Posts Tagged 'pepper'

Croque Monsieur

Croque mr

Croque Monsieur

I had my first Croque Monsieur when I lived in France during culinary school. To this day it has remained my favorite sandwich.

Basically, a Croque Monsieur is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. But the French have elevated what would be a simple sandwich into a work of art! A classic ham and cheese is slathered with a béchamel sauce to make it even more indulgent.

The key to a good Croque Monsieur is the ingredients. Since the ingredients are few, you need to use good ones. Traditionally, a nutty Gruyère or Swiss Emmental cheese is used. Most markets carry these cheeses, but in a pinch, a good Swiss cheese could be substituted. As for the ham, this sandwich is a wonderful way to use up the leftovers from your Christmas baked ham.

The béchamel sauce is what makes this sandwich. Considered a “mother” sauce in French cuisine, a béchamel is very simple to prepare. Butter and flour are cooked together over low heat before milk and cheese are added to make this traditional cheese sauce. Thanks to the cheesy goodness that the sauce adds, it really is a knife-and-fork kind of sandwich.

This classic French treat is perfect for supper, lunch or a weekend brunch. They are so rich, serve them simply with a salad or soup. However you choose to serve them, I bet they will become your family’s favorite ham-and-cheese sandwich too.

Croque Monsieur

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 pound baked ham, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. When the butter starts to foam, add the flour. Cook, whisking until thickened, about 1 minute. While continuing to whisk, gradually add the milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the nutmeg, Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the Gruyere. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To assemble the sandwiches, place 4 slices of the toasted bread on a baking sheet. Lightly brush each of the slices with 1 tablespoon of mustard. Top each with 1/4 of the ham and 1/8 of the remaining Gruyere (about 1/4 cup). Top each with one of the remaining toasted bread slices. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the tops of the sandwiches and sprinkle each with 1/4 of the remaining Gruyere. Transfer to the oven and bake until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Variation: Feeling indulgent? Top your Croque Monsieur with a fried egg and you will be enjoying a treat the French call a Croque Madame.

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler.

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

texmex corn dip6344

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

A good dip makes a party!

When I first tasted this dip at a party thrown by my friend Jenny Vergos, I knew I needed the recipe!

Jenny is always whipping up something yummy. This simple dip is no exception. Made with pantry staples, it is packed with flavor. I decided to feature it in my cookbook “The Southern Pantry Cookbook” because it was so good.

I can guarantee folks at your next party will be asking you for the recipe just like I asked Jenny.

Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
1 jar (4-ounce) diced pimientos, drained
1 can (4-ounce) chopped green chilies
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Add the corn, pimentos, green chilies, and cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: For a spicier dip, add a 1/4 cup diced jalapeños.

Do-Ahead: This dip can be assembled one day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

 

Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food styling by Jennifer Chandler.

 

Lucky Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

lucky black eyed pea and collard green sop2550

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

On New Year’s Day, I leave nothing to fate. I always serve big helpings of the traditional Southern dishes that are said to bring good fortune. Two of my family’s favorites are black-eyed peas and greens. The black-eyed peas bring good luck and, since they look like money, the greens are said to bring prosperity.

Since I can use good luck and good fortune any time, I decided to combine these two ingredients into one dish that can be enjoyed year round. This soup pairs these lucky foods with vegetables and smoky bacon for a dish that is hearty and satisfying.

You can start this soup with dried peas, but I prefer the ease and convenience of canned peas. Canned peas require no advance soaking and cook quickly. For New Year’s, I traditionally put collard greens in the soup (don’t want to mess with my luck!) but during the rest of the year, I sometimes substitute kale. To spice it up a bit, add a dash of hot sauce just before serving.

While this simple yet satisfying soup should improve your odds for the new year, it’s 100% guaranteed to make your belly happy.

Happy New Year!

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 can (14.5-oz) diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
2 cans (15-oz) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch collard greens, tough stems and ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the bacon in a large stockpot and cook over medium heat until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, peas, and collard greens and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer until the collard greens are tender and the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and sauté the vegetables in olive oil instead.

Freezes well.

Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler.

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

BBQ Baked Beans

Baked Beans _0084

BBQ Baked Beans

There is lots of debate of which kind of barbecue is best … ribs versus pulled pork, dry versus wet ribs, who makes the best sauce … but all agree that baked beans are the perfect accompaniment to any type of barbecue.

BBQ baked beans are surprisingly easy to make from scratch and infinitely better than what comes ready-to-serve out of a can.

The main ingredients are common pantry staples you probably already have on hand: beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and yellow mustard.

Vegetables like onions and bell peppers are ways to add more flavor. I like to add a little smokiness to my baked beans and bacon is a simple way to make that happen. The addition of a little pulled pork would make it even better.

As for the beans, you could always soak dry beans but I find using canned beans is a great time saver. I like to use a variety of beans in my BBQ baked bean recipe. This simple twist provides both flavor and color to this classic picnic side.

The key to a good batch of baked beans is to let them slow cook for several hours. The extended cooking time allow the flavors to blend and meld together. Most folks cook them in the oven, but you can also cook them in a slow cooker or even on a grill with the lid closed.

You’ll find these Southern BBQ Baked Beans are the perfect accompaniment to so many dishes traditionally served during this summer. So remember this recipe not just when making barbecue, but also when grilling chicken, burgers or serving a crowd.

Enjoy!

BBQ Baked Beans

1/2 pound bacon (about 10 slices), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/2 cup finely diced green bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1 can (15-ounce) black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-ounce) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15-ounce) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the bacon in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions and peppers are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the black eyed peas, red kidney beans, pinto beans, barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, yellow mustard, and brown sugar. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and place in the oven. Cook until the beans are fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Variation: Want a traditional BBQ baked bean dish? Just use three cans of kidney beans instead of the various types listed in this recipe.

Recipe from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by Justin Fox Burks

Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler

Pork Souvlaki

Pork Soulvaki6093

Pork Souvlaki

Easy to make and always delicious, kabobs are the perfect way to serve up a dinner hot off the grill. For a little something different, try the traditional Greek kabob pork souvlaki. In this recipe that is simpler than it sounds, a lemony marinade transforms ordinary pork tenderloin into a traditional Greek dish with a bright and fresh flavor that is truly delicious.

The classic Greek ingredients of oregano, lemon, and garlic give these grilled pork kabobs their signature flavor. Even though this marinade is made with simple ingredients, it infuses loads of flavor into the meat because of the large amount of acid from the lemon juice. Typically there is a general rule not to marinate meat with so much acid for too long, but from my experience, letting the pork marinate overnight just makes it all the more better. If short on time, you will still get delicious results by marinating the pork for less time. That said, allow the pork to marinate at least a minimum of one hour before cooking.

Kabobs make an easy weeknight meal since they can be prepared in advance and thrown on the grill when you are ready. As an added bonus, these smaller cuts of meat cook quickly. I prefer to use metal skewers when grilling kabobs because they are no fuss. If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to using to prevent the wood from burning.

Traditionally pork souvlaki is served wrapped in pita bread and then topped with a variety of condiments such as lettuce, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce. Instead of this classic pita sandwich version, I often serve these kabobs as a main course over a bed of basmati rice with a small Greek salad and some grilled pita on the side.

Cook them on an outdoor grill or indoors on a grill pan, depending on what’s easier for you.

Enjoy!

Pork Souvlaki

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable oil, for the grates
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Skewers (if using bamboo, soak in water for 30 minutes)

In a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the pork in a single layer, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, and garlic. Place the pork in the marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight.

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Remove the pork from the marinade and shake off the excess. Discard the marinade. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Thread the pork cubes onto a skewer.

Place the skewers on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once or twice, until they are well browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8 to 12 minutes total.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: Tzatziki is a cucumber-yogurt sauce that is traditionally served alongside Greek dishes. To make this condiment, combine 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 1 cup finely diced cucumber, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill.

Recipe from Simply Grilling 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.

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Doesn’t bacon make everything taste better?

It’s so funny to think about … but when I was a kid I used to say I was allergic to brussels sprouts!  I hated them that much!  Fast forward to adulthood … and now they are one of my favorite things!

Part of the trick is not to overcook the brussels sprouts.  They get too smelly and pungent if you do. You want them to be just fork-tender after boiling them.

The second part is the bacon.  As I mentioned before, doesn’t it just make everything better?! I like to use a really smoky bacon like Benton’s when making mine.

My friend Kelly English inspired me to come up with this recipe. He serves a version of this warm dish as a first-course salad at Restaurant Iris, his popular Memphis restaurant. I dish it up as a hearty side.

Enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
Kosher salt
3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Trim the bottoms off of the Brussels sprouts and slice in half.

Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sprouts and cook until fork tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and reserve.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserve.

Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the sprouts and sauté until they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the bacon to the pan and toss to combine. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: Regular bacon is fine, but for an extra bacon-y flavor, use thick-cut artisan bacon or Italian pancetta.

Do-Ahead: The Brussels sprouts can blanched ahead of time and then reheated when sautéed. 

From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler


Jennifer Chandler

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