Eat!

Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pan Seared Group topped with a Cajun Shrimp Sauce



Pan Seared Group topped with a Cajun Shrimp Sauce

I have a friend who enjoys deep sea fishing. She brought me a pound of grouper from her last trip. The fillets were very thin. They were the perfect size for fish tacos, but I was taco-ed out. I knew that I didn’t want to waste fresh grouper in fish stew. What to do? What to do? I decided on Pan Seared Group topped with a Cajun Shrimp Sauce. This was a great idea.

Making the fish stock is time consuming and labor intensive, as it requires you to peel the shrimp rather than purchase them already peeled, but trust me it is worth it. Also, once you start cooking this goes very quickly, so you should mise en place. That means that you chop, cut and measure everything before you get started. All the ingredients and utensils should be laid out ready for you to use. This recipe is a little more involved than most, so read through it before you begind.

Servings 3-4
Time: Active time: 25 minutes; Cook: 60 minutes; dinner in about an hour and a half
Hardware:  measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and a knife, a large pot, a strainer, a non-stick skillet (I prefer cast-iron), a can opener, tongs, a wooden spoon, a large bowl, enough small bowls to hold all the veggies, 2 clean plates and paper towels

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of very thinly sliced grouper
  • ½ pound jumbo shrimp (21-25 count)
  • ½ pound pre-cooked crawfish
  • 4 cups water + 3 tablespoons
  • ½ a red bell pepper (4 ounces)
  • ½ a small onion (4 ounces)
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 to ½ tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (depending on level of spice you prefer)
  • 1-14.5 ounce can of low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 cups of cooked hot white rice
  1. Peel and devein the shrimp. Save the shells. Remove the crawfish tails, but save the shells. Put the shrimp and crawfish tails in the fridge until you need it.
  2. Put the 4 cups of water onto boil. Add the shells.
  3. Dice the veggies, keeping them separate. Remove the white membrane from the pepper. Add all the veggie scraps-the pepper top and membrane, the parsley stems, the celery leaves, a few pieces of onion-to the boiling water. Boil for about 30 minutes. Strain the seafood stock into the large bowl. Throw all the strained stuff away.
  4. Wash the fish in clean water and pat dry. Salt and pepper the fish generously. Place on a clean plate. Spray the pan with cooking spray and heat over high. When the pan is very hot, add the fish in a single layer. The pan should be hot enough for the fish to get a sear very quickly, no more than two-three minutes. Flip the fish and remove from the pan to the clean plate as soon as the fish has a golden sear. You may need to cook in batches.
  5. Add the oil to the same pan and turn down to medium high. Add the onion, pepper and celery and sauté until the veggies begin to soften, stirring often. Push the veggies to the side add the shrimp. Sprinkle the creole seasoning onto the shrimp and veggies. Flip the shrimp as soon as they are opaque. Remove them from the pan as soon as they are done. Err on the side of under-cooking, as they will cook some when added to the sauce.
  6. Add the tomatoes and two cups of the fish stock to the pan. Bring to a rapid boil and stir. Dissolve the cornstarch into 3 tablespoons of cold water. Pour the cornstarch-y water into the boiling sauce. Stir. The sauce should thicken. If it is too thick add a little more stock. Remove from the heat. Add the shrimp, crawfish tails and parsley to the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  7. To plate, make a bed of rice, add a few fish fillets and top with the shrimp sauce.
Crawfish

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Instant Pot® Brisket I


Instant Pot® Brisket

So, you know I received an Instant Pot® for Christmas. I am pressure cooking everything! I was most excited to make a brisket. Usually, brisket requires four to five hours of low and slow cooking to create tender, melt in your mouth goodness. A pressure cooker cuts that time in more than half. This means that brisket is not just for Sundays anymore.

It should not take 2 full hours for the brisket to be ready. The cooking time is just 50 minutes, but you must allow the pot to pressure up and then pressure down. I am probably always going to take the extra time to allow my pot to naturally release. That will keep meat from drying out, won’t hurt soups or veggies and will act as an added safety measure. Also, always give the pot a tap AFTER the pressure has released and before you unseal the lid.

This was spectacularly easy to make. It was very flavorful, too. Many users on this Instant Pot® page/cult I joined on Facebook complained that their roasts were bland. I did not find this to be true. In my excitement I may have been imaging this, but it seemed as if the flavor saturated the meat and it was one of the best things EVAH….

Servings: 4
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, an Instant Pot®, silicone tipped tongs, a small bowl, a fork, a strainer, a large bowl
Time: Active time: 15 minutes; Cook: 50 minutes; brisket in about 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds brisket
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 ounces shallot (1 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 large sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  1. Wash the shallot and garlic and roughly chop them. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the brisket.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot on sauté, high, more. Add the onion and garlic to the Instant Pot. Stir and allow the aromatics to sear for two-three minutes. Push to the side. Place the brisket, fat side down to the pot. Allow it brown for four minutes. Flip the brisket.
  3. Mix together the broth, ketchup and soy sauce. Pour over the brisket. Throw in the rosemary.
  4. Close and pressure cook on high for 50 minutes. Allow the steam to naturally release. That means that you just leave it alone until the metal float falls.
  5. Remove the brisket and allow it to rest until the sauce is ready. Strain the liquid into the large bowl, discarding the flotsam (stuff left from the veggies and herbs.) Return the liquid to the Instant Pot®. Bring to a boil on sauté. Mix the corn starch and water in the small bowl until the cornstarch dissolves. Add the cornstarch-y water to the Instant Pot®. Stir until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust the salt.
  6. Serve the brisket over rice or mashed potatoes. Offer your guest the sauce.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Instant Pot® Red Beans and Rice



Instant Pot® Red Beans and Rice
Okay everyone, I have jumped on the Instant Pot® bandwagon. The IP can defrost, sauté, pressure cook, slow cooker, steamer and warming pot. I have only made 4 dishes n it, but I’m pretty sure that I am in love. The Instant Pot® is so easy to use that I already have 2 recipes to share. 

I was worried that the short cooking time would mean that these didn't have the rich flavor that comes from slow cooking. No worries. In fact, I think the flavor was more complex. I also preferred the texture of the beans to those that were boiled for ever. They were completely cooked, but were not falling apart. Instead of being mushy, they were creamy.
You need to know some things before using your Instant Pot®. Find a place to use it that is not under a cabinet or near a wall. The IP releases steam and will warp wood. Also, when a recipe says 9 minutes of cook time (as this one does) that isn’t including the time it takes the pressure to build or the time it takes it to release. The more liquid you have in the pot, the longer it will take to build up pressure and to release it. I have found that it takes about 10 minutes to get going and about 20-25 to wind down. When you are done you can put the lid on the top shelf of the dish washer and the pot on the bottom. Easy cook! Easy clean! No worries!

If you don't have an Instant Pot®, here is my conventional Red Beans and Rice.

Servings: 6
Hardware: A cutting board and knives, measuring spoons and cups, an Instant Pot®, a wooden spoon, a potato masher
Time: Active time: 15 minutes; Cook: 9 minutes; Beans in about an hour (this doesn’t include soak time)

Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces red beans, rinsed and soaked
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ pound andouille smoked sausage
  • 4 ounces onion (1 cup)
  • 1 baby bell pepper-2 ounces- (½ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  •  3 cups of hot, cooked white rice, diced green onions and hot sauce
  1. Pick over the beans and place them in a large soup pot. Cover them in cold water, place a lid on the pot, and soak them for at least 8 hours or over night.  Drain the beans and discard the soak water. Set the beans aside. You can probably skip this step and just add 5 minutes to the cook time. But I didn’t do that and so can’t really say.
  2. Wash the onion, celery, and garlic and roughly chop them.  Remove the seeds and white ribs from the bell pepper and chop it.
  3. Cut the smoked sausage into 1-inch coins.
  4. Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot on sauté.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, celery and green pepper to the Instant Pot. Stir and allow the onions, etc to sweat for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add everything else to the pot. Close and pressure cook on high for 9 minutes. Allow the steam to naturally release. That means that you just leave it alone until the metal float falls.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and use the potato masher to mash up some of them. Serve over rice. Offer your guests green onions and hot sauce for garnish