Mardi Gras Glühwein

IMG_1634On Saturday, I went out to view the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade with my sister and her husband. This parade brings the magical revelry of Mardi Gras to the poor, disenfranchised, socially awkward and generally weird masses.

We took along one of my favorite winter wine drinks. You, too, can get your inner nerd warmed up right with this recipe for German style mulled wine, also known as Glühwein.


1 bottle of red wine
1/2 cup of rum or brandy (I used Bacardi O)
1 cup water
1 large orange, peeled then juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)
peel of 1 lemon
1/2 cup agave syrup or sugar
5-6 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick

Peel large sections of skin from orange and lemon. Over medium heat in a medium sized pot, pour in agave syrup and water, then add the peels and juice of the orange and the lemon peel. Add the cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. The liquid will reduce, so after around 30 minutes, add in about a half cup of wine. This allows the flavors to infuse and will create a syrup.

When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and pour in the bottle of wine and rum or brandy. Bring back to a gentle simmer and heat for about 5 minutes. Simmer longer if you want to burn off some of the alcohol. Strain out the fruit and spices and ladle it into glasses. Serve warm.

Or put it into travel mugs or go-cups and hit the parade!

mary and kathy at chewbacchus 2016

Mary and Kathy at Chewbacchus 2016




Peppermint Bark Brownies

I received as a present several Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark with Dark Chocolate bars from my good friend, Judy. I was happily munching on one while watching a cooking show where the chef broke up a bar of chocolate over the top of the brownies before he baked them. Brilliant idea!

I’m using as a starting off point the deeply rich and delicious Cocoa Brownie 2.0 recipe from Alton Brown. I did make a few adjustments to eliminate some of the fussiness but the intense cocoa plus the dark chocolate peppermint bark bar makes for some marvelously decadent brownies.


Peppermint Bark Brownies

4 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounce bar Peppermint Bark with Dark Chocolate

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Beat the eggs at medium speed in the mixer until fluffy and light yellow, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, flour and salt. Drop the mixer speed to low and slowly introduce the sugar mixture. Follow with the butter and vanilla. Continue mixing until everything is well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Break up the bar of chocolate into small pieces and scatter over the top of the brownies.

Bake the brownies for 15 minutes, then remove them from the oven for 15 minutes.

Put them back in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out just a little sticky.

Cool in the pan for 3 minutes, then lift the brownie out using the parchment paper as a sling.

Cut the brownies into pieces and move to a rack to cool completely.


Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Creole cream cheese is a sort of tart, sort of sweet soft cheese found in and around New Orleans (if you know where to look). While you can make your own (recipe here), I buy mine from Dorignac’s Food Center in Metairie.

Useful in a number of traditional recipes (savory crabmeat or crawfish cheesecakes, panna cotta, casseroles, etc), I like it in ice cream.

creole cream cheese ice cream

Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream

1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (12-ounce) package Creole cream cheese

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs. Whisk until fluffy and pale yellow in color. In a medium sauce pan combine milk and cream. Bring to simmer. Remove milk from heat and slowly blend one ladle into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Once tempered, mix egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk, stirring until all is incorporated. Turn the heat back on and add vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Once the mixture has thickened to coat the back of the spoon, put in a container and chill overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.

After chilling, thoroughly blend the Creole cream cheese into the custard mixture and whisk until all lumps are removed. Pour mixture into a ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Place ice cream in the freezer for it to thicken prior to serving.

This rich vanilla ice cream is good on its own but even better with slices of fresh fruit or accompanying your favorite cobbler, crisp, buckle, crumble, etc.

Charleston Shrimp Perloo

Perloo came to the New World from France (where it was known as pilau) and is kin to a pilaf or paella. It is most well known in the low country of South Carolina and combines rice and tomatoes and whatever meat you’ve got handy together in a single pot. In this case, I’m using shrimp but chicken, sausage and even mushrooms will work to make a filling and delicious dish.

The two tricks with this dish is to first make a stock. The process isn’t that much to turn the shells or bones into fragrant stock and it will add layers of flavor once the rice has absorbed every drop. The second is to be sure to sauté the rice before adding the tomatoes and other liquids so that it doesn’t get mushy and each individual grain is soft and tasty.


Shrimp Perloo

Shrimp Stock:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
The shells from 3 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onions, quartered
2 celery ribs, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peppercorns
6 cups water
2 bay leaves

5 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
4 cups shrimp stock
3 lbs large shrimp

For the stock: Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shrimp shells, onion, celery, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until shells are pink, about 10 minutes. Add water, peppercorns and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain shrimp stock through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.

For the Perloo: Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onion and celery and cook until vegetables are beginning to soften, 7-10 minutes. Add rice, garlic and seasonings and cook until fragrant and rice is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, the wine and 4 cups shrimp stock and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Gently fold shrimp into rice until evenly distributed, cover, and continue to cook 10 minutes longer. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, until shrimp are cooked through and all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Serve.


Shrimp Toulouse

The Court of the Two Sisters , in the heart of the French Quarter, is a good spot to dine outdoors, especially for their jazz brunch and if you’re looking to have a romantic dinner. While pricey and a bit touristy, their food is quite good. In fact, their recipe for Shrimp Toulouse was one of the first recipes that I altered to made it my own (trust me, you don’t really need a pound of butter!).


Shrimp Toulouse

2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz  mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 cup white wine

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and, once it is melted, add the mushrooms, garlic and green and red bell peppers. Sauté vegetables for a few moments before adding the Creole seasoning. Stir well and then pour in the white wine. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half. Add in the shrimp and stir until they are pink and cooked through. Finally, stir in remaining butter, a tablespoon at a time, over low heat. When all butter is incorporated, remove from heat.

Serve over rice.

Make your own Creole seasoning – it tastes better than most store bought! Adjust from the recipe below to your palate.

Creole Seasoning

1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup paprika
1/4 cup granulated garlic
4 tablespoons onion powder
1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight jar or plastic container.

Indulgent Dark Chocolate, Caramel and Pecan Brownies

IMG_1600During the holidays, I bought a make-your-own six pack of locally produced craft beers and held on to the Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan to use in a brownie recipe I pulled from a magazine.

The original recipe highlighted a chocolate and caramel beer (La Resolution by Unibroue) but I figured the brownies would be even better with a pecan inspired one.

If anyone fixes both, let me know which you liked better!

Indulgent Dark Chocolate, Caramel and Pecan Brownies

2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels, divided
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Southern Pecan Ale, room temperature
3/4 cup toffee bits (I used Heath)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
flake salt

Preheat oven to 374 degrees F.

Melt 1 cup of the bittersweet chocolate morsels and butter in a double boiler. Stir well and remove from heat when butter and chocolate are entirely melted.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, coffee and salt together in a mixing bowl and stir. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until light and foamy. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture. Finally, add the beer, the nuts, the toffee bits and the final cup of bittersweet chocolate morsels.

Pour into a well buttered 9×13 pan. Sprinkle a little bit of flake salt on the top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely before cutting.

Even better a la mode


Creole Chicken and Mushroom Pie

After a late morning phone call from Michelle’s brother in law regarding mushrooms, I began thinking of making a mushroom pie for dinner.

We only had one pie crust so I used my little oval casserole pans and divided the mixture between the two and just covered the top with a crust before baking.


Chicken and Mushroom Pie

1 onion, sliced thin
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 tablespoons butter, divided
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 cup of cooked chicken, diced
2 8” pie shells—one for base and one for top crust

Sweat onions in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat for about 20 minutes until lightly caramelized. Add celery and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from pan.

Melt 2 more tablespoons of butter. Saute mushrooms until soft. Set aside in same place as the onions.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add flour and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes to cook away the flour taste. Sprinkle on the Creole seasoning and stir well. Combine the liquid from the sautéed mushrooms, the milk and enough water to bring it to a total of 2 cups liquid. Slowly whisk into to the roux. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Add chicken and warm through. Add mushroom/onion mixture and heat together.

Pour into an unbaked flaky pie shell and cover with top crust; prick top for steam vents.

Bake in preheated 350 oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Note: Pie may be frozen unbaked when cool. Defrost in refrigerator and bake.


Greek Gyro

I had a craving for tzatziki sauce the other day after having some lebna at Mona’s Cafe. Now, it is great as a dipping sauce but it is even better in a Greek sandwich called a gyro.

The original recipe calls for lamb but you can use pork loin (which I did) or even chicken. Put the gyro together like a Greek fajita – sauce, meat, garnishes and then roll up in a pita instead of a tortilla and eat.

Greek Gryo

Meat Marinade

4 lbs of meat (leg of lamb, pork loin, chicken breasts)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice plus zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2-teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Tzatziki Sauce:

16 ounces Greek yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and very finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice plus zest
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh mint
1 large pinch kosher salt

Garnishes, etc:

6-8 pita rounds
1 red onion, sliced thin
Ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
Romaine hearts, chopped


Line a medium mixing bowl with cheesecloth or use a clean, thin kitchen towel; dump the yogurt in the center. Gather the corners of the cloth and suspend the cloth over the bowl (to catch the drips) overnight.

Combine the marinade ingredients in a baking dish large enough to hold the meat of choice. Rub the marinade well into the meat. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours and up to overnight.

Discard the yogurt water and combine the now thickened yogurt with the remaining sauce ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate until use. This is best done a few hours before meal time so that the flavors can meld together.

Bring the meat to room temperature and then barbecue, grill or flame broil, turning and basting frequently until cooked to perfection. Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness and cut the meat thinly after resting for ten minutes.


Pork loin – butterflied, marinaded and grilled to perfection

Wrap pita in foil and heat at 350F for 5 minutes until warmed through.

To serve:  Spread pita with tzatzili sauce. Pile the meat into the sauced pita. Garnish with tomato, red onion and lettuce.


Fireball Apple Cider Ice Cream

It is finally getting cold outside so that means apple cider is easily available. Add to that some Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and you’ve got the makings of some damn fine ice cream.  I used as a starting off point, this recipe.


The apple flavor is crisp and bright and the cinnamon packs a little bit of heat. Perfect for a winter ice cream.

Fireball Apple Cider Ice Cream

2 cups apple cider
34 cup sugar
1 stick cinnamon
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
14 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Whisk apple cider, sugar, and the cinnamon stick in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick.

Stir in milk and cream until smooth, and then add ground cinnamon and egg yolks. Whisk until smooth. Add in the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and stir. Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Pour custard through a fine strainer into a medium bowl, and let cool. Refrigerate over night.

Process chilled custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a storage container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.