Friday, January 31, 2014

Baked Sun Dried Tomato Gnocchi

Gnocchi, little morsels of comforting potato goodness.  An awesome side dish and so versatile.

1 package gnocchi
1 jar (8 ounce) sun dried tomato pesto (I like Classico)
3/4 finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil, add 1-1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt to the boiling water, then add gnocchi.  Return the water to a boil.  Cook gnocchi for 3 to 4 minutes drain.

Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a separate bowl, combine the gnocchi, sun-dried tomato pesto, half of the Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Turn in to prepared casserole dish and top with the mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake on the preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

My family devoured this cheesy goodness!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Crawfish Monica, a Knock-Off, Maybe Better!

In the early 1980s, Pierre Hilzim created a spicy cream sauce, tossed it with pasta and crawfish tails and named it after his wife, Monica. A loving tribute... and a very profitable one.

Since 1981, the Hilzim's estimate they have served more than 1 million bowls of Crawfish Monica at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival held each spring.  Crawfish Monica is no doubt the New Orleans Jazz Fest's most famous food.

Their recipe is a closely held trade secret of Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc., the Hilzim's food production company, located in New Orleans.  The company  produces more than 160 sauces, soups, entrees, salad dressings and side dishes for restaurants and packaged food brands. Crawfish Monica is the company's premier dish and Jazz Fest is its biggest stage.

2 cups (16 ounces) Half-n- Half
1 cup whipping cream
6 green onions, chopped
1 stick butter
1 pound crawfish tails with fat
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 lb.Rotini pasta cooked al dente
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Combine the half-n-half and cream in a saucepan and reduce slightly, about 10 minutes. while the cream is warming, saute onions in the butter. Once the onions begin to soften, add in the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add crawfish tails and crawfish fat, salt, pepper, thyme and cayenne.  Stir to combine then add 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and the cream.  Reduce the  and reduce a little more until the sauce is rich and creamy. Add the cooked rotini to the sauce, toss, add the remaining cheese and serve.

Kick back, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio, put on your favorite music and enjoy....pretend it's not winter for a little while!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Barbecue Red Snapper

There's an old saying in Jazz music "more ain't' better." This over to food and most certainly to fish. The simpler the cooking technique the more robust the flavor. This may have a few ingredients, but the cooking method is so simple!

1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 lime juiced
1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme 

Chopped cilantro for garnish
Salt and pepper
2  red snapper filets 

Combine the paprika, salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Add the lime juice, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire, capers, thyme and oil, and whisk until blended. Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade.

Sprinkle the fish all over with salt and pepper. Brush the "meat" side of the fish filets generously with some of the marinade. Cover and marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat a the oven to 450 degrees F.

Bake the fish filets on a foil lined baking dish, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray for 7 to 10 minutes; until the fish is flaky. 

Remove fish form the oven, turn your broiler to low.  Brush the remaining marinade over the fish and return to the oven and broil for about 2 to 3  until the fish looks slightly charred.

Transfer the fish to a large platter. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Don't be afraid to cook fish ever again!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crawfish and Corn Chowder

My grandmother made the best corn and crawfish chowder, period!  Many times I sat at her kitchen table peeling Belle River crawfish, pulling husks and silk from the freshly picked corn. She would then remove the kernels from the cobs and the secret to her tasty recipe was revealed. She would boil the corn cobs with the crawfish heads in a large pot, seasoned with a little crab boil, yellow onions, celery, garlic and one hot pepper. This amazing aroma wafted through her house! She would strain this succulent stock through an old bent up strainer…so many memories.  I am now taking the liberty of trying to re-create one of her most special dishes, only I am using store bought seafood stock.

1 lb. crawfish tails with fat
3 cups fresh kernel corn
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-1/2 cups cubes russet potatoes
¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups seafood stock
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup heavy cream
1 can (10 ounce) Original Rotel
Sea Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Chopped chives (optional)

In a large pot, melt butter. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until onions are transparent, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the corn to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.  Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir constantly for 3 minutes.  Add the seafood stock and potatoes, stir to thoroughly combine, season with the cayenne pepper.  Simmer for about 20 minutes to soften the potatoes. Add crawfish tails, crawfish fat and heavy cream and Rotel tomatoes, simmer for another 10 minutes, just to heat the crawfish tails through. Garnish with the chives and adjust seasonings if necessary.

 Make your own chowder memories tonight!

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