Books & Cooks: Emeril Lagasse

I've been incredibly busy this week. I haven't been in the kitchen to cook. At all.

I did manage to eke out some items early in the week. I promise to post them soon.

On Monday the 17th, St. Patrick's Day, I held the first installment of my Books & Cooks series at BestHealth, Emeril Lagasse.

The Food Network's [former] golden boy, Emeril Lagasse, rules over pork fat, Essence, and everything related to New Orleans cuisine. He makes "food of love" and lives to tell about it. Contrary to popular belief, Emeril is not from Louisiana, does not have Creole or Cajun roots, nor did he step foot into the South until becoming executive chef of the Commander's Palace in New Orleans some years ago. He is a gentleman of Portuguese descent from Fall River, Massachusetts.

I pored over cookbooks, Websites, page inserts, and articles to find recipes I was willing to replicate in healthy form for my clients at Best Health. I took the simplest, most delicious recipes and made them into my own.

Here is my ode to Emeril:

I have to admit, this photo isn't the best. It's quite crappy. I don't have a photographer on location to help me make my food look good. I'm usually under time constraints and I don't think about taking pictures until way after the food is gone.

Oven fried oysters with buttermilk dressing and corn-jalapeño relish
serves 6-8

Corn-Jalapeno Relish:

1 tablespoon Smart Beat light

2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels

2/3 cup chopped red bell pepper

2/3 cup chopped red onion

2 jalapeno peppers, minced

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

I used frozen corn this time. The corn in the grocery was emaciated and puny. I didn't want to get laughed out of the kitchen.

Peppers other than jalepeno can be used: poblano, anaheim, banana, dried chipotle, habanero..the list goes on.

Buttermilk Dressing:

3/4 cup fat free buttermilk

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons minced chives

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fat free sour cream

Basically, this is ranch dressing. Add some MSG (commercially sold as Accent) and you've got Hidden Valley Ranch. Or as I like to call it: Hidden Ingredient Ranch, because one of the ingredients listed is "SPICES." I'm sorry but I didn't know there was an herb called spices. The salt in this recipe is just a guideline. Please add salt (and pepper) to taste.

1/4 cup Better ‘n’ Eggs real egg product
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons No-Salt Seasoning Shake**
2/3 cup fat free buttermilk
2 tablespoon hot sauce
24 raw oysters, drained and patted dry
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Method #1: Set up a breading station:(1) buttermilk, hot sauce (2) flour mixed with Shake, (3) egg product, (4) cornmeal (with added Shake just because it tastes really great). Bread oysters following the standard breading procedure. To produce a crispier crust, double dip the oyster in flour and egg product twice before ending with a layer of cornmeal.Spray each oyster piece liberally with non-stick spray. Place in oven for 30-35 minutes. Check for even browning and turn pieces midway through.
Method #2: In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour and No-Salt Shake. In a second bowl, combine the buttermilk, hot sauce, and No-Salt shake, and stir to blend. Working with 6 oysters at a time, dip the oysters first in the buttermilk mixture, then allow any excess to drip off before dredging the oysters in the cornmeal mixture. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
Dredge oysters in the flour then the cornmeal mixture, coating evenly. Carefully place oysters on a foil lined or non-stick sheet pan.
Use a little more of the egg product in whatever dish you use to bread your oysters because it will make it easier for dipping purposes.
Salad greens & topping:
8 cups mixed baby greens, for serving
3 tablespoons Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon

No-Salt Seasoning Shake** Yield: 2/3 cup
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
This shake I created was my attempt to make a seasoning like Emeril's Essence without the salt. I originally called it Effervescence, but I thought people would expect it to bubble in their mouths. This does nothing of the sort.
The lemon peel can be purchased at The Fresh Market (if one is near you) or you can ask your local grocer if you're stumped. Dried orange peel is also available.

Corn Relish: Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. When hot, add the Smart Beat and corn and cook until the corn has begun to brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion, jalapeno peppers, and salt and cook until vegetables are wilted, about 3 minutes. Add honey and lime juice, stir to combine, and transfer corn to a mixing bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (The relish may be made 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered.)

"Nicked Up" Chuckwagon Chili (click here for recipe)
This is the same recipe for the Cincinnati Chili I made on March 1. I just called it "Nicked Up" because Emeril calls a lot of his recipes "Kicked up." Hey--I can be original too!

Oven Fried Onion Rings Serves 2
Serving size: 15 rings

2 large onions
1/4 cup Better 'N' Eggs real egg product
1/2 cup crushed Fiber One
2 tablespoon No-Salt Seasoning Shake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut edges off onion, and remove outer layer. Cut onion into 1/2 inch wide slices, and separate into rings.
Next, fill a small bowl with Better 'N' Eggs.
Using a blender or food processor, grind Fiber One cereal and No-Salt Shake to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Pour crumbs into a small dish.
One by one, coat each ring in egg and shake after each dip. Then coat each ring with Fiber crumbs.
Place on an oven-safe baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping rings over about halfway through.

You can use the same buttermilk/cornmeal procedure for these guys and the results are still spectacular.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Ah, Emeril. You know, I hear he's quite skilled and soft-spoken in real life, and not the obnoxious catch-phrase mockery of gastronomy the Food Network purports him to be.

  2. Nikki, just last week I tried my first oysters ever! Unfortunately, they were raw and, although I pretended to like them, I didn't. But the friend who introduced me to them said that they are great fried, too. I am quite happy that you posted this recipe for oven fried oysters so I can try them the next time he walks into the house hauling a cooler full of ice and oysters... ;)

  3. Courtney: (Is it OK To call you Courtney?) I know!

    Heather: There's no doubt Emeril is skilled. You can see it on the screen. But I do believe he is the loud, braying, obnoxious man he portrays on TV.

    Vicci: Congratulations on your new culinary discovery. I'm trying to keep you healthy with these oysters, for sure!

  4. Bam!

    Now that is a tasty dish. Yeah the pic could be better, but who cares?

    Emeril was one of the first motivators for me when it came to good cooking.


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