Monday, December 15, 2014


I came across this dish in a recent NYT article about holiday dishes from around the world. I had never heard of this Iranian stew of chicken, walnuts and pomegranate molasses but was intrigued. Although it is somewhat presumptuous to make changes to a recipe I have no parameters for, I did. And it was outstanding!

First, I did not have boneless, skinless chicken. I had some chicken drumsticks and needed to make chicken stock anyway. So I de-skinned the legs (saved the skins to make schmalz!) and browned them in some olive oil for my base. Then I removed them and caramelized my onions for about 20 minutes. Added the chicken back to the pot and added water to cover. Let that simmer for an hour. While that's simmering, toast nuts in a pan or the oven about 15 minutes. Let them cool, then puree in the food processor. After you've simmered for an hour, add the nuts to the pot, along with the molasses and spices. Cook on low for another 30-45 minutes. Be really careful here. Recipes I looked at told me to stir every 20 minutes because the nuts could burn. Of course mine burned, I'd stir a lot more frequently. But even so, it was still so good. Taste it to make sure you've got enough salt and pepper. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and cilantro.

2 T. or so of olive oil
6-7 de-skinned, bone-in chicken drumsticks, seasoned with S&P
1 onion
about 2 or 2.5 cups of water
2 cups pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 T. spice blend (mine included turmeric, cardamom and cayenne)
salt and pepper
pomegranate seeds

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Well, even if I don't post here very often, I am thankful for this space. I often think I'll remember how I made something and of course, I never do. So to be able to search the archives here really helps me clear the cobwebs in my cranial attic.

I didn't cook or travel for Thanksgiving this year, which never happens. At first, I was kind of sad about that but then I realized how great it is to enjoy the various spreads at other peoples' homes and not have to clean my house or do dishes afterwards. It also opened up my whole morning since we didn't have our first dinner until 3. Ben just bought a canoe so we took it out for a spin on the bayou, with some champagne, naturally.

Before I tell you about the recipes I test drove, a couple of musings:

-I didn't mean to put cayenne pepper in my pancake batter this morning but it actually wasn't too bad.

-I have had my food processor since receiving it as a birthday present in 2008, so almost 7 years. I JUST used the blade to shred potatoes and parsnips. It's like magic! How did I just figure this feature out? Also, shredded potatoes turn black overnight. Now I know.

To bring to our friendsgiving celebrations, I made potato-parsnip latkes with horseradish-dill sour cream. It was a Smitten Kitchen recipe so it goes without saying that it all worked well (even with black potatoes) just as written. They are also delicious room temperature, in case you wondered. I did, and read every single one of the 100 or so comments on her page to find out what others had to say about that.

I also made two desserts, a salted caramel-chocolate ganache tart and an Atlantic Beach pie, kind of a love child between key lime and lemon meringue. Both were very good but require notes.

Salted caramel-chocolate ganache tart

Damn, now I can't find the recipe. Well, it's easy. Basically, crush 36 Oreos with a stick of melted butter to make your crust. Press it into a tart pan and freeze for ten minutes. Then melt one stick of butter with 2/3 cup brown sugar in a sauce pan until it bubbles. Stir constantly for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream. Allow this cool for a few minutes, then pour it over your crust. Put it back in the freezer for 30 minutes. Finally, melt 12 ounces of dark chocolate with 1 cup of heavy cream and stir until completely mixed. Pour it over the caramel and out in the the fridge until time to serve.

My thoughts:
-The recipe called for sea salt sprinkled on top. I put it in the caramel but didn't taste it too much.
-The recipe also pushed cookie crumbs along the bottom and up the sides. I just did the bottom but realized that was a mistake as it was hard to remove from the tart shell. And then the softened caramel oozed out of the sides.
-The final product was insanely delicious but it gave me a terrible headache because it was so very rich. Proceed with caution.

Atlantic beach pie

This recipe was really easy and really good. I think I liked it better than the chocolate bomb, but maybe only because it didn't put me in pain. One important note, and I'm shocked I didn't see anything about it in the comments. The recipe calls for 1.5 sleeves of Saltines or 6 ounces. I put in two sleeves and that was only 4 ounces! Plus, it made way too much by about two times and there wasn't enough butter to bind. My advice would be to just use one sleeve of crackers (ignore the weight) and the same amount of butter and sugar. I also ignored the note to not sweeten the whipped cream because it's Thanksgiving ya'll! I didn't use a lot of sugar but still....

Finally, I am making a cake as we speak for my friend Paige's birthday. She really loves Ooey Gooey cake and I searched about 4,000 recipes before I found one that didn't start with one box of yellow cake mix. I tried it once last year (of course I didn't make note of the recipe I used) and it didn't really turn out. So hopefully this one will be good and if not, at least I've documented that here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

King Cake Diaries

Well, 'tis the season for king cakes and on the 8th day of Carnival season, I have already sampled almost as many king cakes. OK, well actually only 5 but I've certainly had at least 8 slices.

January 6th: First day of the season. I went to a party on the 4th where a king cake was present but I DID NOT EAT IT because it's blasphemy to eat king cake before Three Kings Day. Anyway, the 6th found me in Metry so I picked up a cream cheese-filled cake from Manny Randazzo's. (They had already run out of the pecan one I wanted). Their medium was pretty large but $17 for plain and $23 for cream cheese had me scratching my head a little. $6 add on for cream cheese? It was pretty skimpy on the filling too. Anyway, I liked the soft, tender cake, good icing, meager filling. It was good but I'd never pay that much for a king cake again that, to me, was just middle of the line.

January 11th: Saints vs the Seahawks. We went to a friend's house to watch the game, eat oysters and drink champagne. Minus the football part, that's pretty much my perfect day. King cakes from Sucre and Haydel's were featured. Now my dear friend works at Sucre and last year she told us they changed their recipe (I was glad, I previously thought it too dry). It was pretty much perfection in my book. On Saturday she reported that the recipe underwent another tinkering, I think last year's was better. Why mess with a good thing??? But she brought two and one didn't even get cut into so I did not protest when she told me to take it home. It really benefited from a 10 second warming in the microwave. The one from Haydel's was not filled, usually kind of boring to me, but it was so tender and perfectly (not too) sweet.

January 12th: Dropped in at a friend's house during a beautiful Sunday afternoon bike ride (to counteract all the king cake!). I spied a king cake from newcomer Gracious bakery. They only make one kind with a chocolate-cinnamon filling. The chocolate was dense and delicious but I tasted nary a bit of cinnamon. The cake was dry and dull as day old bread. No matter how good the filling is, I detest this bread-esque cake.

January 13th: Coworkers eating king cake at 7:30 this morning. We have 50 days left of king cake season I worry for all of our waistlines. Anyway, for the sake of journalistic integrity, I ate a piece. This one was a La Louisiane, apparently they don't have a retail bakery anymore but you can pick them up at a few places around town, including Sam's of all places. This is another traditional, unfilled king cake and it was pretty good, considering I prefer a ribbon of cream cheese or a smattering of candied pecans to liven things up.

Verdict: So far, Haydel's was my favorite, with Sucre running second. Hmm, or maybe Randazzo's. Gracious was definitely dead last. La Louisiane was good but when you've got the $8 Rouse's king cake to compare to, everything else just seems grossly overpriced.