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2016 New Orleans Trip Report – Part 2

New Orleans Trip Report

Decatur Street from the Washington Artillery Park & Moonwalk

I have a secret weapon when it comes to recommendations for great New Orleans eats.  A high school classmate went to LSU, fell in love with the city, and decided to stay in the greater NOLA area.  He keeps a Facebook page chronicling his lunch outings: the New Orleans Lunch Journal.  When I asked Beto for lunch suggestions, the first place on his list was Cochon Butcher.  It was the first place we visited the minute we dropped our bags in our downtown hotel.

Mid-Day Eats

Coming straight from Puerto Rico and being greeted by a traditional vejigante mask in this renowned butchery, deli and sandwich shop? Priceless! Read More…

2016 New Orleans Trip Report – Part 1

New Orleans Trip Report

Latrobe Park on Decatur and Ursulines

I didn’t realize how much I missed New Orleans until I footed my way through St. Charles Avenue for the first time in almost eight years.  Literally footed – I ran my first marathon two weeks ago.  From Lee Circle up to Calhoun Street and back downtown, my eyes were peeled for old landmarks from my college years in the late nineties. My ears open for the sounds of the bands and DJs, and for those spectators that dotted the first half of the race course.   My mind raced to all those times I took the streetcar from Audubon down through Carondelet and back. To all the nooks and crannies I didn’t take the chance to know back then.  That longing to get reacquainted with the city grew stronger as we made our way into the French Quarter through Decatur Street.  The tree lined Esplanade miles through the Marigny and City Park up to Mid City were dotted with regret for not exploring as much as I should have.  And the Lakefront portion made me grateful for a sunny, mild day that could have not gone any better, throbbing right knee notwithstanding.

New Orleans Trip Report

St. Charles Avenue streetcar at ‘my’ stop

The race recap portion of this show is over. On to the first part of this New Orleans trip report, the love letter to my college town and to the great food that enjoyed over five beautiful days.  I knew the city would be packed between the race (over 25,000 runners) and other conventions and events.  The minute we booked our airfare in December I made most of our meal reservations.  If traveling to New Orleans for an event, it’s always better to reserve and then modify reservations than try to walk in to the more popular restaurants. Read More…

Flash Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

Fried Green Cherry Tomatoes

I purchased a basket of assorted cherry tomatoes on a trip to the warehouse club last week.  It included every color under the sun, from striped brownish red, red, orange and yellow, to green.  I made a point of using every tomato during the week – except the green ones.  At the time I wasn’t sure to which dish I would be adding them to, but their destiny was clear.  I was going to flash fry those green cherries.   The last time I got my fried green tomato fix was back in November in DC. Seven months is a long time! Read More…

Roasted Eggplant Étouffée

Eggplant Etouffee

When May rolled in – particularly during third week of the month – my social networks swelled up with all the activities surrounding my alma mater’s commencement ceremony.  Lovely birrete art, the second lines and music that only come from New Orleans, and Maya Rudolph’s hilarious address.  It made me nostalgic for my own hectic graduation week, so I scoured the web and my own ‘archives’ for those memories from fifteen years ago. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie: Roasted Chayote with Garlic

 

Jerusalem Artichokes Redmond Farmers Market

Last year E and I spent a week frolicking in the Pacific US Northwest/Canadian Southwest after IFBC wrapped up.  On our last day and a half before returning to Puerto Rico, we hung out around Redmond, a Seattle suburb famous for its proximity to the Woodinville wine tasting rooms, the Microsoft campus, and The Herbfarm.  After spending about an hour in the Redmond farmers’ market that Saturday, I decided the next time I visited that area I would rent an apartment with a good kitchen.  We were wowed by the wonderful produce we saw at the market, stand after stand.  I took an especially good look at the Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, knowing that I’d likely wouldn’t be seeing them again in the (near) future. Read More…

The Perfect Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

The Perfect Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

One day, the stars aligned. The produce gods smiled upon me. Ten months later, I still have not been able to recreate the perfect fried green tomato sandwich.
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Gumbo Ya Ya with Crabmeat

This Sunday, Eduardo and I celebrated SOUPer Bowl VII.  Since we’ve been together, we’ve always watched the  Super Bowl in the couch, with a bowl of soup and a platter of wings in front of us.  I made a recap of the soups we’ve enjoyed through the years in last year’s SOUPer Bowl entry, New England Clam Chowder (oh, the irony).  Still bitter over the outcome of the playoffs for my beloved Saints, I decided to bring New Orleans to the Super Bowl through food.  Enter the Gumbo Ya Ya! Read More…

Traditional King Cake

I feel I’m failing my dear Doristas by not posting today’s French Friday’s recipe, quatre-quarts.  I still have in my freezer bubble top brioche rolls, a piece of Mama’s cinnamon cake, biscuits made from the Baking book recipe, three boxes of Girl Scout cookies and up until very recently, a whole king cake.  It’s just too much starchy, floury goodness already at my fingertips to even consider baking another cake for a two-person household. Read More…

Saints Playoffs 2012 Cookies and New Orleans Recipe Roundup

I could not help myself.  Geaux Saints!

Fleur de Lis Shaped Sugar Cookies

For the holidays, I made four batches of Dorie Greenspan’s sugar cookies (Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies), and froze a couple of rolled sheets for whenever I felt like enjoying a few.  I got a fleur-de-lis cutter at Sur La Table while on vacation in Miami and was itching to  use it.  What better time to enjoy some saintsational cookies than today before kick-off? Read More…

Jambalaya Risotto

“Well I’m going to New Orleans, I’m going to see the Mardi Gras” – Professor Longhair

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This is the float in my parade, and while it doesn’t go down Orleans, or St. Charles, or Canal Street, it definitely takes me back there.  I’m throwing beads at it instead of the other way around!  Read More…

Shrimp Etouffée

“Etouffée” means “smothered,” and that’s the idea. It’s not a long-cooked stew. – Tom Fitzmorris

Recipe Adapted from John Besh’s My New Orleans

I think I finally got over the Saints losing in the playoffs this weekend, and let go of my delusions of being able to influence the outcome of a game through my culinary ‘offerings’.  With this baggage off my shoulders, I can finally share with you my shrimp etouffée recipe and lessons learned.  This was my first foray into etouffée and into NOLA style seafood, after making over the last year a couple of chicken and sausage gumbos and jambalayas.  Etouffée is the French word for stew (and Spanish’s estofado, although I like guiso better).   Depending on the recipe/school of thought you may have a thickened up seafood gumbo or a very rich butter and spice based sauteed dish.  The most popular etouffees are crawfish, but shrimp and crab are widely used as well.

Etouffée, like gumbo, starts with a roux made of equal parts fat and butter, cooked to a dark brown color. Getting the roux to the color of milk chocolate should take somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes over medium heat.

The Roux

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Once the roux is ready, reduce the heat to medium-low and add one small diced onion. The onion should be cooked until soft. It is very important to hold out on adding any other ingredient until the onion is translucent, as the moisture from the other vegetables would halt the caramelization of the process. The roux will get a little darker.

When the onions are ready, add the following ingredients and cook for about five minutes.

  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 1/2 bell pepper – whichever color you may have on hand
  • 3 cloves of garlic – depending on the size
  • Leaves from three sprigs of thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
 

At this time, you are ready to add 2 1/2 cups of liquid into your pot and a small peeled and chopped tomato. This is the only point in the recipe where I disagree with Mr. Besh. His original recipe calls for one quart of shellfish stock. My secondary source, Emeril Lagasse’s recipe calls for one quart of stock as well – for double the amount of roux and thrice the seafood. Etouffée is supposed to be like a gravy. By following the recipe ‘to a T’ the first time, I got a pretty tasty shrimp gumbo. Ideally, you would have shrimp or seafood stock on hand, but since my freezer bag of shrimp tails is nowhere near full at this point I bought a seafood base to create a broth. Clam juice is an acceptable substitute too.

After the sauce has come to a boil, reduce and simmer for five to seven minutes, making sure that nothing sticks (and burns!) to the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to low and add:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of cleaned, deveined shrimp (save the tails and shells for stock)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes of Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Once the shrimp are cooked thoroughly, serve with long grain white rice. The recipe yields at least four generous portions, and the leftovers are awesome.

My Orleans: The Cookbook on Foodista

Edible Holiday Gifts – Pralines

Once December rolls, my time gets swallowed between the work busy season, holiday celebrations (this year I already have five commitments in the three weekends prior to Christmas), and the inevitable gift shopping.  For the last three years, I have turned on the oven, and baked my way into edible gift giving.   I’ve baked brownies, every-chip cookies (white and semisweet chocolate chips, dried cranberry, pistachio and pecans), and guava panetela (also known as torta cubana).  This year, just for the sheer ease, I’m adding pralines to the mix.  I made some for the first time last week for Thanksgiving and loved how quickly you can make a batch.  By the time it takes me to put together cookie dough and get it ready for the oven, the pralines are already setting.

Pralines_setting

I scraped all the leftover sugary bits out of that pot.  I could have saved them for cookies, but where’s the fun in that?

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Shrimp Po’Boys

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I keep cooking New Orleans food and the Saints keep winning.  I’ll have to sneak in a starter or dessert to my family’s tiny celebration on Thursday to make sure the luck doesn’t wear out for the Cowboys-Saints faceoff.  We’re already doing the turkey so any suggestions would have to be either easy or quick to pull off. Read More…

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Few one pot meals are more gut/heart/sinus warming than a gumbo.  After weeks – nay – months of requests to make one, I finally had a sort of rainy weekend that justified the time consuming process of making this New Orleans cuisine classic.  (I would also say that every time I cook food from New Orleans, the Saints win.  That would be an argument to continue going through the culinary canon of the city in the coming weeks.)  The recipe used this time was John Besh’s master recipe from his book My New Orleans, sans the okra, using the homemade chicken stock shown below.  I cooked the gumbo on Saturday and we got to have leftovers yesterday for dinner.  There is still enough for two starter sized bowls today, which makes the effort worth it.  Read More…

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