Sunday, November 22, 2015

Southern breads: pumpkin skillet cornbread & rosemary biscuits

On this lovely brisk Sunday afternoon, Henok and I celebrated our second annual Friendsgiving meal! This year we put together a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast complete with cornbread dressing, balsamic honey brussel sprouts, maple roasted candied yams, rosemary biscuits, and an apple pumpkin pecan crisp for dessert. Definitely a step up from last year, seeing as we had McDonald's apple pies and a McFlurry in my car. All in all, it was a success! Everything came out delicious and of course we'll both have more than enough leftovers for the rest of  the week. 

I baked the pumpkin cornbread earlier in the week knowing that I wanted to make a cornbread dressing (stuffing goes inside the bird, dressing is stand alone). It was really difficult having to leave half of the cornbread uneaten to dry out because it was so tasty! I had some drizzled with honey and lots of it crumbled with collard greens (the real southern way). Cornbread is foolproof to make and tastes best fresh out of the oven, so why not? 

Pumpkin skillet cornbread
11/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
1 tbs butter 

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, baking powder, and salt. 
3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and milk. Stir in with the dry ingredients. 
4. Warm skillet in the oven with the butter for about 2 minutes. 
5. Remove the skillet from the oven, pour in the pumpkin cornmeal batter, and smooth over the surface. 
6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden / cracked. Cornbread is ready when an inserted toothpick/ chopstick/ cake tester comes out clean. 

The rosemary biscuit was this year's big experiment. In the past, I've attempted making challah and persimmon pie on Thanksgiving day, to no avail. I was a bit disheartened when I saw that my biscuit batter was very sticky kept on spreading while it was baking, but they turned out perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffily buttered on the inside. I still got to work on the presentation, but I promise the flavors and textures are all there. I will definitely be making biscuits more often now (this may be the best or worst idea ever), since it was all so simple!

Rosemary biscuits (makes 1 dozen) 
1 cup whole milk
1 tbs vinegar 
2 cups self-rising flour (I used White Lily brand)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter (or a combination with vegetable shortening)
1 tbs rosemary, chopped  
1 tsp canola oil 

1. Preheat oven to 475F. 
2. Add vinegar to milk (this is how you make homemade buttermilk) and set aside. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and rosemary. Cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. 
4. Fold in the buttermilk. 
5. Place dough on a floured surface and knead 10-15 times. 
6. Scoop dough onto an oiled (canola oil) baking tray or skillet. (You can also use a small biscuit cutter to make perfectly shaped biscuits, but I don't own one ... yet)
7. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until tops and sides are golden brown. Serve fresh out of the oven! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smoked Turkey and Shrimp Spaghettini

'Tis the week before Thanksgiving, so it's the time of year when you see more turkey, sweet potato, and pumpkin in every recipe. Since Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (what's not to like about being grateful for all that you have and a celebration with a feast?), I of course have to a shout out post featuring a version of its main star: the turkey. 

In my household, there's actually never a turkey on the table. Let's be honest: turkey is so dry and so much white meat. Instead, we opt for a delicious Cantonese style roasted whole pig (the amazing leftover ribs lasts for weeks!). But because of my FOMO, I do always try to have some turkey. Years ago it was turkey meatloaf, last year was turkey gumbo, and this time around I'll be doing a turkey sausage jambalaya! 

So in the turkey spirit, last week I bought a smoked turkey leg at the grocery store which was about the size and weight of my upper arm. I had plenty of leftovers, so I put it together with some gulf shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and spaghettini over arugula for a delicious dinner! 

Smoked turkey and shrimp spaghettini (serves 4)
1 pack spaghettini
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
4 oz smoked turkey, sliced 
1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 tbs olive oil 
1/4 cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
5 cloves garlic, slivered  
2 heads scallion, diced 
1/2 tsp Cajun spice
1/2 tsp black pepper 
2 cups arugula 

1. Cook spaghettini in boiling salted water as directed by the package
2. In a deep pan, brown garlic and scallion in 1 tbs olive oil
3. Add turkey and stir-fry
4. Once turkey is slightly seared, add white wine and tomatoes 
5. Add shrimp and stir -fry with Cajun spice and black pepper 
6. Once shrimp changes color thoroughly, incorporate spaghettini and olive oil. 
7. Mix well and serve over arugula 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Emeril's, New Orleans

Whenever a good friend comes to town, I do my homework and look up the best places to eat around New Orleans. After much speculation, my heart was set on trying Emeril's black truffle fried whole chicken for two and banana cream pie. My only problem was that my friend was treating me to dinner, so was it too much for me to pick to place and choose what we ate?

We show up to the restaurant, and I quickly find out that he's a fried chicken fan. I know, who isn't? But still, $60 for fried chicken is a lot of money! You think you know Emeril as that jovial chef of Food Network, but who knew about his classy side and vast interest in wine? Anyways, man was I on cloud 9 when I was eating the most buttery New Orleans style barbecue shrimp and rosemary biscuit waiting for this black truffle whole fried chicken.

The chicken arrived on a board with all the fixin's, including baked beans, fried corn, sweet potato salad, more rosemary biscuits and an arugula salad. The beans were sweet and homey and the fried corn not as good as it sounds. But man oh man that chicken. Boy was it juicy and tender and crispy and finger licking good! I can definitely eat it again right now if the world worked that way. Definitely recommend bringing friends and family here.

Oh, and the banana cream pie? Worth not eating that last piece of chicken for.

800 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 

Epilogue: Emeril's fried chicken is great for leftover Sunday lunch as well! Though I must admit that I got the arugula to chicken ratio down better than he does. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Homemade tomato bruschetta

When god give you tomatoes, you make tomato sauce. Or bruschetta. Down here in Louisana, it's the last of the tomato season so sometimes I come home from the farmers market with more than a dozen tomatoes for no more than $5. It's a no brainer to make sauce, but I was undoubtedly inspired by my favorite hometown neighborhood Italian restaurant to make my own bruschetta. When I was in New York, I had dinner at Trattoria Belvedere, and they gave each of us a generous helping of fresh tomato bruschetta on thick cut grilled Italian bread. So fresh and so good that I had to try making it at home! 

Homemade tomato bruschetta (serves 2-3)
1 tomato, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of basil, chopped 
2 tbs olive oil 
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pinch of brown sugar 
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Mix olive oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toss in tomatoes.
3. For best results, refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Serve with good cheese and bread!

✓ vegetable
✓ vitamin C 
✓ unsaturated fat
✓ fiber