Blogs, Recipes

Homemade Mac & Cheese

As many of you know, I joined the initiative #EducateYourself. I knew some but I am learning so much more. As a foodie, I wanted to learn more about the Black Culinary community, this is where I learned about James Hemings and his brother. 

The story of James Hemings is  fascinating, here’s a little taste. 

In the 18th century, James Hemings was one of America’s most accomplished chefs. He was also Thomas Jefferson’s slave. Hemings grew up as a household slave in Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia estate. He could read and write and Jefferson trusted him. So when Jefferson sailed to France in 1784 to become America’s trade minister, he brought Hemings with him. While in Paris, Hemings was trained in the art of French cooking. He studied first with the caterer and restaurateur, Monsieur Combeaux, apprenticing with pastry chefs. After three years of study he became the head chef at the Hôtel de Langeac, Jefferson’s residence that functioned also as the American embassy. Here his dishes were served to international guests, statesmen, authors, scientists, and European aristocrats.

In 1796, James Hemings was freed by Jefferson on the condition that James would train his younger brother to replace him as chef in the Jefferson household. In 1802, Jefferson served a “macaroni pie” at a state dinner, more than likely prepared from a recipe by James and cooked by his brother. Since that time, the dish has been associated with the United States. Unfortunately, no written record of the Hemingway’s mac and cheese survives.

Enslaved chefs played a huge role in refining some of America’s current staple foods, like mac and cheese.

If you want to learn more about James Hemings. Check out: Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America written by Thomas J. Craughwell . There’s even a children’s picture book, My Name Is James Madison Hemings written by Jonah Winter. 

Here is my Mac & Cheese recipe, inspired by the 1824 cookbook “The Virginia Housewife” written by Mary Randolph. It is believed that  Randolph’s recipe may have been one of James Hemings creations.

Pair this Mac and Cheese with Scout & Cellar 2019 Fiddleneck Chardonnay, Lake County, California

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter, to grease the dish
  • 16 ounces large elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 2 cups Half and Half
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Italian cheese blend. shredded
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder

Topping:

  • 1 sleeve Ritz Crackers, crushed
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • ¼ tsp Smoked paprika

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and butter a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add the dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente.  

While pasta is cooking, mix all 3 cheeses in a large bowl. Remove ½ cup of the mixed cheese and set aside, you will use this for the topping. 

Drain the pasta and drizzle olive oil over the pasta and combine to keep from sticking.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine.  Mixture will look like very wet sand. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often.  

Slowly pour in the 2 cups of the milk, while whisking constantly, until smooth.  

Next, slowly pour in the 2 cups of half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking often, until thickened. 

Lower the heat and stir in seasonings and whisk together. 

Stir in 1 ½ cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine.  

Stir in the rest of the cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully.  

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  

For the topping, mix the 1/4 remaining cup melted butter, remaining cheese and crushed crackers together in a bowl; scatter the cracker mixture evenly over the macaroni.

Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the top is lightly golden brown for about 15 minutes.  

Blogs, Recipes

PAN FRIED WHITEFISH WITH ARTICHOKES, OLIVES, AND CHERRY TOMATOES

It’s almost summer and what goes with summer. FISH, well at least here in Florida! Light and flavorful pan fried fish always reminds me of summer. 

The sauce is what defines this recipe. Prepare the sauce first and allow it to simmer as you pan fry the fish. And, if you don’t like Black olives or even artichokes, no worries leave them out. Just add one tablespoon sea salt and ¼ cup lemon juice!

A tip, I have learned along the way is to add the SALT later in the dish. So you will notice salt is not on the ingredients list. The artichokes and olives give this dish enough salt, but if you feel you need salt, taste and add a pinch as needed. 

Scout and Cellar Sauvginon Blanc is the perfect pairing for this recipe! Oh and GO BUCS! Definitely need a Bucs wine glass for this dish! LOL

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 grouper filets
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • I can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 can (6 ounces) Large Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley Leaves, for garnish
  • Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
  • DON’T LIKE OLIVES OR ARTICHOKES:
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice!

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive in a heavy skillet until lightly smoking, then add the onions, sautei for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper, stirring to combine. Saute for 2-5 minutes until fragrant. 

Add the chopped artichokes and whole cherry tomatoes. Slowly add the chicken broth and stir. 

Place lid on for 5 minutes, liquid to reduce. 

Once liquid is reduced, add the white wine, stir and place the lid back on. Tomatoes should start to burst. 

Add the olives and stir to mix. Place the lid back on and cook for 5- 1 minutes. 

Add butter, stir and melt on low heat. 

Heat a separate pan, add a drizzle of olive, then add the fillets to the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. 

Place the filets  in the tomato mixture pan and cover with the sauce, cook for 2-4 minutes. 

Serve the fillets topped with the tomato mixture, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and parsley. 

You can serve this on its own or with a side of cauliflower rice/white rice. 

Blogs, Recipes

Easy Étouffée

Don’t be scared away by the crawfish! You can make this spicy creamy sauce to serve over shrimp, white fish, chicken, or even pork. The possibilities are endless. 

Any cajun meal always reminds me of my best friend, the Cajun Queen Christine! She has taught me the amazing flavours of Louisiana cuisine. 

Étouffée is a French word that means “smothered” or “suffocated.” As you can see in the photo, the crawfish is smothered with a combination of chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a rich light roux. Étouffée brings together all of the hallmarks of Louisiana cooking: Seafood, a flour-and-oil roux, the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery and peppers, traditional Cajun seasoning and hot sauce.

Another one of my Louisiana  friends, Alaina suggested Louisiana’s Cajun Land seasoning to use when cooking Cajun meals. You can order some from Amazon. It definitely will give your food a cajun kick!

When making this crawfish Étouffée recipe, I like to use freshly boiled crawfish when I can. You can also grab frozen crawfish tails from the freezer section at your local grocery store. If crawfish tails aren’t your thing, then shrimp, fish, chicken or pork will do. My mom and dad used andouille sausage and said it was delicious! Just saute the protein of your choice before adding it to the sauce. 

So pour yourself a glass of Scout and Cellar 2018 CHE FICO PINOT GRIGIO RISERVA and let’s get cooking! 

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1 shallots, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of chopped bell pepper (I like to use a mixture of red, orange, and yellow)
  • 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley (or 1 tbsp of dried parsley)
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp of Cajun Seasoning (I usd Cajun Landing but Tony Chachere’s works too)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) peeled crawfish tails or protein of your choice.

Instructions

Put flour and butter in a pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the onion, pepper, celery, parsley, and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.

Pour in half and half and whisk until there are no lumps.

Add the tomato paste and whisk.

Add 1 cup of the water or broth and whisk until smooth. Let cook for 2 minutes stirring often.

Pour in the other cup of the water/stock and stir. If this is the desired consistency you would like, there is no need to add any additional water or stock. If you would like the etoufee to be thinner pour a little more water at a time.

Add cajun seasoning. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the crawfish tails into the pot and squeeze the lemon juice on top and stir.

Allow the crawfish to warm in the pot for about 4-5 minutes, then serve with rice and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

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Blogs, Recipes

Grouper Piccata

Living in Florida has many benefits, sunny days, beautiful beaches, and it also comes with the benefits of AMAZING fresh fish. 

I was lucky enough to grab some grouper fillets from my local fish market but you can also score some at your store’s frozen section. If you are unable to find grouper fillets, you can use snapper, cod, catfish or even chicken. 

This sauce highlights the fish without taking over. In this recipe, I use a simple piccata sauce with lemon and capers to create an easy meal that everyone will love! Oh, and this is a one pan dish! Hello easy clean up! 🙂

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan but since I received a bottle of Scout & Cellar Fiddleneck Chardonnay I thought I’d give it a try. I am now a Chardonnay fan! The Fiddleneck Chardonnay is the perfect pairing to this recipe! It’s not oaky like most Chardonnays I have tried in the past. It’s light and refreshing with notes of yellow apple, candied lemon peel, and ripe pineapple. It truly is delicious with the buttery lemon flavor of the grouper piccata! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 6-ounce grouper fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

Sprinkle grouper fillets with salt and pepper. 

Dredge fillets on all sides in flour. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add fillets to skillet; cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove fish from skillet.

Add garlic, lemon juice and wine to the skillet, scraping browned bits from the pan. Add the chicken broth and stir to combine. 

Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

Tip: if the sauce is too bitter, just add ¼ cup of chicken broth at a time. 

Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, capers and parsley.

Serve sauce over fish.

I served mine with a side of angel hair pasta and baby broccoli.

Blogs, Recipes

French Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

If you love French Onion soup, you will LOVE this French Onion Stuffed Pork tenderloin! This smothered pork tenderloin has all the great flavors of a French onion soup, plus juicy pork, and it’s made in one pan! 

Seriously! Brian, my boyfriend said this meal made the Top Ten! It’s savory, it’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s easy, and it’s all done in one pan, which makes for easy clean up! I personally love cast iron so my 10 inch cast iron skillet is my go-to for one pan meals! 

Grab your favorite oven-safe skillet, and let’s get started! 

Preheat the oven to 350°F while you brown the onions and garlic. This will take about 20 minutes. You will use two onions, which may seem like a lot but trust me the onions will reduce as they cook. Cook the onions and garlic in an oven-safe, large skillet. The pork tenderloin will be going back in there. Be sure to keep the cooked onions warm by putting an aluminum tent over them while you prepare the pork loin.

Before butterflying the tenderloin, mix the oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in a bowl. You will rub this oil mixture on both sides of the tenderloin. To butterfly the pork tenderloin, use a sharp knife to make a horizontal cut about one-third of the way up from the bottom of the tenderloin. Flip open the thicker, top flap (like opening a book). Then, take the knife and cut another horizontal line through the thicker part of the tenderloin to open it up even more (like a trifold). You should now have a flat surface of meat that will hold the flavor of the French Onion Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the laid out pork and pound it out to about a 1/3 inch thickness, be careful not to tear it. Once the pork has been butterflied, rub both sides with the oil mixture.

Top the pork tenderloin with half of the cooked onions and half of the shredded cheese. Roll up the pork tenderloin, making sure you wrap up all that goodness inside! Then, using cooking twine, tie the rolled pork tenderloin up to hold in all the ingredients. Heat the same skillet that you used for the onions, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Next, sear the pork tenderloin on all sides, rotate it about four times to get as much of the pork seared as possible.

Next, cook the pork tenderloin for about 15-20 minutes, making sure the internal temperature is at 145°F. Take the tenderloin out of the oven. Don’t worry, I did not forget about the rest of the onions and cheese. Top the tenderloin with both and broil for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and Enjoy!

This recipe pairs great with my french onion risotto and a glass of Scout & Cellar’s 2018 LITTLE JANE PINOT NOIR. Little Jane Pinot Noir is elegant and complex with red plum, black cherry and fresh raspberry balanced by garrigue, Asian spice, and a hint of coffee bean with soft tannins and a lingering finish.

Risotto recipe is at the bottom of this post. 

Ingredients

ONIONS

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ½ cup beef broth

PORK TENDERLOIN

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped Parsley 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

ONIONS

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter.

Add onions, drizzle EVOO over top, stir and saute for 5 minutes.

Add garlic, stir to combine and saute for 2-5 minutes

Add beef broth, stir and cook until the onions are browned and tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). 

Transfer cooked onions to a bowl and tent to keep warm.

PORK LOIN

Butterfly the pork tenderloin. 

Cover the entire cut of meat with plastic wrap and pound to an even 1/3 inch thickness.

In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Rub over both sides of pork tenderloin.

Top the pork tenderloin with half of the cooked onions and half of the shredded cheese.

Tightly roll the pork tenderloin to completely enclose all of the fillings.

Using cooking twine, tightly secure the roll.

In the same skillet over medium heat, add the pork tenderloin to the pan and sear on all sides (about 3-5 minutes on each side). Turning the pork tenderloin a total of 4 times.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F. 

Remove pork tenderloin from the oven. 

Increase oven temperature to broil. 

Top pork tenderloin with remaining cheese and onions and cook for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Slice and serve warm.

Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.

Risotto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5½ cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Aborio rice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper

Instructions

First, heat your stock in a pot until warm, and keep over low heat to make sure it is warm while you work – this helps the rice to better absorb the liquid.

Heat your butter in a large pot  over medium heat. Add in your onions and cook for 15-20 minutes or so, stirring often, until they are golden brown and caramelized. Add in your rice and garlic, stir to combine, and then add in your ½ cup of stock. Stir often, you want to make sure that the rice doesn’t burn, stir until the liquid has been absorbed, then add in another ½ cup, stir, and when that liquid has also been absorbed, add in another ½ cup of stock. Continue to do this for another 18-20 minutes, until the rice is tender.

When your rice is ready, stir in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot.

DIY Projects

Schnitzel

In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Europe with the best group of friends anyone could ask for and met new lifelong friends. It was an EPIC trip! 

We started off in Germany, working at Girls Scout camp in Frankenkaserne. The first day of the trip I was introduced to Schnitzel, the inspiration of this dish! 

A schnitzel is a thin slice of meat fried. Schnitzel can be made with pork, veal, chicken, beef or turkey. So use whatever meat you want. If you’re looking for a traditional German schnitzel, use pork. 

The key to achieving the perfect Schnitzel is to pound the pork very thin, no more than 1/4 inch thick.  The reason this is important is because you’ll need to fry it in butter at high heat for a short period of time to get that perfect crispy crust. Yes, I said “fry it on butter”. Trust me this is what gives it a rich crispy crust and juicy center.

First, marinate your pork chops for 30 minutes. Then place cutlets in a single layer on the cutting board and cover with plastic wrap (this prevents splatter). Pound cutlets with a meat mallet or the back of a heavy saucepan, until 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick.

Set out three separate shallow bowls. In the first combine 1/3 cup flour. In the second, use a fork to beat 3 eggs. In the third bowl, add 2 cups of bread crumbs.

Dip the pork into the flour, coating all sides.

Next dip the pork into the egg mixture, coating all sides.

Then coat the pork with the breadcrumbs. Tip: Do not press the breadcrumbs into the meat. Just softly coat the pork on both sides and all edges, and then gently shake off any excess.

Once all cutlets are breaded, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted and bubbling, add breaded cutlets a few at a time and sauté 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. You may need to add more butter to the pan for each cutlet, keep an eye on the pan. I used a whole stick. Reduce heat if cutlets are browning too quickly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and squeeze a lemon wedge over each cutlet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Serve with Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted™️ 2018 The Resident Pinot Gris.
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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Chopped Parsley for serving

Marinate:

  • ½ Lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup vinegar

Marinate Instructions:

Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.

Marinate pork chops for at least 30 minutes. 

Instructions

Place cutlets in a single layer on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound cutlets with a meat mallet or the back of a heavy saucepan, until 1/4″ to 1/8″ thick.

Set up three bowls. In the first flour. In the second, use a fork to beat 3 eggs. In the third bowl, add 2 cups of bread crumbs.


Dredge both sides of each pounded cutlet in flour then dip in beaten egg letting excess egg drip back into the bowl before breading in bread crumbs. It helps to use a fork for the dipping process to keep your hands clean. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Once all cutlets are breaded, heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once butter is melted and bubbling, add breaded cutlets a few at a time and sauté 3-4 min per side or until cooked through. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and squeeze a lemon wedge over each cutlet. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Serve. 

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Recipes

Grandma’s Rum Cake

I’ll never forget the day I stopped by grandmother’s house to ask her to share the family recipes. I pulled up a chair at her kitchen counter, pen in hand and she asked “Where do you want to start?”

I remember being a little girl having family picnics at the lake down the street from her house and for dessert she always would make her famous rum cake. My cousins and I would always feel so grown up because we were eating rum cake. LOL

So I asked for her rum cake recipe. She laughed, opened her recipe box and handed me a recipe card. It was the Bacardi Rum Cake recipe card. “It’s that easy”, she laughed. We spent the rest of the afternoon laughing and writing down her recipes. 

This recipe makes the moistest cake you’ll ever eat. And it’s been popular since the 1970s, it’s soft, fluffy and super moist, bursting with rum and yellow cake flavor. Not to mention it’s easy to prepare, and perfect for any occasion.

You can use any rum. I use my favorite rum, 82°West 1911 Special Dark Rum. 82 West Distilling is a craft rum distillery in Tampa, right in Seminole Heights! 

It all starts with a cup of pecans sprinkled over the bottom of a bundt pan. Then you mix a package of yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and half a cup of rum until smooth. I did make one adjustment and added a tablespoon of Vanilla and mixed until combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for one hour.

Once the cake is done, you prepare a simple butter-rum glaze made of butter, sugar, water and rum. Spoon the sauce all over the warm cake. Let it sit to soak in all the delicious butter-rum glaze and serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (You just use the cake mix as is, do not add other ingredients listed on the cake box.)
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix (92 g)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1⁄2 cup cold water
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 

GLAZE INGREDIENTS

  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup dark rum or rum

CAKE DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of a greased bundt pan.

Stir together cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vanilla, water, oil and rum.

Pour batter over nuts.

Bake at 325 in the oven for 1 hour.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan.

Transfer onto a serving plate and poke top with a toothpick.

GLAZE DIRECTIONS

Melt butter in a saucepan.

Stir in water and sugar.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat.

Stir in rum.

Drizzle ½ of the glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

Allow cake to absorb glaze.

Drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of each slice right before serving.