Looking for inspiration - recipe requests

I’ll be going to a cooking party/contest this weekend; we do it every year but I just haven’t been able to get inspired this year. This is just for fun and bragging rights - some close friends started it a few years ago with our usual gang plus a few guests, although it’s grown to become quite a large crowd. Most of the core group cooks, a lot and very well, so I need something special to wow them with.

Standard rules - if it can be served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon, then it can be entered. For instance, last year’s winner was some sort of goulash with homemade noodles and a tomato sauce.

This year’s restrictions - the judge this year (last year’s winner) does not eat legumes, innards/organs, or melon. She does like hot and spicy. (Whatever I take will probably be called Legume, Innards and Melon soup on the entry list. :p) If you’ve got a really terrific recipe that doesn’t meet these restrictions, post it anyway - there’s also a People’s Choice competition.

Things to consider - this is held in a home, so facilities are limited. There’s a rangetop and oven, if you can get to them and they’re not already in use. We usually take ours in a crockpot; I have or can get my hands on most any small appliance if needed. Also, there can be problems with timing - everyone preps a bowl for their entry and takes it in to be judged. Sometimes it can sit for quite a bit before the judge gets to it (growing pains as the number of entries has increased). There is some talk of trying to do the judging in shifts to reduce this problem, but I’m not sure exactly what will happen since actual organization is left up to the judge.

We’d considered doing french onion soup (we make a mean f.o. soup), but are hesitant due to the need for a broiler to melt the cheese, and the potential hold time while waiting on the judge. I’ve thought about several other recipes, but nothing has grabbed my fancy.

So I’ve come to you for inspiration, Dopers. All suggestions and ideas welcome. Thanks!

Use the onion and flank steak stew recipe from the hard to cook foods thread. It looks amazing.

Otherwise, how about a Reuben soup (like the sandwich), or spinach and bleu cheese soup? Recipes available upon request.

That does look yummy! Now I’ll have to read the rest of that thread…

Yes, please.

When I get back to the hotel and my laptop, I will post my Shrimp Creole (Cajun style) recipe. It meets your restrictions, can be as hot & spicy as your taste buds like, and can most certainly be eaten out of a bowl.

(Darn. Now I’m hungry.)


My recipes involve a lot of eyeing and guesswork, so you’ll want to take these amounts as suggestions rather than absolutes.

Reuben soup:

8-10 oz of corned beef
small amount of butter or oil
1 small onion
1 cup well-drained sauerkraut
3 cups beef stock
8-16 oz swiss cheese, shredded

8 oz brick of cream cheese or
Saute the corned beef and onion in the butter/oil in the bottom of a saucepan. You just want to release some of the great flavors in the onion. Add the stock and the sauerkraut. Simmer for 10-20 minutes until the flavors blend. Turn down heat. Stir in the swiss cheese until melted. Thicken with cream cheese or roux. Can be topped like french onion soup with a slice of rye bread and some swiss.
Spinach and blue cheese soup:

The recipe I use is a slight variation on this:


I don’t puree the soup. I usually add some chicken. And I don’t use bacon (though the bacon addition sounds interesting).

Good luck!

OK, here’s the promised Shrimp Creole recipe:

(Cajun Style)
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
2 15-oz cans chopped or stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper
2 stalks celery
1 level tablespoon (TBS) brown sugar
1 level tablespoon Tony Cacherie’s Creole seasoning…or to taste.
1 1/2 sticks margarine (Don’t substitute low-cal margarine! Butter can
be used, but you have to be extra, extra careful that it doesn’t
3/4 cup flour
2 lbs. peeled shrimp

  1. Dice onion, celery and bell pepper, Keep handy.

  2. Make a roux…add stick of margarine and flour and melt together in a heavy pan. Cook over medium-high heat, CONSTANTLY STIRRING until mixture turns a medium brown (not critical…any brown shade will do, according to how strong you want it). It should be “frothy” while you are stirring it…if pasty, add a little more margarine. Be careful, as the mixture, otherwise known as Cajun Napalm, will be hot and you don’t want it getting on bare flesh as it has a tendency to stick and burn right on in! If the roux burns, even a little, you will have to throw it out and start over, as even one speck of burnt roux will ruin the taste.

  3. When roux is the right color, turn off the heat, add the diced onion, bell pepper and celery to the roux. Sauté this for about one minute, then pour in the tomato sauce and stewed/diced tomatoes, including the juice. Watch out for steam! When the steam abates, stir the mixture until smooth.

  4. Add brown sugar and Tony’s seasoning to taste.

  5. Turn meat back on, cover pot, and let simmer on low heat for at least an hour. Two to three hours is better, but not necessary.

If you are making this for a later time, the Creole sauce can be
refrigerated or frozen at this point.

When ready to serve, bring the sauce to a simmer, and add shrimp. Let
simmer for 5 to 10 minutes…don’t overcook the shrimp!

Serve over boiled or steamed rice. Enjoy!

Note: The traditional New Orleans shrimp Creole is much redder than this recipe, and a LOT hotter. It is not made with a roux. But we like this smoother, heartier recipe.

It can be made as hot as you want by adding more of Tony’s seasoning. We keep the container on the table, so those guests that like a little more spiciness can put it on their dish individually. Some people add a little hot sauce. It’s all up to you.

The recipe is very versatile. You can substitute a firm-fleshed fish for the shrimp and have fish Creole. Use sliced ribbons of browned sirloin or round steak for steak Creole…but if you use steak, brown it and then go ahead and add it when you put in
the brown sugar and Tony’s seasoning. The steak will be better with the extra cooking time and won’t overcook like the fish or shrimp. If you like a more tomato-ey taste, feel free to add another can of tomatoes or tomato sauce.


I don’t do shrimp, but I’ll bet some chicken and/or andouille would be lovely.

I’ve got one person that recently introduced me to Reubens (I’d never had one!)…I’ll have to return the favor. And I’ve got a friend who’s nuts about blue cheese. So those recipes will be used regardless of my competition dish.

I recently made a beef & onion stew using belgian beer, I’d thought about doing that but wasn’t that impressed with it. That stifado may be closer…wish I’d thought to do this early enough to do a test run. Ah well, life’s more exciting that way.

I’d read the first page or so of the ‘Pain To Make’ thread a few days ago but hadn’t seen any bowl&spoon stuff then - thanks for the reminder. I tried searching for recipe threads and got a gazillion, only some of which are cooking-related, and wasn’t having much luck finding recipes to meet the competition requirements.

Maybe a Portuguese Kale Soup?

You could hype it as a totally unique Fall dish. It’s got some bold flavors on a creamy pallette, could stand out and give you an advantage.

This takes a fair bit of prep and dirties up every dish in the house, but it comes together like lightning and is awesome. It is fancy enough for company. Spicy and delicious.

Florida Shrimp Etoufee


2 pounds fresh medium shrimp
1 stalk chopped celery
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup white flour
4 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 chopped onion
2 more stalks chopped celery
1 chopped green pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 stick butter
several green onions (scallions)

Seasoning Mix:

1 teaspoon salt
1 chipotle pepper (or more), finely chopped, in adobo sauce.
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  1. Peel and devein shrimp. Refrigerate. Take shells and simmer them in 3 cups water, a half cup of white wine, and some chopped celery, about 30 mintues. Drain, discarding solids. Now you have about 3 cups of shrimp stock. Do not try to use clam juice instead. Refrigerate stock.

  2. Make seasoning mix. Stir all ingredients together and keep it nearby.

  3. Make nonfat roux. Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat and add 1/2 cup flour. Stir constantly, over medium heat, until it turns a nice light brown all over. Do not take your eyes from this for a second; if it burns, it will be nasty. When it’s a nice even tan, remove it from heat and keep it handy in a little bowl somewhere nearby. This should take about 15 mintues.

  4. Chop garlic, onion, celery, and green peppers; mix them together in a bowl.

  5. Chop green onions; keep them in yet another bowl, separate from the other vegetables.

Now, you should have all your ingredients ready, in their separate bowls: shrimp, stock, flour, vegetables, onions.

About 15 minutes before dinner:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Put in half the seasoning mix and the chopped vegetables; saute until tender. Then thoroughly stir in 1/2 cup flour, then add 2 cups stock. Bring to a boil, stirring, and then set aside.

  2. Heat a 4-quart saucepan or dutch oven to medium high; melt the butter and add the remainder of the seasoning mix. Add shrimp and most of the green onions, and saute about 2 mintues, stirring constantly.

  3. Add the vegetable mixture from step 5 and the remainder of the stock. Cook 5 more minutes to blend the flavors (thicken with more flour if it’s too runny, add wine or water if it’s too thick). Top with reserved raw green onions.

  4. Serve immediately over rice.

And you gotta serve Vinho Verde with it.

Stupid question-- Is corned beef from the deli alright for the reuben soup or do I need to cook a hunk of meat? I’m willing to go either way, but I want the best result.

I use the stuff from the deli. And it doesn’t have to be high quality because the flavors in this are so intense. At least, that’s my experience.

Excellent! I think I’ll invite the fam over for a soupy dinner on Sunday. I’ll be making this one, sounds yummy.

Thanks, goddess.

This may sound simple and cliched, but I assure you that it’s addictively delicious.

Roasted tomato, garlic and basil soup

Halve, core and seed two pounds of the best, prime ripe tomatoes you can find. Arrange them skin side up on a baking pan with a lip all the way around (like a jelly roll pan). Throw 3 or 4 unpeeled garlic cloves in with them. Broil the tomatoes and garlic until the tomato skins and the garlic peels blacken - 15 or 20 minutes? Pick off the tomato skins and discard, but retain 1 or 2 of the most blackened skins. Peel the garlic cloves.

Pour into a large saucepan 1.5 quarts of chicken stock. Scrape all the tomatoes, the reserved skins, any accumulated caramelized tomato pan juices, and the garlic into the saucepan, add several leaves of basil, and bring to a simmer. Using an immersion stick blender, blend it all until it’s smooth and pureed. (Alternately, ladle it into a conventional blender, blend, and return to the pot.) Taste it, and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.

Serve hot garnished with finely julienned fresh basil and maybe a drizzle of top-quality virgin olive oil. A good accompaniment is little toasted slices of baguette with parmesan cheese melted onto them.

Here are two killer recipes from our Family Favorites cookbook. One is a massive Italian stew, and the other is a no-brainer, can’t miss dessert.

Taglianne --my SIL Judy got this from a Psi Iota Xi pitch-in.

1 1/2 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 lb. sausage, browned and drained
1 #2 can tomatoes and juice
1 can or jar pimentos, diced
1 #2 can niblet corn, and juice
1 cup mushrooms
1 pint salad (green) olives, drained
1 cup catsup, ketchup, or catchup
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 tablespoon chili powder (or more)
8-10 oz. wide noodles
Cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients, except noodles and cheese. Let come to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Cook and drain noodles, then add to mixture. Put in a very large (3-4 qts.) casserole dish or 2 or 3 smaller ones. Top with cheese. Bake 45 mins. at 325 degrees F.

Serves a lotta people.
Cherry Spoon Pie --from my Frat sister Lori (it was a coed Frat.) I took this to many factory pitch-ins, and I always came home with an empty pan.

1 large can crushed pineapple, drained
1 large can cherry pie filling
1 yellow cake mix, dry
2 sticks margarine or butter

Put ingredients in tube or Bundt pan in layers; pineapple, cherry pie filling, cake mix, repeat once, ending with cake mix. Cut up margarine in pieces and place on top. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F.

Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans condensed creamy chicken & mushroom soup
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom with garlic soup
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup

Dump soup into pot and thin with water, then add chicken and let simmer. Add veggies like celery if you want.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
5 Tablespoons real butter
1/2 cups milk

Roll out to about 1/8 inch on cutting board and cut with pizza cutter into diamonds. About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, break the breasts into pieces and drop in the dumplings.

Note: I haven’t tried this with dumplings but it should work.

Problem is, we’re past prime tomato season! If only I’d had this recipe a month ago! weeps Ah well, I guess there’s always next year.

I love that cherry/cake mix thing. I can’t ever get it to come out right, but it’s terrific when I’ve had someone else’s.

Thanks for all the recipes, everyone!

Come over to my place! I’m still picking the damned things and I’m up to my knees in tomatoes. Next year, I vow to plant only one bush.


They freeze pretty well, that’s what we do during that stage. Blanch 'em for a minute in boiling water, shock 'em in ice water, strip the peels and bag 'em up. Doesn’t take long and isn’t too messy.

Then you can pull them out later when you’re ready to cook. We usually make salsa with ours (we eat a lot of salsa), or you can do spaghetti sauce, etc. Actually, I think they’d work pretty well replacing canned tomatoes if you froze them in that quantity. (We usually freeze them in the biggest ziplocks we can find.)

Make up a pot of black beans. Don’t forget to put in some bay leaves.

While the beans cook, roast some onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, squash and perhaps some zuchinni in olive oil. Also, fry up some more onions and garlic in olive oil.

When the beans have cooked as long as you can stand it, add the veggies. Season liberally with coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, and thyme. Add a couple cups of good quality fresh-squeezed orange juice (I use Odwalla), some sherry, and a dollop of olive oil. Cook as long as you can stand. Puree 3/4 of the soup in a blender and leave the rest for texture.

It should become a deep, complex, smoky, wonderful soup.