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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gnocchi with Sausage Cream Sauce

I just created this dish last night.  It is very good, if I do say so myself.

Servings: 6-8
Time:    Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 25 Minutes
Hardware:  measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a can opener, a large heavy-bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a large soup pot, a slotted spoon, a bowl, a colander

Gnocchi are fluffy potato dumplings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz Italian sausage (spicy or mild)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small onion (1 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 4 oz baby Portobello mushrooms
  • 2~14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes-Undrained
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup cream
  • 4 leaves of basil
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 16 oz gnocchi
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese
Garlic bread

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet on medium.
  2. Remove the sausage from the casing, cook and crumble, until it’s no longer pink.  (About 7 minutes)
  3. Put 4 quarts of salted water on to boil.
  4. While the sausage is cooking prep the veggies.  Dice the onion and garlic.  Wash and slice the mushrooms.  Remove the seeds and white ribs from the pepper.  Cut it into long, thin strips. Set aside
  5. Remove the sausage with the slotted spoon and place it in the bowl.  Set aside.
  6. Drain most of the fat from the pan.
  7. Place the veggies in the pan and sauté over medium heat until the onions are clear. (About 5 minutes)
  8. Return the sausage to the pan.  Stir in the tomatoes, wine, and pepper flakes.  Throw in the whole sprig of rosemary. 
  9. Allow this to boil vigorously for about 8 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  10. Stack the basil leaves and roll them up.  Cut them into very fine strips.  Set aside.
  11. Add the gnocchi to the salted water.  They will only take about 4 minutes to cook.  They are done when they float. 
  12. While waiting for the gnocchi, turn the heat under the sauce to low.  Stir in the cream and basil.  Fish out the rosemary stem.  It will be naked.
  13. As soon as the gnocchi begin to float, drain them.  Add them to the sauce immediately. 
  14. S&P to taste.
  15. Serve right away.
Serve with garlic bread.  Offer your guests Parmesan.

10.  This is called chiffonade

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shrimp Etouffee

This recipe is inspired by New Orleans, one of my favorite cities.  I love NOLA, and not just because of the Quarter and the alcohol and the endless party (which I do love), but because of the music and the architecture and the history and the culture and the people unlike any other in the world.  Oh, and the food!   
Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Servings: 4-6 (depends on your appetite)
Time:    Prep: 10 minutes; Cook: 40-50 minutes
Hardware:  measuring spoons and cups, a cutting board and knives, a bowl with a lid, a large heavy bottom skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet), a whisk, a wooden spoon

  • 1 ½ pounds shrimp (cleaned)
  • 2 tablespoons Creole Seasonings (I like Zatarain’s)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • ½ cup bell pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups liquid (water, chicken stock, shrimp stock)
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • S & P

3 cups of white rice, 3 stalks of green onion sliced thin, hot sauce
  1. Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Zatarain’s. Put this into the fridge ‘til needed.
  2. Clean and dice the veggies.  Set aside.
  3. Place the oil in the skillet on medium and whisk in the flour. You are now making a roux.  Whisk continuously until the roux is the color of caramel.  This should take five minutes or so. 
  4. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and bell pepper.   Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Stir in the rest of the Creole Seasoning.
  6. Turn the heat up to medium high.
  7. Gradually add the liquid to the roux, whisking continuously. Make sure that the roux is boiling the whole time.
  8. Add the bay leaves.   
  9. Reduce the roux to a simmer.
  10. Cook until the roux has the consistency of paste and is darker, almost the color of peanut butter. This should take 20-30 minutes. Stir often.
  11. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and shrimp. Cook for another 7-10 minutes or until the shrimp is done.
  12. Remove the bay leaves and S&P to taste.  Serve hot.
Serve over rice garnished with thin slices of green onion. Offer your guests hot sauce.

Jackson Square, New Oleans, LA

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Fried chicken....what more is there to say?

Servings:  4-6
Hardware:  2 large plastic Ziploc bags, glass dish, a large heavy skillet with a lid (I use cast iron), thermometer, tongs, a baking sheet, a cooling rack (or paper towels)
Time: Prep-10 minutes, Marinate: 2 to 24 hours, Cook-20 minutes

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I prefer Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  • 1 fryer chicken cut into serving pieces (the butcher will do this for you if you ask)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground thyme
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying 
  1. Mix the buttermilk and the hot sauce in a plastic Ziploc bag. Put the chicken in the Ziploc.  Try to squeeze all of the air from the bag and seal it up.  Place that in the fridge.  (I always put this in a glass dish, bag and all, because sometimes those zippers unzip.)  Marinate from 2-24 hours, turning the bag over every once in a while.  Remove the whole dish from the fridge about ½ hour before cooking to allow the chicken to warm up.  This will allow the chicken to cook evenly.
  2. Combine the flour and all the other ingredients except the oil in the other plastic bag.  Shake this like crazy to mix.
  3. Place the cooling rack over the baking sheet.  If you don’t have a cooling rack, just line the baking sheet with paper towels.  Set aside.
  4. Put enough oil in the pan to fill it about half way up.  Pre-heat the oil until it is 350°.  This step is very important to keep the chicken from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy.  You will want to adjust the temperature while cooking so the oil stays between 300° to 400°.   
  5. Drain the chicken and discard the buttermilk marinade.
  6. Place each piece of chicken in the flour Ziploc and shake to coat.
  7. Place the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer in the hot oil.  Do not crowd the chicken.  You may need to cook in batches.
  8. Cover the chicken and do not turn for at least 5 minutes.
  9. Turn the chicken and cook until it is a crispy golden brown.  Cooking time depends upon the piece and the size.  Dark meat (thighs, legs, etc) takes longer to cook than white meat (breasts).  White meat will take at least 10-15 minutes and dark will take at least 15, maybe 20.  To make sure your chicken is done, cut into the thickest part, the juices that run out should be clear and the meat should be completely opaque and have no hint of pink.
  10. As the chicken finishes, place it on the cooling rack to drain.  You can place the baking sheet in the oven on the lowest setting to keep the chicken warm.
  11. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and serve warm. 
Take this to a picnic with Mactastic Macaroni Salad.  Yum!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hoppin' John

Southern custom says that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will bring you good luck in the coming year.  I don’t know how much luck they bring, but why take any chances?  Besides, they taste so good!

Servings: 6-8
Time:  soak: 8-24 hours, prep:  10 minutes, cook: 1-2 hours
Hardware:  A cutting board and knives, measuring cups, a large soup pot with a lid, and a wooden spoon
  • 1 pound bag of black-eyed peas, soaked and drained
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 8 oz of cooked ham
  • 1 large onion (1 cup)
  • 1 small bell pepper (½ cup)
  • 1 stalk of celery (½ cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 quart of liquid (chicken stock and/or water)
3 cups of hot, cooked white rice
Garnish:  Diced green onions and hot sauce
Good Luck & Happy New Year!
  1. Pick over the black-eyed peas 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 peas and discard the soak water.
  2. Wash the onion, celery, and garlic and dice them, the smaller the better. 
  3. Remove the seeds and white ribs from the bell pepper. Dice it.
  4. Set the veggies to the side.
  5. Dice the ham.
  6. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot on medium high.
  7. Add the ham to the soup pot and allow it to sear, stirring often, for 2- 4 minutes.
  8. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and pepper to the soup pot.  Turn the heat down to medium.
  9. Stir occasionally and allow the veggies to cook for 4-5 minutes.  They should be bubbling, but not browning. 
  10. Stir in the peas and the liquid and bring to a boil.
  11. Turn the peas to low. Simmer the peas, uncovered, for 1-2 hours or until they are tender.  Stir them just enough to make sure the peas aren’t sticking otherwise they will break up. You may need to add more liquid while cooking.
  12. S&P to taste
Serve over rice with a slice of cornbread.   Garnish with chopped green onions.   Offer hot sauce to your guests.