The late great Paul Prudhomme, who died last year, brought Cajun cookery to national attention with his 1984 classic Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. His most iconic recipe was “blackened redfish.” Redfish was a humble fish that suddenly was in high demand. His recipe called for scorching high heat. I made it several times and it was delicious, but set off the fire alarms. Continue reading
Category Archives: Food
Grilled Hoisin Sauce/lime juice/Sambal Olek marinated shrimp
We often grill shrimp in the summer for a quick dinner. I have no single recipe, but many of my variations utilize the wonderful fresh flavors of Asia.
Here’s a marinade that people seem to enjoy:
1 TBS Hoisin Sauce
Juice of ½ of a lime
1 TSP hot pepper sauce. I like Sambal Olek or Sriracha sauce, but you can use Tabasco or Franks’s
1 TSP peanut oil
1 TSP sesame oil
1 TSP good soy sauce
Whisk it all together and marinate your cleaned and deveined shrimp for no more than a half an hour.
Thread the shrimp on skewers.
Prepare a hot fire. Cook the shrimp 3 or 4 minutes to a side.
Serve over rice or (as in this photo) lovely cold sesame noodles.
(Photo: R. L. Floyd, 2016)
Rick’s Shrimp and Sweet Pea Risotto
Risotto is a nice change from pasta, and it is not hard to make if you are attentive during the half hour or so you need to watch and stir the rice. For special events we make a rich and decadent Risotto ala Milanese with our Osso Bucco. This recipe is a bit of a lighter tweak on that, without the Parmesan cheese and extra butter. If you use frozen shrimp and peas this can be pulled out of the larder, and you can make it in under an hour on a weeknight. And it is very good! Continue reading
Rick’s Chicken and Shellfish Paella
My seminary classmate Carlos Diaz gave us a paella pan and the Time-Life Cooking of Spain cookbook for a wedding present. That was forty years ago and paella has been a mainstay of my kitchen for special events. I made one last night for a family birthday.
The original Time-Life recipe was a lovely Valencia style paella with some not very authentic ingredients such as lobster. Paella was originally a humble peasant dish of saffron infused rice with whatever fresh vegetables and fish or game that was available.
This elaborate Valencia style paella is the one most Americans know from restaurants. This is my take on it with four decades of my tweaks. It is pretty labor intensive, but a fun project in the kitchen, and the results are unfailingly crowd-pleasing. Serves six with generous portions. Continue reading
Rick’s salade niçoise
As the weather warms up it’s time for a hearty dinner salad. Some friends of ours served us a lovely salade niçoise a few weeks ago and then last week I was at a bistro in Boston and one of my dining companions ordered a good-looking one. It seemed as if it was calling to me to make it since it has been a long time, and I knew I had some nice cooked French beans and some cooked Yukon gold potatoes leftover from a supper a couple of days ago. So the only thing I actually had to cook were the hard-boiled eggs. There are nearly endless variations of this. Here’s mine:
A few leaves of washed lettuce or other greens (I used Romaine since I had some)
1 can of good quality oil-packed tuna, drained
Some cooked small potatoes such as Yukon Gold sliced.
About 8 good quality canned anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
½ cup good black olives, such as (duh) niçoise, or kalamata
8 oz. cooked French beans (haricot verts) or green beans
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Thinly sliced red onion (or scallions)
Coarsely chopped good fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes halved
Capers and fresh herbs (parley, basil or tarragon are nice) for garnish
Some sliced radishes for color (I didn’t have any)
4 TBS red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (French evoo is nice if you can find it and afford it)
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
½ TBS Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 TBS finely chopped parley
Putting it together
Whisk the dressing ingredients and put it aside. Assemble the salad on a platter starting with the greens, the tuna, the potatoes, the beans, the egg slices, the onion, the tomatoes, the anchovies, the capers and herbs. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, a few turns of the pepper mill, and serve.
It’s a meal on a plate. Get yourself some good bread, some Provençal rosé and “Robert est votre oncle!”
(Photo: © R. L. Floyd, 2015) If you see an ad here it is WordPress doing their mercantile thing, over which I have no control. This has always been, and will continue to be, a non-commercial site.
Veal chops with mushroom Marsala sauce
I saw these beautiful veal loin chops at my local market. One of my wife’s go-to meals in a good Italian restaurant is veal Marsala, which is made from very thin scallops of veal. Why not use these same wonderful flavors for chops? This recipe is for two, but it can be easily doubled.
2 TBS unsalted butter (divided)
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 veal loin chops, about an inch thick.
Flour for dredging.
8 OZ white button mushrooms, quartered.
¾ cup dry Marsala wine.
½ cup beef stock
Salt and pepper.
Start heating a no-stick pan over high heat. While you heat the pan dry the chops with paper towels and salt and pepper them. When the pan is hot add 1 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS butter.
When the butter and oil foam, dredge the chops in flour, and put in pan. You want to brown them but not burn them. When they are a golden brown remove to a plate and put in your mushrooms and saute’ them until they give up their juices. Splash in the Marsala and the stock, stir and keep them simmering for a minute or two to reduce a little.
Return the chops to the pan and cover. Turn down the heat. You want a gentle simmer to finish cooking the chops. Depending on the thickness of your chops and the heat source this will take between 8 and 12 minutes. You can flip them over about half way through.
When they are done remove them to a plate. Turn up the heat and reduce the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens a bit and is almost syrupy. Turn the heat off and add the remaining TBS of butter and stir. When it is blended into the sauce pour it over the chops and serve.
I served this over buttered noodles with a tossed green salad and a nice red wine from Italy.
Braised Beef Brisket
Everybody has a brisket recipe, and they are all delicious. Some have exotic ingredients such as grape jelly, cranberry sauce, chili sauce, etc. Here’s mine; it is pretty basic. This is cold weather comfort food.
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 first-cut beef brisket (I used a grass-fed one) about 5 LBS
5 yellow onions, chopped
4 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery cut in 1 inch pieces
4 clove of garlic, smashed, peeled, and cut in half
½ tsp dried thyme
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock or broth
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
1 14 OZ can of chopped tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Wipe the brisket with paper towels, and generously salt and pepper it. In a large oven-proof lidded casserole heat oil over medium high heat and carefully brown brisket without burning until it is nicely browned. Remove meat and put it on a platter. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté, stirring regularly until they are browned.
Add the wine, stock, vinegar and tomatoes and the herbs.
Bring to a simmer, put the meat on top, cover tightly and put it in the oven for about 3 ½ to 4 hours, depending on the size of your meat (grass fed seems to need a bit more time in the braise.) Some recipes have you turn it or baste it. This seems like extra work to me. I check it once at the half-way mark to make sure there is enough liquid in it.
When it is tender take it out and let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes until it is cool enough to cut pieces across the grain. Better yet, put the whole thing in the fridge and serve it the next day or two.
The traditional way is to serve it with potato pancakes, which is mighty tasty, but some extra work.
I served these with fingerling potatoes and steamed green beans. A sturdy red wine (perhaps a Cote de Rhone or something from Spain) would not be out of place.
(Photos: R.L. Floyd)
Braised Lamb Shanks with Cardamom, Garlic and Prunes
We love braises in the winter such as osso buco and short ribs, but I had never made lamb shanks before, although I had enjoyed many good ones in restaurants. The only exotic part of this is the cardamom, which I have on hand because of my Indian and Moroccan cooking. You can find these in any Asian market, and some super markets, and it is worth it to find them for this dish.
This dish is pure comfort food.
2 TBs olive oil
2 lamb shanks
1 large onion sliced
2 carrots sliced
10 cloves of garlic peeled and squashed
The seeds from 7 green cardamom pods, ground with a mortar and pestle
1 cup dried pitted prunes.
3 cups beef stock
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You need a wide oven-proof casserole with a lid for this one. Brown the shanks in the olive oil until they are nicely brown, about ten minutes. Remove the shanks, and put the onions and carrots in the casserole and saute for about ten minutes until brown. Add the garlic and cardoman, and cook for another minute or two stirring. Then add the prunes and beef stock, put the shanks back in and bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and put it in the oven for about two hours.
Serve with crusty bread or couscous. And a robust red wine such as a Spanish tempranillo or a Cote de Rhone.
(Photos by R. L. Floyd)
If life gives you basil, make pesto!
We had about as perfect a day as we ever get here in the Berkshires. Not too hot, not too cold, not humid, not windy, lots of sunshine and birdsong, and to top it all off, my little herb garden was yielding the first crop of basil. Welcome summer!
I have made more than my share of pesto in a variety of ways, and they all taste pretty great. The key is fresh basil and good olive oil and cheese.
Here’s my basic recipe, which works with a pound of pasta. I have used many different pasta shapes. My favorite is fettuccine, which I have learned is traditional in Genoa, where pesto originates (they call it trenette there).
2 cups basil leaves, the bigger ones torn in pieces
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS pine nuts
1-2 cloves of peeled and lightly crushed garlic (according to taste)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 TBS freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 LB pasta of your choice
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add salt and cook your pasta al dente
Meanwhile, put the first 5 ingredients in the food processor and puree them.
Pour them into a large bowl and add the two grated cheeses, blending them with a wooden spoon.
As you cook the pasta save a few TBS of the cooking water and use it to thin out the pesto. Toss it all together and grind some black pepper on it. If you want to get fancy throw 1 or 2 TBS of softened butter into it just before you serve it.
Any crisp dry white wine will taste great with it. We had an Argentinian Sauvignon Blanc with it tonight, because that was what was in the fridge. Enjoy!
(Photo: R. L. Floyd )
Why I love Wisconsin
Thanks to Google Analytics and other widgets and whistles I can see where the visitors to my blog come from. On days when I have too much time on my hands (like when the Red Sox don’t advance in the playoffs, for example) I can entertain myself by analyzing the patterns of visits.
The state with the most visits is, as one might expect, Massachusetts, where I live and move and have my being, as do many of my friends and family. Other states with good representation include some of the adjacent New England states, Maine, especially, where my brother and his family live.
But one demographic that has been a surprise is the number of visitors I get from Wisconsin. Now I do have some family in Wisconsin, and a number of friends, which might account for some of it. But I have another theory about why I get so many visits from Wisconsin. My blog is mostly about theology and secondarily about food, and Wisconsinites apparently like both theology and food.
Here’s the evidence. I first noticed a big spike in Wisconsin traffic after I posted my first recipe (for chicken enchiladas) and I figured this was because it was laden with cheese. I don’t think of Wisconsin as a hotbed of Tex-Mex cusine, but apparently the cheese carries the day, for the same thing happened when I posted my shrimp saganaki recipe (also laden with cheese.) Two of my Facebook friends reposted the saganaki recipe, both from Wisconsin. Coincidence? I don’t think so. So food in general and cheese in particular seem to be a factor. Not much Wisconsin traffic on my mussels recipe, but then again, not many mussels there either.
Now I know that Wisconsin folks like their chow, and they have some good chow to like. And it is not just the cheese, although that is a wonderful thing. They have a whole pork fat love thing going for them, too. I once went to Mader’s, a German restaurant in Milwaukee, and ate a pork shank that could be barely contained on a platter nearly as big as home plate. And for Christmas my Wisconsin in-laws sent us this applewood smoked bacon from Nueske’s that makes it hard to eat any other bacon ever again (but I force myself.)
I’ve been visiting Wisconsin since my college days in the sixties when I went to Coe College in nearby Iowa. My first trip was with the Coe choir, when we did a concert in Janesville. We stayed with host families, and my roommate and I stayed with some lovely people of modest means, and it was clear that the bed we shared was our hosts’ and they had slept on a couch to extend us hospitality. That kind of hospitality impressed me, and I still think of Wisconsin as a hospitable place.
Anyway, I think my theory about food and theology makes a certain sense. First of all, Wisconsin is a farming state, and so good food is an important part of it’s life. To celebrate this they have lots of “fests” in Wisconsin: Oktoberfest, Summerfest, German Fest, Irish Fest, Festa Italiana, not to mention Cheese Days, and the ever-popular Brat Days in Sheboygan.
And the interest in theology makes sense, too, as 85% of the population are Christian, of which 55% are Protestant and 29% are Roman Catholic. And the Christians in Wisconsin aren’t theologically lazy latitudinarians like so many of us here in New England, but folks who approach doctrine with a certain rigor, like the Lutherans, who make up 23% of the population. Lutherans care enough about doctrine to split over it sometimes, so there are three good-sized Lutheran tribes there.
Even my own United Church of Christ, which comprises but 2% of the population of Wisconsin, displays significantly more interest in theology there than in most places I know.
So to all my Wisconsin blog readers who enjoy good food and good theology, thank you for your support, and keep up the good work. On Wisconsin!