Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Egg and Onion Gratin {One Of My All-Time Faves}

So this Egg and Onion Gratin is one of my all time favorites. Hands down!
You simply cannot beat this dish when it comes to simple and comforting fare.
Try it and I bet it will be one of your new favorites too! You probably have all the ingredients on hand already. Serve it with a slice of toast and I promise you'll fall in love just like we did.
Egg and Onion Gratin
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pépin
Serves 6

7 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups sliced onions
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Slice the eggs crosswise with an egg slicer or a knife and arrange them in a 4 to 6 cup gratin dish.  Preheat the oven to 400F. 

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When it is hot, add the onions and cook over medium high heat, stirring once in a while, for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, until they sizzle and have just started to brown.  Add the flour, mix well with a wooden spatula, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the milk, salt, and pepper, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about a minute.

Pour the sauce over the eggs and mix the sauce and eggs gently.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil.  Place the eggs under the hot broiler for 4 to 5 minutes to make a nice brown crust. Serve immediately.

Theme: May Potluck!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Little Shrimp Casseroles For a Sweet Friend

My sweet friend Deb, at Kahakai Kitchen, lost her mom recently. Deb and I have shared so much over the years and I'm so happy to have her in my life. My heart goes out to her and her family. As a passionate cook I like to show my love and support by making food. Since Deb lives in Hawaii and I'm in Kentucky that is not possible. Instead, I am dedicating this dish to her. 

Deb shared a special memory, and picture, of her mom last week. In the picture her mom was eating a lovely shrimp plate. Deb said that her mom would want her to mention that she "usually doesn't eat this much." Then Deb says her mom would say she couldn't finish it, but then she did. Deb said she chose to remember her mom this way.

In honor of her memory, I decided to share these scrumptious Little Shrimp Casseroles.  A dainty and feminine casserole of shrimp with the classic flavors of butter and garlic topped off by crispy golden breadcrumbs. Little enough to eat one, or even two!

Love and hugs to you, Deb!

Little Shrimp Casseroles
Adapted from Fast Food My Way
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 4

4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped button mushrooms*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound large shrimp, shelled
1cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth

Note: I omitted the mushrooms simply because I didn't have them on hand.

Mix the butter in a large bowl with the garlic, scallions, mushrooms, salt, pepper,and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shrimp and toss to mix well. Divide the mixture among four individual gratin dishes with about 1-cup capacity,or spoon into one large gratin or shallow baking dish.

In another bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, so that they are lightly coated but still fluffy. Sprinkle the crumbs over the shrimp mixture and pour the wine on top.

Almost 30 minutes before serving time, heat the oven to 425 degrees. When the oven is ready, place the gratin dishes or dish on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned and the shrimp are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

Theme: In Honor Of Deb

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Crab Cakes In Red Sauce

Once again it's time for our Mystery Box Madness over at I Heart Cooking Clubs. This time around our list of mystery box ingredients were: Brie, Crab, Chives, Pecans, Strawberries, Vanilla, Breadcrumbs, Green Beans, Vinegar, and Puff Pastry. We are to chose three ingredients from the list and cook a recipe from one of these chefs: Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, Giada De Laurentiis, Jamie Oliver, Tessa Kiros, Rick Bayless, Madjur Jaffrey, Yotam Ottolenghi, Donna Hay, Nigel Slater, Diana Henry, and Jacques Pépin.

I chose to cook with Pépin simply because I'm currently crushing on his recipes in a major way. After months of being in a cooking rut I'm happy to say that Pépin's recipes are so exquisite that I've been rejuvenated. My cooking mojo has returned and it's about time! I can't wait to get in the kitchen and cook his recipes each week.

I always jump at a chance to eat crab so I knew I was choosing crab as my first ingredient. When I found this recipe for Crab Cakes in Red Sauce from Pépin's Fast Food My Way book I was delighted to see the recipe called for both breadcrumbs and chives, the two final ingredients needed for the mystery box challenge.

These crab cakes were crazy insane delicious. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, just the right amount of seasoning to bring out the flavor of the crab without overpowering, and the red sauce...well, it was a divide combination of tangy creamy deliciousness.  That sauce was a very welcome break from tartar sauce or remoulade.  A unique and delicious way to serve crab cakes. Will be making this recipe again. Soon.

Crab Cakes In Red Sauce
Adapted from Fast Food My Way
by Jacques Pépin
Serves 4

Crab Cakes
1 (8-ounce) pkg fresh crabmeat, drained and picked clean of shell
1-1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs (from about 2 slices white bread)
2 tablespoons minced scallion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons canola oil

Red Sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

Put the crabmeat in a bowl and add 2/3 cup of the breadcrumbs, scallion, cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, Tabasco, and salt. Mix lightly, just until the ingredients are well combined.

Put the remaining breadcrumbs in a food processor with the almonds and process until the nuts are well chopped and combined with the bread.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Form the crab mixture into 4 patties, then dip each patty into the crumb mixture until it is coated on all sides.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and arrange the patties next to one another in the pan, handling them gently because they are soft. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.  Keep warm in the oven.

Meanwhile for the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

At serving time: divide the sauce among four plates.  Place a patty in the center of the sauce on each plate, sprinkle some chives on the sauce, and serve immediately.

Theme: Mystery Box Madness: May!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Jacques Pépin's Eggs Jeannette

Jacques Pépin's Eggs Jeanette is a fresh and original take on eggs for me. Eggs are hard-boiled and the yolks scooped out.  The egg yolks are then mixed with a touch of milk, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper. The eggs are then stuffed, much like a deviled egg, but instead of being overstuffed the eggs are simply filled and leveled off with the mixture. Then guess what...the eggs laid yolk-side down are browned in a skillet with a touch of oil.  It's kinda like crispy deviled eggs, except for the fun doesn't stop there!

Let's talk about this dressing. It's creamy and tangy and zippy and zesty and I just want to put it on pretty much everything!  It's a combination of some of the reserved egg yolk mixture, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and oil and it's literally heaven. It's pretty much an egg yolk vinaigrette and it's unlike any dressing I've had before. A whole new world people. A whole new world.

I served the eggs over baby spinach as a first course and we pretty much inhaled it. Three people vs. 12 Eggs Jeannette.  It wasn't pretty!  If you're looking for a fresh, fun, unique way to serve eggs then this is it!

Eggs Jeannette
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pépin
Serves 6

For The Eggs
6 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons milk
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil

About 2 tablespoons reserved egg yolk mixture (from above)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

For The Eggs: Cut the eggs crosswise in half at the widest point. Remove the yolks and push them through a foodmill fitted with a fine screen into a bowl.  (If you do not have a food mill, mash the yolks with a fork.) Mix the egg yolks with the milk, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper; the mixture should be moist and hold together. Stuff the whites with the yolk mixture, reserving approximately 2 tablespoons for the dressing. (The egg yolk mixture adds texture to the dressing).

Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick. When the oil is hot, add the egg halves, stuffed side down, and fry over medium heat for about 2 minutes; they will brown beautifully. (Do not cook the white side.) Remove the eggs from the skillet and arrange them on a platter or in a gratin dish. 

For The Dressing:  Put all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the oil.  Pour the dressing on top of and around the eggs and serve.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Trio of Spring Vegetable Side Dishes

This week I wanted to focus on adding more veggies to my diet so I looked for unique ways to serve my favorite seasonal veggies.  Fresh baby carrots were coated in a delectable butter glaze with bits of garlic and parsley, peas were braised in a rich and luxurious egg yolk and cream sauce, and artichokes hearts were given the royal treatment with a pinch of saffron.

Each side added a fun and inviting touch to our meals throughout the week. The Butter-Glazed Carrots added a gorgeous pop of color and flavor served next to some quinoa crusted fish and brown rice; Braised Peas with Egg Yolks was all sorts of yummy deliciousness next to a few ham slices; and the Saffron Artichoke Hearts are served cold, making them the perfect snack, but also a great accompaniment to the sandwiches in my lunchbox throughout the week! 

With such flavorful veggie options readily available I found myself (and my family) eating a lot more veggies.  No more boring buttered peas or plain mashed potatoes. Time to add some excitement to those veggies!

 Butter-Glazed Carrots
Adapted from Essential Pepin
Serves 6

1 pound of baby carrots (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped

Combine the carrots, butter, sugar, salt and water in a pot, bring to a boil, covered, for 10 minutes.  Uncover and boil for another 5 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are just moist. Sprinkle with the parsley and garlic and serve.

Braised Green Peas with Egg Yolks
Adapted from Essential Pepin
Serves 6

3 cups small fresh peas or frozen peas
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg yolks, well beaten
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine the peas, butter, water, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and boil generously for 3 to 4 minutes if using frozen peas, until the peas are tender to the bite.

Mix the yolks and cream together. Gradually stir the mixture into the peas and cook over ow heat, stirring constantly, for a few seconds, until the sauce has thickened; do not allow it to boil.

Saffron Artichoke Hearts
Adapted from Essential Pepin
Serves 6

6 medium artichokes or 1 bag frozen artichoke hearts
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the artichoke hearts are tender.  Transfer the artichokes to a bowl and let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  This will keep in the refrigerator for a week. Serve cold.
Theme: April Potluck!