Friday, March 15, 2013

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting!

I found this luscious recipe at Southern Living's website and knew it would be perfect to serve during the Christmas Holidays.  Wait, wut?  Guess I'm a lot tardy in posting but hey, Easter is right around the corner so.....

Anyway, these are a cinch to make and they were devoured in a snap!

1 - 4 ounce bittersweet chocolate bar chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (1 ounce) bottle red liquid food coloring
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.  Allow 2 to 3 inches of the foil to hang over the sides.  Lightly grease the foil.

Microwave the butter and chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on high until both are melted and smooth; stirring at 30-second intervals.  Whisk in the sugar, then add the eggs one a t a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.  Gently stir in the flour and the food coloring, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt.

Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 44 to 48 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours.

Lift the brownies from the pan, using the excess foil on the sides as handles.  Gently remove the foil and ice with the Cream Cheese Frosting and cut into 16 squares.

1 - 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar and salt until blended.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

You'll probably want to make a "trial run" of these this weekend!

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grillades and Grits

So what in the world are grillades (gree-yads) anyway?  

Many of you may think of New Orleans as a big seafood town and it is but it is also known for it's meats.  It all started when butchers started moving to New Orleans from the Gascony regions of France.

These butchers, as well as their decendents, monopolized the butcher market in New Orleans well into the 20th century.  Their influence provided a wide variety of meat cuts including the grillades, according to "New Orleans Cuisine. 14 Signature Dishes and Their Histories".

In the late 1880's grillades appeared on almost every brunch menu in the city. The "Sailors Breakfast" was first cooked in modest homes and was eventually served in the most affluent homes as well.

Also, the brunch concept started in New Orleans for the City's dock workers because most of them finished work around 10:00 AM and they still wanted breakfast.  So the boarding houses near the docks created a second breakfast and capitalized from the dock workers hearty appetites.

This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse in his Commander's Palace days.

2 lbs. Chuck tender cutlets or Beef Top Round, about 4-inches in size
3 tablespoons Emeril's Essence or your favorite Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup All-Purpose flour for dredging
4 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green bell peppers, chopped
1/1/2 tablespoons garlic, minced
4 ounces sliced button mushrooms
3/4 cup white wine (I used Pinto Grigio)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Baked Gruyere Grits (recipe follows)

Place the beef cutlets between two pieces of wax paper.  Using a meat mallet or heavy skillet, pound the meat to tenderize and break up some of the connective tissue.   Season the meat generously with Essence on both sides and then dredge through the flour.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of Canola oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is heated add the floured beef, working in batches and adding more oil as necessary, just be careful not to overcrowd the skillet and steam the flour off.  Brown the meat about 3 minutes each side, until golden brown.

As the beef browns, transfer it to a platter and set aside.  Once all of the beef is cooked, add the butter to the skillet.  when the butter has melted, add the onions, celery, bell pepper and mushrooms to the pan.  Saute the vegetables until soft, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for 1 more minute, then add the wine to the skillet and reduce by half, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Scrap the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet while the liquid is reducing.

Stir in the beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne to the skillet.  Bring to a boil, return the beef tot he pan, lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover the skillet and place in the oven and allow to cook for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until the beef is fork tender.  

When beef is tender remove from the oven, adjust the seasonings if necessary and serve over Baked Gruyere Cheese Grits.

While the beef is braising in the oven, get the grits started:

6 tablespoons butter, divided 4/2
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Quick Cooking Grits (not instant)
1 egg
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with 2 tablespoons of butter.

In a medium, heavy sauce pan, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of  butter, salt and water over medium high heat.  When the mixture comes to a simmer add in the grits, stir to thoroughly combine.  Lower heat to medium and continue cooking the grits until thick and creamy, about 7 minutes, but can take as long as 15 minutes.

While the grits are simmering, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, heavy cream and black pepper.  Stir this into the cooked grits.  Note: at this point, I really thought the egg would curdle, but it didn't, so don't worry about tempering. Once combined, pour mixture into prepared casserole dish, top with the grated Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses and place in the 350 degree oven the beef is braising in and cook for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes.

So whether you're a dock worker or a high society bruncher, you now know about Grillades and Grits!  Everyone should, don't you agree?

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Crawfish Enchiladas

It's Lent and being a Cajun, I have to get my fill of crawfish in any way, shape or form I can.  These enchiladas are like no other enchilada you have experienced before.

The ingredients for the crawfish filling and the sauce contain a lot of the same ingredients.  Chop once and divide it up.

 So are you ready to make some dinner?

Crawfish Filling:

2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeno peppers
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (I used a combination of red and green)
1/2 chopped green onions
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lb. Louisiana crawfish tails
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack/Colby cheese mixture

Crawfish Enchilada Sauce:

1-1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup Half-n-Half
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

10 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack/Colby cheese mixture
9 x 13 baking dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Melt butter in a large skillet add in the thyme, cook for 2 minutes until fragrant then add and saute green onions, bell peppers, celery, jalapeno peppers and garlic about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, stir to combine.  Spread out on the bottom of the pan and cook another 5 to 7 minutes.

Add in the crawfish tails and any liquid in the bag.  Cook for another 4 minutes, remove from heat.  Empty into a bowl to cool completely.

Place the same skillet back on the stove and melt the butter

Saute the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic until soft.  There will be a lot of liquid in the pan.

Add the Half-n-Half.  Swirl with a spoon to combine.

Add in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and continue swirling to combine.  Sometimes I just prefer to swirl instead of stirring. 

Add in the cayenne and the hot sauce.  Don't worry, this is not enough register very much heat at all.  Look below, the cayenne and the hot sauce give the sauce a nice color.

Add in the green onions and parsley.

Turn the burner off but leave the skillet on the burner.


Fold in one cup of the Jack/Colby cheese mixture to the completely cooled crawfish tails. 

Ladle just enough sauce to thinly cover the bottom of the baking dish.  Place about 1-1/2 to tablespoons of the crawfish mixture in the middle of one of the tortillas. 

Tightly Roll the tortillas and place the the baking dish seam side down.

Ladle the remaining sauce over the tortillas then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the sauce.

Next, top the tortillas with the remaining Jack/Colby cheese mixture and place the enchiladas in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven and bake for 20 minutes.

 Remove from oven after 20 minutes and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

 Get yours before they're all gone!

Yeah, I think I am going to become a member of the clean plate club!

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