Roasted Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy is my favorite of all the comfort foods. Especially in the winter time.
The left-overs can be made into a delicious hearty soup you can serve with a salad,
Roasted Chicken Dinner Soup
Put the carcass of the chicken in a large stock pot. Cover with water three inches above the bones. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Drain the stock and let the bones cool.
Add three chicken bouillon cubes, 1 cup diced onion, celery, carrots, broccoli florets, two cups diced potatoes and a can of corn. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add leftover mashed potatoes (2 cups) and 1 cup gravy.
Sometimes I add ½ tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. marjoram, ½ tsp. savory,
½ tsp. black pepper and a pinch of cayenne.
But sometimes, like today, I just want leftovers in a soup.
“Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot!”
Free container of Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning and a $10.00 gift certificate with each book purchased!
“Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot!” (TAO Publishers, $35.00) is a culmination of the recipes served up at the restaurant and humorous stories that keep her clientele coming back for more. From flying steak sandwiches to talking frogs, there’s something for everyone—spicy to not so spicy, vegetarians to meat eaters. With 75 simple, delicious recipes, Orsi has finally created a book for both culinary novices and experienced home cooks that shows how to maximize flavors in the kitchen and still able to entertain guests.
- Preparing a delicious, quick, weeknight meal with your significant other? – Instead of spaghetti with a jar of pasta sauce, start off with a bowl of Cajun Steamed Mussels. Take turns dipping bread in the sauce. Then try Shrimp Diane or Chicken Vieux Carre for a romantic meal.
- Entertaining a few friends at home? Cook up some Roasted Garlic and a pot of Seafood Gumbo with lots of French bread. Add a Caeser Salad, finish off with an easy Mississippi Mud Pie and you have a great dinner party.
- Trying to feed your children healthy? Show them how to make the Creole Mustard Sauce and stir up some Blackened Chicken Bites. They’ll love being able to help in the kitchen and you won’t have to buy chicken nuggets again.
- About the Author:
Tracie Orsi opened Ragin’ Cajun in 1992. She is self-taught and likes to keep her life simple which is why her recipes are easy to follow. Her philosophy is if you love to eat, you should know how to cook and if you can boil a pot of water you can make a great meal.
“There’s nothing better than having friends over, enjoying a good meal and lots of laughter to make life a little brighter,” she says with her trademark smile.
Book Reading and Signing:
Jersey Shore Arts Center Ocean Grove December 9
Tracie Orsi, Chef and proprietor of Ragin’ Cajun, one of several featured readers will be present at Writers, Authors and Poets, part of the family at the Jersey Shore Arts Center. December 9 at 2 pm to 5 pm. Join Literary Adventure as we present our reading series of authors and writers reading from their original work. Orsi will talk about how she got started in Cajun cooking twenty years ago and how easy her recipes are to make at home.
BookTowne Manasquan, NJ December 14
Book Signing 5:00-6:30 Orsi talks about stories in her book and will meet with guests to sign books. In the Christmas spirit there will be gifts for all who attend.
“Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot!” shows you how deliciously easy it can be to cook Cajun. Orsi has made her mark in the state of New Jersey as local landmark with her restaurant Ragin’ Cajun. Opened in 1992 Orsi has been host to many couples’ first dates, follow to their weddings, onto baby christenings and then their kids’ high school graduations. She has been part of a number of people’s lives in many respects. Her participation in local events and fund raisers have made her somewhat of an icon in her community.
$1.99 Bottle of Wine
Oh how I remember those days when we were all so broke counted our change together so that we could go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner. Matt, Nicole, Christopher and I came up with $36.00 and we bought enough food to feed us all dinner for 5 nights.
There was the baked chicken that turned into chicken salad sandwiches the boys took to work the next day. And then chicken noodle soup for dinner with a salad the next night. I bought a thick London broil on sale and marinated it. Sliced thin is the only way to go. A bag of potatoes, a bag of rice and a bag of onions became staples. It’s amazing with a little salt and pepper! Reminds me of the fable “Stone Soup.”
We had parties! Our friends (equally as poor) would say “Hey Trace, you need to have a party tonight!” I would say, “Bring the meat you’re gonna eat!” I would make the pasta salad, the potato salad and all the little stuff that makes a cookout complete. There would be so much food left over we just had to have a party the next night!
My favorites were the times when I would put on a pot of spaghetti sauce. I was famous for it on our little island. It amazed me how quickly word got out or perhaps it was simply coincidence that Mark would drop in to say hello. “Mark,” Chris would ask, “ would you like to stay for dinner? Tracie made sauce.” Mark mutters from the back of his head because he’s running out to his car. I just happened to have a loaf of garlic bread on the back seat of my car!” We all smile. Imagine that.
Lorna walks in with Mark. He met her at the curb. She needed the recipe for the Italian dressing Grandpa taught me so that he wouldn’t have to make it any more. Grandpa sopped up the extra juice with bread and when that ran out he lifted the bowl to his head and drank the rest like a beautiful wine (I must say I’ve been known to mimic the old guy).
Greg is only 10 minutes behind. “Thought ya’ll like to drink a few beers.” Lorna grabs the 12-pack and stuffs it in the fridge. Nicole sets the table. Matt pulls up more chairs.
Christopher had gone to the store for me and is all excited about the wine he found. $1.99 a bottle! WooHoo! We clap him on the back. A Regular Ulysses. He bought 4 of them because he didn’t have to buy lunch that day.
So much food. Conversation wild with laughter. Love.
These days we can afford to go to “the best” restaurants where our bar tab exceeds our food bill, which wasn’t all that great anyway. My steak was over cooked and Peter’s salad dressing was too sweet. We talk endlessly about the frustrations with work and the fact that there’s not enough time in the day for anything. Nostalgic we become talking about the times we would throw a tent in the trunk to go up to the mountains for a music festival or down to the beach to go boogie boarding.
Stress was different then. Somehow we always made rent and so we went without a phone for awhile. We didn’t discuss IRA accounts and the (ugh!) Stock Market. No one had cancer, no one’s mom had to have a breast removed. No babysitters. We drove beat up old Volkswagens and various other vehicles held together with duct tape and paper clips. My lease on my truck now is greater than any rent I had to split with three other people!
Times change that’s for sure. Being late for work meant there were killer waves or other more private afternoon delights that took priority over meeting the boss at the door (who, by the way always asked me why my hair was wet as I come flying through the door 15 minutes late. Every day). We were bartenders and waitresses and hang gliding instructors. Someone taught sailing and Lorna worked retail. We created our own realities and we loved life.
We all knew that one day we would be driving brand new cars and living in beautiful homes. We would have real jobs (at least some of us). We knew that we would no longer have to scrape coins together to get into a movie or to buy another pitcher of beer. No – now we have to scrape major bucks together to pay the IRS. What’s the fun in that?
Coming back from dinner tonight I decide to pour myself one more glass of wine. Santa Marguerite I bought on sale for $17.99. I had a nice meal I suppose but we didn’t share that deep down joy I once knew. We laughed a little. Not that hard belly laughter that made Lorna snort and I couldn’t breathe – Nicole throwing pillows at us because her stomach hurt so bad. All of our stomachs ached the whole next day. None of that now. Sometimes I suppose, but not tonight.
I get bleary from the wine and teary from memories. I must be getting old. But. I really did love my life back then. I loved those times. And I really loved those people. Especially Christopher.
Tipsy now, I think that perhaps tomorrow I shall put on a pot of sauce. I smile at the cost of chop meat and a can of tomatoes. Onions, green peppers? Nothing! Pasta? Bosh!
With an impish grin I picture it. Lorna drops by for some salad dressing only it won’t be Lorna this time. I lost touch with her after we left the beach. Elizabeth now will want a mason jar to take home with her. She craved it when she was pregnant with Dylan and Casey. Maybe she’ll drop in and give me some good news…… Monica will just so happen to have an extra loaf of garlic bread on the back seat of her car. She stops by to see if I want to go to the Boathouse later. Cisco and Richie being bored and skateboarding by will stop in to say hello. Wayne bounces in telling of a new reggae band we have to go see. We’ll make room for them at the table.
Oh please! I could only imagine how lucky I would be! If! Oh please, imagine! Oh Christopher. Where are you now? With any luck at all you will complete my vision and you with your beautiful smile and boyish charm will show up at my doorstep for some famous spaghetti sauce. And of course, won’t you? Please? Show up with a dollar ninety-nine bottle of wine? Cliff won’t mind.
Last night I roasted a young chicken for Cliff’s dinner. It tasted funny and wasn’t the same as my usual juicy fat Perdue Roaster. Not sure if there’s a metaphor hidden somewhere in that or I just stumbled on a delicious irony?
I’m taking the carcass of the young chicken and simmering it down with onions and celery; fresh thyme and marjoram from the garden. Cliff loves cream of chicken soup and I feel much better making soup out of a bird that yielded little meat for last night’s dinner. I love roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and savory gravy. I add savory to the stock because the kitchen smells like I’m on the French countryside even though I’ve never been to France. Chicken and mashed potatoes are the ultimate comfort food. I can think of nothing better.
The smell of chicken cooking in a pot makes me happy. I’ve just drained the bones and will let them cool so I can pick through the meat.
The phone rings and it’s my adorable husband. I tell him I caught a glimpse of the frog that lives in our pond. He’s shy and won’t hang out on the ledge long enough for me to know for sure he is there. It’s fleeting and I never “see” him. More like a flash and a splash, and he’s gone. But on the edge of the pond is a wet spot where I know he sat.
Cliff mentioned seeing him once but he jumped around the side wall and scampered away into the tall grass under the fence. Cliff thought the frog wouldn’t be back for some reason, so when I told him he jumped into the pond he said the frog was waiting for me to kiss him so he would turn into a prince.
Without hesitation I told Cliff I already had a prince. I could hear Cliff’s smile through the phone.
“Good answer,” he replied.
Searching beneath the water lilies I look hard for my little frog though I don’t tell this to Cliff. I tell him instead that I’m gathering thyme for his cream of chicken soup. I’m happy the frog is still living in my pond. To me, he’s an amphibious delight enlightening the imagination of my six year old mind. I love when the goldfish kiss my fingers when I dangle them lazily just below the pond’s surface.
I cut up onion, celery and red bliss potatoes and add them to the stock. Leftover gravy and mash potatoes thicken my soup and I can’t wait to make the salad and for Cliff to get out of the shower so we can have dinner together. He’ll tease me that all he gets for dinner is a bowl of soup and a salad.
I have chilled the glasses in the freezer and we drink down the cold Heineken Lights. He crushes up his crackers while I dip mine individually. I don’t like them to get soggy.
Cliff tells me he’s going to trade me in for someone younger. And I’m going out back to find the frog. I laugh at him and say no cute girl wants anything to do with him and his belly. He says he’s got the personality. Indeed he does! I tell him he would miss me. I do alright for an old broad though far from being a spring chicken. He says he would miss me very much. That’s the beauty of homemade cream of chicken soup.
That young bird I cooked last night? She just made me fall in love all over again.
Get a free container of Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning with every purchase!
Coming up with recipes for a cookbook is the easy part. Putting down the ingredients is near impossible. Writing text befitting my arrogant notion that I might compete with William Faulkner is a journey into a black hole. I do not share the wit of Willie Shakespeare. My shtick is to torture my listeners with one tedious tale after another.
My customers chide me: when are you writing that cookbook? Of course it makes sense to write one since I give out recipes all the time. I get the call, “how do you make that roasted garlic thing?” “How come my gumbo isn’t doing right?” “Tracie, Help!” I have no problem writing down the recipe for artichoke hearts on the back of a Ragin’ Cajun bumper sticker. I have no qualms about sharing stories of my life. And I don’t really discriminate against any audience. If you eat my food you listen to how my week went. Easy as that.
Cooking to me is heart and soul. It is all the different types of love you might ever know in your life. It is watching my grandmother cook night after night for aunts and uncles, cousins, cousins and more cousins. It is reminiscent of my first love and all subsequent love affairs that have followed. Love and food are synonymous. Love and food carry with them their own unique love affair, a symbiotic relationship indeed. Both are certainly necessary nutrients no man can live without. Pretend though we might that we are self-contained individuals who can do everything alone; no one can live without Love and food. Not even me.
All of life surrounds food. We meet in restaurants. We go on picnics,
Everybody hangs out in the kitchen. All the “love” we know in this world has some sort of cuisine attached to it.
Take the first date, for instance. Split a plate of French fries at twelve years old with the cutest girl you have ever seen in your life. The age-old tradition of bringing sweets for your sweet has been around forever. Grandmothers are always throwing food at you – “Didja eat?” And certainly true love is when your grandfather finishes that last bit of broccoli on your plate because your mother said you couldn’t have grandma’s famous peanut butter cookies until you have cleaned your plate.
We are always amazed at the amount grandpa could pack away.
So as I mull it all over like a sweet simmering wine, I can’t help but smile at all the food stories I have told. It seems that everything about me revolves around food. So people tell me, Tracie, just write the stories you tell us. Tell us your story about how you got started in cooking Cajun food. I am so bored with that story. I have told it so many times. Perhaps I should have written it down then and I could have simply left a news flash on the table for everyone to read. But I didn’t have the recipes then, only stories.
Back in college an English professor handed me a box of New Yorker magazines and told me to read them all over the weekend. All? I did not know they were New Yorkers at the time for all the covers had been removed. That dear eccentric man informed me that he had wallpapered his bathrooms with them. I was seventeen. I stared in amazement at the absurdity of it. Now as I type this nearly thirty years later (Gads! Has it been that long?) I rather like the idea.
I was forced to remind him that the University of Virginia was playing North Carolina on Saturday. Everyone would be at the game.
He was unimpressed. “You will read Ms Orsi. This is a matter of your future!”
I did not miss the game but somehow managed to read each one from uh, I almost said cover to cover, but you know what I mean.
I knew after that weekend that I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to sit in big leather chairs and sip cognac. I wanted to smoke a pipe by the fire discussing whether or not Francis Bacon was really William Shakespeare. I felt that at one point in life I would learn to love Nathaniel Hawthorne but that might be pushing it. Actually, Hawthorne is brilliant but it took maturing to learn to love him.
If there were a style of writing somewhere between the style of Hemmingway and Steinbeck, I would like to find it. Hemmingway takes his reader by the hand and walks him down every lane he has ever strolled; into every back alley bistro he has had a drink. Steinbeck takes his reader by the hand into the back alleys and introduces him to all the people he has met along the way. Since my first year of college, I have traveled down a few roads I would like to share with anyone willing to listen. And I can assure you I have met quite a few characters along the way. Many of them have been in the past few years as a restaurant owner in New Jersey. Perhaps I will introduce you to a few of them.
And then it dawns on me – I always think of Earnest Hemmingway looking like my dear professor sitting at a bistro table in Paris. He is eating oysters and drinking aperitif. He is watching a girl who is sitting by a window waiting for someone. He is wondering who she is waiting for. Perhaps my professor was watching my future yet to unfold. He liked Martinis. Much of Hemmingway’s inspiration is founded over a plate of oysters on the half shell, and certainly we all know what a drinker he was.
I too derive inspiration from a tiny restaurant called the Ragin’ Cajun. I opened in the winter of 1992. Many characters have walked through the door and many stories have been told. Occasionally a young girl will come in by herself and sit by the window waiting for either a new date or a girlfriend who got off work a little late. There is a lot of wine and much laughter. I have kept a journal of some of the best stories, and new friends have sent me letters reminding me of their experiences at “The Cajun.”
I may not be as clever as Earnest Hemmingway or as keen as John Steinbeck. But this is my restaurant, these are my friends, this is my Moveable Feast.
$35.00 includes Ragin’ Cajun Seasoning to get you started