Archive | May, 2015

Creole Coq au Vin

Modern Coq au Vin with a Creole accent.

Modern Coq au Vin with a Creole accent.

Most coq au vin recipes feature a soup pot of chicken and vegetables and use upwards of an entire bottle of wine. And if you’ve got a gumbo hen or yard bird to cook, this vintage method is perfect. A tough old bird needs a long simmer submerged in a potent brew. But a young, pastured chicken doesn’t benefit from tradition. The meat is stained through with the wine and loses it’s delicate poultry flavor. The skin is flabby and unwanted, and there’s way more sauce than meat.

So I revised the tradition to highlight the wonderful flavor of chickens I get at the Hub City Farmers Market from Gotreaux Family Farms. There’s still plenty of flavorful sauce to swirl the chicken in, lots of earthy mushrooms and bright little bites of pearl onion. And I decided to employ the Cajun/Creole trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper instead of the standby French combination of onion, celery and carrot for a Louisiana interpretation of this classic dish. Heresy abounds in this recipe, but it’s delicious, so who cares? I’ve often wondered why the trinity isn’t a quartet as I’ve never seen a Louisiana recipe for the holy three without garlic joining in the chorus.

Creole Coq au Vin Ingredients

Creole Coq au Vin Ingredients

A few simple ingredients come together for a savory, comforting dish. I always have bone broth in cube form in the freezer for an added boost of nutrition and flavor. Start with a quick turn in an oven-proof skillet:

Creole Coq au Vin Browning

Creole Coq au Vin Browning

There are no difficult techniques. Put on some music (supplied for your pleasure.) Stir and pop in the oven for a finishing roast. Serve with green beans amandine.

Classic combination: green beans and toasted almonds.

Classic combination: green beans and toasted almonds equals green bean amandine.

Voilà! Dinner is served.

Modern Coq au Vin with a Creole accent.

Modern Coq au Vin with a Creole accent.

Hold your loved ones close. Cherish every moment of your time with them. Let go of the petty details. Sit at the table, share good food, happy conversation, laughs and music. You will never regret it.

Modern Coq au Vin with a Creole accent.
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Creole Coq au Vin
Tender, pastured chickens don't require a long braise in a heavy red wine bath. Creole flavors ramp up the savoriness of this modern take on coq au vin, and make a weeknight supper that's dressy enough for dinner parties. Paleo, gluten free, low carb. A whole, cut up chicken is equally good. Make sure to cut the breasts into two pieces each and separate the legs into thighs and drumsticks. This ensures that everyone gets light and dark meat and the breasts cook evenly.
Creole Coq au Vin
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Tender, pastured chickens don't require a long braise in a heavy red wine bath. Creole flavors ramp up the savoriness of this modern take on coq au vin, and make a weeknight supper that's dressy enough for dinner parties. Paleo, gluten free, low carb. A whole, cut up chicken is equally good. Make sure to cut the breasts into two pieces each and separate the legs into thighs and drumsticks. This ensures that everyone gets light and dark meat and the breasts cook evenly.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 15minutes 45minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. About an hour before cooking, season the chicken with Cajun/Creole seasoning and refrigerate. If pressed for time, season just prior to cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat chicken fat in a 12-inch, oven-proof skillet over medium high heat and sauté chicken, skin side down until deep golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Lower heat if necessary to keep from burning. Turn chicken over and brown second side for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
  3. Lower heat to medium and add onion and tasso (or bacon), sauté for about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Add green pepper and celery, stir to combine and sauté for 5 minutes. Clearing a space in the center of the skillet, add tomato paste and cook until bright red color darkens. Add garlic or shallot and sauté for 30 seconds.
  4. Add mushrooms and stir to combine. Increase heat to medium high. Continue cooking until mushroom have released their liquid and the liquid has evaporated, about 6-7 minutes.
  5. Add the red wine and cook until the wine is reduced and syrupy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, stir and turn off heat. Stir in the pearl onions and nestle the chicken thighs into the vegetable mixture keeping the chicken skin above the liquid. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes.
  6. Add chicken breasts to skillet in the oven and roast for 15 minutes longer until breasts register 160 degrees F. and thighs are 175 degrees F. Taste sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary. To keep the skin crisp, spoon the sauce around and under the chicken pieces and not on top. Garnish with parsley and green onion.
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Classic combination: green beans and toasted almonds.
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Green Beans Amandine
Green beans amandine, a super simple and delicious classic combination of green beans and almonds, add crunchy goodness to your side-dish repertoire. Paleo, gluten free and low carb.
Green Beans Amandine
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Green beans amandine, a super simple and delicious classic combination of green beans and almonds, add crunchy goodness to your side-dish repertoire. Paleo, gluten free and low carb.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Ingredients
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Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Add almonds to a small skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until almonds are just golden brown and remove the a paper towel-lined plate. Toasted nuts can go from just right to burned in a matter of seconds. Take off the heat and place on a cooler surface immediately.
  2. Bring large saucepan or Dutch oven of water filled 3/4 full to a boil over high heat. Add baking soda, salt and green beans. Reduce heat to medium and simmer beans until tender. This depends on many factors, so after 5 minutes, remove one of the beans from the water and taste. Continue to cook until desired tenderness is reached.
  3. Drain beans into a colander set into the sink and return saucepan to the stove over medium heat. Melt butter in the saucepan, add the beans and stir to combine. Season to taste. Garnish with toasted almonds.
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Just Ducky Cobb Salad with Paleo Goddess Dressing

A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!

A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!

Now that spring has arrived, salads are a welcome addition to the dinner table. And this one has a fabled history. Cobb Salad was invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood and dates back to the 1930s. And yes, it was built to resemble the hat-du-jour of Hollywood icons.

Brown Derby circa 1940

Brown Derby circa 1940

One of the notable aspects of the salad is that the ingredients are chopped and not tossed prior to serving. One story goes that the chef cobbled together kitchen leftovers and topped it with the house dressing and a star was born. Generally made with cooked chicken or turkey, I thought it would nice to use duck breast for the poultry component. Duck breast recipes tend to favor a hard sear on the skin side, served rare with a pan sauce. And roasting a whole duck is major undertaking. Many markets carry duck breasts, and this is a unique way of presenting the delectable bird.

Cobb salad ingredients including a change from chicken: duck.

Fresh ingredients for a Cobb Salad featuring duck.

The only cooking required is a quick roast of the duck in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, and hard boiling the eggs for 12. And while iceberg, romaine, cress and chicory were the common greens of the time, you can use whatever you fancy. Add some avocado, blue cheese, tomato, hard-boiled egg and you’re set. Bacon is the last key ingredient, but as a further twist on tradition, I’ve rendered the skin after it’s finished roasting for some fantastic duck cracklin’s!

There are two dressings: one based on the original Brown Derby vinaigrette and my own Paleo Goddess dressing. The original goddess dates back to the same time as the Cobb Salad, and I’ve utilized a new hack I learned from Chef Steps. This is a website of mad geniuses doing great things with cooking techniques.

An awesome way to have a paleo “cream,” it’s just onions roasted in their skins, peeled and puréed in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. It doesn’t taste like onions! It’s velvety and smooth and makes a lovely base for the Paleo Goddess dressing. I’ll be using this stuff for lots more recipes; it’s such a great change from usually using coconut milk or cream. Try it. You’ll like it!

Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!

Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!

The finished salad is a medley of terrific flavors: tart/sweet tomatoes, unctuous avocado, bright blue cheese, crispy greens, rich duck and crunchy cracklin’s. The dressings are point and counter point.

So! Onto the show! I love live theatre. For a couple of years I had the pleasure of volunteering many hours to a community theatre group. I did any and everything from creating music backgrounds, to delivering flyers, writing grants and acting! It’s an intoxicating experience. As is attending live theatre. There’s truly no other storytelling that is as immediate and electrifying. If you haven’t been to a play or it’s been a while, do check out your local productions. The talent is often extraordinary, and there’s nothing like seeing a story unfold, live and steps from the stage.

This is one of my favorite movies. Directed by Richard Linklater of School of Rock, Boyhood, and the trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, the film, Me & Orson Welles, is the true tale of a Shakespearian production starring Orson Welles that shook the theatre world at the time.

Me and Orson Welles poster

Me and Orson Welles poster

This is what Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal wrote about the film:

Theater is the most romantic of all the art forms. Why? Because it’s evanescent. Like a fireworks display, a theatrical performance vanishes at the very moment of its consummation. No matter how hard you try, you can’t do a show the same way twice, and once the original production has ended its run, all that’s left are photographs and memories. What could be more romantic than that?

If I could pick just one show to pull out of the memory hole, it would be one of the eight classical plays that Orson Welles directed between 1936 and 1939. Today Mr. Welles’s early theatrical career—before he quit the stage and went to Hollywood to make “Citizen Kane”—is all but unknown save to scholars. But for a brief moment he and John Houseman, his producing partner, were the hottest thing to hit Broadway since the lightbulb. Of all the Welles-Houseman classical revivals, the one best remembered today is the modern-dress version of “Julius Caesar” that opened on Nov. 11, 1937. Not only were the black-shirted characters costumed to suggest that the action took place in Nazi Germany, but Jean Rosenthal lit the show in a manner intended to evoke the Nuremburg rallies. Time magazine put Mr. Welles on its cover, telling of how “Shakespeare’s five-act classic had: 1) been turned into a one-act cyclone, 2) on a bare stage, 3) in modern dress, 4) with modern meaning, 5) gone over with the loudest bang that Shakespeare lovers could recall.”

Like most Welles stage shows, alas, this one left few traces. To be sure, Columbia did record two 78rpm albums of excerpts (which you can hear by going to www.archive.org and searching for “Orson Welles Shakespeare Collection”) that give some idea of what “Julius Caesar” sounded like onstage. But no part of the production was filmed, and nothing else survives but the design sketches and some still photographs taken in 1937.

Enter Richard Linklater, the director of such distinctly un-Wellesian movies as “Dazed and Confused” and “School of Rock,” who last year made a film called “Me and Orson Welles” that was recently released on DVD. Based on a 2003 novel by Robert Kaplow, the movie is a coming-of-age screwball comedy in which Zac Efron, lately of “High School Musical,” plays a stage-struck high-school senior who unexpectedly finds himself playing a bit part in “Julius Caesar.” Don’t snicker: Christian McKay’s Welles impersonation is so accurate as to be spooky, and despite the film’s obligatory (albeit charming) rom-com trappings, I’ve never seen a backstage movie that was truer to the experience of putting on a show.

This is a dinner-and-a-movie menu that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did. I’ve included the songs from the soundtrack to play while you cook and get in the mood for the show.
A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!
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Just Ducky Cobb Salad
The legendary Brown Derby chopped salad gets a new star: duck!
Just Ducky Cobb Salad
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The legendary Brown Derby chopped salad gets a new star: duck!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
2servings 10minutes 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
2servings 10minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the duck breast in a shallow baking dish, season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove duck to a plate to cool.
  2. When duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin layer from the duck and cut into strips. In a skillet, render the skin until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Assemble the salad on a platter or individual plates, including some of each of the components. Serve with Brown Derby dressing or Paleo Goddess dressing (recipe on recipe page.)
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Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!
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Paleo Goddess Dressing
Paleo Goddess dressing is a new take on green goddess. The herbs are there, but the sour cream is replaced with a new pantry staple: roasted onion purée. You've got to try this one!
Paleo Goddess Dressing
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Paleo Goddess dressing is a new take on green goddess. The herbs are there, but the sour cream is replaced with a new pantry staple: roasted onion purée. You've got to try this one!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 45minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a shallow baking dish, place the onion and drizzle with olive oil. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and place onions in a blender with lemon juice and olive oil. Purée until very smooth. Add salt to taste and add more oil and/or lemon juice if necessary, Blend again. You want a purée that is the consistency of heavy cream.
  2. Remove the onion purée to a bowl. It's not necessary to clean the blender jar. Add 1/2 cup of onion purée, mayo, herbs, anchovy, vinegar and garlic or shallot to the blender. Purée until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Adjust for acidity by adding oil or vinegar for your taste.
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