Red Beans and Rice with Cornbread

My lovely wife was the chef, and I played sous chef.  I also got a picture of her rigged up with the baby like how I often do my cooking prep-work.

Mini-Sous Chef

Mini-Sous Chef

Wife and mini-sous chef made the cornbread while I chopped up some cooked chicken & poblano sausage for the red beans and rice.

Forty-five minutes of baking and simmering later,  our little Cajun Cornbread Boy was done cooking and said it was time to eat!

And eat we did. There are few things more satisfying to your hunger than a bowl of Cajun flavoured yumminess with cornbread to mop it all up with.  *sigh*

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Tools of Adventure: Cast Iron Skillet

Christmas a year ago, my wife got me this 12″ Bobby Flay cast iron pan.  It is a big rig pan, it has handles on both ends for a reason.  A cast iron pan is a kitchen necessity for any kitchen, novice to chef.  It holds more heat, cooks more evenly, naturally non-stick, and will last the rest of eternity.  It is the only pan you need.

This particular pan, due to its size, may not be for everyone.  One of the big perks for me is that it is a flat-bottomed skillet, it does not have the ridge around the bottom.  My wife will not permit a gas stove in the house, and I loathe coils.  As such, we have a glass-top stove, which I am perfectly fine with, but that necessitates finding flat-bottomed equipment.

Bobby Flay 12" Cast Iron

Bobby Flay 12″ Cast Iron

I have been very happy with this pan. I’ve cooked everything from pancake souffle, fried chicken, teriyaki chicken legs, to fried veggies and yakisoba.

A few things to note about Cast Iron skillets:

  • They must be seasoned, even pre-seasoned pans need to be re-seasoned occasionally.
  • Cast iron can be thrown from the stove to the oven. But only up to 340-350 degrees.
  • Hand wash only. No abrasives.  Its easiest to wipe most the gunk out of the pan when it is still warm, before the grease hardens and food bits dry up.

Bobby Flay and other Food Network gear are available at Kohl’s.

Cajun teriyaki monsoon

A decent storm came though and disrupted my plans for the evening.  Bad Internet at home and no electricity in other parts of town.  But, I did get some Chinese Dates planted amongst other random plants right before darkness set in.

We went to eat at my sister-in-laws house.  Pork curry, seafood dumplings and kimchi dumplings.  Yum.  I love curry, all nationalities of it.  She also brought me back a fancy brand of mirin from Dallas, a requirement in a number of Japanese dishes such as teriyaki and other sauces.  So I wouldn’t be surprised to see teriyaki chicken on the table tomorrow =)  I would like to show you a really cool way to do it.

I have also decided to embark on a Cajun culinary journey over the summer.  I’ve been married into a Cajun family so I really do not do a whole lot of the Cajun cooking.  I’d like to try some recipes out and learn how to do it all for myself.  We won’t be living here forever, I’d better get it mastered before we go.

We are also planning to go visit the great-grandma in Louisiana in July. Eat a bunch of yummy Cajun food and look around Lafayette.

 

Happy Summer Vacation!

Today is the first day of summer Vacation for us.  My rotation has me working fri-sat-sun over memorial day weekend, so I won’t be cooking.  But, I look forward to seeing the Memorial Day feasts by the rest of you =)

If you plan on making Scallops this weekend, check out Kate’s Saffron sauce from No Reservations!

Kate’s Saffron Sauce [No Reservations]

 

In one of my favourite movies, No Reservations, Kate is the head chef at a trendy restaurant when life intervenes.  She inherits her niece after a tragic car wreck that kills her sister,  and if that isn’t enough, she gets a new sous chef, a puppy-eyed bachelor, when her friend has a baby.  One of the most important dishes to the movie plot is seared scallops with Kate’s secret saffron sauce.  Of which, I have found and tested.

Kate’s secret Saffron Sauce (for 2)Whisking Saffron Sauce

  • 1/4 cup white wine or cooking sake
  • 2 minced Kaffir Lime Leaves (Kate’s secret ingredient)
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1/2 pinch of Saffron
  • 1 1/4 tbsp heavy cream (not whipping cream)
  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Put the first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan, reduce by half. Add cream and saffron. Add butter, 1 tbsp at a time until each is melted, whisking constantly.  Do Not Boil!  Remove from heat, squeeze in the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

The Scallops

  • 8-12 large scallops (depending on size)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tspn thyme
  • 1/4 tspn oregano
  • 1 tbsp lemon pepper
  • olive oil

Searing the Scallops

Mix flour, salt, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper in small bowl. Coat Scallops. Place scallops in med-high skillet coated with olive oil.  Sear each edge of scallops until golden (2-3 minutes per side).  Plate 1/2 scallops on two plates, drizzle liberally with Saffron Sauce.

 

Note:  I found the Lime leaves at the local Thai Market.

 

Seared Scallops and Kate's Saffron Sauce

Meatloaf Mayhem

I like to experiment with ingredient substitutes… mostly because I’m too lazy to run to the store when I have to pack up children to do so.  Its hard enough to do all my prep-work with an 8 month old strapped to my front in a carry sling.

Sometimes substitutes are great and sometimes they just don’t work out (like my Milk, Heavy Cream, Half-n-half Debacle).

I didn’t have the time to take pics or blog about my meatloaf adventure a few days ago.  I had some ground turkey I needed to use, so I decided on a meatloaf.  I made up the recipe as I went.  I added chopped tomatoes and onions and thyme for a pretty bright and lively taste.

However, I had nothing to use for the bread component of meatloaf.  No bread, no crackers, what is an adventurous and lazy chef to do?  Well, as it turns out, my wife’s Special K worked just dandy.

Any Interesting substitutes in your week?

Tips for Cooking for a Dinner Party

As promised yesterday in my Slider Dinner Party blog I am going to run down a few tips for hosting a dinner party.  Cooking in the sanctuary of your own kitchen is quite different when you know there are a bunch of hungry guests expecting a good meal.  You are entertaining and feeding people that have time expectations of when dinner should be served and a time when they need to leave.  Its a bit akin to catering in your own home.  And what is a catering chef’s secret weapon?  Preparation.

For my dinner party, I had the following list of items on my menu:

  • homemade slider buns (white and honey wheat)
  • 5 types of sliders
  • raw veggies and dip
  • variety of peppers for grilling
  • mixed veggies for grilling
  • ranch style beans

My preparation for this party started by 10am. I had 2 batches of slider buns to make.  In the downtime between dough rising and baking I working on veggies.  I separated all my ingredients according to task:

  • burger toppings (lettuce, tomato, pineapple, etc)
  • pre-dinner grilling (peppers)
  • mixed grilling veggies
  • raw veggies and dip(s)
  • burger ingredients (for the individual burger types: Thai, bbq, etc)

The burger toppings I prepared in large ramekins for serving as is, covered in plasti-wrap and stuck them in fridge.

I grilled the peppers, seeded, and chopped them for their specific purpose (jalapeno for toppings, poblano for ingredient, etc)

Cleaned, and chopped up grilling veggies. Placed in large ziplocs, added olive oil and herb selections.  Ready to shake and grill.

Cleaned and chopped raw veggies for dipping and into ziplocs.  Make dip(s).

Burger ingredients went into separate large ramekins/bowls.  To await being mixed into meat when showtime draws near.

Preparation is your bff

With all of that out of the way, the only thing I had to contend with is cooking the burgers, beans and grilling veggies as guests arrived.  While my lovely wife plays host, I am running back and forth between kitchen and grill, anxious about how the burgers will turn out (a much better anxiety than wondering if your guests will starve before dinner is served).  The guests have raw veggies and drinks to entertain themselves while the burgers finish cooking.  Afterwards, make sure there is enough main course to last the party, then make yourself a plate =)