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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's Cooking Roz ?- Red Velvet Cakes

Everyday -Anytime Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake  Christmas Theme

Red Velvet Cakes are one of those deserts that one can dress up, as well as  dress down. It is so versatile as far as decor goes. It's hard to make a red velvet cake look bad.

One layer, two layers, three layers as demonstrated above in upper left hand corner. You may omit icing altogether and with an outstanding recipe it will not only taste good,but to any one's surprise it will still look great! Personally, I prefer the Bundt Pan look with a cream cheese icing thin enough to glaze around the center, flowers or no flower adornment in the center.

My point is this, I always saw this classic in decorated in cookie cutter fashion. So I tried to come up with a various ways to uplift the aesthetics without destroying the taste. Cream cheese icing is not typically fond of keeping its shape very well, its best to keep simple embellishments.

Occasionally I will add a red velvet cake to  my portfolio with a different twist on the glam.
Follow Roz to see what other ways to rock this cake throughout the year.

There are countless recipes worldwide, I will post my recipe during the holiday season. As mentioned previously, using pure vegetable oil and a few other tips will make the difference in your Red Velvet cake as plain as night and day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's Cooking Roz?- Roz is cooking with Persimmons this week

Honey -Orange glazed  Persimmon Tartlets
This week I am experimenting with persimmon recipes,my own creations , so I will play on the safe side first. Then ,try a wild and out persimmon treat. You never know until you try it, surprise your taste buds I always say.
Persimmons are in season, they are the brightly orange tomato looking fruit. Which are available between  October through January, sometime February. They are often overlooked when it come to Holiday deserts. Persimmons are also surprisingly quite delicious when prepared in savory dishes too. The trick to using persimmons is to make sure they are ripe when adding them desert recipes. Ripe persimmons are tasty just eaten raw; or  halved topped with cream cheese.They are a wonderful addition to muffins, cakes , breads and pies. However if not ripened they are just about inedible, too tart, cottony like texture.

Sharon fruit, kaki , hachiya hence aka persimmons can be cooked, but only after ripening.Otherwise the fruit can be bitter. They are also a good source or vitamin A ,as we might have guessed from the orange color and some vitamin C.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series-Let's Make a Pot of Gumbo Ya'll!

Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

I we have covered the basics or the essentials of cooking Gumbo. The rest of the process is a cinch, this recipe is simple.
It's fun to create your recipes as well, you will find recipes all over the Internet and most cooks and restaurants have their own secret. Have fun with it keep it classic or put a twist on a pot , you never know what will come of it, maybe a blue ribbon or two. Always make your roux before cooking your gumbo,saves a lot of time.

Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

1 chicken ( 2-3 lbs) *see note
 Creole seasoning or salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp. oil for frying
3qts. water or /chicken stock
1 1/2 lbs. fresh okra
1 large bell pepper,chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion,chopped
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic ,minced
1 16oz can of stewed tomatoes
1-2 lbs of Smoked Louisiana Hot Links , sliced
3-4 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp. file

Cut chicken into to pieces or use party-wings(thawed out). Dredge seasoned chicken in flour, and fry until golden brown. Set aside.

Meanwhile saute okra in about a tsp. of oil until all ropiness is gone.Set aside. In a heavy  Dutch oven combine all of the ingredients except the  File ,shrimp, and chicken stock.Cook stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to pan for appx.15 mins.

Louisiana Hot Links
Add enough stock just to cover dutch oven half-way for now, ( its best to add liquid as needed to get the thickness and full bodied flavor.Bring to a slow boil.Then simmer about an hour, add shrimp, cook 10mins- taste.
 At this point the soup has not merried yet, add additional seasonings to your preference. Add your file last to your pot after all your tasting is done, some prefer file added at the table in your bowl, I like it both ways.
Discover your secret ingredient, experiment, I have my secret ingredient, sorry I can't share.
Serve over steamed white rice.
Bon Appetit!

* Use party wings to save time and for presentation aesthetics, fresh not frozen if possible

Seafood Gumbo  Perfect for Christmas Dinner

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series: The Cajun/Creole Trinity

The Cajun/ Creole Trinity

As we continue on our  road to the Gumbo Pot we are now leading up to the heart of it all. Every culture has its own melange of herbs, spices or vegetables that gives it a taste all its own to claim. This is an identifiable,unique blueprint that will distinguish one flavor from another..
 This blueprint lets each taste bud  know whether its Asian food, Latin, African  or American food I'm eating today. With that being said , the trinity or sometimes dubbed the Holy Trinity is likewise used for Cajun/Creole cooking.  The onions, green pepper, and celery  whether roughly chopped or merely a fine mince, is the soul of Cajun/Creole cooking.

Cajun cooking has a history of its own, although both are renowned throughout Louisiana.Cajun style is a low-country ,rustic style.Locally available ingredients were and still commonly used . A roux is used also.

Creole cooking is a refined ,more structured style and is called city cooking. Therefore a larger variety of choice ingredients are used. You can taste the difference between an Cajun and Creole Gumbo. It's a matter of preference, for instance if we compare Cantonese style Chinese food vs. Szechuan or Mandarin its all about location,location, location.
The Creoles have a its own similar and contrasting history too. Both cultures are tied to French descendants settling in Southern Louisiana ,but the Creoles are a mix of French, African, and Spanish in which accounts for the distinction in the seasonings as well.
Bay Leaves,Thyme and Majoram

One last important combo we must not omit. These herbs and spices are not inclusive in the trinity, but are just as equally important. Notice the garlic cloves above with the veggies, and bay leaves thyme and majoram. I would say 90% of the time will be added.

We are almost ready to get our Gumbo pots to a rolling boil now. Thanksgiving is next up ,we won't let Gumbo steal the thunder from Turkey day! By the time Christmas menu planning comes around we will be well informed and equipped to make the best pot of gumbo there is.
Follow my next post, right on up to the recipe. Until next posting ,enjoy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Creating Fun with leftover cakebatter- Climb out of the Rut!

A Domed Mini-polka Dot Cake

It's definitely all about making fun and the most of what you have.I'm always baking something around the house,whether a pie, cookies or cakes and pastries. Typically we bakers make cupcakes with the extra cake batter that could not fill up our smallest of smallest cake pans. This time I tried something different and I liked the results hopefully you guys will too.
I had a mini-doll cake pan set that is used for cake dolls, instead of creating a doll I covered the baked dome in fondant.

By chance I happened to be out and about with my Granddaughter at the local discount department store and as the cliche goes, I wasn't looking for anything in particular. This polka-dot domed shaped pastry set caught my eye at the checkout counter.
 I already had polka-dot sprinkles in my cake decorating stash to match and Voila!
And the point is, think out of the box from time to time when you're in a creativity rut like I was momentarily. Change the routine around with your baking pans, flip them around, turn them sideways whatever and see what happens.
Just have fun!

It worked out perfect! I had polka-dot sprinkles in my cake decorating stash already and Voila!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series: The Rue to the Velvety Roux!

As promised let's decipher the most important code to make the perfect gumbo roux. And the secret code is patience with a capital P! Although I sometimes cheat myself and cook the quick method.

Before I lay out the basics, well what exactly is a roux? Here we go it's simpler than we think.
It's simply equal parts vegetable oil and flour mixed together in a pan or skillet, cooked on low-heat until the desired color.

 For gumbos and Etouffe we want a dark chocolate roux. You can make a small batch or a large batch,save it store it in the refrigerator to use later especially if you cook Louisiana dishes all the time.
 The color ranges from a blond to brown, again color depends on the recipe at hand, typically the blond or lighter version are made with butter. These are beginnings of your mother sauces.

Take look at the stages of making a roux for gumbo, sometimes you may need to add more oil, it should shine a little as you will see.

Blond Roux
Stir,stir and stir!

Chocolate Roux

This is what you want in your Gumbo this year, be it Creole Seafood, Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage. Smooth ,shiny, clump free roux. It should have a nutty aroma and taste!

Be sure to check out my next posting on the trinity of Louisiana/Creole Cookery ,were almost ready to start a pot cooking for the holidays or anytime you crave it.
Make some roux this week, try it and if you have any questions,subscribe to my post,email me.

"Surprise your tastebuds".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month- Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Our season for firing up our stock pots and slow cookers is definitely at its peak. Autumn soups, stews are in full bloom. Now we want to slowly but surely transition into the Winter concoctions no doubt.

One of my popular soups to make  during the freezing days of Winter is an American southern classic,
During a previous post on soups I skimmed over the surface on a description of Gumbo.
And now I will follow up with my Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series until March.

Although it can be served up anytime of year, nothing beats that hot spicy flavors of Gumbo in the heart of  Fall/Winter. Gradually starting with your simplest recipe, and building the momentum until Christmas and Mardi Gras to showcase your best gumbo of the year.

But before we begin with my recipe, let's be on the same page and grasp the basics of a delicious,bonafide batch of mojo.

The Gumbo series is for serious lovers of this dish, once you've had a good batch you won't settle for mediocracy!
Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Recipe soon to be posted in the Louisiana Specialties section.

Now before we move on to cooking up that delicious batch of Gumbo, we must run through the basics of  Gumbo cookery.
What is Gumbo? It is a soup that includes a melange of specific ingredients combined to create a taste that is unique to the Cajun/Creole culture in Louisiana.
Making Gumbo is a process, in my flavor of the month series I will highlight the most important steps in preparing it.
There are short cuts of course, but to truly savor the authenticity of this Louisiana classic, follow these steps.
The first and foremost important step is making your roux. The second must have ingredient in any gumbo is the trinity of Creole cooking, and finally selecting the correct staples to put in your Gumbo will make the all the difference in the world.
I will cover the basics for creating the gumbo roux in my next posting of the Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series.
We will continue from there until the finale ending in March , so please stay posted.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Goblins and Ghouls!

This has to be one of the most fun holidays to celebrate besides Christmas.Why? Because we all can be at liberty to act like kids. Playing dress-up and acting silly and goofy.

But what is the best treat Halloween has to offer! In the words of Garfield himself-"candy,candy,candy,candy"! All kinds of candy, gooey, fruity, weird flavors and then their is the homemade candies.

I love to read what new trends are out there each year for this day. And this is what I'm finding.
Homemade candy that mimics store bought varieties are a lot more popular than 10-15 years ago, not to say people were not making it. It's just more popular now than ever.

With that being said I'll share this link I found today, I like it because it makes the search for the candy recipes a one-stop shop.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What's Cooking Roz? Autumn Soups and Stews

It's the great pumpkin! Yes indeed. So many culinary uses we have for this surprisingly nutritious gourd.
The culinary creations from the pumpkin are endless, both savory and sweet alike. But let's face it, there is nothing like the fall that sets it off like a bowl of piping hot, creamy, velvety pumpkin soup!
Creamy Pumpkin Soup

The great master of  the French Grande Cuisine-  Auguste Escoffier ( 1846-1935)
classified soups during his era amongst other world renowned French chefs.

There were the obvious clear soups, purees, cullises, bisques, veloutes,and cream soups.And there were also vegetable, special soups and foreign soups.
Each category with its own unique preparation , and for variety, choice ingredients. Because of  the changes in consumer health consciousness  and kitchen operations some of Escoffier's classics have become almost obsolete.

On the contrary, quite a few techniques still remain untouched by the nouveau chefs and cooks .
 Pumpkin soup would fit right up there in the pureed bunch in Escoffier's classification of soups, yum, yum!

Be sure to stop by my recipes sections, on posts for this and other Autumn soup/stew ideas

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's Cooking Roz? - Autumn Soups and Stews

Caribbean Oxtail Stew

Autumn is that time of the year when it's not quite bone chilling cold outside, but just cool enough for us to cozy up to a nice hot bowl or mug full of our favorite soup or stew.Hearty, satisfying , comforting foods is still a favorite worldwide.One of my family's favorite is the Caribbean Oxtail stew. Even my granddaughter loves this stew.

Oxtail soups as well as stews are typically braised and or stewed for hours before consuming.
Versions of the soup are traditional dishes in South America, West Africa, Asian, Italian and Caribbean and in African-American households. It seems like many cultures specialize in their own version, delicious indeed.
I hope you enjoy this version. Recipe posting as well other Autumn/Winter warmers are soon to follow.

Keep an eye out for my posting of Gumbo of the month,  each month I will feature a different flavor of Gumbo.
Recipes to follow , along with the secrets of making a real good Gumbo, it's simpler than you think.
 Soups On!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Favorite Cookbooks to live by

I'm sure every Chef, Cook and Foodie, worldwide have at least one to five cookbooks they use regularly.These books become our best friend in need, and serve as a source of reference.

Roz dubbed these cookbooks the "how to boil water series" Lol.

In these versatile books you will find sections that tell you how to cook, bake , broil, boil, and shop you name it , it's in there.

There are plenty of choices out there in the market and more on the way to be published, here are a few I listed that has served me well whenever I did not cook from scratch (impromptu cooking, recipes from memory).
The Joy of Cooking-All purpose cooking, it's well organized into fruits, vegetables, types of meats etc.,and all of its cooking methods. The illustrations are very thorough on techniques, what the food item looks like
The Food Lover's Companion
A comglamerlate of food terminology, it's what a medical dictionary is to the cooking world.
Hey what can I say it's Martha!
I have two of Martha's hor's oeuvres handbooks,you can create your own appetizers too!

The Other Bible

The recipes begin from small scale cakes to large wedding party servings.
I like to use this also to guesstimate some of my own recipes portions. Powder sugared icings & frosting are not frequented here .

Bon Appetite!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Autumn Soups: Smoked Turkey Chowder

Smoked Turkey gave this chowder a unique smokey essence
Check my recipe file for recipe

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick and Light Family Meals-Lemongrass scented chicken pasta

This dish is so quick and tasty.It can be done and ready to sit on the table in less than 1hour. 
Prepare 1lb.of pasta, cook until -al dente, drain set aside.Simply saute 2-3 chicken breasts strips in olive oil until tender.Add 1-large red onion cut into strips,add 1-2tblsp. fresh minced lemongrass, and garlic. Toss pasta into pan with the chicken,while stirring, add 1/2c. chicken broth or prepared chicken boullion. Reduce liquid if needed, then add, 2tblsp-flatleaf parsley.And Voila!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fall Season is here

One of the most favorite pastimes of the fall season is to bake. Baking cookies all sorts of cookies. But the one batch that is the most versatile is of course the sugar cookie recipe.
Sugar cookies can be dressed up or down. There are endless decorations that can be added, they are  a year round item and they really come to life right around Christmas.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tailgaiting Season: This Week-Mexican Inspired Appetizers

Garlic Shrimp and Nachos -these little morsels of shrimp are surprisingly quick to prepare and spicy.Inspired while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta,Mexico.

Garlic Shrimp-

2 lbs. medium -large gulf shrimp (peeled &deveined)
6-7 cloves of fresh garlic minced
2-3 tblsp of unsalted butter
2-3 tsp of Pico de Gallo seasoning*

Add butter to a preheated non-stick 10"-12" pan or fajita pan.
Saute shrimp in butter on med-high heat, until pink, add minced garlic.

Cook  for one minute or until garlic
is translucent, do not brown garlic.

Serve this dish as an appetizer or
Main entree with sides.
Enjoy-"Ja adore la beouf".
* Other mexican seafood seasonings
can be used also.Use your local
Mexicana grocer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Red Velvet Cake or Red Devil's Food Cake ?

In case you have'nt heard it before, believe it or not.
Red Velvet Cake
This Southern Classic desert was once call Red Devil's Food Cake I recall my mother had a recipe for the original Red Devil's Food Cake. The ingredients are remarkably similar to the updated infamous version we now call Red Velvet Cake.

It's unclear how or why the name change evolved, either version of the cake is mmh, mmh, good!

There are countless recipes of Red Velvet Cake out there. But the trick to a very moist one I've found is to use a quality vegetable oil. Crisco or Wesson pure vegetable oil.

Check out my recipes for my favorite Red Velvet Cake recipe.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recommended Local Eats

Busy Bee Cafe                                        

After cooking on day to day basis, quite often we all must shock our taste buds.
Shocking your tastebuds with  new flavors, seasonings other than your own is required of all foodies, chefs and cooks alike. Anyone will become accustomed to the same cuisine when eaten routinely.
Surprise your palate with a different dish at least once a month . Today I discovered
The Busy Bee Cafe in Atlanta, G.A. This little place has some of the best fried chicken that I've had in a long time.
Service is excellent!
Piping hot food, friendly staff.
Fried chicken seasoned to the bone,
Sides are all excellent,dressing, broccoli cheese casserole, greens, you name it

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day America

  Hello America,

Here we are celebrating the last  of our All Amercian Holidays.

This holiday is  as American as is apple pie. By tradition we sport our red, white and blue colors
in any way thinkable.

A lot of us may wear it , others may wave the flag at our homes and there are those like myself and other foodies out there prefer cooking to express our patriotism.
 My question to the cooks or actually anyone how did you celebrate this Labor Day Weekend 2011?

What did you cook? 

 Traditional or non-traditional menu ?

Share pictures, and  recipes with Roz.

 I want to hear from all interested audiences out there, obviously to travel everywhere in the nation is not possible, help me out with those regional specialties.

"Ja adore la bouef".

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Anyone?

A Southern Classic
Red Velvet Cake
The Red Velvet Cake is considered a classic southern desert.
Every cook has their own recipe and version of this scrumptious treat.

Who ever new red food coloring  could taste so good!

I have a short story to share about this I found interesting