Fat Tuesday Etoufee and Creole Seasoning!!!

Happy Fat Tuesday Everyone!

Mardi Gras has begun and the week long celebration in New Orleans represents total debauchery before the holy time of lent leading up to Easter. I have been to New Orleans and let me tell you this place is rockin' on any given Tuesday night, let alone Fat Tuesday. The music plays out of every bar and venue, the drinks are poured with a loose hand, the people love to smile and share and the food is second to none. This recipe for Shrimp Etouffee was inspired by Chef Emeril Lagasse who I had the pleasure to work with a couple of your ago. I worked with the chef while he was filming his show "Emeril Green" at a Whole Foods Market in Virginia. He was gracious to everyone he met and a real professional. As an aspiring TV host he was great example of how it's done. I even got several on air opportunities with him, which was a dream come true.

Back to the food, the word "Etouffee" actually means "to smother" and is generally a thick, spiced gravy with shellfish and served over rice. As with most Louisiana cuisine this recipe has been influenced by the French, Spanish, Native American and West Indian Cultures. If you are thinking of making this at home, you need to give yourself some time, trust me it is definitely worth it. Below is a great recipe for etouffee as well as a dry Creole spice mix that can be used in gumbos and to spice chicken, pork, beef and fish.

Now Get Crackin'! Chef Egg

Emeril's Shrimp Étouffée

  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 C Onions, chopped
  • 2 C Green Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 C Celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) Canned Tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Creole Seasoning, recipe follows
  • 1 qt. Seafood Stock
  • 3 lbs. Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 C Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 C Green Onion, thinly sliced for garnish
  • Steamed white rice, for serving
  • First you have to make a roux. This is a mixture of fat and flower that helps to thicken, flavor and add color to the dish. Take your time with this step because it is the base for the whole dish. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium/low heat. Add the flour and stir continuously over medium/low heat until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 25-30 minutes.

    Next, add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of the Essence. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the cold shrimp stock.

    Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of the seasoning mixture and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are curled up and cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.

    Serve immediately over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onion tops.

    Creole Seasoning

  • 2.5 tbsp. Paprika
  • 2 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1 tbsp. Dried Thyme
  • Place the ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. Store the seasoning in an airtight container.

    Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    Chocolate covered strawberries are a symbol of romance during the Valentines season. They are also really easy to prepare and will make a big splash with your loved ones at home or at work. Just drop by the grocery store and pick up a quart of ripe strawberries and a couple of chocolate bars and get crackin' today!

    For a little bit of variety, dip your strawberries in dark, milk and white chocolates.You can also top them with little sprinkles of nuts, shredded coconut, sprinkles and even pop rocks for that extra bang!

    Remember that you can dip your berries with friends and family for fun event at home or at work, kids love it!

    1C Dark Chocolate, Chopped

    12 Strawberries

    ¼ C Sliced Almonds, Shredded Coconut (for garnish)

    1. Place the chocolate into a bowl, microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat this until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

    2. Wash the strawberries and dry them well. Keep the strawberries wrapped in paper towels until you dip. If the berry is wet the chocolate will not stick.

    3. Put a sheet of wax paper on a baking sheet. Grab a strawberry by the stem and carefully dip in the chocolate, letting the extra drip off. You want a thin layer of chocolate on the outside.

    4. Place the dipped strawberry on the wax paper or plastic wrap, garnish with almonds or coconut and let it cool at room temperature. If you speed up the cooling process in the fridge, the chocolate will weep moisture. It will still taste good, but it wont look pro style

    5. You can boost the look of your treats by drizzling melted white chocolate over the strawberries after the first layer has set.

    Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Turkey Time

    Turkey Time!

    The most daunting task for anyone getting ready to prepare Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. You may overwhelm yourself with questions like what size should I get? How long should I cook it? How should I season it? It is actually really easy to cook a turkey and this blog post will teach you what you need to know for turkey success!

    Types of Turkey

  • A classic Butterball turkey usually comes frozen and is injected with liquid and oil. These additions keep the turkey moist and flavorful as it cooks.
  • All natural turkeys do not have artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics. They usually cost a bit more, but have really good flavor.
  • Kosher turkeys have been killed in a humane way under the supervision of a rabbi. They are also brined to remove impurities giving this turkey a saltier flavor.
  • Organic turkeys are generally all natural and have been fed an organic feed.
  • How big of a turkey do you need

    Generally speaking you should allow for 1.5 lbs of whole turkey per guest. This will take into account for bones and lost water weight. Also, make sure your oven is big enough for your turkey. If it is not, think about buying two smaller turkeys or buy an extra turkey breast so you will have enough food for everyone.

    Now its time to prepare the bird for cooking

  • You will need to defrost the turkey one of two ways. First you can defrost the turkey under running cold water. This method will take 2-3 hours and is great if you are in a pinch for time. The second way is to let the turkey defrost in the refrigerator and will take several days to defrost. Never let a turkey defrost at room temperature!
  • The next step is to remove the organs from the inside of the bird. There will be a bag on the inside of the turkey cavity and will contain the heart, liver neck and giblets.
  • Rinse the turkey under cold water and then dry completely with paper towels.
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast side down and season the well with salt, pepper and dried herbs like parley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Herbs can be dried or chopped fresh. Remember to season the turkey outside, under the skin and inside the cavity.
  • Drizzle the bird with oil or melted butter and make sure to get some inside the turkey.
  • Take 4 chopped carrots, 3 chopped celery ribs and , 2 chopped onions and place some inside and around the turkey. Pour 2 cups of water or white wine in the bottom of the pan. This liquid will be a good start to the basting liquid.
  • Now you are ready to cook your turkey.

  • You should give yourself 2.5 – 5 hours prior to your meal to get this done depending on the size of your turkey. A whole turkey will need about 15 minute per pound in the oven.
  • First place your prepped bird in a 450º F oven for the first 30 minutes. Then cover the turkey with foil and cook at 325º F until the internal temperature reaches 165º F.
  • After the first hour baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The best way to cook the perfect bird is to invest in an inexpensive meat thermometer. Place the probe into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone. When the turkey has reached 165º F, your turkey is ready to take out of the oven.
  • Carefully remove the turkey out of the oven, cover with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  • Once you turkey is done it is time to reheat your sides and warm up your biscuits. Now its time to slice and serve the turkey to your guests.

  • First carefully remove the legs, and wings at the joints and palace them on a platter.
  • Slice the breast meat by first slicing down both sides of the breast bone and along the rib cage. From here you can remove the whole breast with little waste and slice the breast for serving. Arrange the sliced turkey on the platter with sliced meat from the thighs and pour some of the hot turkey juices on top before you bring it to the table.
  • Pan Gravy

  • Now you can make a easy pan gravy by pouring the juices from the pan into a container and remove the fat.
  • Place 2 tablespoons of the fat into a pan with an equal amount of flour. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Slowly whisk in 2-3 cups of turkey juice or stock until smooth and cook for another 10 minutes until thick and smooth.
  • Turkey Soup

    After you have removed all of the meat from the bones, remember that there is one extra awesome step to get the most out of your turkey. Make an easy turkey soup by throwing the bones, onions celery and carrots into a pot, covering with cold water and simmering for 4 hours. Remove the bones from the pot and enjoy!

    Now Get Crackin'!

    Happy Thanksgiving from Chef Egg!!!

    Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Side Dishes

    Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Side Dishes

    For some people cooking the holiday meal can be a really scary task. With a few simple tips; I am going to teach you how to organize and cook a tasty holiday meal that you can prepare with ease and be the envy of your guests. We are going to break the menu down into an easy step by step plan that will free you up from stress and let you enjoy your holiday.

    Cranberry Relish

    Cranberry Relish is a classic side that goes great with turkey. Usually folks will open a can and plop it out onto a plate for the table. Here is a really easy recipe that will pack a real punch and can be made 3 days prior to your meal.

    Pop 3 cups of fresh cranberries into a small pot with a chopped apple or pear, a squeeze of orange juice and some zest, 1/2 C of sugar (cranberries are really tart). Simmer this on low heat for 30 minutes. When the cranberries burst open you are ready to roll. Cool the relish down and store in the fridge.

    Honey Glazed Carrots

    I love to have fresh vegetables at the holiday table. During these special times I like to spruce'em up a little bit. The great thing about veggies is that they can be prepped a couple of days in advance and reheated at the last minute so they taste ad look fresh.

    The first step is to "blanch" 2 lbs of baby carrots (You can also chop large carrots into ½ inch pieces) in large pot of boiling salted water. Boil them for 5 minutes or until they are halfway cooked. Take the carrots out and shock then in a bowl of ice cold water. When they are cool, drain, dry well and store in an airtight container. You can do this 2 days prior to your meal.

    About 30 minutes prior to your meal you can re heat the carrots in a skillet over medium heat with some butter, a pinch of cinnamon, salt and pepper. Toss the carrots every couple of minutes and when they have browned on all sides drizzle them with a little honey and cook for one more minute.

    Green Beans w/ Bacon

    The beans can be started by browning 3 slices of bacon in a pan over medium heat. Remove the bacon when crisp, then sauté a half of a sweet onion in the bacon fat with one pound of blanched beans. When the beans are just cooked through, season them with salt and pepper and garnish with the chopped bacon.

    Mashed Potatoes

    This can be done so many ways with so many flavors; today I am going to give you the short and sweet version. First wash, scrub and cut 4 lbs of russet or Yukon gold potatoes into one inch cubes, keep the skin on for a home style mash. Store the diced potatoes in cold water in the fridge up to 2 days in advance. One day prior to your dinner, place the potatoes in a large pot, cover in cold water and boil until fork tender.

    While that is cooking, heat 1 cup of half and half, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1.5 tablespoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper until it starts to bubble. Carefully strain the potatoes until they are dry, this is really important. Put the potatoes back in the pot and pour over the hot milk and butter combo. Start mashing with a potato masher or a large wooden spoon or spatula. At this point you can add cheeses like cheddar or parmesan and top with chopped bacon, chives or fresh herbs.

    Mashed potatoes can be prepared a day in advance and placed in an oven safe dish to store. You can reheat this dish by topping the mashed potatoes with some butter, cover with foil, and cook for 45 minutes in a 400º F oven, stirring every 15 minutes.

    The Stuffing

    The last must have side on your holiday table is the stuffing. This can be made by sauteing half of a chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and 2 ribs of chopped celery in a medium pot with 3 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of dried sage and thyme if you have it. Add 4 cups of seasoned croutons to the pot and stir. Add a little chicken stock or water until the stuffing has moistened. urn off the heat, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Place in an oiled, oven safe dish and cool.

    Like mashed potatoes, stuffing can be prepared a day in advance and placed in an oven safe dish to store. You can reheat this dish the day of your dinner. All you have to do is drizzle with oil and cover with foil, and cook for 30 minutes in a 400º F oven. Take the foil off to brown the stuffing the last 5 minutes.

    You can finish out your menu with some heat and serve rolls or sliced Italian bread w/ softened butter. Desserts can also be homemade, purchased or brought by guests. If this is your first year hosting the big holiday I suggest buying your desserts. Baking pies and cakes can get complicated and really stressful. I want this year to be easy for you, give baking a try next year, once you have the basics down.

    On the next blog post we will conquer the holiday beast, the Thanksgiving Turkey and make pan gravy.

    Now get Crackin' and Gobble Gobble! Chef Egg

    Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Hospitality

    Beginners Guide to Your First Holiday Dinner: Hospitality

    Weather your cooking for your family, friend's, co workers; in your new house, college dorms or at your in-laws, cooking the holiday meal is a real honor and is a great way to spread your love to those you care for.

    Ask yourself these questions when planning for the holidays. The more you prepare, the more fun you will have with your friends and family.

    1. Your guest list? You want make sure the guest list jives with how much space you have in your home. You want your guests to be comfortable during your event.

    2. Are guests bringing babies or kids? If kids are coming, make sure you have some emergency kid friendly foods (veggies, fruit and chicken tenders), a toy or two, DVD's and a room for changing clothes and napping.

    3. Do I have enough plates, utensils, chairs and table space? Make sure you have a plan for feeding your guest. Make sure that you have plates and utensils for feeding everyone and that your guests can sit and move around our space comfortably.

    4. Do my guests have dietary restrictions? Be prepared for guests who are allergic to certain ingredients, are vegetarian or vegan and if they follow kosher or hallal dietary laws.

    5. What time should we start eating? Make sure you have enough to time to prepare food and get the house ready on the day of your event. You should also have a plan for how long you want your party to last.

    6. What are we going to eat? Planning your menu will let you what food to buy, and when to buy it. Then you can plan how you are going to make all of your holiday goodies so they are hot and fresh at the dinner table.

    Plan your menu 2 weeks out; get canned good and frozen food one week out and fresh vegetables and ingredients 3 days prior to your meal. Do not be one of the unlucky schmucks at the grocery store the day before the holiday, or worse the day of. That is not a pleasant experience; trust me I have worked in a grocery store for the past 5 years.

    7. Are you serving Beverages and Snacks? You should have cold water, a couple of soda varieties, ice tea, juice and your choice of alcoholic beverages. I like to get a mix of cheap beer, seasonal brew, white and red wine and spiced rum for warm cider.

    I also like to put out some appetizers when guests arrive. Get the party started with some dips and chips, veggies and fruit, mixed nuts and a platter with cut apple, pears and grapes with some cheese like cheddar, jack and goat cheese. You don't have to go crazy, just a couple of snacks to tide your guests over for the big show, turkey time!

    8. How will guests be getting home? Make sure you have a cab company ready to roll, designated drivers or sleepover plans for guests hat have had too much to drink. There is no better way to ruin a holiday that to get in a life threatening accident or go to jail for a DWI.

    Once you answer these questions, you will be able to plan and prep your meal with no worries. The next step is to plan and execute a simple and satisfying menu.

    Now get crackin'! Chef Egg

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