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Thomas The Accidental Gourmet

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Caribbean French Toast Casserole

We try, once a year, to charter a boat with another couple and sail around the Caribbean. Jenn and I typically do food duty.

Actually, I typically do food duty, and Jenn does drink and bikini duty. But once a trip she does cook a meal.

At the beginning of the week, we provision the boat. Invariably, we get not enough rum and too much bread.

Toward the end, the bread is getting a little stale, and we've stopped somewhere (several times) to replenish our rum supply. Unfortunately, our livers usually cry "uncle" by day five, so we've also over-bought the rum.

What to do? Make breakfast, of course.

Caribbean French Toast Casserole

What You Need

1 loaf french bread
6-8 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
coco lopez
1 can crushed pineapple (if you happen to have some fresh chopped pineapple that's been soaking in vanilla rum, brown sugar and ginger overnight, that's even better...)
1/2 - 1 cup gold rum (also known as "enough" rum to get the bread soaked)

What To Do With It

Cut french bread into 1 inch slices, brush with butter, and toast to golden brown
After you toast the bread, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch squares

Beat the eggs, add 1/2 can coco lopez, 1 can crushed pineapple, cinnamon and rum in a large bowl. Combine bread with liquid until bread is fully soaked. If there is not enough liquid to soak the bread (shouldn't be sitting in liquid but everything should be wet), beat some more eggs, and combine with more coco lopez, rum, and cinnamon.

Butter a rectangular glass pan.

Pour into pan, sprinkle with cinnamon. Let sit overnight. (You don't have to do this but it is better this way).

Next morning, drizzle some rum on it (notice a theme here?), put a few pats of butter around the dish and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

You've just created french toast in a casserole pan, but you shouldn't need syrup with this.

A little more rum, though, never hurt anyone.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spicy Mussels in Coconut Milk Broth

Last night my wife decided she was tired of steak. Instead, she wanted halibut ... until we got to the store. Then, though she still wanted seafood, she didn't want any fish. That leaves crustaceans and bivalves, we just had shrimp the other night and we didn't want to spend the kind of money that lobster or crab takes.

So we zeroed in on mussels. It's been a while since we've had them. Years, in fact. Too long for me to remember how I used to make them. But I did remember a dish we had at a restaurant that had coconut milk as a base. I set out to create my own version.

It turned out pretty well, I must say.

Spicy Mussels in Coconut Milk Broth

What You Need
24 mussels
2 tbsp. shallots, chopped
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
1 serrano, deseeded and sliced thin (or leave the seeds in for extra heat)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 mushrooms, diced
1 can coconut milk
2 cups dry white wine (or champagne)
4 cloves
1 tsp coriander
1/2 lemon
1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro

Chicken broth
Rice sticks (rice vermicelli)

What To Do With It

First, purge the mussels. Set them in cold water. They'll "evacuate" any sand.
Next grind up the coriander and cloves. (I used a mortar & pestle. A mini food processor will work. If not, use 1/2 tsp of curry powder.)
Saute the garlic, shallots, ginger and serranos.
Pour in the wine and coconut milk. Squeeze in the lemon and 1/2 lime. Simmer on medium for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Continue to simmer. Add water if it's getting too thick. Salt to taste. If it's not spicy enough for you, add some red pepper.

When you add the mushrooms, put on a pot with 1/4 chicken broth and 3/4 water to boil (this will be for your rice sticks). Once it boils, throw in the rice sticks.

After 2 minutes (when your rice sticks should be almost done, if not all the way), put the mussels and 1/2 the cilantro in the coconut milk. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook 3 minutes.

While this is going on, remove the rice sticks, drain and wash with cold water for 2 minutes(otherwise, they'll make your broth very thick, trust me.)

Serve by placing the rice sticks in a bowl, then adding mussels and broth. Add a couple drops of lime juice and fresh cilantro on top.

Serve with a bottle of prosecco. We used Riondo Spago Nero Prosecco.