Tag Archives: cajun recipes

Kids in the Kitchen: Escargot and Turtle Soup

If you’ve been following along with Kids in the Kitchen for any length of time, I’m sure you can guess who was in the kitchen this time around by the title of the post. Most kids wouldn’t choose escargot and turtle to prepare. Brandan, however, thrives on trying new things. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how readily the dishes were received by some other members of the family. Brittany actually expressed how excited she was to try escargot. (Matt, not so much, but he did try it, at least.) The turtle soup was also well-received, considering it was so foreign to the kids.

My husband and I are quite familiar with escargot. It’s one of our favorite indulgences, albeit something we rarely have an opportunity to enjoy. (And now, I hesitate to try to enjoy it with non-dairy butter, because I’m afraid it just won’t be the same. If any of my dairy-free friends have tried it and have advice, please share!) The kids, however, never tried it before and were eager. Brandan was surprised (and perhaps disappointed?) when he didn’t get to start with live snails. He was greeted instead by canned escargot and empty, clean snail shells. As for me, I would much rather skip the “nasty” part and would much prefer the easy route!

The turtle meat was difficult to source. I knew I saw it at one of our local Asian groceries at one point in time, but I visited a few days ago, and no luck. So I contacted a local seafood shop (Capt’n Dave’s Seafood Market) and was able to order the meat in time for this weekend. However, it certainly wasn’t cheap. The next “adventure” will certainly have to be a more budget-friendly meal, which, with Brandan’s tastes, will certainly require some negotiation.

The turtle soup required some time and prep work, but the easy and simplicity of the escargot offset that. But it was well worth it – the soup was a bit spicy, full of flavor, and the turtle meat emerged tender and delicious. (FYI, turtle meat is actually quite nice. The texture is similar to pork, in my mind, and the flavor just as mild.) The kids enjoyed it with french bread. But in their minds, the escargot stole the show. Buttery and garlicky, it was fun and delicious. I borrowed Jaden’s recipe at Steamy Kitchen, omitted the cognac, and it was perfect. If you eat dairy, this would be a great classic appetizer to impress.

For the escargot recipe, visit Steamy Kitchen here.

Gluten-Free Turtle Soup, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 lbs boneless turtle meat

2 3/4 t salt

3/4 t cayenne

6 c water

1/2 c grapeseed oil

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1 1/2 c chopped onions

1/4 c chopped bell peppers

1/4 c chopped celery

3 bay leaves

1/2 t dried rubbed sage

2 T minced garlic

1/2 c crushed tomatoes

1/2 c Worcestershire sauce

3 T fresh lemon juice

1/2 c dry sherry

1/4 c fresh chopped parsley

1/2 c chopped green onions

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

For garnish:

2 T chopped green onions

2 T chopped hard boiled eggs

Put the turtle meat in a large saucepan with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 t cayenne, and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and skim off the foam that rises to the top. Simmer for 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a platter, reserving liquid. Chop the meat to 1/2 inch dice. In another large saucepan, heat oil and rice flour over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, for 6 minutes. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and saute another 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves, sage, and garlic, and saute, stirring, another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and turtle meat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Worcestershire sauce, the remaining salt and cayenne, the reserved turtle stock, lemon juice, and sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the parsley, green onions, and eggs and simmer for 45 minutes. Garnish with green onions and eggs.

Serves 6-8.

Don’t Forget! There’s still time to enter into the giveaway for Gluten-Free Holiday! Visit here and enter for your chance to win a copy of Kelly and Peter Bronski’s Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking or Jules E Dowler Shephard’s Free For All Cooking!

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Seafood, Soups

Kids in the Kitchen: Cajun ‘Gator Tail and Dirty Rice

Yes, you read that right. ‘Gator tail. Brandan reaches for the stars when it comes to creative choices for dinner. I thought I had a source for ‘gator tail too – I saw a vendor at the Firewheel Four Seasons Farmers Market a few weeks ago selling all sorts of Gulf seafood, including alligator tail. However, when we arrived this morning, that vendor was nowhere to be found. Brandan and I made plans to come up with an alternative solution – we planned to visit a fish market and find some sort of seafood.

Later in the day, Brandan, my husband, and I visited Captain Dave’s Seafood Market in Plano and looked around. We had nearly decided on crab legs when lo and behold, my husband noticed that ‘gator tail was on their board. I inquired, and they had some in stock! We happily purchased it and hurried home to start our meal, which also included grilled corn and dirty rice.

Just for a bit of background, alligator tail, or ‘gator, is an exotic meat/seafood enjoyed around the Gulf coast of North America, in states such as Louisiana and Florida. Its flavor is mild (as that saying goes, it tastes kind of like chicken), and its texture is somewhat firmer and chewier than chicken or fish. It’s not something you’ll find an a regular grocery, although I’ve seen a few places where you can order it online. Before we cooked it tonight, I’d only eaten it in restaurants, and only deep-fried. (Way back in my pre-gluten-free days, of course) This was an adventure for all of us.

To keep with our Cajun theme, we opted for dirty rice. Dirty rice is a Cajun rice dish, somewhat similar to a pilaf, that traditionally has chicken livers or giblets cooked with it, giving it a dark or “dirty” appearance. While I love chicken livers, I didn’t have any on hand, so we opted to make a simpler version that still was packed with Cajun spices and flavor. I found some lovely pork sausage from Truth Hill Farm, a local farm with grass-fed beef, pork, dairy, and free range chickens laying healthy, farm-fresh eggs. It was a perfect ingredient for our rice.

When contemplating Cajun or Creole spices, who better to use as a reference than Emeril? It had been a long while since I made any of his Essence, so we took this opportunity to make some. It’s a great go-to spice mix, perfect for seasoning everything from chicken to seafood to gumbos or rice dishes. We used it for both our dirty rice and for the ‘gator – it was a great way to streamline the cooking process. When you’re cooking with a very energetic child, this is definitely a plus.  

The gator was simply seasoned with the Essence and grilled – much simpler than going through the process of frying, and Brandan and I both love to use the grill any opportunity we get. Since we had the grill going, we also wrapped some fresh corn on the cob in foil, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. With the dirty rice, this rounded out a great meal that everyone enjoyed. Only Matt wasn’t fond of the ‘gator tail – the rest of us thought it was pretty tasty. And the dirty rice was a winner with everyone – it might have to become something we make on a regular basis. (My only thought for improvement would be to swap out the white rice for brown, just because I love the texture of brown rice, and of course, it’s heartier and healthier.) Another adventure with Brandan in the kitchen was a success!

 

Dirty Rice 

1 c yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

1 small bell pepper, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

½ lb loose pork sausage

1 T Essence

2 c long-grain white rice

3 c chicken stock or water

2 bay leaves

 Place the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor and process until no large chunks remain. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown and crumble the pork sausage over medium heat. When browned, add the mixture from the food processor and sauté for another minute or two. Add the Essence and rice and stir. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Remove bay leaves. Fluff, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Grilled Alligator Tail

 3 lbs alligator tail, cut into 3 oz pieces

1/4-1/2 c Essence

Season ‘gator tail pieces with Essence. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place ‘gator tail on oiled grates and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until gator tail is firm and opaque.

 Serves 6.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Rice, Seafood