Friday, June 24, 2011

Mesquite Charred Corn & Poblano Salsa

This recipe is for a cold salsa made with mesquite smoked fresh corn, poblano peppers, garlic, fire roasted tomatoes, cilantro & spices. I added chipotle in adobo sauce for ours, we like it a little kicked up!

This recipe requires the following ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • canola or olive oil
  • 1 pod of garlic
  • 2 Tsp mesquite liquid smoke
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 15oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes, or fresh if you have them
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (leave out if you don't like the heat!)
  • 1 tsp Texas Chili Blend, or your favorite chili powder
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 cup mesquite wood chips
  • salt to taste
Mesquite Charred Corn & Poblano Salsa

  • Shuck & remove silks from corn, rinse corn & poblano peppers & pat dry
  • Rub corn & poblano peppers with oil, place in plastic zip bag with 1 tsp mesquite liquid smoke
  • Let rest in fridge for 1 hour
  • Soak mesquite wood chips in hot water with 1 tsp mesquite liquid smoke added . Soak 1 hour
  • Drain wood chips. Heat gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Place wood chips in smoker box.
  • Rub oil on outside of garlic pod
  • When smoke is present, remove garlic & poblano peppers from plastic bag & place on center of grill
  • Turn center burner to medium low to char for 2 minutes on each side, this should char the flesh, if not leave it several more minutes until it is charred
  • Once the pepper is black, turn off center burner & cook corn & peppers over indirect heat to continue the smoking process
  • Place garlic beside corn to smoke
  • Limit how much the grill is open to retain the most smoke you can.
  • Smoke for 15 more minutes at low heat
  • Remove from grill on to a heat proof dish & let it cool on the kitchen counter.

  • When corn has cooled to touch, remove corn from the cob by standing it on the flat end in a large bowl.
  • Begin with knife at the top & cut from the cob, turning after each cut.  
  • Continue to cut until all corn is off

  • Poblano peppers will char black, then you need to remove the charred skins, veins & seeds. Try to remove as much as possible.
  • Slice into small strips, then chop into bite size pieces.
  • Add to corn in bowl

  • Roasted garlic will squeeze out of the papery skins without much effort
  • Discard the papery skins then chop or mash & add garlic to salsa

  • To the corn, poblanos, & garlic, add the chopped red onions, tomatoes, cilantro,chopped chipotles in adobo sauce & seasonings
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Finish by squeezing the juice of the lime over the dip
  • Stir well to blend
  • Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge to chill at least 1 hour for the full flavor blend.
  • Serve with your favorite chips. Great on taco's or burritos. Also a great topping for taco salads

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Barbeque Shrimp" ...there should be a support group

The new cookbook by Robert Medina doesn't fail to deliver on it's promises! His "Barbeque Shrimp" is addictive. I made this recipe yesterday & just can't stop think about it!

New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp is cooked in a huge skillet at your stove top. It's like a swimming pool of delicious butter, garlic & spices for those shrimp to take their last swim.  

Start with the biggest ,freshest, head-on shrimp you can find. Colossal 10 count are the best if they are available. Don't waste your time using frozen shrimp or those who have lost their little heads. This dish should only be made with the real thing..head-on huge shrimp.  I promise you will be glad you did.

These are 10 count head-on fresh Gulf Shrimp

Rinse shrimp in cool water
then place in colander to drain.
Don't remove the heads!!
Now prepare their pool...

Add Shrimp to their swimming pool!


There is something to be said for less words are more!

This meal is meant to be shared with friends. In the South when we have a crawfish or shrimp boil, we cover the tables with newspapers for easy clean-up. I think this dish calls for that too, that way everyone can feel comfortable shelling and stacking the heads and shells while eating. Must have lots of crusty french bread to dip in this wonderful pool of garlic, spices, & butter!

Please don't just scoop up those heads & shells and say good-bye yet. Throw them in a pot of boiling water and any remaining juices & make some of the best shrimp stock you ever tasted. I'm the proud owner of three quart jars full of this liquid gold, what a nice reward after this great meal!

"If You Can't Stand The Heat" will be released July 12, 2011. It is available now for pre-order at Barnes & Noble online. You don't want to miss owning this cookbook.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shrimp Boats have arrived in Nebraska... the shrimp came by UPS air, but that didn't sound as exciting as Shrimp Boats arriving in Nebraska. Although if you would have seen me waiting by the door for the UPS truck this morning,you would have thought I had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes!

When the man in brown walked up to the door with that white cooler my heart started to beat faster. Those of you from the South that are displaced elsewhere get it; those of you from everywhere else may be confused.

Southerners love their food & connect it to most everything else in their lives. We don't eat to live, we live to eat. Now that doesn't mean we can't wait to get up & eat that bowl of oatmeal. I've never stood by the fridge waiting for a head of lettuce to make it's appearance! Now if that lettuce is going on a grilled burger with guacamole & smokey chipotles...we might get a little more excited.

I was lucky enough to live on the Gulf coast of Texas for a few years & learned to eat lots of kinds of seafood. My favorite thing in the world was going to the shrimp boats to buy my shrimp fresh. There is nothing in the world like the taste of fresh Gulf shrimp!

When I received this gift of home today, it almost brought tears to my eyes just looking at the outside of the cooler. Sexton's Fresh Shrimp Destin, Florida is sitting on my kitchen table & I know the best shrimp in the world is only some packing tape away!

These shrimp are huge! Shrimp are classified by number of shrimp per pound. The shrimp you get at the chain (think Red..) seafood restaurants are about 26-30 count at the best. That means there are 26 to 30 shrimp in a pound. Boiled or cocktail shrimp are usually 41-50 count. This website has lots of great information on shrimp, check it out

The shrimp resting in my fridge are 10 count. The extra blessing is they are head on!

Yes, we want the heads when we boil or saute shell-on shrimp, just not when we fry a shrimp. If you have heads on shrimp & want to fry them, save the heads & shells for making shrimp stock or gumbo. The head has lots of flavor & fat that will just blow you away when used in stock.

I am making "Barbeque Shrimp" tonight from the cookbook "If You Can't Stand The Heat" by Robert Medina. I'll let you know tomorrow if I survived without going into a shrimp coma. If you have eaten BBQ shrimp, you know there is no grill involved. It takes a bath in butter & oil with other goodies thrown in. The sauce is just begging to be dipped. The crusty french bread is patiently waiting for it's swim!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya Review

Living in the South brings many joys, but one of the greatest is our relationship with food. We love to talk about what we are cooking, what we just ate & what we are planning to eat later! For some of us the word obsessed would define our culinary viewpoint!

East Texas enjoys sharing the culture of Louisiana with our lakes, rivers & foods! I love Creole or Cajun food but to really know how to make it right you have to learn from a pro. Chefs like Paul Prudhomme & Emeril Lagasse made Cajun cool, but Robert Medina's new cookbook makes it accessible to everyone. His skill of writing & explaining step by step is great for the experienced cook or the novice.

Last evening we had the best Jambalaya I have ever eaten. Now lots of people say things like that, but first of all...I've eaten Jambalaya in many places.  If it's ever on a menu I try it, most of the time I am not overly impressed. Unless a restaurant is an authentic Cajun place, they have no idea what they are doing! They throw things together and make a jumble-yaya!! My favorite was from a restaurant in Houston that was based in Louisiana...need I say more.

To make this experience with a new recipe review interesting, I let my 25 yr old son take the lead in making this recipe. He makes great chili, grills burgers, & can make cornbread like a champ so I thought it was time he stretched and learned a little Cajun flavor. I think it's so important to teach our children to cook, giving them more freedom to be in the kitchen. My son has been in the kitchen with me for years & he can really cook, now if he just cleaned as well..


Last night we made Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya from Robert Medina's new cookbook "If You Can't Stand The Heat"  This recipe is simple, has common ingredients, & goes together with little effort. Most recipe items will be in your pantry, vegetable tray or spice cabinet. He uses chicken thighs, andouille sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, green onions, rice & spices.
Various spices for Flashover Seasoning
In Roberts cookbook he gives the recipe for his Flashover Seasoning; a blend of wonderful spices that are purely Cajun through & through! It can be used on anything that needs a little kick!

Flashover Seasoning

Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya

 Most Jambalaya recipes are about the same, but this one has a twist. The chicken skin is removed and rendered to get the oil to cook the jambalaya. I have been cooking for many years & have never fried chicken skin! It worked like a dream & extracted the chicken fat very nicely. This is what makes this recipe different from all the others I have ever tried. I will say I think it's the key to this jambalaya and can not be changed if you want the authentic taste. Let me tell you, you want this taste! This is the best jambalaya I have ever eaten, hands down.

This Thursday we will be cooking "Mexican Spaghetti" from our featured cookbook, yes Mexican...see Louisiana & Texas are cooking cousins! Also sometime this week I am making the Apple Bread Pudding..and hiding it from my family!!

Next week's Monday review will be "Both Right & Lite Red Beans & Rice" If your not familiar with Red Beans, they are usually served on Mondays in restaurants in the south. I have to go hit the gym now..think I'm going to need it!

"If You Can't Stand The Heat" will be released July12th 2011. Can be pre-ordered from Barnes & Nobles online now. You won't regret it if you love great food that's easy to cook!

Monday, June 20, 2011

"If You Can't Stand The Heat" A New Orleans Firefighters Cookbook

Some of the best cooks I know should be called chefs just by virtue of experience and the quality of their food. I started my journey in this food world working under a cook who should have been handed a honorary culinary degree. Usually these degrees are conferred as a way of honoring a distinguished contribution to a specific field, or to society in general. My mentor, Miss Pearl loved to cook, produced great food, & touched the center of people's being..their souls. If this is the definition of Honorary Chef then Robert Medina has earned the title "Firehouse Chef"

There is a hidden secret in the firehouses around the country, the great food made by those who serve & protect us 24 hours a day! The meals are big, hearty & filling. Such incredible dishes could be found on a menu at your favorite restaurant, but are being cooked while waiting for the next fire alarm to sound. We think we have trouble cooking with kids & dogs running through the house!

It is my great pleasure to be reviewing "If You Can't Stand The Heat" A New Orleans Firefighters Cookbook. This cookbook is written by Robert Medina, a retired firefighter for the New Orleans fire department. He brings us the delicious New Orleans fare, Italian, Mexican, & Thai, but also just down home Southern cooking. This book speaks to my heart and reminds me of why we Southerners love to feed those around us...cause we love cooking & cooking right!

I will be cooking the Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya first, and then when I find artichokes that look edible, I am making the Stuffed Artichokes. I can't wait to cook my way through this book! Oh & the Apple Bread may have been sent directly from Heaven!

Thanks Bob for trusting me to review your cookbook & also for writing it so well. It not only has fabulous recipes but is a great read to boot! For everyone looking for this cookbook to add to your collection, it will be released on July 12th 2011.
Can be pre-ordered at Barnes & Nobles online now.


Chickory Coffee...where have you been all my life?

Several weeks ago I received a gift in the mail that may just have changed my world. I was born & raised in the South and never drank coffee because it was always hot outside and I just preferred iced tea. In the winter we might have a few cups of hot cocoa but not a lot. My Daddy drank coffee but he was a Locomotive Engineer & had to be up for hours on the train & needed the coffee.

A fellow Southerner replied to a tweet about Chicory coffee & my lack of experience with it, well he took care of that and sent me a bag of Community Coffee.

I have been away for several weeks at a Youth camp & today was the first day I had to sit down and try this coffee. I may never be the same! It is full bodied, deep in flavor with a smokey chocolate licorice taste. I made a Cafe au lait which was incredible, but I also drank a cup black. Cafe au lait is warm cream or milk added to the coffee with sugar just because you can!

My favorite coffee at the "shops" are usually dark & full bodied so I enjoy stronger coffee. This just adds something that a barista can't...character!