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Palm Heart that is!

Many years ago, when I had a little free time, I watched a lot of cooking shows for inspiration. Emeril Lagasse was a favorite and he was always coming up with some new, and generally spicy, concoction which on this occasion happened to be appetizers. The recipe was Lump Crab and Fresh Florida Hearts of Palm Strudel with a sweet corn remoulade.

I’m a self-professed culinary Billy goat. I will eat nearly anything and I’m always on the lookout for new and delicious recipes. This recipe looked a bit too good to pass up and I just happened to have some lovely sweet corn and phyllo dough in my refrigerator. However, finding lump crab and fresh hearts of palm in the small town where I lived was a bit of a challenge. I recall using artificial crab and canned hearts of palm from the local grocery.

The strudel turned out well but the remoulade was fantastic. Sweet corn helped to balance the mustard and horseradish and the remoulade can be used on grilled or blackened fish as well. The only problem is that the recipe only made six servings of strudel and I could probably eat twice that myself.

The recipe is a bit long, so I won’t say much more – just that it’s really delicious and you should try it! Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Lump Crabmeat and Fresh Florida Hearts of Palm strudel with a Sweet Corn Remoulade

Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Makes 6 servings

For the Strudel

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped celery
  • 2 TBSP seeded and finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 TBSP seeded and finely chopped yellow bell pepper
  • Salt
  • Cayenne
  • ½ tsp chopped garlic
  • ½ LB lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 4 small hearts of palm, cooked until tender and diced
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP fine dried bread crumbs
  • 8-12 sheets phyllo dough
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP chopped green onions, green parts only

Preheat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the crabmeat, hearts of palm, parsley and bread crumbs. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the cooked vegetables and mix well.

Stack the sheets of phyllo dough on top of each other and cut them into thirds with pizza cutter or sharp knife. You will have 12 sheets. Divide the sheets into four stacks of three sheets each. Lightly brush the top sheet of each stack with olive oil. Put ¼ cup of the crab mixture on the bottom edge of each oiled sheet. Fold in the ends toward the center about ¼ inch. Then, beginning at the bottom, roll up the phyllo securely, pressing to close.

Lightly brush each strudel with the remaining oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the strudels on the paper about 2 inches apart and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cut each strudel in half diagonally and serve with the sweet corn remoulade and garnish with chopped green onions.

For the Sweet Corn Remoulade

  • 1 egg*
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 TBSP prepared horseradish
  • 3 TBSP creole or whole-grain mustard
  • 3 TBSP prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 TBSP ketchup
  • 3 TBSP chopped parsley
  • Salt
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground Black pepper
  • 1 Cup olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed from the cob

Combine the first ten ingredients (up to the salt) in a food processor with a metal blade and process until smooth. Season with salt, cayenne and black pepper. While the machine is running, slowly add the oil, a little at a time, until thick. Reseason if necessary.

In a small sauté pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the corn. Season with salt and cayenne. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and turn into a mixing bowl. Add the remoulade from the processor and mix well. Use to top the strudel.

*Raw egg warning. The American Egg Board states: “There have been warnings against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs on the grounds that the egg may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacterium responsible for a type of food poisoning. Healthy people need to remember that there is a very small risk and treat eggs and other raw animal foods accordingly. Use only properly refrigerated, clean, sound-shelled, fresh, grade AA or A eggs. Avoid mixing yolks and whites with the shell.”

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipe for this week!

Email can be source of entertainment or the bane of your existence. I have several email accounts, some of which just get junk mail and aren’t checked that often. But a recent email from Food and Wine (not in the junk mail account) caught my eye. The subject was “16 French Recipes for Beginners”.

I had always thought French cooking was difficult until about nine years ago. That’s when I watched the movie Julie and Julia. It’s about a food blogger who sought inspiration in her cooking from Julia Childs by making recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie isn’t about French cooking being easy. It’s about someone’s love of food and proving you can accomplish something if you put your mind to it.

As, I read the Food and Wine article, I noticed that I have already cooked at least 7 of the 16 recipes noted in the article. In fact, I’ve written about at least five of them in this blog; Bourguignon, Roast Chicken in Herb Jus, Black olive tapenade, Potato and Leek soup, and Ratatouille. I’ve also prepared at least three of the mother sauces of French cooking which aren’t even in the F&W article.

I’m by no means a classically trained chef, French or otherwise. What I’m getting at is that anyone can make great food with a bit of instruction, some curiosity and a love of food. I dabble with food. I try new things. Some work out well and others don’t. Some have even gone into the trash after the first bite (probably because I substituted something I shouldn’t have).

So, to get back to my topic of French cooking for beginners, I’ve tried two of the recipes that I haven’t already prepared from the list in Food and Wine; Raspberry Clafoutis and Pistachio Financiers. I love sweets and these look like dishes you could prepare for Mother’s Day. You can also check out the original list at Easy French Recipes for Beginners if you are so inclined. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well mon Amie.

Raspberry Clafoutis

Courtesy of Food and Wine

Serves 6

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • Salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TBSP milk
  • 1 ½ pints raspberries (about 3 cups)
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish or pie pan. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the dish or pan and top with the raspberries.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

Pistachio Financiers

Courtesy of Food and Wine

Makes about 30 mini-cakes

  • 1 cup whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped (or substitute 1 cup almond flour)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 24 to 30 shelled pistachios

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter and flour 30 mini muffin pan cups.

In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine powder (or use 1 cup almond flour). In a bowl, mix the almond powder and sugar. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated, then whisk in the melted butter, followed by the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups and decorate with the pistachios.

Bake the muffins until golden brown, about 16 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You may have to loosen from pan by running a knife around the outside of each muffin.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipe for this week!

Chemists and cooks have more than a little in common. We both mix ingredients, apply a bit of heat or pressure, and hope for the proper outcome. Being both a chemist and a cook, I let my inquisitive nature drive my passion for food. Luckily, I have a bunch of friends willing to be my “guinea pigs” when it comes to new recipes.

An Indian Dinner Party

Every so often, we host an Indian dinner party. I have a few standby recipes that I make such as chicken tikka marsala, vegetarian korma, and Indian rice pudding, but I wanted to add a new recipe to the mix. I chose a vindaloo.

Vindaloo is a Portuguese inspired Indian dish from the region of Goa. The name vindaloo is a variation on the Portuguese carne de vinha dalhos which literally translated means “meat in garlic wine marinade”. The Portuguese prepared the dish with the preserved raw ingredients of pork packed in garlic and wine but it was “Indianized” by adding vinegar and hot chilies.

Vindaloo tends to be a spicy dish and is a staple on Indian restaurant menus. It is both flavorful and sometimes “warm”, but typically not the hottest dish available. As with most cooking, you can adjust the spice heat to suit your own tastes. One of the nice things about this dish is that it takes about an hour of simmering after the initial preparation. This allows you time to get the rest of the meal together, or just to sit and visit with your guests.

Pork or Lamb

The recipe that I found was written for pork (traditional ingredient) or lamb. I chose lamb as I love the flavor and we don’t have it very often. I also knew that lamb would go over well with my guests, many of whom love Indian food. Lamb was the right choice. The meal was a success with most of my guests having second helpings of all the dishes.

One of my guests even posted a photo of his plate on Facebook. I was flattered that he thought enough of the meal to share it. Many comments followed and I may have to host another Indian dinner party in the not too distant future. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Pork or Lamb Vindaloo

Courtesy of Epicurious

Serves 3 to 4

This recipe can be prepared in either a pressure cooker in about 30 minutes or a skillet in about an hour.

  • 1 ½ TBSP grainy mustard (I used a dark stone ground variety)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I used ¾ tsp and it was slightly spicy warm)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion (about 4oz), peeled and cut into fine ½ rings
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed into a pulp
  • 1 ¼ LB boned shoulder of pork or leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk, well stirred
  • Water (amount varies on preparation method)

Combine the mustard, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and vinegar in a cup and mix well.

Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until it is medium brown. Put in the garlic. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Put in the spice paste prepared earlier and stir fry for about 1 minute. Put in the meat and stir fry for about 3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and water (2/3 cup in pressure cooker, or 1 cup in pan). Cover and either bring to pressure or bring to a boil in pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes in pressure cooker or 60 to 70 minutes in frying pan.

Serve with rice or flat bread.

Click Here to download a printable PDF of the recipe for this week!

By the time the family gets home from after-school activities, sports, the gym, and work, they’re hangry! Are you pressed for time but have to get dinner on the table? How about a ‘no muss’ and ‘no fuss’ baked chicken parmesan for dinner - something you can pop in the oven and cook in a matter of minutes! Sometimes iCook even though I don’t really have the time.

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