Thursday, November 29, 2012

Garlic Truffle Gnocchi

Sometimes when you're grilling a steak or broiling  chicken you want a side that has a "pop" all its own.  You throw in a a little of this and a little of that, nothing real precise.  Suddenly, you've created something quite amazing.  Amazing is really mild, this is bang the side of your fist on the table and stomp your foot good!

Let's face it, after a long day at the office, I'm exhausted and don't want to make my brain work overtime.

NOTE:  An assortment of truffle oil can be found at Marshall's and TJ Maxx very economically priced.

1 box (16 ounces) gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons white truffle oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 white wine (Pinot Grigio)
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
Salt and Black pepper to taste

Heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil, generously salt the water and add in the gnocchi.  Let the gnocchi cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or once it begins to float to the top.  Drain the gnocchi in a colander.

In a large high-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  When the butter begins to melt, add in the truffle oil.  Once the oil and butter are thoroughly heated, add in the garlic and cook for one minute.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn.  Add in the wine and cook for 2 more minutes.  Then add in the gnocchi and  allow it to brown just a little, enough to pick up all of the rich good flavor you just created in that skillet.

Once the gnocchi has lightly browned, sprinkle in the Asiago cheese and parsley and season with salt and pepper and you're done!

Could this be any easier and no extra brain cells were sacrificed!

Pin It

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Cajun Thanksgiving...Ruth Fertel's Plaquemine's Oyster Dressing

Thanksgiving is fabulous!  Unlike Christmas, it's all about family and food and not the gifts. This Thanksgiving we went home to be with our family and as always, it was beyond words.

Grab a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice because this is going to be one L-O-O-O-O-O-N-G post!

My BIL, Gerry and his gorgeous wife, Terry Lynn hosted this awesome Thanksgiving celebration.  You may remember the last time we went home for Thanksgiving was four years ago, in 2008 .  So let me walk you through this festival holiday eye candy!

My SIL, Terry Lynn, enlists the children to pass out strips of colorful paper to each guest.  Each guest writes what they are thankful for and my SIL makes a chain to use as garland for her Christmas tree!

Food porn shot. My BIL and my hubby carving up one of two of the fried turkeys...don't hate!

We enjoyed a gorgeous, sunny day...I think we topped out at 75.  We dined "Al-Fresco".

Look at the beautiful set-up.

I was lucky to get these shots before the rest of my hungry family got here!

A view from the tent to the house.

Can you feel the excitement?

Before we "Choot-em" we eat our veggies!

Lots and lots of fried turkey.

My BIL, Gerry hit a homer with rotissere pork loin - YUM!

A sneak peak of the star of the the show, the Oyster Dressing!

Oh yeah, the homegirlz are waiting for the blessing so we can eat.

My two SILs in the background, putting on the finishing touches.

My BIL and host, Gerry, right, the master chef of the Oyster Dressing that I am here bragging about today!

My hubby making sure he gets his fair share.

My SIL, Terry Lynn places this pirogue as a centerpiece on one of the serving tables, displaying past placeholders and parts of past centerpieces. How awesome is she that she hangs on to all of this nostalgia.  So many guests that have graced her table in the past have gone on, including both of my parents and my father-in-law.  So many wonderful memories.

Ruth Fertel's Plaquemines Oyster Dressing....recipe below and so worth trying!


Our hostess, my SIL, Terry Lynn. 
Gerrard and Terry Lynn, thank you so much for a memorable and delicious Thanksgiving. 
All our love!
Ruth Fertel's Plaquemines Oyster Dressing:
1 gallon oysters with liquid (about 8 dozen oysters)
1/4 lb. butter
1lb. smoked sausage minced
3 cups diced onion
2 cups diced celery
1 cups diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup minced garlic
12 chicken bullion cubes
3 (2-1/2 foot long) loaves stale French bread
Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
1 dozen eggs whipped
1 lb. melted butter
Pour oysters into a large pan, reserving liquid and go through them one at a time, removing any shells that remain.  Heat oysters in liquid until edges curl.  Drain oysters, save liquid and set aside.  When oysters are cool, chop coarsely and set aside.
Ina large Dutch oven, heat 1/4 lb. of butter over medium-high heat.  Saute sausage until oil is rendered.  Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic.  Saute 3 to 5 minutes, until vegetables are wilted.  Add oysters, liquid and bouillon cubes.  Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Season with salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Chop stale French bread into 1-inch cubes and add to oyster mixture 2 cups at a time until enough bread has been added to absorb liquid but mixture is still moist.
Remove from heat add eggs and remaining melted butter, blending mixture well to thoroughly combine.
Pour into a large oven proof baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Remove foil and continue baking to brown fro 15 minutes.
Serve, relax and just let your eyes roll around in the back of your head.  I am serious...don't let life pass you by without trying this oyster dressing!

Pin It

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vic's Croque Madame

We've discussed it many times over the years and we all agree that breakfast for dinner is so cozy and comfortable.  How about a quasi-French breakfast sammich?  By itself or with a steamy bowl of soup?

Read along and let's see what my friend Vic came up with...

4 tablespoons butter
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-n-half
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 slices whole grain bread (or bread of your choice)
2 large eggs
4 slices Genoa salami
2 slices Swiss cheese
Chopped green onions for garnish

In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Whisk in the milk and the half-n-half and bring to a bubble.  Drop the heat to low and season with salt and pepper, the Dijon and the nutmeg.  Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and cover the pot.

In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Once the butter begins to foam, add the bread and lightly toast.  Turn the bread and generously ladle the sauce on each slice of bread, then add two slices of salami to each and one slice of Swiss cheese each.  Transfer the toast to a plate

Return the skillet to the stove and add the remaining tablespoon butter.  Add the eggs keeping the whites separate.  Once the eggs are cooked, top each piece of toast with an egg.

Larry, You have to know this makes me think of you, King of the Egg Sammich!

Pin It

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

I was checking out some Thanksgiving recipes at Food Network's website and happened upon Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. 

In my book, anything by Tyler Florence is a winner and this soup is an absolute winner.  Did you know this my first time making chicken noodle soup?

 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 medium carrots cut in half lengthwise and then cut diagonally in 1/2 inch thick strips
2 stalks of celery, cut in half lengthwise and then cut diagonally in 1/2 inch thick strips
4 fresh sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 quarts of chicken stock
8 ounces dried egg noodles
1-1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful finely chopped Italian parsley

Place soup pot over medium heat and coat the bottom with oil.  Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme.  Saute for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but now browned.  Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add in the egg noodles and allow soup to simmer for 5 minutes.  Fold in the chicken and continue simmering for a couple of more minutes to heat the chicken through.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Just what the doctor ordered on a damp, chilly night!

I wish all of you a bountiful, safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  I am truly thankful for all of you who stop by and visit each day, for your wonderful and encouraging comments and emails, for all the pins on Pinterest and "Likes" on Smoky Mountain Cafe's Facebook page!  Thank you!

Pin It

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nat'ly's Grilled Brats with Beer Cheese Soup

We have been extremely lucky this fall, the past few weeks, the evenings have been just warm enough to fire up the grill. We have been taking advantage of the last few weeks of "grilling season".

Since we have been so fortunate, I have a real treat to share with all you! 

1 package (5 links) Johnsonville Original or Beer Brats
2 Foil bread pans
2 12 oz. bottles pale ale (I used Blue Moon)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium size carrots peeled and chopped (approx. 1 cup)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Half-n-half
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
8 ounces Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Frank's Hot Sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat grill to medium heat, grill brats, low and slow, turning about every 10 ten minutes.  After the first complete turn piece each brats.  The idea is to let the juices drain out while they are cooking so they will begin to shrivel and dry out a bit.

After about 20 minutes, place the foil loaf tins on the grill away from direct heat.  Empty a beer into each one.  Allow the beer to slowly warm while the brats are drying out.  Once the brats shrivel a bit, place them in the beer (2 brats in pan, 3 in the other), close the lid to the grill and leave them for 10 more minutes.  the brats will re-hydrate and soak up some of the beer. 

Remove the brats from the grill leaving them in the beer bath.  DO NOT discard the beer, we need it for the soup, plus it's alcohol abuse!

Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add in the chopped onions, celery and carrots and saute until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add in the flour and continue cooking for another 7 minutes, stirring often.

Remove the brats from the beer to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm, remember, reserve the beer.

Slowly stir in the chicken broth, stirring to combine.

Add in the reserved beer.  Bring to a boil and then slowly add in the cheese, stirring until smooth and almost comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to low add in the half-n-half, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, mustard and Worcestershire.  Continue cooking until soup has thickened.

Serve garnished with a freshly baked pretzel and a side of brats.
Nat'ly says this is going in the tail-gating hall of fame.

Pin It

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three Cheese Hasselback Potatoes

This is Sage Derby Cheese.  I came across it Saturday in the grocery and thought it was interesting.  It was economical so why not buy a small wedge and see what happens.

The cheese is actually fairly mellow, the sage flavor is not over powering at all and lends itself to lots of possibilities, especially when paired with other cheeses.

I did want to be careful not turn a side dish green, sometimes green side dishes don't work out so well especially when it's not St. Patrick's day, do ya feel me?

We hadn't had hasselback potatoes in a VERY long time so I decided to top them with cheese and include my new find.

2 baking potatoes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded Sage Derby cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Normally, we bake hasselback potatoes with lots of melted butter.  I had leftover Pasilla butter that I didn't want to waste, so I used it on this.  Regular melted butter works just fine, the Pasilla butter didn't change the taste of the potatoes at all.

Peel the potatoes and place them in a large bowl of water and the lemon juice for about 5 minutes. this will prevent the potatoes from turning that reddish brown color and help them turn a beautiful golden brown color while they are baking.  Remove them from the water and pat them dry.  Slice the potatoes about three-quarters of the way through and about 1/4 of an inch apart.  Keep the potato joined together at the bottom.

Whisk together the melted butter, parsley, salt and pepper.  Dunk the potatoes in the butter mixture and completely coat.  Place the potatoes on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes.  

Reserve the melted butter...keep it warm.

Look at the beautiful color, the lemon water works boys and girls!

Remove the potatoes from the oven and divide the cheese between the potatoes.  

Drizzle the remaining butter over the top and bake for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are cooked through.

I probably should have drizzled the butter and then put the cheese.

These totally rock as a side dish to steak...I love ya baked potato, but sometimes I just need to mix it up!

Pin It

Monday, November 12, 2012

White Beans with Sausages

Something about white beans in a savory sauce served with juicy Italian sausages just makes me feel warm all over.  If you're looking to add an easy to make, wholesome, comfort food dish to your repertoire this winter, this is the ticket. 

5 Sweet, Mild or Hot Italian Sausages (I used Mild)
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Vidala or sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (14 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoons dried oregano
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prick the sausages in a couple of places and place in a large skillet.  Pour 1/2 cup of the wine to the sausages and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Lower the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium high and cook the sausages until well browned, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until soft, about five minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the beans, oregano, the remaining wine and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered until half of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

The add the sausages to the pan with the beans and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve. 
Really good comfort food doesn't get much easier or tastier than this!

Pin It

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two-fers!! Fried Sage Leaves/Sage Infused Bread

This may not be the prettiest picture, but don't judge a book by it's cover.

I had a lot of sage leaves leftover from my Easy Chicken Saltimbocca and didn't want to let them go to waste...I do like me some sage!

Recently Rachel Ray fried sage leaves in butter on one of her shows and I was more than game to give it a try.

This is so easy ya'll, soooo full of flavor!  You just have to give this a try, you will be addicted!  

20 sage leaves
1/2 stick butter

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat, once the butter begins to bubble, toss in the sage leaves.  Fry until the edges just begin to brown, them remove the leaves with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.

The added caveat here is the browned butter, infused with sage!  Brush or spoon the butter on crusty bread.  Bake the bread at 400 degrees F for about 5 minutes and you have a terrific alternative to garlic bread.

Pin It

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Easy Chicken Saltimbocca

I know, I know, traditionally veal is used, but a girl can color outside of the lines sometimes, can't she?  This savory, quick Italian saute' includes mouthwatering Prosciutto di parma, lots of  fresh melty mozzarella cheese and a touch of sage to make it interesting; in short, you will find this simply irresistible!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage (1 teaspoon if using dried) plus 4 whole sage leaves for garnish
4 slices Prosciutto di Parma
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, sliced very thin
3/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio

Generously season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken through the flour, shaking off the excess. 

Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a large skillet.  Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn and brown the other side, about another 6 minutes.

Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and sprinkle the chopped sage over the chicken breasts.  Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto and then with a couple slices of mozzarella.  Tightly cover the skillet and cook for about 1-1/2 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Move the chicken to a baking sheet and tent with foil.

Return the same skillet to the stove and increase the heat to medium-high.  Once the skillet is heated back-up, add the wine, scrape up the browned bits and de-glaze the skillet.  Continue cooking for about 3 minutes until the wine is reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter. 

Remove the foil tent from the chicken and place each piece of chicken on a plate.  Spoon the sauce equally over each piece of chicken and garnish with a sage leaf.

Saltimbocca means "to jump in the mouth".  This will definitely jump in your mouth and before you know it, there's a party going on! 

Pin It

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

I lucked out and found this recipe over at Food & Wine and couldn't wait to try it!  It's ridiculous and I mean that in a good way!  When it comes down to it, isn't ridiculous the best?

Don't deprive yourself any longer, make this pound cake!

1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 13 ounce jar Nutella

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.  In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour,  baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light an fluffy, about 3 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until thoroughly blended.  Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, continuing to beat at low speed until the batches are incorporated.  After adding the third batch, continue beating for another 30 seconds.

Spread a third of the mixture in the prepared pan, spread half of the Nutella on top of the batter. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remainder of the Nutella.  Top with the remaining batter.  Gently swirl in the Nutella with a butter knife.  Be careful not to over mix.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up and allow it to cool for 2 more hours.

After 2 hours, you will not be able to wait to get this ridiculousness in your mouth!

Pin It

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slow Cooker Cassoulet

Cassoulet is slow-cooked, rustic, dish made with white beans, wine and a succulent assortment of meats such as foie gras, duck confit,  cuts of lamb, pork or poultry.  Cassoulet is a beloved dish of generations of French cooks.  I found several recipes for cassoulet at Food and Wine and Bon Appetit and adapted to my Cajun French tastes and to cook in the slow cooker to fit my schedule which has been really busy like you wouldn't believe. 

Even though this is cooked in the slow cooker, there is a bit of "prep" cooking before hand, but all of the effort is so worth the final results! 

First, I have some gratuitous bragging to do, my Bebe' , Kaitlin, made the Homecoming Court (white dress)!!! 

3-1/2 lbs. boneless pork roast.  I used a pork sirloin roast, trimmed of excess fat.
3 tablespoons Canola oil
1 cup of panko crumbs
4 ounces of smokey bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
3 cups roughly diced yellow onions
2 cups white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (35 ounce) San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
4 cans (15 ounce) Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb. Johnsonville Andouille sausage.  Quarter each sausage link on a diagonal
1 head of garlic cut in half (crosswise)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 baguette cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the pork into 8 portions and season generously with salt and pepper, reserve.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and combine 2 tablespoons of the Canola oil and the panko, stirring constantly until the panko is toasted, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper.  Once cooled, place in an air-tight container for later.

Add the remaining tablespoon of Canola oil to the Dutch oven and then add bacon and cook until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and once cooled, place in an air-tight container for use later.

Add half of the pork to the Dutch oven and brown on all sides, transfer to a platter, repeat with the remaining pork.

Cook the onions with 1 teaspoon of sea salt until beginning to turn brown and softened.  

Add the wine and simmer for about 7 to 8 minutes. 

Stir in the tomato paste.

Stir in the tomatoes.

Use a potato masher and gently smash the tomatoes up a bit.

Stir in the chicken broth and remove from the heat.  At this point, turn on your slow cooker to low to slightly heat.

Remember the rule of thumb with "crockery" slow cookers...add cold food to a cold crockpot and warm food to a warm crockpot.

Place the garlic, pork and sausage in the slow cooker.

Slowly add the contents from the Dutch oven to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  the pork will easily pull apart.

Approximately 1 hour to 30 minutes before the done, skim off the fat, discard the garlic and add in the beans.  Thirty minutes later, stir in the panko.  The panko will seriously thicken the consistency of the dish. 

Stir in half of the parsley and adjust the seasonings.  Turn off the slow cooker and let the cassoulet stand for about thirty minutes.

Pre-heat the broiler and brush the baguette slices with olive oil.  Place the baguettes slices  under the broiler and broil until golden brown.

Spoon the cassoulet onto a plate and arrange two baguette slices, over-lapping, on top of the cassoulet.  Sprinkle with the reserved bacon, sea salt and parsley.

Laissez les bon temps rouler, ya'll!

Pin It