Sunday, July 6, 2008

Chanterelles are Swell!

There are a large variety of edible wild mushrooms, some are excellent (morels), and some are OK (puffballs). Chanterelles are right up at the top. They are swell because they are delicious (great texture with a little nutty flavor), they are versatile(goes with just about everything), easy to prepare and EASY to find. Those of you who have "hunted" morels know how well they disguise themselves. Chanterelles on the other hand, give themselves away. Imagine a brilliant orange against a background of brown or green....EASY! One drawback(you knew there had to be one...maybe two), let's just say ticks and chiggers...itchy, scratchy..I won't say it X#@*#!*# bugs.
Back to cooking. Take the mushroom and trim the bottom and rinse in cold water or briefly soak in salted water and drain. Heat butter or oil in a pan and saute 2-3 min. (don't overcook), lightly season and that's it!
The recipe that I am showing is a stir fry (add mushrooms toward the end), but they are killer in an omelet with sharp cheddar and fresh chives, topping grilled or sauteed meat and name it.
So, now is the time to forage in the woods to collect and enjoy a treat from nature. Good eats!

Grenouilles Frites

Sounds fancy? It's fried frog legs. It is that time of and humid. So after celebrating the Nations birthday it's time to go frog gigging! You can buy frogs retail(frozen from places like Bangladesh or China), but where is the fun in that! The best come from good ol' country lake. I will dispense with the gory details*, the picnic before was fun as well as the frosty cold 2x4's necessary to combat the heat (89 degrees @ midnight). And the result was seven nice legs with a limit of eight(missed one....darn it!).
The preparation is very simple; Place the legs(I cross one leg into the other) in egg wash (eggs beaten with milk or cream & pepper)and then roll them in bread crumbs (I used panko). Heat oil to medium hot(325 degrees) and place frogs in for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove on to paper towels and lightly salt. I like to serve them with a lemon wedge and Tartare sauce**. Delicious! Some say they are like chicken(like you have never heard that before). I say they have some resemblance to chicken but much more tender with a certain fish(not in a bad way)taste. If you like them too you know what I mean;). Good eats.

* Suffice it to say you do it at night with a spot light and a long pole with a barbed fork on the end....Ouch!

**Homemade Tartare Sauce
1 cup Mayonnaise (Hellmans preferably)
1/3 cup sour cream
2 Tbl fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl dill pickle
1 Tbl capers
1 Tbl fresh dill
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp Hot sauce
1 tsp Seasoned salt
Combine and blend in a blender to medium smooth- Chill.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Greens 'n Grits Benedict Y'all

I recently read a wonderful cookbook called Shrimp & Grits by Nathalie Dupree and was inspired by her Shrimp & Grits Eggs Benedict recipe. The recipe entails using grits as the base...Brilliant!!
So Sunday morning came and I was on it. I did tweek the recipe a little (creative license) by using sharp cheddar (not parmesan) in the grits, grilling the cakes instead of breading and sauteing, smoked turkey instead of ham (daughters request), adding greens (Swiss chard)..oh, and no shrimp. OK...maybe I tweeked it more than a little, the important thing is that I used the grits. I love grits...I know some people are not a fan (what's wrong with you?), I can only hope they have had them properly prepared* before they decide to condem them. The result was delicious...maybe next time I will try the panko for the grits to add more texture, but I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we daughter had seconds!!
* some use milk instead of water, the important thing is to not make them runny.

Fried Green Tomatoes

I normally wait until I have had enough ripened tomatoes (20 days and counting) from my garden to use green tomatoes. But this weekend at Soulard Market I found them...Score! The process is very simple; Wash and slice the tomatoes horizontally 1/4" thick and dredge in seasoned flour(flour,black pepper and corn meal). Heat your pan to medium heat with butter and oil(covering the bottom with just a little more) and saute the tomatoes on each side until brown (2-3 min each side). Drain on a paper towel lightly salt and enjoy! If you have never had them, they have a wonderful tart flavor that is very different from the ripened fruit. We had these as an appetizer with some chili mayo for dipping, but they go great with BBQ, fried name it! I have an interesting recipe for green tomato pie I am going to give a try. Good eats!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Go Greens!

In an effort to promote the new "green" initiative,I am campaigning for greens. You know, like collard, turnip and mustard. I have added a few more to the list like, Swiss chard, broccoli and radish, ah heck yeah. All of these grow in my garden, it doesn't take any gas to get there, and if I don't eat them the bugs and deer will. Besides, they are good for you and taste delicious.
The process is very simple; Remove the large stems, wash several times in salted water, drain roll up (like a big cigar...much easier)and chop 1/4"- 1/2". Next, in a stock pot put a ham hock or smoked turkey wing, cover with a couple of inches of water and simmer with lid on for 45 min. Drop in the greens and stir, simmer for 30- 45 min. Drain. Discard meat.

In a saute pan heat butter and oil. Add chopped red onion and minced garlic and stir 1 min, add greens and stir to heat. Add seasoning to taste* (taste first to check saltiness from meat) salt, black pepper, hot sauce, dry mustard. Serve!
We had fried chicken and macaroni and cheese casserole with them that night and as the kids say it "was all good". Next "green" edition will be fried green tomatoes....I can't wait!
*some people like a little sweet, sugar, RC Cola etc., your choice

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cheeseburger Pizza..Say what?

Having three children to feed it is not always easy to come up with a meal that they all will enjoy. So...why not make your own pizza! Who doesn't like pizza, especially a good home-made one. First we made the dough*, then we put on the grill to give it extra flavor and set the dough. Now comes the fun part....toppings. We had the standard pepperoni/meat lovers pizza, and the smiley face veggie, but my new favorite comes from and idea I got at a Casey's Convenient Store. Cheeseburger Pizza!
Sounds crazy? No way...this is really good. OK so bear with start with a little ketchup(honestly, I am not a big fan of ketchup but it works on this) and mustard, then hamburger(cooked), and onions(raw), then pickles(dill-sliced), then cheese(American cut into strips)

Bake in 375 degree oven for 8-10 min (Bubbly not brown). Remove from the oven(take a smells just like a cheeseburger..go figure). Let it cool 1-2 min and top with sliced (or chopped) tomato and shredded head lettuce. Cut and serve with fries...just kidding. Please give it a try, or let me know your crazy version of pizza. Good eats!

* Pizza Dough 4- 8" pizzas
1 package Dry Yeast
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1 cup warm water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1Tbl olive oil
In a mixing bowl combine the water, sugar and yeast(let stand 5-10 min)
Add the flour, salt and oil to the yeast mixture and combine into a dough
knead the dough for 2-3 min. and divide into 4 oz portions
Roll out and place on heated grill 1-2 min per side.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


As the saying goes, good things are worth waiting for. In terms of food you have morel mushrooms (2 weeks in April where I am from), chanterelle mushrooms in late June/ early July and fiddlehead ferns- from Canada- right now! Fortunately my local grocer, for whom I work, has them in stock. They are as they sound, a fern plant that has been picked just as it begins to grow, so it is still curled up looking like the spiral end of a violin (fiddle). Price...not important- about a gallon of gas per pound...Priceless to me.
When to eat? The big meal of the week is Sunday invite company and plan a menu around the ferns. It's summer so I thought of grilled split marinated game hens with grilled corn and the ferns with fresh berries and whipped cream for dessert. Good and simple.

To begin with clean the ferns by trimming the end of the stem and then blanching them in salted water 1-2 min. Shock them in cold water, drain, and then toss them in a little olive oil, melted butter and seasoning. After grilling the hens, place them on the outside of the coals and place a grill pan (a sort of perforated wok pan) in the middle over the coals. Once hot, toss in the ferns, toss gently with spoons and cover 2-3 min.. Stir again and you have it. I did do the corn (soaked in the husk) on a seperate grill, but you could have done the after the game hens and before the ferns, and set them on top of the hens.
If you have never tasted this delicacy (4 of the 8 guests had not!), I'll give you the consensus...spinach but firmer, asparagus but lighter...I don't know...they do have a little earthiness to decide. Trust me, don't be afraid, no one a matter of fact they all enjoyed them very much (priceless). They are worth waiting for!

P.S. You can used the leftovers on pizza!