Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Toast

Rarely am I serious, but today is a welcomed exception.  After all, this is the time of year to give thanks and I have many reasons to be thankful. 

Our first year of operation at TheTwistedEpicurean has been a great success.  Our site’s popularity and interest level has exceeded my expectations tenfold and I am excited for what the future may bring.  I have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback and many other thoughts and suggestions on how to make our product better.  Over the next year, I will work hard to improve our brand and make TheTwistedEpicurean a truly unique and exciting culinary experience.

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Merry Christmas

With Santee Claus on his way, so I am keeping this short and sweet. 

Since being knee high to a grasshopper, I can always remember my mom making these treats every Christmas morning.  Similar to Thanksgiving turkey, these delicious morsels only came once a year.  Why, I don’t know; but every year, I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on those warm muffins, slathered in melting butter.  I hope your family enjoys them as much as I.   

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Forced Family Fun

Family Christmas!  What a joyous occasion.  Family and extended family all congregating in one house spreading tidings and joy.  Uncle Ralph telling the joke about the Rabi, the rag head and the “you fill in the blank”, Aunt Bertie telling all the women folk what they are doing wrong in the kitchen, Little Joey showing all the younger kids his latest collection of porno mags…….If that ain’t Christmas, I don’t know what is. 

Family antics aside, the one thing we can usually count on is good food.  As good food goes, it usually isn’t very healthy.  But it is the holidays and calories don’t really count.  Here is a recipe my family serves every Christmas morning.  It is good, unhealthy and fairly easy to make. 

Mexican Christmas Casserole

1 lb  Mexican chorizo

1 t  dry mustard

1 can Rotel

½ t salt

4 eggs, beaten

½ c  sour cream

1.5 c milk

6 slices white bread, cubed*

8 oz Mexican blend cheese, shredded

1 c  Tostitos, slightly crumbled

In a medium skillet, brown chorizo over medium heat.  Once evenly browned, drain and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk.  Add chorizo, Rotel, sour cream, bread, chips and cheese, stirring until evenly coated.  Pour into a greased 9×13 Pyrex baking pan dish, sprinkle more cheese on top, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Once heated, bake covered casserole for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, reduce oven to 325 degrees F and cook for another 30 minutes or until set.

* Stale bread works best.  If you do not have stale bread, cube fresh bread and toast in oven to remove some of the moisture.

 **  If you really like spicy food, add some fresh chopped jalapenos.


Love or Lust

Being Twisted, I have a few odd behaviors:  going to bed before my 5 year son,  wearing black dress socks with tennis shoes, giving Dramamine to my neighbor’s barking dog……these arebut a few of a rather lengthy list.  However, according to my most recent wife (we will refer to her as “Siete”), one of my oddest behaviors happens to be my love of the grocery store.  Now, for someone like her who hasn’t seen the likes of the food store in ages, this comes as no surprise; but for foodies like yourself, I am sure this is as common place as dipping your french fries in your chocolate shake……try it, it’s damn good.

As I have said before, I love perusing the isles of my local Fiester and/or the Skaggs, but I do feel a bit deprived.  See, I live in the Metroplex and we do not have an HEB Grocer.   Now for those not from Texas, this may not seem like a big deal.  But for those who do, you know that HEB is like Fiesta on steroids; a truly inspiration shopping experience for foodies like you and me.  In its stead, HEB has decided to bring us an up-scale version grocery store, Central Market.  A treat in and of itself, Central Market has few rivals; but given that I am on the government payroll (unemployed), Central Market doesn’t currently fit in my food shopping paradigm.  Being the holidays, I thought what the hell.   Anyway, most people today have little qualms spending what they don’t have (especially that be-ach from California and her cronies on the Hill), why should it matter to me?  Surely our kids won’t mind cleaning up the mess we leave behind.

As with most Democrats, blowing my government paycheck on booze and cigarettes seems like the appropriate thing to do.  Much to my chagrin, I found out that Central Market doesn’t sell cigarettes, so a crap load of holiday beer and a vat of Love Dip had to suffice.  Fun Fact # 1:  Did you know that fermented grain and Love Dip are WIC approved?  Isn’t it amazing what the government tit will allow!  Yet again, I digress.

Getting home, I was eager to show off the fruits of my labor.  Much to my amazement, Siete was none to pleased with my shopping wares and to my surprise, she appears to have a temper similar to that of Cautro……maybe this marriage thing isn’t for me????  Knowing that working on my marriage gives me tired head and in most instances ill advised, I decided to focus my efforts on something more meaningful.  Knowing times are tough and the payola is short, I have decided to make a run at re-creating this Central Market powerhouse.  Here is my twisted version of Love Dip.

Lust Dip

2  8oz packages of cream cheese, softened

2 T  Bayou Cajun Seasoning

1/8 t  cayenne

1.5 t  lemon juice

3/4 c  sour cream

3/4 c  mild salsa

1/4 c  purple onion, chopped

1/4 c  cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.   Refrigerate for one hour to allow ingredients to marry and cream cheese to firm up.  Serve with crackers and/or pretzel chips.


Tired Head

I am no Conan, but I think that I have a pretty good line of BS.  However, I am stumped.  I am at a loss for words.  

The Season is in full force, with holiday parties and gatherings aplenty.  At least for me, this means over drinking, over eating and a whole lot of tired head; which may be the reason for my lack of imaginative thinking.  So with little fanfare and no made up, bullschit storyline, here is my latest blog entry and hope you enjoy.

Spiced Pecans

3 c  Pecan halves

1 c  Sugar

1 T  Bayou Cajun Seasoning

1     Egg, separated

1 T  Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg whites and water.  Pour pecans into egg white mixture and stir.  Once whites have thoroughly coated pecans, combine sugar and Cajun seasoning, sprinkling half of the mixture on top.  Stir several times, sprinkling remaining seasoning mixture as you stir.  On parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread pecans evenly and cook for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times as they cook.  Allow to cool and store in plastic Ziploc bag until ready to serve.


Exceptions To The Rule

Unless it is to avoid traffic or shave a few minutes off a long road trip (kids in tow of course), I am not typically a fan of shortcuts; especially when it comes to my cooking.  But between running kids to and from school, back and forth to various soccer, football and baseball practices and whatever other activities those little bastards can’t do without, there are exceptions to this rule. 

Being  under employed and an inquisitive foodie, I often find myself milling about my local Skaggs, observing the latest culinary trends and searching for my next inspiration.  Though this activity tends to be  more about the passing of time than the discovery of my next culinary masterpiece, from time to time, I do come across something that peaks my interest.  One particular day not so long ago, I passed by the deli counter and observed the infamous rotisserie chicken contraption.  Like you, I have seen those infomercials where for 4 easy payments of $89.99, you too can be the proud owner of a Roto 10,000.  Touted as an exceptional culinary device, this austonishing machine can not only cook a full meal for 4 in under 20 seconds, but it can teach your kids Algebra and make your whites brighter than ever before.  Wow, I will have four please.

Being the Nancy Negative that I am, how possibly could a overcooked, sunburned bird be any good, right??????  However, as it happened to be this particular day, my schedule was packed and I needed a quick meal.  “Give me two fine sir”.  Much to my amazement, when I got those bad boys home, they were not only juicy and flavorful; but at $4.99 per apiece, they were a damn good bargain.  Now, I am no math whiz, but sounds like to me the makers of the Roto 10,000 are selling me a bill of goods.

The recipe that follows is a perennial favorite come winter time.  It is something that can be made for a quick weeknight meal or simmered low and slow on a cold, lazy Sunday afternoon.  The longer it simmers the better it gets, but the recipe below will get you started.  You can adjust the cooking time based on your schedule.

El Jeffe’s Tortilla Soup

1T  vegetable oil

1  28 oz can of diced tomatoes

1  15.5 oz can white hominy, drained

1  medium white onion, diced

1  small packet Sazon seasoning*

1  jalapeno, seeded and diced

4  garlic cloves, diced

1  chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced

1t adobo sauce

2  bay leaves

¼ c  cilantro, chopped

2  32 oz boxes Swasons Chicken Broth

1  rotisserie chicken, shredded

Garnishments:  sour cream, cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, purple onion

In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high.  Add chopped onions and jalapeno, sautéing for 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic, chipotle and adobo sauce, sautéing for another 5 to 7 minutes.  Once the juice from the tomatoes has evaporated, add chicken broth, bay leaves, hominy and cilantro.  Bring ingredients to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, adding more chicken broth, beer or water if needed.  Just prior to serving, add the chicken.  Garnish with cilantro, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, avocado and/or purple onion.

Sazon is a mexican soup seasoning made by Goya.  There are several different flavor combinations.  I use the one with corriander and annatto.


If It Ain’t Broke

I must admit, I am a chauvinistic, sexist pig.  I like boobs, I like butt and I have strained my neck a time or two watching a hot young thing walk by.  That said, I am a bit of a contrarian when it comes to cooking shows.  Women TV personalities drive me f___king crazy.  Be it the bobble headed, Italian hottie (Giada DeLaurentiis) or the wild haired restaurant chef (Anne Burrell), women chefs are like nails on a chalk board.  Give me Emeril, Guy or “Booby” Flay any day over those Food Network hens.  I digress.

They say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  As hard as that is for me to adhere to, I have conceded on this recipe.  It comes from Emeril Lagasse and has been a holiday staple in our house for many years.  It sounds a bit odd, but trust me when I say, this is worth the time and effort.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding

3 T  unsalted butter

3 c  yellow onions, julienned

2 t  salt

½ t cayenne pepper

¼ t  black pepper

3 c  wild mushrooms *

1 T  garlic, chopped

5  eggs

2 c  heavy cream

¼ t  Tabasco sauce

1 t   Worcestershire sauce

8 slices, 1 inch cubed white bread (approx. 4 c)**

½ c  Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 2 quart glass rectangle pan with 1 tablespoon butter.  In a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, about 1 minute.  Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne, black pepper and sauté for 4 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and cool.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for 30 seconds.  Add heavy cream, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk the mixture until fully incorporated.  Stir in the sautéed mushrooms.  Add bread cubes and mix well.  Pour filling into greased pan.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 55 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*  If wild mushrooms aren’t available, plain white mushrooms can be substituted

**  Stale bread absorbs more of the filling and works better than fresh bread.  If you bread is fresh, toast the bread in the oven for a bit to remove some of the moist.  Also, stale, sour dough bread gives the dish a nice flavor and is a good substitute for white bread.   I can’t leave well enough alone.  I told you I was a bit of a contrarian…..is contrarian actually a word?


A Former Life

Some will lead you to believe that when it is time to meet my maker, I will be seated First Class on Lucifer Airlines, headed due south.  And although I will admit to not walking the straight and narrow, I am a God fearing individual and I understand the importance of spiritual beliefs and guidance.  However, as with most journeys in my life, I tend to question my faith from time to time.  Currently that question involves the understanding of reincarnation. 

Growing up, I truly believed that I was born in the wrong era.  I should have been riding the open plains, driving cattle north and fighting Comanche along the way.  I should have been playing poker and drinking whiskey with Gus McCrae.  I was born to brave the elements and sleep under the stars.  In my former life, I must have been a cowboy?  But as time passed and I realized that sleeping among the elements isn’t quite so appealing, so went my belief of reincarnation.  Or did it?

Recently, my brother (to be known hence forth as the Syndicate) sent me his recipe for Midnight Gumbo, the coup de gras of Coon Ass cooking.  See in bayou country there are two truisms, if it is worth cooking, it is likely to take all day and if you are going to cook all day, you might as well get your drunk on while doing it.  Wait…..back up and read that again……..I am beginning to see the light.  I wasn’t born in the wrong era; I was born in the wrong area.  In my previous life, I wasn’t a cowboy, I was a freak’n Cajun.  I wasn’t meant to ride the plains and drive cattle, I was born to ride air boats, hunt ducks, get liquored up and shoot gators.  I my friends, am a Coon Ass and hope this recipe will inspire you to become a want-to-be Coon Ass too.     

The Syndicate’s Midnight Gumbo*

Roux Ingredients

1 c  vegetable oil

1 c  flour

Gumbo Ingredients

½ c          Hell Bitch Cajun Seasoning

2 lbs       duck breast, cubed

1 lbs       Andouille Sausage, chopped

1 each   yellow onion, chopped

1 c           celery, diced

1 each   green bell pepper, diced

3 Qtrs    duck or chicken stock

2-4          bay leaves

1 c           green onion tops, chopped

2 c           white rice

                Tabasco & Gumbo Filet, to taste

French Bread Ingredients

1 each   French bread loaf

2 T          butter

1 T          garlic, minced

A Word about Gumbo

There are only two secrets to good gumbo.  First, use good, homemade stock.  Second, take the time to make a good roux – it’s the best part of making gumbo as you will soon see.

Now many people fret over making the roux.  But making a roux is nothing more than cooking flour in oil, in a HOT CAST IRON skillet.  The only real rule in making roux is to “stir the mutha”.  And when I say stir, I mean stir – constantly.  You can raise or lower the heat if you feel like the roux is getting away from you, but never quit stirring!  A wooden spoon or spatula is the best roux-stirrer.

There are many different kinds of roux.  Some are cooked in butter, some are cooked in lard and some are cooked in oil.  My experience has been that oil works best.  However, when it boils down to it, roux’s are generally judged by their color.  There is dirty blonde, milk chocolate, Indian red, dark chocolate and the ever elusive black roux.  The longer you cook the roux, the darker it gets.  Just remember, the darker it gets, the faster it cooks.  You can go from Indian red to dark chocolate in a matter of seconds.  And remember, coon-asses call roux “Cajun Napalm”.  It gets VERY hot and will burn if you are sloppy in your stirring.

While most folks judge their roux by color, the Syndicate has a better unit of measurement……the number of glasses (or bottles) of red wine necessary to obtain the desired color.  For Midnight Gumbo, you should count on at least a one bottle roux.  However, gumbo is a labor of love and requires patience.  Since you will be stirring constantly, you should open two bottles (just in case) and place them both within reach.

Finally, be sure to prep all ingredients prior to starting your roux, because once the roux is done, you will “cool it down” by stirring in the vegetables.  Note, the roux will immediately darken more once you add the vegetables.

Bring on the Gumbo

Season duck liberally with Hell Bitch Cajun Seasoning and brown in cast iron Dutch oven.  Once browning is complete, remove from Dutch oven and set aside.  To make roux, combine oil and flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Once roux has reached desired color (see above) add onion, celery and bell pepper (The Holy Trinity), seasoning liberally with Hell Bitch and sauté for 10 minutes, still stirring that mutha constantly.  Add Andouille sausage, bay leaves and continue to sauté for 5 minutes.  Next, add enough stock to cover entire mixture by about one inch, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Approximately 5 minutes before serving gumbo, add cubed duck and allow re-heating.

Cajun Garnishment

While simmering gumbo, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sauté garlic and butter for about 3 minutes.  Cut trough in French bread, pour in garlic butter, wrap in foil and heat for approximately 10 – 15 minutes or until toasty.

Serve in deep bowl over rice and top with your desired amount of green onions, filet and Tabasco.  

* Midnight Gumbo you may ask?  Odd name for a gumbo recipe.  As I have said previously, Cajun’s love to cook, and cooking great coon ass food takes all day……. and sometimes all night.  Legend has it that this recipe was scribed sometime around midnight, after what was likely a “two bottle” roux night.  As much as I would like to have retained its original form, many of you, including me, may have had a hard time ciphering through it if sober.  Although I do not recommend sobriety when cooking gumbo, I have taken the liberty to provide you with a “translated” form, while trying to maintain its original colorfulness.  The Syndicate and I hope you enjoy!


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