Portobello Mushrooms Tommaso

From Big John ...

What can we do with portobello mushrooms other than straight grilling? They look so good even in a plastic-wrapped package that you want to figure out new uses for them. This recipe starts with a light, dry grilling to take some of the moisture out of the mushrooms so they'll hold together better. The Italian sausage is then broken up with some classic savory vegetable

es for a Creole-Italian take on stuffed mushrooms. The filling is quite loose, but avoid the temptation to stick it back together with cheese or bread crumbs.

These are good as an appetizer, or as an entree with pasta bordelaise. You can make the same recipe with smaller mushrooms for finger food.

8 large portobello mushrooms
3 links spicy Italian sausage, removed from casing
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 bulb fennel (anise), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
Dash soy sauce
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Romano cheese
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Brush the dirt off the mushrooms and place them cap side down on a medium-hot skillet or griddle for about a minute, until they flatten out slightly. Remove to an oven pan or cookie sheet.

2. Break the sausage into a skillet and cook with 1/4 cup water over medium heat. Keep stirring to keep the sausage from clumping up. Cook until all the water has been absorbed and no pink is left in the sausage. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with two thicknesses of paper towel.

3. Pour off the fat from the skillet and wipe it lightly with a paper towel. Heat the olive oil in the same pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, bell pepper, and fennel or celery, and cook until just beginning to soften.

4. Add the wine, lemon juice, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil while stirring now and then. After a minute, add the sausage and the parsley back and cook until nearly dry.

5. Remove the pan contents to a bowl. Add the bread crumbs, Romano cheese and salt. Stir in with a kitchen fork to loosen up the mix.

6. Spoon the mixture very loosely onto the upturned mushrooms and run under the broiler until the mixture starts to sizzle and the bread crumbs are toasted--about two or three minutes.
Serves four entrees or eight appetizers (or 24 small stuffed mushroom)



Baked Speckled Trout

From Big John ...

The spotted seatrout, commonly called speckled trout, is one of the most popular sport fish along the Louisiana coast. Its abundance, willingness to hit natural and artificial baits, and fine eating qualities make the species extremely popular with anglers. It has been commercially harvested in all the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. However, a decline in harvest of spot

ted seatrout in recent years caused Alabama and Texas to close commercial fishing of the species. The record spotted seatrout caught was 37.25 inches and 15.6 pounds.


6 strips bacon
1 med onion, chopped
1 cup apple, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 lemons, sliced thin
4 lb speckled trout, dressed
1 cup butter
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
dash salt and pepper, to taste


Mix onion, apple, lemon and green pepper in a bowl.

Separately place 3 strips bacon in the bottom of a large baking pan.

Sprinkle fish with spices, rub into fish.

Place fish on bacon strips and put vegetable mixture around it and in cavity.

Add remaining three bacon slices on top of fish.

Melt butter, add it to Worcestershire and soy sauce and pour over fish.

Bake at 375 degrees, basting several times, until fish is done and flakes easily with a fork.

Red Snapper With Artichokes and Mushrooms

From Big John ...

Redfish with a sauce of artichokes, capers, mushrooms, and butter appears on the menus of quite a few New Orleans restaurants. It's delicious far beyond the promise of its description or even appearance. Trout, redfish, flounder, lemonfish, sheepshead, or striped bass also work for this recipe. So do really big oysters or shrimp.

The dish was invented at
Brennan's, where it still can be had (with fish or veal) under the name Kottwitz. The best practitioners, however, are the Impastato brothers Joe (at Impastato's in Metairie) and Sal (Sal And Judy's, in Lacombe). As an option, they will take the idea another step beyond and add crabmeat, shrimp or both. The resulting dish bears the name of the current Saints head coach.

4 red snapper, trout, redfish, drum, or sheepshead fillets, 6-8 oz.
Juice of 1/2 lemon, strained
1 cup flour
1 Tbs. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
3 eggs, beaten
4 Tbs. butter

2 fresh artichoke bottoms (or canned)
8 artichoke hearts, quartered
1/3 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
2 Tbs. sliced green onions
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. chopped French shallots
1 Tbs. smallest possible capers
2 Tbs. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks butter

1. If using fresh artichoke bottoms for the sauce, poach until soft in water with a little lemon juice and 1 Tbs. salt. Cut the artichokes into eighths and set aside.

2. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the fish fillets. Stir the salt and pepper into the flour with a fork, and dredge the fillets in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess flour, dip the fillets in the beaten eggs, and dredge through the flour again. Knock off the excess flour.

2. Heat the 4 Tbs. butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet and sauté until the fish is cooked--about three minutes per side. Remove the fish and keep warm.

4. To make the sauce, add the white wine to the pan in which you sautéed the fish, and whisk to dissolve the pan juices. Bring to a boil until the wine is reduced by two-thirds. Lower the heat to medium and add all the remaining sauce ingredients except the butter. Cook until the mushrooms no longer break when flexed.

5. Lower the heat to almost off, and add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, agitating the pan until the butter has blended in completely.

6. Place the fish on serving plates and top with the sauce.

Serves four.

Marinated Shrimp with Artichokes

From Big John ...

Louisiana white shrimp appear in late summer and fall. I believe they are the world's best shrimp. Here's a chilled shrimp dish that qualifies, I suppose, as Creole antipasto. It's pretty good as is, served chilled. Or you can toss it with greens or with cooked, chilled pasta as a salad.

1/2 cup Creole mustard
2 eggs
1/2 Tbs. salt
1/3 t

sp. red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped green onion
3/4 cup chopped chives

2 Tbs. salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs. liquid crab boil
2 lbs. medium-large shrimp, peeled
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1. Mix the mustard, eggs, salt, and red pepper in a food processor. (You can also use a wire whisk in a bowl.) Add the oil a few drops at a time while continuing the blend the egg mixture. When the mixture begins to thicken, increase the oil addition to a thin stream. Blend until well mixed. Add the vinegar, green onions, chives, and parsley.

2. Bring one quart of water to a rolling boil in a saucepan, with the salt, lemon juice, and crab boil. After the water has boiled for three minutes, add the shrimp. When the water returns to a boil, turn off the heat and allow the shrimp to steep in the water for about four minutes--until they're pink and firm. (When you first wonder whether the shrimp are cooked, that's when they are.) Strain out the shrimp and allow them to cool for a few minutes.

3. Blend the shrimp and the artichokes into the sauce. Cover the bowl and put it into the refrigerator to marinate for at least one hours. Serve tossed with salad greens, tomatoes, or chilled pasta--or all by itself.

Serves eight appetizers.


Sriracha Crab Ravigote

From Big John ...

crab served over fried green tomatoes ...

1/3 cup mayo, preferably homemade or a good quality store brand
juice of half a lemon
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet yellow or orange pepper, chopped
generous squeeze of sriracha
pinch of Cayenne pepper
pinch of sweet paprika
salt and white pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish
1 pound domestic back fin crab meat - preferably Maryland or Gulf crab

Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce first and adjust seasonings to taste. Slowly and gently fold into the crab until just combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Fried Green Tomatoes
2 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup AP flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup fine cornmeal with a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Dip the tomato slices into the flour, then egg, then cornmeal. Fry in canola oil over high heat until crisp, about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Serve immediately with the crab portioned on top, garnished with parsley.