My beloved New Orleans Saints are playing this afternoon and, based on their play so far this season, I fear I will need to drown my sorrows in piggy goodness once it is all over. Of course, if they play well, I can always celebrate with a hog feast. I’m a winner either way.
What can I cook that will be ready by game’s end? Answer: a rack of St. Louis style ribs, slow cooked on indirect coals for about 2 hours, then rested for thirty minutes. I’m not doing wet ribs, so there is no basting, just a pan of water that doubles as a drip pan below the rib rack.
While I love to use Emeril’s Rustic Rub on pork, it can be a bit overwhelming on ribs. Instead, I use a basic rub cobbled from Steven Raichlen’s Primal Grill.
Basic Rib Rub
2 tablespoons coarse salt (I use kosher)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Colman’s dry mustard
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
Place the salt, brown sugar, paprika, pepper, mustard and garlic in a small bowl and mix, breaking up any lumps in the brown sugar. Fingers work best for this job.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of rub per side of a rack of ribs.
Store remaining rub in an airtight container.
Remember those earlier posts about how much I love rosemary? Well, here is another great recipe using it – this time for shrimp.
3 pounds large shrimp peeled
4 to 6 long branches rosemary, leaves removed to yield skewers, 1/2 cup leaves set aside
2 lemons, zested and juiced
4 ounces limoncello
4 bunches oregano, leaves removed (about a 1/4 cup leaves)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a blender, combine the lemon juice and zest, limoncello, rosemary, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and pulse until leaves are in small pieces. Remove 1/2 cup of marinade for basting. Place shrimp in the remaining marinade for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Divide the shrimp into four or six equal portions and skewer them on each of the rosemary branches. Place in the refrigerator until ready to grill.
Preheat the grill or broiler for direct cooking. If using a charcoal grill, just before beginning to cook the shrimp, scatter remaining rosemary leaves over the coals. Cook each skewer for three minutes, then turn and cook for a minute or two more, basting with the marinade.
Garnish with lemon wedges and a sprig of rosemary.
I had a hankering for ice cream and so was standing in front of the freezer, looking at the fruit I put away this year (blueberries, peaches, strawberries, a couple of bananas) when my eyes fell on the bag of pecan pieces. Perfect!
Butter Pecan Ice Cream
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5-oz.) can evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Praline pecan liquor (optional but so very worth it!)
Cook pecans and butter in a small skillet over medium heat for about ten minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cool.
Whisk together next 5 ingredients; cover and chill 2 hours. Add toasted pecans and Praline pecan liqueur and mix well before pouring milk mixture into freezer container of a ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Remove from ice-cream maker and freeze 3 to 4 hours or until firm.
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of fried chicken. Some of the best on the planet is made at Willie Mae’s Scotch House. I’ve written about it here.
On Friday, September 18, 2015, Willie Mae Seaton died at age 99.
Seaton was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi and moved to New Orleans with her husband in her 20s, during WWII. While her husband worked at a local shipyard, Seaton worked a variety of jobs, including driving a taxi, working at a dry cleaners and was also a licensed beautician.
Willie Mae’s Scotch House opened in 1957, first as a bar, and later as a restaurant. Seaton tended the bar for about 15 years before finally becoming its chef.
Her restaurant won the James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classic award in 2005. She said at the time:
I want to thank each and every one of you all that made it possible for me to win this award. I’m so full, I can’t say nothing.
The building was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and the post-Katrina levee failure. It was rebuilt and reopened in April 2007.
Seaton’s great-granddaughter, Kerry Seaton-Stewart, now runs the Treme restaurant and its recently opened outpost, Willie Mae’s Grocery and Deli on St. Charles Avenue.
NOLA.com write up
NPR write up
Interview of her on Southern Foodways
As most of those who follow my restaurant reviews know, I really, really like fried chicken. Seriously — I like fried chicken. A lot. That’s why it hurts me to write this review.
Usually showing up in the Top 10 lists for fried chicken in New Orleans is Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. While I have tremendous respect for the contributions of Leah Chase to Creole cuisine and for their family foundation in cultivating and supporting historically disenfranchised organizations which make significant contributions to education, creative and culinary arts and social justice, I cannot recommend them. I was disappointed by the fried chicken, french fries (undercooked), dessert and service.
The fried chicken at Dooky Chase’s is nostalgic for me as it is the sort that would be served at my grandmother’s table. Basically just chicken, tossed in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried. Unfortunately, just like hers, there was neither flavor nor juiciness to the chicken. The breast meat was dry. There are many other places in the city that do fried chicken better and for less. Two I can recommend right off are Willie Mae’s Scotch House and High Hat Cafe.
Add that to the service being below expectations. While everyone was friendly and personable, we waited more than twenty minutes for our cocktails. I could excuse it on the place having two large parties but the table next to us, that was seated after us, had received their drinks and had bread on the table and appetizers served before our cocktails made it to ours. Then, through some mix up, we were served our entrees, a little more than ten minutes later our salads were finally served and then, about five minutes after that, we finally received the bread for the table. As two of us had to wait for our chicken to cool, the other diner finished first and had his plate cleared by the busers. While we were still obviously eating, the hostess came by and wanted to know if we needed to go boxes.
Consider going to Dooky Chase’s for their lunch buffet during the week for some of her Creole specials. In my opinion, going on Friday night for the fried chicken is not a good use of your money or belly space.
We have our local NOW Chapter’s annual pool party today and I’m making my Halloween version of shortbread cookies. What could be better to bring to a feminist potluck than the severed fingers of our enemies?
I used as my stepping off point this recipe from Cooking Up the Pantry. It calls for caster sugar, which is just superfine (not powdered/confectioners) sugar. I don’t usually spend the money on that so I took granulated sugar and ran it through the blender on grind for a few pulses. I did it in three 1/4 cup increments and then used 1/2 cup of sugar in the recipe and the remainder I mixed with cinnamon to create the cinnamon sugar for the rolling.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup caster (super fine) sugar plus a little extra
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add the flour and process until it comes together as a dough.
Spread out a large piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Place the dough onto the plastic and roll and shape it into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches. Using a sharp knife, cut it into half, lengthwise and then each of the halves into finger widths. Roll each piece between your hands, just enough to round the edges. It should be lumpy. Take a butter knife and lightly carve out a finger nail and knuckle ridges on the pieces.
Put them in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar to make cinnamon sugar.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Remove the dough out of the fridge and roll each finger in the cinnamon sugar mixture. You can see that it adds a nice flesh tone to the fingers.
Put the dough fingers onto the baking sheets and place them in the oven. They will flatten while baking so don’t put them too close together. Bake for 25 minutes and then allow to cool on a wire rack.
Alternatives for Halloween include using slivered almonds for the fingernails or a few drops of green food coloring when the dough has come together for witches fingers.
I was lucky to be able to connect with a non-profit consulting friend of mine, Lisa Kaichen, today. I met her through Unified Nonprofits of Greater New Orleans and I really enjoyed the chance to catch up. Neither of us had been to Shaya before, so we decided to go there for lunch.
Shaya is an homage to the modern Israeli cuisine that inspires Chef Alon Shaya. The space is bright and filled with fresh flowers. It was a lovely place to eat and chat and wait out the downpour that was soaking New Orleans this afternoon.
They started us off with some home made pita from their beautiful wood fired oven. The dipping sauce was lovely.
From there, we went to the avocado toasts – generous amount of avocado on rye bread with a sprinkling of whitefish and pink peppercorns. Layers of flavor on this dish.
I had the chicken schnitzel sandwich. I had been leery of the the harissa mayonaise but it wasn’t too spicy. The sandwich was a bit messy but the chicken was nice and crunchy and the pickles added a nice contrast to the soft bread. I wasn’t much of a fan of the spice blend on the fries – it wasn’t bad, just not to my taste.
Lisa had the matzo ball soup. She had never it with duck instead of chicken but the flavor was good and the greens added a touch her grandma’s version didn’t have.
The server was very attentive and made lots of suggestions amidst the small talk. The restaurant filled up fast and she became quite rushed by the end of our visit. She was able to the keep the smile on her face, even though refills fell to other people.
I’d definitely recommend this restaurant – the food was delicious and flavorful. I look forward to trying more of their menu.
I loved the Two Fat Ladies cooking show back in the day. Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson were funny and wise and proponents of cream and butter (and lard) in rich traditional cooking. I used their recipe for Chicken Jerusalem from their Obsessions cookbook as a stepping off point.
I prepared the meal in the slow cooker as it is Labor Day and I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. As I had another 10 lb bag of leg quarters, I cut off the drumstick and took off the skin to only use the thigh. I think that next time, I may go for boneless chicken here. I may also add a little more herbs as well.
5 lbs of chicken, cut into pieces
Flour, for dredging
salt and pepper to season flour
1 stick of butter, divided
2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
2 boxes (9 oz) frozen artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained
1 cup sherry
2 cups half and half or cream
2 cups rice
2 cups boiling water
Season the flour with the salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken. In a large skillet, melt half the stick of butter and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove from the pan. Melt the remainder of the butter and add the mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Cook for about 5 minutes. Pour in the sherry and stir well. Add in the cream and remove from the heat.
Put two cups of rice in the slow cooker. Pour in the boiling water and stir. Add in the mushrooms, artichokes and all the pan sauces. Place the chicken in the pot, being sure to submerge the pieces in the liquid. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 4-5. It is done when all the liquid is absorbed and the chicken meat is falling off the bone.
Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.
Most of us, however, focus more on the weekend before Labor Day being the last blast of summer and celebrate with cookouts and gatherings. I’m no exception and it helped that Rouses Supermarket had a marvelous sale on 10lb bags of chicken leg quarters.
The chicken I grilled was very juicy and flavorful, with a crisp crunch to the skin.
Lemon Brined and Grilled Chicken
5 lemons, juice and zest
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
2 quarts ice
2 whole chickens, 4-5 pounds each or 10lbs of leg quarters
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Zest the lemons and set aside. Juice the lemons and place the lemon juice, water, and salt into a pot large enough to hold the chicken and a gallon and half of liquid. Bring to a boil. Stir well before adding ice to cool the liquid.
Add the chicken to the brine and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Combine 2 tablespoons of kosher salt with the lemon zest and put in an air-proof container.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with the lemon salt and let sit on the counter while you prepare the grill for indirect cooking.
Grill skin side down for 30 minutes, rotating 90 degrees midway. Turn chicken over and cook for an hour or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
We had been talking about homemade pizza and decided to make a skillet version of Michelle’s famous Chicken Alfredo pizza that she used make at her restaurant back in the day. We added a few leaves of basil from her garden to the top after about 15 minutes of cooking for an added layer of flavor.
Pizza Dough Recipe:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
Proof the yeast in the warm water. Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, knead the dough for around 10 minutes or until the dough comes together. Let stand in a lightly oiled bowl until doubled in size, about an hour. Punch down and divide in half. One half can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in freezer for later use.
Prepare the chicken and Alfredo sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Coat a cast iron skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Set it in the oven while the oven preheats. When the oven is at temperature, remove skillet and sprinkle a little corn meal in the bottom for an additional crunch.
Form the dough into a circle, slightly larger than the skillet. Carefully place the dough into the pan and push it up around the sides about an inch. Drizzle with a little olive oil and prebake for 5 minutes. Let rest for a moment before spooning on the sauce and adding your toppings.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese and sauce are bubbly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting, then serve immediately.
Chicken Alfredo Sauce for pizza
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup of parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tablespoon white wine, optional
1 teaspoon flour
Roughly cut chicken and saute in skillet until lightly browned on all sides. Remove from skillet.
Cook whipping cream and milk on medium with the cheese and spices until it reaches a light simmer. Drop temperature to medium low and stir constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary. The sauce should be a little thicker than you would use to put on pasta.
Return chicken to the pan, turning to coat. It is now ready to spoon onto the prepared pizza dough.