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August / September 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu

Diners, corner cafes, and Mom and Pop neighborhood bars and restaurants that serve down-home meals, otherwise known as “blue plate specials” may not be as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around. Thank goodness! These institutions usually go the extra mile for their specials, giving large servings and using local ingredients. When I hear the term “blue plate specials” I conjure up such meals as meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, or smothered chicken with lots of gravy atop a mound of white rice, or better yet, stewed okra and tomatoes accompanied by braised round steak and onions!

When I was growing up in St. Martinville, there was a café called Hebert’s and you could tell the day of the week by the menu for the day. The specials were noted on a large chalkboard at the entrance to the establishment. On Monday, it was usually red or white beans served with rice and a link of fresh pork sausage. Tuesday’s lunch was chicken-fried steak accompanied by either macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes (and never made from dehydrated flakes in a box). Fried chicken, potato salad, and peas and carrots was Wednesday’s offering. On Thursday it was meatballs and spaghetti or chicken stew. Friday’s special was always my favorite—fried catfish served with shrimp stew over rice, and cole slaw. Hot French bread and lots of butter was always handy, and Mrs. Hebert made some of the best pies—lemon, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut, and blackberry—I had ever tasted.

Alas, Hebert’s is gone, so I ride around looking for hole-in-the-wall places that serve up meat-and-three (meat with three sides). A place in New Iberia near the St. Peter’s Catholic church often offers the best barbecued pork ribs and pork chops served with rice dressing, baked beans, cole slaw, and bread pudding, all for less than $10.00. Another place I lunch is at a luncheon spot in my hometown that has a great Friday meal of fried catfish, shrimp and potato salad.

When cooler weather sets in (which hopefully will be soon because I’m growing tired of this hot dry weather), my husband Rock often requests a blue plate special for our Wednesday supper. Understand that these are not for the weak of heart. These recipes are what Papa would call “truck-driver” items.

CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK
Makes 4 servings
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound cubed beefsteaks
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
In a small bowl, combine one-four cup of the flour with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on both sides of the steaks. Combine the egg and two tablespoons of the milk in a shallow dish. Dip the steaks in the egg mixture, then dredge in the cracker crumbs.

Heat about one-half of the oil in a large skillet to about 360 degrees. Fry the steaks in the oil over medium heat until browned, turning once. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove the steaks and drain on paper towels.

Drain off the drippings, reserving about three tablespoons in the skillet. Add the remaining three tablespoons of the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add the broth and the remaining one-half cup of milk. Stir constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with mashed potatoes.

GOOD OLD MASHED POTATOES
Makes about 6 servings
  • 8 medium-size red potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to the pan. Add the butter and milk and mash or beat with an electric mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

OLD-FASHIONED MACARONI AND CHEESE
Makes about 6 servings
  • 1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • 2 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Paprika
Cook the macaroni according to package directions and drain. Layer one-third of the macaroni in a lightly greased two-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat the procedure, and top with the remaining macaroni. Reserve the remaining cheese. Combine the milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over the macaroni. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and paprika. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

CHOCOLATE PIE
  • Makes one pie to serve 6
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Combine one and one-fourth cups of the sugar, the flour, and the cocoa in a heavy saucepan. Combine the milk, egg yolks, and the melted butter and beat, using a wire whisk to blend well. Gradually add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Spoon into the pastry shell and set aside.

Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add the remaining one-half cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, two to four minutes.

Spread the meringue over the chocolate filling. Bake at 325 degrees until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.

TAILGAITING ANYONE

Football season has arrived. It doesn’t feel like football weather, but anxious fans are eager to trek to stadiums to cheer on their favorite college team or to the Superdome to see what the Saints are going to do this season.

One of my nephews dropped by for a visit – well, what he was looking for was an idea for a tailgaiting party. He declared that the weather was just too hot to make gumbo, chili or jambalaya. Did I have an alternative idea?

This is what I suggested. Bring along a small grill and make this whopper of a hamburger. It’s easy to pull together. The sandwich, chips and pre-made brownies should satisfy his friends before they enter the stadium.

CAJUN TAILGATE BURGER
Makes 8 to 10 servings

You can dress the burger classically, with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and mustard, but use your creativity and make it your own. Dress it with cheese, jalapenos, and guacamole. Or dress it with grilled onions and blue cheese.
  • 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar of jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon onion juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning mix
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • ½ cup dry fine seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 round bread, such as Vienna, muffaletto, sourdough, 10 to 12 inches in diameter, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • Mayonnaise
  • Grey Poupon mustard
Combine the ground beef, the jalapenos, the liquid from the jar, the onion juice, garlic juice, garlic, hot sauce, seasoning mix, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, bread crumbs, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well. Let stand for at least 1 hour, covered, in the refrigerator.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and shape into a large patty, about 1 inch larger than the round bread and about 1 ½ inches thick.

Place it on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 20 minutes on one side, then turn it and cook it for another 20 minutes.

Butter each half of the bread with the butter. Place the bread halves, inside of the bread down, on the grill and toast for 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the burger and the bread from the grill. Place the burger on the bottom half of the bread. Dress the burger with the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Place the top half on top of the dressed burger and press down firmly, but gently. Cut into wedges to serve.


May/June 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu



A few years ago, a journalist asked me to list a few things I like about summertime in the South. I confess that the summer is my favorite season and I can never get enough of ice cold watermelon, snowballs in every flavor, boiled seafood (shrimp, crawfish, crabs) all washed down with cold beer, and wait there is more. Heading out early in the morning on Vermilion Bay to try to catch a few redfish or speckled trout is also on my list of summertime “to dos.” And I love late afternoon boat rides on Bayou Teche with my husband and observing the egrets, blue herons, and alligators along the banks. I really could go on and on, but I think you get the message. But I also love homemade ice cream and I make it as often as I can during the hot, humid days of summer. Gone are the hand-cranked ice cream makers. These days, electric ones are ideal for making a quart of deliciously smooth, creamy concoctions, sometimes including fresh berries or Louisiana peaches.

Maybe these recipes will inspire you to make some yourself. And I’ve included a recipe for sugar cookies (ti gateau sec) to pair with your yummy ice cream. Oh, here is a tip if you want to use fresh fruit in the ice cream. To prevent the fruit from freezing, soak them in a little brandy or any liqueur for a couple of hours before adding the fruit to the ice cream base.

Mama’s Ice Cream – Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoons pure vanilla

2 cups chopped fresh fruit, such as strawberries, peaches or bananas *optional

In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla and bring to a gentle boil. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled. Add the fruit, then pour into the ice cream and freezer can and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Blackberry Ice Cream – Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

For the blackberry juice:

2 quarts fresh blackberries, picked over, rinsed in cool water, and patted dry

2 cups sugar

Place the berries and sugar in a saucepan and cook slowly over medium heat. Don’t add any water, because the berries release lots of juice. Cook long enough for them to soften and create a syrup. Cool and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, mashing the berries to release all the liquid. Set aside.

For the ice cream:

6 whole eggs beaten

4 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine the eggs and milk in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a heavy non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and cook slowly until it thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. (Do not allow to come to a boil.) Add one cup of the berry sauce and freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions. When serving, you can add a couple of drops of creme de cassis liqueur to each serving.

Uncle Nick’s No-Cook Ice Cream

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

16 ounces sour cream

1 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups chopped fruit *Optional

Combine all of the ingredients except the milk and pour into the canister of an ice cream freezer. Then pour in the milk to the line in the ice cream canister. Add the fruit if you wish. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Key Lime Ice Cream – Makes 1 quart

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Bring the cream to a gentle simmer in a heavy saucepan. Slowly beat the hot cream into the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens slightly. (Do NOT boil.) Remove from the heat and pour the custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Cool slightly, then stir in the condensed milk, the key lime juice and the zest. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Stir the cold custard, then freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you wish, you can transfer the mixture to freezer containers and freeze for 2 hours for a firmer ice cream. One of my nieces who has seven children also offered this quick method of making ice cream. Place a plastic freezer storage bag with ice cream base inside a larger bag filled with ice and rock salt. Close both bags securely and shake, shake, shake. Not only does it keep youngsters entertained, you will have great ice cream!

For lagniappe, here is another quick method of making a dessert for a picnic event: Fill a quart glass jar with cold heavy cream. You can add a little sugar if you wish. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously (have the teenagers do it) until the mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. You can serve this with fresh fruit of your choice. Sugar Cookies (“Ti Gateau Sec”) Makes 3 to 4 dozen.

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter at room temperature

2 eggs, beaten

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the creamed mixture. Add the milk and vanilla. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

March / April 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu:

Lent, the season of penance is upon us, and like other Christians I’ve been giving some thought to what I might do for this time of atonement. I certainly had enough fun during the Carnival season and in a way, I’m rather glad I can look forward to several weeks of peace and quiet, and perhaps some simple meals. But on Ash Wednesday, I noticed several restaurants and cafés touting seafood specials, Lenten buffets, and myriad meatless offerings. When I was growing up, we didn’t have extravagant seafood or other enjoyable meatless meals; rather we had things like fried egg sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches, tuna a la king of toast, potato and egg gumbo, and Mama’s salmon croquettes. These items weren’t bad but they weren’t very enjoyable either. Well, after all, it was a time to fast and abstain, not a time to go searching for the biggest seafood meal that could be found. And now that I’ve had my say on the subject from my soapbox, I’ll tell you about some of the dishes that have long been a part of my Lenten repertoire. I consider them to be cleansing for the body as well as the soul. For the most part, they’re easy to prepare and a toss green salad is a fine accompaniment to most of them. Linguine with peppery white clam sauce
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or a pinch of cayenne
  • 1 (10 1/2-ounce) can chopped clams with juice
  • 3/4 pound linguini, cooked according to package directions and drained, reserving
  • 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional garnish
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the red pepper or cayenne, the claims with their juice, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for six to eight minutes. Toss the linguine with the clam sauce, pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice and parsley. Sprinkle with black pepper, the cheese (if using), and serve immediately. I have a great supplier for locally caught catfish and I like them plainly baked with just a little lemon juice and butter served with boiled potatoes and a bit of chopped fresh parsley.
  • Baked fish fillets
  • Makes 4 servings
  • 4 catfish fillets, each about 8 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons plus 6 teaspoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 6 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer with four tablespoons of the butter. Season the fish with salt, cayenne and black pepper and put into the baking dish. Sprinkle the fish with the green onions and half of the wine. Mix together the remaining wine with the mustard and brush the tops of the fish with this mixture. Sprinkle the fish with the bread crumbs and dot with the remaining butter. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Then turn on the broiler to high and run the baking dish under it. Broil until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately with the lemon wedges. On Lenten Sundays, I splurge just a bit on a later afternoon supper. Since the crawfish are plentiful this season, they’re reasonably priced and so versatile.

Crawfish pizza

  • Makes about 4 servings
  • 1 large pizza bread crust
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce or commercial pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (green part only)
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 1/2 pound freshly grated mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly oil the baking sheet. Place the pizza bread crust on the prepared pan, then spread it evenly with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the oil. Set aside. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions, the crawfish tails and season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Spread the crawfish mixture over the tomato sauce, then top with the cheeses. Sprinkle with the oregano. Bake until the cheese melts and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Many times during Lent, my mother and I would share a Friday lunch. Tired of tuna salad, we often turned to this quick dish. It’s my idea of comfort food, and you can serve it on toast or tossed with angel hair pasta.
  • TUNA A LA KING
  • Makes 2 servings
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (6 1/8) can solid white tuna, undrained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup milk or water
  • Pinch of dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sauté the onions, bell pepper and celery in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tuna and flake with a fork. Add the soup and milk or water and stir to blend. Add the thyme, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over toast or pasta. This last one was a favorite of my Aunt Lois.

WELSH RAREBIT

  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 2 pounds American or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans white or green asparagus stalks
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Creole or coarse-grained mustard
  • Thick slices of toasted French bread or brioche
Melt the cheese in the top of a double boiler. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add the asparagus and season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the mustard and stir to blend. Spoon the mixture over the toast and serve hot.

March / April 2014

Blue Plate Specials

by Marcelle Bienvenu


Diners, corner cafes, and Mom and Pop neighborhood bars and restaurants that serve down-home meals, otherwise known as “blue plate specials” may not be as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around. Thank goodness! These institutions usually go the extra mile for their specials, giving large servings and using local ingredients. When I hear the term “blue plate specials” I conjure up such meals as meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, or smothered chicken with lots of gravy atop a mound of white rice, or better yet, stewed okra and tomatoes accompanied by browned round steak and onions!


When I was growing up in St. Martinville, there was a café called Hebert’s and you could tell the day of the week by the menu for the day. The specials were noted on a large chalkboard at the entrance to the establishment. On Monday, it was usually red or white beans served with rice and a link of fresh pork sausage. Tuesday’s lunch was chicken-fried steak accompanied by either macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes (and never made from dehydrated flakes in a box). Fried chicken, potato salad, and peas and carrots was Wednesday’s offering. On Thursday it was meatballs and spaghetti or chicken stew. Friday’s special was always my favorite—fried catfish served with shrimp stew over rice, and cole slaw. Hot French bread and lots of butter was always handy, and Mrs. Hebert made some of the best pies—lemon, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut, and blackberry—I had ever tasted.


Alas, Hebert’s is gone and now I find myself finding about such places by word of mouth, but sometimes I make my own blue plate specials once or twice a month. My husband LOVES these meals but sometimes I have to rein him in because of the richness of these dishes. Remember, moderation in everything!


ROUND STEAK AND ONIONS

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds top round steak, about 1/4 inch thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth water, or more as needed
  • 4 medium-size yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped * optional
  • 4 to 5 cups cooked long-grain white rice

Cut the steak into 3-inch squares. Combine the flour, salt and cayenne in a small bowl and blend. Lightly flour each piece of the roux steak. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown, cooking on each side for 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned particles.


Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions and bell peppers. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted and golden. Add the remaining 1/2 cup water if the mixture has become dry. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat is tender and the onions are very soft. Serve over the rice.


BEST EVER MEATLOAF

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Combine the meat, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, mustard, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. With your hands, mix until well blended. (Remove one-fourth of the mixture and seal in a plastic storage bag. I’ll tell you how to get another meal with this.)


Add the eggs to the larger mixture and blend well. Press the mixture firmly into a loaf and refrigerate for one hour.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the meat loaf in a roasting pan and spread the ketchup all over the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with peas and cheesy mashed potatoes.


SPAGHETTI WITH BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

The reserved mixture from above can be stored in a airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for 2 weeks.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • The reserved meatloaf mixture
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatloaf mixture and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until well browned and most of the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes.


Add the red wine and let reduce until almost dry, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the milk, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 13 to 15 minutes. Add the parsley and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.


Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce. When serving, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.


CHICKEN AUX GROS OIGNONS

Makes 6 to 8 servings

It’s best to use a roasting chicken for this as young fryers will cook too quickly and become stringy.

  • 1 roasting chicken, about 5 pounds, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt and cayenne
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn (optional)
  • 1 cup young peas (optional)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the chicken generously with salt and cayenne. Lightly dust the chicken with flour. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chicken. Cook, stirring often, until browned evenly. about 10 minutes Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles. Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir for about 15 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned particles. The onions should be soft and golden.


Add the water and stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered for one hour, or until the chicken is tender. Stir occasionally. If you wish to add the corn, peas and/or mushrooms, add them now and cook for about 15 minutes, or until all is heated through. Adjust seasonings. Add the parsley and serve immediately over rice.


Save room for dessert.


LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Pie shell


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.


In a medium-size, heavy saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, and salt and mix till well blended. Gradually add the boiling water, stirring constantly and cook over medium heat till the mixture thickens, stirring. Add the lemon rind and juice and stir.


In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks till foamy, add a small amount of the hot lemon mixture to them, stirring constantly, and then pour the egg mixture into the lemon mixture in the saucepan, stirring. Add the butter and continue cooking, stirring, till the mixture is very thick. Pour into the baked pie shell.


In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer till thickened. Gradually add the 6 tablespoons sugar and beat till stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, cover the pie with the meringue, being careful to seal the edges. With a spoon, make a few peaks in the meringue. Bake just till the top has browned slightly, about 10 minutes. Cool before serving.





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