Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Squash Au Gratin

Squash Au Gratin is just one of many favorite garden vegetable meals which are prepared here in the Gaspard kitchen. Also called "yellow neck squash", it is a prolific grower and sometimes you can become overwhelmed with the amounts of squash you are able to harvest from the garden. 

Next time, when you are wondering how to prepare them in a different way, you might want to try out this recipe for size. It's easy to prepare and quite delicious. 

Summer Squash
Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
Squash Au Gratin
Instructions
    1. cook squash and onions until tender then remove from heat
    2. in a different bowl add salt, pepper, butter, bread crumbs, 1/2 cheese, milk and egg
    3. stir together until well blended
    4. pour into casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top
    5. bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes
    Bon appetite!


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    Sunday, June 03, 2012

    Extra-Hot Pepper Jam

    This Extra-Hot Pepper Jam recipe is not for the faint of heart, but if you dare to try some, I guarantee it will lift your spirits to new heights.


    Ingredients

    • one large red bell pepper, minced
    • one large orange bell pepper, minced
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh jalapeños, minced (no seeds)
    • 1/2 cup fresh habenero, minced (no seeds)*
    • 7 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
    • 2 (3 oz.) pkg liquid or powdered pectin

    Instructions
    1. combine first 6 ingredients in a 3 quart pot and bring to a boil
    2. continue to boil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently
    3. remove from heat source and skim away the foam using a spoon
    4. add the liquid or powdered pectin into the mixture and blend well
    5. bring everything back to a boil for a couple minutes and remove from heat
    6. with a ladle, scoop and pour the pepper liquid into hot sterilized half-pint size jars (or smaller)
    7. leave 1/4 inch head space
    8. wipe the rim of the jars clean, cover immediately with metal lids and proceed to screw-on the bands
    9. process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes
    Note: You may substitute 1 Tbsp. habanero powder instead of the minced peppers.

    Yields about 7 half-pints of jam and 2 half-pints of preserves. It may take a few days for the jam part to set so be patient. Store the jars of jam in a place where no one will shake or handle them.

    You can of course add the seeds to this recipe but unless you are a glutton for punishment it's best to keep the Scovilles toned down a bit, or use milder peppers to tone-down the Scovilles even more. I advise you to use latex gloves to cut and mince the peppers ... Ahheee! C'est Bon!

    Enjoy!


    Ahhh ... the Sweet Success of Hot Chili Peppers

    In the 1860s, Edmund McIlhenny, the inventor of Tabasco Hot Pepper Sauce, would hand-out free samples of his secret concoction to friends and relatives in used French par-fume bottles. The bottles' legendary shape became his trademark and easily identifiable by millions throughout the world today.

    Five generations later, his ageless condiment remains a popular household name. You can still find it in countless homes and restaurants across our planet.

    The taste of his new hot-sauce was exciting! Everyone loved its unique flavor and bouquet. It took time, patience and diligence to cure and age his pepper-sauce, but it finally paid-off. His formula for success, however (in my opinion), was when he put it into the hands of the fiery Cajuns who had settled the area of his processing plant a century before. They used it unsparingly to spice-up their love and passion for French foods.

    The tipping-point came when McIlhenny began ordering the par-fume bottles for his famous sauce, in large quantities, straight from the overseas Paris manufacturers. A new industry was borne.

    There was no better ingredient for success--one Irish saucier in the midst of a nation of French exiles who loved to cook. You can read more about the history of the Tabasco Company at http://www.tabasco.com/tabasco_history/mcilhenny.cfm

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    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Balsamic Red Wine Reduction Sauce for Steak


    Ingredients

    • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 cup beef broth
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
    • 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary

    Instructions


    1. In a medium sauce pan, sweat sliced red onions in olive and butter over medium heat until translucent, and beginning to caramelize.
    2. Add dry red wine and balsamic vinegar, and boil until liquid is reduce by 1/2.
    3. Add beef broth, and boil until liquid is reduced by 1/2 again.
    4. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper, reduce heat to simmer, and allow the sauce to continue to reduce until it is the consistency of warm syrup.  There should be about 1/2 cup of sauce in the pan.
    5. Discard onion and rosemary (or just leave them in the pan).
    6. Using a spoon, drizzle sauce over grilled steak.

    Note


    When I make filet mignon, I like to rub the steak with olive oil, course salt and black pepper, then sear over medium-high heat for a few minutes on all sides.  I then remove the steaks before they are over-cooked, leaving the fond (pan drippings) in the pan.  I then follow the above process, add a few spoonfuls of sauce to a plate, and set the fillet on top. The red wine will deglaze the pan, which adds a very delicious quality to the sauce.

    Bon Appétit!

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    Friday, May 04, 2012

    The Hunt for Perfect Scrambled Eggs

    The Hunt for Perfect Scrambled Eggs started for me when I was the camp cook for a local hunting club -- The Texarkana Hunting Club--who hunted mainly white-tail deer in south-central Arkansas.

    Deer hunters are finicky about their breakfast, especially when it comes to certain odors and scents which they claim deer can smell from a distance -- like onions and peppers, for example.

    From the beginning of my occupation of the hunting club's kitchen I was informed, in no uncertain terms, of this almost sacred rule. So, for breakfast I had to prepare foods, like scrambled eggs, without the usual add-ins like onions, garlic and peppers, as previously noted, which are associated with my style of Cajun cooking.

    Perfect Scrambled Eggs

    Here is a simple recipe which the hunters enjoyed. You can apply it to home cooking, too, if someone in your group doesn't like the taste of onions and other spices. It will serve 20 people.

    • 30 large eggs
    • 30 Tbs water (just shy of 2 cups)
    • 10 Tbs butter
    • 1 tsp salt

    On medium heat in a large heavy skillet melt the butter. In a large bowl beat the eggs, water and salt together well. Add the mixture to the skillet and slowly cook while scrapping the bottom and sides. You should constantly stir the eggs around until they are sufficiently done. Do not over-cook the eggs because they will dry-up too quickly. It's always a good idea to serve your scrambled eggs slightly moist.

    Question? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Answer: the rooster.
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