Let’s Eat

Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Turkey and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Let’s Eat by Charles Oppman Turkey and Smoked Sausage Gumbo With Thanksgiving arriving in a few weeks, we ought to consider a recipe that is a bit more interesting than the worn out leftover turkey and veggie soup. Most Americans know that gumbo is a classic soup made famous by Louisiana chefs, but it is also rooted in African and American Indian cuisines. Okra is commonly used as a thickening agent and for flavor. The slaves brought okra with them from Africa and the Choctaw Indians of Louisiana introduced filé (a spice essential to gumbo) to early American chefs.  Gumbo came out of bayous of southwest Louisiana. There is not a single recipe for gumbo, every family and every restaurant has its own. Here’s one that I learned from a veteran New Orleans’ chef who passed away during Katrina. Try this soup, you’ll love it. Serves: 6-8 Time: 1½ hours Ingredients 2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into ¼’’ slices 4 pounds turkey parts, thighs and legs (chicken, duck or pork is optional) 1 cup each parsley, bell pepper, celery and onion; chopped ¼ cup fresh garlic, chopped 6 bay leaves 4 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons thyme leaves 3 tablespoons Worstershire sauce ½ cup vegetable oil or butter ½ cup flour Hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste Instructions In a stockpot, just cover the turkey parts with water or chicken stock. Simmer uncovered until tender, approximately 1 hour. When cooled, de-bone the turkey reserving the meat and stock. In a large, heavy pot combine the oil and flour and make a roux. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously with a whisk until the color of peanut butter. DO NOT burn the roux as this will impart a burnt flavor to the soup. If burnt, discard and begin again….

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Country Apple Tart

Let’s Eat by Charles Oppman Country Apple Tart What says autumn better than a homemade apple dessert? When the apple harvest is in it’s the perfect time to whip up everyone’s favorite dessert, an apple tart. Apple pies are fine, but here’s a treat with a twist, a one-crust tart. This dessert is not only attractive it tastes great. You can’t just use any apple for this tart. You need an apple that has the right sugar content and texture. The Granny Smith apple is the perfect choice. Almond cream (Frangipane) Ingredients ½ cup unsalted butter 1 cup confectioner’s sugar 3 egg yolks 1 cup blanched almond slivers, ground 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt Directions In a food processor, grind the almonds to a consistency of corn meal. Set almond meal aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This mixture will turn pale yellow. Mix in almond meal, salt and vanilla. Blend in egg yolks one at time until all is incorporated and smooth, creamy mixture is achieved. Refrigerate for later use. The Pastry Ingredients 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cold 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cold 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup very cold milk, or as needed 2 cups cake flour, all purpose will suffice 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional Directions Mix together sifted flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut butter and shortening into the flour until pieces are pea-size. To form dough, add milk incrementally and mix until a dough ball is formed. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Dough should be slightly crumbly, but wet enough to form a ball when compressed. Form dough into a flat disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refridgerage for at least 2 hours before rolling out. On…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Apple Pie Moonshine That Packs a Punch

Let’s Eat By Christina Hitchcock   Apple Pie Moonshine That Packs a Punch     This easy Apple Pie Moonshine recipe is an incredibly delicious cocktail. It’s always the hit of the party and everyone goes crazy for this easy moonshine recipe.  Plus, you won’t believe how easy it is to make! This recipe is crazy good!  It goes down very easy but really packs a punch.  It’s a really easy recipe that doesn’t require a moonshine still or any complicated steps.  This is really a flavored moonshine recipe. It uses grain alcohol that you purchase so it’s fairly simple to make. Make sure, though, you make it a few weeks before you plan to drink it.  It needs time to sit and mellow out before you can enjoy it. I usually make several batches at one time.  The hardest part is finding the grain alcohol.  I use an entire bottle of 190 proof Everclear for each batch, however, 190 proof grain alcohol can be hard to find.  Some states don’t sell it.  If you can’t find it, you can easily use a lower proof (151 proof grain alcohol is much easier to find) vodka or moonshine purchased from a liquor store.   This is truly the best Apple Pie Moonshine recipe you will ever try.   Remember to let it sit and mellow, though. If you try this moonshine too soon, it’s like drinking rocket fuel.  Or, at least I’m assuming that’s what rocket fuel would taste like.  I’ve never really tried it. This stuff is VERY potent, but oh, so good!   Ingredients 64 oz apple juice 64 oz apple cider 3 cups sugar 14 cinnamon sticks divided 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 750 ml 190 proof Everclear grain alcohol or the highest proof vodka you can find   Instructions Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 1 hour Total: 1 hour 5 minutes Bring the apple juice, cider, sugar, nutmeg, ground cinnamon and 8…

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Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crabs

By Charles Oppman Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crabs Now that we’re approaching the end of soft shell crab season we should be thinking about frying up a few of these fabulous crustaceans while we still have them. The soft shell crab is one of the South’s greatest contributions to American cuisine. Soft shells are a delicacy in every sense of the word. They can be sautéed or deep fried. A soft shell is a common blue crab that’s harvested during the early stages of molting, when the crab sheds its smaller shell and before a new, larger shell forms. The crab should be cooked before the new shell begins to harden.   A bit of pre-cooking preparation needs to be done. The crab needs to be cleaned.   To clean soft-shell crabs, hold the crab in one hand, and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the mouth and eye parts. Lift one pointed end of the crab’s outer shell; remove the gills by pulling them out. Repeat on the other side. Turn the crab over and pull off the small flap known as the apron. Rinse the entire crab well and pat dry. Once cleaned, crabs should be cooked immediately.   Only buy crabs that are alive. If they don’t move when touched, they’re dead and you won’t know when they expired. Smell the crabs. Like other seafood, soft shells should odorless or smell like the ocean. Avoid buying frozen crabs as they lose most of their body fluid when they thaw out and appendages tend to break off. Soft shells should only be consumed during the season, which varies with the latitude. Soft shells are great with French fries and coleslaw or as a po’ boy sandwich. Any po’ boy should be made on a crunchy French baguette….

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Celebrate Bastille Day With the Perfect French Fry!

By Charles Oppman Celebrate Bastille Day With the Perfect French Fry! Who doesn’t a love a big pile of hot, crispy French fries? I’m not talking about the kind served at fast food joints — although some do serve up fabulous fries — or mom and pop restaurants where the chef either doesn’t know how to properly cook French fries or can’t be bothered to get it right. Great fries aren’t just a matter of slicing potatoes and drowning them in a bath of hot fat for a few minutes. Perfect fries begin with the perfect potato followed up by an essential two-step cooking process. Deep-fry French fries one time and you’ll wind up with a heap of limp, pallid potato sticks, but not proper French fries. The potato is a member of the nightshade family (solanaceae) — which includes eggplant, tomatillos, tomatoes and chayote — and its leaves and flowers are poisonous if eaten in sufficient quantities. Some plants have great medicinal value, especially for arthritis, some are quite poisonous. These health hazards were at least marginally understood in Europe so when the tubers were brought to the Old World they would be used primarily to feed the underprivileged. Their nutritional value was not appreciated. Eventually Europeans embraced the potato and it became widespread as a food source. There seems to be some dispute as to where fries originated. The Belgians lay claim to being the first while the French take credit for inventing these crispy batons of delight. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time in the history of gastronomy the French have taken credit where they oughtn’t to have. For example, take the croissant, but wait, I’m getting off track. That’s another story. Wherever the truth lies, we Americans are quite certain Thomas Jefferson introduced the…

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Summertime…and the Livin’ Is Easy!

By Judy Eichner Summertime…and the Livin’ Is Easy!             The music and lyrics George Gershwin wrote for his operetta Summertime are prophetic.  The first line reads: “Summertime and the living is easy.”  As the weather gets warmer and I spend more time eating outside, I find that most barbecued meat starts to taste the same.  So I try “living easy” by serving the two recipes which are different, delicious and very easy. Bea Roman’s Shrimp and Macaroni Salad Ingredients: -1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. -1 ½ pounds medium size shelled and de-veined shrimp, cooked for about 3 minutes, drained and rinsed in cold water and set aside. -6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and thinly sliced in rounds. -1 or 2 cucumbers, seeds removed and thinly sliced in rounds. -1 small onion very finely diced. -2 medium, garden fresh tomatoes cut in pieces, or a package of grape tomatoes cut in halves. -¾ cup of mayonnaise -¼ to 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar -salt, pepper, and garlic powder             Put the diced onion in the bottom of a large ceramic bowl. Sprinkle lightly with kosher or sea salt.  Add the tomatoes and toss with onion. Then add the cucumber and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and a small amount of pepper. Add the sliced egg and toss again.  Add the cooked macaroni and shrimp and toss thoroughly.              In a small, deep bowl combine the mayonnaise and the apple cider vinegar. Beat on low with a hand mixer. Be sure any lumps are incorporated and the mixture is very smooth. Pour over the macaroni, shrimp, etc. and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve cold with crusty bread.             If you omit the shrimp you can…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crabs

Let’ Eat! By Charles Oppman Deep-Fried Soft Shell Crabs Now that soft shell crab season is upon us we should be thinking about frying up a few of these fabulous crustaceans. The soft shell crab is one of the South’s greatest contributions to American cuisine. Soft shells are a delicacy in every sense of the word. They can be sautéed or deep fried. A soft shell is a common blue crab that’s harvested during the early stages of molting, when the crab sheds its smaller shell and before a new, larger shell forms. The crab should be cooked before the new shell begins to harden. A bit of pre-cooking preparation needs to be done. The crab needs to be cleaned. 1. To clean soft-shell crabs, hold the crab in one hand, and using a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the mouth and eye parts. 2. Lift one pointed end of the crab’s outer shell; remove the gills by pulling them out. Repeat on the other side. 3. Turn the crab over and pull off the small flap known as the apron. Rinse the entire crab well and pat dry. Once cleaned, crabs should be cooked immediately. Only buy crabs that are alive. If they don’t move when touched, they’re dead and you won’t know when they expired. Smell the crabs. Like other seafood, soft shells should odorless or smell like the ocean. Avoid buying frozen crabs as they lose most of their body fluid when they thaw out and appendages tend to break off. Soft shells should only be consumed during the season, which varies with the latitude. Soft shells are great with French fries and coleslaw or as a po’ boy sandwich. Any po’ boy should be made on a crunchy French baguette. The po’ boy can be…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

A Rite of Spring – Pasta Primavera

By Charles Oppman A Rite of Spring – Pasta Primavera Now that spring is in full swing we’re likely to see the seasonal springtime dish pasta primavera on Italian restaurant menus across America. It just makes sense―the word primavera means “spring” in Italian. But what is pasta primavera exactly, and what’s its culinary history? Let’s begin with the heart of the dish, the pasta. Long before they invented the mechanical clock, gunpowder and paper, the Chinese invented noodles, which would come to be called pasta, “dough” in Italian. Although the origin of pasta evokes much speculation, many historians credit the 13th century explorer, Marco Polo, with bringing pasta to Italy from China. During his 17 years in China the Venetian merchant probably dined with the likes of Kublai Khan, Polo must have sampled a variety of Asian pastas, which were generally made with rice flour or millet. The Chinese began using wheat for noodles about 3000 BC. The medieval Chinese didn’t eat dry strands of pasta like we do today. Instead they cooked fresh pasta.  Pasta primavera is an Italian-American dish―created in New York City in the 1970s― consisting of pasta and fresh vegetables. There is no one recipe for this dish. It may contain almost any kind of vegetable, but cooks tend to stick to firm, crisp vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, onions and green, red or yellow bell peppers, with tomatoes. Pasta primavera is usually highlighted by light flavors, aromatic herbs and bright colors. A seasonal addition would be fresh asparagus, which is inexpensive and plentiful during the spring season. Chicken, sausage or seafood may be added, but the star of the dish is always the vegetables. A Classic primavera sauce is based on a soffritto (the Italian version of a French mirepoix) of garlic and olive…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Lamb Shanks

Let’s Eat by Chef Charles Oppman Lamb Shanks With Easter coming early in April this year, I think it’s time to break out the lamb recipes. When we think spring lamb, most of us think of that boneless roast or a bone-in leg, but let’s try something different. Of course, French cut lamb chops are wonderful, but expensive and lack flavor. Why not do lamb shanks? This is a great cut of lamb for several reasons―fairly inexpensive, bursting with flavor, soft texture and high collagen (when heated, collagen dissolves to provide flavor and gelatinous texture). A meat shank or shin is the portion of meat around the tibia of the animal, the leg bone beneath the knee. Since the leg muscles are well developed they tend to be tough must be braised or slow-baked in the oven. This recipe calls for the braising in the oven. As with any cut of lamb, the shanks are delicious with mint sauce. Please don’t resort to mint jelly. Fresh mint sauce is a snap to make. You just add mint leaves and a pinch of sugar to the natural juices. This is an easy recipe that you’ll love. One caveat, the bone in lamb shanks can be large (this is a good thing because this means more flavor) so compensate for this when judging how many shanks to cook. A nice Grenache blend is a good wine to pair with this entrée.   Ingredients:   3-4 pounds of lamb shanks ¼ cup vegetable oil 1 teaspoon table salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup onion, diced 1 cup celery, diced 2 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped 4 bay leaves 1 teaspoon thyme leaves 2 cups beef broth, canned is fine 1 tablespoon Worstershire sauce 6 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped   Method:   In…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

New Orleans’ Po Boys – Laissez les bon temps Rouler

Let’s Eat By Charles Oppman New Orleans’ Po Boys – Laissez les bon temps Rouler With Mardi Gras fast approaching on the 16th, we thought it only fitting to publish the recipe for a Nawlin’s favorite.  Every so often a marvelous dish is created, one that is so special, so memorable it becomes a classic. The famous New Orleans’ po boy is one such creation. But what is a po boy exactly? Let’s start with what it isn’t. It isn’t a hoagie, a sub or a grinder. Those are northern creations made with soft, gummy bread. Po boys are made with baguettes that have a crunchy crust and a soft, tender crumb. Po boys are uniquely New Orleans. They symbolize the city’s social and cultural heritage. Po boys have an interesting history. Bennie and Clovis Martin left their Raceland, Louisiana, home in Cajun country in the mid-1910s for New Orleans. Both worked as streetcar conductors until they opened Martin Brothers’ Coffee Stand and Restaurant in the French Market in 1922. The years they had spent working as streetcar operators and members of the street railway employees’ union would eventually lead to their hole-in-the-wall coffee stand. The streetcar workers’ strike began on July1, 1929. It was a protracted and vicious labor dispute. The sympathetic Martins provided large French bread sandwiches to the strikers. Bennie Martin said, “We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, one of us would say, “Here comes another poor boy.” The name stuck, but was quickly shortened to “po boy.” Also called an “Oyster Loaf”, the oyster po boy is one of the most popular varieties of this legendary New Orleans’ sandwich. Po Boys can have a variety of fillings; seafood, roast beef, turkey, ham,…

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