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Talk About Food
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COOKING UP A STORM


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Finally, after a couple of years of lots of research and work, the book Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune, has been published and released.  The book project began when Judy Walker, the food editor at the TP, began receiving requests following Katrina for recipes people lost in the flood.  A reader suggested that the requested recipes be compiled in a cookbook.  I was asked to work on the project, along with Judy—who by the way, did an excellent job of trying to match requests with recipes. Many readers, who  hadn’t lost their recipes, were so generous in supplying recipes they had in their collection.  I do hope you can put your hands on a copy.  Try your local bookstores or go to the TP website and try this link http://www.nola.com/tpstore/index.ssf?/tpstore/cookbook.html

Judy and I have been to many book signings in and around New Orleans (even in Fairhope, Alabama) and we are being interviewed on radio and television.  I even did an interview on NPR with Michele Norris on All Things Considered.  It’s been quite exciting.

Also, the Abita Beer cookbook I worked on is also now available.  Go to http://www.abita.com/index.php to place your order.  The recipes are fantastic and are from well-know chefs.  I also have a few recipes included as well.

This weekend Judy Walker and I will be signing books at Octavia bookstore in New Orleans from noon to about 3:00 if you are in the area—come by to see us!

 

 

 

 

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ON THE ROAD


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Whew!  I’ve been on the road so much lately, I’ve met myself coming and going.

The second weekend in October I hosted the Culinaire sur la Table Tent at the Festivals Acadiana et Creole.  The festival is an annual event in Lafayette and there is lots of good food (my favorite this year was crawfish florentine stuffed into a small French bread) and great music (Cajun and Zydeco).  The festival grounds were packed with people having a grand time! 

I was delighted to have several wonderful guests do cooking demonstrations in our tent.  Jude Tauzin, Chef at Catahoula’s in Grand Coteau, made a tasso and sweet potato bisque that was fantastic.  Chef Holly Goeting from Charley G’s in Lafayette whipped up a risotto that combined roasted pecans, cranberries and roasted sweet potatoes—yummy!  My friend Stan Dry made a batch of butterscotch-coconut brownies to pass around to the hungry crowd.  Floyd Poche, a master at making all kinds of sausage, brought along samplings of his pork sausage, andouille and tasso.  Wanda Barras (my first cousin) has a goat farm in St. Martinville and makes incredible goat cheese—she showcased several of her products.  Lori Walls and her family demonstrated the art of making boudin.  Diane Wright Hoffpauer and her brother explained how farm-raised crawfish and rice are grown in the same fields.  Diane made a creamy crawfish and popcorn rice pudding that was outstanding.  And finally, Chefs Greg and Mary Sonnier whipped up a batch of squash and shrimp bisque that was superb.

Then I was off to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at Oxford, Ms to prepare a gumbo z’herbes for the Southern Foodway Alliance group (275 guests).  The Ole Miss campus is one of the prettiest in the South.  The gumbo z’herbes (a gumbo made with turnip greens, collards, mustard greens, cabbage and lots of other green stuff and andouille, salt meat and smoked ham) was well received.  Michelle McRaney, Chef at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans, joined me and prepared her spectacular gumbo ya-ya.  The day we served the gumbo on the campus was a bit chilly and rainy so the gumbos were much appreciated.  You won’t go hungry at a SFA event—we are sausage and grits, lots of sweet potatoes, and a goodly amount of fried catfish and cole slaw!

Next up was a week at Epcot for the annual Epcot Food and Wine Festival.  I had never been to Epcot and it’s incredible!  Louisiana was showcased for six weeks.  The exhibit included a small replica of the French Market in the French Quarter of New Orleans where Louisiana crafts, books, and ingredients were sold.  On a stage that resembled a Mardi Gras float, the Pine Leaf Boys, a Cajun band from Lafayette, played daily to a crowd that couldn’t stop dancing.  The Tabasco people hosted a section where children were entertained while cooking demonstrations were presented in another part of the exhibit.  Disney does it well–the landscape around the exhibit had cypress trees, Tabasco pepper plants, magnolia trees, a patch of rice plants and sugar cane, AND even a small garden that included parsley and green onions—essential in Cajun cooking.  I presented two demonstrations to packed houses and the guests loved our crawfish etouffee.  John Folse supplied crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo and praline bread pudding at the exhibit and people stood in line for these delicious offerings.  BUT the highlight of the week was the Party for the Senses held in a beautiful venue.  There were 20 chefs (including myself) serving 1200 people throughout the evening.  Thanks to Shannon Edwards from the John Folse Culinary School at Nichools State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, I managed to make 18 gallons (using 150 pounds of Louisiana crawfish) of crawfish etouffee to serve with Konriko Wild Pecan Rice and cole slaw to serve the hungry guests.  They loved it! 

I had a few days to recuperate from Epcot before I set off for DeRidder, La to participate in a fund raiser for their Main Street Association.  The weather was beautiful although a bit chilly.  The day was a grand success—all the food booths ran out of food within 2 hours! 

GREAT NEWS!  Finally, after almost three years, the book COOKING UP A STORM Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune in New Orleans has been released.  Judy Walker, the food editor at the Times-Picayune, and I co-edited the book and we are so very proud of it.  It all began not long after Hurricane Katrina brought New Orleans to its knees when readers of the Times-Picayune began asking for recipes they lost to flood waters.  Through  Judy’s column Exchange Alley, she was able to find recipes from readers to help those who had lost their favorite recipes.  I urge you to get a copy—check with your local book stores.  Judy and I have been on the road for book signings in New Orleans and Fairhope Alabama.  She’s in Arizona this week (Thanksiving week) and I’ll be in New Iberia at Books Along the Teche signings books. We’ll have more book signings before Christmas in New Orleans.

On another note, a book I edited for Abita Beer will be released in the next couple of weeks.  If you like beer and also like cooking with beer, GET THIS BOOK!  It contains great recipes using Abita products.  I’ll be in Baton Rouge and New Orleans signing books so check your local listings.

And finally, I’ve turned in the manuscript to Pelican Publishing for a book PECANS—SOUP TO NUTS.  it will be out until next fall, but it’s also a great cookbook. 

In between book signings I’m trying to gear up for the holidays.  I’ll keep you posted on what I’ll be cooking for the holiday table! 

 

 

 

 

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FALL FOODS


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Hurricane Gustav managed to fell a tree on the roof of my home office, but the tree has been removed and blue tarp now covers the holes until a roofer can make repairs.  As usual, we in south Louisiana did not go hungry during the hurricane.  Although many were without power, we managed to cook (with the help of generators) gumbo and jambalaya.  Those of us with butane grills grilled burgers, steaks and whatever else we had in our refrigerators and freezers to keep us going during the clean-up after the storm.

Fall weather (when it gets to south Louisiana) makes me crave for gumbos, stews (especially chicken fricassee), braised beef and other hearty meals.  When sweet potatoes (called yams in south Louisiana) are in season, there is nothing better for an afternoon snack (as far as I’m concerned) than baked sweet potatoes drizzled with pure cane syrup.  If you tire of sweet potato dishes that are just too sweet, try this.  Peel a couple of sweet potatoes, then cut them into 1-inch dice and toss with olive oil, salt, black pepper, cayenne, chili powder, cumin and some smoked paprika (if you can find it).  Arrange the potatoes in a baking pan lined with foil and bake at 425 degrees until tender, stirring once or twice, 15 to 20 minutes.  They’re great with pork dishes or baked chicken.

 

 

 

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SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER


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Summer has gone by much too quickly.  I’ve not had near enough sno-balls, chilled watermelon, or leisurely afternoons lolling around in my hammock.  There is much too much going on!

First of all, I will not be cooking in Charleston.  Alas, things just didn’t work out.

But you might want to go to www.cajungrocer.com where you’ll see my smiling face.  I’ll be contributing some recipes and good food information there on a monthly basis, so join me there.  And for those of you who may need some Cajun-Louisiana foods, cajungrocer.com is a great sight for purchasing all that you need to cook Cajun wherever you live.  Spread the word!

In October, I’ll be cooking gumbo for the Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford on the campus of Ole Miss.  Michelle McRaney, the executive chef at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans will be preparing her city-style gumbo and I’ll do my best with an Acadian-style one.

The week of October 27th I’ll be at Epcot at Disney in Orlando as part of a week-long celebration of showcasing Louisiana foods. 

In the meantime, I’ve been putting up fig preserves, smothered okra and my favorite maque choux.  Most of the summer vegetables are just about finished but I thoroughly enjoyed a great wealth of Creole tomatoes, cucumbers, zuccchini and canteloupes—much of which was given to me by my generous home gardeners.

I’m hoping to get in a fishing trip to Vermilion Bay and if the fish aren’t biting, then I’ll try my hand at catching shrimp at Marsh Island using a catch net—all I need is enough to make a shrimp stew or shrimp and okra gumbo, right?

Later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rolling into Summer


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Spring (which was cooler than most this year) has given way to summer.  Crawfish season is about over but I had my fill of everything crawfish—boiled, etouffee, pies, salad and fried crawfish po-boys!

Now the garden vegetables—our great Creole tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, squash, zucchini and cucumbers—are at their peak.  I can’t get enough of those vegetables, which can be prepared in so many ways.

Just so you’ll know, I’ll be teaching at a kitchen studio in Charleston, S.C. The name of the school is The Cajun Kitchen, so log on to see what’s going on www.thecajunkitchen.tv

A friend just stopped by to present me with four soft-shell crabs, which I will soak in buttermilk, then dredge them in flour and deep-fry until crispy.  They’ll be great served on a bed of shrimp and ham jambalaya and drizzled with what I call Creollaise Sauce (a combination of bearnaise sauce and Creole mustard). 

What’s going on in your kitchen?

 

 

 

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG


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Easter has come and gone.  Our family gathering lasted all day and we ate just about everything from the ham and brisket, to potato salad (with homemade mayonnaise), rice dressing and assorted cakes and pies,

Now we’re into spring, a beautiful season in south Louisiana.  The bald cypress and willow are leafing out along the Bayou Teche, and I’ve spotted a few Louisiana irises in bloom here and there.  I’m waiting for my first crawfish boil of the season—maybe this weekend!

On a drive through my rural neighborhood I noticed that several home gardens are getting planted and my mouth is already watering for tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers and summer squash.  The local farmers’ markets are featuring Louisiana strawberries—ideal for strawberry shortcakes, strawberry muffins and strawberry jam. 

My husband has dusted off the barbecue pit and his grill, and we’re anxious to enjoy the longer, warmer evenings on the patio.  Tonight we plan to make chicken kabobs to serve with rice pilaf and fresh asparagus.  Tomorrow night I’m looking forward to big and juicy burgers on the grill, and later in the week I’m going to fry up some shrimp and catfish. 

Yesterday I found globe artichokes for 99 cents so I came home with several that will be delicious steamed and served with mayonnaise tweaked with pressed garlic, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.

What are you cooking?

 

 

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Spring is almost here!


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Goodness, I’ve been very remiss in updating my blog.  Here is it almost Easter.  Lent has certainly flown by.

Crawfish is coming into season after a slow start.  I have had boiled crawfish only once so far—prices are a bit higher than we are used to—about $40.00 for 10 pounds of boiled crawfish—oh for the days of old when crawfish was a bargain!

I have been visiting local vegetable gardeners and they seem to think it’s still a bit early to put in their spring/summer crops of tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, squash and zucchini.  My winter herbs have just about played out so I’m anxious to put in basil, oregano, tarragon, and thyme to liven up spring and summer meals.

I’ve handed in a manuscript to LSU Press on wild birds of Louisiana.  The photographer, Charlie Hohorst, has done an incredible job and I’ll let you know when the book will be published—probably not until fall.

Have a grand Easter celebration.  My family is getting together and so far the menu will include baked ham, barbecued chicken, potato salad, asparagus casserole and lots of chocolate candy from our Easter Baskets!

 

 

 

 

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CARNIVAL TIME


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With the Christmas holidays behind us, we in south Louisiana are now in the midst of Carnival season.  Mardi Gras is early this year—February 5th and everyone is scrambling to attend a myriad balls, parades, luncheons, and cocktail receptions.  Whew!  After the whirl-wind, I’ll almost looking forward to the quiet season of Lent.

I don’t know what’s come over me, but lately I have been having an "envie" (French for "yen") for pasta.  I’ve been cutting out recipes from magazines and scanning my recipe data base for pasta dishes.  (If I’m not carefuly I won’t be able to get into my evening gown for an upcoming Mardi Gras ball.)  Anyway, last night, I made meatballs from sweet Italian sausage that was removed from the casings, added a goodly amount of chopped garlic and grated Romano cheese, some Italian seasoning mix and a smattering of chopped flat-leaf pasta.  After browning the meatballs in olive oil, I removed them from the skillet and discarded the pan drippings.  In more olive oil, I sauteed sliced onions, sliced red bell peppers, more garlic and salt and crused red pepper.  Once the vegetables were slightly wilted, I splashed in some red wine, returned the meatballs to the pan, covered it and cooked for about 10 minutes.  The mixture was then tossed with cooked rotini and a little of the cooking liquid from the rotini pot and a handfull  of shredded Romano.  Not bad for a quicky meal.  A salad of crisp chunks of iceberg lettuce, olive salad, cherry tomatoes tossed with homemade vinaigrette, and French bread spread with roasted garlic completed my meal.  Yum!

During the week I made a chicken and sausage gumbo.  The weather outside was awful—rainy, windy and cold!  Perfect weather in which to enjoy a gumbo meal (baked sweet potatoes and hot crusty French bread and homemade lemon pie) while my husband and I cozied up in front of a roaring fire.

Let me hear what you’re doing in the middle of winter!

 

 

 

 

 

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Holidaze!


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As usual the holidays were a whirlwind of lots of cooking and eating.  I made several batches of pralines, chocolate fudge and apple cakes for gift-giving.  I, in turn, received homemade barbecue sauce (fabulous), divinity fudge(marvelous) and a duckling, which I roasted a couple of days before Christmas.  The duckling, brushed with a mixture of honey, soy and sesame oil, was delicious.  Steamed broccoli and cauliflower from a friend’s garden were the perfect sides along with a wild rice dressing tossed with dried cranberries plumped up with brandy, and toasted pecans.

On New Year’s Day we’ll have black-eye pea jambalaya and several cabbage dishes to bring us wealth and good luck in the coming year!  Accompaniments will be skillet cornbread, roast pork and sweet potatoes.  I was introduced to a great alternative to regular sweet potato casserole.  Chunks of peeled (uncooked) sweet potatoes were tossed with chunks of onions, several garlic cloves, salt and pepper, olive oil and baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Wow!  When cooked toss the mixture with bits of crispy bacon! 

I wish all of you a great New Year!

 

 

 

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Ah, Food of the Low Country


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I’m fresh back from Charleston, S.C. and what a great four-day trip!  On my 6:15 a.m. flight out of New Orleans who should be on the same flight?  Cousins Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin (of Commander’s Palace and Adelaide’s in New Orleans) were also headed to Charleston to a book signing for their marvelous book IN THE LAND OF COCKTAILS!  If you don’t already have it, be sure and get it.  And, it will make a great Christmas gift for just about anyone who enjoys a cocktail or two.

After a brief walking tour of historic Charleston we lunched at a place called Fast and French, a small, cozy bistro where we enjoyed a platter that featured several slices of delicious pate, wedges of cheese, and chunks of French bread accompanied by three mustards—Creole-style, Dijon and an aioli-type.  The minestrone soup was very tasty as was one with sweet potatoes, curry and ham.  Our croque monsieur sandwiches were perfect! 

After doing the radio show live from Charleston, we headed to Edisto, about a 45-minute drive from the city.  Edisto is an island surrounded by saltwater marshes (beautiful) and the coastal waters are a haven for srhimp, crabs, fish and oysters.  Our hosts, Jim and Linda McLain welcomed us to their lovely home which has a panoramic view of the saltwater marshes and a wooded area,  similar to south Louisiana, filled with palmettos, graceful oaks shrouded with Spanish moss, pines, and wild magnolias.   Dinner, prepared by Jim, was perfectly boiled shrimp with perfectly grilled rib-eye steaks accompanied by creamy-smooth mashed potatoes, and steamed asparagus.

The next day we toured Edisto, which was at one time home to many rice and cotton plantations.  We chose a water-side restaurant for lunch.  Crab soup (more like a thick bisque) and fried shrimp and oyster sandwiches were just the think to tide us over until dinner. 

Saturday night, my friend Donnie Bulliard, who now lives and works in Charleston, put out a spread for about 12 of us.  (One gentleman, Steve Meaux, turned out to be from Abbeville, La. and we have mutual friends.)  The dinner began with crawfish in pastry shells, then chicken breasts stuffed with cranberries and nuts, followed by a leek and shrimp soup, then fried catfish with crawfish etouffee and an assortment of desserts.  Whew!

Sunday morning breakfast (at one of the local churches) was shrimp and eggs with grits and muffins.  Sunday night we had Jim’s version of shrimp and grits, but instead of the grits he served the shrimp over Carolina rice—fantastic!

Shrimp and grits is their answer to our grillades and grits.  Everyone has their own version—all good.  In fact, I saw a cookbook by Natalie Dupree that featured a many versions on shrimp and grits, and now I’m sorry I didn’t buy it.  Maybe I’ll ask Santa to get it for me!

Now it’s back home to get ready for the holidays.  Let me hear about what you’re cooking for the upcoming feasts.   

 

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