Louisiana Entertains

Living in Texas, I have visisted many parts of Louisiana throughout the years and I love the friendly people and their food.  Over the last few years, I’ve been cooking a Cajun dinner on Mardi Gras.  In the past, I’ve made gumbo, jambalaya, and king’s cake, of course!  This year, I decided to invite my parents over and the four of us enjoyed red beans ‘n’ rice, cornbread and a French custard pie.

Louisiana Entertains is the official cookbook of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.  It was copyrighted in 1978 and 1983 by the Rapides Symphony Guild of Alexandria, Louisiana.  This cookbook is unusual because instead of the cookbook being divided into categories such as appetizers, side dishes, main dishes, etc., it is divided into menus.   These menus come from a series of parties that were hosted by Central Louisianans to support the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, over a three-year period.  I chose a recipe from a “New Orleans Fare” menu.  The menu included Red Beans ‘n’ Rice, Green Salad, French Bread, Praline Sundaes and Coffee, and the wine suggested was either a Zinfandel or Chianti.    The red beans ‘n’ rice turned out delicious and my family really enjoyed the meal.  I added Tabasco to mine just to give it an extra kick.  Below is the recipe for Red Beans ‘n’ Rice and as usual the recipe refects the changed that I made.   I’m sorry, but I didn’t snap a picture of this dish.

Red Beans ‘n’ Rice

1 pound red beans, rinsed and drained

1 smoked ham hock

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pound smoked sausage

Water

The night before cooking, soak beans in water.  Soak at least 8 hours before cooking.  Drain and rinse beans.  In a large stockpot, add beans, ham hock, onions, celery, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Add enough water to cover beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 hours.   Add sliced smoked sausage and cook additional 30 minutes.  Serve over hot rice and with Tabasco, if desired.

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Patsy’s Cookbook

 Happy belated Valentine’s Day to you!  I hope your day was as fantastic as mine.  I decided at the last minute that I would make a special meal for my hubby for Valentine’s.  He asked me, the night before, if I wanted him to take me out, but I said no.  I hate fighting crowds, so we decided to go out later this week.  Anyways, I was craving Italian food, so I searched my cookbooks looking for Italian cookbooks and my Patsy’s Cookbook seemed to jump out at me.  How romantic would it be to eat at Patsy’s, in New York City, on Valentine’s night???  If any of you know me personally, you know that my one big dream is to go to New York City around Christmas time!  I’d like to see the Statue of Liberty, shop in Little Italy, ice skate at Rockefeller Center, catch a ride in the Cash Cab, visit the site of The World Trade Center, and of course… eat at Patsy’s!  Well, I decided a meal planned from the Patsy’s cookbook would be very romantic.

After spending a good thirty minutes drooling over the recipes in the cookbook, I finally decided on one…. “Frank’s Veal Cutlets Milanese”.  It’s known that Frank Sintara used to eat at Patsy’s all the time, as well as many other famous people.  Pasty’s has been around at least 60 years.  The cookbook was written by Sal J. Scognamillo in 2002, and the foreword was written by Nancy Sinatra.  The cookbook is very interesting  to read.  I love a cookbook that includes some pictures and history. 

Anyways… after picking the recipe, I went to the store to buy the veal cutlets and wouldn’t you know, they were out of veal cutlets.  Since I had no back up plan for dinner, I ended up buying ground veal and making patties, which I then followed the recipe to bread and cook them.  They turned out fine!    As usual, I made a few changes to the recipe and the recipe printed below reflect my changes.  I served the Veal Milanese with garlic and olive oil fettucine and green bean.  I paired the dinner with one of our favorite Texas wines, the Llano Cabernet Sauvignon.

Frank's Veal Cutlets Milanese

Frank’s Veal Cutlet Milanese

1 pound veal cutlets

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup of dried bread crumbs (I used crumbs purchased from Maceo’s in Galveston, TX)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 lemon

Pound cutlets to about 1/4″ thick.  (In my case, form patties, but not too thin, as they will fall apart.  Thus if using ground veal, you will have to cook a little longer.)  Using three separate bowls, place the flour in one, the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in the second, and the eggs and 1 tablespoon olive oil in the third.  The olive oil in the eggs will help the breading to stay on the meat while frying.  Season the cutlets with salt and pepper.  Dredge each cutlet into the flour, then egg mixture, then bread crumbs.  Heavily coat the cutlets in the bread crumbs, patting in the palm of your hand to get the crumbs to adhere.  Set cutlets aside.  Heat 1 cup olive oil in deep skillet.  Add more olive oil if necessary, so that the bottom of you skillet is covered.  Heat oil to 350F.  Saute the cutlets for about 2 minutes.  While cutlets are cooking, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top of each cutlet.  Then, turn the cutlets over and cook another minute or two.  Drain cooked cutlets on paper towels.  Sprinkle tops with more Parmesan if desired.   Enjoy!

Here are some pictures of my Valentine’s Day table.  I didn’t have a red tablecloth, so I used a black and white plaid tablecloth, black place mats and red napkins.  The china is our wedding china, which is Noritake Whitecliff Platinum.  The silverware is just my everyday Oneida, which my Maw Maw helped me order when I was in high school from Betty Crocker.  The pattern is called Plantation and I believe the still make it under a different name. 

 

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From an Adobe Oven…

I’ve had the cookbook titled “From an Adobe Oven…” by the Junior League of Pueblo in my collection for a while now and I don’t think I’ve made anything from it until a few days ago.  I tried a recipe called Beef and Dumplings because it sounded like something my two meat-loving men would like.   Hubby didn’t care for it much by my son loved it.  I liked it enough to make it again, but I’d probably rather try a new recipe than repeat this one.  To me something was off just a bit with the flavor.  I keep thinking it was perhaps the celery and bell peppers that just didn’t go well, but I’m really not sure.  The dumplings were good and my hubby did like those.  The recipe doesn’t make a lot of dumplings, so I served this over egg noodles.  Also, I served with broccoli, which I thought was a good choice.  Perhaps if made again, I will do some tweaking.   As usual, I did make a few changes, but nothing that I think would really alter the recipe too much.  I’ll type it here for you.  If you try it out and make some changes and liked it, please comment and let us all know how you improved  the taste. 

Beef and Dumplings

2 pounds round steak, cut into cubes

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 10.5 oz can cream of chicken soup

1 10.5 can cream of celery soup

8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

10 ounce package of frozen peas

1 bell pepper, cut into rings

 

Dumplings:

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoons dried parsley

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

For beef, place cubes in a 3-quart casserole dish with lid and cover with onions and garlic.  Add bay leaf.  Combine the two cans of soup with Worcestershire sauce and flour.  Pour over meat.  Place lid on dish and bake at 350F for 2 hours.   Combine dumpling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.  Remove from oven and carefully remove bay leaf.  Add peas and stir.  Top with pepper rings and dumplings dropped by rounded teaspoons in and around the peppers.  Cover and bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes. 

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Dolce Memories

Dolce Memories, by Irene Ritter, is a wonderful collection of Italian desserts.  Victoria came in town for a little over a week, and while she was here, her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Rush came by to visit.  I served homemade pizza and for dessert, I made the Sicilian Cassata from this cookbook.  Excellent choice!  This Sicilian cake was delicious.  This cake is normally served for weddings, birthdays and Easter.  

As usual with my posts, the recipe was altered slightly to suit our tastes and adapt to what I had available in the pantry.

Sicilian Cassata

Cake:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup half and half or milk

3 egg yolks, well beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling:

1 (15 oz) container whole ricotta cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons half and half

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup shredded coconut

3 tablespoons Amaretto

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Semisweet Chocolate Frosting:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup brewed strong black coffee or espresso

1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into thin slices

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9X5-inch loaf pan.  For cake, in a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar.  Add milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and nutmeg until creamy.  Gradually add cake flour, cream of tartar, and salt and mix until well combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until wooded toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cake cool for 20 minutes, then invert to remove cake from pan.  Allow cake to cool.

For filling, using an electric mixer, mix together ricotta cheese, half and half, powdered sugar, coconut and Amaretto  until smooth and well combined. 

To assemble, using a serrated bread knife, slice the cake two times, horizontally so that you have a top, middle and bottom piece of cake.  Spoon half the filling onto the bottom piece of cake.  Place the middle piece of cake on top of filling.  Then spoon remaining filling on top of middle piece.  Top with the top cake piece.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to “ripen” in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

For frosting, about an hour before serving, melt semisweet chocolate chips with coffee in a saucepan.  Add one slice of butter at a time, mixing with a whisk until melted.  Beat until mixture is smooth.  Refrigerate frosting until thickened to spreading consistency.  Before serving, spread frosting over top and sides of cake.  Decorative swirls can be added to the top to make it fancy.  

 

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The German Cookbook

A few years ago, my Grandmother gave me the cookbook titled “The German Cookbook”, by Mimi Sheraton.  This cookbook is fantastic!  It’s full of wonderful traditional German recipes, most of which are simple to make.   I love German food, so I like to cook from this cookbook often.  About 5 years ago, Vince and I took a trip to Colorado Springs, CO for our 5th year anniversary.  We decided to eat at a German restaurant called Edelweiss, which was wonderful.  That night I ordered the weinerschnitzel and it came with green beans, salad and potatoes.  Everything was delicious.  I found it strange that the green beans were cold, but they were flavored so good and I set out to find a similar recipe.  In the cookbook, there is a recipe, which is very similar to the one I had that night.  So, from this cookbook, I am posting a recipe for weinerschnitzel, salt potatoes and green beans.    Of course, as usual, I have tweaked the recipes just a tad to accommodate for our taste and the recipes posted here, reflect those changes. 

 

Weinerschnitzel, Salt Potatoes, Cold Sting Bean Salad

Weinerschnitzel

4 veal cutlets

1 lemon

Salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup dry bread crumbs

5-6 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Pound veal cutlets with a mallet.  Place cutlets in a plastic container, with lid, and sprinkle lemon juice over cutlets.  Cover with lid and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Find three shallow bowls and put flour in one, bread crumbs in another, and in the third bowl, place the eggs, milk, and 1 T canola oil, amd mix well.  The oil can be optional, but it helps to keep the breaking on the cutlet.  Sprinkle the cutlets lightly with salt on both sides of each piece.  Dip in flour to coat.  Then dip into the egg mixture.  Let excess egg mixture drip off, then dip into the bread crumbs.  Place breaded cutlets on a baking sheet or plate (do not stack). Let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.   Heat vegetable shortening in a heavy skillet.  There should be enough shortening in the skillet to allow the cutlets to swim (barely float and not touch each other).  If you have to cook one or two at a time, its better than crowding them into the pan.  Oil is hot enough when to drop a drip of water in the oil and it sizzles.  Fry cutlets on each side for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.  If cooking in batches, you may keep fried cutlets warm in the oven, wrapped in foil at 250F while the rest are being fried.

Salt Potatoes (Salzkartoffeln)

4-6 large russet potatoes

1 tablespoon salt

Water

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tablespoon minced chives

Wash, peel and quarter potatoes.  Place in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes.  Add salt and boil until potatoes are tender.  To test, use a fork and poke a potato.  If it slides off the fork, it’s done.  Drain potatoes through a colander as soon as they are done.  Return potatoes back into the empty pot.  Place back on stove over low heat.  Give the pan a few light shakes until potatoes are thoroughly dry and mealy.  Remove from heat and pour melted butter over top.  Gently stir to coat.  Sprinkle with chives. 

Cold String Beans Salad

1 pound fresh green beans

Dressing:

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch of sugar

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 teaspoon tarragon

1 teaspoon chives

1/2 teaspoon dill weed

4 tablespoons olive oil

Cook green beans in salted water until tender.   Drain green beans and place in a large bowl.  In a medium size bowl, combine all dressing ingedients, except for oil.  Mix well and pour over cooked vegetables.  Toss.  Let stand at room temperature for 15 mintues.  Add olive oil and toss again.  Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.

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Simply Simpatico – A Taste of New Mexico

This past weekend, I picked up three bags of freshly roasted Hatch chilies when I did my weekly grocery shopping at H.E.B..  I always look forward to this time of year to buy a good stash, and freeze them in small bags.  I thought I had missed the last weekend, but luckily for me, they extended their chili weekend one more week.   So, once I packaged my chilies for freezing, I saved out a bag and decided to find a recipe that called for Hatch chilies.  I decided to make a  New Mexico Green Chili Stew  (Caldillo)  from a cookbook titled, “Simply Simpatico – A Taste of New Mexico”.  This cookbook was published by the Junior League of Albuquerque in 1981. 

While this recipe piqued my interest, I thought it was strange that no seasonings were listed, so I tweaked the recipe to suit my family’s taste.  Boy was it spicy, but it had an awesome flavor!  It was so good that Vince told me not to change a thing.  If you don’t like spicy food, or you can’t eat spicy food, please seed both your chilies and jalapenos and cut back on the other seasoning, as desired.  The recipe printed below reflects the changes I made to the recipe.

New Mexican Green Chili Stew (Caldillo)

New Mexican Green Chili Stew (Caldillo)

2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 2-3 inch chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15 oz) can Hunt’s diced tomatoes, do not drain

3 tomatillos, husk removed, diced

8 roasted Hatch chilies (with seeds), diced

2 fresh jalapeno peppers (with seeds), diced

3 cups water

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed

 

Preheat oven to 325F.  In a large oven-proof pot with lid, brown pieces of pork in olive oil, over medium heat, until pork starts to turn white on all sides.  Add garlic and onions and saute 2-3 minutes.  Add canned tomatoes, tomatillos, Hatch chilies, and jalapenos.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.   After 20 minutes,remove pot from oven.  In a large bowl, combine water and remaining seasonings.  Stir to combine and add to pot.  Also add potatoes to the pot.  Stir, put the lid back on, and continue baking for 1 hour.    Serve hot with warm flour tortillas. 

 

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Philoptochos Society’s Favorite Recipes

The cookbook I cooked from last night was titled, “Favorite Recipes” and it was compiled by The Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. Basil the Great Greek Orthodox Church in 1996.  I was inspired to make something from one of my Greek cookbooks because I had an excellent Greek meal this past weekend and I wanted to re-create some of the dishes we enjoyed.   Our daughter Victoria, graduated from Auburn University this past Saturday.  WAR EAGLE!   She’s been babysitting for one of her freshman professors for a few years now and they threw her a graduation party after the ceremony.  They were the sweetest couple and we really enjoyed visiting with them.  The food was fantastic and the company was just as great.  The whole family had a wonderful time. Thank you Mitchell and Chris! 

I have two Greek cookbooks.  I know what you’re thinking… “Out of all those cookbooks,  you only have TWO Greek cookbooks?” .  Yes, it’s true.  It’s not because I don’t like Greek food, because I LOVE Greek food.  I guess the Greek cookbooks are just harder to find.  Anyways… The first recipe I wanted to re-create was a grilled pork tenderloin that Vincent pulled me in their kitchen to see before dinner was served.  He asked me, “How come you’ve never made THAT?”, as he pointed at the pork.  He immediately requested that I make it for him before he goes back to college.  So my search was on.  The second was a cream cheese pound cake topped with fresh strawberries. 

I actually tried three recipes from the Favorite Recipes cookbook.  The first recipe was shishkebob (souvlakia)… made with Vincent in mind.  The recipe says you can use lamb, beef or pork, so I chose pork so I could compare it to what I had this past weekend.  This turned out great!  The only thing I’d do next time would be to marinade overnight instead of just a few hours and I might try grilling them outside instead of broiling in the oven.  Next was a recipe for oven roasted potatoes.  This was not on the menu last weekend, but I love NikoNiko’s roasted potatoes and wanted to give the recipe a try.  These are great, but I think I’d add a little butter next time around.  Last, was a recipe for a cream cheese pound cake.  I tried a recipe for cream cheese pound cake a few months ago and was not impressed, but I liked this recipe much better.  I’d have to say this is the best so far.  However, it still was not as moist or as flavorful as Mitchell’s pound cake, so I’m still on the hunt for the “perfect” cream cheese pound cake.  If you know of one… please let me know! 

My menu last night consisted of pork tenderloin, roasted Greek potatoes, green beans, warm pita bread, tzatziki sauce and cream cheese pound cake topped with strawberries for dessert.  What a wonderful mid-week treat!  Opa! 

~Please note that the recipes below are not exactly like the ones printed in the book, I have tweaked them to accommodate my family’s tastes. ~

Souvlakia

1 – 2 pounds beef, lamb or pork, cubed  (I used pork tenderloin)

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed

1/3 cup red wine

½ teaspoon oregano

¼ cup chopped yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

                In a plastic container with lid, combine olive oil, lemon juice, red wine, oregano, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Add bay leaves and meat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.  Overnight would be better!   Soak wooden skewers in water for at least an hour.  Run skewers through the middle of each piece of meat.  Meat may be cooked over the grill or broiled on low in the oven.  Remember to turn occasionally.  Serves 4.

Greek Oven Roasted Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced

½ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup water

Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan.  In a bowl, toss potatoes, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, until all potatoes are coated.  Layer the potatoes in the baking pan.  Pour in 1 cup of water and bake at 450F for about 25-30 minutes.  Serves 4.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 cup butter, unsalted

6 ounces cream cheese

5 large eggs

2 cups cake flour

1 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons vanilla

                Preheat oven to 325F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch flat-bottomed tube pan.  Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar.  Beat well.  Add vanilla and blend.  Pour into the prepared tube pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until cake tests done.  Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Strawberry Topping 

(This is my Mom’s recipe & I’m sure this is how Mitchell made her strawberries)

1 pound strawberries

3 teaspoons sugar

                Wash strawberries, hull and slice.  Place strawberries and a bowl.  Sprinkle with sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved and all strawberries are slightly coated with sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours. 

Tzatziki

(From my personal recipe stash, posted for Shirley)

1 cup sour cream

½ of an English cumber (or regular cucumber if you can’t find the English)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 teaspoons dill

                Peel cucumber.  Grate cucumber into a bowl.  Add sour cream, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and dill.  Cover and refrigerate.  Keeps for several days.

Also, I wanted to post a picture of Victoria, whom we are very proud of!  We know she will go far in life. War Eagle! 

WAR EAGLE!

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