Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Preserved Sweet Pickle Spears

June 21st, 2022 · No Comments

With over 6-pounds of fresh cucumbers picked from our garden I decided to put them up, meaning, I wanted to preserve them for the year. I found the Sweet Pickle Spears recipe on page 51 located in the fresh pack pickled foods & chutneys section of the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving. The recipe called for 4 pounds of cucumbers, I had 6.6-lbs. on hand, so I needed to adjust the ingredient quantities to match the extra cucumbers I wanted to process.

The recipe that follows is modified from the one found in the book, with an original yield of about 10 half-pint jars. To put up the 6.6-lbs. of cucumbers I used 6 1-quart jars. My cucumbers were much longer than those called for in the recipe, so I cut them in half to approximate the 3- to 4-inch requirement.

I first cut each cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut those halves into thirds lengthwise, then cut each of those long spears in half, yielding 12 spears per cucumber.

Yield: 10 half-pints

4 pounds3- to 4-inch cucumbers, cut lengthwise into spears
4 cupsgranulated sugar
3 1/4 cupswhite vinegar
3 tablespoonscanning salt
1 tablespoonpickling spice
4 teaspoonscelery seed
4 teaspoonsturmeric
2 teaspoonsmustard seed
  1. Cover cucumber spears with boiling water; let stand for 2 hours. Drain.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Pack drained cucumber spears into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece lids and screw top bands.
  4. Process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove lid and allow jars to sit in hot water another 10 minutes. Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel lined countertop, allow jars to cool to room temperature, or 24-hours. Remove screw tops and wipe down lids and inside screw top bands, finger tighten bands back onto jars and label with name of the product “Sweet Pickle Spears” and the date processed.
Sweet Pickle Spears cooling on countertop

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Stewed Cucumbers

June 16th, 2022 · No Comments

Finding more ways to utilize our plethora of fresh grown cucumbers

I picked over 10 pounds of cucumbers from our garden yesterday, so I made a double batch of our favorite “New Pickle” Cucumber Salad, along with another recipe that I found in the Time-Life Books The Good Cook series book entitled Vegetables. I selected the Stewed Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Dill Schmorgurken mit Saurem Rahm und Dill on page 136. I’ve found the same recipe on several other Internet resources, in the volume Vegetables, it attributes the source to the book Foods of the World/The Cooking of Germany. This is my version of the classic German recipe.

6 eachmedium-sized cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1-inch X 1/2-inch pieces
2 tsp.sea salt
2 tbsp.unsalted butter
1 cupfinely chopped onions
2 tbsp.all-purpose flour
2 cupswhole milk
2 tbsp.sour cream
1 tbsp.finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tsp. dry
1 tbsp.finely chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp. dry
ground white pepper, to taste
garlic salt, to taste
  1. Place the cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the salt, tossing them with a spoon to evenly coat. Let the cucumbers stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain the liquid from the cucumbers and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a 4-quart pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned just a bit, about 8 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, and add the flour stir constantly until a blonde roux is achieved, about 3 to 5 minutes or so, but do not burn.
  3. Whisk in the milk and stir constantly, adjust the heat to medium-low, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stir often.
  4. Add the cucumbers and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until cucumbers are tender but still slightly form. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, parsley, and dill. Season to taste with the white pepper and garlic salt.

Serve in a warmed bowl. If serving at a later time allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5-days.

Stewed Cucumbers with Sour Cream and Dill

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VIN’TIJ | Food & Wine

June 15th, 2022 · No Comments

Grand Boulevard, Sandestin Town Center, Sandestin, Florida

Located in the Sandestin Town Center in Sandestin, Florida, VIN’TIJ is a not to be missed dining experience, we thoroughly enjoyed a relaxed dinner on a Friday evening and were not disappointed.

The bar offers up a great selection of imbibing’s, drink specials daily, wines by the glass or bottle are offered for just about all their vintage selections, by the glass servings include a 3oz or 6oz pour, and the wine list is quite extensive.

We arrived about 15 minutes before our reservation time, and were sat immediately, reservations are recommended, in fact, upon our arrival several parties before us were turned away without reservation, the bar was even packed with no room for overflow.

Our server approached within a few minutes of seating along with fresh glasses of water while introducing the specials menu and asked for our drink orders and if we had any starters to order. Three of us ordered wine by the glass and one drink from the specials menu. We started out with the $10 Bread Basket, which is served with herbed olive oil, roast garlic puree, marinated and stuffed olives assortment, roasted red peppers and parmesan cheese. We requested a side of hummus which was roasted red pepper and typically only served on the charcuterie board. The bread was a selection of fresh baked ciabatta and crostini slices, both were quite good.

The specials included a Grouper with Mango Salsa served with miso broth and rice ($50), three in the party ordered this special, I ordered the Shrimp Fettuccini Primavera ($32), made with house made pasta. Both were fabulous, and enjoyed by all.

Grouper with Mango Salsa, Miso broth and rice, $50.
Shrimp Fettuccini Primavera, $32.

Our server was attentive, responsive, and accommodating, we had a wonderful meal and dining experience, and will be back the next time we vacation in Destin, Florida.

500 Grand Blvd #100K, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 – +1 850 650-9820

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Garden Harvest June 2022

June 15th, 2022 · No Comments

After a brief and welcome 5-day vacation where we celebrated Monique’s birthday with Ben and Carol in Miramar Beach Destin, FL, we returned home yesterday to find plenty of produce ready to pick from our garden. Cucumbers, patty pan squash, yellow squash, blueberries, poblano peppers, Shishito peppers, okra, and tomatoes were ripe for the picking. I actually picked 19 cucumbers this morning, yesterday I picked just over 500 blueberries (two pints) and determined that a pint of them includes around 250 of the little blue gems.

Garden Harvest: Cucumbers, patty pan squash, yellow squash, blueberries, tomatoes, okra, poblano peppers, and Shishito peppers.

Before our trip last week, I had harvested fourteen cucumbers, four patty pan squash, two yellow squash, two zucchini squash, a gallon of Shishito peppers, and two pints blueberries that we carried along for the vacay and ate during our stay.

One of the few photos I took during our vacation because my iPhone storage is just about full, ugh!

Feet at the beach, Miramar Beach Destin, Florida

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Rabbit au Poivre

March 8th, 2022 · Comments Off on Rabbit au Poivre

Rabbit au Poivre

Rabbit was a regular special menu item at the Columns Hotel, I worked there under Chef Chris Canan and Sous Chef Bryan Coates. Crickhollow Farm out of Jayess, MS would deliver whole rabbits along with fresh herbs and edible flowers on a weekly basis. This was around the years 1986-1988, and way before the farm to table movement became a trendy option for restaurants, Chef Canan was way ahead of his time, and it was one of the reasons I enjoyed working under his wing.

As soon as the rabbits were received we would immediately break them down, meaning, we would separate the forequarter, hindquarter, and loin, then debone all the pieces. Once the butchering was completed the rabbit was then placed into a marinade for several days, up to a week. The marinade was made from white wine, olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh chopped herbs including thyme, rosemary, and basil, some salt and black pepper.

The rabbit was always cooked in the same fashion, once an order came into the kitchen, the marinated rabbit, loin section was carefully removed from the marinade and lightly dusted with seasoned flour, then pan sautéed in clarified butter until browned on both sides, then into the hot oven to finish cooking for about 10-15 minutes.

Each week a new sauce would be rotated for the rabbit, my favorite was the au Poivre sauce, or with pepper sauce. Green peppercorns and pimentos provide the spice and heavy cream makes the sauce.

This recipe, found on pages 96 – 97 in my new cookbook Complete Cajun Cookbook (available at Amazon and local bookstores), is a preview recipe, I hope you like it as much as we do! Click on the recipe page images for a larger view.

Bon appetite!

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