Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cajun Okra Fries

Shallow fried crispy okra sprinkled liberally with Cajun seasonings make a great appetizer or snack for all your game watching get-togethers. Or frankly, any party situation. Or movie night. Or Mardi Gras! 

There are only three ways I’ll eat okra. Spicy and pickled is my absolute favorite and if I can’t get Talk o' Texas brand, I’ve been known to pickle my own. Second best is sliced up, coated with cornmeal and deep-fried till crunchy. I can pop those little golden nuggets like most people eat popcorn. Third best is in a gumbo or stew, cooked down till you don’t really see the okra anymore, but the flavor is still there. And that’s been it for my whole lifetime. Until this week.

Last year for my birthday, I received a subscription to Delicious. magazine online, which I have truly enjoyed. In one of the recent issues, they shared a recipe for okra that was deep-fried then sprinkled with an Indian spice mix that sounded good, if I could find all the ingredients.  I immediately thought of my ready-in-the-shaker Cajun spices – already in my cupboard and so much easier! Okra and anything Cajun just go together naturally too.

This week my Sunday Supper group is sharing recipes that are great for football championship watching parties. Over here in Dubai, we don’t hear much about it, but I know the airwaves and newspapers in the United States are full of information overload about the upcoming Super Bowl. But one can never have too much good food, am I right? So make sure you scroll down to the bottom and check out our link list of tasty big game party recipes!

This is the last group post and celebration of National Sunday Supper Month so our participant list is huge!  Many thanks to our host for this wonderful event, T.R. of Gluten-free Crumbley. If you haven't signed the Sunday Supper pledge to spend more time around the family table in 2016, there's still time! Just click on this link and take the pledge. You will not regret it!

I’ve got to tell you that my husband is not a fan of okra so I thought I would get to eat this whole batch by myself. He came home from work a little early the day I was making these okra fries and ended up eating most of them while I wrote up the recipe. What a bittersweet victory for this okra lover! Never mind. Next time I will double the amount because, I can assure you, there will definitely be a next time.

Adapted from this recipe at Delicious.

12 oz or 340g tender young okra
Canola or other light oil for frying
Cajun seasonings

Wash the okra and dry them thoroughly.

Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem end and then slice the okra in half lengthwise.

Lay the pieces cut side down on a bed of paper towels and leave to dry for at least three hours.

This step can even be done a day ahead. After the okra have dried for a couple of hours, roll them up in the paper towels, wrap with cling film and refrigerate in the vegetable drawer till you are ready to fry.

When you are ready to fry them, lay out a single layer of paper towels on some sheets of newspaper and put it near your frying station. But not so close that you are going to catch it on fire, please. Have the Cajun spices standing by as well.

Heat about an inch or 2.5cm of oil in a large frying pan, over a medium flame.

Test the heat of the oil by putting one slice of okra in. If it sizzles vigorously, the oil is hot enough.

Lower the okra slices gently into the oil, in small batches, making sure not to splash and not to crowd the pan.

Fry for a few minutes on the first side then use some tongs to turn them over to brown the other side. The okra is done when both sides are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Remove from the oil and place on the paper towels to drain. Sprinkle immediately with the Cajun seasonings.

Continue frying the okra slices in batches until all are golden and crispy, then well seasoned.


Are you looking for game day party food inspiration? We’ve got a bunch of winners for you, no matter if your home team is playing!

Appetizers and Sides
Main Dishes
Desserts and Drinks

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sausage Apple Onion Tart #FridayPieDay

The apples and sausages go together beautifully, as pork and apples are wont to do, with the lovely added flavor of baked onions, in a crisp, golden puff pastry crust.  

The beauty of pies and tarts is that they can be sweet or savory. If you aren’t much of a dessert person, you can still enjoy a delicious pie, just add some sausage or salami. This month’s Friday Pie Day tart makes the perfect brunch, lunch or dinner fare and the ingredients are easily changed out for whatever you might have on hand.

I started by making my rough puff pastry recipe, or rather, I should say, Gordon Ramsey’s rough puff pastry recipe, cut off a little more than half and wrapped up the rest and popped it in the freezer. If you haven’t attempted rough puff before, I recommend you try it. It’s easy and way less work that actual puff pastry. In a pinch, of course, you can use store-bought puff pastry.

1 green apple (for example, Granny Smith)
2 teaspoons canola or other light oil
2 medium purple onions
6 fat sausages (about 14 oz or 400g)
A few fresh tender sprigs thyme – or leaves off of older sprigs
12 1/3 oz or 350g rough puff pastry dough from this recipe
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

Preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with baking parchment or a silicone liner.

Cut the apple in half, core it and cut it into thin slices, discarding the very end pieces that are all peel. Toss the apple slices in a medium sized bowl, with the oil to stop them turning brown.

Peel the onions, cut them in half and then slices them into thin wedges.

Toss them in the bowl with the apples.

Add the thyme sprigs, ripped into smaller pieces.

Cut the sausages into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife of a pair of scissors. Mix the pieces in with the apples and onions.

Roll out your rough puff pastry into a large rectangle and trim the edges to make sure it will puff up successfully.

Gently score a line all the way around the inside with the tip of a sharp knife. This will be your puffy, crunchy crust, so don’t be skimpy with the margin.

Spread your mustard all over inside the scored line.

Tip the sausage, apple and onion onto the pastry and arrange it as evenly as possible all the way out to the scored line.

It's a pretty tall pile but it will bake down, I promise.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the sausage pieces are cooked through.

Allow to cool slightly before cutting.


This sausage apple onion tart is my contribution to this month's Friday Pie Day, the brilliant creation of Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. (Formerly girlichef.)

I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gouda Herb Muffins for Derkje #MuffinMonday

Loads of cheese, fresh herbs and a bit of spicy cayenne pepper make these savory muffins rich and flavorful. 

Every Monday I get together with a lovely group of ladies for Bible study. We come from many countries and varied backgrounds but we enjoy our time together trying to learn whatever God wants us to learn, whether from the Bible or each other.  And, with such a diverse group, as you can imagine, there is so much we can learn from one another. The last couple of weeks we’ve been joined by someone special, the mother of one of our little group, who has been visiting since the holidays. As you might have guessed from my title, her name is Derkje.

As I left our meeting last week, she leaned over and almost whispered, “Do you have a recipe for a savory muffin? Perhaps with cheese?”  Well, I have plenty! But most of them make 12 muffins and our dear Derkje recently lost her husband, love of her life and best friend of more than 60 years. Even though they freeze well, 12 muffins is an overwhelming number and I didn’t want to discourage her from the outset with a large batch she’d never end up baking. So I worked out a recipe for just six, baked them up, and passed them over with the printed notes. I wanted to use a cheese that was readily available where Derkje lives in the Netherlands so I made them with Gouda, but you can substitute any aged cheese you have. A nice cheddar would work just as well.

At today’s meeting, I told her that I’d be sharing the recipe with the rest of you for Muffin Monday but, not to worry, I wouldn’t use her name. Derkje replied that she would be delighted if I would. It’s a name that was given to her by her father and she is very proud of it. Isn’t that lovely? She heads home tomorrow and we are going to miss her lively contribution to our group.

8 1/2 oz or 240g Gouda cheese
Small handful mixed fresh herbs of your choice (green onions, thyme, basil, parsley, coriander, rosemary, etc.)
1 cup or 125g flour (or 125g + 1 tablespoon self-rising flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (Omit if using self-rising flour.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (Derkje says use more! And I agree!)
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
1 egg
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and generously grease your 6-cup muffin pan.  I would suggest putting the batter into a greased tin rather than muffin cups because the cheese in these makes them bake up lovely and browned and crunchy all over.  You’d miss that in a paper cup. I used non-stick cooking spray but you can use butter or a little more oil.

Grate your cheese, setting aside a generous handful for adding to the top before baking.

Pull the leaves off of any herbs with woody stems, then mince your herbs, saving a few tiny sprigs or leaves for decoration, if desired.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients, including the cayenne pepper.

Then stir in the big pile of Gouda, making sure all the bits are well coated with flour. Add in herbs and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk, and oil together.

Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and fold until it is just combined.

Spoon the batter into your very well greased muffin pan.

Top with the reserved cheese and decorate with a herby leaf or two.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until they are looking browned and crispy and delicious and you can’t wait another second to eat them.

BUT, allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes then use a non-pointy knife to loosen/remove them from the muffin pan.


Check out all the other great recipes my Muffin Monday bakers are sharing today!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Caramelized Pineapple Blue Cheese Corncake Bundt #BundtBakers

With just enough cornmeal to border on cornbread but almost enough sugar to be cake, this tender crumb Bundt encloses little nuggets of sweet and savory with caramelized pineapple and crumbled Roquefort cheese.

This month’s Bundt Baker challenge, set by June of How to Philosophize with Cake, was to create a Bundt with unusual flavor combinations. Fortunately, I received the perfect Christmas gift to help me out, a handy little book called The Flavor Thesaurus – Pairings, recipes and ideas for the creative cook. <affiliate link

I must admit that I don’t always agree with the author who readily admits that taste is subjective, yet gives her own as fact. She states, for instance, that coffee is used as a marinade for beef in many Latin American cultures, but she tried it once and it’s better avoided. She suggested that one might as well add lit cigarettes as a garnish. Harrumph. Well, I have tried coffee with beef  too and thought it was fabulous. So there.

But in the case of pineapple and blue cheese, she was spot on. They do go very nicely together, especially as I decided to caramelize the pineapples at the last minute and created a batter with some cornmeal and just enough sugar to make what I have christened corncake. We ate thick slices of it with big bowls of spicy beef chili! So good!

1 small can (4.95 oz or 140g drained weight) sliced pineapple in light syrup
4 oz or 115g blue cheese
1/2 cup or 65g fine yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup or 184g full fat sour cream
Drained light syrup from canned pineapple, topped up with milk to make 1/2 cup or 120ml
(It's going to look a little curdled. Don't let that bother you.)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup or 78ml canola oil

Drain and save the light syrup from your pineapple slices. Dry off the pineapple with paper towels.

Heat your griddle or non-stick frying pan till it’s smoking hot and toast the pineapple slices till browned and caramelized on both sides.

Leave to cool and then chop into small wedges with a sharp knife. Crumble the blue cheese and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and butter and flour your 10-cup Bundt pan liberally or use a non-stick baking spray to prepare the pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together your sour cream, pineapple syrup topped up with milk, eggs and oil in another bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Fold in the pineapple bits and the crumbled blue cheese.

Pour or spoon the batter into your prepared Bundt pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before turning it out on a wire rack to finish cooling.


Many thanks to June for this creative challenge! Want to see what everyone else baked?


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Enchiladas Callejeras with Chicken and Mexican Chorizo

From the shredded chicken inside to the sauce-soaked pan-fried tortillas and the Mexican chorizo hash on top, these enchiladas callejeras are too many bites of wonderful to count.

One of the things I really, really miss living overseas is Mexican food, or I should properly say Tex-Mex since that’s what I grew up on in Houston, Texas. It’s almost always the first meal out when I go home. And I always order the enchiladas with a crispy taco on the side. That’s why I jumped at the chance to get a copy of Enchiladas - Aztec to Tex-Mex by Cappy Lawton, who currently owns three restaurants in San Antonio, and Chris Waters Dunn, a Nashville songwriter and record producer turned food writer. I could recreate those wonderful meals at home? Yes, please!

Enchiladas - Aztec to Tex-Mex: What started out as a small exploration of enchiladas – things enhanced with chili peppers – became a treatise on ALL the enchiladas, from ALL the regions of Mexico and beyond. I hesitate to use the word "definitive" because it is so overused in book reviews and someone is bound to leave a comment about some enchilada their abuela makes that wasn’t covered, but, dang, there’s a lot of information there! The book is divided into three sections covering ingredients, fundamentals and then recipes. Read through the first two before checking out the recipes. You will be so glad you did!

If you’d like to buy your own copy of Enchiladas - Aztec to Tex-Mex, it’s available at <affiliate link or get a signed copy on their website.

I have permission to share the recipe for Enchiladas Callejeras with you today and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Yields 12 enchiladas / Serves 4
For the sauce:
4 guajillo chiles or chiles de árbol, destemmed, deveined, deseeded
10 ancho chiles, destemmed, deveined, deseeded
1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons (18 grams) kosher salt
1 cup (237 ml) olive oil
(This makes way more sauce than you need! Save the leftovers for another dish!)

For the filling:
3 cups or 390 grams cooked, shredded chicken

For the chorizo/vegetable topping:
8 ounces (227 grams) chorizo
1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled, medium dice
1 large carrot, peeled, medium dice
1⁄2 cup (65 grams) frozen green peas, thawed

For the assembly:
12 corn tortillas, preferably a day old

For the garnishes:
Crema Mexicana
Queso fresco
Avocado slices
Jalapeños en escabeche (pickled)

Cook the diced potato and carrot in salted water until they are just done. I cheated by cutting the potato a little bigger than the carrot so I could pop them all in the same pot.

Now the sauce:
Place the prepared chilies a few pieces at a time on a comal (or iron griddle or skillet) over medium heat and dry roast until fragrant, about 30 seconds per side

Place chilies, onion, garlic, salt, and 4 cups (946ml) hot water in a blender. Let sit for 5 minutes to soften chilies.

Blend at medium speed into a smooth purée. Then, with the blender running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream and process until emulsified.

Strain the sauce into a pan, then warm over medium heat.

Warm through, taste, and adjust seasoning. Cover and set aside. (No need to keep warm.)

To prepare the chorizo/vegetable topping:
Remove the casing (or cling film if you are using homemade) and crumble the chorizo into a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently to break up the chorizo, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the just cooked potatoes and carrots and gently stir to combine. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until the edges of the potatoes barely begin to brown.

Remove from heat, stir in the peas, cover, and keep warm.

To assemble the enchiladas:

Gently warm the shredded chicken. Have the topping and garnishes ready and at hand.
Warm 4 individual serving plates.
Heat a 9-inch (23 cm) non-stick sauté pan or pancake griddle over medium-high heat. (The pan with
sauce should be nearby.)

Dip each tortilla in the sauce, making sure it’s well coated.

Place in hot sauté pan, and quickly sear for about 3 seconds per side—just long enough for the sauce to begin to caramelize.

Place 2 tablespoons shredded chicken on the tortilla, fold in half, and place on an individual serving plate.

Wipe the sauté pan with a paper towel and reheat. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas, slightly overlapping the enchiladas on serving plates, 3 per serving. When the enchiladas are plated, top with a drizzle of crema Mexicana.

Add a generous scoop of the chorizo/vegetable mixture and a sprinkle of queso fresco. Place the avocado slices and jalapeños en escabeche to the side of the enchiladas.


Disclaimer: I was sent one copy of Enchiladas - Aztec to Tex-Mex for review purposes.