Bread Pudding with Moonshine Sauce

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Makes 6 servings. Recipe is by Cynthia Nobles.

 

4 large eggs

2 cups half and half

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

4 cups day-old french bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Cooking spray for pan Moonshine Sauce (recipe follows)

 

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, sugar, extracts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and pour in bread pudding mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at least 10 minutes. Serve topped with Moonshine Sauce.

 

Moonshine Sauce

Makes about 1 1/4 cups. Recipe is by Cynthia Nobles.

 

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup (4 tbls.) butter

1/4 cup spiced moonshine (Catdaddy brand 80 proof spiced moonshine was used for testing)

1. Bring cream, cornstarch, and sugar to a boil In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Simmer over low heat 1 minute. Add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

2. When ready to serve, bring sauce to a simmer, remove from heat, and stir in spiced moonshine.

Pappardelle with Shrimp and Moonshine Sauce

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Makes 4 servings. Recipe is by Cynthia Nobles This is a variation of Italy’s famous Vodka Sauce. The alcohol cooks out during the simmering process and releases subtle flavors in the tomato that normally go undetected.

 

2 tbls. olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup moonshine (Ole Smoky brand 100 proof original moonshine was used for testing)

2 tbls. minced fresh basil

1 tbl. minced fresh oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 oz. cooked, hot pappardelle, or your favorite pasta

 

1. Heat olive oil in a medium, heavy saucepan and saute onion 1 minute.

2. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, and moonshine. Lower heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, uncovered. Stir in basil, oregano, salt, peppers, and cream. Simmer 5-10 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally.

3. Add shrimp and cook just until they curl and turn pink. Serve shrimp and sauce over cooked pasta.

Mint Juleps

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Makes 10 drinks. Recipe is from Don Verdicanno of Denham Springs, Louisiana, who learned how to make this spirited concoction over 30 years ago from the owners of Montaigne Plantation in Natchez.

Churchill Downs started serving the iconic drink in  1875, but it didn’t become the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby until 1938. Today, the Derby sells about 120,000 mint juleps on the weekend of the big horse race.

 

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

2 bunches fresh mint, plus additional for garnish

4 cups bourbon

Crushed ice

 

1. Make a mint syrup by dissolving sugar in water in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 bunches mint leaves and tender tops. Simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain into a jar and refrigerate until cold.

2. For each drink, pack a julep cup or old fashioned glass with crushed ice. Pour 1 tablespoon mint syrup over ice. Add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon. Beat with a teaspoon until ice forms on the outside of the cup. Stir in 1 more tablespoon mint syrup. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

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Makes 120 cookies. Recipe is by Cynthia Nobles. If you’re a fan of Girl Scout Thin Mints, you’ll love these!

 

3 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. iodized salt

2 cups sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

3 tbls. water

30 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 tbls. vegetable shortening

3/4 tsp. peppermint extract

 

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg. On low speed, blend in flour mixture and water. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill 1/2 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Working with half of dough at a time, between two sheets of wax paper, roll dough 1/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut more cookies.

4. Place 1/2 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Cool completely on a rack.

5. Make mint coating by melting chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or in the microwave. When completely melted, stir in peppermint extract.

6. Using a fork, dip each cooled cookie in mint coating. Shake off excess coating, place on parchment paper and refrigerate until firm.

Tabbouleh

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Makes 4 servings. Recipe is by Sammy Kobrossi of Serop’s Restaurant, 7474 Corporate Blvd., Baton Rouge. This classic Middle Eastern salad is thought to have originated in Lebanon. It’s important to dry the parsley and mint well to avoid sogginess. Although it’s traditional to eat tabbouleh rolled in or scooped up with romaine leaves, Kobrossi says it’s also good with cabbage or grape leaves.

 

1/2 cup fine bulgar (cracked wheat)

1 cup boiling water

3/4 tsp. salt

2 cups fresh parsley leaves, washed, dried well and chopped

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, washed, dried well and chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped white onion

1 firm medium tomato, seeded and diced

2 tbls. fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 tsp. cayenne

Romaine lettuce leaves for serving

 

1. Rinse bulgar well. In a heatproof bowl, stir together bulgar and boiling water. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Drain well.

2. In a large bowl, mix softened bulgar, salt, parsley, mint, onion and tomato. In a separate bowl, stir together lemon juice, olive oil and cayenne. Mix well into salad.

3. Mound salad onto the middle of a platter and arrange romaine leaves like a spoke around the tabbouleh. Can be refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Best if served at room temperature.

Mint and Pepper Jelly

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Makes 3 pints. Recipe is by Lanier Cordell, Chair, Baton Rouge Unit of the Herb Society of America.

 

1 1/2 cups fresh mint (packed, leaves and stems)

2 1/4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 cups granulated sugar

1 (3 oz.) bottle fruit pectin or 1 (1.75 oz.) box powdered fruit pectin

1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper (see note)

6 half pint jars, or equivalent, and lids

 

1. Wash mint. Remove any brown leaves or stems, and dry. Chop dried leaves and stems coarsely in a food processor or by hand.

2. Put chopped leaves and pineapple juice into a 2 to 3-quart stainless steel pot. Heat to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let stand 15-30 minutes.

3. Pour the steeped mixture through a fine sieve and press hard with the back of a large spoon to remove as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid. Throw mint solids in the compost bin or dispose.

4. Stir in lemon juice and add enough water to equal 4 cups of mint infusion. Put mint infused juice and pectin in an 8-quart saucepot and stir well. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in sugar quickly, return to a full rolling boil and allow to boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam from top. Stir in pepper.

5. Ladle into sterilized jars. Seal according to jar directions, using either a hot water bath or melted paraffin.

 

Note: Adding the pepper flakes before bringing the mixture to a boil may irritate your eyes. To substitute fresh peppers, remove seeds from peppers and finely chop to create an equivalent of 1-2 tablespoons, depending on how much heat you want. Add fresh peppers before bringing the entire batch to a 2-minute boil.

Turkey Pot Pie

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Makes 4 servings. Recipe is by Cynthia Nobles.

 

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup frozen green peas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tbls. all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup diced potatoes

2 cups cooked and cubed turkey

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. chopped fresh sage (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

1 tbl. brandy

Salt and pepper

2 tbls. chopped parsley

1 puff pastry sheet (10″ x 15″), thawed if frozen

1 egg beaten with 1 tbl. water

 

1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a heavy saucepot, saute carrot, celery, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and peas in vegetable oil until vegetables are soft. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes.

2. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer until tender. Add turkey, cream, and sage and cook until slightly thickened. Add brandy, salt, pepper, and parsley. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

3. Spoon mixture into 4 oven-proof soup bowls or ramekins. Prepare pie tops by cutting pastry 1/4 inch smaller than ramekin top. Top turkey mixture with pastry. Brush with egg wash, cut slits in top, and bake until golden brown and bubbly, 20-25 minutes.

Louisiana Crawfish Pies

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Makes 12. Recipe is by Nathan Gresham, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Beausoleil, 7731 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

1 tbl. grapeseed oil

½ yellow onion, finely diced

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

1 lb. crawfish tail meat, with fat

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup madeira wine

2 green onions, chopped

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Juice of 1 fresh lemon

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 recipe Meat Pie Dough (recipe follows)

Vegetable oil for frying

Remoulade sauce, Ranch dressing, or pepper jelly for dipping

 

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat oil and sautee onion, bell pepper, and celery until tender. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

2. Add crawfish and stir. Season with cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook 2 more minutes, and deglaze with wine.

3. Add green onions and cheese. Stir and cook until cheese is melted. Add lemon juice and flour. Stir until flour is blended in well. Adjust seasoning. Set aside to cool.

4. Cut dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a 10-inch circle. Cut out 12 circles of dough with a 4-inch biscuit cutter. Place a heaping tablespoon of crawfish filling in middle of each dough circle and rub edges with water. Fold dough over and crimp with a fork to close and seal.

5. Heat 2 inches oil in a fryer to 350F and fry pies until golden brown, flipping half way through. Drain on paper towels. Serve with desired dipping sauce.

 

Meat Pie Dough:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1½ tsp. iodized salt

2 tsp. baking powder

2 large eggs

1¼ cups milk

¾ cup Crisco, melted

 

1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and mix with milk and melted Crisco.

3. Place flour mixture in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. On medium speed, slowly add the liquid and mix until well-incorporated. If needed, add more flour, a little at a time, until desired texture. Dough should not be too sticky.

4. On a floured board, knead dough until it forms a smooth ball.

Double Crust Meat Pie

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Makes 6 servings. Recipe is by Linda Cannon, Pearl River, Louisiana. Delicious on its own, this basic recipe can also be enhanced with cooked mushrooms, carrots, peas, potatoes, etc. Or for a Mexican twist, add chili powder, cilantro, and corn.

 

2 lbs. lean ground beef

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped bell pepper

2 stalks chopped celery

¼ cup chopped green onions

1 tsp. Zatarains Creole Seasoning

1 tsp. garlic salt

½ tsp. black pepper

2 (9”) pie crusts, ready-made or homemade

2 cups shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

 

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Brown beef in a large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, green onions, Creole seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Drain off any accumulated fat.

2. Lay one pie crust on the bottom of a 9” deep dish pie plate. Stretch sides upward so they overlap the top of the pie plate. Add half of the cooked meat/vegetable mixture. Spread 1 cup of the shredded cheese on top.

3. Add remainder of the cooked meat/vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Lay remaining pie crust on top and seal edges together. With a sharp knife, slice a few vents in pie top.

4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until crust is brown.

Fried Meat Pies

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Makes 26 fried pies. This is the Natchitoches meat pie, which was created over 300 years ago when Louisiana was under Spanish rule and the residents of Natchitoches came up with their own version of the Spanish empanada. Recipe is by Mary Olive Pierson. For proper texture, make and chill pastry one day ahead, and make and chill filling at least 4 hours in advance of cooking time.

 

Meat Pie Filling:

2 lbs. lean ground pork or beef

2 cups finely chopped white onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cayenne pepper

Crystal hot sauce, salt, and black pepper to taste

1 recipe Pastry for Fried Pies (recipe follows)

vegetable oil for frying

 

1. In a large skillet, saute pork, onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, parsley, and seasonings, stirring often, until meat is brown and vegetables are wilted, about 10-12 minutes. Drain well and chill at least 4 hours.

2. Place 1 prepared pastry circle on a floured board. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of chilled filling on one side of dough circle. Fold dough over in half, popover fashion, and seal edges with a floured fork.

3. Heat 1-2 inches oil in a fryer or deep skillet to 350F. Fry pies one side at a time (preferred method) or deep-fry.

 

Pastry for Fried Pies:

8 cups all-purpose flour

2½ tsp. salt

2 cups vegetable shortening (Crisco)

2 1/4 cups ice water

 

1. In a large bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening until fine. Add ice water and mix well, forming a large ball.

2. Make individual pie circles by breaking off dough and rolling into 1 1/2-inch diameter balls. On a floured board, roll dough out into 6-inch circles about 1/8-inch thick.

3. Refrigerate individual pastries between layers of wax paper overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before stuffing. To freeze: Wrap uncooked pies in the wax paper you used to separate the dough and place in Ziploc bags. Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to frying.