Thursday, May 31, 2012

Travel Bites - Austin

Jared and I just got back from an extended weekend visiting friends in the eclectic capital of the Lone Star State. And just like this weird and wonderful city, our trip was a little random and a lot of fun! We did a mini tour of the cottage-style houses-turned bars on Rainey Street, went cowboy boot shopping, played late-night putt-putt, poked around the vintage shops on South Congress, and spent a day floating the Comal River. 

Let's be honest, though, we spent most of our time eating, drinking, and catching up with Katie and Paul. Here are some of the highlights:

Salt Lick Barbecue Pit
First stop? The Salt Lick in Driftwood for some amazing barbecue. 

This popular spot specializes in delicious, slow-cooked beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage. It features a Hawaiian-inspired sweet sauce that is an unexpected twist to this traditional Texas-style meat fest.

Even Jared, the usually-skeptical barbecue snob, was impressed.

The wait here can be long, but the scenery is beautiful and the restaurant has a BYOB policy. So, pack an ice chest and enjoy the day out in Hill Country.

Beef Brisket, Pork Ribs, Baked Beans,
Cole Slaw and Potato Salad
Scratch-made Blackberry Cobbler with
Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream

Right down the street from Salt Lick is a family-owned winery growing (mostly) Italian grapes in Texas. After lunch, we stopped in for a $10 create-your-own wine flight. I recommend the Dutchman Family Winery's 2010 Viognier and 2009 Sangiovese.

Sunday Funday with the Pritch-otts
Next up? Tex-Mex and margaritas, naturally. We hit up some of Katie and Paul's favorite finds and they did not disappoint.

Torchy's Tacos - The Democrat
Beef Barbacoa, Avocado, Cilantro,
Onions, and Queso Fresco
Torchy's Tacos serves up tacos every which way you can imagine. With names like the Dirty Sanchez and Little Nookies, the menu items can be a little embarrassing to order, but that's all part of the fun! 

We shared a few of these creations after our day on the river - the Mr. Pink, with seared Ahi tuna; the Democrat, with shredded beef barbacoa; and the Trailer Park, with fried chicken and green chiles. Step it up a notch and order it "Trashy," scrapping the lettuce and adding queso.

It was cheap, delicious, and ridiculously convenient considering there is a location directly across the street from K & P's apartment.

Heaven in a Glass
Getting thirsty? Head to ero's for one hell of a margarita. These potent cocktails are hand-shaken and dangerous.

Tequila, triple sec and fresh-squeezed lime juice. That's all you need. And after a few of these, that's all you'll remember.

Güero's is also home to some of the best Tex-Mex in the city, boasting handmade corn tortillas and a salsa bar. 

We finished off our weekend at the Hula Hut. This odd little Tiki-inspired joint sits on Lake Austin, just minutes away from downtown.

Kawaikini Stuffed Avocado
Try their Kawaikini Stuffed Avocado filled with roasted chicken, green onions, cilantro, Monterey Jack and green chiles. It's rolled in panko, lightly friend and served with spicy green chile and and queso blanco sauces. Totally decadent and amazing.

The view was great, the food was tasty, and the four of us had a few more laughs as we recapped our crazy weekend.

Now it's back to DC to detox. 

Can't we just go back and do it all over again next weekend??
Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Farfalle with Spicy Shrimp

This dish is simple, but very flavorful. It's a quick meal that you can throw together any day of the week. The seasonings add just the right amount of heat to liven up any boring night.

  • 8 oz uncooked farfalle
  • 1 lb wild-caught, gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup low fat half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve a small amount of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and set aside in a large serving dish. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Mix in the garlic and tomatoes and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  5. Coat the shrimp with the seasoning mix and cayenne pepper and add to the pan. Cook until the shrimp are pink and firm.
  6. Stir in the half-and-half and parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and pour over the pasta.
  7. Toss with a few teaspoons of the pasta cooking liquid.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Supper - Claudia's Roast Beast

While my mother would much rather be out sketching the beautiful Louisiana wildlife and landscapes, she has been known to take over the kitchen with her tasty recipes from time to time. (Side note: for the simple protection of their sanity, Pete and Claudia rarely try to cook at the same time . . . 
"Too many butts in the kitchen!")

On certain Sunday mornings, my mom would get up early to throw this slow-cooked masterpiece in the oven before we left for mass. By the time we got back, you could smell the savory goodness before we even opened the door.

  • 3 lb beef chuck roast
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 lb fingerling potatoes

  1. Mix the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic in a small bowl.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut a number of small incisions in the meat.
  3. Fill each hole with the mixture. Rub the remaining seasoning onto the surface of the roast.
  4. Place the meat in a large resealable storage bag and add enough Worcestershire sauce to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  5. Allow the roast come to room temperature.
  6. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. 
  7. In a large cast iron pot, brown the roast on all sides in a small amount of olive oil.
  8. Remove the roast from the pot and set aside.
  9. Sauté the onions, celery and bell peppers in 1 tablespoon of oil until tender (5-7 minutes). Remove from heat.
  10. Place the roast back in the pot with the sautéed vegetables. Add the carrots, potatoes and three cups of water.
  11. Cook in the oven, uncovered, at 275 degrees F for 1 1/2-2 hours.
My mom and sister at an art show displaying some of my mom's work.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Turbo Roux

Most good Cajun recipes start with "first you make a roux . . ." But that's easier said than done. Making a good roux takes time, patience and a lot of practice. It is well worth the effort, though.

 A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat, usually butter or oil. In classical French cuisine, the roux is used primarily as a thickening agent. The Cajun method takes this a step further, cooking the roux longer which adds more richness and depth to its flavor.

While there are numerous types of rouxs -- which differ in cooking time and the types of fat used -- there are two versions that reign supreme in Cajun cooking: the light brown roux and the dark brown roux. 

Dark rouxs form the base of gumbos, sauce piquantes, and bisques. Light rouxs are used to make étouffées and stews.

The best way to tackle this technique is to start out low and slow, cooking the roux for about an hour using minimal heat. As you get more comfortable with the process, you can add more heat and cut down the cooking time. And this recipe does just that, giving you a roux in about 20-25 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oil in a cast iron skillet using high heat -- not to the smoking point.
  2. Sprinkle a pinch of flour into the oil. If it bubbles at a quick pace, then the oil is just right.
  3. Slowly add the remaining flour, whisking constantly. Stop adding flour when the roux is the consistency of a heavy sauce.
  4. The mixture should continue bubbling at the same pace. Ease the whisking if the bubbling stops.
  5. After the first two minutes, switch from a whisk to a spatula. Continue to stir the mixture, making sure to move the roux off the bottom of the pot.
  6. The roux will finish bubbling and start browning. At this point, begin to lower the heat slowly. Continue to stir the mixture, making sure to move the roux off the bottom of the pot.
  7. For a light roux, cook the mixture until it is the color of a new copper penny. For a dark roux, cook the mixture until it is the color of an old copper penny.
  8. Remove from heat.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Southern Fried Wild Turkey

And no, not of the boozy variety . . . an actual, wild turkey.

Earlier this month, Jared came home with this lovely specimen.  He joined a new hunting lease last fall, and for the first spring since he left Mississippi, he had his own spot to hunt. 

Now that our freezer is stuffed with two tyrannosaurus turkey breasts, Jared is delighted. I, on the other hand, am a little more concerned. The only turkeys that I have worked with have been plump little butterballs.

So, I default to the sportsman. And his cooking method of choice for tender morsels of wild turkey? Frying, of course!

  • 1 wild turkey breast, cut into strips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons Pete's Good Stuff seasoning mix
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2-3 cups peanut oil

  1. Mix the buttermilk, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl.
  2. Soak the turkey strips in the mixture for at least 3-4 hours (overnight, if possible).
  3. Spread the panko bread crumbs out on the surface of a large plate and sprinkle with Pete's Good Stuff seasoning mix.
  4. Dip the marinated turkey strips into the seasoned bread crumbs and coat generously.
  5. In a large cast iron skillet or pot, bring the oil to 375 degrees F.
  6. Fry the turkey strips until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot -- the temperature will drop too low and the turkey will not fry properly. Cook in several batches, if needed.
  7. Allow the strips to cool on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.
Enjoy with a nice cold beer and a side of Watermelon Slaw.

Watermelon Slaw

This recipe is a fun twist on the traditional cole slaw. It's a fresh, bright salad that is great for a summer barbecue or fish fry.

Make sure your melons are
nice and firm.
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small bunch green onions, julienned
  • 1/2 cup fresh watermelon juice
  • 1 cup fat free or light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt

  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until blended.
  2. Gently combine all ingredients together in a large serving dish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

Here's a delicious homage to roasted vegetables. The caramelized garlic and cauliflower form the base of this creamy and hearty soup. Perfect comfort food for a rainy day.

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups aged gruyère or swiss cheese, shredded 
  • 1 cup milk or heavy cream
  • salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Arrange the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the vegetables.
  3. Prepare the head of garlic by peeling away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin. Leave the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, chop off 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the top of the garlic head exposing a bit of each clove.
  4. Place the head of garlic in a ramekin and coat with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil.
  5. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  6. Allow the garlic and cauliflower to cool slightly after roasting.
  7. Remove each clove with a sharp paring knife, or squeeze the whole head until the cloves pop out. Put the garlic in a bowl and set it aside. 
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
  9. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  10. Stir in the roasted garlic, thyme and garlic powder. Cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  11. Add the broth and cauliflower, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  12. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.
  13. Mix in the cheese, let it melt. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Stir in the milk (or cream) and remove from heat.

Pete's Good Stuff Seasoning Mix

My dad has always dabbled in a lot of things like playing Cajun music, brewing beer, and water skiing. And he's pretty good at all of the above, but he has always been a great cook. 

Whether it's a tried and true Cormier family recipe or a new dish that he's concocted, Pete loves to bang around the kitchen. And this is one of his newest spice blends that I have found to be quite versatile. It's a great flavor base for poultry, pork and red meat.


  • 5 tablespoons Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder 
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1 tablespoon paprika 
  • 1 tablespoon oregano 

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Store in a tightly sealed container -- a cleaned and reused spice bottle works perfectly.
The seasoning is meant to be used during the cooking process -- not when you are serving a dish. Make as much or as little of this mix as you need. It keeps well as long as it is stored properly. 

Pete water skiing on the Bayou Teche

Monday, May 21, 2012

Le Début

I was born and raised in South Louisiana. Growing up in the heart of Cajun Country, I spent every summer water skiing on the Bayou Teche and learning to cook with my parents and grandmothers.
Mommom and her famous Macaroni and Cheese
Just like any good Cajun, I like to make great food out of whatever is available to me. And then, of course, enjoy that meal with family, friends, and anyone else who happens to be around.

Earlier this year, I married a boy from Mississippi. Jared is an avid hunter and angler and, over our years of dating, I have learned how to turn his dead things into some pretty tasty meals. So, I plan to share some of those recipes and other family favorites and food finds here.
South Dakota Duck Hunt
Jared and I are now settling into our weird little life together in Washington, D.C., where I attempt to drag him out to enjoy the hustle and bustle of our nation's capital. And Jared brings me out to the suburbs to fish for various Potomac River delicacies. I also join him for the occasional deer hunt -- which consists of me napping in the treestand.