Mike

Lump Crabmeat Casserole – Leave an Impression or Find Salvation

Looking to impress a date, boss, in-laws, client or get yourself out of the doghouse? Although pricey, this recipe is easy to make and leaves a great impression. The key to this meal is to use quality crabmeat and try to keep as many lumps intact as possible. Prep time is less than 30 minutes and can be done while you entertain your guests, then have some conversation over a bottle of wine while the casserole bakes. Of course you may wish bake ahead and keep the simpleness a secret. Another version of this dish is to omit the panko, and serve cold over a bed of lettuce, either as an appetizer or entrée.
 
Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
1 lb crab claw meat
1 stick butter
1/2 minced shallots (substitute 1/4 cup minced onion and 1/4 cup minced garlic)
1/4 cup green onions
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup Hellmann’s Dijonnaise
1 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Method:

Chill a large mixing bowl. (I like to do every thing I can to keep the crabmeat cold, not only for food safety, but to keep the lump crabmeat intact.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8 – 10 inch square or 2 qt casserole dish with two tablespoons of butter.

Dump the crabmeat in the chilled bowl. (Remove any shell fragments you find during the course of preparation.)  Place back in the refrigerator.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and sauté the shallots until clear.  Remove from heat and stir in the parsley and green onions.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk the Dijonnaise, seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice together. 

Remove the bowl of crabmeat from the refrigerator and add the sautéed vegetables, half of the panko, Dijonnaise mixture over the crabmeat and gently fold together until well mixed. 

Melt the remaining butter and mix into the panko. 

Pour the crabmeat into the casserole dish and top with the panko. 

Place the casserole into the oven and bake until the panko is golden brown and the mixture is bubbly – about 30 minutes.


Shish Kabobs with Blue Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette Sauce

One night last week I woke up at 3am and could not fall back asleep.  So I thought about some possible new dishes. This is what I came up with and I tried it out for the Fourth of July.  Maybe you could say I dreamed it up.  It involves shish kabobs, a marinade, blue cheese and raspberry vinaigrette sauce.  I tried it with pork and beef. It came out well enough for me to pass it on. Chicken would work also, but I would not add meat tenderizer to the marinade.

Ingredients:

1 pound beef top sirloin cut into 1 inch chunks  (I wanted boneless country-style beef ribs, but they were sold out)
1 pound of boneless country-style pork ribs
1 cup blue cheese crumbled
1 cup of raspberry vinaigrette
bamboo skewers (I used 6 for the meat, but always soak more than I need. Let the ones not used dry save for next time.)

Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tsp meat tenderizer

Method:
Combine all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Place the meat in two separate gallon size ziplock bags. Pour equal parts of the marinade in each bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Over-nite would be better.

Two hours before cooking soak the skewers in water to keep them from burning.

30 minutes before cooking time (or while the charcoal is heating up) pour one cup of the raspberry vinaigrette in a small sauce pan. Bring to a slow boil to reduce it and allow to thicken up. Take the meat out of refrigerator and skewer. I kept the meat together and put veggies on other skewers. I didn’t want the blue cheese and sauce on the veggies. You might like it that way. I see no reason you could not mix it all up.

When the grill is ready, place the kabobs on the grill over the heat and start cooking. (I don’t like to crowd my grill. I like to see the glowing coals or gas flames. This allows sufficient heat to pass upwards between the meat.) When the meat is done to your liking push the skewers close together. Now sprinkle the blue cheese over the meat and allow it to slightly melt. Carefully remove the meat and drizzle with the raspberry vinaigrette.


Fried Green Tomatoes

No, I am not speaking of the movie back in the early 1990’s. There is such a thing as fried green tomatoes. Un-ripened green tomatoes work best for this recipe because they have less juice and are firmer than a ripe tomato. This is so easy to make, that I am putting it into my Easy Summer Series category.  

Last weekend I was frying up some fish. My garden has an overabundance of tomatoes now, so I decided to pick a few and fry them up. I already had everything I needed, hot grease, fish fry mix and hungry mouths. The only thing I added was a milk and egg mixture to  bind the mix to the tomatoes. I use dry mix for my fish. The tomatoes I used for this recipe were my Creole and Super Steak varieties. That doesn’t really matter, any green tomato will do especially since they have not reached their full flavor at this point.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices. Season with your favorite seasoning blend or my Creole Seasoning.

One at a time, mix each tomato into a bowl of dry fish fry mix, then dip into the milk egg mixture, and back into the dry mix.

Once all the tomato slices are battered, deep fry in 350 degree oil. Cook until they float. Also, do not crowd. Give them room to swim. They should be golden brown. (You can also pan fry in a skillet with 1/2 inch of oil and flip them once.)

My dipping sauce is good with the fried green tomatoes.


Dipping Sauce

There is a great fast food chain that started in Baton Rouge called Raising Cane’s. Their specialty and only item is fried chicken strips.  Their best kept secret is their dipping sauce. Although I have not been able to duplicate their recipe, here is my version. I find it goes really well with chicken strips, fried green tomatoes and fried alligator. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 ketchup
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Method

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Whisk it well it to make sure everything is blended together. Cover and refrigerate for several hours. This sauce develops it’s best taste when the ingredients have had some time swap flavors with each other in the refrigerator.


Remoulade Sauce

Remoulade is probably most well known for being used as a dressing for shrimp salads or covering peeled boiled shrimp in a small bowl. I like to use it as dipping sauce for boiled shrimp and crawfish and fried fish and shrimp.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup Hellmann’s Dijonnaise (or ¼ cup mayonnaise and 1 tbsp dijon or creole mustard)
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (a little more if you like a little kick to it)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • Dash of thyme
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Whisk it well it ensure everything is blended together.  Whisk a little more to make sure.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.  For some reason this sauce develops it’s best taste when the ingredients have had some time swap flavors with each other in the refrigerator.


The Mother of all Steak Grills

I like my steaks seared on the outside and medium rare (closer to rare) on the inside. I cook a good steak, but they just do not have the quality of a steak cooked at a top rated steak house. The biggest difference is the amount of heat produced by a restaurant’s equipment versus home equipment. I have heard chefs mention their ovens and grills reach temperatures of 1500 or more degrees. No typical home system comes close to that temperature. I can come close in my kitchen by searing a butter coated steak in a smoking white hot black iron skillet for about a minute on each side, then finishing it off in my oven preheated to 500 degrees. The problem with this method is that it produced more smoke than my kitchen vent could handle (I have an above average vent system). Outdoors I can do so by overloading my grill with charcoal and rigging the grill to raise the charcoal tray closer to the cooking surface.

Last week I found this photo taken earlier from my barbecue pit when I working on another article.

I thought to myself, that is some heat! Heck! It looks like Tom Cruise’s Jet Fighter in “Top Gun” with the afterburners on. What if I put a grill on top of my charcoal starter and grilled a steak on it? I am sure someone has tried this before, but not me. Not wanting to sink a lot of money into a ribeye that might turn out like a marshmellow that fell into the campfire, I rushed down to Walmart and purchased two of their “low cost” ribeyes.

Here’s what happened.

I seasoned the steak, minus pepper. (I feared burned pepper might turn bitter) Placed the steak on the grill for about a minute before turning. It was necessary to shift the steak every few seconds to keep the now glowing hot grills from severly branding the meat.

I cut my test steak to see if I achieved my desired results and was quite pleased.

Looks perfect to me. So I tried a second steak, added seasoning after it was cooked and here is my finished steak.


PASTALAYA

Pastalaya is a relatively new dish appearing at social gatherings. It’s a very close cousin of jambalaya because you use the same ingredients, but substitute some type of pasta for the rice. If you struggle with the rice in your jambalaya being too crunchy or mushy, give pastalaya a try. The pasta is much more forgiving when it comes to the water ratio than rice. Most cooks use spaghetti, but any kind of pasta will do. Thicker types of pasta may need more water. 

This recipe is the one I used to place second in a local cook-off this past Spring. I multiplied all the ingredients by five and used my five gallon pot since the rules required the recipe to feed 50. I am not crazy about competition cooking, but it was part of a professional conference and my office hoped to “make a statement” to our colleagues from other offices.  This was my first time to make a pastalaya in my large pot and only my second time to use this recipe, so I was pleased with the results. Next time, I think I will use bow tie pasta because I beleave it will make a better presentation.

Pastalaya – This batch was made in my five gallon black iron pot and placed 2nd in a local cookoff.

Ingredients:
1 pound of pork, (I like to use boneless country-style ribs cut into 1” pieces)
1 pound of pork sausage (sliced) mild.
1 pound of boneless chicken thighs (cut into pieces)
1/2 pound of mild ground sausage
2 large onions (diced)
2 cups bell pepper (diced)
6 slices of bacon
Enough veg oil to cover bottom of pot
Creole seasoning, salt, pepper to taste
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 quart of  beef broth or water (add one more cup for a “juicier” pastalaya) see NOTE 1:
1 pound of number 4 spaghetti (break spaghetti into three pieces)
Parsley
green onions

NOTE 1: I heat my water and add beef broth granules, or bullion cubes to save money. 

This should serve 12 to 15.

Directions:

I used a #12 Black Iron Pot  For smaller pots, cut back on meat and spaghetti but not seasonings

  1. Heat oil in pot – just enough to brown and keep sausage from sticking – brown and remove sausage.
  2. Salt and pepper pork, brown and remove
  3. Cook bacon – when crisp remove bacon, wrap in sliced bread and eat.  You can skip this and sub veg oil if you prefer a good heart to good flavor.
  4. In bacon grease – add onion and cook until it starts to caramelize.  I have learned you really need to get onion caramelized to bring out its best flavor. Adding peppers or other veggies in this stage will prevent onions from caramelizing due to too much steam from water. 
  5. Add ground sausage and brown. 
  6. Add bell peppers and garlic
  7. Add the cream of mushroom soup
  8. Add the broth, meat from steps 1 and 2, and bring to a boil.
  9. Salt and pepper the chicken and add to the pot.  Stir till chicken almost done.
  10. Taste and add creole season, salt and pepper to taste.  Should be a little salty because spaghetti will take some salt.
  11. Now add the spaghetti. Don’t forget to break it.  You can reduce heat to medium after adding the spaghetti. Now, stir the spaghetti well. NOTE 2: This is an important step because you do not want the spaghetti to clump together. Once you are satisfied that each strand is loose, turn off the burner,stir in the parsley and green onions and place a lid on the pot. Allow your pastalaya to stand for about 20 minutes. NOTE 3: It is okay to stir the pasta every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the pasta on top from drying out or sticking to pot.