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Simple, Hearty and Delicious – John Besh’s Classic Creole Seafood Jambalaya

Shrimp is one of those ingredients that is a lot more versatile than many give it credit for. While Sean would be happy if I simply made fried shrimp every time I picked some up from the seafood market, I like to mix things up and try different things with it. A scampi is always a good option or a stir-fry dinner, but one of my favorites is to make jambalaya. There is something about a fantastic bowl if jambalaya with crunchy french bread that is perfect for me for a meal. While jambalaya might seem intimidating to some to try to make, the truth is most recipes for it a pretty easy to put together. More often than not, they have a lot of prep work for you to do, but once that is accomplished everything else falls into place pretty quickly. I decided to make this recipe from John Besh that I found at the Food Republic because, as a classic New Orleans chef, who should know better than Chef Besh regarding how to make this dish?

John Besh’s Classic Creole Seafood Jambalaya

1/2 pound andouille or another smoked sausage, chopped

1 pound fresh pork sausage, removed from casings

1/2 cup bacon fat or vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups white rice

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 dried bay leaves

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds medium wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt and pepper

2 green onions, chopped

Heat a very big, heavy-bottomed pot (like a Dutch oven) over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium. (This lets the pot heat uniformly, preventing hot spots, which are likely to burn.) Brown the andouille and pork sausage in the bacon fat or vegetable oil, stirring slowly with a long wooden spoon to build color.

 

After the sausages have browned, add the onions to the pot and allow them to caramelize, about 15 minutes, to develop more flavor. Add the bell peppers to the onions to save as much of the color as you can in the peppers. Add the celery ( use the leaves too) and the garlic and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring so that everything in the pot cooks evenly.

 

Next add the rice, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves to the pot and cook, often stirring, for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the crushed tomatoes and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

 

While the rice is cooking, season the shrimp with salt and pepper. After the rice has simmered for 15 minutes, fold in the shrimp and the green onions. Cover the pot again, turn off the heat, and let everything continue to cook in the hot pot for about another 10 minutes until the shrimp are pink and tender.

 

Fluff the jambalaya with a fork and serve.

I have seen other recipes that can get more complicated, but this one is basic straight to the point, easy to follow and returns an excellent meal. I used red, yellow and orange pepper for some added color to the dish. You can use another sausage if you can’t find andouille, but andouille to me helps to make the dish what it is with its spice and flavor. You might also want to sub in shrimp stock for the chicken broth if you are feeling ambitious. You can make a nice stock with the shrimp shells and add some deeper flavor. The recipe comes together pretty quickly, and all of the flavors are there for you to give a complete, tasty meal in one pot. It often tastes just as great the second day as the flavors come together even more. You can have the whole meal created in about 45 minutes for a different weeknight meal for you and the family.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

 

 

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Feeling Fancy on a Weeknight – Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Raspberries

I know most people want something that does not take much effort on a weeknight. You’re tired after a long day at work and the last thing you want to, especially in the summertime, is spend a long time in the kitchen in front of the stove making dinner. I feel the same way; there are just some nights where you don’t want to do it. The great thing is that there are so many good recipes out there that you can do in under 30 minutes and have a really nice meal on the table without working up a big sweat in the kitchen. All it takes is a little bit of planning on your part each day or at the start of each week so you can be sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. Then you can crank out your dinner and have it on the table fast. A great example of a dinner that looks fancy but takes no time at all is this one from Food Republic for pork tenderloin with balsamic raspberries. It is an elegant looking dish that you can have on the table in about 30 minutes.

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Raspberries

2 pork tenderloins (about 3/4 pound each)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Rub the pork tenderloins with the olive oil and sprinkle each tenderloin with salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet and brown the pork on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place the pork on a rack in a roasting pan and roast it for about 10 to 12 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140 degrees. Remove the tenderloins from the oven and let the meat rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat and cook the shallots, stirring, until they are soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.Stir in the balsamic vinegar, the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.

Season the sauce with pepper, add the raspberries, and heat the sauce until the raspberries are just warm.

Cut the meat into slices and serve with the warm balsamic raspberries.

It is a very simple dinner to make but it looks pretty fancy when you get it all on the plate. You get a really nice sauce with the vinegar and raspberries and we all loved the flavor the sauce provided to the pork. You could use the sauce pretty successfully with other cuts of pork if you prefer, like boneless cutlets or chops or even bone-in chops. I served the pork with some Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes, but you can make it really easy on yourself and just put it together with some rice and a salad or a baked potato and salad and have everything ready to go. Anytime you can get a main dish done in about 25 minutes and have it look fancy and taste awesome is a pretty good deal to me.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 12, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Fruit, Pork, Sauce

 

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Living Large with Pat LaFrieda’s Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich

If you know me you know I am a big baseball fan and we go to a lot of Mets games during the season.Of course I enjoy the games and love watching and going to the stadium with Sean and Michelle, but there are also some great opportunities for eating that go on at Citi Field, more than there ever was at Shea Stadium. You can get great pastrami sandwiches, a shrimp po’boy, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, special fries, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, and the list goes on and on. One of Michelle’s personal favorites is the stand set up by Pat LaFrieda that offers his meatball sliders sandwiches (which are out of this world) and his filet mignon steak sandwich, is unlike any other cheesesteak sandwich you will find. Michelle had been asking me for a while to try to find a recipe and I finally came across one at Food Republic for this phenomenal steak sandwich and we just happened to have a small piece of tenderloin in the freezer that I could use.

Pat LaFrieda’s Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich

4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed

2 sweet yellow onions or Spanish onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)

6 ounces thinly sliced Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup beef stock

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic glaze

12 (1 1/2-inch thick) filet mignon medallions (about 1 1/2 pounds total of beef)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar or light brown sugar

1 long baguette, cut into 6-inch segments

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium heat until the oil slides easily in the pan, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally so the onions do not stick to the pan, until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Spread the onions out over the surface of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and lay the Monterey Jack cheese on top of the onions, letting the cheese melt.

To make a jus, in a small saucepan bring the beef stock to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the balsamic glaze. Cover the pan to keep the jus warm.

Season the tenderloin pieces on both sides with the kosher salt and the sugar. in another large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over high heat. Add half of the filet medallions, or as many as will fit in a single layer in the pan, and sear them until they are caramelized, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Cook the remaining filet medallions the same way, adding more canola and letting the oil get hot before adding the meat to the pan.

Meanwhile, without opening them, toast the baguettes so that the outsides, top and bottom, are hot and crispy. Halve the baguettes horizontally, leaving them hinged on one side.

To assemble the sandwiches, lay 3 medallions on the bottom of each baguette. Top the medallions with the onions and cheese, dividing the onions and cheese equally among all of the sandwiches. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the jus on the inside top half of each baguette and serve.

These sandwiches are amazing. The meat is super tender and cooked perfectly and the recipe is so simple but you get fantastic flavor from the onions and the jus. The balsamic glaze is quite simple to make on your own as it is just a mixture of balsamic vinegar and sugar that you warm in a saucepan until a glaze starts to form. The baguettes I used are actually from a recipe I posted recently from Mark Bittman for his not quite whole grain baguettes and they went perfectly with the meat. While Michelle and Sean had onions and cheese on theirs, I left the cheese off of mine and put some roasted red peppers on there instead, which was quite yummy. You could try this with other cuts of steak if you want to make a more inexpensive version and I think it would taste good, but if you have the chance to be decadent and use the filet medallions, go for it.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in Beef, Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Sandwiches

 

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A Fast Dinner on Friday (or Any Day) – Chicken Fried Rice

Sometimes you just want a meal that you know you can pull together in just a few minutes and without much of fuss. Maybe you can even make use of some of those leftover items you have in the fridge for the last few days and don’t really know what to do with them. That is when a meal like this can really come in handy. Making any type of stir fry is always a great way to use items, and having fried rice is always a favorite, but sometimes you would like the flavor without having the extra oil and fat involved in frying the rice itself. This recipe for chicken fried rice is originally from Food Republic, but I did modify it just a little to make it fit better with what I had on hand and what we like. It is still just as easy and tasty.

Chicken Fried Rice

2 cups long-grain riced, cooked and cooled completely

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

4 scallions, finely sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 green pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1 red pepper, seeded and cut into strips

1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thigh), diced or cut into thin strips

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. Turn the rice out onto the parchment paper, breaking up any lumps, and spray the surface with the nonstick vegetable oil. Place the pan in the oven and cook the rice for 12 minutes, it should be crisp on the surface. Season the rice to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set the pan aside to keep the rice warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet with a good coating of vegetable or canola oil set over high heat, fry the scallions, green pepper, red pepper, onions, carrot and green beans for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the peas and the chicken and fry to give the chicken a little color and cook it through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and then add the rice, breaking up any lumps along the way. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce and chili sauce and mix to blend everything well. Stir fry everything for about 3 to 4 minutes. Toss in the cilantro and serve.

Of course, as with any stir fry you can add just about any type of vegetable or protein that you like or have on hand. This would work well with shrimp, pork, beef or even just with the vegetables if you like. The rice does  come out nice and crisp without having to deal with all of the frying of it. You do want to make sure that the rice is dry before you put it in the oven so that it doesn’t just steam once it is in there. The whole dish comes together very easily, gives you a great one pot meal and has some great flavor with the chicken stock, chili sauce and soy sauce. This is an easy one you can use anytime.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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It’s Tomato Time! Use Those Summer Tomatoes for a Simple Tomato Tart

There are few things better than when tomatoes are in season. Getting a really fresh tomato from the local farmer’s market can be a treat all of its own and there are lots of different varieties that you get to choose from this time of year. Around here in my area, the tomatoes get very reasonable in price so you can load up and make all kinds of different things with them. They are great to use to make your own tomato sauce, perfect for a Margherita pizza, ideal for any type of BLT that you might want to make, you can dice them up for some panzanella salad, just have them in a nice salad or even just eat them alone as a sandwich all of their own. I decided to take a few tomatoes that I had and make use of this really easy recipe from Food Republic for a very simple tomato tart.

Simple Tomato Tart

4 ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 package puff pastry, thawed

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

Salt

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in 1/4-inch slices and salt the tomatoes heavily. This so as much excess water as possible comes out of the tomatoes and this will help keep the tart from getting soggy. Leave the salted tomatoes aside for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes have passed. use paper towels to wipe off the extra salt on the tomatoes and pat the tomatoes dry to pick up any excess moisture that may be left.

Arrange the thawed puff pastry in a pie plate or a baking dish. Make sure to add a little bit of butter into the dish before laying the puff pastry down in the dish to prevent the pastry dough from sticking to the dish. Spread the Dijon mustard evenly over the pastry dough. Add 1 teaspoon of the chopped thyme leaves and then arrange the tomatoes on top of the Dijon mustard and the thyme leaves. Add the other teaspoon of the chopped thyme leaves over the tomatoes. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top of the tomatoes. Garnish the tart with a few sprigs of thyme.

Bake the tart in the oven for 45 minutes or until the pastry has achieved a deep caramel color. Take the tart out of the oven just before the edges of the tart begin to char and not sooner. Allow the tart to coll for 15 minutes before serving or allow it to cool at room temperature and serve when you are ready.

I loved the simplicity of this dish and you really get the deep flavor of the tomatoes that have been roasted in the balsamic vinegar and the Dijon mustard adds just a hint of flavor to the dish. This is a great side dish to make to go along with any type of meal you might serve in the summer or to go along with a barbecue. you could certainly use this as a dish to bring to any summer party you might attend as well. I’ll be making this one again as the summer goes on.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Cooking, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

 

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Going Bananas for Banana Upside Down Cake

Michelle had asked me what I wanted for a Father’s Day dinner last week and I knew what I wanted for dessert right away. I love desserts that make use of bananas (see the Bananas Foster cake Michelle made for my past birthday) and I had just recently seen this recipe on the Food Republic website for an awesome looking banana upside down cake. I have tried pineapple upside down cake and peach upside down cake so this one seemed like it would be just as good and was not going to be hard to make. I was really looking forward to it and was not disappointed with the results.

Banana Upside Down Cake

For the Banana Caramel:

1 1/2 cups sugar

4-5 bananas, ripened

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Cake:

2/3 cup butter, plus extra for greasing

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

2 large ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter springform cake pan then line the pan with parchment paper.

To make the banana caramel, put the sugar and 2/3 cup of water in a heavy saucepan and cook the mixture over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let the mixture boil until it has thickened to a golden-brown caramel, taking care not to burn it. Remove the caramel immediately from the stove and pour it into the prepared cake pan, tipping the pan slightly from side to side until the pan is evenly coated. Peel the bananas and halve them lengthwise. Arrange the bananas over the caramel in a neat pattern, trimming the bananas as necessary, then dust the bananas with the ground cinnamon.

For the cake batter, sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. Put the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk the egg whites using an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks have formed. Put the butter and the sugar in another large bowl and whisk them together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly whisk in the egg yolks into the butter-sugar mixture one at a time until combined. Fold in the mashed bananas, followed by the dry ingredients in the flour mixture. Fold in the egg whites into the entire mixture and gently mix to form the batter.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and spread the batter evenly with a spatula. Bake the cake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before unmolding it. The cake is easier to unmold while it is still warm before the caramel has had a chance to cool and harden. Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan. Put a large flat plate over the top of the cake pan and, holding the pan and the plate, invert it and gently lift off the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Serve the cake warm.

Wow, this cake tasted really good! It was kind of a mix of really moist banana bread with the caramel you have on a typical upside down cake except it is chock full of banana flavor. Put some homemade whipped cream on top of the cake and you have yourself a masterpiece. I loved every bite of it and the cake stayed moist for a couple of days afterward to provide a wonderful snack each night. We will definitely be making this one again and I think it would be great to make to bring to a party, housewarming or summer barbecue.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Cakes, Cooking, Dessert

 

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Take Your Burgers to Pretzel Heaven with These Pretzel Bread Rolls

One of the things I always seem to buy when I go to the farmer’s market is pretzel rolls. There is just something about these rolls with their great pretzel flavor, crusty top and the pretzel salt that just make them fantastic for all kinds of sandwiches and burgers. That being said, I decided that they shouldn’t be that hard to make on my own and wanted to give it a shot for when we were having burgers the other night. I found this recipe on Food Republic that was a pretty easy recipe, only used a few ingredients and looked pretty easy to do, so I thought I would give it a shot. This recipe actually makes 35 small dinner rolls, but I halved the recipe and made larger rolls and got 9 good-sized rolls out of it. This is the original recipe posted on Food Republic, so you can adjust it to fit your needs if you want.

Pretzel Bread Rolls

6 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups warm water

3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

7 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

1/4 cup baking soda

2 cups warm water

In a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, briefly blend the yeast, warm water and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Let the mixture rest about 10 minutes so it can bloom to activate the yeast.

After the yeast has activated, add the flour, the remaining sugar, the kosher salt and the oil. Mix for 5 minutes or until a smooth, dense dough has formed. Remove the dough from the mixer and transfer it to a greased medium-sized bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough has just about doubled in size.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with some nonstick cooking spray. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and roll out each piece into a rope that is about 2 inches in diameter. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces (larger if you are looking for bigger rolls). This should give you roughly about 35 small dinner rolls. Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover the rolls with a clean dishcloth and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. in another bowl, combine the baking soda and the 2 cups of warm water. Transfer the baking soda solution to a spray bottle and spray the rolls generously with the solution. Sprinkle the rolls with some extra kosher salt if desired. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes until the rolls are a dark brown all over. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet before serving.

It is a very easy recipe, easier than some of the pretzel recipes I have seen, and it yields great results. The rolls were nice and crunchy on the outside and warm and sweet on the inside, just like a pretzel. They were perfect for the burgers that night and we used the extras for sandwiches for the rest of the week as well. I will certainly make this one again since it was so easy to do.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Breads, Cooking

 

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