Tuesday, June 30, 2009

El Tapatio

After my doctor's appointment and buying some new crutches, it was bordering on 3 PM. I did not want to go home and fix something because I have been doing that for about 2 weeks now. Most of the plate lunch places are closed by then but a few independents stay open through the afternoon. Pho Tien is one but I did not want to go across town. Another is El Tapatio just around the corner from me. I did not want the usual stuff. Too hot for carnitas and I was spiced out from Donald Links rice dishes so did not feel like Coctel de Camerone. I did want shrimp but not the fried Chimichanga. I finally decided. I first went with a favorite of mine Chile Rellenos. Looking at it you would think it is stuffed with beef or chicken, not. Here it is about the pepper with a cheese accent. A stick of cheese not too much stuffed in the pepper and then fried with an egg white batter served with El Tapatio sauce. Perfection. The pepper today had a little spice just enough to excite the taste buds

I decided on a Shrimp Quesdilla. Marinated shrimp griddled with green bell pepper and onions then put in a flour tortilla with cheese and griddled again served with sour cream, tomato and lettuce.
A peak inside after I slathered it with sour cream. The shrimp were tender, juicy, and flavorful. This made for a lovely light repast. I left quite sated and happy

I consider this the best Mexican restaurant in town and they are busy busy even without an alcohol license even though they are trying again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eggplant Rice Dressing (Donald Link)

Ingredients line up
Mise en place

Skillet shots are tough for me. Most of these went south on me for this recipe. I will just have to talk through it. First you brown the ground beef. Below is the seasonings added.

Next you add the spices and then the rice. Below is the blanched eggplant. Blanching takes out the bitterness and leaves it semi cooked. That is added next along with some green onions and bay leaves and water. I put all of the ingredients in my rice cooker and it came out quite nice

Below is the final product from the rice cooker

The way my mother made this was to make an eggplant base cooking down eggplant with seasoning and ground beef. Cooked rice was add to this. The above way works perfectly fine also. It has a nice eggplant flavor which I love and pretty hefty spice kick due to cayenne pepper. The eggplant disappears leaving the skin which just melts in your mouth with an additional eggplant flavor. Again a very simple and easy recipe although it does contain a couple of steps.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rice and Lake Charles Dirty Rice (Donald Link)

Here is the ingredients in the rice pot. Rice, water, bay leaves and very little salt. I was skeptical but I went with anyway.

Here is the finished product. In many restaurants today the people are trying to cut back on salt by not putting any in rice. This results in bland rice. Although I only put about an 1/16 (pinch) in this one it was delicious. I would have had some with butter if I had not needed all of it for the Dirty Rice. I will be making my rice with bay leaves from now on. It was sorta of an herbal backnote that I found pleasant.
Ingredient line up for Dirty Rice.

Mise en place

The ground pork and pureed chicken livers browning

Spices and seasoning into the skillet and cooked a bit

The cooked rice was added to that along with chicken stock and green onions and parsley. Finished product below. Nice spice level due to some jalapeno in the seasonings.

When I was growing up dirty rice was made with ground beef not only because my paternal grandfather ran cattle but because my mother had high blood pressure. Back in those days the common wisdom was that pork exacerbated the condition. So I rarely got to eat pork except when I went to my maternal aunt's and uncle's houses. Maybe that is why I like pork so much. Because it was such a treat for me. The procedure for this recipe gave a deep roasty toasty flavor to the final product. Since the liver was pureed it just added a richness in the background without being to livery. Good recipe with good directions.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hannah's and Pig Out BBQ

Hannah’s Seafood
393 North Hwy 171
Moss Bluff, LA
Wednesday - Saturday 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM $1-$17
Sunday 12:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Located in the Bronco Stop this establishment seems to have broken the curse on this site. They tried out different times until settling down to their current venue. One thing they eliminated was lunch. I had a particularly fine shrimp stew before they switch to dinner hours only. This is a family owned and run restaurant and boil house. Some menu items are family recipes. Service is casual and homey with no frills i.e. Styrofoam. With the new tables it exudes a camp on the bayou feel.
Their Corn, Crab, and Shrimp Bisque is more like good macque choux. Thick with no cream or roux it contains loads of corn, tomato and seafood with great flavor and a spicy kick. The Seafood File Gumbo also contains no roux and has lots of crab and shrimp. It seemed to me that the file had been cooked into the broth. It gave it a weird appearance although the flavor was good.
One time I ordered some raw oysters and marinated ones. For the raw I received shucked oyster in a Styrofoam bowl. A bit unusual but it tasted fine. The marinated ones consisted of raw oysters in Italian dressing with sliced raw onions, bell pepper, and jalapenos. They could have benefited by a longer soak. However the marinade had picked up some lovely oyster flavor. I crumbled crackers into it after eating the oysters, delicious. I ate their Seafood Platter next. It had shrimp, oysters and catfish on it. The coating were appropriate to the seafood i.e. shrimp -flour coating, oysters and catfish -corn meal. The catfish was especially good. They do seem to have a slight problem with some of the pre-made products they use. The hush puppies were undercooked and the onion rings slightly overcooked. I am sure they have that down pat by now.
Last run was through the drive thru for boiled crawfish. The seasoning had a strong lemon pepper component in addition to the normal spicy flavor. I liked it a lot. The only problem was that it was early in the season and they had used unsorted field grade that day. The size varied widely and the small ones were overcooked
All the minor problems are just that, minor. I am sure they have been adjusted. For a family not familiar with running restaurant they are not doing half bad. Their home style cooking is a refreshing change from standard restaurant recipes


Pig Out Barbecue
1680 Sam Houston Jones Parkway
Moss Bluff, LA
Monday - Friday 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM $1-$15
Not much to look at. It seems to be an abandoned rickety trailer on the side of the road. However they are open and doing some decent food. It is a take away joint only and plentiful. I got a three-meat combo, as is my wont at places like this. There was so much food that it had to go into two large Styrofoam clamshells. One was for the half chicken and the other contained ribs, sausage, potato salad, beans, roll and a piece of pineapple cake. The meat had been slow cooked, tender, and juicy with little smoky flavor. An old fashion BBQ flavor using a Jack Miller or Pig Stand type of sauce predominated. The beans were right out of the can and the salad a decent “mashed style”. For a filling if not spectacular meal step right up


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sausage & Peppers (Donarld Link) sorta of

Ok I probably made more substitution on this recipe than any before and have add a twist. Calls for amber beer but I could not get a single bottle of amber so I went with regular beer. Called for red wine vinegar but I used Steen's cane vinegar. Since the amber comes from roasting the malted barley and adds an undernote of sweet, I felt the Steen's would do that. It calls for grain mustard and I thought I had some. Turned out not but I had some chipotle mustard. Since I was using Mowata Store (Bubba Frey) sausage which a nice smoke on it and jalapenos was in the recipe, I thought it would dovetail nicely. By the way it did.

Below is the ingredients

My mise en place with all the ingredients prepped and measured

Sausage in the skillet getting brown

The rest of the ingredient into the pool. Brought to a boil and then simmered

At the end of the cooking period ready for my twist

My twist. I cracked raw eggs into the spaces and then steamed them in the liquid

Served over pita bread (only bread I had in the house). It would have been perfect but I cooked the eggs to soft yolk when I wanted a liquid one. It was still pretty good

The sausages were wonderfully tender and tasty with the vegetables having great flavor and spice with a tangy undertone. Would have gone fine with rice. Again simple straightforward directions for a marvelous variation on smothering meat.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Chuckwagon

Back in their old digs on Sam Houston Jones Parkway they are still turning out the best BBQ in the area. Even when I am on a hamburger kick like the last couple of day they have a product for me. It is the Smoked Hamburger. Simple as a burger can get. Plain slightly sweet bun, chopped burg, sliced onions and tomatoes. The difference is the patty. Hand formed with chopped onions inside and smoked to perfection. I got smoked Provolone to enhance it. Highly satisfying. Nuff said

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nina P's

When I reviewed this place ages ago I came away not that impressed. Recently I have been passing it on a regular basis. The parking lot is always full. Must have improved or there would not be so many customers at this place. Finally the other day I was in the vicinity at the tail end of lunch and there were spaces so I pulled in. All I got to say is WOW

Below is a small chicken and sausage gumbo. It has a dark flavorful roux and medium viscosity. The piece of chicken breast was huge and sausage good with no odd flavors. A medium spice on the broth and great rice. This is the kinda rice I could eat just plain except it had no salt. This would have been enough to be a meal for my sister

Wonderful onion rings. Medium cut with a flour coating and not greasy. Believe it or not this is an half order. I would hate to see what a full order would be like. It could probable feed 6 people.

I got the San Francisco Burger. Half pound patty with Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms and onions, tomato, lettuce, jalapeno mayo on a Sheila Partin whole wheat sweet sourdough bun. I added some bacon. It was huge and tasty and I ate every last bit. It was sweet, spicy, earthy, beefy, etc

The bread pudding was just ok. It was made with po boy bread but either did not have enough custard or did not sit long enough to soak it in. It also contained nuts which I do not care for in bread pudding and sweet spices which are fine to me. The caramel like sauce I also liked

Bottom line there is a reason for that full parking lot and it is not just the lovely servers but the rock solid food that they put out

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Post-K Meatloaf (Donald Link)

This is a recipe that Herbsaint put on the menu when they opened back up after the hurricane. It is basic comfort food but the cookbook tells me it was so popular it is still on the menu. It starts off with a flavoring base. The start of the flavoring base is good old bacon. That is put in hot oil and cooked for about 5 minutes until rendered. Then comes the vegetables. I do not care for celery so it does not have any in it. Carrots and onions I love. They is also a smidgen of dehydrated trinity with garlic. These are sauteed for 10 minutes or so until soft
Then the spices, sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire go in. Again cooked for 5 or 10 minutes at simmer to incorporate and thicken.
Here is the result. You now let this cool. I had to store it overnight as the package of meat that I took out of the freezer and defrosted was not ground meat but some sort of tips.

Below is a package of grass fed beef that my cousin and I went in on. By the way our goat should be ready soon. This is ground chuck.

The wet side with eggs, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce

The dry side with bread crumbs and spices.

The result of mixing all three together along with the flavoring base.

Stashed in a loaf pan. I then foiled it and cooked for an hour in my tabletop convection/light technology appliance. At that point it was 150 degrees.

I unfoiled it and browned the top. It came out easily and here it is.

Because my dice was probably larger than it should be and I probably used more onion than called for the loaf just after cooking fell apart when I tried to slice it. I happily ate in chunks. Did I mention it was delicious. After a night in the frig it sliced just fine. Most of this loaf went to work for some people to sample. I have enough for a sandwich I have not gotten too. This recipe makes two loaves so the other one is stashed in the freezer for a later date.

While the recipe has a fair amount of ingredients it can easily be made in two stages. Making a cooked flavor base delivered a smoky flavor through out the meat loaf as predicted by Chef Link. It also had a nice spice kick with beefy flavor and just a hint of sweetness from the carrots. In other words balanced. A keeper although I will adjust some of my prep methods the next time I make.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fried Chicken Livers (Donald Link)

Here is the reason for the pepper jelly. Fried chicken livers. A signature dish of the restaurant. The recipe in the book fancies it up. Sliced bread cut in four, buttered and baked into a crouton and a mint parsley and onion salad to put on top. I am a little too lazy and rustic to do that. Although I can see this would go well together with the liver and jelly. Of course I had to throw another kink into the recipe. I did not have chicken livers but I did have turkey livers. Don't ask. Below is the liver after an overnight soak in whole milk buttermilk (bulgarian) with hot sauce , salt and pepper. Ready for the coating

In this case plain flour that coat each liver individually. Making sure to let the excess liquid drip off. Cover the liver totally with the flour and knock off the excess

Here is a batch ready to go in the fryer. I floured up just enough for a batch. Did not want the flour sitting on the livers.

An overview of the battering process

I used my tabletop fryer to do this not crowding the basket. They took about 4 minutes because turkey livers are larger than chicken liver. Below is the a couple just out of the fryer. I found they are best eaten while a little warm. After they have sat awhile they are not so good. I am sure this is because the liver is mostly fat and a little congealed when cold.

I slapped mine on some triscuits and piled on the jelly. Delicious. I popped the soaking livers back in the fridge and did some the next day. Just as good. I did not even bother with the triscuits. The coating is crispy and crunchy without being greasy. The turkey livers were just a bit more livery than chicken but not much. I liked them but I like anything liver The sweet and spicy jelly really cuts the fat in the liver and enhances the flavor

This recipe lays it all out in a simple and direct way. An easy recipe to follow especially if you already have the jelly. If you like the dish at the restaurant these are exactly the same. Something to pass around at a party as long as you are doing them fresh.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pepper Jelly (Donald Link)

This a recipe that is a component in another recipe. Here are the main ingredients. I varied them a little bit. I have more bell pepper and less jalapeno. I like spicy food but not burn my taste buds out hot.

After chopping up the peppers they get pureeed in the blender. Then they sit overnight in the frig to macerate and the liquid to take on the taste and heat of the peppers.
After a night in the frig I used a chinois to strain the mixture. Side note the recipe some how missed this step but an experienced cook would know to do it by two things. It is jelly not relish and the line about bringing the liquid level to 4 cups with apple juice. The next step is to boil the liquid with pectin. Then add the sugar and bring back up to the boil for a minute. I have no pictures as I was busy stirring and had no one to take them

The recipe and notes give clear and precise directions on how to do the hot bath canning method. One minor note left out (a fact I did not know) is that pepper jelly depending on the size of the jar may take as long as a week to gel. This is the fruit of my labor. Did you know that like tomatoes peppers are botanically fruit
My jelly has a soft set which is nice as I will likely use it for glazes and such beside the intended use in the next recipe. The taste has a nice bell pepper note and medium hot finish. Just the way I like it. This one seems to be a keeper also

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sunday Night Fried Chicken (Donald Link)

Hopefully most of you have read the article about Donald Link on the front page of the American Press this Monday June 15. While I did not write that article it comes at an opportune time for me. For those who may not read it I will render a thumbnail sketch. Chef Link grew up in this area. Learned to cook at his grandpa's knee. Also pick up pointers from other family members. Went to New Orleans to cook, went to California to cook, came back to New Orleans to cook. Opened Herbsaint with the help of his former boss, Susan Spicer. Has since opened Cochon, Cochon Butcher and the Calcasieu Rooms. Became an award winning chef with national recognition. Herbsaint is a French style bistro with heavy Louisiana influences, Cochon celebrates the cooking he grew up with, Butcher is also a tribute to the family run butcher shops of Southwest Louisiana, and the catering operation of the Calcalsieu rooms acknowledges where he came from. Check this website for more info. http://www.herbsaint.com/

Chef Link has just written and released a cookbook called Real Cajun (Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link,s Louisiana). I received a press copy and so as my tribute to local man made good for the next month or so I will be cooking out of it and letting you look over my shoulder. These days I rarely follow a recipe exactly but I will let know when I deviate.

Below is a small yard bird that I bought at farmer's market. It is probably only 2 lbs whereas the recipe calls for a 3 to 4 lb bird. The cut on it follows the recipe (breast cut in 4 pieces) except I have added the back cut into two pieces. This is how my mother did it. The back were her special pieces. As I have said before and will probably say again she was a bone sucker a trait I pick up from her. Best tasting meat is bone in.

Below is the spices added to the chicken pieces which were then tossed and left to sit overnight.
Kinda like a rub but not
The chicken was then soaked in buttermilk. I let mine sit in the frig for another hour after that. The recipe does not call for that I just did it.

The pieces were taken out of the buttermilk allowing excess liquid to drip off. When all were in the clean bowl all purpose flour was added and the pieces tossed to coat. They were then piece by piece taken from the flour and shaken to remove excess. Mine went into a stove top fryer to be deep fat fried with vegetable oil. Since they were small pieces they took only 10 minutes. The recipe calls for them to be pan fried in a black iron skillet preferably with lard or bacon drippings.

The final product

The back and a wing with a sweet potato mash made with whole milk buttermilk was my meal. The next day cold chicken from the frig.

My assessment of the recipe if that it clear,well thought out and simple to follow. The resulting product is well season chicken meat with a sturdy crunchy crust. This one is a keeper. The overnight contact with the spices and hot sauce left the meat tasty. The crust was perfect. If you want a little more umph to the crust I recommend adding some hot sauce to the buttermilk and soaking at least an hour.