We’ve been under a hard freeze here in New Orleans – last night we were even cut off from all sides as bridges and interstates froze. The Causeway, the Bonnet Carre Spillway, the Twinspan, the High Rise were all closed due to winter weather conditions.
As I got up in the night to check that the pipes under my elevated house didn’t freeze, I decided to spend the next day making soup. I pulled from the freezer chicken stock and chopped onions to thaw. This morning, I started a pound of beans to soak and then later warmed my house by caramelizing the onions in the oven. I did wait until mid-afternoon for things to warm up a bit in order to harvest some fresh rosemary, though.
This is a very easy soup to put together and delicious to eat.
I served the soup with cornbread.
Rosemary Bean Soup
1 pound dried white beans (cannellini or great northern beans are both good choices)
3 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 -4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 quarts chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to make it vegetarian)
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them to soak for 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, stir together the onions with the olive oil. Cover and put the pot in the oven for 2-3 hours to caramelize the onions, stirring every 15 minutes until the the onions have deepened to the desired color. It took 2.5 hours for mine to reach tawny.
Add the garlic and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the stock pot from the oven and place over medium high heat. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for an hour or more, until the beans are very soft.
Remove the rosemary and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor or immersion blender and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.
This item is popular on fast food menus and in the freezer section of grocery stores because it is full of yummy goodness. My version is scaled down for a breakfast for two but you can easily scale it up it to ensure you have portions for on-the-go meals later in week.
Sausage Scramble Bowl
1 medium russet potato
1/2 lb bulk breakfast sausage
1 bell pepper, diced
4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and cut potato into a small dice. Place in a saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occassionally, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let sit in the hot saucepan until needed.
Brown sausage in a medium skillet. Break it into small pieces and cook until no longer pink. Remove from skillet to a paper towel covered plate.
Place the potatoes in the skillet and brown slightly. Once they’ve gained some color, add in the diced bell pepper and cook until just tender. Remove from skillet.
If necessary, add a tablespoon of butter to the pan. Scramble the eggs with the milk and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the skillet and then scatter the grated cheese over the top. Gently stir the eggs to keep them soft. When done, add in the sausage, potatoes and bell pepper. Stir to combine and then distribute to bowls for devouring.
To store and reheat: Place in an airtight container. Cool in the refrigerator before moving to the freezer. Place a portion (about 1 1/2 cups) in a microwave safe bowl. Defrost on half power for a minute before moving to full power for a minute to a minute and a half to heat through.
We started the morning with some Monkey Bread (from the freezer section of most grocery stores) but that was way too much sugar to satisfy us for long. I made up a terrific skillet dish for brunch – filled with sausage, grits, cheese and eggs, it is very satisfying and delicious. If you wanted a nicer presentation, you could cook it in a 9×13 casserole dish.
Grits Sausage Brunch Casserole
1 lb bulk sausage
1 cup grits – not instant!
3 cups water (or, for a more savory casserole use chicken broth, I did 2 cups chicken broth plus one cup water)
2 cups milk, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Brown the sausage in a large, 12 inch cast iron skillet. Drain off the grease.
Bring water, broth and 1 cup milk to a boil – with one cup of grits, you will need 4 cups total liquid to boil it in. Whisk in the grits and the salt. Stir regularly until grits are cooked.
Slowly add in the cheddar cheese by the handful until it is all melted together. Beat the eggs with the remaining cup of milk and the black pepper. Slowly stir egg mixture into the grits. Stir in the sausage and the transfer the casserole back to the cast iron skillet.
Slide the skillet into a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
My dad will pull a shrimp trawl several times over the summer and then we get to enjoy Alabama shrimp for the rest of the year. Here is a picture of him sorting the catch – we throw all the small fish back and the dolphins and pelicans come to feast.
This recipe uses a dry spice mix on the veggies and a one hour marinade on the shrimp for a quick, weeknight dinner. I served these on flour tortillas with refried beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole.
The picture illustrates my family’s preferred shrimp to veggie ratio!
Oven Baked Shrimp Fajitas
1.5 to 2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 14.4 packages of bell pepper and onion stir fry
10 flour tortillas
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
Veggie Spice Mix
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of onion powder
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the shrimp marinade and place in a zip top bag with the peeled and deveined shrimp. Smoosh the bag around to completely coat the shrimp. Place in the fridge for one hour.
Put together the dry spices. Place the veggies in a large bowl and toss with the spice mixture.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet. Put down the veggies as a base layer. Sprinkle the shrimp on top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove the shrimp and turn on the broiler. Cook for 2 additional minutes until shrimp is done.
Squeeze a little lime juice over the dish and serve with warm tortillas and your choice of add ins.
It may be an indulgence but spreading honey butter on rolls, biscuits, fresh bread, toasted bread, even pancakes, is the secret to a sweet life. It is also easy to make, with just three ingredients. I only have unsalted butter in the house (for greater control of my salt intake when cooking) and this is one place you really need some salt to bring all the flavors together. I use a flake salt, as its big pieces make a crunchy contrast to the honey. Start with a teaspoon and then add by pinches thereafter, tasting before each addition.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 tablespoons of honey
up to 3 teaspoons of a flake sea salt
Using the whip attachment on your stand mixer, whip the softened butter to loosen it a bit. Add in the honey and crush the salt between your fingers before adding it. Whip until light and fluffy. Taste for seasoning.
Cover with plastic wrap before storing in the refrigerator. Bring out to soften about an hour before use. Spread generously.
I’m the lucky recipient of some homemade saffron rolls from my friend Charlotte and I figure they’d be perfect for sopping up pan juices. This recipe is one of the first ones I ever developed – although it came about because I spilled part of a bottle of Worcestershire sauce all over some chicken that was thawing in the pan. A happy accident that became the basis of a tasty dish.
4 chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced
Score chicken breasts with about three slices on one side and pepper them lightly on both sides. Place chicken in a shallow casserole dish that has been lightly buttered. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350º F for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes.
The New Orleans Saints are playing the Dirty Birds (aka Atlanta Falcons) on Christmas Eve, so I decided to take my usual party mix (Circles and Squares) and give it some holiday flair. If I had some red and green m&ms, I would have added them after the powdered sugar coating step.
Dirty White Christmas Party Mix
1-12 oz box of Crispex cereal
1-8.9 oz box of Cheerios cereal
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-12 oz package of semi sweet morsels
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar, divided
Stir the cereals together in a large pan. I use a disposable turkey roasting pan. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, Worchestershire sauce and salt. Pour over the cereal and, gently but thoroughly, stir to coat. Bake in a 250 degree F oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
When there are about 20 minutes left on the baking cereal, put the semi-sweet morsels and peanut butter together in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally.
Remove the cereal from the oven. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter over the cereal and stir. Keep stirring until all the cereal is coated in chocolate. In a large, clean paper bag, sprinkle a half cup of powdered sugar. Pour in the cereal and then sprinkle on the other half cup of powdered sugar. Close and roll down the top of the bag and shake to coat all the cereal in sugar.
Cool completely on baking sheets – this takes about an hour. Store in an airtight container until time to gobble it up!