Monday, April 29, 2013

Modified Shrimp Mosca

I've had a recipe in my files for a while from Mosca's Restaurant in Avondale, Louisiana. The original used too much salt and dried herbs instead of fresh, neither of which seemed palatable to my taste. I also wanted a hair more heat, so I halved the black pepper and added 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Modified Shrimp Mosca

Serves 2

2 pounds large (21–30 count) Louisiana shrimp, peeled and deveined
 1/4 cup olive oil
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 3 Tablespoons oregano
 3 Tablespoons rosemary, chopped
 3 bay leaves
 6-10 cloves garlic, mashed
 1/2 cup dry white wine French bread

Add the shrimp, oil, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, and garlic to a large skillet set over medium-high heat.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes until shrimp are pink and the liquid in the pan is nearly gone.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the wine.

Cook at a low simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve the shrimp hot with the pan juices. Use French bread to mop up the sauce.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

It's that time of the month for chocolate cravings. I had nothing ready made that would satisfy my sweet tooth so I decided to make cookies. But what kind of cookies? Chocolate chip weren't going to be chocolatey enough for my hunger. Going through my baking supplies I found a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter chips.
The recipe on the back of the package was a start but the 3/4 cups cocoa wasn't going to be sufficient. I made a couple of tweeks to it and they were nearly perfect.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter chips
2 cups flour
 3/4 cups cocoa
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp salt
 1 1/4 cup butter (2.5 sticks)
 2 cups sugar
 2 eggs
 2 tsp vanilla
 2 cups peanut butter chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually all flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies will puff while baking and flatten while cooling. Cool slightly before removing from sheet and letting cool on wire racks.

The mason jar is filled with strawberry wine that went remarkably well with the cookies.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Arnaud's Restaurant

Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award winning screenwriter for Milk, came in to town for a staged production of "8" to benefit the Forum For Equality. I was able to attend brunch with him and some of the Forum Board members and supporters before the event at Arnaud's Restaurant in the French Quarter.

I arrived early to visit the Mardi Gras Museum. In a portion of the upstairs, there is a collection of some of the costumes and jewelry worn by the restaurant's founder and his daughter and grand daughter to many of the Krewe balls from the 1940's to the 1970's. One of my favorites was this dress is called "Vintage Champagne." It was worn when she was Queen of the Sparta Krewe in 1954. The entire court dressed as delicious wines and dishes.

The brunch was truly wonderful. We were put in one of the private rooms upstairs and our waiter was quick and responsive, especially considering how everything had to be carried up from the bar and the kitchen on the first floor.

The Sunday Jazz brunch is a prix fixe menu but the choices are pretty remarkable. There were four main choices for appetizer, plus soups, gumbos and oysters on the half shell. I started with the Shrimp Remoulade. A very spicy sauce that was missing the mayonaise of traditional remoulade's.

We all got the same salad and I was yawning too much to take a picture.

For the entree, I had their grillades and grits made with veal scallopini. The sauce was rich with vegetables and the cheese grits were perfect accompaniment.

I was sitting next to Dustin Lance Black and he was kind enough to trade bites. He had gotten the crabmeat cheesecake. OMG! Talk about luscious.

My friend, Mickie, got the Shrimp Clemenceau. I usually don't order that because I'm not a fan of peas but the mushrooms, crispy outside and tender inside Brabant potatoes and butter poached shrimp were delicious.

Dessert was just as good as the rest of the meal. I ordered the Chocolate Devastation, which is a dense, flourless cake. All it needed was a glass of milk and I would have been in heaven.

Several people had the Louisiana Strawberries marinated in port, red wine and spices.

What was fun is that we also had people order the Bananas Foster and Crepe Suzette. Eric did a really nice job for the occasion. As my buddies Beavis and Butthead say, "Fire is cool!" Bananas Foster Flaming Crepe Suzette Flambe

All and all it was a wonderful meal but the price puts it in the special event category for me.

At the end, I was able to get a picture taken with Dustin:

I think he enjoyed the meal as much as I did!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Garbage Dip

I threw a birthday party for myself and one of the things I served was a hot cheesy dip. This dip is great with tortilla chips and terrific over pasta or on a baked potato. Plus, the broccoli makes it almost healthy!

Garbage Dip

2 lb box velveeta cheese, cubed
2 8 oz boxes cream cheese, cubed
2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes and peppers
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 lbs breakfast sausage, cooked and drained
24 oz bag chopped broccoli

Dump all of the above in a slow cooker to let it melt and blend together. Serve with chips.

I replace the breakfast sausage with ground venison but feel free to use the sausage or any other ground meat. Just brown it first and drain it well.

Here is a picture of it served over pasta. Yum!

This does get warmer after you've reheated it a couple times. I buy an extra 1lb block of velveeta and add half of after the first reheating and the next after the third.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

McKenzie's Chicken in a Box

McKenzie's Chicken in a Box in Gentilly is not just where you can get great tasting chicken but you'll find satisfying soul food, too.

Dad got the fried okra, red beans and coleslaw with our 10 piece order (plus 5 jumbo wings for Mom). Tasty fried chicken with a tender crust and very juicy. The pieces are a little odd shaped but sort of look like what happens when I cut a chicken up at home.

This isn't a place where you can eat in - it is very utilitarian and spare - but, when you need anywhere from 5 pieces to 100 of some of the best fried chicken in the city, come here to pick it up. They are fast and food will still be hot when you get home or to your party.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Elizabeth's Restaurant

My parent's are in town and we headed over to the Bywater for breakfast at Elizabeth's Restaurant. We had to start with the praline bacon - pig candy at its finest!

The recipe is pretty simple:

Praline Bacon

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 pound high quality thick-cut bacon

Mix the pecans and brown sugar together until evenly blended and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position wire racks onto two baking sheets. Lay the bacon strips side by side on the rack, edges not touching.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bacon is rendered and browning on the edges but not anywhere near done. NOTE: Time will vary according to the thickness of the bacon so watch it carefully. Remove the pans from the oven and CAREFULLY drain off bacon fat if you desire.

When cool enough to handle move the strips very close together. Spread the brown sugar and pecan mixture evenly over all the slices.

Put back in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes more or until the topping is bubbly and the bacon is browned. Allow to cool. The bacon will firm as it sits.

But, back to breakfast!

Mom had the huevos rancheros - a wonderful combination of pork, beans, eggs, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I had the redneck eggs - poached eggs on fried green tomatoes with hollandaise sauce. Tart green tomatoes, creamy eggs, buttery sauce made my mouth very happy.

Mega yummy!

The coffee was strong, the server friendly and the place wasn't busy at all at 8am on the first Friday of French Quarter Fest.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Trailer Truffles

I was craving fudge the other day and pulled out a jar of marshmallow fluff only to realize that, even if it were 'never fail fudge,' I didn't want to make that effort. That's when I realized I had a block of Velveeta cheese product in my fridge.

Cheese fudge is creamier than fluff based but just as good. Because this recipe uses Velveeta, I call it Trailer Truffles.

Trailer Truffles

8 ounces of Kraft brand Velveeta Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product
2 pounds Powdered Sugar (aka Confectioner's Sugar)
1/2 pound (2 sticks, or 1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)

Cut the Velveeta and butter into cubes and melt in a double boiler. Sift together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. After the butter and Velveeta are melted, stir in vanilla and nuts.

Pour buttery cheesy mixture into the cocoa and sugar. Stir thoroughly. Once completely mixed, pour mixture into a 9x13 pan covered in aluminum foil. Let fudge set in the refrigerator before cutting.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Louisiana Pizza Kitchen - Uptown

I had another cabal meeting last night, this time at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown. I always like supporting this place because the owner is such a good corporate citizen to the LGBT community with donations of food, gift certificates for silent auctions, as well as sponsorships for many of our local events.

I started with the fried mushrooms. The dipping sauce was strange - almost but not entirely unlike ranch dressing. The little suckers were good enough to just pop in my mouth without sauce, though. The garlic bread was a thin pizza crust with garlic and Parmesan - very nice with the dipping sauce but I would have like more breading.

My main course was shrimp scampi. The angel hair pasta was perfect and the garlicky sauce delicious. The shrimp were incredibly tiny although the artichoke hearts were nice sized. Good flavor, though.

The waitstaff was quick and efficient and kept drinks full without disrupting the plotting.

Thanks so much to Amy Jones of Jones Communications for dinner.