Food + Drink

From the Chronicle Kitchen: Treme

We are beyond delighted to have Lolis Eric Elie—staff writer, story editor, and author of just released cookbook tie-in Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans—as our guest blogger this week. The fourth and final season of HBO’s acclaimed series will begin airing on December 1st.

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I like food porn as much as the next man. My cookbook shelf sags under the weight of detailed tomes featuring beautiful recipes from great chefs and their unsung photographers and food stylists. Deluded though I often am, even I know I’ll never cook most of those recipes, much like I know I’ll never meet—let alone romance—those beautiful women I see pictured in magazines, lounging on beaches in Rio or Kerala.

For you, dear reader, I offer the best of both worlds. Here we have two dishes that look like food porn (thank you Ed, Christine and Lillian!), but cook up easily and without the assistance of sous vide water baths, $1,000 chef’s knives and expensive ingredients. I know these dishes work because long before they were in the cookbook, they were being prepared in my very own kitchen, by my very own personal chef—me!

First up, brunch: Oatmeal and Fresh Berry Parfaits with Chantilly Cream.

The clever layering of the fruit, cream and oatmeal lend an elegance to this dish that a more straightforward plating would lack. To raise the bar even higher, serve it with a nice dessert Champagne.

For simple and savory, try Pasta with Shrimp, Garlic and Parsley.

The trick here is to use a large fork to wrap the pasta around itself so that the strands form little nests. Thus you add a touch of elegance to what is otherwise merely simple and tasty.

With these two recipes, mastering the dishes is easy. If you can master that plating, you’ll impress the eyes and please the taste buds.

Oatmeal And Fresh Berry Parfaits With Chantilly Cream

A common thing on menus these days is mixing up expectations—revers­ing sweet and savory recipes, or taking a breakfast classic and making it into a dinner dish. While everyone else was doing foie gras French toast or truffled bread pudding, I wanted to come up with a different way to use plain old oatmeal. It’s a perfect brunch dish.

You’ll notice a lot of hints about timing in this recipe; read them carefully, as you want the berries macerated enough to be supremely juicy and flavor­ful, but not broken down too much or soggy, and a beautiful peak of soft whipped cream.

6 cups fresh blueberries, black­berries, or strawberries, or a combination
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons fruit liqueur such as pear brandy, elderflower liqueur, or orange-flavored liqueur
1 cup uncooked oatmeal, prefer­ably steel-cut
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup loosely packed light or dark brown sugar

Chantilly Cream
1 quart heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

About 2 hours before assembling the parfaits for serving, if using strawberries, stem them and cut into pieces about the same size as the other berries. Put all the berries in a medium glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel bowl. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and liqueur and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the sweetened liqueur to the berries and stir gently with a rubber spatula until the berries are well coated with the syrup, being careful not to break up the berries. Cover with plas­tic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, stirring very gently about every 45 minutes with the spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the oatmeal according to the package directions. Then cover and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Just before assembling the parfaits, gently rewarm the oatmeal over low heat; thin with a little water, if needed. (It shouldn’t be too hot, or it will melt the Chantilly cream.) Add the butter and brown sugar and stir to mix well. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Also just before assembling, make the cream: In a large bowl, combine the heavy cream, sour cream, liqueur, and vanilla. Whisking by hand or using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the mixture just until soft peaks form, 5 to 10 minutes if beating by hand or about 3 minutes if using an electric mixer.

To assemble the parfaits, layer in each glass 2 tablespoons oatmeal, then 2 tablespoons drained berries, then 2 tablespoons Chantilly cream, then another 2 tablespoons oatmeal. Top with more berries, dividing them evenly, and end with 1 tablespoon Chantilly cream on top of parfait with a few more berries for garnish. Serve at once, with long-handled spoons.

Makes 6 servings

Pasta with Shrimp, Garlic, and Parsley

Toni: Fresh shrimp are cheap and plentiful in New Orleans, so you can make this dish any time of year. All this garlic, olive oil, and parsley smell up the kitchen so much that mouths are watering before the dish hits the plate.

1/2 pound dried angel hair pasta or linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons dry white wine

Bring a pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir once or twice, and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes for angel hair or according to package directions. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the red pepper flakes and sauté until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the pasta, parsley, and wine and sauté for 1 more minute to allow the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve at once.

Makes 2 servings

Purchase: Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans.

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