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Showing posts from December, 2016

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo #13CajunBites

As another main dish for his Cajun dinner party, D wanted to make gumbo. Or rather, he wanted his buddies to help cook the gumbo. I had so much fun watching these boys make their way around the market and the kitchen.  Note: For authentic gumbo, you should add filé. I didn't have that, but it was delicious anyway! Ingredients  serves 8 to 10 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 8 C water 4 T butter 2 T olive oil 1/2 C gluten-free flour 1 C onion, diced 1 C celery, diced 1 C green bell pepper, diced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 C diced tomato 4 C okra, cut into coins 1 pound cooked andouille or other smoky sausage, sliced into thick coins 2 bay leaves 1 t fresh thyme 2 t Worchestershire sauce 1 T Cajun seasoning 1 t paprika 1 t hot sauce (our homemade hot sauce ) or more, if desired 1 t filé powder, optional cooked rice for serving Procedure Place chicken thighs in a large pot and cover them with water by 1". Bring

NOT a Banana Split!

Yesterday, I was talking to my boys and my mom, asking them to pick up a few things for our belated Christmas celebration with friends. My friend overheard the list - bananas, ice cream, sparkling water - and guessed I was making banana splits for dessert. No, these are not banana splits. When R pulled out the stick lighter and lit the dessert on fire, my friend admitted: "I should have known that banana splits weren't fancy enough for your table." I don't actually think I've ever had a banana split; I definitely have never made a banana split. But, now, I'm going to have to look up a recipe and see how I can make it fancy. But last night, we served Bananas Foster to cap off the evening. It's the addition of the banana liqueur that takes this from Flambéed Bananas to Bananas Foster! Ingredients makes 12 small servings 6 bananas, peeled and sliced into thick coins 1 C butter 1 C organic dark brown sugar 1 t ground cinnamon 4 T

Red Beans and Rice #13CajunBites

This quintessential New Orleans dish, holds a special place in my heart. When R was a toddler, he wasn't very good at sitting still for dinner. He would take one bite, run away from the table, come back, take one more bite, and leave again. The sole exception to this pattern was when my mom and dad picked up red rice and beans from a local restaurant. R loved it, sat through the entire meal, and devoured his entire bowl. So, when we were planning the Cajun menu for D's birthday party, R excitedly agreed to make the red beans and rice. I used the Domingo Rojo beans from Rancho Gordo , one of my favorites! I used to buy a ton of dried beans whenever we were at the Ferry Building in San Francisco till I discovered them at Happy Girl Kitchen here in Pacific Grove. Woohoo. Ingredients 1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight 1 T butter 1 T olive oil 1 C diced organic white onion (you can use yellow, too) 1 C diced organic green bell pepper 1 C diced organic cel

Tasting Notes: Celebrating Teendom at Coqueta

Ever since we watched Hundred Foot Journey , the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf has been asking to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant. So, for his thirteenth birthday, I found one that was within walking distance of our hotel in San Francisco and had a menu that within my budget: Chef Michael Chiarello's Spanish enterprise, Coqueta . Yes, thirteen. I can't believe these boys are both teens - thirteen and fourteen. How did that happen?!? So, you enter the restaurant through the bar which was wall-to-wall people. Jake looked at me and asked, "You picked this place?" All four of us gravitate towards quieter, less populated places. But once the hostess took my name, located our reservation, and motioned for us to follow, we stepped into a room with a completely different feel. Ridiculously high ceilings are matched by the raised tabletops and benches that line the perimeter of the room. Leather bar stools provide seating on the opposite side of the tables.

Caldo de Siete Mares for Christmas Eve

After a three-day trip to the Bay Area - and since we were heading straight to a Christmas Eve mass - I needed an easy dinner that I could whip up after church for my parents before they rested up before their midnight. I decided to consolidate my Feast of the Seven Fishes into one pot! Before we left the East Bay, we popped into Market Hall in Rockridge and chose some beautifully fresh seafood from the Hapuku Fish Shop . I even remembered to bring cooler for our fish and cheese. Feel free to adapt to whatever your fish market has. Ingredients makes 6 to 8 entrée servings 1 T olive oil 1 T butter 1 pound white fish, cut into 2 to 3" chunks (I bought some bluenose) 1 pound other fish, cut into 2 to 3" chunks (I bought some salmon) 1 C diced organic white onion 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon 1 t sea salt 1 pound shrimp or prawns (I shelled them, but left the tail on) 1 pound squid, cleaned 1 pound c

Notes: It's It Ice Cream

As I sit here and type this up, I realized: for it being December, we sure ate a lot of frozen treats on our trip to the Bay Area. You can read about our late evening jaunt to Smitten: here . While Smitten was a new adventure for us, It's It Ice Cream is a long-standing favorite. It's the ice cream sandwich the boys pick whenever they want a sweet treat from the grocery store. Sadly, we can only get vanilla and mint flavors here. But I've long known that there were other flavors. I just needed to head up to the factory store to get my hands on some. The birthday boy looked at all the choices and knew that I had a Groupon for a dozen. He chose two each of Green Tea, Cappuccino, Pumpkin, Chocolate, and Strawberry; and added one Vanilla and one Mint. We purchased enough dry ice to last 24 hours and headed out for our next adventure. Jake thought we needed a decal for the car. Really?!? Okay. And we hadn't yet left the parking lot when the

Notes: Smitten Ice Cream's Cool Factor

We've always wanted to try Smitten Ice Cream  - who wouldn't want to try ice cream churned just for them...with the help of liquid nitrogen?!? -  but every time we go, there's a line out the door. And we despise lines.  So, when I knew we would be getting out of a play late on December 23rd, I took a chance that other people wouldn't be waiting in line on a cold winter's night for ice cream. I was right. Yep, two days before ten o'clock at night, there weren't too many people ordering ice cream. We've made our own liquid nitrogen ice cream; click for one of those posts: here . But Smitten uses a special Brrr™ Machine that founder Robyn Sue Fisher created. That was cool. But, cool factor aside, there weren't a lot of options for flavors. And the ones they did have were on the ordinary side. The most exotic flavor was Earl Grey. And while Earl Grey is a favorite ice cream flavor of ours, this wasn't a stop-y

Creole Cheese Ball #13CajunBites

J told his dad that this was his favorite thing on the menu. I did the cheese ball part ahead of time, but he made the topping all by himself. And that is what made the dish! Ingredients  8 oz cream cheese, softened 1 t  Cajun seasoning 1 t Worcestershire sauce 1/2 t garlic powder 1/2 C butter 1/2 C organic dark brown sugar 2 t Worcestershire sauce 1 t dijon mustard 1-1/2 C coarsely chopped pecans Procedure  In a small mixing bowl, blend cream cheese, garlic powder, 1 t Worcestershire, and Cajun seasoning. I used a fork to fully incorporate the flavors. Shape into a 4-inch circle, about 1" thick. Place on serving plate, cover, and refrigerate until firm - at least a couple of hours. In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, Worcestershire, mustard and pecans. Cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and everything is bubbling. Remove cheese ball from the fridge. Spoon pecan mixture over cheese ball. Serve with slic

Maque Choux #13CajunBites

Coming up with a menu that included THIRTEEN different Cajun dishes - to celebrate D's 13th birthday - was challenging enough. Then, add to that, all the dishes needed to be able to be cooked - by kids - and consumed within a two and a half hour window. That was a little more challenging. I found a recipe for Maque Choux and knew that would be an easy addition. Maque Choux is a traditional sidedish from southern Louisiana whose name is thought to derive from the French interpretation of the Native American name. Ingredients 4 T butter 2 C diced onions 1 C diced green bell pepper 4 C corn kernels (we used a mixture of white and yellow) 1 C organic heavy whipping cream 1 t fresh thyme 1 t salt 1 t organic dark brown sugar 1/2 t hot sauce, optional (I think that J opted not to include that) Procedure Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, approximately 5 minute