Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seared Scallops a la Emeril Lagasse

Scallops are one of those foods that seems to be over-glamorized by food based television shows... particularly those with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.  However, while they may mess a lot of people up on Hell's Kitchen, I knew that they really weren't that difficult.  The key to a properly seared scallop is the right amount of oil a very hot skillet.  After that, I suppose it's all about timing.  Emeril's recipe pairs the seared scallops with an interesting combination of cabbage, fingerling potatoes, apples, and golden raisins.  Bizarre... but it ended up being quite tasty!

I picked up my ingredients for the recipe at Calandro's Supermarket.  There were a few steps involved such as boiling the potatoes with thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns; soaking the raisins in apple cider; toasting some pine nuts to draw out some flavor; and searing the scallops to a beautiful golden brown in grape seed oil.  After that, I cooked down the cabbage in oil, wine, and Emeril's chicken stock.  Soon the raisins were added along with the apple and some more thyme.

The final plating involved arranging the scallops over a bed of the cabbage, potato, apple and raisin mixture. Since I used some purple and green cabbage the dish really popped with color.  The toasted pine nuts were used as a garnish along with some fresh thyme just to add a little greenery.

The "Seared Scallops with Savoy Cabbage, Fingerling Potatoes, Pink Ladies, and Sultanas" from Emeril's new book Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders ended up being one of the most interesting recipes I've ever cooked.  It seemed odd yet somehow really worked.  I was amazed at how well the flavors and textures worked together.  Plus, this truly ended up being and extremely healthy meal.  While I'm not known for such things, it is always good to get such great depth of flavor in a dish that at least isn't terrible for you!  Oh, and the scallops were amazing.  Apparently I can sear scallops fairly well.  Kosher salt, fresh ground white pepper and grape seed oil.  That's it.  Bon Apetit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Emeril says I'm a Big Boy

Big Boy Spaghetti and Meatballs caught my eye the moment I opened Emeril Lagasse's new cookbook Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders.  Knowing that I'd be blogging about at least nine of the recipes as part of the promotion, I had a good feeling that the meatballs would eventually make their way onto Bite and Booze.  Hey, there was red wine in the sauce after all!  After securing the ingredients I needed from Calandro's Supermarket I took to my kitchen to make some meatballs.

The balls themselves included ground beef, Italian sausage, parsley, Parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper and some buttermilk-soaked bread.  After mixing all the ingredients together I formed them into balls and stuck it in the refrigerator to help them take shape.  From there it was straight to a hot skillet with olive oil to brown off the meatballs followed by building the flavors in the sauce.

The sauce came out highly acidic but Emeril had a cure for that.  In his recipe he notes that if the sauce is too acidic you should add some evaporated milk.  I ended up adding about half a can, not two tablespoons, but it certainly did the trick.  The sauce worked out pretty well and meatballs were definitely enjoyable.  I could definitely see doing some different takes on this recipe in the future!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Emeril's Chorizo and Potato Quesadillas with Cilantro-Chile Crema

Excited to change up the style of one-pot wonders from Emeril's new cookbook, I turned the page to a recipe that caught my eye: chorizo and potato quesadillas with cilantro-chile crema.  The recipe seemed simple, straight forward, and delicious, so I knew I ought to give it a try!

Step one, like always, started with a trip with Calandro's Supermarket at the corner of Perkins and Seigen in Baton Rouge.  I found everything that I needed and more... except one thing: chorizo.  Calandro's had some smoked chorizo but I needed the fresh stuff to take out of its casing (or never put it in one).  

Fortunately I remembered the leisure class I took on sausage making at the Louisiana Culinary Institute.  Chef Dave Tiner provided us with a homemade chorizo recipe.  I picked up some smoked paprika and got the butcher to grind some pork for me.  I knew I'd have the rest of the ingredients at my house already.  I put some white wine, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, oregano, granulated garlic, sugar and cayenne in a mixing bowl.  After whisking it all together I added a pound of ground pork and mixed all of the seasonings into it.  Boom!  Chorizo!

After I let the ground pork marinate in the chorizo seasonings for a little while I put it in a skillet to brown it off.  Once sufficiently cooked I added the red onions and then some diced fingerling potatoes that I had previously parboiled.  The mixture needed a little extra salt and pepper, but other than that is tasted sensational.

I also made a cilantro-chile crema to go with the quesadillas.  Emeril called it the "icing on this cake," it it wasn't hard to see why.  In a food processor I combined sour cream, cilantro, a minced jalapeno, three garlic cloves, some green onions, a little cayenne and a little salt.  After blending for a few minutes, I had a delicious spicy yet refreshing crema!

Once the crema took its place on the assembly line I turned my attention to the quesadillas.  I melted a little butter in a skillet and laid a tortilla down on it.  I then loaded one side with the chorizo-red onion-potato mixture followed by some chopped red bell pepper and a generous portion of cheese.  Once the tortilla did its job toasting in the butter, I folded it over into the melty cheese.

The end result, especially when drizzled with the cilantro-chile crema, turned out to be fairly spectacular.  The quesadillas provided a great balance of spicy and savory with a combination of textures from creamy to crunchy.  All in all, this recipe was most definitely a success!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Emeril's One-Pot Wonder: Chicken and Dumplings

In an effort to get back on track after my not-so-successful Tuscan white bean soup, I decided to tackle some American comfort food once again with a Southern staple: Chicken and Dumplings.  I had never previously made dumplings although it turned out to be pretty similar to biscuits in the whole scheme of things (at least the dough making part).  As for the chicken, well, it was pretty standard... and very delicious.

After getting all of my ingredients from Calandro's Supermarket in place I began to get the stock going.  I submerged the chicken quarters in chicken stock (I've got to start making my own!) and water and added aromatics such as onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, thyme, and parsley.

Once the stock came to a rolling boil I lowered it to simmer and turned my attention to the dumplings.  Some flour, salt, baking powder and chopped herbs were mixed together with vegetable shortening and then even more so with whole milk.  After that I kneaded the dough and cut it into thirds.

From there the dumplings had to be rolled out fairly thin and then sliced.  I'm sure this could have been done in a pasta machine almost as easily but I did it with an old-fashioned rolling pin.  Once I got the dough flattened out I cut into squares and rectangles and then moved them to the refrigerator until it was time to drop them in the boiling broth.

The stock had to go through a straining process.  The chicken was also removed.  Fat, skin and bones were discarded and then I waited to drop it back in.  I got a fresh batch of carrots, onion and celery ready to go before adding my strained stock back to the pot.  Once that got to a boil I added my dumplings.  A little later I added the chicken back along with the peas and then left everything to simmer for a little while.

My dumplings finished really nicely, plumping up into a chewy flavorful pillow of dough.  The chicken came out beyond fork tender and full of flavor.  I added a little heat to mine because I like food a little on the spicy side, but other than this recipe was right on the money.  I think I've cooked about all the stocks and soups and such that I can handle for now though.  The next recipes I make from Emeril Lagasse's Sizzing Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders will be a little different!

Oh, and see that serving dish featured above?  Stay tuned to an upcoming blog post because you're going to get a chance to win a set of them!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Emeril's Blogger Party: Tuscan White Bean Soup

While participating in Emeril's blogger party by joining 20 other bloggers from around the world in cooking recipes from Emeril's new book "Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonder," I made a commitment to myself to step out of my comfort zone with a few of the recipes.  While I've made plenty of recipes where I've had to soak beans over night (red beans and rice, for example), I had never experimented with Tuscan style white bean dish that was also (outside the chicken stock I guess) vegetarian.  That's a whole realm of cuisine that is truly outside my comfort zone, so I thought I'd give it a try.

My white beans plumped up after soaking them over night
After a trip to Calandro's and another stop at Southside Produce, I still was unable to find any broccoli rabe which the recipe calls for.  Broccoli rabe is actually a green, not broccoli at all, but since I couldn't find it, I made an executive decision to just try regular old broccoli instead.  I wasn't impressed.  I should have done a little research to find something more similar, but oh well!  For the beans I used half baby lima beans and half cannellini beans.  That combination worked a little more to my favor.

Ingredients for my Tuscan White Bean Soup other than the beans!
All of the fresh and wonderful vegetable and herb flavors were there in the soup but I couldn't help but think there was something missing.  It needed some bacon fat or a ham hock or something to the next level.  This is the first of Emeril's recipes that I've cooked that I haven't been completely inspired by.  I know it may have had a lot to do with not being able to find the broccoli rabe, but I still just was not impressed by the soup.  That's okay though.  I still have a book to give away and more recipes to cook!

Finished Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli
 Now, about that extra book copy that I have!

For participating in the blogger party I received a free copy of the book and also a copy to give away to a loyal Bite and Booze reader.  To win?  Make sure you follow Bite and Booze on Twitter or like my page on Facebook and leave a comment on this blog post telling me what you think about Emeril.  I'll take entries until September 27th and then I'll inform the winner about their new book that will be arriving!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Emeril's Blogger Party: Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

Having been on a Gordon Ramsay reality show, I found it a little absurd that I had never actually been in charge of cooking a risotto before this dish.  Sure I had seen them done before on TV and even in person, but I had never actually be responsible for ladling the broth into the rice with precision.  When I saw the Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto recipe in Emeril Lagasse's new book Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders, I got excited about giving it a try!

I set my sights on a creamy rice with deliciously seasoned Gulf shrimp in hopes that this would be a meal to remember.  Like all the recipes for Emeril's Blogger Party, this one again started with a trip my locally owned Calandro's Supermarket to stock up on fresh produce, Gulf shrimp, specialty ingredients, and even some wine.

The first step after the mise en place was to peel and devein the shrimp.  After that I retained the peels to make a shrimp stock.  The peels were cooked off in a little olive oil and then I added water, onions, carrots, parsley, celery, salt and whole peppercorns.  Once the stock came together I strained it and then put it back in a pot to keep warm.  A flavorful stock is the key to a wonderful risotto as all of that flavor will transfer into the rice!

The shrimp were seasoned with Emeril's Original Essence and a little extra salt then sauteed in butter and reserved for later.  

I started the rice in the pot after I cooked down some shallots and garlic in a little butter.  I let the rice toast for a bit before pouring in some wine.  The rice soaked up the wine quickly and then I began to ladle in stock a cup at a time and allowing it to absorb before adding in more.  

Towards the end I added in some finely chopped basil, thyme and chives as well as some lemon zest and juice.  The rice had a wonderful nearly creamy texture and an amazing flavor from all the layers of deliciousness that were added throughout the process.

Once the rice was ready I added in the blanched asparagus and shrimp and let everything cook a little more until the shrimp and asparagus were brought up to temperature.  To serve I added a generous portion of freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top.  The end result looked stunning and tasted even better.  I'd have to say that I am pretty proud of my first ever risotto!

Stay tuned to Bite and Booze because on my next post I'll giving you a recipe for a Tuscan White Bean Soup and a chance to win one of Emeril's new cookbooks: Sizzling Skillets and other One-Pot Wonders!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Emeril's Blogger Party: Red Wine and Port Braised Short Ribs

For my second recipe based on Emeril's Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders (my first posted featured deep dish pizza!), I decided to make a perfect recipe for the Bite and Booze side of me: Red Wine and Port Braised Short Ribs.  Braising is a classic French technique that usually takes a cheaper and not-so-tender cut of meat and simmers it at a reasonably low temperature for a long time until a lot of the fat and connective tissue has broken down, leaving you with fork-tender protein.  One of the keys of braising is definitely to have a a flavorful liquid that will impart layers and depth of tastes as you cook.  For this recipe I once again started at Calandro's Supermarket where I stocked up on supplies including shallots, turnips, herbs and, of course, Port!

The next step to cooking this kind of meal is to take care of the mise en place.  The French culinary term literally means "everything in place".  Basically it means you get all of the ingredients out and prepared before you start cooking.  For me, that meant to peel and chop the carrots, shallots and turnips, measure out some flour, garlic and black peppercorns, and be ready to rock.  Since the recipe called for beef stock and I didn't have any homemade stock on hand, I picked up some of Emeril's beef stock at Calandro's.  I figured that's probably what he would have wanted!

After seasoning the beef short ribs with salt and pepper and then browning them in a cast iron pot with some olive oil, the next step involved flavoring my braising liquid.  I cooked down the vegetables with a little more olive oil until they started to caramelize and then I added the flour.  After letting it toast and begin to stick to the bottom, I deglazed the pot with red wine and let that cook down a little more.  I soon added the thyme, bay leaves, parsley and whole peppercorns followed by the Port and beef stock.  After coming up to a boil, I had a very flavorful braising liquid that I knew would work extremely well with the short ribs.

Once the liquid got to that rolling boil I removed it from the stove and add the the short ribs back to the pot. I got them all as submerged as possible and then transferred everything to the oven where I let it sit for about 2 and a half more hours.  I opened it up once to mix the ribs around and then removed the lid for the final time.  The fragrance from the pot filled the entire house and I knew that this would be an amazing meal.  However, the work hadn't quite finished there.  I first needed to strain the liquid to remove the herb stems and bay leaves.  I separated the vegetables and beef as well in order to get a gravy left in the pot.  After letting it simmer for a little while longer, the remaining liquid coated the back of a spoon and I returned the beef and veggies to the pot one more time so they could soak up more flavor and come back up to temperature.  I also used that time to make a batch of yellow corn grits to serve the ribs over!

The final product: an extremely tender and flavor-packed beef short rib served over yellow corn grits with carrots and turnips.  I couldn't be happier!

For doing these blog posts from Emeril's new book I received a free advance copy.  It is available in stores in late September.  I'll also be giving away a copy of the book in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned to see if you can win one!  Also of note, this recipe actually called for parsnips instead of carrots but I couldn't find any.  Carrots worked very well though!

Friday, September 16, 2011

LSU Tailgating vs. Northwestern State

I'm really excited about another LSU Football season which also means another season of tailgating.  LSU truly is one of the meccas of college football game day experiences.  Anybody reading this who has never been to Baton Rouge for a game, please come on down.  It is an inspirational atmosphere filled with the passionate fumes of roasting charcoal, sweet bourbon, spicy gumbo and, of course, cold beer.  It is not unusual to see large outdoor fryers filled with chicken wings or frog legs.  And if you've never seen a cochon de lait in a Cajun Microwave, just come come to campus on a game day!  My trip around LSU's beautiful campus before the Northwestern State game with LSU Cheerleader Courtney Begnaud brought about some amazing culinary sights.  Check out the video by LSU's Garrett Walvoord and see the deliciousness that we found on campus!  Now I can't wait to get back out there for the LSU vs. Kentucky game!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Emeril's One Pot Blogger Party: Deep Dish Pizza

After a world-wide search for bloggers, I am honored to be one of 20 selected to participate in a "Blogger Party" sponsored by Emeril Lagasse's new cookbook: Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders.  The challenge: make at least nine meals out of the book over the next three weeks, blog about them, and enjoy!  After all, it does mean I'll get to eat pretty well too!  The book officially releases on September 27th, so I'm actually getting a sneak preview, and now through Bite and Booze, so are you!  Plus, I also get to give away a second copy of the book and some other cool items.  Stay tuned for opportunities to win!

To get things started I wanted a recipe for a food that I love but had never actually cooked before.  When I saw the recipe for Meat and Veggie Lover's Deep Dish Pizza, I knew that would be a pie worth baking.  I've long enjoyed the deep dish, especially in Chicago, but I had never attempted to make one myself.  I figured that I ought to be able to make it in a cast iron skillet easy enough (although the recipe does call for cake pans).

Step one was to head to Calandro's Supermarket to stock up on all the essentials... I mean ingredients (yes, that is a six pack of Tin Room Amber in the bottom left of the cart... no, it was not in the recipe).  Calandro's had everything I need to make this pizza from the semolina flour to the fresh kalamata olives.  One stop did the trick!

I actually started with the pizza dough because it needed time to rise.  The dough contained active dry yeast, water, semolina flour, all purpose flour, olive oil, and salt.  Once I got it kneaded and set aside to do its things, I started working on the sauce.  Making a pizza sauce from scratch is definitely the way to go.  I started with toasting a few fennel seeds before adding in some olive oil.  Once the oil was hot the onions hit the pan along with the garlic, oregano and thyme sprigs, red wine, red pepper flakes and other seasonings.  Once all of that was cooked down I added the peeled cherry tomatoes and let it all simmer together.

With the sauce ready, Calandro's hot Italian sausage browned, and mise en place in place, I was ready to return my attention the dough. 

 I actually had enough dough for two pizzas so I cut it in half and then began to roll it out!

Once I thought I had flattened the dough out evenly enough and large enough to cover my cast iron skillet, I laid it on top of the pan and used my chef's knife to trip around the edges.  This skillet was looking delicious already!

First in went a nice layer of grated mozzarella followed by some Boar's Head pepperoni that I picked up at Calandro's.

Next up came the rest of the toppings.  Sausage, bell peppers and mushroom all filled the pie.  The olives were also added before a second layer of grated mozzarella.

Then came multiple ladles of that delicious tomato sauce.  I couldn't believe how delicious this sauce was.  I almost didn't want to put it into a pizza... and then I fortunately thought better of that.  Putting it in a pizza was the BEST thing I could possibly do with it!

The sauce was topped with freshly cut basil and oregano and then layers of sliced mozzarella that I got from the deli at Calandro's.  It ended up working out perfectly for the top part of the pie.  I also added a little more basil and oregano to the top for a little garnish, then into the hot oven it went!

The result made my taste buds leap of my tongue.  After pulling the pie out of the oven I topped it with some parmigiano-reggiano that I grated by hand then allowed it to cool before digging in.  The mozzarella on top had turned golden brown and the crust developed the perfect form and function for a tasty deep dish.  The recipe as a whole took several hours of work, but the kitchen is a good time, and this pizza was completely worth it!  I can't wait to see (taste) which recipe out of Emeril's book I pick next!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Basic Sausage Production Class at LCI

In august I had the opportunity to attend a leisure class at the Louisiana Culinary Institute.  Jeremy Wells from joined me in Chef Dave Tiner's Basic Sausage Production class.  I have long been a fan of grilling, smoking, and eating sausages, so I was really excited about the opportunity to learn about different sausage making tips and ingredients.

The results from my Basic Sausage Production class at LCI

The class size for the class was limited to 12 so everyone could get their hands dirty and receive plenty of attention from the certified chef instructors.  We made four different types or raw sausages: Breakfast, Italian, Bratwurst, and Chorizo.

Chef Dave instructs the class about cleaning and testing the sausage casings

Each member of the class started their sausage recipes with one and half pounds of ground pork shoulder.  From there they all differed based on the unique seasonings and ingredients of each sausage.  For the Italian sausage we toasted our own fennel seeds before mixing them with the meat.  We also cased all of the sausages other than the breakfast sausage which used sage as a key ingredient.  I wanted to form that one into patties.

Jay's mixing bowl for homemade Chorizo with just enough paprika!

At the end of the class Chef Dave had some different sausages for us to try and we also got to go home with about six pounds of sausage that we hand-mixed and cased.  I learned a fair amount about the basics of sausage production and it only made me want to take some more advanced charcuterie classes so I could really get into curing meats and smoked sausages.  If any of you are interested in taking a Saturday leisure class at LCI, make sure to check out their schedule here:  And remember, never stop learning, especially when it comes to eating and drinking!

Jay shows off some of his homemade sausage!