Bananas Foster

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My husband asked me to make Bananas Foster for his birthday recently, and how could I argue! Neither of us is much of a sweets eater, or we like to pretend we’re not, but with Bananas Foster, you make it to order and there are no leftovers! Unlike a cake or pie…

The recipe I’ve always used for Bananas Foster, is from the cookbook, American Cooking: Creole and Acadian.


From the book: This elegant dessert of flamed bananas and ice cream, created at Brennan’s over 20 years ago (this book was published in 1971!) for a regular patron named Richard Foster, has become one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.

Bananas Foster
Adapted
To serve 4
printable recipe below

4 ounces unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 firm ripe bananas, peeled and cut lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1/2 cup rum or spiced rum
1 pint good vanilla ice cream

Slice the bananas horizontally so they lay flat.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in a skillet and stir until the mixture becomes a smooth syrup.

Add the bananas and baste them with the syrup for 3 or 4 minutes, then sprinkle in the cinnamon.

Carefully pour in the banana liqueur and rum, and let the liquors warm for a few seconds. They may burst into flame spontaneously. If not, ignite them with a match.


Slide the pan back and forth until the flames die, basting the bananas all the while.

Place two banana halves in each elongated dish. Add a scoop of ice cream to each serving, then spoon the sauce over the top.

Serve at once.

And don’t forget some freshly grated nutmeg.

If you don’t have elongated individual serving dishes, slice the bananas evenly before sautéing, or at least cut them in half crosswise. Then serve in a shallow bowl.

Bananas Foster can also be prepared at the table in a flambé pan, such as a crepes Suzette pan.


Note: The original recipe calls for twice the amount of both rum and banana liqueur. If you enjoy alcoholic desserts, double your liquors!

 

Sous Vide Redfish

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There’s a really good reason that I don’t often cook fresh fish. There’s no fish where I live. Not edible fish, at least.

The closest fish source is the Gulf Coast, 700 land miles due south. Sure, some fish and seafood is flown in frozen at my grocery store, but not surprisingly, it’s not that great.

But I do have a friend whose husband fishes around the world. After the fish are caught, they’re immediately cleaned, vacuum sealed, and frozen. And this special friend shares fish with me!

I’ve posted on red fish/redfish before, thanks to this same friend. It’s a unique fish with large scales, and it’s recommended that the fish is cooked skin down, and served the same way. Sort of like on the “half shell.”

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But Stefan from Stefan Gourmet has been trying to convince me to sous vide white fish, and this is a perfect opportunity to try out this technique.

I tried to convince him previously that when I cook fish, I make sure to make it moist and tender. Which is basically trying to convince him that I don’t overcook fish. But then he says the sous vide actually creates a protein that is even more moist and tender. Because he is my sous vide go-to expert, I know he’s right. If you need basic information and lots of sous vide recipes, please refer to his blog.

If you don’t own a sous vide, follow the directions for cooking the fish from my other redfish post

And if you don’t own a sous vide, do consider one. I own a demi version, which is half the size of the non-commercial standard size, and plenty big for most everything. It was also half the price.
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Honestly, the machine is a miracle worker. My favorite thing to do with it is to sous vide both brisket and flank steak. These are both meats I never loved, and yet, once the sous vide process is over, the meat is like filet mignon. Chicken breasts are great in the sous vide as well.

According to my girlfriend, Creole flavors lend themselves to redfish. I’m also serving the fish with a fun mayo. Here’s what I did.
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Sous Vide Redfish with a Spicy Mayo

Redfish filets
Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning*
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for the spicy mayo:
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
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1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Pinch of salt
Chopped parsley, chives, or tarragon

To sous vide the fish, set your machine at 50 degrees C or 122 degrees F.

Rinse and dry the fish on paper towels. Season generously with Creole seasoning.


Vacuum seal the fish.
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Sous vide the fish for 20 minutes.
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For safety purposes, place the package of fish in an ice bath for about 10 minutes, then refrigerate.
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To make the mayo, place an egg yolk in a small bowl. Whisk the egg yolk until it’s smooth. A little whisk works wonders for a small amount of mayo.

Begin drizzling a little olive owl slowly into the bowl, while continuing to whisk.

Continue in this manner until the mayo is the consistency of heavy cream.
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Once it has thickened, pour the rest of the oil into the mayo while still whisking. Af this point, it will be the consistency of mayonnaise.
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Add the garlic, mustard, salt and cayenne pepper. As it is, the mayo can be refrigerated for a few days.


To serve the fish with the , warm the fish and the mayo close to room temperature.

Remove the fish from the plastic and place the filets on paper towels. Dry off the fish. Place the fish in a baking pan large enough so there is no overlap. Drizzle a little olive oil over the filets or, if you prefer, add a dab of butter to each filet.

Broil the fish just until it gets some color. Meanwhile stir the chopped parsley into the mayonnaise.
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Serve the fish with a dollop of the spicy mayo.
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After a little broiling, I sprinkled a little hot paprika over the fish for a bit more color.


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So was it even more tender and moist from the sous vide? Honestly, I can’t imagine this fish even more perfect than it was! Thanks, Stefan!
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* You don’t have to use a seasoning mixture, but a friend recommended this brand, and I’ve enjoyed it. If you prefer to make your own, here is a recipe from Epicurious.

Leeks Creole

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I have never thought of leeks as an accessory ingredient because of this recipe. These leeks, topped with a warm spicy vinaigrette, could be a first course, a side dish, or a salad. But however you eat these leeks, you will always have respect for this fabulous Allium, if you didn’t already. They’re not just meant to be a filler for potato soup.

This recipe is in the Creole and Acadian recipe booklet from the Foods of the World series of Time Life. I actually remember the first time I made these leeks, as part of a full Creole meal.

Creole/Cajun/Acadian is an American regional favorite of mine, because of the spiciness, mostly.

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The recipe is quite simple. It’s just a matter of first cleaning the leeks. Trim them and slice in half lengthwise. Then let running water rinse them off. If you need help with the cleaning technique, click here.

Place the cleaned leeks in a shallow pan, and cover with water. Bring to a soft boil, put a lid on the pan, and let the leeks cook for not more than 10 minutes. Using two spoons, carefully place the cooked leeks onto paper towels and let drain and cool off slightly. Alternatively, they could be steamed if you have a large enough steamer basket.

Meanwhile, prepare the spicy vinaigrette, recipe follows:

Creole Vinaigrette Sauce
To make about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 tablespoons olive oil

The way the recipe has you make it is like making a fairly thin aioli. I opted to just place all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together.


And by the way, I didn’t have tarragon vinegar, so I used a combination of apple cider vinegar and fresh tarragon.

The recipe suggests that you serve the leeks cold. I notated on the recipe page that they’re good cold or hot, but I think the flavors really pop when at least the vinaigrette is warm. Alternatively, if your leeks are still warm, the room temperature vinaigrette will warm up on the leeks. The heat really enhances the spiciness.

Place the drained leeks on a serving plate. Then gently pour on the vinaigrette.

As you can tell, I also sprinkled the leeks with tarragon leaves.

The sweetness of the leeks really pairs beautifully with the spicy, warm vinaigrette.

You just have to try them!

Shrimp and Grits

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I first had shrimp and grits when I tagged along on a business trip my husband took to Charleston, South Carolina. I only ordered grits one night, also with shrimp, because it was the thing to have in Charleston. I’d previously not been a huge cornmeal fan.

Well, thank you Charleston. I’m a huge fan now. The secret is butter, cream and cheese. Which, of course, can make anything better.

So I’m making some good grits today that will be served with shrimp and some Andouille sausage for a Creole flair. Hope you like this dish!

Creamy Grits with Shrimp and Sausage

1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups grits, I use a medium grind of cornmeal
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces Monterey jack cheese, grated
2 tablespoons oil
12 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
1 pound shrimp, cleaned, shelled, dried
salt, pepper

Add the water, milk, and butter to a dutch oven over medium heat until the butter melts.

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Then add the grits and cook them, whisking constantly, and adding a little cream at a time. This is almost like making risotto, although eventually you can quit whisking.

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Continue adding some cream until the cornmeal quits absorbing it. This could take about 30 minutes. When you’re sure it’s done, and quits thickening, add the white pepper and thyme.

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Then stir in the grated cheese. Set the grits aside.

Put a large skillet over high heat and add the oil. Add the sausage slices and brown them on both sides. When they’re all browned, scoop them up with a slotted spoon and place them in a large bowl. But keep the skillet on the stove with the oil.

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Salt and pepper all of the shrimp.

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Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat. Then add the shrimp, in batches, and cook them until they are opaque. This only takes a minute. Place the cooked shrimp in the bowl with the sausage, and continue with the remaining shrimp.

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When it is time to serve, have your grits, shrimp, and sausage all warm. Place some of the grits in a pasta bowl. Then top with the shrimp and sausage.

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I also sprinkled what I thought was paprika over the top, but it turns out it was Old Bay seasoning, which worked out well, thank goodness! I would have added some cayenne, as well, but I assumed the Andouille sausage would be spicier.

This meal was delightful with a glass of riesling.

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note: You don’t have to use all of the cream and butter, but I just like creamy grits. I’m not going to eat them made only with water and a drizzle of milk. Ridiculous. So I dress them up into buttery, cheesy, creamy goodness!

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