Cooks Exchange

Foods that are perfect to take to Mardi Gras parades

Don’t let the Mardi Gras parades pass by without cooking up some burgers, jambalaya, red beans and other traditional foods.

Grilled meats and stews, gumbo and red beans work well on a portable grill. The grill keeps stews and gumbo hot. With a folding table or two and chairs, parade-goers and eaters are ready to kick back and enjoy the fun.

Partying at the parades is not a time for mayonnaise-based foods or any food that might spoil. Who wants to worry?

While Jackson residents may like their pig ear sandwiches, Coastians will take a shrimp po-boy any day. Florida readers enjoy po-boys, too, but may prefer a good Cuban sandwich.

Hand foods are great for parades. Open a personal-size bag of corn chips and ladle in chili, onions and cheese — a walking corn chip pie.

Another favorite is Mexican tacos that consist of corn tortillas warmed on the grill and either shredded beef or pork topped with chopped cilantro and onions. Of course, some salsa can’t hurt.

Today, I offer a few recipes that will feed the crowd and not cause a problem for the chef or eaters. One is a prize-winning gumbo from 1999. The recipe looks long, but it’s not hard to make. Let’s keep it simple.

NUTS FOR COCONUT

Dottie Fleming of Bradenton, Florida, requested a recipe for coconut pie that was published in the Bradenton Herald. Two readers, Pamela Merritt of Bradenton and Toni Betyn of Palmetto, Florida, found the recipe.

“This recipe for coconut pie was in the Bradenton Herald on Jan. 11, 2017,” Betyn wrote. “I made it, and it was a hit with my dinner guests. Simple and delicious.”

WANTED

“I am looking for a good, basic coffee cake with streusel topping that I can double to feed about 20 people,” said Maureen Broussard. “It also could be an apple kuchen recipe.”

Readers, please send either a basic streusel coffee cake or an apple kuchen. I know there are plenty of good recipes for both.

If possible, e-mailing the recipes to me makes for a quicker response.

GRILLED CHICKEN TACOS

12 chicken breast tenders

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

6 corn tortillas

1 small avocado, peeled and cut lengthwise into 12 strips

Salsa

1 1/2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

Preheat grill to medium heat. In small dish, combine cumin, salt and red peppers. Clean and wash hands. Rub spices and 1 tablespoon of oil onto chicken. Clean and wash hands.

Place chicken on grill. Grill, turning once, 5 to 6 minutes or until internal juices of chicken run clear. Or insert instant-read thermometer in thickest part of chicken. Temperature should read 170 degrees. Just before chicken is done, brush both sides of tortilla with remaining tablespoon of oil. Grill just until softened, about 15 seconds per side.

To serve, fill center of each tortilla with 2 chicken tenders, 2 slices of avocado, 1 tablespoon salsa and ¼ cup lettuce. Fold tortilla over; serve with extra salsa if desired.

Refrigerate leftovers.

Recipe from Tyson

GRILLED FLANK STEAK

1 1/2-2 pounds flank steak

1/2 cup soy sauce

Salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon thyme (1/8 teaspoon on each side)

Fresh ground pepper

Score steak crosswise. Remove fat. Cover meat with ½ of the soy sauce, salt, 1/4 teaspoon thyme and pepper (rub seasonings into meat). Turn meat and cover other side with remaining soy sauce, salt, thyme and pepper. Marinate meat 30 minutes or longer.

Grill on outdoor grill about 7 minutes per side (5 minutes for rare; 10 minutes for well done).

To serve, slice across the grain about 1/4-inch thickness. Can serve wrapped in a tortilla or simply sliced and served with a salad.

‘From Hushpuppies and Other Gourmet Delights’

SUNSHINE BEACH BURGERS

2 pounds ground round

4 tablespoons jalapeno slices (from a can or jar)

4 tablespoons grated Monterey Jack cheese

Heat grill to medium

Form the ground beef into eight patties about 4 ounces each. Sprinkle 4 patties with jalapenos; top with cheese, and the four remaining patties. Seal edges so filling doesn’t leak out. Grill to medium well or well.

From ‘Hushpuppies and Other Gourmet Delights’

SEAFOOD FESTIVAL ’99’s PRIZE-WINNING GUMBO

(Patsy Switzer, chef at Lagniappe Restaurant)

3 pounds Hillshire sausage (cut in quarters)

1 pound andouille sausage (cut in bite-size pieces)

2 cups onion, chopped

2 cups celery, chopped

2 cups green onion, chopped

2 cups bell pepper, chopped

1 No. 10 can whole tomatoes cut in small pieces

1 large bag frozen okra

4 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined and sautéed in oil and Tony Chachere’s seasoning

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat

1 quart seafood stock

Roux:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

Seasoning mix:

1/4 cup filé

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Tony’s to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare seafood stock: In 2 quarts of water, boil the shells and heads of shrimp with 1 large onion, 3 cloves of garlic and 6 ribs of celery. Boil for 1½ hours (liquid will reduce and do not let liquid go below 1 quart). Strain stock, cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the roux: Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking until the roux is dark brown (about 4 minutes). Set aside.

Sauté cut-up sausage and set aside. Sauté vegetables until tender. Add cut-up tomatoes and sauté.

Add the seafood stock, the cooked sausage, the seasonings to taste and frozen okra. Add roux as desired. Add shrimp and crabmeat.

Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Serve over steamed rice. Enjoy!

BIG JIMMY’S COCONUT PIE

2 eggs

4 ounces shredded unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the cornstarch, milk and butter and blend well. Add the coconut and stir until incorporated. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake until firm, about 40 minutes. Cool and serve.

Submitted by Toni Betyn and Pamela Merritt

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