Thursday, December 16, 2010

Red Beans and Rice a la Phelps

I just started a new job on Monday and today was the office's annual holiday potluck. Timing worked out great; I was able to meet the whole office and bond over food. The stand out dish was my co-worker's red beans and rice. It was hearty, spicy and I had three helpings. He was kind enough to share his mother's recipe. He prefers doubling the hot sauce portion and uses Frank's Red Hot. Super tasty.

Red Beans and Rice A La Phelps

6 servings:

1 LB dried red chili (little red) beans, washed and picked over
1 ham hock with lots left on
1 lb Andouille Sausage, cut into 1” pieces
.5-1lb bacon
1 Lg. onion, chopped
6 cups water
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Bay leaf
to taste: hot sauce (3 glugs) and Worchester sauce (3 glugs) salt (only add after beans are soft, you may not need with ham and bacon)

bring water to boil. add beans. Cook 2 minutes. Turn off and cover for 1 hour or overnight.
bring back to boil. add all ingredients except salt and rice. Cook @ 3 to 4 hours. Remove hocks and take the meat off the bone. Add it back to the pot. Mash some beans to thicken. Add salt to taste (not too much!)

Serve over rice.

Optional but great additions: chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, fresh hot sausage (1 lb.)
May be doubled. Freezes well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil

Has anyone else read the December issue of Bon Appetit yet? It's actually a bomb issue. And by bomb, I mean that you want to eat every picture you look at and cook every recipe. Well, at least that's what I thought when I saw it arrive in my mailbox. Doesn't this just scream winter, cold weather and comfort?

Remember to be patient with our good friend Risotto. You don't want it underdone or overdone and gummy. So just add a little stock, stir and repeat. It's a labor of love and so worth it. Race you to the stove!

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Basil

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 2 1/4 pounds squash)
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-wide slices leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 14-ounce cans (or more) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)


  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash and sauté until beginning to soften and brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer squash to medium bowl.
  • Reduce heat to medium; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, leeks, and thyme to same pot and stir until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 1 cup broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining broth by 1/2 cupfuls, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Return squash to pot. Continue to cook until rice is just tender but still very creamy, stirring gently and often, about 10 minutes longer (about 25 minutes total cooking time). Remove from heat. Stir in basil and 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to large bowl and serve with additional Parmesan cheese.


Mike's Famous Holiday Eggnog

'Tis the season for all that is gluttonous! Just so happens to be my absolute favorite time of year! Shocking, right? Our house literally looks like the North Pole and I've been working around the clock to Christmas tunes on Pandora. I'm such a dork.

No winter holiday is complete without eggnog. So...back by very popular demand for the 3rd year in a row is (drum roll please...) MIKE'S FAMOUS EGGNOG!!!

Dear Reader, enjoy the holidays but do me a favor and don't drink and drive. Love you.

Eggnog in Quantity

• Be sure to use good fresh eggs. The best eggs have a firm orange yolk and are from hens that have access to free range.
• Use heavy whipping cream. This is not a drink that is successful in a low fat version.
• Use good quality liquor. I use a combination of liquors to spread out the flavors. The saying that "nothing succeeds like excess" is especially true when it comes to adding booze to the eggnog. The Brits say that "Christmas brandy will make you randy", so add an extra splash.
• Use fresh nutmeg kernels and grate onto each serving as desired.

Beat separately until light in color
12 egg yolks
Beat in gradually
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
Add very slowly, beating constantly
2 c. dark rum, brandy, or bourbon
These liquors form the basis of the "nog", and you may choose one
variety or mix to taste.

Let mixture stand covered for 1 hour to dispel the "eggy" taste.

Add, beating constantly,
3 cups of liquor (I use a combination and include some Kahlua)
2 quarts whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla (or to taste)
Refrigerate covered for 3 hours.

Beat until stiff but not dry
12 egg whites

Fold egg whites lightly into the other ingredients. Serve sprinkled
with fresh nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Yield is about 1 gallon. I always make a double batch. With all that liquor it keeps very well refrigerated. The egg whites will separate after standing so fold them back in. A jar of this eggnog makes a great holiday present. Have a cup while opening your presents. You'll love them all!

This is a very rich, high-cholesterol, high-octane eggnog. Do not operate heavy equipment after drinking.