Friday, August 26, 2016

potato chicken casserole with lemon and truffle salt


There was an awesome sale on potatoes over the weekend. I'm trying to reserve my meager funds for a couple of upcoming trips, so dinners are often based on what leftovers I have and what deals I can get at the grocery store. I had some leftover baked chicken and lots of potatoes. Casseroles are always an option for me. Hanging out at home, music playing, drinking martinis, wearing a sweet apron, making a creamy, comforting casserole? Dreamy.


Potato Chicken Casserole with Lemon & Truffle Salt

-5 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1.5 Tablespoons butter + 1 Tablespoon for the topping
-1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 large shallot, chopped
-8 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
-3 Tablespoons flour
-1 pint half & half
-3/4 teaspoons truffle salt
-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
-1 lemon, zested and sliced thin
-1 large chicken breast, cooked, cubed
-1/4 cup bread crumbs
-1/4 cup finely shredded Pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Bring a bot of water to a boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Boil the potatoes for 5-7 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain, set aside.

Add butter and olive oil to the pot and cook the shallots until just just translucent. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms are brown and shriveled a bit. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir to coat, cooking about 30 seconds. Add the half & half and bring to a simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the truffle salt, lemon zest, chicken and potatoes.

Pour potato mixture into a buttered 2.5 qt. casserole dish (approx. 7" x 11"). Combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon of truffle salt and pecorino cheese and sprinkle on top of the potato mixture. Cut 1 Tablespoon of butter into small pieces and dot the top of the casserole with them. Lay the lemon slices on top. Bake at 400ºF for about 20 minutes until crumbs are browned. Let rest a few minutes before serving.
pre-baking


Friday, August 19, 2016

red bean & shrimp cajun tacos





Tacos. The possibilities are endless. Don't get me wrong, I could eat traditional tacos from my local taqueria weekly without ever getting sick of them. Okay I DO eat traditional tacos from my local taqueria weekly without ever getting sick of them. But it is fun to come up with newfangled ways to fill a tortilla. These Cajun tacos are a delightful amalgamation of South-of-the-Border and South-of-the-Mason-Dixon. I took inspiration from some Creole favorites... red beans & rice, and shrimp & grits. Instead of Pico de Gallo, I made a fresh salad out of the classic New Orleans Holy Trilogy, which is akin to the French Mirepoix, but with bell peppers instead of carrots.



Red Bean & Shrimp Cajun Tacos
-1/2 lb. raw peeled & deveined 41-50 ct. shrimp
-1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
-2 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
-Juice of half a lemon
-1 slice thick-cut bacon, chopped
-2 shallots, shopped fine (divided)
-1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
-1/4 teaspoon paprika
-2 teaspoons vegetable oil
-6 Corn tortillas
-Trinity salad, for serving (recipe below)
-Hot sauce mayonnaise, for serving (recipe below)

Place the shrimp in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of the Cajun seasoning, 1/2 the minced garlic and the lemon juice. Combine well and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Cook the bacon in a sauce pan until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel, reserving the grease in the pan. Put 1/2 the chopped shallot and the other half of the minced garlic into the pot and cook until translucent. Add the rest of the Cajun seasoning and the paprika and cook 30 seconds. Add the beans and stir, cooking and mashing slightly with the spoon, over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in 2-3 Tablespoons of water to loosen the beans up and add the bacon back in. Keep warm.

In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil and remaining shallots over medium heat until the shallots are translucent. Add the shrimp, including marinade, and cook, stirring often, until shrimp are just opaque.

Assemble tacos: Place 1/6 of bean mixture and shrimp on each tortilla. Top with desired amount of trinity salad and hot sauce mayo (recipes below).



Trinity Salad
-1 green bell pepper, finely diced
-1 red pepper, finely diced
-1/2 medium onion, finely diced
-1 celery stalk, finely diced
-3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 teaspoon yellow mustard
-pinch of sugar
-salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar and salt and pepper. Place all the vegetables in a medium bowl, add the dressing and toss. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Hot Sauce Mayonnaise
-3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
-2 teaspoons hot sauce (or to taste)

Combine well, call it "aioli." :)



When I made these we hadn't heard much about the flooding that is happening in Southern Louisiana right now. It hasn't been in the news very much but it is a heartbreaking situation. The Fleur De Lis you see in my photos is a souvenir from NOLA... a spreader that has "Spread Compassion" stamped into the blade. Please consider donating to the Red Cross or some other organization that is aiding the people affected. From the Red Cross website: "People can help by making a financial donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation."

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