Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Perfect Prime Rib

Nothing says Christmas to me more than a standing prime rib roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. Over the past few years, my Mom and I have been tweaking the recipe slightly to make the quintessential cooked hunk of meat. For two year's now, we've achieved perfection, so I'm going to share it with you.
We started this year with about 7.5 lbs of bone-in prime rib roast. We watch the sales for this prime piece of meat and wrap it well in plastic wrap and butcher's paper before freezing it for our Christmas Eve meal. We slowly defrosted it in the fridge and then brought it to room temperature before cooking. 

As we want the taste of the meat to come through, we do not marinate the meat or coat it in herbs. We simply give it a light coating of olive oil and then a sprinkle of salt while the oven was preheated to 500° F. As soon as the roast was in the oven, the temperature was dropped to 325° F.

My Mom likes her meat to be very rare (almost blue), while Dad prefers medium rare and I'm a little in between. Therefore, we cooked it 15 minutes per pound for 2 hours and 15 minutes or until the thermometer rose to 115° F degrees. We did this because we knew we would have about 10 degrees of carry over cooking to bring it around 125° F (medium rare) - in fact, our carryover went to 123° F. By doing it this way, both ends were just right for Dad, the next layer in was wonderful for me and the bloody interior was Shangri-lah for Mom.

As you can see from the above picture, there isn't a ring of gray, overcooked meat along the outside that you get if you pan sear prior to cooking and both the crust and interior are cooked to perfection.

The pan drippings and meat juices from while it was resting were used to make a wonderful gravy. The camellia centerpiece came from the shrubs along my Dad's driveway.
Happy holidays from my family to yours! May you never leave the table hungry for anything but conversation!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rumkugeln - Rum Balls

My family gathered for a German feast last night. We dined on bratwurst, hot German potato salad and sauerkraut with brochen (hard rolls) and scharfer senf (hot mustard).

I decided to keep with the Deutch theme for dessert and made rumkuglen (rum balls). Like truffles with alcohol, these little bites are devilishly good.

Rumkugeln - Rum Balls

7 oz bittersweet chocolate

4 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, sifted

2 tablespoons Rum

7 oz pecans, ground

powdered sugar, chocolate sprinkles, cocoa, cinnamon sugar

Melt the chopped chocolate in a double boiler, then let the melted chocolate cool a bit.

Whip butter and add the sifted cocoa powder and rum a little at a time while mixing. Add the ground pecans and cooled melted chocolate to the butter rum mixture. 

Add powdered sugar by tablespoons at a time to the mixture while kneading the dough, until the mixture absorbs it well and begins to firm up.

Form small balls and roll them in an assortment of coatings - powdered sugar, chocolate sprinkles, cocoa and cinnamon sugar. Use wax paper to separate the layers. Let the balls air dry then refrigerate in an airtight container. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Preserved Lemon

I am at my parents and my Dad harvested all the Meyer lemons off the tree ahead of the next freeze. Instead of just juicing everything for later use, I decided to make some preserved lemons. I've got a couple of Moroccan chicken recipes that call for it as well as an lemon ice cream that calls for finely chopped preserved lemon. Of course, the salty lemony brine kicks a Bloody Mary up a notch, too.

Preserved Lemons

 Meyer lemons, scrubbed and dried well
 cup kosher salt
1 1/2
 cups fresh lemon juice from 8 lemons

Cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters, stopping 1 inch from bottom, so lemons stay intact at base.

Hold 1 lemon over a bowl and pour 1-3 tablespoons of salt into cavity of lemon, depending on the size of the lemon. Gently squeeze lemon, rubbing cut surfaces together. Place lemon in 1-quart glass Mason jar. Repeat with remaining lemons and salt. Add accumulated salt from bowl to jar.

Pour lemon juice into jar so lemons are submerged. Cover jar tightly with lid, shake, and refrigerate, shaking jar once per day to redistribute salt and juice for first 4 days. Let lemons cure in refrigerator until glossy and softened, 4 to 6 weeks.

When ready to use, cut off desired amount of preserved lemon. Using knife, remove pulp and white pith from rind. Slice, chop, or mince rind as desired. (For uncooked applications, rinse lemons to remove excess salt before using.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cheesy Corn Dip

I have been looking for a new hot dip appetizer for most of the year. While I love my Vidalia onion dip and my artichoke dip, it was time for something new to be added to the repertoire.

This particular dip is filled with corn flavor with just a hint of spice and and plenty of cheesy goodness.

  • Cheesy Corn Dip

    Cooking spray or butter, to grease

    Two 11-ounce cans corn, drained

    One 10-ounce can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes green chilies

    3 cups grated Monterey Pepper Jack or Cheddar cheese (or a combination thereof)

    1 cup mayonnaise

    Corn chips, for dipping

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
    Grease a 9 X 13 X 2-inch casserole dish or a couple of aluminum pie pans.*
    In a medium bowl, mix the corn, Ro-tel, cheeses and mayonnaise until fully combined. Spread the mixture in the prepared casserole dish and bake, uncovered, until bubbly around the edges, 40 to 60 minutes. Serve the dip warm from the oven with chips.
    * Fill two pie pans and freeze the other before baking for later use.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blogging Meme

I don't normally do this kind of thing, most likely because I never get tagged. I didn't follow all the rules or answer all the questions, but here you go...

What was the first entry you posted?
A review of my visit to Drago’s Restaurant with my Aunt and Uncle

What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Getting to share my love of food with others.

What is the most important thing you have learned about having a blog?
A pretty picture means everything to the post

What was the worst food job you ever had?
Ice cream scooper – for some reason, I couldn’t scoop ice cream with one hand without crushing the cone in my other hand. I was fired after one day.

Name the one food you absolutely will not eat?

What is your favorite food movie?

Fried Green Tomatoes

What is your favorite food quote?
Salad isn't food; its what food eats!

What cooking show would you like to be on?
The Two Fat Ladies

What is your favorite main course?
Fried Chicken

What is your favorite dessert?
Red Velvet Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm suppose to tag other people to answer the questions but, as I don't like imposing like that, you’re all safe.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Poppy Seed Pound Cake

I've been craving poppy seeds lately so I decided to go ahead and make a poppy seed pound cake. There is enough batter for two loaf pans, so I will be able to freeze one to enjoy later. This cake is killer, especially when you lightly toast a slice and enjoy it with a nice cuppa tea on a cold morning!

Sour Cream Poppy Seed Pound Cake

3 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup plus 2 tsp poppy seeds, divided

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Cream butter, sugar and egg yolks. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture, alternately with the sour cream (start with the flour). Add the vanilla and the 1/4 cup of poppy seeds.

Fold in the egg whites. Pour into two buttered and floured loaf pans. Sprinkle a tsp of poppy seeds on the top of each loaf.

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I was in a baking mood today, so I did two batches of cookies this afternoon. The first were pecan sandies from an Ina Garten recipe and the other were my favorite ginger cookies from Maida Heatter.

Here are the recipes:

Pecan sandies
by Ina Garten

1 cup pecans, lightly toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
30 whole pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the toasted pecans plus 1/4 cup of the flour in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the nuts are finely ground.

Place the mixture in a medium bowl and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour, the salt and the baking powder. Stir to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together.

Using your hands, form the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter (1 ounce on a scale). Place the balls 1 inch apart on sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Press a pecan half into the center of each ball, pressing the pecan halfway down into the cookie. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges. Cool for 5 minutes. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.

Note: The cooled cookies may be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Ginger Snaps
by Maida Heatter

2 1/2 cups sifted, unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 stick of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
Granulated sugar

Preheat over to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

Beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamed. Add the egg and molasses and beat until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.

Place 1 cup of granulated sugar in a small bowl. Form the dough into small balls. The dough will be very soft so handle it gently. Roll each dough ball in the granulated sugar and place on the cookie sheet about 3 inches apard. Sprinkle additional sugar on top of each ball.

Back for 9 minutes, rotating the sheet about midway during baking. The cookies will be cracked but not look done but do not over bake. They are best if they are soft. Cool cookies on the sheets for at least a minute before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant

I was taking the long way home from Baton Rouge today and stopped by Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant. It was the first time I'd been back since the flooding following Hurricane Isaac.
They cleaned it up real well!

I started with something cool and refreshing on a recommendation from Chris, the bartender. It was a Southern Fly which was Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka mixed with lemonade and served in a Mason jar. Very good and quite enjoyable after an over 400 mile loop around south Louisiana.
It being Middendorf's, I hardly had to look at the menu. I just ordered their thin fried catfish meal that came with hushpuppies and slaw. Chris asked if I wanted silverware to eat the coleslaw and I told him no. I was there for the catfish and French fries only.
The order came out quite quickly and the four pieces were wonderful - very thin with moist and flaky flesh under a light corn flour crust. 

I finished the meal with some house made pineapple ice cream. All it was missing was some rum!

This place is rarely on the way to anywhere I'm going but it is worth the extra miles to get there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mushroom Risotto

When you have time to spare, making risotto is worth the time it takes to stand around and stir for an hour.

Mushroom Risotto

Olive Oil         
2 cloves garlic, minced          
1 1/2 lbs assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter       
Kosher salt         
2 cups arborio rice          
2 cups white wine           
6-7 cups stock (if serving vegetarians, use mushroom stock, otherwise use chicken) 
1/2 cup Parmigiano, grated 

Coat a large saute pan generously with the butter and add the minced garlic. Bring to a medium-high heat. When the garlic cloves are very aromatic (but not brown), add the assorted fresh mushrooms to the pan and season with salt. Saute the mushrooms until they have released most of their moisture. Turn off the heat and reserve.

Coat a large Dutch oven with olive oil. Add the onions and season generously with salt. Bring the pot to a medium heat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently until they are very soft and aromatic and translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook the rice for 5 minutes to toast, stirring frequently. Add wine to cover the surface of the rice and stir constantly until it has completely absorbed. Add the stock in 1 cup increments until the liquid has covered the surface of the rice. Stir frequently until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process until the stock is all absorbed.
During the final addition of stock, add the reserved mushrooms. When the stock has absorbed into the rice and the rice is cooked, remove the pot from the heat. The rice should flow and look very creamy but not runny. 

Prior to serving, add 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Apple-Cranberry Cobbler

Cranberries should be for more than just a side dish on Thanksgiving. Here is a cobbler recipe that is pretty well balanced of flavors with the tartness of the apples and cranberries balanced by the rest of the filling. The topping is a little bready. If you like that, cool. Otherwise, I have a cobbler topping cheat from Bisquick that can be used instead.

8 T butter
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt

Topping 1:
3/4 cup milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 pinches salt

Topping 2:
1 ¼ cups Original Bisquick® mix
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place butter in a 9 inch deep dish pie plate or 2.5 quart casserole dish and place in the oven until butter melts. 

In a large bowl, toss together remaining filing ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk topping ingredients. 

Remove casserole dish from oven and gently fill with fruit mixture. Pour topping over fruit filling.

Bake for 1 hour or until juices are bulling and cobbler is golden. If topping is browning too quickly, tent with foil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pecan Tarts and Pecan Pie Brownies

I'm not a fan of pecan pie. I know, that is near blasphemy for a Southerner to admit but I find them too sweet. For years, I added a bittersweet chocolate ganache to the pie crust before pouring in the filling and that helped a lot but I still could only eat a slim slice.

This is the year I decided to do something different. I bought frozen tart shells and after pouring in the pecan filling, I had enough left over to cover the top of a pan of brownies. 

Recipe for Pecan Pie (from Karo Syrup bottle):

1 cup Karo corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp  vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup pecans

Stir first 5 ingredients thoroughly. Mix in pecans. Pour into pie crust and back on center rack of oven for 60 minutes (45 minutes if using tart shells) at 350 degrees. Pie is done when center surface springs back from a light tap.

Pecan Pie Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pecan pie filling

Preheat oven to 350F, grease a 9 x 13 pan.

In a small saucepan melt butter and unsweetened chocolate. When it is melted, mix in cocoa. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Mix in sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in the chocolate and combine thoroughly--should look shiny. Then add flour mixtures and combine well.

Pour into pan and distribute evenly. Pour pecan pie filling gently over top of brownies.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 

Cool completely before slicing.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

White Trash

I'm a snack mix fiend and sometimes, when I've overdosed on my go-to version (Circles and Squares), I make a dessert snack mix that is most commonly known as White Trash.
White Trash

2 (11oz.) bags of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
6 cups Crispex
3 cups Honeycomb Cereal
2 cups pretzel sticks

Combine the cereals and pretzels in a large bowl. Seriously, unless you want stuff ending up on the floor, you need a very large bowl in which to mix everything together. 

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, stirring regularly.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal/pretzel mixture and toss until all ingredients are covered with chocolate. Hands work better than spoons.

Pour the mixture onto waxed paper and allow to set for 30 minutes, unless you live in an area of high humidity and you'll need to wait a little longer.

Break into pieces and store in a air tight container.

Optional - Consider using Cheerios or Captain Crunch in place of the Honeycomb cereal. Also, consider  adding mixed nuts, m&m's, Reece's pieces, etc. Remember, the second word in the name is trash so feel free to add in anything you'd like to eat with white chocolate coating.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pimm's Cup Redux

I've had several Pimm's Cups over the summer and still find them amazingly refreshing. I couldn't capture the flavor at home until I was making tzatziki and the thought struck me - grated cucumber!


Pimm's Cup 

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces lemonade (I used Tropicana)
1 heaping teaspoon grated cucumber
Ginger Ale
Cucumber spear

Peel, remove the seeds and grate one cucumber. Mix together Pimm’s and lemonade in a 12 oz glass. Stir in cucumber. Top off with Ginger Ale and ice. Stir. Garnish with cucumber spear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The French Press

I was back in Lafayette for a meeting today and, as I still haven't figured when I have to leave New Orleans to be on time but not too early, I was able to stop for breakfast. I had gotten a couple of recommendations so I decided to try the The French Press. It is located in a refurbished printing plant and has type drawers, letter trays and other decorations of its printing past throughout the place.

I had the Sweet Baby Breesus breakfast. The meal was comprised of three buttermilk biscuit sliders with bacon, fried boudin balls and cane syrup served with cheddar grits. The biscuits were light as air and the salt from the bacon, combined with the heat from the boudin and the sweet from the syrup made my mouth very, very happy. 

Their wait staff was quick and efficient and I was able to enjoy my meal and make my meeting with five minutes to spare. As they also serve my absolutely favorite of Chicken and Waffles as well as cream cheese and banana stuff French bread and grillades and grits, I definitely need to make a few more trips west!

Friday, October 5, 2012


Serendipity, in Mid-City, is the newest venture by Chris De Barr (most recent of Green Goddess fame). It is in the American Can Company building and right next to the Mid-City Library. The space is more industrial and much larger than Green Goddess. They accept reservations but we dropped in at 6pm without them and were seated right away.

The selection of cocktails was pages long and we relied on the waiter for guidance for something sweet and cool. My dining companion choose one of their signature punches. Beautiful color and flavor and definitely tasted like more.

I had been without soda for a week and had just picked up my car from the body shop, so I went for the house made Coca-Kola. It was a little dry from the extinct acid phosphate but still a good cola flavor. 

We decided to share Tuna and Watermelon Skewers as our appetizer (although we were both tempted by the pickled okra stuffed with pimento-jalapeno cheese). As you can see from the picture the tuna was perfectly seared medium rare and blended well with the cool watermelon.

For the main course, I went with the Cochon de Lait/Lei - a banana leaf wrapped spicy BBQ pork with mashed sweet potatoes (it also came with collard greens but I pushed those onto Charlotte's plate. The pork was absolutely delicious and paired beautifully with the glass of Sangiovese.

She had the Malaysian Red Curry Goat Empanada with rutabagas and parsnips. The combined flavors were very well balanced.

If we hadn't had dessert ready back at my place, there was plenty on the menu that we could have chosen from-especially the homages to Hubig's Pie. I guess I'll just have to come back soon.

On Chris' blog he writes about his new venture, "We bring the same sassy strut, the love of the unexpectedly beautiful, and the same flair for relentless creativity that has been my calling card as a chef for these many years." As he moved around the tables, talking to guests, you could definitely hear that love in his voice.