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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Introducing... TalkToChef!!

Some time ago I was invited to get in on the launch of a brand new service called "TalkToChef."  I'm super excited to be able to offer this on my site to you!  Look over there to the left of the screen.  There is a little red widget that looks like a chef's hat.  That's what you will click on to use the service.  It looks like this.....  --> 

Here's basically how it works... although I'm sure it will be outlined on the site:  

With over 1,000 professional chefs already on board, this service has been described as "A unique 911 video hotline for home cooks all around the world."  If you've ever Skyped your sweetheart, your grandchildren, or your online college course, this works just the same.

Step 1 - Press the Hotline button, located in the center of the page.

Step 2 - Select a cuisine, cooking method, and diet. 

Step 3 - Instantly connect with a culinary professional, and get your question answered.  As a user, you get to filter chefs by type of cuisine, method, and particular diet.  

Step 4 - Rate the chef, based on your experience, and make a voluntary donation.

So there you have it!  TaDA!!  
I hope it will be helpful for those of you who have culinary questions.  

Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on theMenuMusings facebook page.

Order the MenuMusings Cookbook!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Crab and Brie Soup

I first had this luxurious soup many years back in a South Louisiana restaurant named Dakota in Covington, Louisiana.  If you are ever near there, you owe it to yourself to pop in and have some.  As their signature soup, and because of the many awards and such that it has received, you can just imagine that it has been served at many festivals and culinary events around the region.  Sigh... well that doesn't really help us out at home much, now does it?  So recently, I made up my mind to get down to the business of making my own.  Surely if the culinary gods would smile down on me, this would be a perfect soup for a dinner party!  Let's do this!

OH  MY GOD!  I really could just end the paragraph right there.  Velvety.  Silky.  Rich.  Perfect. The flavors all come together, yet miraculously you can still taste the crab, the brandy, the mirepoix used to make the stock.  Just amazing.  Now admittedly, this isn't spa food - it's very rich and decadent. And yes, it's also on the pricier side to make.  We are definitely going to be filing this under the "special occasion" category.  But if you had such an occasion, and you made this for your special guests, they are ABSOLUTELY going to fall in love with you for doing it!  

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:  (serves 6-8)

  • 4 Tbsp butter (to begin)
  • 1 3/4 pounds blue crabs (about 4 good sized crabs)
    • needed for the stock
  • 1 medium onion, rough chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and rough chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, rough chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (later on)
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 8 oz Brie cheese, rind removed
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
  • optional garnish - sliced green onions 
Step-by-Step:     
*Note - In preparation for this, you will need fresh crabs that have been boiled, cleaned and cracked into large pieces.  
This process will not be included in depth in this tutorial.  But I will show you some photos of my sweet husband taking care of that for me.  :)  Just because we had such a fabulous time making this soup together!  You know... you have a beautiful afternoon, you put on some music that you both enjoy, and you make a great meal together.  Now THAT is a fun date!

We found these gorgeous blue crabs... fresh is best, folks!  Just like a scene from the movie Julie and Julia, somebody had to... ummm.. kill them!  So guess who got nominated for that job?  GREGG!
Into a pot of boiling water they went.  You will notice that they will lose their beautiful blue color almost immediately, turning an orangish/red color. 
Allow them to boil for about 5 minutes.  You will probably notice that a lot of yellowish orange sudsy bubbles will start rising to the surface.  That's normal.  It's just the fat cooking out of them.
After about 5 minutes, drain the crabs and clean them.  You may have to visit a YouTube channel for that.  I didn't take photos of the whole process. :( You will need to remove the gills and guts and stuff.... Again - Gregg did that part for me.
Heat the 4 Tbsp butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until almost frothy.  Add the cracked crabs to the butter and saute them for about 5 minutes.  The shells will start getting a bit brown and toasted. 
4 Tbsp butter
4 blue crabs, steamed and cleaned, and cracked into large pieces
 Notice the shells will start to brown up as the butter browns and gets toasty.

Add the onions, carrots, celery garlic, and bay leaves, and continue to cook until the vegetables soften.  Always add the garlic last in that series, after the onions and carrots, so the garlic won't burn.  The onions and carrots will bring down the temperature of the hot butter a bit and act as a buffer for the garlic which is much more 'fragile.' 
Have your mise en place ready.  This is a basic mirepoix of celery, onions, carrots, plus garlic and bay leaves.
We have brandy and white wine.
 1 medium onion, rough chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and rough chopped
3 ribs of celery, rough chopped
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
Oh, it's coming along beautifully.  Browned butter, toasted crab shells, all those vegetables cooking down.  Mmmm.
You want a peek?
Add the brandy.  Bring it to a boil, then carefully touch a flame to it.  (You might want to turn off your fire first if you are using a gas stove.)  
1/4 cup brandy
Definitely do not skip the step with the brandy.  That subtle sweetness in the background... oh my gosh!  With this recipe, just when you don't think the smell can get any better, it keeps getting better!

After the flames die down, add the wine, and bring that to a boil.
1 cup dry white wine
 Gorgeous!  - and we haven't even finished with the stock!
After a minute of two of boiling, add the two quarts of water and bring to a simmer.  Over medium-low heat, keep the simmer going for about a half-hour.  
2 qt water 

After half an hour, strain the soup into another pot.  

In another smaller pot, heat the 1/2 cup butter and stir in the flour.  Cook, while stirring, until the texture changes.  Careful not to really brown it.  We are making a blonde roux.  Add this roux to the soup pot and whisk in.
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour

I cooked it until it was about the color of peanut butter.
Add the roux to the soup
Bring to a full boil so that thickeners in the roux will work, then you can reduce the heat.
Meanwhile, slice the Brie into small pieces and add it into the pot.  
8 oz Brie cheese 
Tip - See those small pieces of rind that I left on?  You should take ALL of it off.  Consider it a lesson learned from me.  Brie rind is completely edible, but it does not melt well.

 Stir until the cheese melts completely.

Add in the cream, then season to taste with the salt and pepper.
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Okay, yes.  I did warn you.  It's rich... but oh SO delicious and silky and dare I say it?  Sexy!

2 tsp table salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
You don't really want to bring the soup to a hard boil after adding the cream.  A gentle boil is plenty.
Right before serving, add the lump crabmeat to individual bowls and ladle the hot soup over it.  I just added it on top for the photos so you could see what it was.    
Note - the lump crabmeat is already cooked when you buy it.  The hot soup just heats it up.  
Garnish as you like with a touch of black pepper and a sprinkle of green onions for color... or leave pure white if you prefer.



I hope you enjoyed this recipe for Crab and Brie Soup!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.
Connect with me.     
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on theMenuMusings facebook page.

Order the MenuMusings Cookbook!

You can also visit my YouTube page to check out short cooking video tutorials.
Here is an example of one for my version of a Skinny Mexican Pizza!  YUM!!  Just click the picture and view it right in this page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Mozzarella Caprese Skewers

Cajun Crawfish Bread

Pizza Poppin Muffins

Honey Soy Baked Sticky Chicken

Slow Braised Osso Buco Milanese

Cajun Chicken Salad

Homemade Snicker Bars


Written Method:   

*Note - In preparation for this, you will need fresh crabs that have been boiled, cleaned and cracked into large pieces.  

Heat the 4 Tbsp butter in a heavy pot over medium heat until almost frothy.  Add the cracked crabs to the butter and saute them for about 5 minutes.  The shells will start getting a bit brown and toasted. 

Add the onions, carrots, celery garlic, and bay leaves, and continue to cook until the vegetables soften.  Always add the garlic last in that series, after the onions and carrots, so the garlic won't burn.  The onions and carrots will bring down the temperature of the hot butter a bit and act as a buffer for the garlic which is much more 'fragile.' 
Add the brandy.  Bring it to a boil, then carefully touch a flame to it.  After the flames die down, add the wine, and bring that to a boil.  After a minute of two, add the two quarts of water and bring to a simmer.  Keep the simmer going over medium-low heat for about a half-hour. 

Strain the soup into another pot.  In another smaller pot, heat the 1/2 cup butter and stir in the flour.  Cook, while stirring, until the texture changes.  Careful not to really brown it. We are making a blonde roux.  Add this to the soup pot and whisk in.
Slice the Brie into small pieces and add it into the pot.  Stir until the cheese melts completely.  Add in the cream, then season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Right before serving, add the lump crabmeat to individual bowls and ladle the hot soup over it.  I just added it on top for the photo so you could see what it was.  Garnish as you like with a touch of pepper and a sprinkle of green onions for color... or leave pure white if you prefer.  
Note - the lump crabmeat is already cooked when you buy it.  The hot soup just heats it up.  

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