Monday, February 14, 2011

Soup-A-Palooza-Crawfish Gumbo

One of my co-workers noticed something about me the other day.  "You always bring soup to work."  I hesitated for a moment and noticed that yes indeed, I bring a bowl of soup to work at least once a week.  But then again, I do make soup at least once a week for dinner.

I love soup almost as much as I love sandwiches, which are my fave, so when Dine & Dish announced the Soup-A-Palooza blog party I knew I had to participate.  What are you waiting for!?!  Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers.

So let me introduce you to Crawfish Gumbo-rich flavor from the dark roux, sweetness from the red bell pepper, a delicate smoky flavor from the sweet smoked paprika and a good amount of spice thanks to the cayenne and hot sauce. So delicious.

You say Etouffee, I say Gumbo
This recipe comes from My New Orleans, by John Besh.  It was a recipe for etouffee, but after cooking it, it still seemed "soupy."  Generally, an etouffee is a smothered dish and a lot thicker.  I searched for others who had made the dish and had found several people experience the same consistency.  Even the picture in the book looked to be more gumbo-like than with that said, we call this recipe Crawfish Gumbo at our house!  Regardless of what you want to call it, it is FABULICIOUS!  (yes, I made that word up!)

Crawfish Gumbo
yield:  4-6 servings
Feel free to substitute the crawfish meat with chicken, andouille sausage or even shrimp.  Either way, it will be delicious! 
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil
3 Tablespoons Flour
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
half red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 quart shellfish or seafood stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 pound crawfish
2 green onions
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco
salt and pepper
3 cups rice, cooked
  1. Make the roux.  Heat canola oil of medium high heat; add flour, reduce heat to medium and whisk continuously until the color is dark.  (15 minutes)
  2. Add onion and reduce heat.  When roux is shiny and dark add the celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, cayenne and paprika.  Cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add tomato and stock and increase heat and bring to a boil.  Once it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter.
  5. Add crawfish, green onions, Worcestershire, Tabasco and salt and pepper.  Heat through.  Serve over rice.
***Cooks Note:  I used frozen cooked crawfish tails, rinsed well.

Happy Valentine's Day (Homemade Marshmallows)

Homemade Marshmallows (recipe repost)
source:  Barefoot Contessa Family Style, Ina Garten
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

  1. Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup.  Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  4. Dust the bottom of a 9x13 inch non metal pan with confectioners sugar and pour in the marshmallow batter.  Smooth the top of the mixture with damp hands. Sprinkle more confectioners sugar to the top and allow to dry uncovered at room temperature overnight.
  5. Remove the marshmallows from the pan and cut into squares (or use cookie cutters as I did above). Roll the sides of each piece carefully in confectioners' sugar. Store uncovered at room temperature.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pot Roast Ragu

Sunday's Pot Roast turned into Monday's Ragu
Remember that lovely Sunday Dinner Pot Roast I posted on Monday?  My apologies for not providing a picture of the pot roast, but I just really, really think brown food (chocolate excluded) is just terribly U-G-L-Y.  Delicious yes, but not too photogenic.

Pot Roast is The Baking Hubby's favorite meal.  I think he could eat on it for a week, but why eat the same meal two, three, four times in a row? One of my favorite winter meals is a recipe that uses leftover pot roast, veggies and gravy.  I chop some vegetables and meat, then stir them into a homemade tomato sauce to serve a fast, hearty and divine pasta ragu.  It is a must try and I promise you it won't disappoint.

Pot Roast Ragu

Martha Stewart Living February 2002

Serves 4
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. dry red wine
2 c. finely chopped leftover roast & vegetables
1/2 c. leftover gravy or beef stock
1-28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, w/ juice
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cooked pappardelle or other pasta
Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved for garnish
Red pepper flakes, for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add chopped pot roast, vegetables, gravy or beef stock, tomatoes, and thyme.
  2. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Cover; cook 30 minutes for flavors to blend and for sauce to thicken slightly.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve hot over cooked pasta, garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and red-pepper flakes, if desired.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday Dinner-Pot Roast

A Snowy Sunday Stroll
Does anyone ever have Sunday dinner anymore?  You know the one-a picturesque family sitting down to a fabulous spread of food, everyone is smiling and passing various food platters around licking their lips with anticipation.  It sounds and looks very much like a holiday dinner but lacking the actual holiday or forced purpose to celebrate.

We used to have Sunday dinner at my grandparent's house quite often when I was a kid.  But I really don't remember any significant Sunday dinners past my teens years.  If I'm not working I love to make something that fits the idyllic Sunday dinner-like roast chicken or roast beef, and I have to admit, it doesn't happen very often.

On my quest to become a better weekly menu planner (a topic for another conversation,) I hope to adopt my Sundays (if available) to make a good ol' fashioned Sunday Dinner.  And what is even better, is that I can turn around the next day and use Sunday's leftovers as Monday's dinner (or lunch).

Tune in on Wednesday and see what happens to these Sunday Leftovers!

Sunday Pot Roast
This pot roast is AMAZING, so flavorful and cuts like "buttah."  My husband is a roast fanatic and I've made several different recipes, this one is our household favorite.

yield:  4-6 servings
  • 1 (5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth, plus extra, as needed
  • 4-6 carrots, cut into quarters
  • One dozen cremini mushrooms
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with it really well with salt and pepper. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining oil and the onions and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth.
  4. Return the beef to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding more beef broth, as needed. Add mushroom after roast has cooked 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove carrots and mushrooms and keep warm.  Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Using an immersion blender (or blender), blend the pan juices and onion until smooth. Add the rosemary. Bring sauce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Souper Bowl Party-Split Pea Soup

Hosting a gathering for Super Bowl Sunday?  Why not make it a Souper Bowl Party! It is a great idea for a chilly weekend or game day party. 

Souper Bowl Game Plan
  • Soup by nature is relaxing and so should your party! Ask your friends to contribute a favorite homemade soup, bread or other fixin' to the party.  Does your bestie despise cooking?  Well, someone needs to bring the wine, right?  And don't forget the supply of tableware, napkins, glasses, etc.
  • Ask guests to bring their soups in their own slow-cookers if possible.  Serve the meal buffet style.  If you invite more than your burners can handle, set up a table or soup station where the cookers can plug in and wires can be tucked away for safety.  
  • Your dining room table is probably not the best option to house the soup.  Soup is a difficult balancing act, so you want your table free for guests to sit and eat at.
  • Keep tabs on who is bringing what to eliminate duplications.  You want to avoid having six chicken noodle soups on the table.
  • Provide place cards and/or recipes in front of each pot to identify the soup.
  • Remember crusty bread, fabulous wine and a casual dessert are perfect accompaniments for a soup party.
Split Pea Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten
6-8 serving
soup will thicken as it sits, you may need to add extra stock if needed.
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 cup chopped smoked ham
  • 1 pound dried split green peas
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  1. In a 4-quart stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off foam while cooking. 
  2. Add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the peas are soft. 
  3. Add smoked ham and cook until heated through.  Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.