Measure Of A Good Chef

How do you measure a good chef?  A good chef like Paul Prudhomme ( 1940-2015) is constantly tasting at various stages of preparation.  Paul is one of my favorite chefs of all time. A consummate chef.  When asked to write down his recipes, Paul had to make an educated guess to conform to classical measurements (since he never measured anything). Paul called it ” Best guess” and, “When you taste it, that’s when you know if you have to add a little more of this or that.”  I can hear him now.

At K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans, Paul was not always in the kitchen after his popularity soared and demanding TV appearances were eating up his time. I am happy to say, I did have a meal when Paul was cooking up some spicy Louisiana dish in his restaurant. What luck!  S-o-o-o good! There is truly a difference!

Before food network (1993), I watched an episode of the magic man himself. Paul, made a peach pie. I taped it on my VHS player. But alas, I no longer have it. As the adage goes – the memory is still alive. He was so entertaining; listening to Paul talk about food with his soft, New Orleans accent. Today, when I make peach pie, I always think of Paul Prudhomme for a brief moment!

Seasoned Pie Dough /Crust

My Recommendation: The BEST Pie Crust: Half butter and half shortening. (They always win at the county fair!)

CHEFS ~ Measure ‘To Taste’

Measure To Taste.

Blackened Redfish Debut 1980

After 3 failed restaurants, Paul went to Denver and managed a restaurant that stayed afloat. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Paul came back home to New Orleans. One of the first things Paul did was joined the Commander’s Palace as a lunch chef and became their head chef the following week! Soon after, Paul introduced his spicy Cajun cooking. It started when Paul’s Cajun popcorn turned up on their menu! Paul left Commander’s Palace to pursue his dreams once more and opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen with his signature dish ~ Blackened Red Fish. After opening, to a packed restaurant, the lineups began on the 2nd week. The magic man put New Orleans cuisine on the culinary map and became a household name. You may have guessed that there was a shortage of red fish..in the area for a short while. Unbelievable! Paul truly brought spice to America for the first time..in a big way! Now, we cant live without turmeric, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Some time later, Paul packaged his signature spice blend. You can still buy his signature spices online – or make it yourself. (see recipe below)

Blackened Seasoning Spice – by Paul Prudhomme

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (or less) cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

Mix together and add cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp at a time. REMEMBER: After you measure out the spices, etc., taste and adjust accordingly. [Taste on a piece of buttered bread]. Store in a tightly lidded jar in a cool, dark cupboard.

TIP: My friend made this and said it was okay. Remember: Everything has to be fresh: even garlic and onion powder. I would maybe add smoked paprika. I would use red pepper flakes instead of cayenne pepper. ( I do not live near a cayenne pepper farm–like Paul P. did in Louisiana. It’s not the same. Also, dry your own thyme and oregano leaves before grinding. Grow your own herbs. Store all spices in a glass jar with a tight lid and a dark cupboard. Or, just buy Paul’s spice blend!

Fresh Is Best

Buy peppercorns, course salt, even onion flakes to grind. Fresh spices are the best choice. Some herbs like dill or parsley will keep longer in the freezer (stored in ice cube trays).

Paul Prudhomme outside of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen

Chef Paul Prudhomme had already built his reputation as the executive chef at Commander’s Palace . After he left Commander’s Palace, Kay and Paul Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street in 1979, and soon drew local popularity followed by national acclaim as the Spiciest Chef in Louisiana!

Kay Pruhomme
Portrait of Paul Prudhomme and Kay hanging inside K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.

The Independent Restaurant Coalition predicts that 85% of the country’s independent restaurants will close by 2021 due to financial strains caused by COVID-19.

K-Paul’s is one of the many beloved restaurants around the country to recently announce its closure due to COVID-19. This weekend, New York City diner Odessa announced it would be closing after 26 years in the East Village, citing a significant loss of business over the past few months. Other high-profile closures have included McCrady’s in Charleston, Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City, and Blackbird in Chicago, among thousands of other restaurants that haven’t made the news.

K-Paul Closes Its Doors May 2020

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen closed in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will not reopen, says chef Paul Miller and Brenda Prudhomme ( a niece of Paul Prudhomme). Latest bulletin: the building is now up for sale.

Chef Paul Prudhomme and his then wife Kay Hinrichs Prudhomme opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street in 1979, a landmark in culinary history. A bygone era that will be missed!

Butternut Squash: Roasted with Spicy Chick Peas

A HEALTHY DISH for your friends! The complimentary spices and roasted veggies are bursting with flavour!

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 5 garlic cloves (1 finely grated, 4 chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, patted dry
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder/paste or vadouvan
  • 2 radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup parsley, mint, and/or cilantro leaves8
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional)
Roasted WHOLE Butternut Squash

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roast squash directly on oven rack until a paring knife poked through skin easily slides through flesh, 50–65 minutes. Let squash cool until you can handle. Trim ends, halve lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Tear or cut squash into large pieces; discard skin (it will come off easily as you tear).
  2. Meanwhile, mix yogurt, grated garlic, and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Cook chickpeas, shaking skillet often, until starting to brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Add onion and chopped garlic and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in vadouvan (curry powder) and cook, stirring, until chickpeas and onion are coated and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe out skillet.
  4. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over medium-high. Cook squash pieces, cut side down, undisturbed, until browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Turn pieces over, remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon chickpea mixture over squash, then dollop reserved lemon-garlic yogurt around.
  5. Optional: Toss radishes, herbs, and pomegranate seeds, with remaining 1 Tbsp. lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle with a splash of oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over squash and chickpeas. Finish with a grind or two of pepper.
Roasted Spiced Chick Peas
(Optional) Pomegranate and Pistachio Nuts …you will be glad you added the pomegranate!
LEMON GARLIC YOGURT TOPPING: Can Be Served On The Side ( No Pomegranate here).

Add kale chips or other greens. Use cranberries as a substitute for pomegranate. Add quinoa or Feta cheese. Make tacos. lightly mash and make burgers (see below). If you have more people at the table, add spinach to the mix to extend the burger.

VARIATIONS (or left overs)

BURGER: Curry / Squash/ Chick Peas/ Pomegranate/ Cilantro/ Parsley

GOOD EATS:

FOODIES ARE # 1!!!

A Lobster’s Tale ~by Ravioli

Lobster Ravioli in Garlic Butter Sauce

Paper thin pasta filled with succulent lobster, swimming in butter.

Lobster_Ravioli

INGREDIENTS

  • Two – 8-ounce raw lobster tails, shelled and sliced into 1/3-inch pieces
  • 25g fresh root ginger
  • Lemon juice
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Sea Salt

For the Pasta Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • Water

For The Sauce:

  • 60ml vegetable stock
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 20ml sherry vinegar
  • 5 ml soy sauce
  • OR Classic – (combine) 5 to 10 garlic pods diced in grape seed oil.( or your preferred oil) with 3- 6 tablespoons of clarified butter.

INSTRUCTIONS

1.Begin by making the sauce. Reduce the vegetable stock with the butter until it coats the back of a spoon. Combine the vinegar and soy and reduce by half. Add a little of this to the stock until you can just taste it poking through (take care as the vinegar is potent). Reserve the remaining soy vinegar. SAUCE #2: We used a red curry sauce from the freezer. It was excellent. Simple melted butter works well too. Or SAUCE #3: combine butter, oil and garlic. The proportions are to your palate.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Blanch the tail in the boiling water for 10 seconds (and the pincers for 15 seconds-if you are using them). Recover the meat from each part, chill for 1 hour and then cut into 1cm cubes.

3). NEXT, make the raveoli ( open the package of wontons) combine the lobster with cooked salmon, if you like ( Chef Ramsay’s version). You may add an egg to bind the meat. Spoon in the lobster on your ravioli. Baste edges with water and pinch together. I double seal by pressing the glass rim on top of the raveoli. It makes fast work of it. Pre-made wonton squares are ideal. Cook filled raveoli in boiling water until they rise to the top. Plate, sauce it up and serve hot. ( 3-6 per person). YUM!

2 out of 3 diner guests agreed the curry ravioli was tops! Find Bobby Fley’s curry raveoli …if its online. We did taste it once..Double yum!❤

FOOD TIPS

Substitute wonton wraps for PASTA dough. Easy!

WINE PAIRING (New!)

What wine should I serve?

The ideal wine depends on how the ‘LOBSTER‘ was prepared and what types of sauces or side dishes will accompany the main course. Recenlty, I completed a WINE AFICIONADO course to explore new wines and visit old classics. It was very enjoyable! My WINE SUGGESTION for Lobster Ravioli: White: Burgundy Chardonnay, White: Californian Chardonnay, Red: Argentinian Malbec

…………..

Ravioli’s Serving Suggestions

Lobster Ravioli with Sauteed Asparagus, Walnuts and Lightly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Celebrate LIFE!
May All Your Days Be Food-d-licious!

Goulash Soup ~ A Taste of Hungary

Hungarian Goulash (Gulyás) is easy to make! A few simple ingredients are transformed into an incredibly flavored soup.
The word Gulyás means Herdsman or COWBOY. Simmering soup over the camp fire became a standard herdsman’s dinner in Hungary.
This authentic recipe is from my Hungarian neighbor. It was handed down to her from her grandmother.
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs stewing beef, cut into bite size 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large cooking onions chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic cut in half – remove inside stem
  • 2 table spoons of caraway seed (dissolves in the soup)
  • 2 big ripe Roma tomatoes halved
  • 2 red bell peppers quartered
  • 1.5 inch tomato paste from tube, OR 1 teaspoon of canned tomatoes paste
  • 2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Chilli pepper flakes
  • optional 6 carrots: 2 yellow, 2 orange 2 purple. Cut into cubes.
Red carrots contain lycopene (another form of carotene), a pigment also found in tomatoes and watermelon.
INSTRUCTIONS
  • In a cast iron pot brown onion ‘half way’ in the oil (lightly limp). Then add 4 garlic halves. Brown until golden colored.
  • Add caraway seeds (a must have!) and stir.
  • Add beef cubes. Stir until beef is brown and caraway seeds are nicely distributed.
  • Add 2 cups of water
  • Add: tomatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes paste, Hungarian paprika, salt, black pepper, and or chilli pepper.
  • Add water so that it covers the beef by 2 inches. Cover the pot and cook at medium heat (barely boiling) for 2 hours. (Note: You can place the dutch oven directly in the oven at low heat: 325°F, 160°C.)
  • Check after 1 hour and stir. Cook until beef is tender. Approx. 1 more hour.
  • Add water if the level of the liquid falls an inch.
  • Put in carrots and cook for 20 mins. 2.5 hours cooking time in total.
Tri-Coloured Carrots (The Yellow Carrots Look Like Potatoes)
Grass Fed Veal Makes A Difference In Flavour

Food Tips

Alternative cooking methods:
(1) Pressure cooker: Time: 1 hour 10 min.
(2) Slow cooker: Cook Time: 8 hours.
Storage: Frig. : 5 days, Freezer: 3 months.
OPTIONS: Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or spatzle.

Hungarian herdsmen enjoying their gulyás soup (left side). Added to the soup were wild onions and caraway that grew on the fields. Paprika was added in the 1800’s.
This makes a very large pot of soup!
If you’d like to freeze some of it,
do it before adding the carrots (vegetables)!

Rutabaga Mash

Rutabaga Mash: Holiday Trending

Buttered Rutabagas were a staple on our Thanksgiving / Christmas table when I was growing up and I’m revisiting them today ~ these delicious pale orange rutabaga are misunderstood and probably the most overlooked veggie.

User comments

TIRED OF MASHED POTATOES?

Some people have never had rutabaga in their entire life.  It is a standard holiday dish in Finland known as lanttulaatikko . Last year at a Scandinavian dinner, my friend had mashed rutabaga for the first time. She loved it! So healthy and easy to make.

Some people mix RUTABAGA with turnips. Turnips are generally smaller and not as sweet as rutabaga. You may also find ‘all white’ turnips at your supermarket. Rutabagas have a pale orange bottom half compared to the white bottom half of a turnip.

Root Vegetables

SIDE DISH: I start cooking my rutabaga first, before preparing my main meal. This veggie is cooked on top of the stove 25-35 minutes before it is popped into the oven. OVEN TIME: 1 hour.  If I have a big bird in the oven, I will center the bird in the oven and leave the rack below it for the rutabaga casserole which can be added in the last hour of cooking the bird.

INGREDIENTS
6 cups of rutabaga (in Finnish, lanttu), peeled, washed and diced in large chunks
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
3 tablespoons butter

INSTRUCTIONS:
(Preheat the oven to 350F)
1. PEEL, CUBE AND BOIL RUTABAGA in salted boiling water- until tender-drain and mash.
2. Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream and add nutmeg and beaten eggs. combine with the mashed rutabagas. Add mixture to a buttered 2 1/2 quart baking dish ( or individual dishes ). Bake for about 60 minutes or until golden brown.

TOPPINGS: Top with bread crumbs and butter nobs ( optional ) before the casserole goes into the oven. Before serving: Decorate with chives or chopped parsley.

Secret Ingredient: I always add garlic ~ not in the original recipe.

The traditional recipe from Finland adds heavy cream and dark syrup before the baking process. Add nutmeg ‘to taste’. It’s the most important ingredient.

Food Tip for rutabaga mashed casserole.

FOOD TIP

To speed up the cooking time before mashing the rutabaga, use a microwave ( covered on high, add 1 cup of water 15-20 min. ) or pressure cooker ( 9 minutes) . Use several small baking dishes for freezer appeal. Add apple or carrots for sweetness. You can optionally add a crushed garlic and/or 2 cardamom pods in the boiling water. FOR ADDED ZIP, add spices: ginger, cinnamon or turmeric to taste.

Why are rutabagas (neeps, swedes) half purple? —They are a mix of wild cabbage and turnips. A portion of the plant grows above ground and changes colour from the sun.
(P.S. You can eat the green tops too – tastes a bit like spinach).

News Flash Rutabaga Low in Calories

RUTABAGA has less than half the calories of white potatoes & sweet potatoes!

(1/3 the carbs.)

Ketogenic-friendly!

Here’s the picture from Michael (see comment below) of his rutabaga mash using ramekins. I would enjoy seeing pictures you have from your rutabaga dish and will add them to the post. Please email them to me: info@simplysplendidfood.com

Mashed Rutabaga, Hot From The Oven