Archive for the 'Noodles, Pizza, Rice & Grains' Category

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is the quintessential Louisianan comfort food. Nothing satisfies like steaming bowl of tender flavorful beans over classic white rice.

1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted over
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup finely sliced celery (about 1 rib)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
10 cups water
6 cups cooked white rice, warm

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and sausage and cook, stirring, to brown the ham hocks and sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and water.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water while cooking if necessary.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and pull the meat from the bones. Roughly chop the meat and return it back to the pot of beans. Adjust seasonings as needed. Discard the bay leaves. Spoon over white rice to serve.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Add Tabasco® or your favorite hot sauce for a little heat.

Do-Ahead: Cooked red beans store very well in the refrigerator. Some even say they taste better the second day!

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

Shrimp Alfredo

A decadently creamy Alfredo sauce is probably the quickest and easiest pasta sauce to whip up. Made simply of butter, Parmesan cheese, and heavy cream, a homemade version of this sauce is infinitely better than anything you could buy pre-made at the store.

This popular sauce was invented by Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio back in 1914.  He added Parmesan to a classic butter sauce in an attempt to create a dish that would be appetizing to his pregnant wife.  Little did he know that this simple three ingredient sauce would become a classic in the United States thanks to Hollywood actors like Douglas Fairbanks that frequented his restaurant.

Since the sauce is made of just three ingredients, it is important to use high-quality components.  Never use margarine or a butter substitute.  Also, look for a wedge of a good Parmesan in your deli department. Pre-grated cheese won’t give you as flavorful as sauce or melt as smoothly.

I like to add a touch of freshly ground nutmeg to all my cream sauces. It’s a trick I learned in culinary school in France.  The nutmeg adds another layer of flavor to a dish. A dish is fine without it, but a little can add that special touch to the end result. The trick is to always use freshly grated nutmeg and never use the powdered version.

Serve Alfredo sauce plain over your favorite pasta or dress it up with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms like I do in this version. Chicken could easily be substituted for the shrimp if you are not a seafood fan.

Shrimp Alfredo

For the Alfredo Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound medium shrimp (30/40 count), peeled and deveined
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) fettuccine, cooked per package directions and kept warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the Alfredo sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream and butter to a boil. As soon as it boils, stir in the Parmesan cheese and cook until melted. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

To assemble the pasta: In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and they become slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 4 minutes.In a large mixing bowl toss together the warm pasta, the Alfredo sauce, and the shrimp mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

 

 

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.

Photo and Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

With Halloween this week, I thought my Meatless Monday recipe should be pumpkin-inspired!

Pumpkins and winter squashes like the butternut and acorn varieties are both of the gourd family and can be used interchangeably in most cases.  I love the flavor of the sweet “meat” of Butternut squash.  It’s my favorite of the winter squashes. I use it in soups, salads and dishes like this one.

Risotto sounds complicated, but it is actually very easy to make. All it takes is a little patience to wait for the rice to absorb the liquid.

This is the basic recipe for making risotto. Once you have mastered this simple recipe, you can make any flavor combination you are craving.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound)
5 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (half a small onion)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel, halve, and remove the seeds from the squash. Cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. In a medium saucepan place the squash and enough water to cover by 1-inch. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until fork-tender, but not too soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepot over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low.

In a large saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all the grains are coated. Cook until translucent, about 1 minute. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup of the stock. The risotto is done when the rice is tender, but still firm.

Stir in the cooked squash and the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the squash is reheated and the cheese is melted, about 2 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Recipe from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is the quintessential Louisianan comfort food. Nothing satisfies like steaming bowl of tender flavorful beans over classic white rice.

My uncle makes the best version.  The key is to start with good dried beans.  According to him, the best out there are Camellia Red Kidneys.  It’s the Louisiana brand he has been using his whole life … and the same one my grandmother used when she taught him this recipe oh so many years ago.

Whenever I go to New Orleans, I always pick up a few bags of this iconic dried bean.  I couldn’t imagine making this dish without them.  (If you don’t regularly visit the Big Easy, you can order them on-line.) To be honest though, my preference may be fairly rooted in the nostalgia of using my grandmother’s recipe and I am sure that any good dried red kidney bean would work if you don’t have easy access to the Camellia brand.

The hardest part about this recipe is remembering to soak the beans the night before!  It truly is a simple one to master and destined to become a favorite.

Enjoy!

Red Beans and Rice
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted over
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup seeded and finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup finely sliced celery (about 1 rib)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
10 cups water
6 cups cooked white rice, warm

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and sausage and cook, stirring, to brown the ham hocks and sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the beans and water.

Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water while cooking if necessary.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and pull the meat from the bones. Roughly chop the meat and return it back to the pot of beans. Adjust seasonings as needed. Discard the bay leaves. Spoon over white rice to serve.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Add Tabasco® or your favorite hot sauce for a little heat.

Do-Ahead: Cooked red beans store very well in the refrigerator. Some even say they taste better the second day!

Baked Cheese Grits

It’s just one of those days.  You know … one of those days when you are just craving something warm, cheesy and delicious. For a Southerner like me, nothing fits that bill like a big bowl full of Cheese Grits.

I always joke with my friends up North … “Do y’all even know what grits are?!”  (By the way, if you haven’t heard of them … it is always plural … never refer to this iconic Southern staple in the singular!) Basically, grits are made from coarsely ground corn. It’s the Southern version of Italy’s polenta.

Good old Martha White (of the flour fame) offers a very comprehensive definition on her Martha White’s Southern Cooking Glossary:

Grits are related to corn meal, since both are made from dried corn. Grits are just more coarsely ground than corn meal. White grits made from white corn are the most familiar; however, yellow grits made from yellow corn also are available. Whole ground grits are made by grinding the whole corn kernel, including the bran, germ and hard starchy endosperm. Quick and regular grits, the two most popular types, cook much more quickly. They’re made by tempering dried corn, removing the brand and germ, then grinding the hard starchy endosperm. Instant grits are cooked and dehydrated before packaging and are prepared by adding hot water.

In my baked cheese grits recipe, I use quick-cooking white grits since they give this dish a deliciously creamy texture. For a “grittier” texture, you can substitute stone-ground grits.  (Just keep in mind that stone-ground grits take much longer to cook so be sure to prepare them per the package directions before adding the cheese, butter, and eggs.)

This dish is one of those few exceptions that can be perfectly served at any meal … breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Enjoy!

Baked Cheese Grits
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
3 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and 3 cups of the cheese until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the garlic and eggs until well combined.

Pour the grits into the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of the cheese across the top. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10. 

Cooking Tip: For an added kick, add chopped jalapeno peppers.

Mama’s Spaghetti

I wish I could say this recipe came from a true Italian, but this is the name my girls’ have affectionately given my meaty spaghetti sauce.

It’s really just a simple sauce made from ground beef. But it sure is yummy!

I have been making it for years.  I always keep a portion or two in my freezer for those days when I run out of time, but still want a home-cooked dinner. Serve it over pasta or use it in your next lasagna.

I have experimented with fresh tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, and canned diced tomatoes, but I have found that canned crushed tomatoes offer the best “saucy” texture. If you like chunks of tomatoes in your spaghetti sauce, then add a small can of diced tomatoes to this basic recipe.  I often add a half a pound of Italian sausage for a little extra “Italian-ness.”

Enjoy!

Mama’s Spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 box (1 pound/16-ounce) spaghetti, cooked per package directions and kept warm

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. Add the meat and cook, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a colander and drain off the excess fat.

Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, basil, thyme, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the meat to the pot and stir to combine. Over high heat, bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve hot over warm pasta.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Draining the excess fat once the ground beef is cooked makes for a healthier and less greasy finished dish.

Freezes well.

Chicken, Caramelized Onion, & Apple Thin-Crust Pizza

There is something about a crispy thin-crust pizza that I can’t resist.  I’m not sure whether the allure is the crispy-yet-chewy texture of the crust, the gooey melted cheese, or the savory toppings.  (It’s probably a combination of all three!) But homemade pizzas have become a staple at our house.

It is so easy to whip up a batch of homemade dough.  All you need is a food processor, a few basic ingredients (flour, cornmeal, yeast, water, and olive oil), and you are ready to go.

If you are short on time (the dough is a cinch to make but does need a couple of hours to rise), you can always pick up some dough from the grocery store or your neighborhood pizzeria.

I like to get creative with my toppings. This one with caramelized onions and apples is high on my list.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Caramelized Onion, and Apple Thin-Crust Pizza

For the pizza dough:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 envelopes (1/4-ounce) rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cold water

For the pizza:

1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra to brush on the pizza crust
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions (about 1 onion)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Prepare the pizza dough:

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, cornmeal, yeast, and salt. With the processor running, add the oil and then water in a steady stream; process until the dough just forms a ball.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 times. Place the dough in a resealable plastic bag and let it rise at room temperature until it is doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into two equal portions, roll it into balls, and cover them with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes before shaping, topping, and cooking.

Prepare the pizza:

Pre-heat the oven to 500°F.

While the dough is finishing, warm 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring often, until softened and caramel colored, stirring often, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the onions from the heat.

Place each dough ball on a baking sheet; using your hands, gently flatten, and pull into ovals. Brush each crust with olive oil. Season the dough with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across both crusts. Then evenly spread the chicken and apples across the pizzas. Bake until crust is golden brown and toppings are hot, 10 to 12 minutes.

Make two 10-inch pizzas.

Cooking Tip: I prefer to use rapid-rise yeast in this recipe. Active dry yeast has to be activated with hot water before it can be used.


Jennifer Chandler

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