G’S CREOLE SEAFOOD ST. JACQUES & CREAMY MUSHROOM RISOTTO

Here is a variation of a popular French dish called Coquilles St. Jacques.

Short description: Scallops Gratinéed (au Gratin) with Wine, Garlic and Herbs.

Longer description: An old French dish, traditionally served in scallop shells, of scallops poached in white wine, placed atop a bed of mushrooms, covered with a creamy sauce made with the poaching liquid, and gratinéed under a broiler.

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Well I didn’t have scallops, and I definitely did not have fancy sea shells to serve the non-existent scallops. So I followed the basic premise of the recipe using Louisiana crawfish tails and fresh lump crab meat.

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And instead of just plain mushrooms, I decided to make a risotto with mushrooms and fresh chopped asparagus…AWESOMENESS!

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So if I was describe the finished dish, Creole Seafood St. Jacques, I would say something like this —

Crawfish & lump crab poached in white wine and pan-seared Gulf shrimp, served atop a homemade Portobello mushroom & asparagus risotto, and finished with shredded Gruyere and sharp Provolone cheeses, and a cream reduction sauce made with the reserved seafood-wine liquid.

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CHEF G PRESENTS…ITALIAN PORK ALLA FOCETTINA

Pork Alla Focettina is basically pork loin braised in milk. Yes…I said MILK. But believe it or not, once cooked it is not “milky” at all. This is one of the simplest, yet most luxurious and delicious dishes with which you could ever entertain your palate. And before continuing, I invite you to check out my very first culinary video at the end of this post.

20140114_094459Pork Alla Focettina is a classic Italian dish, but its regional origins are often disputed by Italians themselves. However, cooking pork in milk is a very common and classic technique throughout northern Italy, especially in Bologna. Milk’s lactic acid tenderizes the pork and breaks it down, making it very tender and receptive to soaking up the flavors in the sauce.

Now there are many different recipes available for this dish, but as usual I took the basics and made it my own. Most notably, I used almond milk, fresh cream, and a touch of sour cream. The resulting sauce was smoother, richer, and more flavorful than with using regular milk only. I also used a nice pork shoulder in lieu of the loin cut.

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INGREDIENTS:

clip_image001 2 ½ – 3 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks

clip_image001[1] ¼ cup olive oil

clip_image001[2] 1 ½ cups white wine (technically, my wine was pink)

clip_image001[3] ½ cup crème fraîche (fresh cream)

clip_image001[4] 2 tbls sour cream

clip_image001[5] milk, nothing less than whole (enough to cover all ingredients)

clip_image001[6] ½ of a large onion, roughly chopped

clip_image001[7] 5 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 clove elephant garlic)

clip_image001[8] handful of fresh basil, chopped

clip_image001[9] handful of fresh sage, chopped

clip_image001[10] ¼ cup uncured bacon (cooked, chopped)

clip_image001[11] sea salt

clip_image001[12] cracked black pepper

clip_image001[13] smoked paprika


DIRECTIONS:

Cook bacon and remove from pan, reserving the grease. Salt and brown pork in olive oil and bacon grease over med-high heat and set aside when done. Add onions to the pan and cook until soft and translucent. Throw in the garlic for about a minute once the onions are done.

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At this point the bottom of the pan is a little cruddy…no problem. Turn the heat up to high and add that wine to the onions and garlic, scraping the pan to deglaze it. Yes, it works!20140114_053841

I did the initial cooking in a stainless steel skillet, and then transferred everything to a larger pot. You can do it all in one pot though. Return the meat to the pot, add the onion-garlic-wine concoction, and then the milk. Bring to a low boil and toss in the fresh cream, sour cream, bacon, and half the herbs.

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Now just let it cook on low heat for about 1 to 1 ½ hours…until the pork is fall-apart tender. About halfway through start tasting the sauce and adding the seasonings to your preference. When the meat is cooked and the sauce is smooth, add the remaining herbs, give it one final stir, and serve.

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I plated my Pork Alla Focettina with Cajun Brown Rice Grits and Brussels Sprouts w/ a Meyer Lemon & Greek Olive Oil Butter Sauce. But you can serve with polenta, Arborio, or even jasmine rice…or whatever you like.

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And if you want to see how I did this, check out my very first YouTube culinary video. I hope you enjoy it…

By Chef Derrill Guidry

Honestly, this isn’t the most beautiful entree to look at…it looks a little lumpy. The milk and additional ingredients cook into a curdled sauce as a result of the long, slow braising process. The acidity of the onions also encourages the curdling, which is actually the most desirable result of this brilliant Italian creation. Enjoy…

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Lemon & Garlic Bay Scallop Pasta w/ Grand Marnier and White Wine Sauce

The full description is…

Meyer Lemon & Garlic Artisan Pasta w/ a Grand Marnier and White Wine Sauce, served with Pan-Seared Halibut topped w/ a Lemon-Basil Garlic Butter on bed of sautéed Olive Butter Kale…garnished w/ Pan Seared Louisiana Gulf Shrimp…BAM!!!

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I will make this easy for y’all this time. This dish was inspired by my favorite chef, Chef John of the Food Wishes culinary blog, who prepared Creamy Bay Scallop Spaghetti. What follows are the ingredients and Chef John’s prep video…then I will show you how I took this recipe and made it my own…

INGREDIENTS:

clip_image001 1 tbsp vegetable oil

clip_image001[1] 1 pound bay scallops

clip_image001[2] 2 tbsp butter

clip_image001[3] 3 cloves garlic, minced

clip_image001[4] 2 tsp lemon zest

clip_image001[5] pinch red pepper flakes

clip_image001[6] 1/3 cup sherry wine

clip_image001[7] 1 cup heavy cream

clip_image001[8] salt and pepper to taste

clip_image001[9] juice of 1 lemon or to taste

clip_image001[10] 8 oz cooked thick spaghetti

clip_image001[11] 2 tbsp Italian parsley, divided

clip_image001[12] Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste

 

Food Wishes Creamy Bay Scallop Spaghetti

Pretty simple…right???

I followed the basic recipe above, but I layered several different flavors to give my dish a complex richness that was simply delicious.

I used Meyer lemons for the juice and zest because of their subtle sweetness. Instead of cooking sherry I used Grand Marnier and white wine…they produced an amazing flavor in the sauce. Oh, I sampled several wines to make sure that they were fit for consumption…hahahahaha!

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In addition to Italian parsley, I added lots of fresh basil. And instead of spaghetti, I prepared some really tasty colored artisanal pasta.

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Olive oil and fresh cream butter served as a flavor bridge between the creaminess of the pasta, and the tartness of the lemon and garlic sauce. The kale, halibut, and Gulf shrimp completed the meal, and provided just the right level of AWESOMENESS!

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Now before I present my plated version of this dish, take a look at the aftermath…

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YES!!! It was THAT good!

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REAL EVOO…Extra Virgin Olive Oil

olive_oil_pour_640I recently posted pic of a bottle of Star brand Butter Flavored Olive Oil. Well I did some research based on information shared with me by my frat brother, and I quickly realized why that bottle of oil was so inexpensive…cheap. According to a University of California at Davis study, more than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be. Instead, the oils were spoiled or made from lower quality olives unfit to be labeled “extra virgin.” Worse, some were outright counterfeits, made from soy, hazelnut, and even fish oils mixed with low grade olive-pomace oil. This can be toxic and dangerous for human consumption. And the California findings can be applied in nearly every grocery store across the country.

So from now on I will purchase olive oil I know to be authentic, and combine it with clarified cream butter whenever I want that rich flavor. Some time ago I connected with a friend on Instagram whose family produces ‘real’ EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) in Cyprus, Greece…but he is from Baton Rouge (La). The company is Villa Cyprus Imports (http://www.villacyprusimports.com/). The olive oil is Villa Apolena Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I just ordered my first bottle online, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the taste.

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The question many are probably now pondering is: WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT EVOO?

The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time.

Olive oil and mature olives.; Shutterstock ID 13334356; PO: The Huffington Post; Job: The Huffington Post; Client: The Huffington Post; Other: The Huffington Post

In addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil has also been found to be effective in fighting against diseases such as:

Cancer: The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.

Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.

Oxidative Stress: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.

Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.

Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.

Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.

Here are some other considerations about the benefits of EVOO that can be further researched at the following link: Olive Oil Health Benefits and Nutrition

clip_image001 Olive Oil Might Help Prevent Strokes

clip_image001[1] Olive Oil Diet Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

clip_image001[2] Olive Oil Keeps the Heart Young

clip_image001[3] Olive Oil Fights Osteoporosis

clip_image001[4] Olive Oil May Protect from Depression

clip_image001[5] Olive Oil Found to Help Prevent Skin Cancer

clip_image001[6] The Mediterranean Diet and Metabolic Syndrome

clip_image001[7] Olive Oil Protects Against Breast Cancer

There are actually hundreds of varieties of olives, but only a few main classifications for olive oil, including:

     ― EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, which is produced by cold pressing and does not use chemicals for refinement.

     ― VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, comes from a second pressing or riper olives but is still good quality.

     ― LIGHT OLIVE OIL or BLENDS are refined olive oil, which usually means they have been chemically processed and mixed with other low quality oils.

     ― LAMPANTE, is low quality and the Italian word for lamp oil and is considered unfit for human consumption.  It may be derived from old, decaying olives, and has been chemically processed.

“Bad” olives have free radicals and impurities, so consuming NON-Virgin olive oil could potentially be bad for your health. Consuming REAL Olive Oil is truly beneficial because of the anti-inflammatory compounds, anti-oxidants, and multiple heart healthy ingredients. 

Cooking-With-Extra-Virgin-Olive-Oil-Is-a-Not-a-Very-Good-Idea-Specialists-Explain-Why

Now I know it might not be convenient to find and purchase pure EVOO, but here are some things to look for when shopping:

    clip_image002  Be suspicious of any extra virgin olive oil that costs less than $10 a liter.

    clip_image002[1]  Look for a harvesting date on the label

    clip_image002[2]  Shop for oils in dark bottles.  This protects the oil from oxidation.

    clip_image002[3]  Avoid “Light” olive oil at all costs. This is the lowest quality olive oil on the plant.

    clip_image002[4]  If you can find oils with the International Olive Oil Council (IOC) certification, go for those.

    clip_image002[5]  Buy Californian olive oils, which are far less adulterated than imported oil.

    clip_image002[6]  Do your homework. Find a reputable company or source and buy small bottles from them.

Also check out: The World’s Healthiest Foods: Olive Oil, Extra Virgin

olivas

Bottom line…EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is good for the bodyBON APPÉTIT!

 

CHEF G’s CHICKEN CACCIATORE

20131231_043124First, I must tell y’all that I am really very fatigued right now, but I want to share this dish with you anyway because it was really delicious. I grew up eating my mother’s Chicken Cacciatore, and I cannot recall ever eating any prepared by anyone else ever in my entire life. And believe it or not, I had never cooked it myself…until now. I was inspired to do it while watching the show “Extra Virgin” on the Cooking Channel with actress Debi Mazar and her husband, Chef Gabriele Corcos. They prepared this dish for a family gathering in Sicily using all local and natural/organic ingredients, and it was so simple and rustic and elegant all at the same time.

Debi and Gabriele’s recipe can be found at this link: Sicilian Chicken Cacciatore


Of course, I didn’t follow that recipe exactly. Here are my ingredients (approximate) —

        clip_image001 1 whole organic chicken (cut into individual pieces)

        clip_image001[1] 2 cloves elephant garlic, quartered

        clip_image001[2] 1 large onion (rough chop)

        clip_image001[3] 10 Roma tomatoes (chopped)

        clip_image001[4] 2ea 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes (I like tomatoes!)

        clip_image001[5] extra virgin olive oil

        clip_image001[6] homemade saffron butter (saffron threads + organic cream butter)

        clip_image001[7] ¾ cup white wine (because I wanted to drink chardonnay)

        clip_image001[8] fresh chopped basil and Italian parsley

        clip_image001[9] Himalayan pink sea salt and cracked black pepper

        clip_image001[9] (Optional) Andouille sausage (sliced)

Chef G’s Method —

     1.  Coat the chicken with saffron butter, brown on both sides

     2.  Remove chicken from pan, discard drippings

     3.  Sauté onion in a drizzle of olive oil until translucent, add wine and stir

     4.  Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and then add chicken pieces

     5.  Season with salt and pepper to taste

     6.  Cook for about 30 minutes and serve

That’s it! The wonderfully light, clean taste of the fresh ingredients in this dish is something that you must experience yourself…TRUST ME!

Check out the photo album below to see some of my preparation steps.

 

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CHEF G’s SAFFRON CHICKEN & WHIPPED POTATOES

This will be a quick no-frills post…

The most significant aspect of this meal was that I flavored everything with Saffron Butter, which was made by combining saffron threads with organic cream butter and sea salt, and melting in the microwave. By the way, saffron is arguably the most expensive spice in the world.

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To season my organic chicken I added smoked paprika and dried tarragon to the saffron butter mixture, poured that on the chicken pieces, and rubbed it in well (even underneath the skin).

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Next the chicken pieces were pan fried, using a thermometer to ensure to check for doneness (165-deg internal temperature for chicken).

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The pan was deglazed with white wine, a little butter was added with some sliced mushrooms, and a very flavorful sauce was created.

The potatoes…they were boiled whole, smashed in a large bowl with a little milk and another batch of saffron butter, and whipped with a large whisk until fairly smooth. The rich color and flavor that the saffron provides is simply amazing.

Here’s the plated dish…simple…delicious…

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SILVER BAYOU RUM…it’s a Louisiana thang!

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#bayourum
A few weeks ago I introduced y’all to Bayou Rum, distilled not far from my hometown here in Louisiana. Southwestern Louisiana culture might seem kind of ‘slow’ to some folks, but growing up here, traveling across the globe, and then coming back home helped me to truly appreciate where I’m from, and really grasp the eclectic complexities all the communities along the Louisiana Interstate-10 corridor. So when my Mom and Dad returned from a daytrip with bottles of Bayou Rum and cups and little trinkets, I was KRUNK!

Now believe it or not, I am not a rum drinker…but I will cook with it all day long. And I recently prepared a cranberry sauce infused with Bayou Rum. And yes, flavor and sweetness of the rum shined through beautifully. So on Christmas day with the family we didn’t have much liquor in the house, and the only thing I could find with an alcohol content was the remaining Bayou Rum…what the hell.

When Chef G says that something is good, you can trust that endorsement without doubt…and this rum is GOOD! No, I don’t work for the company. When I taste things that impress me, I want others to experience them as well. Here’s the deal…Bayou has mass appeal because of two things, in my humble opinion —

1. The water used to distill it is of the freshest quality. I can’t explain this succinctly, but I KNOW fresh water when I taste it. Whether it is in beers, distilled liquor, fresh properly filtered water is the difference between a mediocre and spectacular product.

2. The pure flavor of not only the water, but the sugars as well make Bayou Rum one of the smoothest rums I’ve ever tasted…EVER. Even though it has a 40% alcohol content, it is mellow as HELL! And I grew up in southern Louisiana eating raw sugar cane…that is the sweetness that I tasted in the rum. My Mom said that it has tones of vanilla, but I guarantee that is a result of a very ‘patient’ process used to heat the sugar. It doesn’t even have the slightest hint of woodiness, or that toasty flavor you get when you even slightly burn sugar or molasses. The process has clearly been perfected, and I hope that it never changes.

I know I sound like some sort of professional rum taster doing a review for a major publication, but my success as a culinary artist is primarily due to my ability to taste BEYOND the resulting flavors of foods and beverages to discern things that the average consumer might never notice…and I get excited when I experience uniqueness on my palate…

This is my unsolicited review of Bayou Silver Rum…

GET SOME Y’ALL!
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http://bayourum.com/blends/

Following an authentic “sugar house” recipe, Bayou Rum gathers raw unrefined cane sugar and molasses from M.A. Patout & Sons Enterprise Factory in Patoutville, La. – all pressed from fresh sugarcane harvested from Louisiana fields.

The Silver Bayou Rum is proofed with triple filtered fresh water delivering the cleanest and purest taste possible. From traditional cocktails, including Louisiana favorites, to your own creations, Bayou Rum delivers the heart and soul of the ultimate cocktail experience. The smooth and subtle character of Bayou Rum is perfect over ice, in a classic daiquiri or mojito, or in your favorite rum cocktail creation.

There is also a Spiced Bayou Rum infused with classic traditional spices with a Louisiana twist. Featuring Louisiana grown ingredients, this special gumbo of spices creates a unique and satisfying blend that makes it the perfect rum for mixing. Spiced Bayou Rum livens up everything from a rum and cola to unsweetened tea or an ice cube. One sip and you’ll understand.

LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!

CHEF G’s SALAD THREE WAYS…

Sometimes I just feel like making food…this was one of those times…

I woke up recently with visions of an asparagus tepee in my head. I don’t know why. I had never seen one before, but I was determined to figure out how to make it my culinary reality. From that inspiration, I ended up making three different salads.

1. Grilled Chicken and Roasted Asparagus Salad w/ Homemade Peach Balsamic Vinaigrette

2. Fried Crawfish & Grilled Gulf Shrimp Salad w/ Homemade Creole Remoulade Dressing

3. Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Gala Apples

I came up with the basic concepts, purchased a few ingredients, laid everything out on a patio table, and went to work.

This is what I started with:

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And believe it or not, I prepared everything outside even though it was only 30-degrees outside…good times! Open-mouthed smile

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First up…Grilled Chicken and Roasted Asparagus Salad w/ Sweet Peppers, Dried Mixed Berries, Toasted Sweet Pecans, and a Homemade Peach Balsamic Vinaigrette.

The first thing I did was finally construct my asparagus tepee…

Chicken (2)

How cool is THAT???!!!

To cook it I put it on the grill for about 2-3 minutes. The asparagus softened some, but I was still able to make it work. Next time I’ll use thicker stalks.

Next I toasted the pecans in a skillet until that nutty aroma permeated the air. At the end I added a little all-natural cane syrup to add a touch of sweetness. The mixed berries were dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries.

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For the dressing, I didn’t measure the ingredients, but here’s what I used…

INGREDIENTS:

clip_image004 pear infused balsamic vinegar

clip_image004[1] extra virgin olive oil

clip_image004[2] all-natural cane syrup

clip_image004[3] toasted sesame seeds

Vinaigrette (3)

Vinaigrette (1)   Vinaigrette (2)

I used organic chicken breasts, and grilled them for only a few minutes on each side over high heat to ensure they remained moist…perfection. After slicing the cooked chicken, I started assembling the salad. Turned out great!

Chicken (5)



Next upFried Crawfish & Grilled Gulf Shrimp Salad w/ Homemade Creole Remoulade Dressing.

Seafood (8)

This one was really simple to prepare. I deep fried some Louisiana crawfish tails, grilled some humongous Gulf shrimp, fried some bacon, and made the dressing.

Seafood (4)  Seafood (2)

Seafood (11)

Now for those who aren’t familiar with remoulade, it is a rich sauce created in France, where it is traditionally made from mayonnaise and herbs and used to flavor vegetables and salads. A mustard-flavored variation of French remoulade is popular in Danish cuisine. In its traditional form, first devised in France, remoulade consists of mayonnaise, usually made from egg yolks, oil, and lemon juice, which is mixed with capers, minced pickles, anchovy paste, and chopped fresh herbs like tarragon and chives. The resulting sauce is usually white or pale yellow in color. French cuisine often calls for the use of remoulade as a flavoring for cooked or cold vegetables and salads.

All remoulades are based on either oil or mayonnaise, but the Creole adaptations tend to vary significantly in ingredients, taste, and appearance from the traditional French version. Most Louisiana remoulades include mustard, garlic, paprika, and Creole/Cajun seasonings. And yes…there are many versions.

Here is a basic recipe for the remoulade:

INGREDIENTS:

clip_image003 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

clip_image003[1] 1/4 cup mustard (Creole mustard if you have it)

clip_image003[2] 1 tbsp sweet paprika

clip_image003[3] 1-2 tsp Cajun or Creole seasoning

clip_image003[4] 2 tsp prepared horseradish

clip_image003[5] 3 tablespoons ketchup

clip_image003[6] 1 tsp hot sauce

clip_image003[7] 1 large clove garlic, minced and smashed

clip_image003[8] 1 scallion, finely chopped

clip_image003[9] 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Remoulade (3)

I did say “BASIC” recipe…of course I made it my own. Creole remoulades tend to be really strong and spicy, but I wanted a milder flavor to complement the salad as a dressing. I used regular yellow mustard instead of the Creole variety. For zestiness I added white vinegar and fresh lemon juice. These liquids also thinned the mixture enough to use as a salad dressing. I tossed in about a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 3 tablespoons horseradish. For me, the horseradish is what defines the remoulade. In addition to mayonnaise, I added about 1/4 cup sandwich spread to add a touch of sweetness, and smoked paprika took it over the top.

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Last is the Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Gala Apples.

I had leftover ingredients…so I used them…

I used one of the grilled chicken breasts from the first salad, and added sliced Gala apples, roasted whole okra, and cherry San Marzano tomatoes. I also threw a couple of grilled shrimp on the plate…why not? And I topped it off with the remoulade dressing from the second salad above. Very simple…really delicious…

Chicken (6)

I hope that I’ve inspired you to be daring and creative in the creative in your kitchen using simple, inexpensive ingredients. I had a lot of fun preparing these salads, and I hope that enjoy the recipes and photos.

APPRÉCIEZ…BON APPÉTIT!

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