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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take Away - Filet Materne

Filet Oscar is a dish that involves a filet served with crabmeat, bearnaise sauce and asparagus.  As if this were not obnoxious enough, my friend Zach Materne decided to literally elevate Oscar to the next level by putting him atop a pedestal of fried eggplant.  Ridiculous or a tiny bit Einstein?  I think both....

When my wife and I were still dating, we started a tradition of having Sunday dinners with Zach and Sarah Materne.  Sarah called it "Sundays with Mollie."  The tradition did not happen every Sunday, but we always managed to get together at least once or twice a month.

A few weeks ago was our last Sunday with Sarah and Zach before they welcomed baby "M" into the world.  Baby "M" was the temporary alias given to the unknown boy or girl that Sarah and Zach were expecting.  Below is a picture of Sarah and Baby "M."

Since this would be our last supper before Baby "M," Zach decided to step it up a bit.  He informed me of his plan to prepare his own version of Filet Oscar.  Something immediately occurred to me...Sarah usually does the cooking, unless it's grilling.  Though I offered to bring something or assist, Zach was quick to let me know that he had it all taken care of and no assistance was required.  Can you say....

Let me say this, preparing all of the items for Filet Oscar (and assembling while still hot) is is not exactly an undertaking that one should take lightly.  Thus, when Mollie and I arrived for dinner at 7:30 to find nothing yet cooking, I realized that I would be working for my dinner...

I convinced Zach to let me handle the bearnaise while he prepped the grill and battered the eggplant for frying.  After Sarah put a ridiculously delicious pound cake in the oven, the girls sat back and visited while we prepped a steak for momma.  Mollie also rolled up her sleaves to make sure that Sarah's share of the wine was not wasted.

The table was literally set for a great evening.

Zach and I had a good time cooking.  I showed him how to make bearnaise, and he cooked some perfect steaks.  After assembly, we took a couple of pictures.  However, after taking too long to organize the shots, we felt a chewing sensation on our arms coming from the wives and baby "M."

All in all, it was a great night.  However, next time we get together, Baby "M" will help her daddy with the cooking.  It's a girl!  Her name is Everly Jean Materne, and she was born on Monday.  All three are doing fine. 

The recipe and assembly for Zach's Filet Oscar, now known as Filet Materne, will follow sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Wedding Reception at Antoine's?...We Do.

Take Away - Oysters Rockefeller

Antoine's Restaurant is one of New Orleans' most famous restaurants. It opened its doors in 1840, and is credited with originating Oysters Rockefeller. Last weekend, Mr. Rockefeller and everything else in the building was consumed in celebration of our friends, Lizzie Schott and Craig Webb.

Mollie and I thought two weddings in one day would kill us. After enjoying the first wedding and reception (which was fantastic), we headed to the church for our second ceremony of the day. The ceremony was wonderful, but I was quickly losing steam before we made it to Antoine's. In a moment of weakness, I actually questioned my reception stamina....then I walked in...

Let me say this....Antoine's is not a tiny building (it takes up the majority of a city block), and the entire downstairs was closed for the reception. We walked into the front doors and Mollie gave me the order to fetch her one of the 3 million glasses of champagne that were welcoming guests. I was very careful as I proceeded with my mission, as the entrance room also served as the cake room. I have a phobia of being the fat guy that trips and takes out the wedding cake, and this particular cake had a gravitational pull.
Catastrophe avoided, we moved into the main dining room where one of the most awesome bands (complete with change of costume between sets) greeted everyone. The scene was overwhelming, but immediately conveyed a clear message...I was not leaving early. We made our way to a drink station on a side hallway. There we found the Eagle (last post), Paula de Laurentiis (first post) and a group of other friends...all were testing the cocktail prowess of the Antoine's staff.

I ordered a brandy milk punch to calm the stomach while Mollie and every other lady in the room abandoned ship to watch the first dance. While I tried to catch a glimpse over the crowd, our friend Jeff Fick motioned for me to follow him through what I found out were the gates of seafood heaven. The Rex room at Antoine's was filled with the mother load of all seafood experiences. There was enough fresh shrimp and crabmeat for days. I fell in line and attacked.

After showing Mollie the seafood market, we continued to explore the rooms and visit with people. At one point, I spotted a friend of ours, made a mental note to walk over to say hello, and did not see him again for another hour. With the amount of people and the various rooms filled with replenishing food, I felt like I was at Christmas dinner at Hogwarts.

After hitting another food station and taking a break with our friends (Jeff and Bebe), we decided to hit the dance floor. The main room of the restaurant was, to say the least, rockin! I saw uptown New Orleanians waving their hands in the air like blue blood don't care. It was spectacular!

Finally, I found my friend, Oysters Rockefeller . . .we had a moment. At Antoine's, this dish truly makes the palate want to stay behind long after the body leaves. And, unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end (or a pause). The traditional New Orleans Second Line started and led all of the guests out. Chartered buses were available for anyone inclined to be swept into the night. Since some of the party-goers were not quite ready to retire, the bride and groom were nice enough to meet 50-75 die hards at the Ritz Carlton.

Jeremy Davenport and his band usually crank out jazz music on Saturday nights at the Ritz, but the sound of the band was dwarfed by clinking, dancing and the wedding crowd's general commotion. At one point, our friend Jessie Haynes (sister of the bride) was approached by her long lost child (below). Her husband, Beau, did not let the reunion shake him up, and continued to play it cool.

Never again will I look at Antoine's the same.......
Although the pictures of my friend, Oysters Rockefeller, did not turn out is a recipe.
Oysters Rockefeller
  • Two dozen fresh oysters on the half shell, oyster liquor reserved
  • 4 springs flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 4 green onions (including the green part)
  • A handful of fresh celery leaves
  • At least 6 fresh tarragon leaves
  • At least 6 fresh chervil leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried FRESH French bread crumbs
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Herbsaint or Pernod (optional)
  • Rock salt or kosher salt

Mince together the parsley, green onions, celery leaves, tarragon and chervil as finely as you possibly can (more than you ever have...almost to the point of mush).

Mix minced mixture together with the bread crumbs and the softened butter into a mortar and mix the whole thing together into a smooth paste, but leave a little texture (a blender or food processor can be used, but much gets stuck behind). Season to taste with salt and pepper, hot sauce and Herbsaint (if desired).

Preheat broiler. Lower the top rack to the middle of the oven. Spread the rock salt (preferable) or kosher salt over a large baking sheet to keep the oysters at the same height (and stable) under the broiler. Moisten the salt very slightly by sprinkling a very small amount of water. Plant the shells in the salt, making sure they are level. Place one oyster in each shell, plus a little bit of oyster liquor. Spoon an equal amount of the prepared herb/butter mixture over each oyster. Broil on middle rack until the edges of the oysters have curled and the herb butter is bubbling, about five minutes. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Eagle has Landed

Take Away - Muffuletta

Patrick Venable lives in Florida, but tries to get to New Orleans as often as possible. I decided yesterday that his new name shall be "the Eagle." When the Eagle lands in New Orleans, it is safe to assume that overindulgence is going to play a role in everyone's future. I'll explain....

The Eagle is pictured here (center) impersonating Sammy Davis Jr. along with friends, Beau Haynes (left) and Tony Milazzo (right)

The Eagle lands for big events (Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, etc), all of which usually involve partaking of the grape or the grain at some point. Of course, if overindulgence occurs, the cure is to treat yourself to heavy food. For me, the heavy food choice is muffuletta.

This weekend, the big event is the wedding of Lizzie Schott and Craig Webb, a fantastic couple with a great (and large) group of loyal friends. The wedding tonight is likely to be an over the top event. I know this not because of any sort of intuition, but because of another indicator. The Eagle has landed.

Last night proved to be a great start to the weekend. Friends joined Lizzie and Craig at the Ritz for a post-rehearsal dinner drink. A good time was had by all, and I was definitely in need of a muffeletta this morning (thanks to Liz and Jeff for the ride home).

If you find yourself in need of a muffuletta, the best place to get this delicious medicinal nectar of the gods is Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Mollie and I ventured there and are currently preparing for a brief coma before tonight's festivities.

If your current location is unfortunate, I have included a muffuletta recipe to tide you over until your next visit.

Making a Muffuletta

  • 1 round loaf italian bread
  • 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
  • 1 cup olive salad (recipe below)

Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut into quarters.

Muffuletta Olive Mix

  • 1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
  • 1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black), Pitted
  • 1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, carrots, celery, Pepperoncini)
  • 1 Tbsp Capers
  • 3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Pimientos (Roasted red peppers)
  • 1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper, to taste (salt may not be necessary)
  • Approximately 1 1/2 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil (high quality...more expensive)

Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. Cover with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for at least a day. It is really better after about a week.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Neglect Starts with Breakfast....

Take Away - Redonkulous Eggs Benedict
The title of today's entry reflects the fact that I consistently neglect breakfast during the week. Since blog entries were also neglected this week, let's get the weekend started with a breakfast recipe that will not be ignored.
Eggs Benedict traditionally consists of toasted halves of English muffin topped with broiled ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. There are some who have a strong opinion that Eggs Benedict started in New Orleans. There are others who would strongly disagree with that opinion. Either way, restaurants in New Orleans (such as Brennan's on Royal Street) can take credit for refining this dish to the point of perfection.
This recipe comes from a friend of a friend. My friend Emily Franco (birthday girl in the first blog entry) posted a facebook picture of Eggs Benedict that looked fantastic. In fact, it looks so fantastic that I aim to make it as soon as possible.
Emily was nice enough to retrieve the recipe for me from her friend Sarah Buckley Waldvogel. Sarah took her friend, Eggs Benedict, to the next level by adding sausage. This one goes out to you Sarah....

Sarah's Redonkulous Eggs Benedict

  • English muffins halved, buttered and toasted

  • Andouille sausage sliced and browned

  • Tomatoes sliced and blackened on a skillet (use a little butter or oil)

  • Wilted fresh spinach (sauteed in a tiny bit of butter)

  • Poached egg (if done without a gadget, use a little bit of white vinegar in the boiling water and a slotted spoon.)
Top the halved muffin halves with the browned sausage and the wilted spinach. Thereafter, top the sausage and spinach with the slice of tomato. Add the poached egg and pour hollandaise sauce (recipe below) on top. Serve immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce

  • 4 egg yolks

  • Lemon Juice (to taste)

  • Butter softened to room temperature (up to two sticks, depending on desired thickness)

  • Creole Mustard (to taste)

  • A very small amount of Cayenne (or to taste)
Select a large pot and fill it with 1 to 2 inches of water and place it over heat until the water begins to boil. Choose a pyrex or stainless steel bowl that has a diameter larger than that of your pot and place it on top. Make sure that your bowl does not fall into the pot or touch the simmering water. When the water begins to boil, whisk the 4 egg yolks and the lemon juice in the bowl over the boiling water. STIR CONSTANTLY (and, again, don't let the bowl touch water). When thick, remove bowl from pot and start adding softened butter 1 tbsp at a time (whisking constantly). If it starts to thicken too much, place bowl back over hot water. Sarah said that she used almost 2 sticks of butter, but it made A LOT.. Whisk in creole mustard and cayenne).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You're in Byrne Country...

Take Aways - Kenny's Independently Awesome Burgers and Hashbrown Casserole

For Independence day, we broke out of the normal routine that we keep when visiting the in-laws in Mobile (cook, eat, drink, repeat). Instead, we decided to take thekingfishmenu to Fairhope, where we changed up the routine a bit (swim, drink, cook, eat, repeat). Fairhope is located in Baldwin County (or as some call it, Byrne Country).

One of Mollie's best friends from childhood, Patrick Byrne, had a group of their friends over. The entire group is a prime example of southern hospitality and have been more than welcoming of Mollie's new boyfriend (eventually turned husband). Upon arrival, we realized that we were catching everyone on Day 2 of the fiesta, and we missed out on some extremely tasty Day 1 ribs. However, no problem....there was more Americana to be experienced.

Patrick has moved closer to home while helping with his dad's gubernatorial campaign (thus the Byrne Country reference), and the place makes a great setting for a Southern Living Style 4th of July gathering. Well, I should say that the place is a good start. Add to it that some of the attendees went to the local Fireworks stand to make a few purchases before we arrived. They were told that a purchase of over $100 would automatically receive a 15% discount. Apparently, the discount was received several times over....the redneck (as Kenny put it) draw to fire resulted in some pretty incredible displays.

One of the funnier parts of the day was when Patrick's Dog (Charlie) knocked our friend Ryan McKee off of the sailboat while Ryan was trying to save the dog from slipping off (notice the foot in the picture above). However, I think that the highlight of the night was the burgers that another friend, Kenny Nichols, prepared.

Kenny allowed me to assist in the creation, which basically consisted of prepping large burgers with quality beef (a little fat should be's a holiday). The ingredients consisted of some garlic powder, Worchestershire sauce and the beef (mixed and made into thick patties). Thereafter, he tops them with some "Southern Flavor" brand seasoning. I believe he uses the Original Charbroil Seasoning offered by Southern Flavor. Kenny says that the use of a ceramic-type pit is also a key to success (for those of us without...these would still be delicious).

Some like the hash brown casserole that I prepared, but that is pretty basic. I have included the recipe on the off chance that you are in the mood for high caloric intake. All in all, we had a great time in Byrne Country.

Hashbrown Casserole

1 LB bag frozen cubed potatoes or hashbrowns (better with onions and bell peppers included)
1 small container sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom
1 (10oz) pack of cubed ham (if you cannot find, just cube 10 oz of salted regular ham)
2 cups Mexican combination shredded cheese (preferably with jalapenos included)
1-2 cups additional sharp shredded cheddar
Cajun seasoning, black pepper and Greek seasoning (to taste)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large casserole dish, combine all ingredient thoroughly. Cover with aluminum foil (sealing tightly). Cook covered for 1 hour. Remove cover until golden brown on top. Eat then go jogging.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Stars Fell on Alabama

Take Away - German Blueberry Pie and Brown Sugared Apple Pork Chops

Nothing says Independence Day weekend like in-laws. Thankfully, I snagged some good ones. So, Mollie and I brought thekingfishmenu to Alabama. Today's entry will cover July 3. Tomorrow will cover the 4th with some friends in Fairhope, AL.

The in-laws live in a neighborhood in Mobile that consists of 20 townhouses. Each townhouse comes equipped with an elevator, which is only significant because it comes in extremely handy due to the theme of each visit. The theme rarely changes and consists of eat, drink, cook (with her mom) and talk politics (with her dad)....repeat. I claim to take the elevator because it is neat that her parents have one. Mollie says maybe it's because I overserve (a very valid point).

We actually have a new addition to the family (Mollie's second nephew) so there was even more reason for our usual celebratory theme.

Saturday's menu consisted of brown sugared apple cider pork chops, Cuban black beans and rice, fiesta salad and German blueberry pie (I am not sure what makes this pie German).

I'll throw in two recipes since the pork chops and blueberry pie both went over well (by well, I mean that I went back for seconds on the pie...around 1 am).

German Blueberry Pie

2/3 cup sugar
Pecan sandies
1 (8ounce) package cream cheese
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint blue berries (fresh

Preheat oven to 350. Crumble enough pecan sandies for pie crust. Blend with just enough butter to hold crumbs together. Press into an 8 inch pie pan and set aside. Cream sugar with softened cream cheese. Add eggs one at a time to cream cheese mixture, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Pour mixture into pie shell. Sprinkle blueberries over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. When cool, chill several hours or over night.

Brown Sugared Apple Cider Pork Chops

1 container real apple cider
1 box (1lb) dark brown sugar
8-10 thin to medium cut pork chops
Seasoning (to taste)

Mix apple cider and brown sugar until combined. Pour into one or two large Ziploc bags. Add the pork chops and let all air out of bags before sealing. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Remove pork chops and season to taste before grilling (I use any sort of Cajun seasoning mix and Greek Seasoning).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Time for Salad...

Take Away - Mollie's Salad with Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette
So the legislative session causes one (or maybe just me) to lack certain priorities. Perhaps, the things that one eats are not so good. And, perhaps one adds a couple of extra pounds (or 10) to his overall weight.

The thing about session is that you get so worked up, sometimes you just are not even thinking. For instance, one of my good friends attempted to eat a microphone this session.

In light of this extra 10 or so pounds bestowed upon me by virtue of my participation in session, Mollie and I are buying a bunch of healthy food these days (some of which I aspire to eat at some point).

The latest salad that she likes is great. I don't mean "great" in the way that most people sound when they say "great" when referring to salad.

Most of the time "great" salad means, "I'd rather be eating potatoes, an entire lasagna, pork rind flavored dog food or anything that has some carbs and actual talking points...and I hope you cannot hear my inner monologue."

This salad recipe (if salads can be acknowledged with such a word) is also easy.

Spinach Walnut Salad with Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

2 cups fresh raw spinach or baby spinach (to taste)
Fresh walnuts roughly chopped or roasted pecans
Blue cheese crumbles or Feta crumbles (whichever you prefer)
Red Grapes
Zea's Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette (chilled)

Note: Mollie was inspired by a salad she eats at a local restaurant (Cafe Rani). However, if you want to get a little closer to the Zea salad recipe, you can add pitted kalamata olives and/or sun dried tomatoes.

Mix together all of the ingredients. Place them in the refrigerator to chill for 20-30 minutes. Pour dressing over salad and enjoy. If you do not have access to Zea's Pepper Jelly dressing, here is the recipe (or close to it).

¼ c pepper jelly
2 T balsamic vinegar
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp kosher salt
½ c olive oil

Whisk all ingredients well with a fork or whisk before pouring over salad. You may also want to let these chill as well.