Chocolate Rum Cream

I had 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk left over after doing another recipe of Dark Chocolate Gelato and had a bottle of Brugal Titanium Rum sitting on the island. My mind began to work on how best to combine them.

As much as I like Bailey’s Irish Cream, it pales in comparison to the memory of a delicious rum cream I had many, many years ago. A web search turned up a lot of recipes, none of which appealed, as I didn’t want to add eggs, coffee or another liquor. So I took parts of several recipes and created my version of Rum Cream to which I added Hershey’s chocolate syrup because, why not?

rum cream

Chocolate Rum Cream

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons rum
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix. Scrape down the sides of the container and mix again. Keep chilled until ready to serve.


Stein’s Market and Deli

shalom yallI was dropping off my taxes on Magazine street around lunchtime, so I stopped at Stein’s Market and Deli.

They’ve got retail shelves of vinegars, jams, crackers, spices, salts, etc. They have a large selection of beers and sodas from all over and a good selection of gourmet bitters. They sell meats, cheeses and have bagels flown in from New York.

I was there for a sandwich. You order at the end of the counter and I went for the corned beef on rye. They make sure the sandwich is to your specification including seeded or unseeded or marbled rye, type of mustard, and if you want your meat cut from the fatty or the lean end (I opted for fatty).

The sandwich is thick, piled high with meat and comes with a slice of half sour and a slice of full sour pickles. They added extra pickles for me so I had some with every bite!

corned beef

They’ve got tables set up inside and outside so you can enjoy your food there or, be like me, and take it home with you. If you’re ordering beer, you’ve got to go somewhere else to drink it as they’re just retail for alcohol.

The guys at the counter and making the sandwiches are super busy but they’ve always been friendly and helpful to me. They can also be irreverent and a little crass but that’s the sandwich business.

I definitely recommend a visit there, especially when you’re craving deli food. Oh, and their matzo ball soup is terrific, too. I didn’t order any this time but the last time I had a cold I went in for some and it sped the healing up!


Deviled Eggs

I look forward to Easter because it gives me an excuse to dye eggs which in turn gives me the perfect reason to make lots and lots of deviled eggs.

I like to add a whole avocado to turn the eggs slightly green. Besides tasting awesome, so many people have been conditioned against green eggs by Dr. Seuss that it means more for me.


Like any proper Southern gal, I own a deviled egg plate 

Green Deviled Eggs

6 hardboiled eggs (egg dying optional)
1 avocado
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard (I’m a fan of French’s)
1 teaspoon pickle juice (I prefer sweet pickle but dill works fine too)
dash of hot sauce, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
paprika, for sprinkling

Peel eggs. Slice in half and gently remove the yolk to a small bowl. Reserve the whites for filling.

Mash the egg yolks and avocado with a fork in a medium bowl. Add mayonaise, mustard, pickle juice and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust mayo, mustard and seasonings to your taste. Use a piping bag or a spoon to mound the egg mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle the tops lightly with paprika.

If not serving immediately, add a little lemon juice to the recipe to keep the avocado from turning brown. Wrap plastic wrap over the eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

For your viewing pleasure, here is Rev. Jesse Jackson with a dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham

Spring Showers Bring Rainbows

Rainbow desserts to be precise!

I was talking on Facebook recently about Jello molds and I reminisced about my sister’s multi-layer, intoxicating, gelatin rainbow cake at her wedding reception:

Wayne and Kathy and their tie-dyed wedding reception!

Wayne and Kathy and their tie-dyed wedding reception!

All that conversation made me want to make something festive this Easter weekend and what could be better than edible rainbows? And, what can make it even easier to endure a holiday than a spirited dessert?

You can put alcohol in each layer but I’m not in college anymore and so I only put it in the white layers. Adultify your rainbows by adding 1/3 cup vodka to the gelatin/yogurt layer and reducing the second amount of hot water by that amount so you are adding 1/2 of liquid.

Also, if you want it sweet rather than tangy, use 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk in place of the yogurt (you will get four layers of white out of one can). Make it in two batches, though or the white layer will gelatinize before you use it. The top picture shows the ones made with greek yogurt and the bottom one with sweetened condensed milk.


Rainbow Gelatin Shooters

3 to 4 boxes of colored, flavored Jello (I went for blue, green, yellow and red)
2 packages of Knox unflavored gelatin
2 cups Greek yogurt, divided
2/3 cup vodka, divided

Mix 1 package of any flavor gelatin according to the package directions. Typically, that is one cup boiling water added to the gelatin. Let sit a minute before stirring for three minutes and then adding 1 cup cold water. Pour into a dish or glasses. I use an 8×8 glass casserole dish if I’m making squares or you can use around six to eight pretty glasses. Refrigerate until set, which gives you about 30 minutes before you can move on to the next layer.

Mix 1 envelope unflavored gelatin with 1/2 cup hot water and stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup Greek yogurt and an additional 1/2 cup hot water. If you want to include booze, add 1/3 cup vodka to the measuring cup and pour in enough hot water to bring it to 1/2 cup liquid. Stir well to make sure it is well combined. Cool slightly before pouring half (just enough to cover the gelatin and make a thin layer) of the yogurt mixture over the set gelatin and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Leave the remaining gelatin/yogurt on the counter until after the next color layer.

Repeat the first step with the next color. Continue, interspersing color layers with white layers until done (or you run out of space in your vessel). I did mine starting with blue, then green, then yellow, then red (reverse Roy G Biv). For the cubes, I started with a violet layer.

These are best made the night before to help the layers bond to each other.


Rum Sidecar

drinkMy friends, Charlotte and Thomas, brought me back some rum from the Dominican Republic and I had some lovely lemons just begging to be used, so I made a version of the Sidecar.

Very bright and perfect for the warm, humid evening! If you find the drink a little too tart, add a tablespoon of agave nectar to the shaker to sweetening things up.

Rum Sidecar

1 1/2 ounces rum (I used Brugal Titanium)
1/2 ounce triple sec or other orange liquor
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Rub the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with lemon juice and dip it in sugar.

Shake the rum and other ingredients well with ice, then strain into the prepared cocktail glass. You may need to slightly adjust the amounts of triple sec and lemon juice, depending on the brand of rum you use.


Lemon Ice Cream

ice cream lemonThis recipe comes from the late Barbara Tropp, chef/owner of the China Moon Cafe in San Francisco, author of several cookbooks and the Mother of Fusion Cooking. She died in 2001 from ovarian cancer.

Lemon ice cream awakens the taste buds. Preparation of this version is very simple as there are no eggs or cooking involved and it just takes a spin in the food processor to get it ready.

The original recipe called for 1 1/8 cups lemon juice but I found dividing that in half didn’t make it lemony enough so I bumped the juice up to 2/3 cups.

Lemon Ice Cream

3 or so lemons (you need 2/3 cups juice)
1 cup sugar
2 cups half and half
1 pinch salt

Wash lemons and remove skin with a sharp peeler, taking care not to remove the bitter white pith. Peel as many lemons as needed to obtain 2/3 cups juice.

Put the peel and sugar in a food processor and process until the sugar is slightly liquid, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on the sharpness of the steel blade. Pour in the lemon juice and pulse several times to combine. Scrape the mixture into a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl (don’t use aluminum as the lemon juice will then taste funny). Add half and half and salt and whisk to combine. Set aside for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken and dissolve the sugar. At this point the mixture may be sealed in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. In any event, the mixture should cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before turning it into ice cream.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Firm in the freezer for several hours before serving. For longest lasting flavor, cover the top of the ice cream with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface. Allow to soften slightly before serving.


Pi Are Round and Good with Strawberries

If you ask a scientist what pi is, she’ll tell you it equals 3.14159. If you ask a mathematician, she’ll tell you pi equals the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. But if you ask me, I’ll tell you I want another slice!

If you round up pi, you get 3.1416, which coincidently is today. This recipe is from Michelle’s late grandmother, Nanny, and makes two pies. Trust me, it is so good and goes so fast, you’ll be glad for the extra!

strawberry pie

Strawberry Pie

2 9-inch deep dish pie shells
2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 box strawberry JELL-O
2 pinches salt
6 drops red food coloring, optional

Brown pie crusts in the oven according to package directions, pricking the bottom with a fork before baking. Cool crusts while making filling.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, cornstarch and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture is clear and sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in strawberry Jell-o. Add red food coloring, if desired.
Divide the sliced berries between the cooled crusts. Pour cooked mixture over the berries. Refrigerate pies at least 4 hours or until well chilled.
Top with whipped cream (or Cool-Whip) and serve.

Dark Chocolate Gelato

It is my understanding that the difference between gelato and ice-cream is gelato has a higher proportion of milk and lower proportion of cream and eggs. In the recipe below, there is whole milk, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk but only a cup and a quarter of cream and no eggs. The final product is thick and rich and silky.

chocolate ice cream

Dark Chocolate Gelato

1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry.

Put the remaining milk in a medium saucepan with the cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk and bring to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa and continue to boil, stirring constantly for 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the corn starch slurry. Put the pan back over the heat and bring back to a boil for another minute.

Pour the hot milk mixture into a large bowl with the chocolate morsels. Allow to sit for about a minute for the chocolate to melt before whisking the mixture together. Add the salt and stir to combine.

Place plastic wrap over the surface of the ice cream base and chill in the refrigerator. Stir the mixture well before placing into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, transfer to a container and place in the freezer until firm.


Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary

I know what you’re thinking – just how many ways can that woman cook things with lemon, garlic and rosemary? Well, here is a version that takes its technique from Susan Spicer and modifies a recipe from her cookbook, Crescent City Cooking, that I think you’ll want to try.

As usual when I cook a whole chicken, I cut out the backbone to reserve for stock making and to improve roasting in the oven.


Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary

1 4lb whole chicken
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lemons, zested and juiced
6 to 8 stalks of rosemary – leaves removed and stalks retained
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 loaf of rustic bread, chopped into large pieces and lightly toasted

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Juice one half of one of the lemons after zesting and pour over the chicken. Let sit for 10 minutes. Set aside the rest of the lemon juice.

Take zest and garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary leaves and mash together to form a paste. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and stir to combine. Make openings in the skin and push the mixture under the skin. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large roasting pan, put the lemon halves and the rosemary stalks in the bottom. Coat the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and nestle it breast side up on top of the lemons and rosemary. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of finely diced rosemary over the bird.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. The chicken should start to brown so turn it over and add the diced onion to the pan. Pour the remaining lemon juice over the chicken. Drop the heat to 400 degrees F and cook for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for a final 20 minutes to finish cooking and recrisp the skin. Cover lightly with aluminum foil if the chicken is getting too brown.

Remove chicken to a cutting board and rest for at least 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary stalks and press out any remaining juice in the lemon halves before discarding them as well. Take the pan juices and pour them into a cast iron skillet with final 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Be sure to scoop out the onions and any rosemary leaves left in the pan as well as  scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook the juices over medium heat with the chopped celery. Once it comes to a simmer, add in the toasted bread and coat it well with the liquid. Add in 1 cup of chicken stock and cook over medium low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slice the chicken into pieces and serve with the dressing.

Mushroom Barley Soup in the Slow Cooker


#HillaryClinton for Louisiana Team (Miguel Segura and Kevin Lo) plus volunteers (Molly Ruben-Long and I)

Mushrooms were on sale at the grocery the other day and I have a bag of pearled barley that I’ve been waiting to open. It was a toss up between doing soup or a risotto. As today is the Presidential Preference Primary here in Louisiana and I was phone banking for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign, I needed something I could put in the crock pot and just walk away from, so I went with the soup.

This is a very simple recipe. Sure, you can add carrots (2, diced) and celery (2 stalks, diced) and even meat (3 lbs beef short ribs are great). However, my aim was for strong mushroom flavor and an easy preparation and this hits the target dead center. You could also make it entirely vegetarian by using a vegetable stock instead of chicken and olive oil in place of the butter but this is me we are talking about!

Mushroom Barley Soup in the Slow Cooker

3 tablespoons butter (or a combination of butter and olive oil)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 lb mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (mixture of portobello, cremini or button works but go with what you like)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups mushroom broth (I use Better than Bouillon but you can easily make your own)
1 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in large dutch oven over med-high heat. Add the onions. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms stems and 1/4 t. salt. Cook until they have softened and browned, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook for 1 minute.

Place the broth, mushrooms, barley, thyme and bay leaves in the slow cooker. Pour in the onion mixture and stir well. Cook over low heat for 4 to 6 hours, until barley is tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving with crusty bread.

Make ahead: the soup keeps for 3 days in the fridge or 1 month in freezer. Re heat over low, adding additional water or broth to adjust consistency.

mushroom barley soup