The Kitchen of the Midnightferret

Crunchings and Munchings with the Midnightferret!

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Eat this first!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Roux

NOTE: I started this post two years ago. Yeah, I’m on the ball.

Saturday night we made a chicken and sausage gumbo. Normally, I only make gumbo in the cooler winter months, because the process involves about 2 hours or so of constant stirring over a hot pot, but when the person who is letting you stay in his apartment for free wants gumbo, he gets gumbo.gumbo

Because we also decided to have guests, I determined to make a butter roux. For the uninitiated, everyday family gumbo at my house began with about one tablespoon of oil and two or three tablespoons of flour, cooked over low heat and stirred constantly until it was as dark as possible without being speckled or burnt. The butter roux for about a gallon and a half of gumbo consists of a pound of butter and about three and a half cups of flour. Deadly? Yes. But delicious.

Roux is tricky. Whether they are in French or Creole cuisine, the different types of roux require a lot of attention. In fact, I have never really been that comfortable making roux, even though I was from south Louisiana and expected to know all about it. Each time I make a roux, I am so afraid it will burn that I don’t quite darken it enough. The last gumbo I made for my husband and myself was a caramel color rather than the ideal dark reddish brown color. Because it was a dinner party, I was determined that this time I would make the perfect roux.

1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 diced red bell peppers
2 diced green bell peppers
2 diced medium onions
2 diced celery stalks
1 1/4 gallon (20 cups) chicken stock
2 tablespoons Tony’s or other Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons salt
1 lb. sliced andouille sausage
3 1/2 lb. cooked chicken (best whole roasted, but you can do boneless breasts and thighs in a pan)
hot sauce

You need a big stockpot, say 3 gallons. My mom always makes the roux in a cast iron skillet and transfers it to a stockpot, but do whatever you’re comfy with. Melt your butter over low/moderate heat. Add flour in thirds, stirring for 30 seconds between adds. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon, stirring constantly until it is a dark mahogany, around 1 hour. (Mine took 2 hours — if your roux isn’t browning, you may want to add a bit more flour.) Don’t be afraid! You’ve got to brown that roux! But keep stirring or else it will burn and speckle! Ew!

Now add the bell peppers and stir 30 seconds, then add onions and celery and stir 30 seconds, add chicken stock and stir constantly to make sure there aren’t any lumps. Add everything else but the chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered around 45 mins. Skim the fat and stir occasionally. Add chicken and simmer 15 mins more. Adjust seasoning, add hot sauce. Serve with rice.

Really the Best Crockpot Pulled Pork

So I finally perfected my crockpot pulled pork today. It finally tastes the way I want it to! Actually, it could use a *tiny* bit of tweaking, but my husband has pronounced it “perfect,” so here’s what I did:

Get 2 of the smaller pork tenderloins (you could probably also do this with a shoulder or a butt roast). In any case, it was about 8-9 bucks worth of meat. Mmm. Meat. Rub them with BBQ seasoning (I used Stubbs). Stick them back in the fridge (wrapped in plastic wrap) for a couple of hours or overnight.

Thinly slice one medium yellow onion, and cover the bottom of the crockpot with it. Place the pork on top of the onion. In a bowl, combine:

4 cups beef broth

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 can (1 and 1/2 cups) Coca Cola – never put soda in my BBQ before!Turned out good!

1/2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup Woody’s Cook-in sauce (barbeque concentrate)

Black pepper to taste
Mix well, then pour over meat. Cook everything in crockpot: I did mine on high for 4 hrs, then low for about 3-4 hours.

When you take the meat out of the pot, it should fall apart. Put the meat in a dish, and shred with two forks. Pour the leftover liquid into a saucepan. Bring it up to a boil and whisk in around 3 Tbsp of flour, then reduce about 1/3 to 1/2 depending on how thick you like your sauce. It didn’t take long: maybe 3-5 mins? Let it cool a little to where it starts to thicken, and gets cool enough to taste. See if you need to adjust the seasoning. We didn’t adjust ours, although I might next time.

Serve on buns with as much or as little sauce as you choose. This makes a lot. We have a whole jar of sauce and a lot of meat left over, so you could feed a pretty good sized crowd with this one.

Easy Peasy Bread Pudding with Light My Fire Whiskey/Rum Sauce

Not for the faint of heart, literally! Just read the ingredients!

1 stick butter
1 lb (1 loaf or 3-4 FAT slices homemade) stale bread, French or otherwise
2 cups milk
3-4 eggs, depending on size
1 tsp (or one large “accidental” SPLASH!) vanilla
splash of rum/bourbon (optional, not too much…)
1/2 tsp (or so) cinnamon, nutmeg, ground coriander, and/or whatever else
1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts, choc chips, raisins, combination, and/or whatever (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. In glass 13×9 baking dish, put smaller dish/casserole inside (I use an oval corningware thingy) and make 13×9 dish into water bath. Melt butter in smaller dish in oven. While butter is melting, Combine eggs, milk, spices, vanilla, and liquor if using and whip with whisk or fork until frothy and well mixed. Remove melted butter from oven (careful – don’t spill hot water bath on yourself). Tear bread into small “hunks” and plop in casserole. Pour milk mixture over bread and smoosh with fork to combine. Sprinkle “mix-ins” over the top if using, and smoosh a bit with fork to combine if you want them throughout the pudding. Bake pudding for about 1 hour (my oven takes exactly one hour, but if your top starts to get too dark, remove!). Pudding must “compose itself” after baking for about 1 drink (2 if you’re Capt. Bacardi!) before you can cut it, but it can be served warm or at room temp. Serve with FUN RUM SAUCE, recipe below.

To reheat, make hot water bath and put in low oven while the main course is served. This should heat it up enough. Also, you can nuke it on LOW or HALF power for close to a minute, but be careful you don’t get rubber pudding…

FUN WHISKEY/RUM SAUCE – Come on, Baby, light my fire!

2/3 cup butter (1.5 sticks?)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (or 1/2 cup white sugar + 1/4 cup molasses)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 Tbsp rum/whiskey (or maybe 4)
2 Tbsp orange liqueur
1/2 tsp vanilla (I use MORE)

In a large skillet heated to LOW (or medium, depending on oven), heat butter, sugar, and spices, shaking back and forth until butter and sugar get creamy. (Not long, there should be some bubbling, but not much). Take off heat and add liquors. Return to burner for a few seconds, then carefully ignite. Shake (do not flail unless you are on fire!) until flames are gone. Add vanilla and remove from heat. Stir gently to combine. Sauce should be smooth and have a well blended flavor. Serve warm and fresh. You can pour the leftovers over pudding and reheat portions in microwave, or you can pour leftovers in a jar and eat them over ice cream…

Irish Soda Bread

I first tasted Irish Soda bread at O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub in New Orleans.  Sadly, this pub is no more, due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  When I worked for a tour company that was based in O’Flaherty’s, I ate huge amounts of Shepherd’s pie and soda bread.

2 cup whole flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 level tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
2 cup buttermilk (approx.)
2 egg yolks for brushing.

Preheat oven to 400° F, then reduce to 350° F. Mix dry ingredients well. Add milk by degrees until flour is absorbed – not too wet – just enough to knead. Knead for 5 minutes. Shape into a round loaf. Place in a lightly greased 9″ cake tin – Cut a cross in the top (about a 1/4 in deep). Brush top with egg yolks. Bake until brown on top (50 – 60 min) Remove – cool pan and bread on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove bread from pan and fully cool on wire rack.

Homestyle Louisiana BBQ Shrimp

Many commercial recipes for Louisiana barbecue shrimp are pretty complicated. In some, the main cooking method is to sauté the shrimp and then make a complicated sauce for them. Some involve heavy amounts of butter or cream. These recipes are wonderful if your aim is to impress or if you are running an upscale Louisiana restaurant, but sometimes we only want a low maintenance and tasty dish to serve at home.
Use 10 to 15 count shrimp. One pound can usually feed two adults. Wash shrimp and place in ovenproof dish. Season with salt and cracked black pepper on them: remember that you are seasoning through the shells. They should be black when they’re done. Drizzle with olive oil.

Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Dot with butter. There should be a good deal liquid in the pan. Broil for about 15 minutes per pound, checking for doneness and to make sure they don’t burn. Serve with French bread and salad. I ladle them into big bowls and use newspaper spread on the table for shells, and spillages.

You can serve the shrimp with either beer, wine, or iced tea. Actually, because of the heavy seasonings, just about any wine will work, although I wouldn’t recommend sweeter varieties like White Zin or Chardonnay.

This meal is wonderful for casual, intimate dining. Because most of the work is done in the oven, you won’t spend your time in the kitchen while your spouse or your guests are chatting in the dining area or living room.

“Bat Wings” and “Wizard Fries”

I had these when I stayed with my friend Bonnie. They are just crispy chicken wings and taters, but “bat wings” and “wizard fries” just sounds better.

Heat oven to 450.

Fries:

small red potatoes
salt
black pepper
olive oil
rosemary
basil

Cut up taters into fries. Put pieces in large plastic baggie with seasonings and oil. (You can use almost any seasonings.) Shake well to coat. Put in roasting pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Put in oven while prepping wings.
Wings:

chicken wings
ground ginger
5-spice powder
salt
black pepper

Put wings into a giant plastic bag. Put in some ginger, 5-spice powder, salt and black pepper, and shake well to coat. Put wings in pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Cook everything for around 45 mins or so. until done. I like to start the wings on the “wrong side” at first, then turn them to the “right side” so the skin will be crispiest on that side.
Serve with your preferred dipping sauces.

Bakers Chocolate One Bowl Brownies

Via the Baker’s Chocolate Box or here

I had some leftover Baker’s Chocolate from a fondue party we had. I will post the fondue stuff somewhere else, but I was hoping we’d have another of those soon.

Anyway, these are really good brownies.  I used chopped up pecans in them.  Scratch brownies are far superior to box/bag brownies.  The texture is totally different – for those of you who are trying to get the right ratio of gooeyness to cakeyness,  scratch brownies are the way to go.  Also they are just as easy to make as box brownies.

Welcome!

Welcome to my kitchen! I hopefully will post most of my recipes in here.  Some posts will be links to other recipes I use.  I usually cook with ease and speed in mind.  I have tried a few “30 minute meals” but sometimes I have to fudge those because they don’t always turn out right — apparently they have different ideas of how to season things in New York.

I won’t always put exact measurements for ingredients here, simply because some things I make don’t really have recipes except in my head.  I also like to use real butter and fancy cheese.  Most of my food is not dietetic by any means.   I encourage people to be as healthy as possible, and if you eat like I do, you probably won’t be all that healthy – especially if you have high cholesterol.  You have been warned. Some of the food I make is sort of healthy, but this is strictly by accident.  Use common sense.

Bon Appetit!