November 18, 2012
The Black Salt is a small little Tapas restaurant in a town of only a few hundred. It is one of the ten or so shops that occupy the one road in this town, and seems fairly small and unassuming. There are only about 12 items on the menu, and you are suggested to pick several as they are designed as share-able meals.
Everything was delicious, but when this panini came out, I died a little inside. It was just one of the most beautiful things I had tasted in a long time. I felt I could eat this sandwich for the rest of my life. I even proposed to the chef, which doesn't really win you any bonus points on your honeymoon... but the food was so delicious my wife managed to forgive me.
Black Salt Panini
French Bread - four slices
Butter - 1 tsp
Portobello Mushroom - 2
Fresh Basil - a few leaves
Goat Cheese - 1/4 cup
Tomato - 1, thinly sliced
Heat a small frying pan to low-medium heat. Melt the butter inside, then place the portobello mushrooms inside, gill sides up. Don't flip them, or the juices fall out. You want them to get nice and warm. Some people don't like the juice as much as, as it has a bit of a inky black look. I like it for the flavour, but you can also soak it up with some paper towel if so desired.
Meanwhile, toast the french bread. Liberally spread on a good amount of goat cheese, a few basil leaves, and a few slices of tomato on each slice. Place a half of the portobello mushrooms and place on the prepared slices of toast. Serve immediately.
November 12, 2012
It could be because I am still receiving the odd cookbook to review and I felt an obligation to write about it (which is true), but it is also because I have been starting to cook and experiment again. I start writing out blog posts in my head, although I never sit down and write them. I am definitely not prepared to write with the same pace and effort that I had done in the past, but I'm ready to get back to business.
The latest cookbook I received is called Taste Of Treme: Creole, Cajun and Soul Food from New Orleans Famous Neighborhood of Jazz. At first I was read to turn down the offer for this book. I live in the middle of the Canadian Prairies, in a city that celebrates country music. Crawfish and Jazz artists are in short supply in my neck of the woods. The desire to sample other foods and cultures spurred me on however, and soon my new cookbook had arrived!
If I was giving out presentation points after I opened the package, Taste of Treme would definitely be getting an A. This book is beautiful to behold and contains everything I look for in a cookbook. A hard cover that stays open to pages, beautiful pictures, bright colours, interesting stories and anecdotes, and some tasty recipes. I enjoyed sitting down and reading through this one! The book is laid out very well, going from spice's, breakfast, side dishes, entrees and desserts. It's the full meal deal!
The one thing that I personally didn't enjoy as much was the recipe names. At first, it was amusing and interesting to have recipes such as "Who Dat Potato Salad", "Olive It! Muffuletta Frittata", and "Party Gras Peach Crisp". But when recipes start calling for "Suck Da Heads and Pinch da Tails Creole Spice" and "The Holy Trinity Wit da Pope"... I get irritated. This may be something that doesn't bother you as much as me, but it's something that can easily be overlooked for the positive parts of this cookbook.
The recipe that I wanted to try was "Louis's Red Beans and Rice", named after the famed New Orleans Jazz musician. This happened to be (according to the cookbook) his favourite dish. Oddly enough, I happened to make this recipe on its traditional Monday night. This is because leftover parts of a ham were combined with beans to form a broth or gravy that would last for the rest of the week. This is definitely a tasty meal or side dish, and packs some great flavours especially if you like things a little spicy. The recipe may seem a little intimidating, but it is actually extremely easy.
Now this recipe doesn't really have the most appetizing look to it (bean recipes scarcely do), but it's all about the flavour (and the smell! Yum!). I love recipes that you can assemble easily and then leave for awhile, especially when the fill the house with deliciousness. It's a great recipe to enjoy with some garlic bread, biscuits or cornmeal muffins.
Louis's Red Beans and Rice
Dried Red Beans - 1 pound *must be soaked overnight in water
Water - 10 cups
Ham Hock - 1-2
Onion - 1, diced
Celery - 4 ribs, diced
Green Pepper - 1, diced
Green Onions - 1 cup, chopped
Bay Leaves - 2
Worcestershire - 1 tsp
Cajun Spice Mix - 2 tbsps *see recipe below
Crushed Red Pepper - 1 tsp
Bacon - 1 pound, roughly chopped
Rice - 4 cups
Louisiana-style hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
Cajun Spice Mix
*This spice mix is added to several of Treme recipes. It lasts for about a year.
Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Basil - 2 tbsps
Thyme, Black Pepper, White Pepper, Cayenne - 1 tbsp
Smoked Paprika - 5 tbsps
Salt - 3 tbsps
Make sure you soak the beans at room temperature overnight in enough water to cover them. I actually had them soaking up until I was ready to start cooking. Drain and rinse them when you start.
In a large pot, combine the soaked beans, water, ham hock, onion, celery, green pepper, green onions, bay leaves, Worcestershire, Cajun Spice Mix, and crushed red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil oer high heat, then reduce to medium low so the mixture is simmering.
Cook slowly, partially covered, for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and cook covered for another hour. The mixture is ready to serve when a natural gravy forms. If it's taking too long for a gravy to form, take the lid off and cook a bit higher to evaporate some of the water. I'm also guessing that you could add a bit of cornstarch to the mix if needed.
Serve over rice. Add hot sauce to taste with each serving.