Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

The picture is not always clear, what is to come, what was left behind, but a good start is always a blessing.

Due to my busy schedule running a new business and still into my old chef tricks part-time, I will not be posting as much food articles. I still have things on my plate as a chef, but the publishing business is getting to be quite the full time job!

You can find me here Red Dashboard LLC Publishing.

Got an idea for a book?

Do you write poetry, prose, or flash fiction (short stories under 1500 words, max), have artwork or photography you would like to submit, well we have it going on! Submission guidelines are on these sites, as well as the main listed above- Z-composition, Annapurna, and Cowboy Poetry Press.

Hope your New Year is what you want!


Chef E
Elizabeth Akin Stelling

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crock-Pot Meals & Happy Holidays

I haven't posted food lately, due to the fact my oven died and my landlord is a cheap... We deal with it.

So for three weeks I used a crock-pot for meals, and when Thanksgiving arrived, it was the same. The turkey came out fine, turkey legs and thighs (I'm not a fan), stuffing, gravy, and yams in the microwave (mashed). Lamb chops on the grill. We did a lot of grilling to supplement no oven or stove. I did try desserts and to be honest we did not like them- pecan pie, cranberry, and sweet potato. Actually the sweet potato was more like a cake, and okay. And hope we do not have to do it again. Good news, got my oven back working.

Life has been busy since I began my publishing company Red Dashboard.com. And I still run cookAppeal for private events and holidays, so posting here has become more difficult. Its been great blogging since 08, but before that I had a cafe and ran a full time wine and food pairing company. I wish everyone luck on their ventures in writing, and I will try and do something once a month.

We are not eating all the fancy foods at home lately, I had gained some weight and now am scheduled for gastric bypass next year. My daughters death over ten years ago and being over 50 hasn't helped my current weight. Once you slow down as I did when my cafe closed down and a slower metabolism, it got out of control. My family and I are planning to attack it this go round so I can have a healthy lifestyle for a long future. Thanks for following me and have a great holiday with your own family and friends!

Peace to all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Simple Breakfast- Corn Beef Hash & Eggs

Deli cooked corn beef chopped with potato, carrots, and onion. Throw second part(s) in a hot skillet, cook until potatoes and carrots are soft, and onions are browned (remember mirepoix lesson in culinary class?- all even sizes for even cooking). Then add beef, just to heat through.

Do not salt, the corn beef is salty! It's a hell of a lot better than the canned stuff (or is it?), less salt, at least I hope.

 Oh and I've been told the Jewish deli corn beef works better than Italian, so we gave it a try.

 Ahhh the things my son does in our pretend test kitchen to make his mom happy on a busy weekend morning publishing books- yes, we (hubs and I) started a new business this summer. Red Dashboard LLC

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

RIP Charlie Trotter

I am deeply saddened by the death of one of my culinarian gods, Charlie Trotter.

 Death hits me extra hard since my daughter and parents passed away, years ago.

 The last time Robert and I saw Charlie, he was happier than I had ever seen him (while working- Trotters). He introduced me to his mother that day. He was bouncy, smiling, and kissed me on the cheek with a good over the shoulder hug. Normally, he never did this; he was driven, a yeller (which I never liked in the kitchen), but people respected him. He never let you drink hard alcohol before a taste and a good meal to boot, because it would desensitize your taste buds to flavor.

 It was a privilege to have known and worked with him. In the early 2000's, before moving to NJ, in Dallas while working for the culinary school I often helped other chef friends do charity events, The La Toque (Epilepsy Foundation), Cook-offs (BBQ and Chili), and anything we could get the students involved in for experience. It was just after my oldest child passed away from heart disease, and I needed distractions. 

Charlie was at a distance from me while we all were setting up in the afternoon in downtown, and I was put in charge of the wait staff for a 700 seated dinner. He came over next to me to get something, I was slicing paté and he suggested I go in closer with my finger to get a more precise cut (lots to feed that night). He stood there (making me nervous) watching as I worked, but patted me on the back once everyone was done that night. All the top chefs that night opened champagne and insisted we all toast to pulling off a great night. It was fun, because I was around many big names that night and expedited a lot of food off to the wait staff. Volunteering is a great way to learn the trade.

 Each time I saw him afterwards he said hello (which I know is silly, but it meant something to me as a fellow chef), but still always so serious. He saw me and recognized me in Austin, and offered to sign books during a busy night, two my husband and I carried with us just in case we got a moment with him. I even had the privilege of him getting upset with me, which he was known for. I shook it off, because the next time I saw him in Chicago he more than made up for it.

 I did feel, do feel, that often people are so driven they forget to enjoy life, then it is too late.

 I only wanted Charlie, I want you all to be happy while doing what you are passionate about.

 Someone, I forget whom was quoted, said "Heaven will eat better now that he is up there."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ajiaco (Colombian Soup)

After returning from Colombia, South America my son announced he couldn't get enough of this dish. He described it as being different in varied cities around Colombia (mainly indigenous to Bogota), but he wasn't sure what the ingredients were.

"Possibly potato soup of some kind with chicken" he described.

I found various recipes, even one site I was familiar My Colombian Recipes.

We had to order the seasoning- guascas  an aromatic herb that looks like basil in its natural form.

A chef friend joined us in making this dish, as she herself has been to south America and loves the culture, food and language. It consists of three types of potatoes, chicken, guascas, and alternative garnishes- sour cream or creme fraiche, capers, avocado, corn on the cob, and other.

The flavor was distinctive and good.

We did not have all of the ingredients but will be making other variations of this recipe!

Here is the recipe I followed- Serious Eats, minus the aji (cilantro based sauce) because it can dominate the taste buds, and the chef in me wanted to let the guascas come through. We held off on the capers as well, same reason, to get a handle on the flavor of a dried herb, reconstituted through boiling.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dashboard Desert Steak

Yes, this is really a dish. Why? Because my husband goes away on business and one night he told me the most amazing story on the phone. A co-worker was cooking food for them on the dashboard of his car. I would not have believed him, but they were in the desert and temps can get really high during the day.

His co-worker took a skillet, placed prime rib and on one occasion filet mignon with potatoes and onions; then places it inside his car on the dashboard facing the sun (it is already hot in the desert location, so we know cars can reach even higher temps). I ask him other details (I would not recommend this at home or any other location) about temps and so on. I was told the meat was fine, but the potatoes on the first try were undercooked, but the the meat and onions tasted better than something they had for a meal the night before.

Hubs said there was a thermometer involved and he is still living to tell the tale.

As I warned any food has to reach a certain temp in order to be safe to eat according to FDA recommendations. Cook on dashboard at your own risk; it's not something I would try. Below is a chart with proper temps:

CategoryFoodTemperature (°F) Rest Time 
Ground Meat & Meat MixturesBeef, Pork, Veal, Lamb160None
Turkey, Chicken165None
Fresh Beef, Veal, LambSteaks, roasts, chops1453 minutes
PoultryChicken & Turkey, whole165None
Poultry breasts, roasts165None
Poultry thighs, legs, wings165None
Duck & Goose165None
Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)165None
Pork and HamFresh pork1453 minutes
Fresh ham (raw)1453 minutes
Precooked ham (to reheat)140None
Eggs & Egg DishesEggsCook until yolk and white are firmNone
Egg dishes160None
Leftovers & CasserolesLeftovers165None
SeafoodFin Fish145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.None
Shrimp, lobster, and crabsCook until flesh is pearly and opaque.None
Clams, oysters, and musselsCook until shells open during cooking.None
ScallopsCook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.None

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Last of the Summer Skillet Peaches

You can also can grill them! The peak season for peaches are July and August, so in September they are really ripe and sweet. Of course peaches are around the whole summer, but if they are not local and even from various states- California and Georgia, they can be uneventful in flavor, so why bother. My opinion, to eat local and in season.

If you are not a fan of warm fruit dishes, as I am, you still must try this. It will not totally change your mind, but adding spicy with sweet does give it a zing. In my cafe I would make quesadilla with them, adding in chicken or pork if they wanted more meat. Add a touch of spice with either seasonings of chili powder, pepper, salt, and other herbs. Also homemade salsa on the side works.

Prepare them in a hot skillet, not to ripe, not to hard- slice them in 1 inch or half more pieces and leaving the skin is not problem, just clean them well before hand. If they are organic there is no need to worry, they do not wax or spray them with chemicals. Let them cool before storing them in a container or they will continue to cook, making them soggy.

Use them in quesadillas with chicken, with pork tenderloin and rice, in salads, and in a recipe I will be making soon- Curry Chicken and Peaches.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Swordfish and Scallops, A Sweet Savory Combo

Summer pickings from the local fish and farmers market. Hubs came home (I should've gone with him) with a very large bag of very big summer squash. What was I going to do with all of this. I chopped and froze most of it, but saved two large ones to make an old favorite- as a teenager we ate at a restaurant which served southern home cooking, Black-eyed Peas. One of my favs was squash casserole. There was something about it, because my mom never made it. We ate mostly corn, potatoes, peas, green beans and green toppers.

I will share it next, but have altered the restaurants recipe, very little sugar and brown. The fish market had day boat scallops and swordfish. While hubs and I were Cape Cod for my poetry fellow we picked up a jar of roasted garlic and onion jelly. I had been wanting to use it and decided to season the seafood with pepper, salt, and and a smoky paprika.

I heated some butter and olive oil in a hot pan and stirred some of the jelly in and then placed the scallops in for three minutes and then flipped them over. In a separate pan I did the same with the swordfish, a bit longer thought, since it was much denser.

I served it with the squash and an Asian slaw- carrots, cabbage, red bell pepper, and a wasabi mayo (1/3 wasabi paste mixed with 2/3s mayo). The sweetness and bite of the two went well.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tatortot Casserole-- Easy andQuick

A bacherlor poet friend as me about any quick and easy ground beef recipes and here is what I came up with-- t's a good man's meal, you should try it.

Brown 80 lean ground beef with red onion and seasoning: garlic powder, salt and black pepper, paprika (don't over brown). Pour into a baking dish, spread some grated cheese, any will do, I use mexican blend, and spread tator tots on top, as thick as you want on all, but equal. 

Pour one half jar of Alfredo sauce, or can of cream of mushroom (original recipe calls for this, and I would thin it out with a few T of beef broth first) over tator tots; sprinkle more cheese, and bake 375 degree oven for 40 mins or less. Should be bubbly and brown on top. 

This was a fav of my daughters over her 1st choice ground beef pasta and red sauce. I only had Alfredo, barely a 1/4 jar and added beef broth, shook jar well, and added 1/4 cup almond milk with a bit of flour to thicken. 

As you can see it was perfect. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sprouted Fava Beans

For years I have been sprouting munng beans and making healthy salads, so why not try sprouting fava beans. Simply take the beans out of their pods, rinse them and create a moist environment in a glass dish with a small amount of water, cover with plastic and let sit on counter for a day or so. A window works best. You will begin to see them sprout. You may boil them in a shallow amount of water to soften them a bit, but I eat them right then.

They are ready for salads. The texture is a nice nutty bite. Mix them into mixed greens, rice or any creative way you can think. Enjoy!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Seafood Enchiladas (or Chicken)

Sauteed Shrimp and Lobster, with seasoned red onion and zucchini ribbons in a habanero chili tortillas. Sour cream and verde sauce (tomatillo and green chilies) topping. Chicken consisted of on the bone slow cooking in a seasoned diced jalapeno tomato mix. Same roll up, and same sauce topping. Delish! My Tex-mex cravings turned into food porn for you.

I used a shredded Monterrey jack cheese for the filling as well.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Out of the Box- Hot Sauce, Marinades, Rubs, and Sauces

I took a road trip yesterday with a chef/baker friend, and we had many reasons for the locale we picked- Rehobeth Beach, DE.

  1. To check out a travel trailer, Burros and Scamps- 
  2. (she is a vendor of Randi's Gourmet, and has taken it on the road)
  3. Girls day out- we all need the laughs to shake off the stress of daily life, girl talk
  4. Beach front property- our chairs sunk deep into some sand and surf
  5. Peppers- one of her wholesalers warehouse is not far from the beach
  6. New material for my food blog- to keep burnout from going up in flames
I was in need of some new marinade and rub ideas and we love hot sauce, so I was excited to also get a wholesale case price. We go through a case in six months. And our taste buds are still in tact.

Done deal on all above, and on the way home we ate at a new middleeastern aka Turkish restaurant and dragged our palates home afterward.

I can tell you, tasting 100 bottles of this and that, 1-6 million Scoville peppers can get to you after only six bottles, but what did we discover- a can of whip cream will cleanse your taste buds! Who knew! It keeps better than milk.

 Discovery. The way to go when you hit the road.

My first bottle- Fat Cat. He will be assisting me with a pork loin in the next post!

(above pic is only one of six cases she and I left with- my photo, and no sauce was gifted for this post)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Salmon Candy Remix

A few years ago hubs and I went fishing for Salmon in the Pulaski River in up-state NY. We came home with so much, I had to find a way to preserve it and give it away as gifts, so I made Salmon Candy. Then it was a few years before I tried it again. Same recipe, same good flavor.

There are a variety of recipes out there for this, but I have taken a combo of ideas and created my own. Brown Sugar, orange juice, ginger, pinch of salt and pepper, and mix together in glass dish and place fix skin side up, or remove skin. Then smoke over wood chips of choice- I used alder (see below).

This time I wanted a quick version because I have not been feeling well, lack of appetite from a lung infection, and need to cook for hubs and son. No one gets in my kitchen, well, they are busy and I am more available to play.

My new version is brown sugar, orange-ginger-pepper (dry seasonings-zest), and fish stock brine- rinse fillets, pat dray, and place them down skin side up into mixture for hour and half.

Now pat them dry again, then use same mixture above minus fish stock, but add olive oil and a few drops of liquid smoke, and then spoon over fillets.

Slow cook in preheated oven- 250 degree oven for 45 min. Do not overcook; it will dry out, you want some moisture. 

Served with sushi rice timbale with sesame seed garnish and spicy tahini dressing for greens.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Canadian Mussels and Raclette Eating

 My Chef friend Randi joined us for a Raclette Dinner. We began with mussels, and then we cooked shrimps, scallops, and vegetables (which were pre-steamed).

I picked four goat milk cheese, and one raclette cheese slices to place on toast under the broiler.
  Goat milk brie- soft
   "        "      semi-soft gouda
   "        "      hard parm like
   "        "      racklette

Some of the soup from the mussels were placed in a small pitcher and was poured over the toast, cheese added with any other ingredients you wished. It was a fabulous meal. We served two wines- Gewürztraminer and Riesling; both slightly dry and sweet. Nothing too sweet.

2 lbs fresh mussels
1 onion 4 garlic cloves
1 small green pepper
 1 cup tomato pasta sauce, preferably spicy
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup water


Rinse mussels and pull off  (Whole Foods has them already prepared and toss any that are open). Otherwise discard any that are open. Slice onion in half, then into thin wedges. Mince garlic. Lightly oil a large pasta pot and place over medium heat. When hot, add onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until onion starts to soften, about 3 min. Chop pepper. Add tomato sauce and basil to pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Stir in mussels and cover. Stir in pepper and water after mussels have cooked 3 min. Continue cooking until mussels open, 3 to 4 min more. Discard any mussels that don’t open. Serve mussels and sauce in large deep soup bowls with crusty bread to dip.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Osso Bucco Sunday

Traditional veal shanks with a mish mash of farro and potatoes and veggies in tomato puree. The bone marrow was the cherry on cake, so to speak.

Slow cooked together makes for a great meal!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

These baby back ribs were smoked with hickory chips along with a dry rub of garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, and I mean a heavy coating of rub. they were fall off the bone spectacular.  I keep talking about the rub my husband had on some pigs feet and lamb in NYC, but I am bound and determined to duplicate that experience (he brought leftovers and my son and I consumed them cold, that delicious!).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sauteed Skate (Surf & Turf)

Here is that Salsify mash again, with a side of lemon butter Skate and a petit Rib-eye! The parm green beans are in the back. Was a fantastic meal.

Pressure cooked the beans and boiled the Salsify in chicken stock. Simple stove juggling is all it takes.

If you can get past these two things, Salsify and Skate's ugly beginnings, they are worth the effort.  I have noticed stores are carrying them both more often than none, not just whole foods. Don't over cook the Skate, as it will fall apart when plating, but the salsify you can boil to...

Peel, slice small pieces and barely cover with stock. Medium heat for about 20 mins or so, should reduce the stock down low enough you incorporate it into the mashing with salt, pepper, garlic powder, butter and a dash of white wine. I never throw out the water. Your throwing out good stuff.

Skate, start with hot pan, small amount of oil and pat of butter (one filet), season fish before it goes in, squeeze of lemon; sear on one side, flip, repeat and cook ra bit longer, turn off heat and cover with lid; it will continue to cook while you deal with plating.

It was a lazy day, ha!, but I pan seared the rib-eyes first, cooked green beans in that same pan, added oil, salt and pepper, after searing them I added half cut stock and placed lid on pan to finish cooking. Rib-eyes stayed in warm oven along with green beans in glass dish while I made the Skate.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lobster Meets Poblano

This dish originated in my kitchen over a year ago, but as time has gone by, it has vastly improved. However frying is not one of my favorite things to do, I prefer deep fryers of the professional kitchen. But my original recipe involved baking them with no crust, no contrasting texture, I have to admit after creating the crisp outside on this round, it is just too good to pass up doing the 'frying' from now on.

This past weekend I decided to treat my client; long time friend, and the most wonderful PR girl, Hilary Morris and her husband, Robert to a lobster and shrimp feast. They are really good to me.

Lobster for the most part is thought of as, or was, a luxury item.  Nowadays it is found in abundance and often the tails are sold for 4.99 each closer to May thru summer months, and its around $8.99 a tail through winter months (reflects 1 lb tails, the bigger, the price goes up, and this is in our area of NJ). Butter poaching is my preferred method of cooking, but I have found the flavor of the pablano pepper with the shell fish and cream sauce make for a good match.

You will notice the prep is done the night before, so we could relax and have more time to visit. These instructions will follow my path into this recipe. I won't say much more, now lets just dive right into the recipe...

1st Day Prep (shopping list):

3 to 4 lobster tails-

they only come frozen and are thawed to sell, so I buy them frozen.

12 collossal shrimp (as big as you can find, because we know they shrink when cooked, and we want a good match for the lobster on plating.)-

gives about 2-3 per person on final plating, and you need the shells as part of bisque cream prep

1/2 cup farro or rice per person- precook according to directions, but leave al dente for tomorrows prep!

2 cups flour, for making beer batter
1 bottle or can Mexican beer, I use amber Tecate
2 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
6 cups fish stock, or chicken will works
5 small plum tomatoes, small chop

1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup  chopped cilantro (can be optional)
1 small onion, small chop- white, yellow, or red, makes no difference
2 cups mixed Mexican cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
4 to 5 small to med poblano peppers (large if that is your only choice, but it requires adding more lobster or shrimp as filler, along with cheese)

fire grill the peppers- for flavor, and place in plastic bag to steam off skins; skin and cut small slit to remove seeds. pat dry, and place in refrigerator for the next day.

now I am often asked if these peppers are hot, spicy; they can retain some heat because you soften them with seeds and membranes. The Scoville heat scale rates them at  500-2,000, and believe me there are lots more peppers that go way up in the heat range; it is the only way to get them soft enough to skin and to stuff (you need skin removed to take away toughness of pepper, and for the batter to stick, if you batter fry them. You can bake, but no crunch.).

Fish Stock for cilantro cream sauce-

I purchase my shrimp and lobster frozen, and the reason why is...they come in from warmer (shrimp) or cooler waters and are frozen, then are thawed for resale. Let them sit out overnight in a covered bowl in refrigerator. You can thaw them in cold water just before you go to this next step-

rinse shell fish and pat dry; use kitchen scissors to remove shells from lobster (begin down each center on both sides, cutting and stopping just before tail. Reach in and gently remove meat, set aside in glass baking dish, and keep refrigerator.

remove shrimp shells and black veins. in large shrimp, gently tug on vein and it comes right out without cutting like the smaller shrimps. set shells aside with lobster shells. (see seasonings for meat)

Seasonings for lobster and shrimp- 

Now you can season the shell fish meat the night before, but add lime juice an hour before stuffing the cleaned pablano peppers.

chili powder
garlic powder
salt and pepper

generously season lobster and shrimp meat on both sides, and chill overnight in refrigerator.

using half the chopped onions, place in deep pan and saute on medium heat with 2 or so tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until onions are becoming clear in color; then add, lobster and shrimp shells, stirring until shells begin to turn reddish in color; then add 1 teaspoon garlic power, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and the same of salt and pepper. Stirring, add stock, reduce by 1/3; strain shells, and add 2 chopped tomatoes (maybe half a cup, not sure, I am bad about measuring). Reduce by 1/3. Place in a container without lid and cool down, but add back the lobster tail shells. When cool cover with a tight lid and refrigerate overnight.

2nd Day:

After getting prepped ingredients out you will need to add half juiced lime over fresh shell fish meat, let sit for an hour, and this can be done just before you begin dinner, otherwise the juice will over cook the meat (see Ceviche recipes to understand how the acid cooks fish).

Beer batter for poblanos-

1 and half cups flour of choice, I used chappati (Asian Indian whole grain flour, finely ground, and I feel it is healthier)
1 bottle beer of choice (see above)
2 eggs, beaten lightly

In small but deep bowl mix flour and two eggs, then beer. But mix a little beer into this at a time until it is just the right consistency for dipping, more like rolling them in it ( like pancake batter).
Stuffing the peppers-

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees to keep stuffed peppers warm while you make cream sauce and heat farro (no longer than 20 mins in oven or lobster will over cook).

I take one lobster meat, cut it into two pieces, but you can place one whole tail inside if it is just for two people. I always make an extra one for our lunch the next day or a really hungry eater. Place some cheese inside first, and then lobster; dip pepper into batter next, and into a hot pan with shallow hot oil; cook until light golden brown on both sides. Place each one on a baking pan until all are done.

Have a second pan ready for cream sauce below, in preheated pan place the other half of chopped onion into pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until translucent; removing lobster tails from stock you will add entire container of stock, the rest of the chopped tomatoes; as it begins to reduce by a third you will begin making cream sauce.

Wipe out oil and bits from the peppers saute pan and cooked seasoned shrimp on medium high. When you turn them over place about 2 cups of stock into pan (from above) with 2 cups of cream and handful of chopped cilantro. Once shrimp has cooked, quickly remove them from pan, placing in bowl, leaving cream sauce to reduce at least by 1/3 (do not overcook shrimps!).

I am sure by now you are thinking, but what about the leftover stock?

By now you have turned off heat under the stock pan, then add partially cooked farro, and turn off heat. Stir and cover. Be mindful of amount of stock verses farro or rice, but if you left it al dente like above instructions you should be fine, the farro should absorb the remaining liquid and stay warm until plating.

Remove stuffed peppers from oven and plate with 1/2 cup farro per person; add sprinkle of cheese, shrimps and cream sauce on top, and next to farro or rice. (lobster and shrimp will overcook, so watch timing of each)

Garnish with lime slice and sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

WINE: I suggest serving a white wine such as a Muscato, which is sweet to balance any heat from pepper. Maybe a Procecco, which can be slightly sweet and bubbly; along with a red if you like, Pinot Noir (Ampelos, CA*),  because it is light in tannins due to aging, and usually aged for a mellow flavor alongside the ocean, which would go with seafood, peppers and sides. White wines are available via Trader Joe's, Route 1, West Windsor, and very reasonably price $3.99 for Muscato.

*Ampelos Pinot Noir- Pinot Noir Lambda Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills 750 ML Red USA
2008 $30 per bottle, purchased on location 2012 by my husband on a work trip.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Crème Brûlée French Toast and NOLA

Ormond Plantations version...

My Version....cooking

There's is much prettier on the plate, I forgot to take a photo of our plates. But the taste was wonderful.

I had the opportunity to stay in Ormond Plantation in St. Charles Parish while attending my step-grandmothers funeral in February, and while the chef (they have a lunch restaurant) made me gorgeous breakfast each day. Beautiful place and the food was fabulous! I am still dreaming of the cheese grits with ham.

At home a few weeks ago I made homemade bread loaves, and decided to make this french toast for the family Sunday breakfast. Bread came out gorgeous, and so did the french toast. You should try it. The bread just soaks up the mixture.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
an 8- to 9-inch round loaf country-style bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
 Powder sugar for garnishing

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a bowl to cool. Cut six 1-inch thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use (I freeze them for stuffing recipes).
In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined; once cooled whisk in above mixture, and pour evenly over bread in a long baking dish; letting them soak. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours, or overnight.  

 Bring bread to room temperature. Heat non-stick pan to medium high, and cook separately on both sides until done. Before turning them you can spoon white or light brown sugar over them for an extra crisp.

Serve hot French toast immediately. 

NOTE: We omitted the syrup, because it was sweet enough with powder sugar, and Grand Marnier mixture. Next time I am omitting the amount of sugar used, was almost too sweet.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beef Tenderloin

Some might find this photo harsh, but my husband and son like their steaks rare to medium rare. I did a dry rub on this tenderloin; scallions, garlic, and coriander. Something hubs had in NYC during a dinner with computer colleagues. It made for a good flavor profile, after I put my part of the beef tenderloin back in the oven and cook it longer.


Clean and trim off head of beef tenderloin (use for stew or stir fry)

Mix 3 tablespoons- garlic, minced, small chopped scallions, and coriander (you can be more liberal with the coriander if you like), salt and course ground pepper to taste.

Rub tenderloin and place in baking dish, refridgerate overnight.

Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 20 minutes for medium rare (depends on size, mine was pretty fat); adding 10 minutes for medium, and then 10 more for well done. This cut of meat is too fantastic to ruin with more than medium rare. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes and then slice.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Apple-General Tso Glaze Stuffed Cornish Hen

These babies were glazed with an apple-wine General Tso mixture. One of those things you begin making and a little of this and a little of that turns into a mouthful of WOW!

I do not make Cornish hens that often, not sure why, but duck seems to find its way into my oven more often.  After just returning from a week of AWP, Association of Writers and Writing Programs convention in Boston, lots of walking, talking, and eating I am a bit pooped to say much more. Enjoy the pics, and if you get a chance just add chopped apples to a Asian glaze recipe and be prepared to be Wow'd. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tamales and Tepary Beans

and Tepary bean filled Tamales...can go any way you like them. I have written about both before, because we love them. Making tamales can be grueling when you are doing it alone, but I don't mind...once a year. Back during the holidays I taught my son's girlfriend about he Hispanic tradition of making them for the holidays and put her to work! Ha!

I experimented with this batch. Some were stuffed with pulled pork, and some with chili Tepary beans. Using the sauce from the beans I flavored the masa harina, and used traditional lard. We made six dozen and gave family and friends six each for gifts. Frozen, these made a good treat for us once we returned home from the long family gatherings.

Never made tamales before? Plan ahead and have some friends chip in and you can all sit together and make them. I did this with a friend back in Texas for her family. Afterward she said it would have been too much by herself, as she had asked me to make a Costa Rican party for 30 people. So we made a Costa Rican tamale. You can find most ingredients in the 'International' isle of your local markets.

Tepary beans are considered heritage and heirloom and are available on-line and only in Arizona. Hubs travels there for work and makes it a point to bring me back a bag of black, white, and brown. They are lowest in glycemic index of all beans, and one of the best things to eat if you have high blood sugar issues like diabetics. Check out this recipe for Tepary Beans and a Hungry Chef!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day 'Salsify' Love

What do you make your sweetheart for Valentine's Day?

Mine is complicated. He likes obscure foods. He always has, since we got together 15 years ago. However, I like that. Because I like to experiment with flavors. It says so on my bio to the right!

The story of this dish goes...

While at the local Whole Foods store one Saturday, hubs is rummaging through vegetables and I see him asking a store employee something. I walk over to hear him asking about Salsify. She has,  no clue, he has the smart phone pulling up a pic, she is asking other employees if they know what it is. One guy points him to another similar in looks root, but it is ten times as big. But they all get no where.

I have made this dish before, written about it before. I have also read it does not taste or smell like its alternative name 'Oyster Root', but it does. You have to get it fresh. If you pick it up and it flops over or feels soft, then it is not fresh. Firm and stands like a pencil. This parsnip, potato like root does have a subtle smell and flavor of oysters. Someone might steer you the wrong way and point you to parsnips or some other 'like' root, and then it won't have the aroma.

Salsify usually comes out in February around here (maybe late summer/warm winters), one site says October to January. It comes in white (yellowish) and black, I have only seen black version, but inside resembles parsnip. Even the white version can look like parsnip, kind of. But the most important thing- it tastes similar to oysters. A mild version. Haven't had it? I encourage you to try it. I boil it in a stock (save the water), mash and chop it up; add white wine and butter, along with salt and pepper and maybe a sprinkle of garlic powder. Don't use fresh garlic or you will mask the true flavor.

If you look on the top of the turbo filet, upper corner and right hand side of picture above, that is then end result. Forget the creamed potatoes on the left; it is a pile of mess, but tasty. The whole dish was tasty. Another trip to Whole Foods and I saw they had gotten some in after our last trip.

Where does the real love come in? I hauled myself out of the house on a cold snowy day a few days later to go buy another handful of salsify so I could cook it for his Valentines Day, because he adores it. Four pieces make about 1/2 cup...not much, but a great garnish for seafood.

Happy Valentines Day Everyone! Keep spreading the food love...

PS- here is a pic from the internet


I almost forgot! The salsify water...I reuse it for sauce or gravies. You can freeze it or incorporate it into the next days meal. We are watching (always) our carb intake and such, so no extra sauce calories, because I was craving mashed potatoes this go round.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Maple Bacon Lollipops

Thats right, a Maple Bacon Lollipop hubs brought home from Roni Sue's Chocolates on Essex in NYC.

My review- cute packaging, but no maple flavor in smell or taste, just sugary. And the bacon added an old (sitting on the shelf) oil flavor rather than a bacon taste. My son nor I went back in for another taste. The bacon bits linger way too long...

Four come to a package, a great novelty gift, but nothing I would recommend. Hubs thought it was something fun since I like bacon. I have had chocolate with bacon and it was fine, but we are not sure how long these have been sitting on the shelf because there is no date.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cherry-Lemon Pecan Cake

You can find the recipe I modeled this cafe after Lemon cake found on Martha Stewart's sit, with my own addition of reconstituted cherries in a glaze and pecans. Now remember I did not frost the cake, only glazed it, and found brushing it on was the best trick I have ever learned; it went on as smoothly and very evenly as it could cooling I might add, and soaked in well. Frosting would be too much for this cake.

We also found letting it sit for a whole 24 hours before cutting it, well I had a nibble to see how it tasted, but the following night everyone found it to be wonderful. And not too sweet.

I recommend reading through these instructions before starting...

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans (I used 50/50 whole wheat flour mix- bakers blend or garam flour which is called Chappati flour in Indian stories)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups sugar (I cut sugar by 1 cup and used it all in recipe)
  • 2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks (don't be afraid, this will be very much like whipping egg whites, but it all works out in the end.)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (did not have this so added lemon juice to whole milk and let it sit til curdles)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded (didn't use this, nor the frosting recipe you will see on site. I made a cherry glaze instead)
Dried Cherry Mixture for Icing

 1/2 cup dried cherries (frozen will work, but thaw)
1/3 cup cherry wine or cherry liquor

Mix together and let sit overnight or about an hour (this mixture works best if warmed up a bit in microwaved or on stove; the heat will help reconstitute cherries- microwave for about 46 seconds on high- stove, warm liquid and add dried cherries, remove from heat quickly.)


1 cup powder sugar
1/2 cup dried cherries reconstituted for an hour in cherry wine

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. (Once all of batter is in bundt pan I added some cherries drained from liquid, and pecans to the top of batter; batter will bake up and around these ingredients.)
  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.
  4. (I skipped this step and made up #5) While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.
  5. Using 1 cup powder sugar, 1/2 cup remaining cherries and cherry wine mixing them until a glaze is created. If you find too runny, add a teaspoonful of more powder sugar until thickens a bit more, but not too runny.
  6. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup (in this case the glaze). Let cool completely. (I also skipped this part, as there was no need for frosting) Prepare frosting, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for vanilla extract. Frost cooled cakes and top with candied lemon slices.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

5 Spices Beneficial To Your Health

I  often clip magazine hints like this and save it in a recipe book for future reference, and wonder years later how it helped me and if it still applies. Many of my Asian and Indian friends here firmly believe they do help you, and have so many more suggestions such as eating anise, coriander, and other seeds help with stomach ailments and digestion. They often make teas and use them to make dosai and dals. But here is the original article...

These five hot spices can be good for everything from easing arthritis pain to keeping your heart healthy.

Recent studies suggest that when it comes to cuisine, kicking it up a notch can be as good for your health as it is tasty for your palate. Some spices, particularly hot ones, contain phytochemicals that may help ward off cell damage associated with chronic diseases.

Potential health perk: Relieves achy joints. Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help ease arthritic swelling and pain.  
Hot way to dish it: Sprinkle a few shakes of chili powder and salt on baked French fries.

Potential health perk: Protects against Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A 2003 study found that about half a teaspoon lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  
Hot way to dish it: Mix half a teaspoon of cinnamon into your coffee, or jazz up whipped cream with a couple of pinches.

Potential health perk: Safeguards your brain. The yellow curry pigment curcumin may fight Alzheimer's by thwarting development of the disease's signature amyloid brain plaques, says a study. Hot way to dish it: Whisk 1 1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder into mayonnaise to dress up sandwiches.

Potential health perk: Improves your heart's health. Brigham Young University researchers found that garlic consumption can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels by an average of 10 percent.  
Hot way to dish it: Add minced garlic and chopped cucumber to plain yogurt for a light dip or salad dressing.

Potential health perk: Prevents ulcers. A 2004 South Korean study suggests Japanese horseradish can kill ulcer-causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Plant chemicals may also prevent tooth decay. Hot way to dish it: Mix a smidgen of wasabi paste with mashed avocado for a snappier guacamole.

Originally published in Ladys Home Journal magazine and written by  Marie Kerns, 2008.

(Above photo is a handful of dried chilies from my tepin bush my sister grew for me in Texas. Plant is native to Mexico. I've heard them called chile pequin, turkey pepper, bird's eye pepper among some of the other names. The wild pepper is a small round pepper growing wild in Mexico. )

Friday, January 11, 2013

Scallops Are The Bomb

Oh heck, keep the old, just do some revamping...and we do love our scallops!
I was hired to cater a dinner party for my clients husbands boss. The wife left the menu up to me. I like it when that happens. 

Salad for the beginner, and no big dessert for the finish, just an assortment of candies and truffles. I was sure most were spent on the Christmas end of sweets as it was. A light meal was in order. I went with scallops, and filet Mignon as the meat option. You would be surprised at how many said no to the steak.

(I did get a grand deal on a tenderloin at H-Mart in Edison- $6.99 lb. Other locations available. It was cheaper than what I can get at the wholesale butcher, and you have to buy a certain quantity at that. I prefer Rib-eye steaks for more flavor, or a strip, but often high end clients want filet.)

Pan seared with a little salt and pepper. Over sauteed Parmesan spinach. I deglazed the pan with a tamarind infused heavy cream. Added room temp pomegranate seeds, and dusted it with some curry powder.

It tasted wonderful, and was paired with two Chardonnay's- oaked and steel barrel fermented, both from Long Island.  You might think the oak would overpower the dish, but it actually highlighted the light curry powder dusting. Guest felt they both were a good match.

Regrets- my rice was not flavorful enough. I often overdo everything, and had considered a risotto. But that is usually too creamy for a solid presentation. Not because I was criticized, but because I personally like everything to shine in flavor. The clients and even hubs in our trial meal said it was fine. In retro, the meal was fantastic, and I want it again! However...see there I go again...I felt it needed a bit more curry powder, but I like my food spicy...

I don't carry my camera around as once did a year or so ago, so the smart phone photo has to do when a quick expedite is in order.

Next play with your food meal on my menu is smoked Duck...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year with some Pea-zazz!

I grew up eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. A southern tradition. Once I went out on my own I developed a taste for spicy everything, so chilies found their way into the pot. My grandmother made them in the pressure cooker with snap beans and bacon. I went a little north on mine.

Bacon, can of green chili tomatoes, frozen black-eyed peas and Italian flat beans, stock or broth, and a heaping tablespoon of Indian Tava Fry or Kitchen King powder, for that extra slam of heat. Then boil it on the stove until peas and beans are tender to the bite. I never measure unless its for a client, and they have given me instructions for something special. But it will all be good in the end.

This year I made a Sambar soup base and added everything but the bacon. Can't find it. Two different people in my house went shopping without telling the other, so my freezer is a war zone. I will deal with that later. You can buy Sambar seasonings in the box just like the other named spices above. And mash up some of the peas after they cook to thicken the soup base. I would add lentils if there were any in the cabinet. Hubs gave the thumbs up after eating a bowl, and he is not a fan of my concoction. Black-eyed peas are an acquired taste.

Happy New Year!