Gretchen McKay

Sexy cookbooks provide recipes for a hot meal

Illustration by Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette


Sex and food have been intertwined ever since the first man got evicted from the Garden of Eden, just for accepting an afternoon snack from a naked woman.

Entire volumes have been written about the power of aphrodisiacs, those irresistible substances that many are convinced will make sex more pleasurable, not to mention easier to get. Lately, that includes a number of cookbooks offering recipes that incorporate the world’s most sensual foods with the goal of . . . well, you know!

There are more such publications than you might think. I know this because I spent the last couple of weeks paging through more than a half-dozen e-books with steamy titles on my Kindle. One was so naughty, it included a parental advisory on the cover, along with a salmon recipe “guaranteed to get women in bed”; another paired recipes with racy poems and even racier pictures. Who knew a pair of apples photographed just so could be so sexy?

You might be intrigued, too. Especially today on Valentine’s Day, when everybody’s trying to figure out how to best express their love and desire.

Here’s what I learned from the best of the lot, which include “The Better Sex Cookbook by Josephine De Lorme (Devarouxe Media, $8.95 Kindle edition),” “The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations for Lovers” by Diane Brown (Innova, $16.95), and the witty (but extremely dirty) “Lust-Have Recipes, A Cookbook: IN-Gredients for Stimulation” by C. Nzingha Smith (SNC2 INK Books, $4.99 Kindle edition).

Chocolate Mousse/Gretchen McKay

Chocolate and oysters are among the most famous of the so-called “love foods” said to get things cookin’ in the kitchen and beyond — the former because it causes the brain to release feel-good endorphins, and the latter because it’s rich in zinc and iron (both of which have a positive affect on libido) and also because the bivalve mollusks resemble a certain body part. Men, after all, are visual creatures.

Other love-inducing arrows include asparagus, grapes, bananas, arugula, almonds, ginger and pumpkin, which supposedly is good for, ahem, blood flow.

I know — this mother of five is blushing, too. (Mom, this is probably a good time for you to stop reading.)

Hot chile pepper, notes Amy Reiley in “Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook” (Life of Reiley, 2012, $14.95 or $8.35 Kindle edition), also is adored the world over for its unique ability to “make tongues tingle and lips plump.” Ditto with saffron, used by the ancient Romans to scent the baths of aristocratic men and their female lovers and likewise favored by Cleopatra. The world’s most expensive spice, it’s still reputed to make men feel more frisky.

Actually, the list of sexy food varies, depending on the source and preferred form of stimulation. Are you looking to float your sweetheart’s boat by offering food with an evocative color or shape? Try strawberries, avocados or figs. If you’d rather tantalize with scent, vanilla is said to drive men crazy.

Or perhaps the goal is stamina. Load up on wheat germ or pine nuts before your next hot date. (Dad, I hope you also stopped reading.)

Like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, I’m not so sure about the science behind aphrodisiacs. But as a happily married woman, I do know a thing or two about the mood-setting power of a good home-cooked meal, and the love it expresses. So I was happy to add some new “sexy” recipes to my repertoire, if only to show I’m still kind of crazy about that guy I met at a Penn State frat party so many years ago.

Seduction is an equal opportunity pursuit, so several of the books, including the “Better Sex Recipe Book” by JCS Publishing (99 cents, Kindle edition) include naughty-named cocktails (in the mood for a Sex on the Beach, anyone?) and/or recipes for tension-relaxing body massage oils. There’s also a tome for those who don’t eat meat or dairy, and it’s by a local: “Vegan Chocolate Seduction: 23 Oralgasmic Recipes” by Pittsburgh life coach Dave Wheitner.

I was most intrigued by “The New Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook” by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge (Terrance, $29.95). With more than 135 recipes organized around 19 sensual foods, many of them gourmet and tested by actual couples, it seemed like a book any aspiring chef would be happy to have on her shelf, even if she had to cover it with brown paper. I, of course, was too cheap to shell out 30 bucks for a hard copy when all the others cost as little as 99 cents as e-books. (It’s not available on Kindle.) But I was able to “Look Inside!” and preview a few recipes on Amazon, and there’s also a couple great-sounding recipes posted on the book’s website,

There was really only one disappointment in the bunch: The “Better Than Sex Cookbook” by Terra Lee and D.J. Jones (Hot Buttered Books, Kindle edition 99 cents), which despite its titillating name proved anything but. Trust me: Its 36 ho-hum recipes have absolutely, positively nothing to do with sex, unless your goal is to not have it.

Then again, love is a funny thing. Maybe dishes such as Cheesy Peas, Microwaved Corn on the Cob and Mac & Cheese made with Velveeta are exactly what the Love Doctor ordered.


Stuffed Strawberries/Gretchen McKay












Fantasy Island: Stuffed Strawberries

“Strawberries are the perfect food for hand-feeding your lover,” notes C. Nzingha Smith. They’re also shaped like perfect little red hearts.

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 graham cracker, crumbled
  • Parsley, for garnish

Slice the stem off each strawberry and stand upright on platter. Criss-cross cut berries deep enough to fill but not enough to break.

Slightly squeeze the strawberry to create opening for filling.

In small bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and extract and mix until smooth. Place filling in a piping bag with a round tip. Fill strawberries completely to the top with mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled graham cracker.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, using parsley as a garnish for an island feel.

Serves 2 to 4.

— “Lust-Have Recipes, A Cookbook: IN-Gredients for Stimulation” by C. Nzingha Smith (SNC2 INK Books, 2011, $4.99 Kindle version)


Broccoli in Orange Chili Oil

Broccoli in Orange Chili Oil/Gretchen McKay

Zesty and provocative.

  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Pinch Chinese five powder spice
  • Pinch crushed red pepper

1/2 pound fresh broccoli, cleaned, stems removed

Mix together all ingredients except broccoli in a saute pan. Over medium heat, simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 3 minutes.

Steam broccoli for 5 minutes. Place in serving dish and spoon orange chili oil over it, and serve.

Serves 2.

— “The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations for Lovers” by Diane Brown (Innova, $16.95)


Vanilla-Scented Sea Bass with a Red Hot Rub

Vanilla-Scented Sea Bass with a Red-Hot Rub/Gretchen McKay

“The sensual experience of this aromatic dish begins in the kitchen,” writes Amy Reiley in “Fork Me, Spoon Me.” “Keep your lover close at hand as you simmer the vanilla-scented sauce, for the aroma alone of a fine vanilla bean is a known sexual stimulant.”

Our fillets from Whole Foods were super-thick, so I ended up cooking them a bit longer. You can find ancho chile powder at Reyna Foods in the Strip District.

  • 2 4-ounce sea bass fillets, skin on
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • Fresh tarragon, for garnish

Season fish with salt and pepper. Turn skin side up, and using a sharp knife, score fish lengthwise about 5 times per piece. With firm pressure, massage chile powder into the scores. Reserve covered in refrigerator.

In a sauce pot, bring fish stock to a simmer then reduce heat. Scrape vanilla from split pod into the stock; add vanilla extract and two halves of your vanilla pod. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Allow sauce to cool, then remove pods and strain sauce through fine strainer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saute pan, heat oil, thoroughly coating bottom on pan. Over medium heat, add fish, skin side down, and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until skin is a delicious caramel color. Flip the fillets and sear on flesh side to lock in juices, about 1 minute.

Remove from pan and transfer to oven to finish cooking, 4 to 5 minutes.

To finish, reheat the vanilla-scented stock and slowly add cream, making sure it does not boil. Using a hand-held mixer or whisk, add in the butter. Sauce will begin to foam. Serve sauce warm and foamy over baked fillets, garnished with fresh tarragon.

Serves 2.

— “Fork Me, Spoon Me” by Amy Reiley (Life of Reiley, 2012, $14.95/$8.35 Kindle edition)


Honey Drop Shooter

“This sinful shooter begins with a touch of spice on the lips, a bite of citrus on the tongue, and finishes with a sweet coating of honey,” Amy Reiley writes in “Fork Me, Spoon Me.” Unfortunately, she didn’t include exact measurements so I had to guess.

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • Honey
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Fresh lime juice

Mix chile and salt in a shallow dish. Dip rim of shot glass in honey, then dip in chile-salt mixture.

Pour vodka and a dash of lime juice into shot class. Top with a drop of honey.

Makes 1 shooter.

— “Fork Me, Spoon Me” by Amy Reiley (Life of Reiley, 2012, $14.95/$8.35 Kindle edition)


Hot Chocolate Waffles

Hot Chocolate Waffles/Gretchen McKay

Evil me: I didn’t tell the kids these were vegan (or from this cookbook) because then they wouldn’t have touched them. Let’s just say there were a hit.

Warm and chocolaty, the waffles make just as good a dessert as a breakfast in bed.

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 1/4 cup soy or other non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chili powder and cayenne in a large bowl. Stir with whisk to break up any clumps.

Thoroughly mix soy milk, oil, sugar, molasses and vanilla in a small bowl.

Pour into flour mixture and stir just until blended.

Preheat waffle iron for 3 to 5 minutes and spray both grids with oil. Pour or ladle batter into the center of the iron, covering no more than two-thirds of the iron surface for the first waffle. Adjust the amount as needed for subsequent waffles. Bake each waffle for 3 to 4 minutes, until it is still moist but can be easily removed.

Makes 5 to 6 7-inch waffles.

— “Vegan Chocolate Seduction: 23 Oralgasmic Recipes” by Dave Wheitner (Divergent Drummer, 2011,$1.99 Kindle edition)


Fresh Apple Slices with Homemade Caramel

Apples with Caramel Sauce/Gretchen McKay

Here’s something I’ll bet you probably didn’t know: In medieval Germany, apples were though to excite amorous advances if soaked in the perspiration of a loved women. I’d rather pair my Granny Smiths with a warm, buttery caramel, and so would Diane Brown, who includes this recipe in “The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations for Lovers.”

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 green apples, cored and cut into slices

Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until boiling. When sugar just begins to brown, swirl pan; cook until dark amber.

Remove from heat and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add butter and lemon juice and stir to combine. Serve immediately with apples for dipping. You also can store caramel in the refrigerator; rewarm before serving.

Makes 1 cup caramel sauce.

— “The Seduction Cookbook: Culinary Creations for Lovers” by Diane Brown (Innova, $16.95)


Chocolate for dinner

Cacao-Crusted Steak and Tossed Greens with Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette/Gretchen McKay


The love-struck will express their dying affection with more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate come Valentine’s Day. Actually, the cocoa route isn’t a bad one if you’re hoping to stir up those lovin’ feelings.

Simply put, chocolate makes us feel good, and not just because eating it causes the brain to release endorphins, a natural chemical that contributes to feelings of happiness. A creamy piece slowly melting in your mouth can be a sensuous experience, and who among us hasn’t also had the pleasure of licking some sort of chocolaty treat — icing, mousse, melted M&Ms — bit by delicious bit off your fingers?

No wonder chocolate has long been thought to be an aphrodisiac, even if modern science hasn’t yet discovered a measurable link between chocolate consumption and desire and/or performance.

In the early 1500s, the Aztec emperor Montezuma is said to have quaffed 50 goblets of chocolate each day to boost his sexual performance, and the great Italian lover Casanova also was a huge fan — legend says he drank it daily to keep him on top of his game. He also gave it to the many women he was about to seduce, along with Champagne.

Presenting your love with a box of chocolates, though, or baking or melting it into a chocolate dessert is kind of old school, don’t you think? On this red-letter day, shouldn’t you be stepping it up a notch?

This year, why not consider setting the mood with a different kind of chocolate dish: one that’s served at the beginning of dinner or even as the entree?

It’s not as weird as it sounds.

Chocolate is a pretty versatile ingredient, adding as much depth to savory dishes as it does to sweet. The warm, velvety flavor of dark or semisweet chocolate makes meat dishes such as chili, stew and barbecue taste richer and smoother; rich, complex Mexican mole, made with ground nuts, dried chili peppers and chocolate, has long been a favorite sauce for turkey and other meats, including chicken and pork.

You also can add cocoa powder to spice rubs (it brings out the spicy flavor of chili and garlic) or grind a few tablespoons of cacao nibs (broken-up chunks of roasted cacao) with a little sea salt to make a tasty crust for steak. Or, sprinkle them on top of baked potatoes, salad or soup for some added crunch. Surprisingly, when melted and mixed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, dark chocolate also make a killer vinaigrette for greens.

The delicate taste of white chocolate, which is made with cocoa butter, pairs especially well with seafood and fish, and can add an unexpected creaminess to macaroni and cheese. If it’s too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon.

Chocolate also is pretty darn tasty in a cocktail and beer.

One recent, extravagant display of chocolate’s versatility was dished up at the 9th annual Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire at The Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa. During the five-course meal on Feb. 1, guests enjoyed everything from Cocoa-Fennel Cured Salmon Gravlax with White Chocolate Creamed Cucumbers and Smoked Chocolate BBQ Glazed Shrimp to Potato-Parsnip Bisque with White Chocolate. For the main course, they chose between Cardamom-Cocoa-Rubbed Red Snapper with Curry-Chocolate Sauce or Grilled Tenderloin of Beef with White Chocolate-Apple-Potato Dauphinois.

OK, so you expect the premier event of a month-long celebration of all things chocolate in America’s Chocolate Capital to include a few surprises. But chocolate in non-dessert dishes regularly show up on local menus, too.

At Meat & Potatoes, Downtown, for example, the sweetbread tacos are crusted in a mixture of cocoa and chile, while at Garfield’s Salt of the Earth, chef Kevin Sousa has been running a cocoa-spice-rubbed venison. Chocolate-flavored pasta also seems to be a favorite seasonal Italian dish, as evidenced by the Cocoa Fettucine in an aglio e olio sauce with cauliflower, leeks, gorgonzola and pistachios on the winter menu at Girasole. Recently featured at Avenue B was a special of Cocoa Tagliatelle with roasted beets and bok choy. (Both restaurants used pasta from Fede Artisan Pasta of North Huntingdon.)

It’s too late to sign up for yesterday’s Aphrodisiac Cooking & Wine class at Osteria 2350 in the Strip District, which included chef Joe Belardi demo-ing chocolate ravioli filled with butternut squash. But there’s still time to try your hand at the recipes below.


Potato-Parsnip Bisque with White Chocolate

At last week’s Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire at The Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pa., Executive Chef Ken Gladysz paired this luscious soup with Dark Chocolate Braised Pork Shank and Fried Celery Root. But it’s quite delicious on its own, with bread or saltines for dipping.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces leek, trimmed, medium diced, washed (white part only)
  • 8 ounces parsnips, peeled, trimmed and medium diced
  • 2 ounces white wine
  • 24 ounces potato, peeled, and medium diced
  • 48 ounces water or blonde vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white pepper, fresh ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces heavy cream
  • 2 ounces white chocolate, grated (I used chips)

Place medium-size sauce pan over medium heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add leeks, mix well and lightly saute for 2 minutes. Add parsnips, mix well and sauté for 2 minutes. Add wine, mix well, and reduce by half. Add potatoes, stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Turn heat to high, bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes until potatoes and parsnips are tender.

Add cream, mix well, turn heat again to high, and then reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat off, and let bisque sit for 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaves, and carefully blend bisque smooth using a traditional blender or stick blender. Once bisque has been blended, pass it through fine strainer. Return bisque back to sauce pan, and place back on stove over medium heat. Heat bisque to almost a boil then fold in white chocolate by continually mixing.

Taste bisque, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Makes 2 quarts.

— Ken Gladysz, executive chef of The Hotel Hershey

Chocolate Balsamic Vinaigrette

It’s wonderful on all sorts of salad greens or steamed vegetables. It’s also great as a glaze on roast chicken.

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the vinegar and chocolate in a small saucepan, and heat over very low flame until the chocolate is melted and the vinegar reduced, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 1 cup.

Cacao Nib-encrusted Steak or Filet

This rub is absolutely terrific. I cut the steak against the grain into thin slices and served it, fajita-style, with mango salsa, cilantro rice and warm tortillas.

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cacao nibs per steak (available at Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip District)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 2 choice steaks or filet (I used rib-eye)

Grind cacao nibs with sea salt in coffee grinder. Brush steaks with olive oil. Coat meat completely with nibs and sea salt.

Transfer seasoned steaks to a hot grill, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare, longer if desired. (Medium-rare is recommended.) The cacao nibs and sea salt will encrust the meat, and the inside will be tender and juicy. Simple and delicious!

Serves 2.

— Amy Rosenfield, Mon Aimee Chocolat, Strip District

Hershey’s Cocoa-Chili-Rubbed Chicken Breasts/Gretchen McKay










Hershey’s Cocoa-Chili-Rubbed Chicken Breasts

I tested this recipe on my parents, who aren’t always keen on spicy dishes. They loved it.

  • 1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 8 six-ounce skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well for 5 minutes, until fully incorporated. For best results, use a small mixer on low speed. Lay chicken breasts out on a clean sheet pan. Evenly and completely coat each breast with the rub.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add oil and evenly coat. Add chicken breasts carefully, one at a time, skin-side down. Return heat to medium and sear for 3 minutes.

Carefully turn chicken breasts over, then place saute pan into pre-heated 375-degree oven for 8 minutes or until breasts are completely cooked.

Makes 8 servings.

— Ken Gladysz, executive chef of The Hotel Hershey

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Martini

  • 1 1/4 ounces Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce Amaretto
  • 1/2 ounce Pinnacle Vanilla Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  • Cherry juice (optional)

Add first 4 ingredients to a cocktail mixer with ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry. If desired, sweeten the cocktail by adding a splash of cherry juice.

Makes 1 martini.

— PA Wine & Spirits

Chocolate Lava Cake with Salted Caramel

Chocolate Lava Cake with Salted Caramel/Gretchen McKay

PG tested

You didn’t really think we’d do a story on chocolate and not include at least one dessert recipe, did you? Me neither.

This warm, gooey cake is a show stopper. At least it would have been, had I not waited until the last second to look for — but not locate — my pastry bag/nozzle. (I didn’t have a plastic baggie, either.) Once I stopped cursing, I ended up spooning the caramel filling on top of the cake instead of squirting it inside the ramekin. No problem: it still was a decadent, if messy, treat.

For cake

  • 2 tablespoons soft butter, plus 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 eggs, beaten

For filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Prepare 6 to 8 ramekins by brushing them with soft butter and then dusting with the cocoa powder. Make sure to tap out all the excess cocoa powder.

Melt chocolate with cubed butter in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, melt chocolate and butter in microwave on low.

Combine brown sugar and flour in bowl. Mix melted chocolate with eggs, followed by flour and sugar, Divide mixture between ramekins 3/4 full. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make caramel filling: Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over bottom of a heavy-bottomed pan and place on medium heat. Once sugar starts to melt, add some more sugar. Repeat a couple of times until all the sugar has melted. Continue heating the caramel, swirling it around in pan (do not stir). When caramel is almost a Coca-Cola color, add cream and salt (be careful as caramel may splatter). Cook until temperature reaches 226 degrees, or until caramel coats the back of a spoon, then pour into a dish and leave to cool a little.

Once caramel is cool, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle, or to a heavy-duty food bag (just snip off corner to use). Pop the nozzle into the middle of the chocolate mixture in each ramekin and squirt in the filling. The mixture will rise almost to the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges are firm and the centers slightly runny. Test by inserting a toothpick in the center; it should come out wet. Leave to rest for 2 minutes before turning the cakes out of the ramekins onto plates. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

— “The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes” by Rachel Koo (Chronicle, Feb. 5, 2013, $35)

Turkey Mole

James Beard’s Turkey Mole/Gretchen McKay

Turkey mole is traditionally made with a whole turkey, but Beard’s version, with turkey parts, is much more practical. The turkey wing will add extra flavor to the mole, much more than using the breast half by itself. Serve on top of polenta or rice, or with warm corn or flour tortillas.

I couldn’t get the sauce to thicken properly (I’m thinking I added too much water to the pot with the turkey) so, on Chef Bill Fuller’s advice, added another cup of ground cashews plus some additional chocolate to balance the flavors out.

  • 2 1/2-pound turkey breast half, bone in, skin on
  • 1-pound turkey wing, cut apart at the joints
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup ground almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or cashews
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small dried hot chile pepper
  • 1 cup drained, ripe pitted California olives

Place the turkey breast and wing in a deep pot, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

Meanwhile, brown the onions in bacon fat in a medium skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add to the pot along with the almonds, chocolate, chili powder, garlic, and dried chile.

Cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce is thickened and the turkey is tender, about 30 minutes more. Ten minutes before serving, add the olives and heat through. Season with salt and more chili powder, if desired. Transfer the turkey breast and wing to a carving board. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding the skin and bones, and return the meat to the pot. Serve hot.

Serves 8.

— “The Essential James Beard Cookbook” by James Beard (St. Martins, Oct. 2012, $35)


Super Bowl victors: Cajun appetizers

Spicy Garlic Shimp on Cornbread/Gretchen McKay


If you’re reading this, you’re probably not whooping it up in the parking lot of Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. I’m not at the NFL’s biggest game of the year either, which is a total drag, because the official Super Bowl XLVII menu sounds pretty darn awesome.

New Orleans cuisine is steeped in the Creole and Cajun traditions, so much of what will be dished up by Centerplate, the hospitality company charged with feeding the 70,000-plus ticket holders at the Superdome, will be heavily seasoned and spicy — my idea of the perfect tailgate food. Along with 700 gallons of chicken-and-sausage Cajun gumbo, fans can expect to nosh on fresh local seafood such as Louisiana Gulf Coast white shrimp, barbecue shrimp and grits and crawfish baked into Natchitoches pies. Meat eaters, meanwhile, can chow down on roast beef po’ boys and celebrity chef Donald Link’s chicken sauce piquant, a spicy one-pot Cajun classic. It’s served over rice.

Feeling adventurous? The authentic dishes also will include alligator chili made with locally sourced alligator sausage.

Not wanting to send fans on a last-minute chase for crawfish and alligator, we offer a few Cajun-style appetizers that use ingredients readily available at most supermarkets.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp

The sauce quickly seeps into the cornbread, so if you don’t serve these right away, be sure to offer forks. The shrimp also would be excellent on top of rice or stuffed, po’ boy style, into a crusty French bread loaf.

For garlic mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon or Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic

For shrimp

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 pound small medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 2-inch squares cornbread (I used a Jiffy mix)

Make garlic mayonnaise: Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate to allow flavors to blend.

Prepare shrimp: Mix oil, spices, salt and garlic together in a bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, marinade and onion; cook until shrimp are pink and firm, 4 to 5 minutes, depending on size of shrimp.

Split cornbread squares and spread both halves with garlic mayo. Divide among 4 plates and spoon shrimp over bread.

Serves 4.

— “Tom Fitzmorris’s New Orleans Food: More than 225 of the City’s Best Recipes to Cook at Home” by Tom Fitzmorris (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $19.95)

Emeril Lagasse’s Shredded Chicken Nachos with Pico de Gallo

Shredded Chicken Nachos/Gretchen McKay

I know, I know — New Orleans isn’t exactly known for its nachos. Football fans, however, love to eat them, so as a happy medium, I found this recipe from one of the city’s most famous celebrity chefs, Emeril Lagasse.

I accidently bought Xochitl’s Cajun-style tortilla chips instead of plain corn chips, but that turned out to be a good thing. Dusted with crab seasoning, red pepper and paprika, they added even more spice. If you’re in a hurry, substitute shredded rotisserie chicken instead of cooking it from scratch.

For the chicken

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast diced into 3-inch strips
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice

For the nachos

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2 cups grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 to 10 cups corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, for garnishing
  • 1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapenos, for garnishing
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnishing
  • Pico de Gallo (recipe follows) or jarred salsa, for serving

Prepare chicken: Set a wide-mouthed 3-quart saucepan with lid over medium-high heat and add the oil to the pan. Season the chicken pieces with the chili powder and salt and toss to evenly coat. Add the chicken to the pan and sear for 3 minutes per side. Add the onions to the pan and saute for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Pour the chicken stock over the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low heat and cover. Continue to cook the chicken until very tender, about 1 hour. Stir the chicken to shred it and continue to cook, covered, for another 30 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, stir and mash to shred the chicken meat and add the lime juice to the chicken. Set aside as you prepare the nachos.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the flour to color. While whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream. Add the green chiles and bring the sauce to a boil.

Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add the cheddar, salt, and cayenne pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large ovenproof shallow casserole or on a large baking sheet, spread half of the tortilla chips in an even layer. Top with half of the chicken and half of the Monterey Jack cheese. Top with the remaining tortilla chips and chicken. Pour the hot cheese sauce over the chicken, then evenly spread the remaining grated Monterey Jack over the top. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the nachos are heated through, 8 to 10 minutes. Garnish with the sliced green onions, sour cream, pickled jalapenos and cilantro. Serve with the Pico de Gallo alongside.

Serves 6.

— Emeril Lagasse



Pico de Gallo

PG tested

Spicy, but not overly so.

  • 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until the salsa is of uniform consistency but still slightly chunky, about 7 pulses. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until ready to serve the nachos.

Makes 1 cup.

— Emeril Lagasse