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Quick and Delicious Appetizer Recipes Inspired by Julia and Emeril
First Experiences With Julia
Over 20 years ago I began a career as a cook, starting at the bottom and working my way up. I have had some formal training through culinary school, however, I have acquired most of my experience by working in kitchens. Early on I stumbled across the cooking shows on PBS and life changed. There on the screen was a 6 foot 2 inch ravenous lady with an accent, who cooked with attitude and gusto. She always had a witty quote to throw out, like this favorite: "A party without cake is just a meeting"
Julia Child was always a comfort to watch as she would whip up French-inspired cuisine and add her special touch to each ingredient along the way. Even though she went to one of the finest girl schools and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, she did come from humble a background. She had a way of reaching anyone with her personality, and I was no exception.
Her greatest achievement was her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This book broke down the barrier, that was perceived by many people at the time, that French cooking is extremely difficult for the American public to replicate in their own kitchens. Julia opened up this wonderful world to the masses, and she did it with her unique style of grace.
Pork Fat Rules
Shortly after I discovered Julia on PBS, I also came across a very energetic man from the South. Emeril Lagasse loves Creole food and his debut on the TV Food Network was a godsend. The station was launched in 1993, at the peak of my interest in the culinary industry. He, just like Julia, is known for his witty cliches like "Pork fat rules" and "You should always season both sides of your meat. I hate one-sided tasting food."
Emeril's philosophies still remain with me in the kitchen to this day. He always preached that good food is the result of seasoning every ingredient, because it "creates layers of flavor." I have had many instances when the chef would tell me not to worry so much about seasoning everything. Inside, I knew better - Emeril is right.
Oh My...The Power of Bacon
I don't think that any other ingredient gets more raves in the culinary world than bacon. As a chef who works in a local university kitchen, I have found that if you put a little bacon on whatever you are creating, people love it. If you have any kind of leftovers from the night before, say for example meatloaf, you can turn it into a hot item with the appeal of bacon.
Emeril loves all pork products and he is a master with this cured belly ingredient. His use of bacon takes many forms like his recipe for Rumaki (you can find all the instructions for it at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/rumaki-recipe.html#!). I really like his use of the water chestnuts, but I'm not a real fan of the chicken livers.
Emeril's Recipe for Rumaki
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 Tablespoon ginger root, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 12 ounces chicken livers, rinsed, drained and cut into 24 pieces
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 1 (4-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and cut into 24 pieces
- 12 slices bacon, cut in half lengthwise
- 24 skewers or toothpicks
My Modified Version of Rumaki
A Little Neighborhood Get Together
Recently the folks who live on my street were hosting the annual "Winefest" that has been a tradition for about 5 years. Since everyone knows I am a chef, there is a bit of an expectation that I'm going to bring something good to the table. I decided that simply wrapping bacon around water chestnuts would be a delicious choice. The process is very simple and greatly rewarding (the photo above is fresh from my oven):
To make 24 skewers you will need:
- One pound of good bacon and two small cans (6-ounce) whole water chestnuts.
- I like to take the bacon package and cut it in half down the middle, creating half strips of bacon.
- Then open the bacon the rest of the way and roll each strip around a chestnut, securing the end by skewering a toothpick through the chestnut and out the other side, at a slight angle.
- Be careful not to skewer your finger! It really hurts, I've done it. It might help to use a pan on the counter top to set the chestnut on to be skewered. That way the point hits the pan, not your finger.
- Next, set your broiler on low. Drop your rack to the second row from the top and crisp up your little pork gems until the bacon is golden brown.
- If you like your bacon crispy all the way around, then turn over with tongs once one side is browned.
- Voila! Your friends, family and neighbors will be amazed and drool all over themselves after popping one of these in their mouth!
Emeril Kicks It Up A Notch!
Here's an old school video for a great way to present these modified appetizers using ingredients that create an amazing sensation on your palette.
Bacon, Emeril Style....Bam!
You Can't Eat Just One (Yes, a Lay's Potato Chip Spoof)
I am seldom comfortable with bringing just one dish to a gathering, I have to showcase at least two. In my mental search for a second appetizer, I found some inspiration from Julia Child. In the video you can watch at the end of this hub, you will view Julia and a very special guest create a sandwich with ingredients that follow a basic component structure.
It is always nice to balance out your proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Also I find eye appeal especially important because everyone tends to believe, and it's true - if it looks good, then it's going to taste good. The eyes are the portal to the stomach and half the battle in pleasing the taste buds of your guests.
Components of Tasty Cuisine
The crostinis you see in these pictures were inspired by some basic components that Julia and her dear friend Jacques Pepin create in the video at the end of this hub. I thought it would be a nice touch because those two chefs have a very unique chemistry.
They work well together on stage and I believe this is true because they both have tender hearts. Even though Julia is rather forceful in ways, sometimes (in this case Jacques wants white wine as a pairing, and Julia will have none of that. It must be Samuel Adams beer), Jacques will give in to her request and the show flows smoothly.
They use five ingredients in their sandwich:
- Good quality, crusty bread
- Leaf lettuce as a base
- Greek olives for a nice bite
- Brie cheese, which will add a nice creamy texture
- Simple tomato slices that provide moisture and fresh flavor
These ingredients represent the basic components of any well-prepared dish in that there is a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. I use this as a model for my second appetizer which was also quite a hit at the Winefest as well.
My five ingredients:
- Nice crusty loaf of French bread from our St. Louis Bread Company
- Sun-dried tomatoes, thinly julienned
- Fresh mozzarella cheese for that gooey delicious binding ingredient
- Garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil drizzled across the top
- Fresh chiffonade basil from my garden
You first want to toast your French bread crotinis under a low broiler until slightly browned. Then top with ingredients and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese melts. And there you have it!
A Wonderful Duo Whom I Love
For Fans of Julia
Do you have a favorite quote that you adore or makes you laugh?