A Touch Of Spice!

I’m sharing one of my favorite weekend menus with you today.  This is perfect to serve while watching college football or for a casual Sunday dinner.  Just a bit spicy but oh so yummy!  I think you’ll love it!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

Mexican Chocolate Pie

Cold Cerveza

tortilla soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

So simple and delicious!

2 cups shredded roast chicken (perfect for leftover
rotisserie chicken)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno peeled, seeded and chopped (Don’t forget to
wash your hands well after handling these!)
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 can mild Rotel tomatoes or other canned tomatoes with
mild peppers
2 tsps. Sangre de Cristo Mexican Seasoning
Sangre de Cristo Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 can hominy or posole, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. Chiptole or Tabasco sauce
10 corn tortillas cut in strips
1 bunch scallions finely chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
In a small stock pot place the olive oil, onion, garlic and
jalapeno and sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the
chicken broth, tomatoes, shredded chicken and the
Mexican Seasoning. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer
for 20 minutes. Add the posole and black beans with the
Tabasco sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Just before
serving, add the tortilla strips, otherwise they will
disintegrate. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and
garnish with chopped scallions and the cheeses. Serves 6.

guacamole

Guacamole with Blue Tortilla Chips

3 ripe avocadoes

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of one lime

1 teaspoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

Mash the avocado and add remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle with chopped, fresh cilantro and serve with your favorite blue tortilla chips.

mexican choc pie

Mexican Chocolate Pie

1 9 inch pie shell (I use a deep dish crust that I make from scratch, but store bought will do)
Filling:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
3 1 ounce squares semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup coffee flavored liqueur, (I use Khalua)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a measuring cup ; let soften about five minutes.  Separate eggs, placing two whites (refrigerate remaining whites) in small bowl of electric mixer, and place the yolks in the top of a double boiler.  Let egg whites warm to room temperature.  Beat egg yolks slightly with wooden spoon.  Stir in gelatin mixture, chocolate and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Cook over hot, not boiling, water, stirring until chocolate is melted and gelatin is dissolved – about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in coffee flavored liqueur.  Turn chocolate mixture into a medium bowl, place in large bowl of ice water.  Stir occasionally until cool and consistency of unbeaten egg white – about 15 minutes.  Toast almonds:  In skillet, melt butter.  Add almonds; stir over medium heat just until golden brown.  Cool.  In a chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff;  refrigerate.  Meanwhile, with electric beater, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form when beater is slowly raised.  Gradually beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until stiff peaks form when beater is raised.  With rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the egg whites and 1 cup whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. (Save the remaining whipped cream to garnish the finished pie.)  Turn the mixture into the shell, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate until the pis is firm – 3 hours or overnight.  Before serving chop almonds, spoon whipped cream around the edge of the pie and sprinkle with almonds.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Makes 12 servings.

In Praise of Sweet Potatoes!

 

I’m sharing a recipe today that is always a huge hit AND it’s gluten free!  This recipe is for a quiche with a shredded sweet potato crust instead of the traditional crust made with flour.  I served this delicious dish at a brunch I catered months back.   It went so quickly I didn’t get a chance to photograph it so I am sharing a photo I found on Pinterest that is as close as I can come to what I created.  I have a “return to blogging” goal that is all about remembering ALWAYS to take photographs.  The recipe is all mine and I think you’ll love it!

 

sweet potato crusted quiche with goat cheese and leeks {gluten-free}

Pinterest

Quiche with Shredded Sweet Potato Crust

Preheat oven to 425

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded

1 egg beaten

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients and pat them into a glass pie dish or spring form pan that has been lightly greased.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat in the oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling:

2 cups shredded Swiss Cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half ‘n’ half

1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Place the shredded cheese in the prepared crust.  Beat the eggs then add the half ‘n’ half and seasoning.  Place the pan on a baking dish to prevent spilling.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife, inserted in the middle of the quiche, comes out clean.

I know you probably wonder what the rest of the menu was so I’ll share that as well!  Creme Brulee French Toast, Creole Mustard Ham and Hashbrowns with the Cajun Trinity.  Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s were flowing and it was a wonderful time.   Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Early Fall Repast

This is one of my favorite warm weather menus.  I think you’ll enjoy it!  Pair this with a good, crisp white wine and you have a delicious meal!  Have a safe weekend and enjoy!

Pan Seared Salmon with  Miso/Ginger Glaze

Sauteed Cucumbers and Fennel with Grape Tomatoes

Jasmine Rice with toasted Sesame Seeds and Fresh Chives

Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Ginger, Toasted Almonds and Caramel Sauce

YUM!!! Honey Garlic Salmon - 1 teaspoon garlic, minced ½ teaspoon ginger, minced 4 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons soy sauce Mix & marinate salmon 15-30 minutes Pan sear Salmon to carmelize then Bake @ 350 for 15-20 minutes:

Pan Seared Salmon with Miso/Ginger Glaze

This recipe serves 4.  It can easily be increase to serve 8 by doubling the ingredients.

4 – 6 ounce wild salmon filets

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1/2 cup miso ( available at Island Natural Foods or any Asian Market in your area)

1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese rice wine) or Dry Sherry

1 tablespoon shredded, fresh, peeled ginger root

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon good olive oil

French or Celtic grey salt and white pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a heavy, heat resistant pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat the oil until it is sizzling.  Lightly salt and pepper both sides of each filet.  Place the filets, skin side down in the hot pan and sear for about 3 -5 minutes.  In a medium bowl, mix the miso, Mirin, ginger root and soy sauce.  Spoon this mixture over the top of each filet and put the pan in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.  The salmon continues to cook even after you remove it from the oven and it is best if left a bit rare in the middle.  Serve with Jasmine rice (see recipe below) and a crisp, sauteed vegetable mixture (recipe below).

Ginger-Sesame Rice | Cuisine at home eRecipes I think it would be best with Jasmine rice :-):

Jasmine Rice with toasted Sesame Seeds and Fresh Chives

1 cup Jasmine Rice

2 cups water

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon butter

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

Bring the water to a boil and add the rice.  Cook 20 minutes, or until tender.  Remove the rice to a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients.  For serving I always like to use a large, professional ice cream scoop to put a nice mound of rice on each plate before placing the salmon next to it.  Additional chives, uncut, can be used for garnish.

* 1 tablespoon butter * 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons * Pinch of nutmeg * Handful of herbs like tarragon, chives, chervil, thyme, or parsley * Salt and pepper ~ add butter melt over medium heat add cucumber for about 5 min till crispy then seasoning:

Sauteed Cucumbers and Fennel with Grape Tomatoes

You read that right….sauteed cucumbers.  They are simply delicious and a perfect accompaniment to this meal.  I love to add shaved fennel to this dish and lovely grape tomatoes.  A bit of fresh dill and all you’ll say is yum! Note:  if you are not a fennel lover, that ingredient may be omitted.

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (cut the cucumber in half lengthwise to take the seeds out leaving crescent shapes to saute.)

1 fennel bulb, top removed and the bulb thinly shaved, with a mandoline, preferably.

1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and patted dry

1 tablespoons good olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the cucumbers and fennel, tossing to heat through yet, still crisp, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and toss over the heat briefly.  Remove the pan from the heat and season with the salt, pepper and dill.  Serve with the salmon and jasmine rice for a delicious combination of tastes and textures.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Ginger, Toasted Almonds and Caramel Sauce

I have to confess that I am a Ben & Jerry’s addict.  I control this addiction by not buying it too often, but for special occasions, I indulge myself and my guests in the fabulous flavors of their line.  For this dessert I choose their plain vanilla although I am a closet “Late Night Snack” and “Chubby Hubby” junkie.

Two pints will provide two nice scoops for four.  Place the two scoops in a bowl or serving piece of your choice.  Top with crumbled, candied ginger, a teaspoon or so per serving, sliced, toasted almonds and drizzle with caramel sauce.  There is a caramel sauce that I can almost faint over:  King’s Cupboard’s Three Chili Caramel Sauce.  Beware!  It does pack a bit of a “heated zing”, but I love the flavor sensation it creates when topping this recipe.

Spice It Up!

It’s finally Friday and I’m featuring a favorite recipe for a casual weekend dinner.  I first made Picadillo when I found the recipe in, of all places, a Suzanne Somers diet cookbook.  It is so delicious.  I’ve served it to family and guests over the years and never had a negative response!  I’d love to know if you try it!  Pair this with a good Cabernet, some warm tortillas and perhaps a crisp green salad for a delicious meal!

 

Image result for picadillo

Picadillo

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, fionely chopped

1 large bell pepper, finely chopped

1 large can chopped tomatoes with puree

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound pork

3/4 cup good balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons capers, drained

Garnish:

Sour cream, chopped cilantro (fresh), shredded iceberg lettuce, a wedge of lime, shredded Montery Jack cheese, chopped scallions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and peppers.  Cook until they are brown and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, garlic, cumin, and coriander.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the meat.  Brown the meat, using a wooden spoon to break it into tiny pieces.

Add the balsamic vinegar and capers.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Serve in bowls with garnish of your choice.  Enjoy!

Summer Fare

 

Eating Well

 

SUMMER SQUASH AND CORN CHOWDER

One of my favorite parts of blogging is sharing my passion for good food.  Dishes made from scratch, well maybe a few exceptions, using fresh, seasonal produce…locally grown.  As any of my regular followers know, I rarely follow a recipe.  I may take a glance at one to get inspiration but that’s about it.  When you have cooked for as many years as I have you innately know a thing or two about what flavors blend to create a delicious meal.

I love yellow crookneck squash.  It isn’t available all year so I make use of it as often as possible while it’s in season.  We have several local farm stands and farmer’s markets that we take advantage of year round.  Since Louisiana is warm most of the year our growing season is longer than other parts of the country.  I am still in search of a direct connection with a local farmer.  You can be sure that when I find one I’ll be posting about them….singing their praises and using their produce exclusively.  I might even be found in their fields helping tend the plants as they grow.  I feel strongly about eating healthfully, especially since I realize how important to practice daily “self care”.

So I took at look at the pile of yellow squash on my kitchen counter and thought how easy it would be to make a yummy summer soup.  I’m pretty sure this would be delicious warm or slightly chilled.  The recipe called for one ear of fresh squash, which I did not have on hand so I substituted a cup or so of Trader Joe’s delicious fire roasted corn from their vast frozen section.  I make a trip “across the pond” to Metairie and shop weekly and may be one of the most vocal supporters of TJ’s opening on the North Shore.

Without further ado….here’s the recipe:

4 large yellow crookneck squash, cubed

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pink salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 box organic vegetable broth

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 1/2 cups frozen fire roasted corn or one ear of fresh corn, kernels cut off

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Saute the squash and shallots in olive oil until just tender, about 7 minutes.  Add the salt, white pepper, broth, thyme and parsley.  Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for a half hour.  Remove the cover and puree the mixture with a hand held blender or food processor.  Add the corn and heavy cream and heat through for five minutes or so.  Ladle the soup into bowls and crumble goat cheese and extra chopped parsley on top of each serving.

This recipe makes enough soup for 4-6 servings.  If you are serving it chilled you might consider a dollop of creme fraiche in place of the goat cheese.  A simple butter lettuce salad with fresh, sliced tomatoes and french vinaigrette dressing completes this delicious meal!

 

A Taste of Mexico

loaded nachos

My family loves Mexican food anytime of the year.  I find the dishes I prepare during cooler months to be much to heavy in the summer.  I have created a method for building, literally, loaded nachos that will stand up to what you will find on any Mexican menu!  We love these and with loads of seasonal fresh vegetables they are so healthy!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Good tortilla chips, we prefer white corn chips

1 small box heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 bunch fresh radishes

1 purple onion, peeled and chopped

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and sliced

2 avocados, peeled and sliced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn kernels, frozen or freshly cut off the cob (if using fresh you’ll want to steam them lightly to soften)

1 bunch fresh cilantro

1 package velveeta shredded cheese

1 package Colby/Jack shredded

Sour Cream for Garnish

To assemble:

Place a layer of chips topped with a third of the two cheeses sprinkled on top.  Place another layer of chips with the rest of the cheese on top, Pour the black beans and corn over this and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.  Top with all of the sliced veggies, fresh sour cream and serve your favorite salsa on the side!  Easy breezy and so delicious!  Enjoy!

Simple & Delicious!


 

This is one of my favorite “go to” menus for entertaining in the summer.  It’s beginning to heat up outside!  I hope you’ll try and enjoy these recipes.  I’d love your comments as well!

Mojitos

Baratta Cheese with Heirloom Tomato “Jam”

Paella

Fresh Organic Arugula Salad

Crusty French Bread with Olive Oil 

Ice Cream Sundaes

Sangiovese Wine

mojitos

Mojitos

These are so delicious and easy!  In a pitcher combine 1 1/2 cups white rum; 1/2 bottle mojito mix; 1 1/2 cups blueberry/blackberry juice….fill to the rim with club soda, stir ad serve over ice with mint sprigs.  Refreshing and delicious!

burrata-sauteed-tomatoes-681x1024

Baratta Cheese with Heirloom Tomato “Jam”

I got the idea for this recipe from a fabulous blogsite:  www.in sock monkey slippers.com, and am sharing the bloggers picture.    I expanded upon it a bit, it was delicious served with slices of french bread I toasted.

1 ball Baratta Cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small basket mini heirloom tomatoes, cut in half

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 pinch of organic raw sugar

1/4 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons capers, well drained

1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned

While the cheese reaches room temperature, begin making the tomato “jam”.  Place the tomato halves in the olive oil and simmer over low heat.  Add the garlic and sugar and continue to simmer until the tomatoes are breaking down.  Add the white wine and capers to the pan and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.  You’ll have a thick mixture that is so yummy.  If you like, you may season with a good sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Pour the tomato “jam” over the cheese and sprinkle with the fresh basil.  Place toast points around the platter and serve with the mojitos.

paella

Paella

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes

2 small andouille sausages, about six inches each, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled, leaving the tail on

1 bag littleneck clams

1 bag “Spanish” rice, with seasoning (this is a shortcut that you can pass on and use regular rice with a good pinch of saffron)

2 – 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

1 can halved artichoke hearts, drained

1 can chopped tomatoes (16 oz.) drained

1/2 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley

Fresh orange slices for garnish, if desired.

In a large skillet, that has a fitted top, heat the olive oil.  brown the chicken and the sausage, drain and set aside.  Place the chopped onion in the pan and saute for five minutes.  Add the garlic and return the chicken and sausage to the pan.  Add the canned, drained artichoke hearts, tomatoes, rice and broth to the pan.  Cover and simmer on low heat for one half hour.  Remove the cover and add the shrimp and clams, pressing them down into the rice mixture.  Cover and simmer for twenty minutes.  If all of the liquid has not absorbed, bring the heat up a bit and simmer uncovered for five minutes.  Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and orange slices and place the pan in the middle of the dining table for serving.  Casual and so yummy!

arugula salad

Fresh Organic Arugula Salad

I love the peppery sharpness of fresh arugula.  This is so simple, just toss the arugula with a mixture of 2 tablespoons good olive oil, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, a bit of dry mustard, sea salt and pepper.  A bit of parmesan cheese, shaved and sprinkled over the top adds a tasty zing to the salad.

pain

Crusty French Bread with Olive Oil 

Not a necessity, but always good on the side for those who indulge in bread from time to time!

Ice Cream Sundaes

Another indulgence!  I usually opt for Ben & Jerry’s because, what can I say, it’s the best!  We love a scoop of “Late Night Snack” with a scoop of “Heath Bar Crunch”, drizzled with a bit of caramel sauce and a sprinkle of hot red pepper flakes…..delicious!

Finger Foods!

I am sharing this menu from 2014.  This has been a rough couple of weeks with Mr. T in and out of the hospital and further testing going on.  There are days, I have to admit, when I don’t feel like cooking, writing or anything else, but The Permanent Tourist remains a healing focus for me personally!  Thank you to all of my readers!  New menus coming up soon!

Saturday evenings usually find us tired from working in the garden and ready to relax.  Mr. T and I love to entertain, having a couple of friends over for drinks and a few appetizers is just the ticket for warmer evenings.  I found a recipe on the internet for “Bang Bang Shrimp”, the appetizer made famous by Bonefish Restaurant.  Of course, I had to do some tweeking, making the final recipe nothing like what I began with….it’s just something I do.  Anyway…the result was so delicious.  We paired it with some yummy bruschetta and a bowl of pistachio nuts.  Rum drinks seemed in order and “Dark and Stormy’s” filled the bill.  It was actually just the two of us when I did the test run this but I’ll be preparing it for friends very soon!  Enjoy! (Note:  the shrimp recipe is also gluten free…always a plus for me!)

Spicy Thai Shrimp

Bruschetta

Pistachio Nuts

Dark & Stormy’s

bang bang shrimp 2

Spicy Thai Shrimp

1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined

1 egg white, lightly whisked

1 cup cornstarch

2 cups peanut oil

Toss the cleaned shrimp in the egg white and place in a large baggie.  Pour the cornstarch into the bag, seal the bag and shake well to coat the shrimp.  Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet until almost smoking.  Fry the shrimp in batches until golden.  Drain on paper toweling.

Sauce:

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1/2 cup sweet Thai chili sauce or regular chili sauce, i.e. Heinz

1 teaspoon hot chili oil or Tabasco

Mix the three ingredients in a large bowl.  Transfer the drained shrimp to the bowl and mix well to coat.  Serve on a platter lined with fresh lettuce leaves and garnish with chopped scallions and lime wedges.

bruschetta 2

Bruschetta

1 baguette, cut on the diagonal in 1/4″ slices

olive oil

1 heirloom tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Brush each slice of bread with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Combine the remaining ingredients, tossing to coat with the oil and balsamic.  Spoon a mound of the tomato mixture on each slice of bread and serve.

pistachio nuts lg

Pistachio Nuts (no recipe needed for this!)

dark & stormy lg

Dark & Stormy’s

Per drink:

1 1/2 ounce dark spiced rum, we like a brand named “Kracken”

Reed’s extra strong ginger brew

fresh lime

Place ice in a highball glass, add the rum and ginger brew, stir well.  Squeeze fresh lime juice into the mixture and also garnish with fresh lime.  Cheers!

A Few Of My Favorite Things!

Since I’ve been in and out of the hospital with Mr. T since last week I’m reposting one of my most favorite menus for all of you to enjoy.  We have weeks full tests and procedures but I’m doing my best to keep things going on-line.  All the best to all of you!

We’re going a bit lighter this week.  These are some of my most favorite recipes.  Easy, healthy and so delicious!  Here’s the menu for four:

Champagne Cocktails

Lemony Zucchini Bruschetta

Roasted Tomato and Fresh Herb Pasta

Pan Roasted Grouper

Fresh Berry Napoleons

Sauvignon Blanc

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Champagne Cocktails

For each flute, soak a sugar cube in Angostura Bitters, top with icy cold champagne and a twist of fresh lemon.

zucchini and lemon bruschetta

Lemony Zucchini Bruschetta

1 whole wheat baguette

1 small log goat cheese

1 organic lemon

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

1 organic zucchini

Shaved parmigiano reggiano

Slice the baguette on the diagonal, 1/4 inch thick.  Place in a single layer on a sheet pan and toast at 325 degrees until crisp, about 15-20 minutes.  Let the goat cheese soften at room at room temperature.  With a lemon zester or the fine edge of a grater, remove the zest from the lemon (the peel), mix with the softened goat cheese, adding 1 tablespoon of juice from the lemon and the fresh herbs.  Wash the zucchini and with a mandoline or very sharp vegetable peeler, cut thin strips lengthwise.

To assemble:  Spread each slice of bread with a thin coating of the cheese mixture.  place a strip of zucchini on top and curl, like ribbon candy (see picture).  Squeeze any leftover lemon juice over the top.   Top with a small bit of shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese and serve.

023

Roasted Tomato and Fresh Herb Pasta

1 pound angel hair pasta (I use the gluten free variety made from Quinoa)

2 pounds organic plum tomatoes roasted (see instructions below)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup each of fresh basil, flat leaf parsley and scallions, finely chopped

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

sea salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded asiago cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  The pasta takes very little time to cook so I usually leave this step to last, so after the water boils turn it down and let it simmer so it’s ready.  Chop the roasted tomatoes and place in a large saute pan with 1 tablespoon good olive oil.  As the tomatoes begin to sizzle, add the fresh herbs and cook for about five minutes.  You want the herbs to be slightly crunchy.  Bring the water back to a boil, cook your pasta, drain it well and add it to the saute pan.  Add the toasted pine nuts and season with salt and pepper.  Transfer the pasta mixture to a large platter and sprinkle with asiago cheese.  Garnish with large basil leaves.

Roasted Tomatoes:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  place halved plum tomatoes on the pan and drizzle with good olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt.  Place in the warm oven for 3-5 hours.  You want the tomatoes to be slightly browned.  You can keep these stored in a container in your refrigerator for up to one week for use in all sorts of dishes that call for tomatoes.  Roasting the tomatoes in this way really enhances their flavor and gives them a sort of “candied” taste.

pan roasted grouper

Pan Roasted Grouper

1 1/2 pounds fresh grouper cut into 6 ounce serving pieces

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil

juice of one lemon

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon butter

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive.  Lightly salt and pepper the grouper pieces, carefully adding them to the hot pan.  Cook for three minutes on each side, remove to a warm plate and set aside.  Add the lemon juice and wine to the pan, swirl in the butter and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper as you desire.  Return the grouper to the pan to coat with the sauce.  You may add capers and lemon wedges if you wish.

berry napoleons

Fresh Berry Napoleons

Do not be afraid of filo dough.  It is in your grocer’s freezer and it is a wonderful thing to keep in yours.  I have done both dessert and main course Napoleons and they are always delicious.  Take a deep breath and have fun with it!

1 package filo dough, thawed

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted

1 carton each fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

1 jar good quality raspberry jam

1/4 cup chambord liqueur

1 small carton whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon good vanilla

Heat the oven according to the instructions on the filo dough package.  On a sheet pan, carefully place one sheet of dough, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Repeat this until you have eight layers of dough.  With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 3″x4″ rectangles.  Bake until golden brown.  You’ll probably need to do two pans of this for four people.

Rinse the berries and toss together in a bowl.  In a small pan melt the jam, adding the chambord at the end, if the mixture is a bit thin you can add 1 teaspoon or so of cornstarch that has been dissolved in 1 tablespoon water, stir well over a low flame until slightly thickened.  Chill a medium sized metal bowl and use this to whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  Add just a bit of vanilla to give the cream extra flavor.

To assemble:  On each dessert plate place one square of pastry.  Spoon the jam mixture on the pastry and top with a heaping spoon full of berries.  Repeat this two more times, ending with berries on top.  Spoon a generous amount of whipped cream on each Napolean ad serve.  A nice cup of espresso is the perfect accompaniment to this yummy dessert!

Creole Vs. Cajun

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Redfish on the Halfshell with Creole Shrimp Sauce

I have been invited to speak before a group of fellow North Shore residents on May 17th.  The subject is the History of Food in Louisiana.  I’m researching and finding so many interesting things that I did not know or may have forgotten.  I was raised on the Gulf Coast of Texas which is almost like being in Louisiana.  We shared many of the same dishes and culture with our neighbors one state over.

pickled shrimp

Pickled Shrimp

I’m finding so many things about the difference between “Creole” cuisine and the traditional “Cajun” dishes we all know and love.  If a recipe includes tomato it is “Creole”, if not it is Cajun and the Holy Trinity….onion, celery and green pepper instead of the carrot you’ll find in a traditional French Mirapoix is always on hand with plenty of garlic as well.

gumbo

Cajun Gumbo

Louisiana has one of the most diverse culinary offerings of any state in the U.S.  I sometimes feel like I have landed in foodie heaven!  Follow along with me over the next few weeks as I share my journey with all of you.  There will be history, recipes and much, much more!