Breesy Cheesy Bambi Mac

As any self-respecting member of the Who Dat Nation knows, Drew Brees gets his super powers from eating macaroni and cheese before a game. I’m sure he was able to make this dive into the end zone on Monday Night because he followed his well known pre-game carb loading routine.

He led the Saints to a 49-24 win over the New York Giants, so there must be something to it!

While I won’t directly compete with the Breesy Beefy Mac put out by the Ritz-Carlton’s M Bistro’s Emily Dillport, I do put my version of Breesy Cheesy Bambi Mac forward for your consideration. If you don’t happen to have ground venison, substitute ground beef or turkey. Or, leave out the meat entirely!

Breesy Cheesy Bambi Mac

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni 

1 lb ground venison
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

1 yellow onion, finely chopped 

1/2 teaspoon dried mustard 

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 

2 1/2 cups milk 

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese 

1 cup shredded smoked Gouda
1/2 cup bread crumbs lightly buttered and toasted

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Brown venison; drain off fat and set aside

In a medium Dutch oven over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter and cook onion until softened, about four minutes. Add remaining butter. When melted, add flour forming a roux. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, to remove the flour taste. Do not allow roux to darken. Stir in Cajun seasoning and mustard. Gradually stir in milk until blended. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened, about five minutes. Add cheese in handfuls and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Combine mixture with venison and macaroni in a large buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs over casserole and cook at 350° F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
 Let rest 5 minutes before serving.


Cranberries and the use thereof

The best use of leftover cranberry sauce is to make muffins out of it. I’m going to post here the recipe I use for cranberry sauce and my recipe for cranberry muffins.

Candied Satsumas with Cranberries

10 or so satsumas (can use mandarian oranges, tangerines, etc)
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
3 T Triple Sec
1 12-oz package fresh cranberries

Using a paring knife, slice tops and bottoms from satsumas. Cut off peel and white pith. If the pith is tough, consider segmenting the satsuma.

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the Triple Sec and satsumas. Remove from heat, cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.

Transfer satsumas to broiler pan. Broil oranges for 3 to 4 minutes or until brown spots of carmelization begin to form.

Bring reserved sauce to a boil. Put cranberries into saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until berries all burst, about 10 minutes. Continue to simmer until the sauce cooks down a little.

Put oranges in a bowl and pour cranberries and sauce over. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Sauce Muffins

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cranberry sauce (recipe above)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole, 2 percent fat, or 1 percent fat milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or line the cups with paper liners.

In a mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt and mix. Add the cranberry sauce to the batter and mix.

With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 of the flour, then 1/2 of the milk, and mix. Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon.

Use a ladle to fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the muffins and bake until golden brown and risen, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 30 minutes before turning out.

Shrimp Chipolte Scampi

We were in the mood for garlic and butter with our shrimp tonight and I wanted to try my recipe for Chipolte Scampi. I used the larger of Mom’s cast iron skillets–as you can see from the above picture, she has quite a selection to choose from.

Cooks notes: I picked out most of the jalapeno seeds from the Chipolte in Adobo sauce to reduce the heat while keeping the depth of flavor. If you want more heat, leave in the seeds. I also doubled the sauce ingredients, as I like to dip my bread into it. Yeah, two sticks of butter seems like a lot but the mouth feel of the finished sauce is incredible.

Shrimp Chipolte Scampi

1-1/2 lbs peeled, deveined medium-size fresh shrimp
1-2 T chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (approx 1 large pepper)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvingon Blanc)
1 T prepared mustard
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 lb angel hair pasta, cooked to tender (about 3-4 minutes)

Saute peppers and garlic in hot oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until thoroughly heated.

Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or just until shrimp turns pink. Remove shrimp and set aside.

Whisk in white wine, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in butter, salt, lemon juice, cook 10 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add shrimp back to the pan and cook through.

Place pasta in a large serving dish, toss with shrimp and sauce. Serve with french bread and a Cesar salad.

Biscuits and Gravy

There is something enormously satisfying about eating biscuits and gravy on a chilly Fall evening. My Mom says that that gravy is the mortar that holds the food pyramid together but all I know is that it is an essential comfort food.

Here is a basic recipe for chicken gravy. As a hint when making gravy, always use tablespoons of butter/flour equal to the amount you want to end with–this recipe makes two cups, so we start with two tablespoons each. If you need to make turkey gravy for Thanksgiving, just substitute turkey broth for the chicken broth.

Chicken Gravy

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 to 5 minutes. Whisk in broth and seasoning. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 15 or 20 minutes or until mixture thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Bon appetit, y’all!

Pierre Masperos

The National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) came to New Orleans for their annual conference this week. As Chair of the LGBT Community Center, I worked with the GLBTA Network Chair to make sure that they were made welcome in the city and provided them with information on things to do while here. Of course, it was Halloween weekend, so they had plenty of events to choose from.

On their last night in town, I met up with the GLBTA Network for dinner at Pierre Masperos there at Chartres and St. Louis in the heart of the French Quarter. The building is quite historic as it is where the pirate Jean Lafitte met with Andrew Jackson to strategize the defense for the Battle of New Orleans. It was a large group, so I only got to talk with the guys at my end of the table but we had an enjoyable conversation about advocacy and education and community engagement.

I started with a chocolate martini while I waited for the group to arrive and then had the Barbecued Shrimp PoBoy. While the shrimp were small, the sauce was tasty. It was served with Cajun French fries, basically fries with cheese and a light seasoning. I also tasted the fried alligator and found it remarkably tasty and tender.

The place is good for tourists located in and around the Vieux Carré. The prices are pretty decent and it is worth going for the casual dining of local fare.