RIP Chef Paul Prudhomme

New Orleans has lost another culinary titan with the death at age 75 of Chef Paul Prudhomme after a brief illness.

He popularized Cajun and Creole cuisine, including introducing the blackened craze. He was an author, a restauranteur, a television personality and a purveyor of spice.

As he said:

You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.

Check out some of his recipes here:

Bittersweet Pretzel Toffee

I was never a fan of chocolate covered pretzels, as the ratio of chocolate to salt to crunch was a little off. Then, I discovered Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bark Thins. Absolutely sensational.

Life was good. I was slowly going broke to keep up with my addiction but, at least, I had deep chocolatey deliciousness to keep me company, right? Necessity being the mother of invention, I have now started on the path to make a version of it for myself. This particular experiment started as a saltine toffee recipe and I just went from there. Since it is a bit more sweet than chocolate or salty (pretty tasty, just not what I was going for), I’ll be going back to the drawing board.

Until then, enjoy!


Bittersweet Pretzel Bark

about 2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon flake salt like Maldon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cover a 15×10 inch baking pan with aluminum foil.  In a single layer arrange the pretzels in the bottom of the pan.

In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Do not over cook the sugar.

Carefully pour the sugar and butter over the pretzels.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top.  Let stand 5 minutes to melt, then spread the chocolate smooth. Sprinkle the flake sea salt over the top.

Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Pull foil away from toffee and break it into pieces.


Slow Cooker Hot, Sweet, Sticky Chicken Drumsticks

Like a lot of people, I like chicken wings. Buffalo style, honey BBQ style, Asian style, Caribbean jerk style, you name it, I like ’em. Unfortunately, they just aren’t that much fun to make at home as you have to make a lot to before you can even think of getting your fill. One way to overcome this, is to use your favorite wing recipe but substitute drumsticks. Much more bang for your buck, especially if you wait for a sale.

This recipe cooks the chicken in the crock pot before finishing with the glaze under the broiler. Pomegranate molasses can be found at middle eastern and high end grocery stores and adds a rich color and tanginess to the glaze.


Slow Cooker Hot, Sweet, Sticky Chicken Drumsticks

2 to 3 lbs chicken drumsticks or wings
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon hot sauce (more, if you prefer your chicken blazing)

Wash chicken very well. Don’t dry it off. Just layer the chicken in a 6 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle each layer with salt and pepper. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. The chicken won’t look like much when it comes out but check with a meat thermometer that the internal temperature has reached at least 160 degrees F. Now, it is time to start adding color.

Place oven rack in the center of the oven and heat broiler. Place wire rack coated with vegetable oil spray over a foil lined baking sheet.

Make sauce by combining honey, pomegranate molasses and hot sauce in a large bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to a minute and whisk well.

Toss chicken in the sauce before transferring to pan. Broil 5 minutes on that side. Rotate chicken and brush with more sauce. Return to boiler for 5 minutes. Continue until all sides have been basted and broiled, about 15 to 20 minutes total or until desired crispness.

Lemon Rosemary Mushrooms in Parchment

IMG_0181If you ever wondered if I cook anything besides meat with rosemary, let me share with you this mushroom recipe. It is great as a side for two or as starter, if you’re doing tapas.

Start by doing a modified gremolata (parsley, lemon zest, garlic, salt). As Chef Marco Canora says: “Gremolata is like Italian MSG. It makes everything taste good.” Instead of parsley, I use rosemary.

Lemon Rosemary Mushrooms in Parchment

1 large lemon, zested and squeezed to yield around 2 tablespoons juice
1/4 cup rosemary leaves
3 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, such as baby portabellas or white button, cleaned with large ones cut in half
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the rosemary, lemon zest, and 1 garlic clove and chop to combine. Add a pinch of salt and mix well.

Heat the oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the mushrooms with 2 garlic cloves smashed with the side of a chef’s knife. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in lemon juice and let it reduce by half, another 5 minutes.

Take a large piece of parchment (or buy premade parchment bags from the grocery) and place the mushroom mixture in the center. Sprinkle the rosemary, lemon, garlic mixture over the mushrooms. Fold the parchment over the mushrooms and crimp and pleat the edges to seal tightly, starting at one corner of the fold and working your way to the other end, making sure the seals are tight. You can do this up to 2 hours ahead.

Put the packet on a baking sheet and bake until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10-15 minutes. Slice open the packet and serve family style.