A spicy side dish, appetizer, or entrée: Crab Imperial

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This dish would make a great side dish, appetizer, or entrée as Susan and I did today. To serve as an appetizer, serve this with butter crackers or crostini. Serve in its individual ramekin if served as a side. If served as an entrée, you may want to use a slightly larger ramekin or other individual baking dish. Serve with a warm sourdough baguette.

Note: The number and size of ramekin listed here is for serving as a side.

Ingredients

8 Tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Tablespoon flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 Pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over for shell pieces
1½ cup Panko bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 Tablespoon sherry
2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Begin by making a roux. Melt five tablespoons butter in a two quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add flour all at once and whisk vigorously. When mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to medium and slow whisking. Cook until you smell a nutty aroma and cook about two minutes more stirring occasionally. Next, whisk in cream and whisk until sauce begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crabmeat, ½ cup bread crumbs, bell pepper, onion, half the parsley, sherry, juice, Worcestershire, half the paprika, mustard, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among six shallow, four-ounce to five-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.

Mix remaining melted butter, bread crumbs, and paprika until evenly combined. Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs evenly over each ramekin. Bake until lightly browned and bubbling in the center; about twenty minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot.

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There’s an app for that: Jalapeño Poppers

Everybody loves jalapeño poppers. They are just the right amount of spicy balanced with the right amount of creamy cheesiness, and by God they have bacon. Who could ask for anything more? Oh, a nice Raspberry-Merlot sauce to dip them in? Sure thing.

Jalapeño Popper

Ingredients

6 good sized jalapeño peppers
3 slices of smoked bacon (cut in half to make six pieces)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Approximately)

Directions

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cook the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel in a microwave until almost crisp, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Wash and slice the jalapeños in half length-wise. Deseed the peppers also removing as much of the inner rib as possible. Blend the cream cheese and cheddar cheese together very well. Next, fill each half of the jalapeño with cream cheese and cheddar mixture. Place on baking sheet filling side up and top each pepper with a half slice of bacon. Bake in oven until cheese is bubbly, bacon is very crisp, and jalapeno is beginning to soften: approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Serve with Raspberry-Merlot sauce.

Raspberry-Merlot Sauce

Ingredients

2 packages frozen, unsweetened raspberries (about 4 cups)
1 ½ cups Merlot wine
1 cup sugar

Directions

In a medium sauce pan, combine all ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the mixture is thick and reduced to about 1 cup: about 30 minutes. Occasionally stir the sauce to prevent scorching. Allow to completely cool before serving.

Louisiana Oysters on the Half-Shell

I picked up some Louisiana Oysters today. I made a very quick and simple migonette sauce for them and Susan and I were in heaven. I wanted us to have at least three a piece so I picked up eight oysters just in case there was a bad one. We got lucky and all eight looked bright and smelled like the briny sea so we each got four.

Here’s the simple migonette sauce:

Ingredients

1 small shallot finely minced
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons dry, acid white wine
1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Grind or two of fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld. Spoon over oysters and serve.

There’s an app for that: Brie en Croute


Brie en Croute after being cut open exposing all that gooey goodness.

Although Brie en Croute is enjoyed year round, I associate it with Christmas and holidays as it just seems so festive. The fillings you can use are limited only by your imagination; everything from a raspberry and almond to a pepper jelly and pecan filling to an olive and garlic compote. The Brie en Croute pictured above has a filling of a Scotch Bonnet pepper jelly and pecans.

Making a Brie en Croute is almost too easy; especially if you purchase your puff pastry. Here’s a video demostrating how to make puff pastry should you decide to make your own. It really isn’t too hard but it is time consuming: puff pastry. It is originally in French but has been overdubbed.

Here’s what I did to make the Scotch Bonnet pepper jelly and pecan Brie en Croute:

Ingredients

1 egg
1 tbsp. water
All-purpose flour
12″ x 12″ sheet of puff pastry or1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed.
¼ cup chopped pecans
½ cup Scotch Bonnet pepper jelly
1  Brie cheese round (approximately 8 ounces)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make an egg wash by beating the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Sprinkle the flour on the work surface.  Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface and roll the pastry sheet into a 12 x 12 inch square. Cut the corners off the sheet of puff pastry to form a circle. Next, spread the pecans in the very center of the pastry in the approximate size of the Brie wheel. I like to take the outer container of the Brie and center it in the middle of the pastry and then lightly tap it giving me a guide to the size of the Brie wheel. Spread the jelly on top of the pecans and then place the Brie wheel on top of the jelly. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the egg wash on the outer edge of the pastry and then fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover and seal. Brush a little more egg wash over the seams to help seal.  Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Decorate with the pastry scraps, if desired and finally brush the entire pastry with the egg mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes before cutting and serve with the crackers or crostini.


Brie en Croute before cutting open. Use the scraps of puff pastry to decorate the top of your Brie en Croute.

There’s an app for that: Prosciutto wrapped, cheese stuffed dates

This quick appetizer goes together very quickly. Your guests will be very impressed and think you spent way more time making them than you actually did.

Ingredients

2 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, a room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 dates, pitted
8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 toothpicks or cocktail picks

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Gently pull the dates apart and stuff with about ½ teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Close the dates around the filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.

Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve.

Bonus Post! Guacamole!

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I’ve been making a lot of things with avocados lately so I have been buying a lot of avocados. I have also been able to work on perfecting my guacamole.

Here’s what I did for my guacamole tonight:

Ingredients

3 ripe avocados
1 tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
A few dashes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Juice from one lime

Directions

Combine all ingredients in suitable bowl. Mash avocados with a fork and stir together until well combined. Some chunks of avocado should remain

Here is an informative site that explains how to buy avocados. Avocado Central

But Chickens Don’t Have Lips!

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Here is a recipe for Chicken Lips that I received from Peter Harman, chef and owner of Martini’s Grille in Burlington, Iowa many years ago. Peter also started a carry out store called Lips To Go and a restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa called Graze.

Here is Peter’s fantastic Chicken Lips:

Ingredients

2 pounds voluptuous chicken breasts
2 pounds flour
1 quart buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons black pepper

Directions

Buy fresh boneless chicken breasts, big, jumbo babies, wash thoroughly then place on a cutting board, use a sharp knife to remove any fat or skin. Cut chicken into long strips about as thick as your thumb. Put the flour into a bowl and season it with salt and pepper. Pour the buttermilk into a bowl. Make sure the bowls you use are large enough to handle the chicken when it is added. Dip the chicken a few strips at a time into the flour, then buttermilk, then back to the flour. Coat well in each stage. Place them on a platter as they are breaded and reserve until cooking.

Heat frying oil in a large skillet or pot, fry daddy or outdoor cooker to 350 degrees. Fry the lips in batches and place them on a platter lined with paper towels. Dip the lips into the hot lip sauce and put onto a serving platter. Serve immediately with Budweiser Blue Cheese Dressing on the side.

Hot Lip Sauce
1 pound butter
2 cups hot sauce
1 tablespoon granulated garlic

Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold it, do not allow it to boil. Pour the butter into a blender. Turn blender on to high, hopefully remembering to put the cover on first. Slowly pour in in hot sauce until it is incorporated, the sauce should be bright orange and become emulsified or slightly thick, add garlic and blend for about 30 seconds. This is Hot Lip Sauce.

Peter’s Budweiser Blue Cheese Dressing

1 pint heavy mayonnaise
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large swig of Bud Fat
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 pound Maytag blue cheese crumbles

Put everything except the blue cheese into a large bowl, mix well. Add the blue cheese and lightly stir in. Some recipes are just that simple.