Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chicken Artichoke Soup

This is adapted from an oyster artichoke soup served at Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg, Ms. Cindy Abel Pack makes this but she substitutes chicken for the oysters. I have made a few more changes from the original to make it less expensive, healthier, and easier to make (for example, I use cream of chicken soup and one cup of cream instead of the 5 cups of heavy cream it originally calls for).

1 stick of butter
1/4 cup each of onion, bell pepper, and celery chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cans of cream of chicken soup
5 cups of water
4 cubes of chicken bouillon cubes
3-4 chicken breasts cut into cubes
1 pint of heavy cream
1 can of artichoke hearts in water cut into quarters

Saute first five lines of ingredients until soft. Add flour slowly stirring constantly. Do not brown the roux but cook it for 2 minutes. Add 5 cups of water, cream of chicken soup and bouillion cubes and stir until smooth. Bring to slow boil. Add chicken breasts. Let chicken cook until done. Bring heat to medium low and add artichoke hearts with juice and cream.

It will have a velvety consistency and be the hit of gathering where it is served.

Ronnie’s Crawfish Etoufee

This is probably my easiest but most requested dish. We use frozen crawfish tails (Louisiana tails are best). You pronouce the dish eh-two-fay. It is as cajun as it gets.

1 stick of butter
1 small onion chopped (you can also add 1/2 cup bell pepper and 1/2 cup celery to form the Louisiana trinity of cooking - my family does not like anything but onion)
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 lb. crawfish tails (shrimp may be substituted though not as good)
1/3 c. flour
2 cans chicken stock
Cajun Seasoning and Liquid Crab Boil (if available) otherwise use salt and cayenne pepper.

Sautee onions, garlic, and other optional vegetables in butter until soft. Add 1 lb. crawfish tails and cook for two minutes. Add 1/3 cup of flour to thicken. Cook flour for a minute. Add two cans of chicken stock (I sometimes cheat and use water with chicken bouillon). Season with 1-2 tsp. of Tony Chacheries or other Cajun seasoning and ¼ tsp. liquid crab boil. Cook until smooth. Serve over rice.

Ronnie’s Low-fat (just kidding) Macaroni and Cheese

This is Hilton Boover's (my brother-in-law) favorite. It must be made for every family occasion. Ironically, I am not a big fan of mac and cheese. But, this is the old-fashioned, southern funeral/church social version.

1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb. mild cheddar Cheese
1 quart half and half
1 cup of milk
1 stick of butter
½ cup all purpose flour
Salt to taste
1 lb. of dry macaroni boiled al dente in salted water

Start by making a b├ęchamel (white) sauce. This is begun by melting the butter, stirring in the flour and cooking the flour and butter mixture for a minute or two. Then, add the half and half and stir with a whisk until the sauce is brought up to nearly a boil and thick. It should be the consistency of loose gravy. Add milk (about one cup) until this consistency is achieved. To complete the sauce, add one pound of grated sharp cheddar cheese and ½ lb. mild cheese gradually until smoothly combined (save the other mild cheese for the topping). Add salt to taste. Coat a 9X12 pan and a smaller gratin pan with non-stick spray. Combine cooked noodles and finished cheese sauce. Put combined sauce and noodles in both pans. Top with reserved mild cheddar and cover with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly.

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls are great and easy (from the LDS Friend magazine). While waiting for Beth to go into labor, Mom Pack and I made these every day we waited. Beth was 9 days overdue, so we got really good at this recipe. For Memorial Day weekend, I taught Jenny Pack Martin how to make these. She was excited so I thought others would appreciate it.

1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup raisins

1. In large bowl mix 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, and oil with warm water until dissolved. Cover and let stand in warm place 15 minutes. (Yeast will grow rapidly.)
2. Blend eggs into yeast mixture. Add salt to sifted flour, then gradually add to yeast mixture to make soft dough.
3. Knead dough 5 minutes on lightly floured surface. Roll dough into rectangular shape about 1/4″ (.6 cm) thick.
4. Brush dough with melted butter. Combine cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle over dough, then sprinkle on nuts and raisins.
5. Carefully roll up dough, and cut 1″ (2.5 cm) slices with string or knife. Place in ungreased rectangular pan. Let rolls rest 10 minutes.
6. Bake at 425° F (218° C) 10–15 minutes or until golden brown. Frost with sugar glaze while warm.

Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon butter
Mix ingredients until well blended. Spread over rolls.

Julie Wardell, “Kitchen Krafts: Quick Cinnamon Rolls!,” Friend, Jan 1984, 17

Best Pralines Ever (and they are made in the microwave)

Pronounced prawleens -- these New Orleans confections are easy to make and popular with everyone. Ang and Tommy Forsyth requested this recipe and I posted it on their blog -- I share it here to make it more available for others.

2 c. sugar
¾ c. buttermilk
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
2 c. pecans
1 tsp. baking soda (added in the last step)

Combine all ingredients except the last one, soda. Cook in the microwave on high (be sure to use a large bowl that is microwave safe) for three cycles of four minutes, stirring between each four minutes (for a total of 12 minutes cooking time - the mixture wil bubble up). After the three cycles, stir in baking soda and cook two more minutes on high. Beat the cooked mixture until it begins to look smooth and thicker. Then drop by spoonfuls on greased waxed paper or on aluminum foil.

Be sure to store in an airtight container.