Missing in action… FOOD to keep you company!

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East meets west in my first blog post from my phone….

The steak was marinated with over 14 spices along with red wine. Then grilled until medium-well. Garnished with additional spice rub. Very American.

Bhindi masala- whole fried okra….only that the oil is infused with cumin, garam masala, curry, and love! East Indian.

Batata Harra – baked potato cubes, tossed with cilantro, garlic and cayenne pepper… With added extra virgin olive oil. Lebanese.

What a great meal!

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Aceey’s Vegetarian Arroz con Gandules Recipe (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

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Aceey's Veggie Arroz con Gandules

I absolutely adore Puerto Rico! It’s gorgeous, it’s fabulous, and it’s lovely! If you are a cook or a chef, you’d have an amazing time in Puerto Rico. While I was there, I found out how profound the African Slave Trade attributed to many of their national dishes. Puerto Rican cuisine, however, is not spicy 😦 so I have to add cayenne pepper to all my Puerto Rican meals I make at home.

Soraya has an awesome recipe online for the healthy carne version of this dish. There are also many other authentic recipes (with puerco, pork) online. I keep my meat consumption to a bare minimum nowadays so here is my veggie version of Arroz con Gandules.

Aceey's Arroz con Gandules Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup pigeon peas (dried beans that are cooked or frozen, do not use canned)
  • 2 tbs of canola oil
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1/4 green pepper, diced
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp Goya Sofrito
  • 1 tbsp Goya Recaito
  • 1 teaspoon of Liquid Smoke Concentrate
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Goya Sazon de Jambon (or you can use a vegetarian meat-flavored bouillion mix/cube)
  • 1/8 tsp Adobo seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Achoite seasoning
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 8-10 spanish olives with pimento
  • 1 1/3 cups water for cooking rice

Tools:

  • Large pot with tight fitting lid (look up “Dutch oven” or “caldera”)
  • Aluminum Foil to cover pot before putting on lid

Method:

1. Sautee onion + bell pepper with oil in dutch oven pot until translucent
Aceey's Arroz Con Gandules

2. Add garlic. Then add all seasonings (except cilantro), capers and olives. Continue to sauté all.
Aceey's Arroz Con Gandules

3. Stir in pigeon peas, add rice. Pour water over mixture.Add cilantro sprigs then bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Aceey's Arroz Con Gandules

4. Cover pot with foil and then with the lid. Cook under low heat for about 20 minutes.
Aceey's Arroz Con Gandules

5. Remove from heat. Stir rice into a dome formation. Cover again and let rest/steam for 20 minutes.

Aceey's Arroz con Gandules Served

No time for garnishing, I was hungry! Yummy in the tummy!

I served my rice with greens, tostones, and a raw pina colada (I’ll post the recipe for the raw pina colada soon).

Ode to McKenzie’s Bakery and My Tribute: Aceey’s Big Stuff Turtles!

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McKenzie's Bakery Sign

When I was younger, I lived four blocks away from one of the best bakeries in the world, McKenzie’s! I miss them so much—often imitated but never duplicated! They were all over the New Orleans area and they had the best desserts!


Above is a clip of a documentary which featured McKenzie’s Bakery! Delish!

 They had everything… and more!

fresh donuts – my favorite was the Bavarian crème filled donuts with powdered sugar on top.

mini pineapple upside down cakes.

buttermilk drops – fried round donuts made with buttermilk and glazed with sugar syrup.

wine/rum cakes with rum syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry on top! Yum!

-One McKenzie’s bakery sold chicken… in a box! YES!

Chicken in a Box in the 7th Ward

Chicken in a Box off Foy Street - New Orleans

blackout cake – chocolate cake with frosting made with chocolate pudding, covered in chocolate cake crumbs.

-and my favorite… Mckenzie’s Turtles!

Thinking of McKenzie’s brings back so many fond memories, with my favorite being spending quality time with my mother. When I was a little girl, she would take me to McKenzie’s and buy a mini wine cake, beautifully decorated and enclosed in a sugary, rum syrup in a white gift box. We would then walk a couple of blocks down to the Mississippi river, sit on the grass and indulge. She didn’t know that she made me feel so rich! I’m salivating at the thought of all that butter I had as a kid!

Emeril's tribute to McKenzie's Turtles

Emeril's tribute to McKenzie's Turtles

Turtles were little shortbread cookies with ground pecans baked in, with a dollop of chocolate frosting in the shape of a Hershey’s Kiss. They look a little like turtles, especially if pastry chefs put three pecan halves at the bottom of each shortbread cookie before baking (two pecans halves for the “feet” and one pecan half for the “head.”) As a kid, being greedy, I would buy four turtles, being able to eat only two at a time because of the extreme amount of butter in the treats.  Eating them was a ritualistic science: I first licked all the chocolate off, then threw the whole cookie in, melting it in my mouth (IT WAS THAT SERIOUS!). Needless to say, I was never the smallest kid in school due to my daily addiction to McKenzie’s bakery (I was 4’11” and 185 lbs thanks to my daily fix of McKenzie’s).

A ton of variations of the Turtle cookie has been presented both online and in many bakeries all over the world. And I made my own… which I have amorously named the “Bruce Banner Turtles!”

Aceey's Big Stuff Turtle Cookies

Aceey's Ode to McKenzie's, "Big Stuff Turtle Cookies"

Why did I name them “Bruce Banner Turtles?”

-The cookies are HUGE! Each one is the size of the palm of my hand. Usually turtles are about 1 ½ inches in diameter butI got tired of carrying so many around, I decided to make them larger than life.

-Bruce Banner’s alter ego is green. Sea turtles are green, lol! And I am corny. 🙂

“The Incredible Hulk Turtles” sound silly… yeah, I know “Bruce Banner Turtles” sound silly, too. Ok Ok, I’ll call them “Aceey’s Big Stuff Turtles” then, hahahha! 😀

Did I mention that my cookies were gluten free and organic? You know me, I love mixing the healthy with the sweet!

How did I do it? Sorry pookies, I didn’t measure for this recipe but here is a list of the ingredients:

Shortbread:

  • all purpose flour
  • a ton of butter
  • vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • ton of sugar
  • ground pecans

Frosting:

  • cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract
  • tapioca starch
  • a ton of powdered sugar
  • milk
  • Extra pecans for garnish

I formed the dough into large cookies and baked. Then I used a plastic sandwich bag as a piping bag to make the dollops on each cookie. I wanted to add my own fattening, personal touch to the cookie so I added pecan halves on the top instead of the bottom of each cookie.

These cookies were so good that I made a vow to never ever make them in the house again due to the fear of eating them all… no self control! lol

If you are fromNew Orleans, I wonder what was your favorite McKenzie’s moment. I’ve got too many to count. Take care! 🙂

Aceey's Big Stuff Turtle Cookies

P.S.: Still need help with this blog.

Aceey’s King Cake Recipe for the Wimps and Time-Conscious

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Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme

This is the easy version of my King Cake Recipe. As usual amounts are approximate as I do not measure.

For the Cake

  • 2 packages of cinnamon rolls (tube or freezer section, thawed)

1. Open up packages of rolls and unravel the rolls, cinnamon side up. Take three strips and braid them as if you were doing hair. Repeat 4 times with remaining strips.
2. Take these four braids and pinch them together, creating a circle (looks like Challah Bread). Place on baking sheet and let rise until it doubles (about an hour).
3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until the dough is light brown and cooked. Remove from oven. Brush with more butter to keep soft while making glaze.

For the Topping:

  • Reserved cinnamon roll icing included with packages
    1 box powdered sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar divided in three bowls
  • Food Coloring (red, blue, yellow, green)
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup of milk (may need additional milk)
    ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • jarred pitted cherries (optional)

1. Mix well the icing, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl until smooth. You may need to add more or less milk. Set aside.

2. For the colored sugar: take one portion of the white sugar and add to it three drops of red food coloring and 2 drops of blue food coloring. Begin mixing—the sugar should start to turn purple. You can keep adding drops of food coloring until you get the perfect purple! For the gold sugar, just add 3 drops of yellow food coloring to the second portion of the white sugar and mix. Do the same to make the green sugar (if you don’t have green food coloring, don’t forget that yellow + blue = green).

3. Pour the powdered sugar mixture over your king cake. Then sprinkle the colored sugars, alternating between colors, going around the king cake. Keep portions of the cake white—that’s where you will put your cherry.

Variation: If you are a Saints fan, get black food coloring! Make a Black n Gold King Cake! YEA!

Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme

Aceey’s King Cake Recipe for the Pros!

Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme
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Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme

 If you’re from New Orleans, this recipe does not need an introduction! I posted this for New Orleanians away from home. I have also made a King Cake Recipe for the Wimps and Time Conscious because the real deal takes hours to make. Warning: amounts are approximate as I do not measure.

 For the Cake

  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 additional cup butter, softened

Method:
1. Warm the milk in a saucepan and add ½ cup butter until melted. Set aside.

2. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a big bowl. Add the egg, warm water and milk. Mix then knead with additional flour (use a big breadmaker/mixer if you have one) for about five minute.

3. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes (sometimes I like to sit the dough on a warm clothes dryer); In a separate bowl, mix cinnamon, brown sugar, and 1 cup melted butter.

4. Roll out the dough in a large, thick rectangle.  Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the dough and then cut dough lengthwise in 12 long strips.

5. Take three strips and braid them as if you were doing hair. Repeat 4 times with remaining strips.

6. Take these four braids and pinch them together, creating a circle (looks like Challah Bread). Place on baking sheet and let rise until it doubles (about an hour).

7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until the dough is brown. Remove from oven. Brush with more butter to keep soft while making glaze (optional).

For the Topping:

  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar divided in three bowls
  • Food Coloring (red, blue, yellow, green)
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ cup of milk (may need additional milk)
    ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • jarred pitted cherries (optional)

1. Mix well the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and milk in a bowl until smooth. You may need to add more or less milk. Set aside.

2. For the colored sugar: take one portion of the white sugar and add to it three drops of red food coloring and 2 drops of blue food coloring. Begin mixing—the sugar should start to turn purple. You can keep adding drops of food coloring until you get the perfect purple! For the gold sugar, just add 3 drops of yellow food coloring to the second portion of the white sugar and mix. Do the same to make the green sugar (if you don’t have green food coloring, don’t forget that yellow + blue = green).

3. Pour the powdered sugar mixture over your king cake. Then sprinkle the colored sugars, alternating between colors, going around the king cake. Keep portions of the cake white—that’s where you will put your cherry.

Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme
Delicious King Cake Made From Scratch by Aceey Emme

(This is my first blog post so please be gentle)