes. Go have some shots or something.

Take the cover off and add pour off all that liquid. It hates you. Hate it back. Add the vinegar and garlic. Let it cook for another minute or two. Or not. I don’t even care.

Serve it with corned beef and enjoy fumigating your house tonight.

Cheesus Christo Pizza

Ok, Now this one is even funnier! I wish I had the guts to write like this and even more guts to post something I've written like this! I'm in tears, I'm laughing so hard! This is another recipe taken from

March 17, 2011

Cheesus Christo Pizza

Pizza dough (Make it, buy it, get it. You figure it out, I’m not your mother)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup grated smoked provolone
1/3 cup crumbled feta
fresh fucking thyme
salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Get your oven hot. Get it real hot. 450 degrees hot.

Take the dough and caress it. Knead it. It feels good, doesn’t it? Shape it into a ball. You like balls, don’t you? Just like your mom. You’ll want to put it in your mouth, but don’t. Not yet. Now leave the dough alone. Make it wait for you. That dough is going to be so fucking ready for you in about 20 minutes.

While the dough is waiting, get a pizza pan ready to receive the dough. Take some olive oil and drip it all over that pan. See how it glistens? Now, put your fingers in the oil. Yeah, like that. Rub it all over that pan. That pan is so wet for you now. That dough is bursting with desire to be laid out on that pan. You gotta get that dough ready to go. Lay it right on that pan. Look right at that dough and then finger that dough. Use your fingers to spread that dough, getting it ready to get pounded. Is it ready? Yeah, it’s ready. Now pound that fucking dough. Pound it hard. Pound all the way to the edge of the pan until it can’t take it anymore. Yeah, baby.

That dough is really ready now. That dough is ready to get kinky. That dough wants you to cover it with your cheese. All of your cheese. You’re so ready to blow your cheese. The mozzarella first, then the other cheeses. Except for the feta. Take that feta and crumble it between your fingers. Crumble the fuck out of that feta. Then sprinkle it all over the rest of the cheese. Oh, God, look at it. Pull the thyme leaves off the stalk and make it rain. Look at it. You know what’s next. All it can think about is that burning hot oven. It wants to be inside there. Slide it in, baby.

You want to watch it. You like to watch. Watch it in there, bubbling and browning. Keep looking at it. When it looks like it’s ready for you, pull it out, slow. It came out of there so fucking hard. Let it rest.

After it’s cooled down a bit, you can drizzle some red wine reduction on it. You know you want to. Just so you can lick it off before you go down on that pizza. Mmmmm. That’s right. She’s ready for you now.

For the reduction:

Bottle o’ red wine (Don’t be cheap. Something you’d drink)
cinnamon stick
2-3 bay leaves
1-1.5 tbsp peppercorns
4-5 cloves
1 stalk thyme (don’t worry about taking the leaves off the stem)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chicken stock
2-3 tbsp butter
2-3 minced shallots (or about 1/4 cup minced red onions)

Oh, butter. Butter is so naughty. Talk to it. “You ready to melt for me, baby?” Butter is ready. Butter is always ready. Toss one tablespoon of butter into a sauce pan and let it melt over medium heat. Those minced shallots can’t wait to get inside that melted butter. Put them in. Put them in hard. Stir them around until they get soft. Then let some friends in on the action. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, thyme, and peppercorns. So spicy. Let them heat up real good. Your whole house will smell like spicy sex.

When the shallots have gotten brown and dirty, add the wine and stock. It’s like a jacuzzi for spicy whores. Let the sauce reduce until about 1/3 is left. Constantly taste to check the flavor. You love the taste and and how thick it is. You want it in your mouth.

When the sauce is done, pour it through a fine sieve and then back into the pan. Add the rest of the butter in pieces, stirring so every addition is completely mixed in. Look at that sauce. So velvety and smooth. You want it all right now, but maybe put some in a squeeze bottle to squeeze onto your pizza. Or right into your mouth. Like your mom does.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Seafood Story and Frog Legs

When I was 6, I found a four-leafed clover. To celebrate, I ran around my yard with glee and then stepped in a huge, warm pile of dog poop. Squishy mess between the toes. Not nice.

And, the time when I was in college and kept a friend's fish aquarium which was placed in an area that received sunlight and when the water got too warm, one of the fish jumped out and, again, I stepped on it, barefoot. It "popped" and I had squishy "stuff" between my toes. Ugh. I actually called a friend, crying, to come clean it up (and my foot) because I was so grossed out. And then I made him carry me outside because I didn't want to walk on the floor!

Don't let me forget to mention the time I was barefoot, running around playing at night, stepped on and squished a frog...sticky slime between the toes is not fun. Nor is it easy to clean off. GAH-ROSS!

But, boy, do they cook up good! Somehow, I am trying to tie this into St. Patrick's day, oh my! Being that it's Lent, and St. Patrick's Day is also St. Joseph's Day which is a Holy Day, no meat is allowed. So seafood is on the menu tonight. But obviously, I have some unfortunate experiences with LIVE seafood! Or being around them barefoot, that is. Look at their little heiney's!

Allow me to expand on Frog Legs. Trust me when I say they taste like chicken because they really do. Fried, Grilled (the most popular ways to cook them), or however they are prepared, they truly (honestly) do taste like chicken and they have the same texture as chicken too. You can take any recipe you have for chicken and use it for Frog Legs and the result will be the same.

I prefer to pan fry or oven bake them after salting and peppering them then dredgeing them in seasoned flour or deep frying using a tempura egg batter coating. However, I've also grilled them using the same ingredients and method for steak: garlic butter, salt and pepper and maybe a little bit of Tony's to taste.

Tempura Egg Batter

Any seafood, chicken or vegetable fried in a tempura batter is so succulent and tasty it's is one of my favorite ways to fry up something special. It's a little extra work but worth it if you want something really good! I always add some Tony's to my batter (about 1 tsp) but here is the original recipe. Have fun!

1 c. flour
1 c. ice water
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Add flour, oil and egg, stir. Slowly add ice water to avoid lumps. Beat together all ingredients. Dip food in batter and fry in deep hot fat (360 to 365 degrees) until tender and brown.

Green Velvet Cake

I sure wish I had thought to post this sooner. Being back in school for the first time in over 20 years is doing that to me.

Follow the Red Velvet Cake recipe but substitute green food coloring for the red. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Southern Style Greens

Greens. Mustard, Turnip or Collard. Just Greens, those Greens. That vegetable I despised growing up and was forced to eat. Against my will. Then, in my early 20's, my taste buds changed and I couldn't get enough of them! Now I can positively inhale them!

Unfortunately, I didn't know how to make them so I was always at someone else's mercy to get them and that was too few and far between for me. Luckily for me, a friend's mother-in-law always had someone come cook for her every Monday and this woman made greens to die for. So, one day, I got there early and helped her make them. Best thing I ever did...

Greens are a winter vegetable and are only best after the first hard freeze. If you want to cook fresh greens out of the garden or from a farmer's market, that's when to do it. Otherwise, you can buy frozen greens. I find greens from the grocery store (at other times of the year) are on the bitter side and they shouldn't be bitter.

There are several ways to make greens and you can choose what's best for you. However, this is the "old" way of making them but you can modify the recipe to be more healthy. Sometimes I cook them the original way and other times I cook them "healthier". Also, fresh greens have a lot more volume when uncooked and will wilt down to practically nothing so you need to "eye-ball" your quantities when using fresh greens.

4-5 bunches, 2 plastic sacks, or 3 bags frozen greens (approx)
1/2 pkg salt meat, chopped or 4 strips of bacon (or 3 tbl oil)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup bellpepper, chopped (optional)
2 tsp chicken bouillon

If using fresh greens, strip the leafy parts off the hard stalks. Then soak and wash the leaves in soapy water 3 times to remove all the dirt, grit and debris. Each time, allow them to soak in the soapy water for about 10 minutes, swishing them around frequently to loosen and remove dirt/grit/debris. Repeat the process at least 3 times or until you are confident all dirt/grit/debris is gone. Rinse well.

Fry salt meat/bacon in a large pot until brown. Add onion, celery and optional bellpepper and cook until wilted.

Add your greens. If using fresh greens, add as much to the pot as possible. Cook the greens and as they wilt, stir to work the uncooked greens down to the bottom of the pot. Keep adding the fresh greens as you can. Add about 1-2 tbl oil, if necessary (this depends on the amount of greens you have).

Once the greens are wilted enough to fit into the pot, add about 2 cups of hot water. You don't want a lot of water, so add the two cups, stir, cover and simmer a few minutes. You want just enough water to cook the greens and keep them moist, that's it. Then add the chicken bouillon.

Stir well to dissolve the bouillon, season with salt and pepper and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until greens are tender and dark, about an hour. Recheck seasonings, then serve.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Historic Baton Rouge Building

Upon perusing the local paper of my hometown, I found this and thought you all might think it was interesting.

The Lafayette Building, an 8,000-square-foot property, was built in 1762. The building is actually two adjacent buildings of Spanish-Colonial architecture.

The article states, "The north building is believed to have been built in the mid-18th century probably during the time that Louisiana was a province of Spain. It is said that in a previous restoration of the building, workmen found a board dated 1762, leading some people to believe that the building was built in that year. A historic marker says the Lafayette Buildings were erected in 1762 and describes them as the “legendary site” of the Marquis de Lafayette’s visit in 1825".

In 1978, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent Is Upon Us

Mardi Gras season ended with Ash Wednesday yesterday and now Lent is upon us. Time for all us South Louisiana Catholics to repent for the drunken debauchery we partake in the rest of the year! Mea Culpa!

Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter and is a time of sacrifice for Jesus. It lasts for 40 days and culminates with Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Ash Wednesday, every Friday and on other Holy Days during Lent, we do not eat meat.

Because seafood is acceptable and Louisiana has an abundance of fabulous seafood, we make a lot of our best and favorite seafood dishes during Lent. I've linked seafood recipes and other non-meat recipes that I've previously posted on the site so you can peruse them easily.

Shrimp Jambalaya
Seafood Gumbo
Seafood Eggplant Casserole
Cajun Cornbread Casserole
Copeland's of New Orleans Hot Crab Claws
Barbeque Shrimp
Crawfish Bisque
Garlic Cheese Grits Just Add Shrimp!
Shrimp Salad
French Onion Soup
Chicken Enchiladas Substitute the chicken for Shrimp!
Vegetable Boil Season it up some more and add any seafood!
Shrimp and Spinach Salad or Dip
Creole Crawfish Etouffee
Crawfish Stew
Spinach Madeline Add some lump crabmeat or shrimp!
Shrimp Creole
Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Shrimp Jambalaya

Mmmmm, Mmmm, Chere! Talk about some good eating, Shrimp Jambalaya is one of my favorite dishes. Shrimp Jambalaya is a Creole or Red rice dish made with tomatoes as opposed to a meat based Cajun jambalaya that has no tomatoes and is darker from the browing of the meat. You can compare this recipe to my Jambalaya recipe that I posted last year.

Shrimp Jambalaya is very popular throughout the year but particularly during Lent when us crazy South Louisiana Catholics observe the penance of not eating meat on Friday's to make up for all of our debauchery the rest of the year! This recipe is taken from the old New Orleans Ursuline Nun's cookbook entitled "Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans" published back in 1971. I don't know about the rest of the nation but Popeye's Fried Chicken restaurants in Louisiana serve Shrimp Jambalaya during Lent just for us! Ahhh, eeiiii!

Shrimp Jambalaya

4 lbs large raw shrimp, peeled
3 tbls oil
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 small bellpepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 large cans diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 cups parboiled rice (see Tips and Information)
3 cups water

Peel the shrimp and set aside. In a large pot, saute onion, celery and bellpepper in oil until wilted and onions are clear. Add parsley, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic and seasonings, stir well. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add rice and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low (or warm if your stove runs hot) and stir in shrimp. Cover tightly. Allow to cook untouched for 25-30 minutes. Peek under the lid to see if rice is cooked. Stir to fluff the rice and serve with a nice salad.

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo is my very favorite gumbo of all and I just don't get enough of it. Since I moved away from Louisiana, I don't have access to the seafood ingredients like I did before and I am spoiled. I don't do well with substitutions with this recipe! But, if you've never had it before, you won't notice like I do, particularly since I am a "foodie"!

This is a tradtional seafood gumbo recipe that is a staple in South Louisiana homes particularly during the Lenten Season. There are so many different versions/variations of gumbo recipes, but this is a tried and true, easy recipe to make. Whatever you do, do not substitute fake crabmeat or Alaskan King Crab leg meat for the real claw or lump crabmeat; it's just not the same. The crabmeat and oysters can usually be found in the grocery store butcher section or specialized frozen seafood section. If you can't find crabmeat, find some uncooked whole crab (or claws), clean them and drop them in the pot! Cest Ce Bon!

Seafood Gumbo

3 tbl Oil
3 tbl Flour
3 lbs raw shrimp, peeled
1 lb claw or lump crabmeat, or 4 raw whole crab, cleaned
1 lb raw shucked oysters
1 med onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 10 oz pkg frozen sliced okra
Tony’s, salt and pepper
Parboiled rice

In large pot, combine oil and flour and make a dark brown roux (see Tips and Information on how to make a roux). Add onion and stir well; then add okra and blend well. Add all other vegetables except tomato and allow to cook down, cover if necessary to retain moisture. Add about 4 cups of water, tomato, and seasonings; blend well. Cook down for about an hour and a half adding more water if necessary. Recheck seasonings. Add oysters and shrimp, stir and cook about 5 minutes. Fold in crabmeat and remove pot from heat. Cover and allow to sit about 5 more minutes. Serve over rice.

Seafood Eggplant Casserole

Seafood Eggplant Casserole is a dish I usually make in the summer with plenty of fresh shrimp and nice eggplant. While there are many seafood eggplant recipes out there, this one is my favorite and is more "cajun" than "greek". When combining ingredients, I usually mash the eggplant but it can be left in chunks also.

Seafood Eggplant Casserole

2 lg eggplants
2 lb of crawfish or shrimp
1/2 stick butter
1 cup onion chopped
4 green onions chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2-3 ribs celery chopped
2 tbl parsley
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1-1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper,or to taste
1/4 tsp tobasco, or to taste

Cut eggplant in half and boil till soft. Remove, cool and scoop out pulp. Set aside. Saute seafood in butter. Add vegetables and saute till wilted. Add eggplant and seasonings and mix well. Cook about 7 – 10 min. Add breadcrumbs and seafood, mix well and remove from heat. Use white wine, cream or chicken stock to thin if necessary. Pour in casserole dish, dot with butter and sprinkle with more bread crumbs. Bake at 350 till brown.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

One of our favorite casseroles in South Louisiana is Cajun Cornbread Casserole. Cajun Cornbread Casserole is an excellent and versitile dish that we serve at Thanksgiving or Christmas but it can be adapted for Lent by eliminating the sausage. Also, it can be served as an entree or side dish. If you don't want to make your own cornbread or can't find the Pioneer mix, just buy what you can find but check the ingredients. You don't want to use a mix that has too much sugar in it thus making the casserole too sweet.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

2 pkgs Pioneer Yellow Cornbread Mix or homemade cornbread
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 lb of Louisiana crawfish tails, chopped
1 lb shrimp, peeled
1/2 lb chopped hot sausage
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream style corn
2 whole eggs, beaten
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parsley

Bake cornbread as directed per package instructions or make homemade cornbread. Crumble into a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan; add onions, celery, and bell pepper sauté mixture until the onions clear. Add crawfish tails, shrimp, sausage. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add milk and cream corn, stir until mixture is fully blended. Fold all ingredients into the bowl of crumbled cornbread, along with eggs, cheese, and parsley. Mix well, season with Tony’s to taste, transfer to a baking dish, and bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Copeland's of New Orleans Hot Crab Claws

I went to Copeland's with a friend a while back and we ordered the Hot Crab Claws for our appetizer. I never had them before and boy, I really missed out all these years! They were divine! Doing what I always do when I find a new dish I love, I picked through it figure out what was in it. That evening I looked on the internet and I found Copeland's recipe! It's so easy to make and if you buy enough claws, you can make a meal off this with a nice salad to go with it. If you can't find crab claws, they can be substituted with crawfish or shrimp. Enjoy!

Copeland's of New Orleans Hot Crab Claws

2 teaspoons garlic
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoon scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
6 ounces fresh crab claws, crawfish tails or shrimp
3 ounces chicken stock
1 ounce Italian dressing

Place seasoning, herbs, garlic and half the butter in a preheated skillet; saute until butter is melted. Add seafood, chicken stock and Italian dressing; increase heat to high and toss until seafood is cooked through. Add remaining butter; swirl into the sauce. Do not boil. Serve immediately with buttered and toasted French Bread slices.

Barbeque Shrimp

This recipe is a true, bonafide South Louisiana Bar-B-Q Shrimp dish that is made entirely in the oven. If you can find shrimp in your area with the heads on, do so. It really adds to the flavor of the dish. If not, just make sure you cook the shrimp with the shells not peel them first! Also, some recipes call for lemon slices to be added but I find it makes the sauce bitter so, just juice the lemon and discard the rest.

4 lbs shrimp with shells on (heads on, if possible)
1/2 lb butter
3-4 tbl Worcestershire sauce
3 tbl pickapepper sauce
1-1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 lg lemon
1 tsp tabasco
4 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic sliced

Melt butter in large casserole dish and add all ingredients except lemon. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice, add to mixture. Bake in oven at 350 until done. Serve in large soup bowls with lots of sauce and toasted french bread for dipping.

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

Let's face it, we all love spaghetti! I know I did and so did my sister. When she was in elementary school (about 8 or 9 yrs old), she declared that she loved spaghetti so much that she was going to marry an Italian man (a doctor) and eat spaghetti every day for the rest of her life.

Then she would slurp that noodle into her mouth with such force, the end would slap her chin, nose, get the picture. Well, she married an Italian but he was a CPA. As far as eating spaghetti every day, ummmm, she sure could...if he let her!

As I've aged my tastes have changed and I don't care for all the sauce as much. So, I set out on a quest to find another way to enjoy pasta and still have the same flavors. And guess what? My sister, the spaghetti loving slurper, acquired a new recipe from a friend and it was to die for. This robust combination is known as Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca which I usually serve with a chicken breast or pan-fried fish.

1 lg can tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 tbls olive oil
2 - 4 anchovy filets , optional
3 - 4 plump garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 small jar capers, drained
1 small can sliced black olives
1 pkg spaghetti
2 tbls parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Put pasta on to boil. Optional: Soak anchovies for 15 minutes in water then rinse and chop. Heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet or pan. Add the optional anchovies saute, then crush with the back of a spoon until they fall apart.

Add the tomatoes with juice, garlic, capers, olives and seasonings. Saute about 15 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Cook the pasta, strain, and rinse the pot. When the pasta is strained return it to the pot and put it on medium heat. Add the sauce and cheese. Toss together over medium heat until it is well coated. Serve.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mardi Gras King Cake

It's Mardi Gras season and time to enjoy King Cakes! This tradition has been around for centuries in Europe and certainly is a huge part of the Mardi Gras celebrations in Louisiana for hundreds of years. The origins of the King Cake are widely debated. Most believe the following history.

Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. During this time of year, one of the most beloved traditions in New Orleans is that of the King Cake.

On the Christian calendar, the twelfth day after Christmas is known as "Epiphany", "Twelfth Night", or "Kings Day." It is the day the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus, and is celebrated with its own unique rituals.

While the Twelfth Night customs that spread throughout Europe were subject to numerous variations, one element transcended virtually every culture that observed the holiday: the choice of a mock king for the occasion.

The ritual of hiding a tiny treasure in a celebratory cake became a symbolic reenactment of Epiphany. In France, the bean, la feve, eventually was replaced by a bean-sized baby Jesus; its discovery commemorated the discovery of Jesus’ divinity by the Magi. Legend has it that the cakes were made in the shape of a ring and colorfully decorated to resemble a bejeweled crown.

The New Orleans tradition, begun in the 1800s, borrows heavily from European customs. As part of the celebration of Mardi Gras, it is traditional to bake an oval cake in honor of the three kings - the King Cake. The shape of a King Cake symbolizes the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple represents justice, green represents faith and gold represents power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is baked into each cake.

In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season. In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement, as each person waits to see in whose slice of cake the baby will be discovered.

While custom holds that the person who finds the baby in their slice will be rewarded with good luck, that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.

The traditional King Cake is made from twisted strands of cinnamon dough, topped with icing, and sprinkled with purple, green, and gold colored sugar. Today, there are many ways to make a King Cake as there are fillings such as cream cheese, strawberry, blueberry, and pecans with brown sugar. This is an easy and delicious variation.

2 - 12 oz cans crescent rolls
1/4 cup cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 - 21 oz can fruit pie filling, optional and flavor of your choice
1 cup powdered sugar
Plastic baby (available in the crafts section of Walmart, or use a coin or red kidney bean)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls water
3/4 cup sugar, divided into 3 parts
Food coloring (yellow, green and red and blue)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a pizza pan or baking sheet with butter flavored vegetable oil.
Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles.

Position triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides about 1/4-inch, forming a large round.

Where the pieces overlap, press the seams together only in the center of each seam, leaving either ends of the seams unsealed so you can fold them up over the filling.

Mix together butter and cinnamon, gently spread over the dough. Mix together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Spread the cream cheese filling around in a ring covering the center sealed seam of each triangle. Do the same with the pie filling. (Optional. I prefer blueberry) Place baby, coin or bean anywhere on the dough.

Fold the long side of each triangle toward the center just to the edge
of the filling to cover. Then pull the point end of the triangles toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points. Lightly press the seams.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

While the cake is baking, make the icing. Then use the food coloring to dye the sugar. In three separate containers, place 1/4 cup of sugar in each. Add one drop of red and one drop of blue into the first container to make purple. Add 2 drops yellow to the second container and 2 drops green to the third container. Stir each well and set aside.

When cake is cool, pour icing over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the colored sugar, alternating the three colors as you go around the circle.