New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Making Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Fish at Home

The eighth post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips. And also cooking some of our favorite Louisiana recipes at home to get in the right mood – yum! Last night, it was Paul Prudhomme’s blackened fish.  Actually, his recipe was for blackened redfish, but we use tilapia instead.

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Blackened fish is a perfect late spring meal by the pool

I usually tinker with recipes to make them my own, which you will know if you’ve ever taken a gander at my About page.  But some recipes cannot be perfected, because they are already there.  Chef Paul’s blackened fish is one of those. His blackened redfish was so popular in the 80’s that some called it the dish of the decade.  In a retrospective about Chef Paul, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says it almost wiped out Gulf Coast redfish population.

I can understand why!  We’ve created magic with the Chef Paul blackened fish recipe twice now, and it is downright spectacular.  Moist on the inside, crusty and just-right spicy on the inside…heavenly.

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My copy of this cookbook is over 30 years old and battered with use

The recipe in the cookbook has a marvelous spice mix that is juuuust right.  Beware: there’s a recipe online on the official Paul Prudhomme web site, but it is different than the cookbook version and uses a pre-made commercial spice mix from the Chef Paul brand.  Don’t use that one – use the one from the cookbook.  I wouldn’t normally publish the recipe from the cookbook because it is copyright protected, but the New Orleans Times-Picayune published it in their online article in NOLA.com, so I’ve included it below. My advice:  do not stray from these instructions. The result is a perfectly cooked blackened fish that is fine enough to serve to Sunday company.

From The Times-Picayune, April 5, 1984

“Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” includes this note: Redfish and pompano are ideal for this method of cooking. If tilefish is used, you may have to split the fillets in half horizontally to have the proper thickness. If you can’t get any of these fish, salmon steaks or red snapper fillets can be substituted. In any case, the fillets or steaks must not be more than 3/4 inch thick.

Blackened Redfish

Makes 6 servings

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted in a skillet

SEASONING MIX:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 6 (8- to 10-ounce) fish fillets, preferably redfish, pompano or tilefish, cut about 1/2 inch thick (note:  at Glover Gardens, we use tilapia)

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour 2 tablespoons melted butter in each of 6 small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Reserve* the remaining butter in its skillet. Heat the serving plates in a 250-degree oven.

Thoroughly combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowL Dip each fillet in the reserved melted butter so that both sides are well coated; then sprinkle seasoning mix

generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place fish in the hot skillet and pour 1 teaspoon melted butter on top of each fillet (be careful, as the butter may flame up).

Cook, uncovered, over the same high heat until the underside looks charred, about 2 minutes (the time will vary according to the fillet’s thickness and the heat of the skillet). Turn the fish over and again pour 1 teaspoon butter on top. Cook until fish is done, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining fillets. Serve each fillet while piping hot.

To serve, place one fillet and a ramekin of butter on each heated serving plate.

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Chef Paul isn’t with us any more – cooking blackened redfish for the angels? – but friends tell me that K-Paul’s is still just as good

I don’t know if we’ll have time to get to K-Paul’s while we’re in New Orleans for the Jazz Fest (in less than 2 weeks!!!!), but with this recipe, we can have a little bit of Chef Paul’s kitchen magic right here at home.

One last tip:  if you have any blackened fish left, it is marvelous the next day in a fish taco.  Just add a bit of pico de gallo or slaw and serve it up on a corn or flour tortilla.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Home Alone Comfort Food: Scrambled Egg Sandwich

So over the last three weeks I had a long trip for work to Paris and then right away, a shorter trip for relaxation to Colorado (I know, I know, you’re not crying for me). After arriving home in Southeast Texas in the wee hours last night and working all day today, I found myself home alone for dinner tonight with no “on purpose” food in the refrigerator. That is, no food that was purchased with a menu or recipe in mind; all the Grill-Meister and I have in the icebox is a plethora of condiments and some too-old leftovers, and he’s not here tonight to justify my ordering Chinese.

What to do? What to do?

Comfort food to the rescue: a Scrambled Egg Sandwich.

I give thanks to my Dad for teaching me the joys of this humble little culinary bundle of joy. I made it a little differently than he did when I was growing up: his version with “Sandwich Spread” and cheddar on white bread evolved into mine with jalapeño jack and fresh baby spinach on wheat, but it’s still a wonderful go-to comfort food item.

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There’s really no recipe for this:  simply scramble a couple of eggs the way you like them (don’t forget the salt and pepper), toast a couple of pieces of bread, and assemble by resting the eggs atop a bed of baby spinach or perhaps some thinly sliced tomatoes on the bottom piece of toast, adding a slice of your favorite cheese and topping with the second piece of toast.  Voila, a lovely dinner for one, reminiscent of your childhood.  Or mine, at least.

I’m curious – what is YOUR easy comfort food when you’re home alone?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Easter Sunday

A beautiful Easter picture, with “a glow from the heart”. Thank you to Ray Laskowitz, the Storyteller.

STORYTELLER

On Easter Sunday.

This was harder than you’d think.

I wanted to post an Easter Sunday picture. But, I want to continue to explore my emerging vision. So the question was fairly simple. How do I do that without offending many of you with some weird post production? Art is art. I know that. But, Easter is symbolically a time of rebirth. Bright colors are normally used to portray that. It’s a huge day. So what do I do to make that happen?

Well.

I had to find the right picture. I wanted it to be something you’ve never seen. And, that maybe I had forgotten.

No bright colors. But how about a kind of glow from the heart of the picture? A glow that pierces through the darkness. An illuminating glow. Maybe a glow of hope.

Maybe.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. However you believe, have a great day.

For…

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New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Food at the Festival and the Foodie’s Dilemma

The seventh post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.

In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips.

Today, we discuss a rather serious situation:  The Foodie’s Dilemma.

How to Enjoy Festival Food and Yet Save Room to Experience NOLA’s Restaurants?

The issue at hand is:  the festival food is so wonderful, so food-truck-trashy-tasty good, so “mama’s been making it for years just like this” authentic,  that any self-respecting foodie simply has to eat it.  And yet,  as a proud foodie, you want to save room for the dinners at the myriad of super-fine restaurants New Orleans has to offer, like Bayona, which was profiled in an earlier post.  It’s a difficult thing.  I’ve been to Jazz Fest five times and still don’t have the formula right for solving the Foodies’ Dilemma.  The best advice I have is to do a lot of walking and make room for more!  Since there are nine different food locations all around the festival offering over 250 menu items, you can do a lot of your walking just trying to make up your mind!  The other strategy we deploy is to skip breakfast, make a reservation for an early lunch at a foodie’s choice restaurant, then head out to the festival and start the serious snacking in mid-afternoon.

How to Choose from All the Mouthwatering Goodness?

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Crawfish Monica photo from EatDrinkCulture blog

And that’s the second part of the Foodie’s Dilemma: once you’ve realized you’re just going to be stuffed the whole time, and not really as ashamed about the gluttony as your Mama taught you to be – how do you pick between all of mouth-watering goodness provided by the 70+ vendors?  With the memory-laden lure of your old favorites, how can even a foodie branch out and try something new?  I’ve never had the Crab & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms that Prejean’s restaurant brings to Jazz Fest, but how could I pass up the Crawfish Monica or Crawfish Strudel that I always have?  In the crawfish department alone, there were 18 different selections featuring this delicious little crustacean in 2016.  So many options, so little time!  The Foodie’s Dilemma is actually a Foodie’s Delight.

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I snapped this pic while in line for Crawfish Strudel; notice all the hats (read here about the importance of hats)

Festival Food Photos

So today, for your culinary daydreaming pleasure, here’s a look at some of the delectable festival food, just random pics I’ve snapped during a few of our Jazz Fest journeys.  Some of the food was mine; some was in the hands of strangers.  People are always really nice about letting me photograph their food.

People are always nice at Jazz Fest, period.  It’s like a great big family reunion, but, instead of genes and upbringing, the thing you have in common is a love of music and food.

Catfish Almandine, Potato Salad and Creole Stuffed Crab

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Crawfish Strudel

Jazz Fest Food - Crawfish Strudel

Fried Crawfish and Greek Salad with Gyro Sandwich

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Crawfish Bread

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Have these photos piqued your interest?  The resources below include a link to the food section on the Jazz Fest web site.  There’s a lot more there to see and salivate over.

Crawfish Monica Recipe from Emeril’s Test Kitchen

Did you know that the amount of rotini pasta used to make the Crawfish Monica sold at the festival in a single year is 6 tons???  That stuff is hurt-yourself good.  So here’s a Crawfish Monica recipe via GoNOLA, with a video from chef Chris Wilson, the director of culinary operations at Emeril Lagasse’s test kitchen.

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Who Wants to Cook on Friday Night? Not Me!

Who wants to cook on Friday night?  Not me!

At the end of a challenging and productive week at work, I want to be pampered at a restaurant or to have something super-easy at home.

That’s where our Family Smorgasbord comes into play.  Here’s what we had for dinner last Friday night, just the Grill-Meister and me.

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It’s a selection of cheeses from our local farmers’ market, some fresh fruit and veggie with a couple of dips we had on hand (also from the farmers’ market), sliced meats and olives.

The “Recipes”

The only “cooking” was assembly of canapés from stuff we had lying around, liberally seasoned with freshly ground pepper:

  • leftover cornbread adorned with horseradish sauce, roast beef, red onions and parsley
  • leftover cucumber slices from a salad earlier in the week, spread with harissa and topped with sliced fresh jalapeños
  • hummus packed into celery bites sprinkled with a spicy olive/garlic/bell pepper garnish (like olive salad)

Easy-peasy!

A Great Way to Spend Friday Evening

The Grill-Meister wanted red wine and I was in the mood for white, so we threw caution to the wind and opened them both (don’t judge, it was Friday).  Sipping wine and enjoying a throw-together smorgasbord meal while reviewing The Week That Was and The Weekend to Come is a great way to spend a Friday evening – who wants to spend it in the kitchen?  And of course we didn’t eat all that cheese, paving the way for another smorgasbord soon, maybe even this Friday.

What will you be doing for dinner this Friday night?

Family Smorgasbord Night – No Cooking, Just Bonding

For more about our favorite Friday night no-cook, easy-peasy approach, see the original post below.  Click here for the story, including the history of smorgasbord.

Smorgasbord at the Game Room Bar
Smorgasbord at the Game Room Bar

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Spicy-Sweet Honey Chipotle Pork Spareribs

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You’ll need a lot of paper towels with these ribs, but they’re worth it!

If you’re like me and have never tried ribs before, and, also like me, perhaps a bit intimidated by the vague feeling that you have to smoke them for hours and they still might come out tough, this is the recipe for you!

I rolled up my sleeves one rainy Saturday afternoon and pulled together this ribs recipe when the Grill-Meister was out playing dominos with his friends. Then I surprised him with them when he got home.  Score!

Succulent and fall-off-the-bone-tender with just the right balance of spicy-sweet and piquant, these ribs take their ‘cue (pun intended!) from the spicy rub they get before baking and a last-minute swab of homemade sauce before a quick char on the grill.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

Rub

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This is the brand of ancho chile I use
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cup coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp cup ancho or chipotle chilé powder (use paprika if you don’t like it spicy)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Ribs

2 racks St. Louis style pork spareribs, 2 1/2 – 3 lbs each

Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

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    Chipotle is really important in this sauce

    1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped chipotle peppers and sauce
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 2 tbsp of the spice rub

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 300. In a small mixing bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Set aside 2 tbsp of the spice rub to use in the sauce, and then rub the ribs generously with the mixture.

Wrap each rack of ribs in heavy duty foil, sealing completely.  Place seam side up on a pan or cookie sheet with a decent-sized lip.  Bake for 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce by putting all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan,  heating to a boil and then reducing to a simmer.  Cook at a simmer until reduced and thickened.

When the ribs have 20 minutes left to bake, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.  When 2 1/2 hours have elapsed, remove the ribs from the oven and carefully undo the foil around the ribs, being cautious about steam and very hot pan juice.  Place the ribs on a different cookie sheet or platter and reserve the pan juice for another use (I like to use it to make stock with the rib bones).

Take the ribs outside to your barbecue, slather the sauce on one side and place on the grill, sauce side down.  You may have to be very gentle with the ribs, because they will be very tender and may want to fall apart.  Slather the sauce again on the top side just after you place the ribs on the grill.  Sear on each side for 4-5 minutes until there’s a nice char, then remove them.  Place on a cutting board and cut between the bones.  Serve with extra sauce on the side.

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The finished product is great with a cool, crisp, chipotle-fennel slaw
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Ingredients for the spice rub
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I made a double batch; the spice rub is good on other meats and fish
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Generously rub each rack with the spice mix
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Seal tightly and place in a pan with a lip
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Make the sauce while the ribs are baking
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After baking, before the grill
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After the final quick char
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Super-tender, super-good!
Honey-Chipotle Ribs with Chipotle-Fennel Slaw
The finished product

These ribs are so good with just a quick slaw. I created a complementary Chipotle-Fennel Slaw when I made the ribs a couple of weeks ago and will publish that recipe soon. And until then, here’s a Pepper Jelly Slaw.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook