Category Archives: food blog

Court Bouillon

I knew my article was on page 23 of  the Cooking Light Magazine, but it took  a friend to point out that it was my recipe on the cover! Wow, that is my recipe isn’t it?  How I had missed this little detail is beyond me.  It is a little like the time a journalist showed up at a cooking show I was doing. I always try to make a connection with my audience and I started a little small talk with her. She told me she was a food columnist from the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. I started to gush effusively  about how amazing that was and I told her what an honor it was to meet her and I loved the her latest column and what a coincidence to meet her here and on and on and that I also was a food columnist  for the paper . She rolled her eyes at my naiveté and said, “I know, I am here to cover your cooking show.” Ooops there goes my cover as a VIP, culinary extraordinaire or food snob. I wouldn’t mind being one of those, but I can never quite pull it off. As a Food Science Professor, I rub shoulders with all kinds of elite and wanna-be elite. Within the first couple days of starting my university job I was asked about my favorite food in the area. I could have talked about some exotic dish or earthy organic food but instead I innocently answered the truth, my favorite thing to do is prepare foods that my family likes. She gave me a look like “that was totally un-inspiring” and walked away. That was  an ah ha moment for me. I realized that, no matter what, I will always be a farm girl at heart and my family will always be my favorite people to cook for.  And lucky for me, my family loves all kinds of different foods, including this Court Bouillon. Coulter loves to catch anything wild and ever since he was little we always made a habit of cooking his catch. So whatever fish or seafood he has found, I add it to this Court Bouillon.  It has evolved since I developed it for Cooking Light Magazine but it was developed as a microwave recipe and I can’t imagine any better method.

When my students made this in class, they were a little freaked out by the shells left on the shrimp. I tried to convince them that this is how it would traditionally be served because the shells really do add flavor.   This recipe might look like a serious list of ingredients, but it goes together quick and is done in less than 15 minutes.

Court Bouillon

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped bell pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons chicken-flavored base

6 cups water

1 tablespoon, minced thyme leaves

2 tablespoons, minced basil leaves

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon hot sauce (I like green Tabasco)

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning (see below for recipe)

½ cup chopped green onion

2 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with ½ cup water

1  or 2 fish filets  (I like redfish but any firm fish will work)

1 cup lobster meat

8 frozen shrimp

 

Sauté onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes in the microwave on high. Add remaining ingredients except cornstarch, fish and shrimp.  Bring mixture to a boil (Microwave 8 to 10 minutes on high), stir in cornstarch. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir in fish, lobster and shrimp. Let stand 5 minutes to allow fish and seafood to cook. If mixture cools too much, microwave until heated.

Makes 8 servings

Granola With Pomegranate

Granola takes minutes to make in the microwave.  It is as quick as any

whole pomegranitesbreakfast and I love to put all kinds of yummy things in it…..like walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), flax seeds, and coconut – not to mention dried fruit.

For this particular recipe, I left out the dried fruit because I found my new BFF (new better favorite and friendlier). I just discovered a combination that I can’t resist.

Here, it is the creamy goodness of yogurt and pomegranates spooned over granola. I noticed other people top yogurt with granola, but at my table we top granola with yogurt and fruit. It is not alpom seedsl semantics, there really is a reason for our madness. Farm families for generations have found how to ramp up the energy value of breakfast to make it through the morning chores (now more often the morning workout).

The Secret is lots of whole grain goodness. 

 

Granola With Pomegranate

 

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)

2 tablespoons flax seeds

½  cup chopped walnuts

½  cup chopped pepitas

½ cup shaved coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼  teaspoon salt

¼  cup maple syrup

¼ cup brown sugar

¼  cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Toppings:

Plain Yogurt

Fresh Pomegranate

 granola med

Combine oats, flax seeds, walnuts, pepitas, coconut, cinnamon, and salt in a 2-quart microwave safe container. Microwave on high about 4 to 5 minutes, until heated and starting to toast.  Combine remaining ingredients in a 2-cup measure. Microwave on high 2 to 2 ½ minutes or until sugar starts to dissolve, stirring twice. Pour syrup mixture over warm oat mixture and stir well. Microwave on high 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring twice. Allow to cool, stirring a few times to prevent granola from sticking to the bowl. To serve, top with yogurt and pomegranate.

Whole Wheat Waffles With Pecans and Pears

Louisiana food is an unusual experience for many, but especially for this Iowa farm girl. Who could imagine that there was a place where I could have two gardens a year? The rose trellis at the end of the covered porch was covered with hundreds of an antique variety of red climbing rose, and that was just one of the surprises in my yard during my first growing season. When spring brought out buds I found all sorts of fascinating trees in our yard, including pears and pecans. The combination always brings me back to wonderful Louisiana memories and flavors. Simple and elegant. Flavorful and inviting. Special and comforting. That what these cinnamon flavored whole wheat waffles have always been to my family.

 

Whole Wheat Waffles With Pecans and Pears
¼ cup butter
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg whites
1 pear, peeled and diced
½ cup toasted pecans

Melt butter in microwave on High for ½ to 1 minute or until melted. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, buttermilk, cinnamon, vanilla and egg yolks.  Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.  Pour ¾ cup of batter into preheated waffle iron, add about 1 tablespoon each of pears and pecans.  Cook until golden brown. Serve with additional pear slices and pecans if desired.

Mushroom or Edamame Crostini

 

I love crostini….but if I have to be 100% honest – it is that I love toasted bread, and that is exactly what crostini is! With the addition of a drizzle of olive oil, garlic and maybe even a topping. When I would come home from track practice in middle school, I could eat half a loaf of bread toasted and slathered with butter, sugar, and cinnamon or maybe my own homemade chokecherry jelly (which spilled all over the kitchen carpet and ended my childhood days of making anything with deep red stainability). Onmornings of track meets when I needed a huge reservoir of energy, and needed to prepare it and eat it at 4:30 AM, I would reach for toasted bread once again – this time as a grilled cheese,. The toppings for edamame crostini include a smooth, rich tasting, homemade ricotta cheese.

Scald 8 cups of whole milk. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and allow to sit to make curds and whey. When curds form, carefully strain through cheesecloth until ricotta is the consistency you want. For more information on making fresh cheese, see recipe for Fresh Ricotta Cheese.

Edamame Crostini

 

1   baguette, sliced at an angle

2     cloves of garlic

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

¾ cup cooked edamame beans

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

zest of ½ lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon basil, chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay bread slices on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Rub with garlic. Toast bread for about 2 to3 minutes. Remove from oven and spread each with a layer of ricotta cheese. Combine  remaining ingredients and lightly mash together with a fork or potato masher. You want some of the edamame to be smashed and some to still be intact. Top toasted bread with edamame mixture. Garnish with more lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and radish.

Mushroom Crostini

Follow recipe for Edamame Crostini except substitute fresh, grilled or sauteed mushrooms and Aspargus for Edamame.

Chili Cornbread Wrapped in Corn Husks

On a whim I decided  to make some chili powder. I took a handful of dried chilies, baked them even drier in my oven, and used a little coffee grinder to make chili powder out of them.  Andria walked in the house after her sports practice, ravenous, ready-to-eat-cardboard-hungry and said “Ooooh it smells so wonderful in here. I am starved!”

“It’s chili powder”

“What do you mean? Don’t tell me that wonderful smell isn’t something I can eat!”

Well, yep, that pretty much summed it up.  I had to scrounge up something else to feed her but it was not nearly as satisfying as the smell  wafting from the oven where the chilies were drying. That was some years ago, and I have never found a chili powder that matched homemade in flavor or aroma….so here are directions for how to do it.  And just in case you want something you can sink your teeth into, here is a great way to serve cornbread seasoned with chili powder. Wrap the batter in wet, green corn husks and tie with a string of husk for a great looking appetizer or side dish. Lynne from my Intercultural Foods class chose this recipe to make. They were a hit with all of the other students. Stay tuned for a blog on banana leaf wrapped yummies. One my students gave me the heads up that they are going to use  purple banana leaves to steam a great appetizer.

 

Chili Cornbread Wrapped in Corn Husks

Dried Chili Peppers

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup chopped chives

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg, lightly beaten

¾ cups cornmeal

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

¾ cups buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lay chili peppers on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until brittle but not burned. Allow to cool. Remove seeds and stems. Place in spice grinder and process until mixture is a fine chili powder.  Combine 2 teaspoons of chili powder and 3 tablespoons oil in a small glass dish. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until spices are heated.

Combine all of the ingredients, stirring in the chili powder and oil mixture. Form into small rolls, adding more white flour if needed for dough to form a dollop and wrap in green corn husks that have been soaked in water. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm and allow each person to unwrap their own chili cornbread.


 

Crawfish Etouffee

Louisiana holds great memories for me. I was young, just married, totally in love  (now married 30 years and counting) and hosting my own TV cooking show. Crawfish were always a popular topic, and I had more than a few stories to tell. I am not sure if everyone was laughing with me or at me, but it was a really fun time and I was too young to care which. Dave and I ate some of the best food on the planet in our neighbor’s homes.  Seasoning food to perfection was an art my neighbors had grown up on. Two elderly sisters opened their home for reservations. We arrived at 7 pm and were directed to one of the three small tables set up in the living room. While this may sound a little unorthodox, they  served some of the most exquisitely seasoned seafood ever. Here is my favorite crawfish etouffee recipe  adapted from “taste tests” of my Louisiana neighbor’s best . I always prepare it in the microwave because it comes out perfectly. Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. It goes together faster than fast (as in 15 minutes once I had all the ingredients out). In Louisiana some of the best ettouffee is just butter and seasonings meant to go over the rice. Omit the flour if you want and instead of a sauce, you will have a seasoned butter mixture to spoon over the rice. Both ways its amazingly simple and pure Louisiana.

  • Crawfish Ettouffee
  • ¼ cup  butter
    1 cups chopped onions
    ½ cup chopped celery
     1  red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 ozs peeled crawfish
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    1 bay leaves
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp chicken base from a jar
    ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
    1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
    1 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
    1 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • Cooked Rice

·         In a 2-qt glass dish, Microwave (high) 2 tablespoons of the butter.

·         Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and Microwave (high) 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

·         Add the crawfish, garlic, and bay leaves and Microwave (high) 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining butter and stir until mostly melted.

·         Dissolve the flour in the water. Add to the shrimp mixture. Stir in chicken base and Worcestershire sauce.

·         Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne. Microwave (high) 3 to 4 minutes, stirring once until mixture is thickened.

·         Stir in the parsley and green onions.

·         Serve warm along with Rice.

 

·        

Malawi Africa: Pineapple Pannekuchen

When I came home from Africa, I said that I was never going to go back to the way I was. I was going to dance like no one was watching, sing like no one could hear, love like I had never been hurt, work like I didn’t need the money, and cook all the kinds of foods they eat in Africa - whole grains, fresh produce and very little Americanized salty, high fat and low nutrient foods.  I found the Malawi people were so joyous and loving even in the midst of horrible suffering from AIDS and famine. I learned from my Malawi friends, who had suffered so much, to love and live and be in Christ more fully, a little bit more living in the joy of the presence of God.

I taught AIDS Prevention, Health Awareness, and Nutrition Essentials to women in a rural village in Malawi. There were no amenities like running water, electricity or anything like that, but the village was filled with love. After my teaching, the women asked me what I do in the US. I told them I had a TV cooking show. They wanted me to cook for them, so we agreed that they would teach me to cook their foods the first day and I would cook the second day. They made me some wonderful local food and then told me they wanted me to make a cake for them. That was a tall order: There was no white flour, butter,  sugar or vanilla in the village.  I traveled a few hours by van to the nearest town with a little market to buy these things. I used pineapples grown in the village and eggs laid by the scrawny chickens that scratched for food. The only cooking method in the village was a wood fire in an open pit in the center of the village. I asked the native women to build a fire for me that was the same temperature as how they cooked their corn flour flatbreads the day before. There were only a couple of cooking pots in the village so they ran to bring one to me. I put a little butter and brown sugar in the bottom of the pan and let the heat from the fire melt the butter. I cut up a pineapple and placed slices in the butter mixture and topped it all with a batter. I did not have any recipes with me or any internet access so I just had to dream up a recipe. Once it was all in the pan, we put a lid on the pan and the ladies place a few hot coals on the lid so it would bake like a dutch oven. The pineapple pannekuchen turned out amazing. We all ate with our fingers right out of the pan. It was slightly sweet and full of pineapple custard goodness. The picture above shows our cooking “show”.  This is my favorite cooking class of all time.

Pineapple Pannekuchen

2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 fresh pineapple rings
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Melt butter in a 12-inch round baking dish, stir in brown sugar. Arrange pineapple rings in brown sugar mixture. Combine milk, vanilla, eggs, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl just until well mixed. Pour over pineapple. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed around the edges and lightly browned.

Cabin Cooking – Sourdough Bread

I cannot imagine what the women on the plains felt like in  a little cabin 100 years ago, but I promise it is a really different experience for me. Last week the high was 30 below and I stayed close to the cabin. It was cozy and fun and I had lots of time to play around with one of my favorite ingredients – sourdough.  I had days to work out the kinks in my sourdough and perfect it.  I found that it works best when it has lots of time to sit out on the counter and the more often I used it, the more vibrant it became. I am sure the plains women knew everything there was to know about their starter because it was a really precious commodity.  There was no way to get more from a neighbor when a blizzard was raging and the miles between farmsteads probably made running over the neighbors to get a “bit” of starter an all-day process. What those pioneer women did have was plenty of time to allow the sourdough to ferment and proof.  Here is a simple recipe that yields spectacular results on most days and, when your sourdough has been neglected and is sick, adequate loaves that shortened the hungering time that invariably was a part of the pioneer experience.

Sourdough Bread

 

Combine the following and let stand covered for 8 to 12 hours or overnight:

 

2/3 cup starter

1 cup water

1 1/2 cups white flour

 

Add these ingredients to the starter mixture to make final dough:

 

1  1/2 cups water

5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups white flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoons salt

 

Combine all ingredients until a wet dough is formed. Knead by hand or mixer for 5 to 10 minutes or in the food processor for 90 seconds or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a covered bowl and allow to ferment for 2 1/2 hours at about 80 degrees.  Deflate dough by gently pushing down center and pulling sides of dough in. Turn over and cover.  Let it sit in a warm place (80 degrees) for 1/2 hour. Turn out on a floured area and knead 2 to 3 times. Shape and place in bread pans. Cover. Let rise in a warm place (80 degrees) for 1 1/2 hours. If area is a little cooler, let rise up to twice as long. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, Decrease heat to 425 degrees and bake for 20 minutes longer or until thermometer inserted in the loaf center reads 190 degrees. Let cool on a rack before slicing.

 

Makes l large loaf or two small loaves

 

Sprouted Wheat Bread

In its simplest form, a loaf of bread is only a bit of flour mixed with water. Other ingredients–yeast, salt, sugar, eggs, fruits, nuts, and various grains–add flavor and variety, but the real secret behind a truly tasty loaf is the loving care that goes into it. According to a British chef, this ingredient is not only the most important, it is also the only one that really matters.

Creativity and experience are also important to this labor of love in which various grains are combined, kneaded, and shaped by hand; the choice of grains and the amount of each used will ultimately determine the bread’s texture. Whole wheat offers a coarse, hearty loaf. Rye makes a heavy, flavorful bread, and oat bran, amaranth, and Ezekiel flour impart their own distinctive flavors.

Most yeast breads require at least a small amount of sugar to feed the yeast and to form a thick, brown crust. Bakeries, however, use diastolic malt instead of sugar for the process. This malt, available at specialty markets and co-op grocery stores, can be made from barley or whole wheat berries. The barley or wheat berries are sprouted, dried, and ground into meal in a blender.

Diastolic malt, rich in enzymes that improve the flavor, the texture, and the appearance of homemade bread, helps to keep the bread fresh longer. Substituted for sugar, the malt adds extra nutrients to bread–in particular, B vitamins. A tablespoon of diastolic malt is enough to produce extra volume for two to four loaves. If more malt is added, the dough will become too sticky and sweet.

Sprouting

Sprouts are easy to make from wheat berries or other seeds. Soak the grains in water overnight in a glass jar; drain. Cover the glass jar with cheesecloth, secured with a rubber band. Turn the jar upside down and set it at an angle to allow air to circulate in and out of the jar. Rinse the sprouts twice a day for several days. Sprouts grown in a warm place will be ready in just a few days. Sprouts sitting in a cool area will take a couple of days longer. As soon as sprouts have started opening up, they can be added to breads. When they start getting their first set of leaves, they are ready to put on sandwiches and on salads.

Proofing Bread in the Microwave

Sometimes if I need a loaf of bread for dinner and did not get it started soon enough, I have a little trick that always speeds up the process. After kneading the dough, place it in a 2-quart glass bowl and microwave for 10 seconds on high. The dough should be just warm to the touch. This will shorten the rising time by about 15 minutes. The bread may not have quite the same yeasty flavor as dough that is rises a little longer at a cooler temperature, but bread straight from the oven is a wonderful thing.

 

Sprouted Wheat Bread

1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey or 1 T diastolic malt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

½ cup sprouted wheat berries, coarsely chopped

1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except sprouts and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”)

2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, gently knead in sprouted wheat berries. Shape dough into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till almost double.

4) Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely before storing in a plastic bag or airtight container.

Makes 1 loaf