Ragin’ Cajun

This week’s dinner theme with Lady Luck was cajun! She made this AMAZING red beans and rice. It was just the correct balance of spicy and savory. She simmered it all day and included hamhocks and andouille sausage. It was so good! I brought the side dishes this week. The combination of the three…delicious!

One of the two was fried okra. From what Lady Luck was saying, apparently I made a really good batter? I followed a recipe in a new cookbook (by the way, buying a new cookbook always makes me happy) that called for equal parts flour and cornmeal, and just a little bit of cayenne pepper. Then mix eggs and milk – two eggs to about a tablespoon of milk. Dip the sliced okra in the egg, then in the dry mixture, and then into the deep fryer it goes. Using okra that isn’t completely fresh makes it just a little bit sticky…and makes the batter stick better. By the way, I love the little fry daddy that I got for christmas!

Our drink of the evening was a Hurricane – New Orleans style. Talk about a tasty yet potent drink! This drink has six shots of liquor in it, and then is topped with pineapple and grapefruit juice and a splash of grenadine. It makes it super pretty too! The little bit of lime juice that came from the garnish gives it just a little tang and then a little kick going down. Let me just say, one is PLENTY for this drink! And it’s best enjoyed through a straw.

Last but not least…sweet potato pie for dessert! Lady Luck used white sweet potatoes instead of the orange ones, and this has all kinds of sweet stuff and nutmeg and such in it. Lady Luck even knows how to make a pie crust…from scratch…without a recipe. So jealous. Oh yeah, and then homemade whipped cream, which is ridiculously good in it’s own right. Sorry cool whip! You’ve been replaced.

 

To come next week? Sushi!

Weekly Girlfriends Cooking Night #3

This week, Lady Luck and I visited Thailand! Although our version of Thai seemed to involve a lot of coconut. Not that that’s a bad thing, as I’m a huge fan of the fruit.

On the menu tonight: Swimming Rama, Coconut Rice with Mango, and Coconut Jasmine Tea. For dessert, Coconut Sorbet.

So Swimming Rama has the potential to be ridiculously spicy if you want to make it that way, but for what we like, mild is good. The sauce is essentially a peanut butter reduction, and I love it – seeing how peanut butter almost trumps cheese on my list of favorite foods. The chicken is cut into little strips and put into a pot of boiling water that is then covered and removed from the heat for 5 minutes. Apparently, it’s like when cooking rice on the stove. DO NOT uncover it or it won’t work. It’s magic. A method I’ve never tried that worked amazingly well.

The peanut sauce is a mixture of onion, garlic, peanut butter, fish sauce, paprika, red pepper, coconut milk, cornstarch, water and lime juice. Is it just me or does that sound like the absolute strangest combination in the world? Maybe it’s my previous inexperience with cooking Asian themed foods…but I was blown away by the delicious-ness. The recipe is here, and the cookbook I got it from is here.

Once the chicken is mixed with the sauce, it’s served over spinach. The recipe says steamed spinach, I prefer sauteed spinach, basically just wilted.

Lady Luck made this amazing coconut rice and she topped it with mangoes! I asked her for the details and she said that she has a little bit of an unconventional way of making it. Instead of measuring out the one part rice to two parts liquid, she eyeballs it and then adds more if it’s not the consistency she wants. It’s a cooks trick that you can get away with that kind of stuff when you’ve been making the same dish for a while. She uses coconut milk and coconut juice – which she says looks like lard coming out of the can, but only because it’s pureed coconut meat and much more hearty. By the way, this rice will be turned into rice pudding this weekend because it was that good.

Our drink of the night (after the shot of pear sake! That stuff is POTENT) was a jasmine coconut tea. I improvised a little bit, not being a big fan of straight flowery teas. I brewed together a couple of bags of jasmine tea and a couple of bags of green tea, and then chilled it until we were ready for this drink. Then you pop open a can of coconut milk (which you can see on the right in the picture) and pour a cup into each glass. A tablespoon of sugar is mixed into the milk and then the tea is poured over top. I’m apparently not a mixologist because pouring tea over the back of a spoon didn’t work for me to get it to pool over the milk and create the prettiness that’s in my cookbook. But once it was all stirred together, it was super tasty! I plan on keeping these teas and milk on hand just for this drink!

On the menu next week? Sushi! I got this cool little contraption for Christmas that you load the innards of the sushi into and then it pushes it all out nice and compact on to the seaweed paper and this is my excuse to try it.

Holy Crepes Batman!

This week’s dinner with the sweet-tooth friend of mine (she needs a nickname…I think we’ll call her “Lady Luck” since she’s such a huge fan of Lady Gaga) had a French theme. So naturally, we had a super scrumptious supper of roasted chicken and sage-infused roasted potatoes and some delectable veggies. And did I mention the crepes?

Dinner was extremely flavorful, and to be honest, we were just too damn hungry and busy devouring it to take pictures of it – but I don’t want to anyone to think it wasn’t description worthy! Due to some car trouble, actually roasting a chicken – or making chicken francese as was the original plan – was a little bit out of the question. But substituting a rotisserie chicken from Fry’s works just as well. They were even nice enough to put an apricot glaze on it! Lady Luck made some awesome potatoes…I was eating them straight from the pan, I have to admit. We’ll call it quality control. They fried up in some sage and thyme infused oil and it gave them such a unique flavor! Definitely not like that other dish we had that wasn’t so good because of the amount of sage in it. My love of all things herb-y has been rekindled!

Once we had…you know, gorged…ourselves on yummy chicken, potatoes and a veggie medley, it was time for dessert. And let me just say that we are talented enough to edit a high school paper (Lady Luck’s daughter) while making crepes! Ridiculously simple to make by the way. I was a little intimidated at first – crepes seem like such a fancy food that it takes a patisserie chef to make one. I was wrong! They’re essentially a really big pancake made from a too-thin batter, and of course, we added Nutella to ours. Oh, and Ghiradelli chocolate chunks! Hence the little brownish black crispy goodness you see in these pictures.

I definitely love what has become a ritual with an amazing friend. Next week? We’re going to Thailand! There may even be a drink involved – non alcoholic that is!

Good Food, Good Friends

One of my really good friends came over last night and the plan was to cook and drink some wine. Boy did we ever!

So here was the menu: Spaghetti with Glazed Onion and Gorgonzola, Greek Salad and then for dessert, Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine was!

Let me just say, my friend cuts onions with such a precision, I was jealous. Guess I’m not that patient. While she got those sauteing, I was working on the salad. The onions cook until they are caramelized, and then the garlic is added in, and then some balsamic and it’s mixed with 4 ounces of Gorgonzola and pasta. For the salad, I made my own vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and sugar. I read about a new trick that works really well – pour the dressing in the bowl first, then toss the goodies in it and it distributes more evenly! The salad had feta, Calamata olives and tomatoes on a bed of romaine, with just a splash of dried Italian seasoning and some extra rosemary.

So lets talk about dessert. Now my friend and I both have horribly amazing hankerings for sweets. So I had found a recipe way back when for a Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, that I had been dying to try. Here was my excuse. Well come to find out she’s an avid baker, and knows how to make a pie crust from scratch without looking at a recipe?? Again, I was jealous. This pie crust had a little extra sugar and some cocoa powder added in. We froze it for ten minutes, baked it with weights for 20 minutes, then without for another 10 minutes and let it cool. While she was making the crust, I was making the filling, which is just flour, milk and sugar, all stirred together until it boils, then reserve part of if and mix the other part with chocolate chips to make the chocolate cream part. Once the shell was baked and cooled, we pour in the vanilla cream, then top with sliced bananas, and then the chocolate cream, and then home made whip cream on top, and let it cool. Sara Lee ain’t got nothin’ on us! Given, by time we realized how long this pie was going to take, it was almost 10:30 at night by time we ate it. Oh well, definitely worth the wait 🙂

At the end of the night, we realized that we might just have to make this cooking extravaganza a weekly thing…because neither of us has time to cook this well on our own, and because it’s a great Friday night when you spend it with your best friends!