Creole Cream Cheese and Ponchatoula Strawberry Ice Cream

We drove through Ponchatoula, Louisiana the other day and picked up two flats of fresh strawberries from Berry Town Produce. I had already bought a package of Creole Cream Cheese from Dorignac’s Food Center in Metairie. For those who don’t regularly follow this blog, Creole Cream Cheese is tart like sour cream but also sweet and goes really well in ice cream. It is also an easy cheese to make at home (though I strongly recommend whole milk and liquid rennet) when you don’t have a neighborhood grocery to supply it.

This make a little more than my usual ice cream recipe but I wasn’t paying attention when I poured it into the ice cream maker and over filled it. I came back later and there was a quite a mess. A tasty, tasty mess but a mess indeed!

Creole Cream Cheese and Ponchatoula Strawberry Ice Cream

1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 (11.5-ounce) package Creole Cream Cheese
1.5 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs. Mix until fluffy and pale yellow in color. In a small pot, combine milk and cream. Bring to a simmer but do not boil. Remove milk from heat and slowly blend one ladle at a time into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to keep eggs from scrambling. Continue blending until all is incorporated. Add vanilla. Chill overnight or a minimum of 4 hours.

Pulse the sliced strawberries in a food processor just enough to chop but not enough to puree. When ready to make the ice cream, thoroughly blend the Creole cream cheese into the custard mixture. Mix in the strawberries and their juice. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Place ice cream in the freezer or allow it to temper 2 hours prior to serving.

Yummy!

Advertisements

Potato Salad For Two

This side dish is a perfect illustration of the benefits of being flexible in the kitchen. I wanted to eat potato salad with my burger. My girlfriend is not a big fan of heavy, mayonnaise based dressings so I went to my files for a different kind of potato salad recipe.

First we had to scale it down as the original recipe feeds a small crowd. It also called for red and gold potatoes but we only had russets, so russets we used. We next realized we didn’t have any red wine vinegar. Sherry vinegar to the rescue! We were also out of Dijon mustard. Our only choice was between wasabi mustard and classic yellow. After a little debate, we went with yellow.

The result is creamy and tangy with a little spice. I hope you have as much fun as we did playing with your food!

Potato Salad for Two

3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (although any other tasty vinegar would work)
1 tablespoon mustard, Dijon preferred
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 dashes hot sauce

Put potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and cool. Sauté onions in a small skillet over medium low heat while the potatoes cook. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Cut potatoes into cubes and add the cubes and onions to the dressing. Toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors come together before serving.

Bourbon Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Michelle made an awesome cheesecake for my 50th birthday. She used as a stepping off point, the recipe from WildFlour Pastry bakery in Charleston that was published in Garden and Gun. She made many changes and it resulted in an incredible cheesecake.

To make the caramel – put a sealed can of sweetened condensed milk that you’ve peeled the label off into your slow cooker. Cover entirely with water. Cook on low overnight for about 10 hours. Remove from the water to cool completely before opening.

Bourbon Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

Crust:
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Cheesecake:
4 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
3/4 cup caramel (see above), warmed slightly
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
1/2 cup caramel
2 teaspoons cream (or milk)
2 teaspoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon salt
whole and chopped toasted and salted pecans for garnish
flake salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Pulse the pecans in a food processor until they are finely ground. Add in the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and pulse until combined. Press into the bottom of a greased 10-inch springform pan. Lightly brown crust for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl whip the softened cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Pour in the sugar and mix to combine. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract and bourbon. Add in the warmed caramel and salt and mix until combined.

Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 3 hours in a low oven. Turn oven off and let cool in oven for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides to release from the pan. Let cool in pan on rack another 30 minutes before putting it the refrigerator to cool completely before adding topping, at least three hours. We cooled ours overnight.

Warm the remaining caramel in the microwave. Add to it 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 3 teaspoons of cream (milk would work if you have no cream) and 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Whisk until smooth. Carefully spread on the top of the cheesecake. Top with pecans. Sprinkle with flake salt.

It was a very happy birthday to me!

 

Charlie’s Steakhouse

For my birthday dinner, my folks came into town and we went to Charlie’s Steakhouse. Located on Dryades in Uptown, it is only open for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. This is an old school steakhouse with no menus because there not much else on the menu but steak and sides. Exactly what I was looking for in a birthday dinner.

We started with onion rings. Thinly cut and deep fried, they were quite delicious. We all ate more than we should have based on how big the steaks were going to be.

Dad had half a wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing. He used some of the left over onion rings as a crouton.

We all went for 14 ounce ribeyes. Simply prepared with just salt and pepper, they came to the table still sizzling. All were cooked perfectly to order (from blue to rare to medium rare to medium) and were very succulent.

The sides were choose potatoes au gratin and sauteed button mushrooms. The potatoes were a little over salted but quite good with hunks of potato and lots and lots of cheddar cheese. They paired well with the lightly salted steak. The mushrooms and onions went very well with the steaks with their buttery flavor.

As it was my birthday, they brought out spumoni, a very rich ice cream. And, yes, I did share.

We finished every last  bite of dessert (although, we each had some steak left over for sandwiches the next day – and the day after that).

The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. The server was polite and very attentive. Everyone we came in contact with was friendly and personable. We even got a history lesson from the manager/owner about the original family, the restaurants they opened and were related to– so basically a success story of immigration to America. Oh, and a couple fun ones about bootlegging during Prohibition.

I would definitely recommend Charlie’s steaks. I know I’m not going to wait for another major milestone to go back again.

Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

We were having pork chops last night and I wanted mashed potatoes. I had also needed to give the rosemary bush out in front of my house a trim, so I was planning to add rosemary, too. Then I remembered how good garlic tastes when included. The result is very yummy.

Remember to use any leftovers in mashed potato pancakes! Find that recipe HERE. With this garlic rosemary, I’m planning to use mozzarella cheese.

Garlic Rosemary Mashed Potatoes

4 medium to large potato (1 per person, plus one for the pot)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 cup milk or half and half
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Place them in a large pot of cold water and bring them to a boil. Cook until fork tender.

Place garlic, rosemary, milk and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a scald (near boiling) before reducing heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and keep warm until potatoes are done.

Drain cooked potatoes and return to the cook pot. Let sit a minute or two to dry a little before mashing. Add in milk mixture and stir. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Zucchini Spaghetti For One

We made meatballs and marinara sauce the other night. Instead of serving spaghetti, I made some zucchini noodles for my girlfriend. Fast, healthy and delicious plus a good, gluten free replacement for pasta.

Zucchini Spaghetti For One

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend

Cut zucchini into thin ribbons with a julienne slicer or a knife. If you have larger zucchini with big seeds – cut the ribbons down each side to the seeds and discard the core. Toss with salt and let sit for about five minutes. Blot dry with a paper towel to remove any liquid and then add seasoning and toss to coat.

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini noodles to pan. Cook while stirring for 5-10 minutes or until noodles are at desired level of tenderness.

Serve with sauce or as is.

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

Michelle had an urge for meatballs in marina sauce, so I made up a batch of all beef meatballs for dinner plus extra for the next time she has a craving. We used some of the tomato sauce she canned at the end of the summer but you can use store bought sauce. You can also add a cup of red wine to the sauce but it is quite tasty without as well.

If you don’t have Italian seasoning, make your own by combining the following dried spices in a bowl and crushing them together with your fingers or the back of spoon. Don’t use a spice mill, as you’d end up with a powder not a blend.
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon sage
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon Italian flat leaf parsely
Transfer blend to an airtight container until ready to use.

This recipe makes about 50 golfball sized meatballs. You can make them larger, just increase the cooking the time. Or, you can do what I like and freeze what you don’t use for dinner (we used about 20 for our meal for three and that used up all the marina sauce, too).

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
3 onions, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 pint tomato sauce (two 8 ounce cans)
1 10.5 ounce can tomatoes, diced or crushed
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
seasoning (salt, pepper, sugar) to taste

2.5 lbs ground beef
3/4 cups milk
4 slices of white bread, torn into pieces
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Saute the onions in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until they are softened and golden. Add in the garlic and seasoning and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes more, until the mixture is fragrant.

Transfer half of the onion mix to a large mixing bowl to cool slightly for use in the meatballs.

Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to skillet with remaining amount of onions. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes to an hour to thicken. You can add 1 cup of red wine here, too. Once thickened, add basil. Stir and taste for seasoning. Add salt, pepper, and/or sugar if desired. I find it doesn’t need any additional seasoning.

While the sauce is simmering, make the meatballs. In a separate bowl, tear the bread into small pieces and pour the milk over it. Let stand for 2 minutes before mashing with a fork into the reserved onion mixture. Add parmesan, egg, garlic and seasonings and stir thoroughly to combine. Add in the beef and gently mix together with your hands. Form into golfball sized meat balls.

Place meatballs on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven until browned, about 20-25 minutes. At this stage, you can cool the meatballs completely before freezing for later use. Store in the freezer, in an airtight, zip top bag.

Place browned meatballs in sauce until skillet is full and cook until done, about 15 minutes. Serve as is, over spaghetti or pile onto a roll for an awesome meatball poboy/hoagie/sub (whatever you call it, its good!).