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Published on 11 October, 2011, by

Chocolate

Chocolate! Oh, what can I say about chocolate that hasn’t been written before and better. Probably nothing. But still, I am possessed by the spirit goddess of the cacao bean and as devoted to spreading the beauty of her rich message as any disciple in history.

I enjoy chocolate in pies, cakes and cookies, in sauces and savories, and scenting massage oils, sugar scrubs,  bubble baths and candles. I watch the movie Chocolat at least once each year and require a nearly religious stillness in my house to do so.  (See the GrooVyMovies entry.)

My husband has on his hard drive, a spreadsheet dedicated to the brands of chocolate that I prefer and which flavor combinations are my favorites (Moonstruck’s  Ocumarian truffle, Alma’s Salted Lavender Caramel, Godiva’s raspberry filled milk chocolate twirl and white chocolate star)  so that he will never get it wrong — but how could he? The Goddess is never wrong and even in the cheapest derivations I can find some solace.

I prefer dark chocolate’s intense whisperings because they linger there on the tongue, revealing hints of orange peel or scents of fresh pipe tobacco or lush berries and I adore pairing fine dark chocolates with fruity red wines. But I have been known to curl my toes and roll my eyes towards the heavens over the creamy silken riches a good Swiss or Belgium milk chocolate can provide. I even have a healthy affection for the smooth butteriness of white chocolate, though technically not chocolate, this white siren transforms herself from the cocoa bean.

Buttermilk Bownies from A Well-Seasoned Life’s Blog

Since childhood,  one of my most favored ways to indulge my chocolate lust has been with brownies. Cake-like, chewy, crunchy topped and fault ridden, buttermilk, homemade or boxed, frosted or topped with powdered sugar, dark or milk, with chips or nuts or cream cheese or just plain — I have always enjoyed brownies.

Warm brownie batter – YUM!

But my favorite preparation of brownies these days, is a recipe I’ve been playing with for the past couple of years, willing it just right. It is the most densely dark, moist, chewy and truffle-like brownie I have ever tasted and because of this, I felt it needed just a little something to juxtapose it’s darkness, to lighten its depth — caramel, came to mind but then I needed to balance its sweetness — I decided upon sea salt. The result is true cocoa’d perfection. Not one person who has ever eaten them has not dissolved into the sort of pleasure sounds and face-making that usually accompany another libidinous past-time. (And like that past-time chocolate is good for you these days too, don’t ya know?)

And the bonus — they are SO easy to make.  (See my recipe for caramel sauce to top these dark ladies.)

Before heading into the oven ~ I never get the “after shot” because we eat them too fast

Densely Dark Brownies with Salted Caramel topping

*GLUTEN-FREE ADAPTATION BELOW*

Dense because they only use half a cup of flour, dark with cocoa and topped with homemade caramel sauce and sea salt — Scrumptious!

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large cold eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup homemade caramel sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Heat over to 350 and line the bottom and sides of 8 inch baking pan with baking paper or foil — be sure to leave a little overhang on the sides, this will help you lift a gooey brownie from the pan for easy cooling and cutting.

Heat and mix butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a double boiler or if you don’t have a double boiler, use  one the metal bowl or small pot, inside a pot of boiling water set-up to make your own. Stir periodically, until the butter is melted and everything is mixed smooth. Remove from heat of boil and set aside until it cools to warm — not hot.

Stir in vanilla and add eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously until completely mixed. When the batter looks blended and shiny, add  flour and stirring vigorously until well-mixed.  Spread evenly into lined pan, drizzle the top with cooled caramel sauce and sprinkle the caramel trails with sea salt — course is best but fine will work too.

Bake until toothpick inserted  into the center to test, is only slightly moist with batter, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool and caramel to set, then lift brownies out of the pan by their paper or foil for cutting and serving.

Makes one pan or 9 to 16 brownies depending on size of  squares cut.

Gluten Free Adaptation

Remove flour and increase cocoa to 1 cup and baking soda to 1/4 tsp.

 
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Published on 11 October, 2011, by

Caramel sauce — you may not think it, but it’s a great recipe staple to have around. You can top eclairs, drizzle on cakes, ice cream and brownies, add it to pancake batter and even use it for dipping apple slices this fall holiday season.

Before I hit my mid-30′s I was never much of a caramel fan. I found out then, that it wasn’t that I didn’t actually like caramel, it’s just that I don’t like cheap and overly hard and chewy caramel. But I love creamy, milky smooth caramel, the kind that either drips coyly down your bottom lip from your first bite of a dark chocolate caramel or the kind that has a luxuriously languid pull.  Most of all, I like caramel paired with chocolate and salt or deeply vanilla pudding and pastry.

Since I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and any and all manner of artifice in my cooking I make my own caramel sauce — though Trader Joes has a great caramel sauce and fudge sauce (both without the corn syrup) if you’re pressed for time. Making caramel sauce at home is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen BUT you must be focused on your sugar (soon to be caramel) the entire time.

From melted sugar to froth to golden, gleaming caramel sauce

My favorite recipe for caramel is this one from Simply Recipes which I have experimented (with great results) using reduced amounts of milk instead of cream (if you just don’t have any cream in the fridge but want to make this sauce anyway) and with soymilk (for those who are lactose intolerant.) Alas, there is no suitable replacement for butter but many lactose intolerant folks can tolerate butter better than other dairy products.

I use this caramel sauce in recipes posted throughout the site, I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think.

Happy Cooking!

 
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Published on 2 October, 2011, by

These go well with. . .

And now it’s time to say goodbye to Emeril — but first, (drumroll) announcing the winner of the Sizzling Skillets and One-Pot Wonders Giveaway, GroovyFoody blog reader, Ms. Shahleena Weller of Seattle, Washington!

Shahleena is an avid cook, “who loves trying out new recipes.”  She became interested in cooking out of a desire to eat good food, yet not break the budget. She says she was tired of eating the same “not-so-great stuff” and started using recipe sites for inspiration. Five years later, she says she is, “a decent cook who enjoys a good adventure in the kitchen!” She also claims never to have won anything before — well, now she has! ;)

Congratulations Shahleena and thanks for reading the GroovyFoody!

Did you miss the winner of our Emeril 7pc Zak! set of serving bowls? Read the Update.

Emeril's Chuck Wagon Chili

 
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Published on 30 September, 2011, by

This is the last post of the cooking party before I announce the winner of the Cookbook Giveaway tomorrow. I know that we’ve been sort of Emeril-centric around here the past few weeks but we also had some awesome giveaways! After tomorrow’s announcement (and one more recipe peek to round it out) we’ll be back to diving into an exotic variety of food, most of which you can cook in 30 to 45 minutes or less.

In fact, I’ve been saving up pics of some fabulous dinners we’ve had in between and before Emeril mania started around here, so keep an eye out for tons of great new recipes!

Now, without further ado, Emeril’s Red Beans and Rice (supposed to be Soup but I just couldn’t bring myself to put the rice in the pot and instead served it atop a nutty brown rice.)

PREP: Jalapenos, red kidney beans and short grain brown rice

This is Emeril folks and this dish is, traditionally, a dish with a wee bit of heat. While I like and can take a little heat, mostly in the name of flavor, because of heartburn issues — I took this down a notch (sorry, Em!) The way to reduce the heat in this dish, while still retaining the flavor is this: I changed the chorizo for kielbasa sausage, removed the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos and skipped the Louisiana hot sauce. This made the dish mild enough to bypass the heartburn but flavorful enough to enjoy.

Bringing the beans to "simmer n' soak" to soften and de-gas

PREP: Chopping & assembling ingredients in slow cooker

PREP: Add the beans!

Swimming in broth

A finished dish of red beans and kielbasa, Emeril-style, topping rice:

Red beans and rice -- sooo nice (Kudos to anyone who notices)

 
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Published on 29 September, 2011, by

Photo courtesy of Morrow Cookbooks

I don’t know if comes from the summer trips, staying with my grandparents as a child, where they would take me fishing for catfish and trout — but I love fish. Up at dawn, loading up the truck, securing the aluminum row boat and packing cheese sandwiches. We would sit on the bank of the lake all day, in the summer sun wearing one of grandma’s extra straw hats as she readied us both to cast off.  The skin on my bare olive complexioned back growing tawnier with every hour but never burning, leaving tan lines in the shape of the thin spaghetti straps of my swimsuit. These straps, the only thing that once shielded me from a miscast line that should have hooked my shoulder but instead snagged my swimsuit.

My Grandma "Nick" and Aunt Julie

Grandma always found a way to sneak a giant Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar into our lunchbox without me seeing it. At some point in the day, as we grew weary and the fish in our catch bucket settled down, she would pull out this treasured treat. Slowly unwrapping the silver foil from around the chocolate and breaking off just a couple of chunks for us to share.  Those days were long and lazy, except once we got the catch home and had to clean and scale it, prepping some for dinner and packing the rest for the freezer.  Sitting at our TV trays in my grandparents little trailer, munching on fresh-caught, crispy on the outside juicy on the inside, fried catfish and finishing our dinner with a slice of cool, salted watermelon — well, that was the taste of summer to me.

Happy 92nd Birthday this week Granny "Nick"! I love you!

Maybe that’s why I have a tendency to equate seafood with summer. Summer time brings lobster roll sandwiches, shrimp tacos and scampi, crab cakes on a bed of spinach, salmon baked on a wood plank with caramelized onions, orange and sweet basil, seared halibut topped with zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms, and mussles cooked in butter and wine with spinach and bacon.  I love seafood — everything from tender meaty fish like salmon and halibut to rich crustaceans like shrimp, lobster and crabs, to the tender tug of shellfish mussels, clams and oysters and the delicate chew of perfectly cooked squid and octopus. As a general rule, if it’s from the sea — it’s for me!

But one thing I’ve never cooked before is shrimp stew. Now, thanks to Emeril and his Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders we all can make this richly satisfying and belly warming stew this fall — because he not only gave us the recipe to preview here but also included his recipe for shrimp stock.

This comforting, simple stew is a Cajun dish that many home cooks in Louisiana enjoy, especially during the Lenten season. It is easy to make and feeds a bunch. The trick is getting the roux to the right color . . . about a notch darker than peanut butter should do the trick. A homemade shrimp stock makes all the difference in the world. Make sure to add the shrimp just before serving so that they stay nice and tender. Some families boil eggs in their shrimp stew (as it simmers) to make the dish even heartier.

1 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
¼ cup minced garlic (about 12 cloves)
10 cups Rich Shrimp Stock (see below)
2 bay leaves
1 ¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
3 large baking potatoes (2 ½ to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup chopped green onion, green part only
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the flour. Whisk to combine and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until a medium roux is formed (it should look a bit darker than peanut butter), about 10 minutes. (If the roux begins to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and take your time—it is important that the roux not be burned at all or the stew will have a bitter taste.) As soon as the roux is the right color, add the chopped onion and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, little by little, and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and 4 teaspoons of the salt and reduce the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the floury taste is gone, 30 to 45 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 30 to 40 minutes longer. (Add a bit of water or chicken broth to thin the gravy should the stew get too thick during the cook time. The sauce is meant to be thick and rich but not pasty.)
3. Toss the shrimp with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Stir the shrimp, green onion, and parsley into the stew and continue to cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the stew in shallow bowls over hot white rice.
6 to 8 servings

Emeril’s Rich Shrimp Stock

This stock is so easy to make, yet so flavorful—make a batch every time you have shells and heads from fresh shrimp and you’ll never have to worry about where to get shrimp stock again. You’ll find that toasting the shells in oil before adding the water gives added depth to this stock, which can be used in countless ways.

1 to 1 ½ pounds shrimp shells and heads

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil

14 cups water

1 large onion, unpeeled, roughly chopped (the onion peel deepens the color of the stock)

½ cup roughly chopped celery

2 small carrots, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 large sprigs fresh parsley

1. Rinse the shrimp shells and heads in a large colander under cold running water and allow to drain.

2. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shells are pink and toasty-fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the water and all the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at a slow simmer until the stock is flavorful, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl and allow it to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before using. (The stock may also be placed in airtight containers and frozen for up to several months.)

About 12 cups

Note: You can easily double the ingredient amounts to make a larger batch of stock.

To save space in the freezer, you can reduce the stock further after straining and discarding the solids. Just add water to the defrosted stock to reconstitute as needed.

 
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Published on 29 September, 2011, by

The opening of Sizzling Sillets: A message from Emeril

OK, so I’ll admit it — with going out of town for my birthday and looming writing deadlines, my Emeril Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders posts have been lagging. With all of the prep required in most of these dishes and/or lengthy cooking times, it’s been hard to get all my posts in BUT fear not, I found a solution!

Simplify.

For all you busy working moms out there, that want to cook these delicious dishes but maybe don’t have the time necessary to execute the big and fancy versions of Emeril’s dishes, I say don’t give up — simplify. So today, though I cannot give you Emeril’s recipe (you’ll need to order the book — available now at your local bookseller) I can tell you how I used his ingredients (well, most of them) and tweaked his recipe a bit to suit my needs.

Doesn't it look yummy?

I love a good quiche or frittata for dinner with a nice peppery arugula salad so  I had chosen to cook up Emeril’s  Leek and Bacon Quiche in a Potato Crust (on page 93) and purchased all the requisite ingredients early in the day (or rather sent the hubby/personal assistant to the store to gather the ingredients) but then, as always — life happened. Clients called with issues, editors emailed with last minute rush deadlines (a good freelancer never turns down work!) and before I knew it — it was 7pm and I still need to cook dinner. Since my little one has an 8pm bedtime — this posed a problem — but not for long.

Inspired by Emeril ~ The Bacon, Leek Quiche-Frittata

While a quiche is delightfully more fluffy and light and a bit more uptown than a frittata — I get just as much satisfaction from eating a frittata as I do quiche and let’s face it, folks, most of us are a bit more downtown or east of town than uptown. (HA!) So I adapted Mr. Lagasse’s recipe to suit me, by employing a few easy steps:

  • First, quiche takes so long to cook because it is essentially a custard — which means a considerable amount more liquid than a frittata (some frittata’s are made with only egg and no other liquid.) In order to cut the cooking time, I cut the milk, cream and sour cream down to a simple 1/8 cup of cream to 7 eggs.
  • Next, since I would be making this in a deep dish skillet instead of a spring-form pan and would therefore be unable to fully execute the potato crust ~ I cut the amount of potatoes in half from 2 pds to 1 pd.
  • Then, with red potatoes, freshly scrubbed and skin on, I popped them in the processor on grate and in seconds had shredded potatoes suitable for hashbrowns. I did this and hand cut the leek and Thyme leaves, while broiling the bacon in the oven and blending the eggs, cream and salt and pepper in the blender.
  • Next, I heated the skillet with oil and added the potatoes frying them crisp, so that they would stand up to the wetness of the egg during the cooking process and still allow me a semblance of a crust.
  • Pulled the crisp bacon from the oven, added the leeks to a saute pan with butter until soft, while turning the potatoes to ensure crispness on both sides.
  • With the bacon and leeks cool, I added them to the egg mixture, arranged the crisp potatoes to cover the bottom and a bit of the sides of the pan and slowly poured in the mixture to the pan, so as not to disturb the layout of crispy potatoes.
  • After the egg mixture began to set a bit on the bottom (4 to 5 minutes) I popped the whole thing into the oven on broil for 2 to 3 minutes, watching it carefully. As it puffed, but before it turned golden, I topped with 3 oz of grated white cheddar cheese and gave it another minute under the broiler.
  • Removing the golden delight from the oven let it rest for a few minutes and then cut and top with fresh sliced green onions, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and salsa, if you like. I served it all with greens and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Voila! By 7:30pm we were eating a scrummy and satisfying (even for a 3 yr old) dinner and by 8pm my little one was safely tucked in bed dreaming of the day’s adventures.

Moral of the story ~ Don’t give up on cooking for your family ~ there’s always a way to simplify!

Happy Eating!

Wanna Win Emeril’s new cookbook? Only 2 Days left to Enter!

 
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Published on 29 September, 2011, by

SizzlingSkillets & other One-Pot Wonders jacket cover Hi-ResHere it is, what you’ve all been waiting for — how to get your hands on Emeril’s new book (if you want to guarantee you get it, head on over to pre-order it for yourself). To win your free copy, comment below telling me which of the Emeril recipes GroovyFoody has previewed that you just can’t wait to make! To increase your odds of winning — get a second entry by tweeting the link to this post and posting the link in the comments section below. Wanna stack the deck in your favor? Check out the other 19 Emeril One-Pot Party Bloggers (listed above or to the right) and enter to win on their sites as well.

That’s all there is to it.

Winner will be chosen by random drawing by my precocious 3 year old. Contest is open to US residents only, and but HURRY the contest will only be open from now through midnight, pacific time, October 1.

Full disclosure: For my commitment to this blogger cooking party, I received a copy of this cookbook, as well as a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving Bowls, and Emeril Seasoning; a $50 grocery reimbursement and Emeril cookbooks upon completion of the party. The top performing blogger, as selected by T-Fal, will be awarded an Emeril by T-Fal Slow Cooker.

 
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Published on 26 September, 2011, by
Emeril Lagasse, American celebrity chef, resta...

Image via Wikipedia

We’re in the final week of the Emeril One-Pot Cooking Party over here, folks and if you haven’t had the chance yet to make it over to some of my fellow bloggers in the party, then you should scoot on over and increase your chances to win Emeril’s new cookbook, Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders , which goes on sale tomorrow! (SEE Contest Rules and “How to Enter” below.)

In this final week, I still have many posts to get to you all. I have been cooking up a storm but behind on posting due to my 40th birthday, which took me on an out-of-town adventure that made me feel 20 again! (Thanks to that hubby of mine!)

As we’ve been cooking our way through Emeril’s dishes some of the other bloggers and I have become rather chummy, because well, what’s not to like about a fellow foodie! There are 20 of us in all and I encourage you to make your way around to all of us but a few of us have really stuck by each other throughout this one-pot journey.

Some of my new favs include:

Wanna test your Emeril knowledge? Check out this quiz:

A Sizzling Quiz with Chef Emeril Lagasse

Here’s another new Emeril recipe that I can share! (Thanks to Morrow for allowing us to pre-release a few of these recipes.)

Wok-Seared Duck Salad photo courtesy of William Morrow

Wok-Seared Duck Salad

This recipe was inspired by a Thai dish called laap, which is made with minced or ground chicken, fish, pork, or duck and seasoned with the wonderful flavors of chiles, ginger, fish sauce, and citrus. I decided to use the same flavors with a seared duck breast and make it into more of a main-course salad. This is a refreshing take on northern Thai street food.
2 tablespoons uncooked jasmine rice
1 tablespoon minced fresh red Thai bird chile
2 magret duck breasts (about 12 ounces each) or 1 ½ pounds other domestic duck breasts
1/3 cup minced shallot
1 ½ tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
¼ cup fish sauce (see page 213)
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ½ teaspoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 medium head of red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup julienned red bell pepper
1. Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add the rice. Toast the rice, shaking the wok constantly, until all the grains have turned golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the rice to a mortar and set aside to cool. Once the rice has cooled, grind it using a pestle until it reaches a sandy consistency. Alternatively, grind the toasted rice in a clean spice grinder. Place the rice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Place the chile in the wok over medium-high heat and cook, shaking the wok, until lightly colored and fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove the chile from the pan and add to the bowl with the rice.
3. Using a paring knife, score the fatty side of the duck breasts by making shallow cuts in a diamond pattern; this allows the fat to render more easily. Place the duck breasts in the wok, fatty side down, and cook over medium heat until the skin is golden brown and slightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the duck breasts to a cutting board, slice them into thin strips, and return the strips to the wok. Add the shallot and ginger and stir-fry over medium-high heat until the duck is just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the duck from the wok to the bowl with the rice and chile and set aside.
4. In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, orange juice, and palm sugar and mix well. Pour the mixture over the duck and toss until well coated. Add the cilantro, mint, basil, lettuce, bean sprouts, and julienned red pepper and toss to combine.
5. Serve the salad immediately.
4 servings

SizzlingSkillets & other On-Pot Wonders jacket cover Hi-Res

Emeril’s Cookbook Giveaway!

Here it is, what you’ve all been waiting for — how to get your hands on Emeril’s new book (if you want to guarantee you get it, head on over to pre-order it for yourself). To win your free copy, comment below telling me which of the Emeril recipes GroovyFoody has previewed that you just can’t wait to make! To increase your odds of winning — get a second entry by tweeting the link to this post and posting the link in the comments section below. Wanna stack the deck in your favor? Check out the other 19 Emeril One-Pot Party Bloggers (listed above or to the right) and enter to win on their sites as well.

That’s all there is to it.

Winner will be chosen by random drawing by my precocious 3 year old. Contest is open to US residents only, and will be open from now through midnight, pacific time,  October 1.

Full disclosure: For my commitment to this blogger cooking party, I received a copy of this cookbook, as well as a set of Emeril – by zak! Table Art 7-piece Flame-Shaped Serving Bowls, and Emeril Seasoning; a $50 grocery reimbursement and Emeril cookbooks upon completion of the party. The top performing blogger, as selected by T-Fal, will be awarded an Emeril by T-Fal Slow Cooker. 

 
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Published on 18 September, 2011, by


I am a sucker for Italian cooking. My childhood memories are filled with sensory impressions like: the rich bubble of homemade marinara sauce simmering on the stove; the sweetly-savory, herby scents of garlic, oregano, basil and fennel seed filling our home; a golden crust of melted mozzarella draped luxuriously over the lip of a pan of fresh-from-the-oven lasagna. My mother’s love for all things Italian, was unequaled and many times we found her happily munching away on cold pizza for breakfast or leftover spaghetti.

My parents were not Italian and though they had experienced travel outside of the US, it was not to Italy but instead Germany, where my father was stationed as a border guard, back in the days of East and West Germany and “The Wall”. My mother, had a love of cooking and a natural inclination towards exploration in the kitchen but the times were different. The amount of information they had about world cuisine back then was not what it is today, nor was the availability of ingredients. I scarcely think my mother would have been able to find or have known what broccoli rabe was in those days.

Fresh broccoli rabe

But had she been exposed to Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe, featured in Emeril’s,  Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders , I’d like to think that, maybe, she would have made this a hearty alternative to the giant pot of pinto beans topped with tomato sauce and served with the ($0.15 a box) Jiffy cornbread mix that we ate regularly, during the lean years.

For me, the most memorable version of  a Tuscan white bean soup I’ve ever tasted, was at a little mom and pop Ristorante in Siena, Italy called La Circe. Twice-cooked, is how they described their richly-flavored cannelini bean stew with tender wilted greens. Occasionally, when I make the dish at home, I will sometimes add mild Italian sausage, prosciutto or even leftover bacon grease to the mirepoix — the extra flavor bump lets this busy working mom reduce the cooking time, without skimping on richness or taste.

Emeril’s version uses baby lima beans because he says, “we just love their tender, creamy consistency.” You can use whichever white beans are your favorites or that you happen to have on hand, but as Emeril notes, “the cooking time will vary slightly.” So without further ado — here is the first of the three Emeril recipes that “The Cooking Party Bloggers” are able to preview exclusively to our readers:

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe Courtesy of Morrow

RECIPE: Tuscan White Bean Soup with Broccoli Rabe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups small-diced onion
1 cup small-diced celery
1 cup small-diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds dried white beans (cannellini, baby lima, or great Northern), rinsed, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind, about 1 × 3 inches
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe, tough stem ends trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 ½ cups)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1. Heat the olive oil in an 8-quart soup pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, dried Italian herbs, and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, beans, Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and water and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to simmer gently and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the beans from the pot to a small bowl and mash them with the back of a spoon. Return the mashed beans to the soup and add the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until the broth thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining black pepper, the broccoli rabe, and rosemary sprig and continue to cook until the broccoli rabe is just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, and rosemary sprig and discard them. Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls, garnished with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

 

Don’t forget! Enter to win 7pc set of Emeril by Zak! Flame serving bowls

The winner will be chosen at random and announced next Friday here on the blog!

 
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Published on 15 September, 2011, by

Oysters and artichokes — I’m a crazy about them both. So imagine my delight when I opened Emeril’s New cookbook,  Sizzling Skillets and Other One-Pot Wonders and found a recipe whose ingredient list contained, not only, those two favorites but mascarpone, shallots, dry white wine, butter and cream — sinful!

Very large oysters cut in half (and this is only half of what the recipes calls for!)

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none–
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.
 
Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

 

According to the rules of Emeril’s cookbook launch none of us previewers are allowed to give you the recipes (the cookbook is available for presale now!) But I will give you a few preview pics, a tease of ingredients and a bit of poetry to whet the appetite — for what is sexier than oysters, artichokes, cream, wine and poetry.

 

Artichoke hearts await

The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales
It remained
Unshakeable,

Pablo Neruda, Ode to an Artichoke

 

Pssst. . .Wanna Win a 7 pc set of Emeril by Zak! Flame serving bowls

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

Know what goes great with soup? Popovers — but not just any popovers, smoked Gruyere popovers. I make mine quick and simple by using a basic choux pastry recipe and stirring in the grated cheese of my choice, once the batter is mixed. Then spoon out 1/4 cup fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet –  25 minutes later, you have light, cheesy perfection!

My Choux Pastry Recipe

1 cup water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup flour

4 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat water and butter in a saucepan, once the butter has melted add your flour, stirring vigorously over low heat or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in eggs all at once, beating until smooth. Drop by scant 1/4 cup fulls onto an ungreased cookie sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, unitl golden and cooked through. Cool away from draft. Serve while warm.

Happy Eating!

 

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