Soft-Shell Crabs

Soft-Shell Crabs

Soft-Shell Crab with Crabmeat Meuniere Few dishes inspire the eye-popping anticipation that a large, golden brown soft shell crab does. It has such intrinsic excellence that any elaborate preparation diminishes it. The standard (and best) preparation is to dust the crab with seasoned flour and fry it. All it really needs in the way of a sauce is a little brown butter, and perhaps a topping of some extra jumbo lump crabmeat. 4 large soft-shell crabs 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. white pepper 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup milk…

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Ping Pong (Nectar Soda)

Ping Pong (Nectar Soda)

The origin of the name “ping pong” is unknown, but in the riverlands between New Orleans and Baton Rouge many people know what it is: a pink, frozen drink that has the flavor of nectar. Nectar, in turn, is universally recognized among Orleanians as a distinctive flavor, a blend of almond and vanilla. Nectar was one of the most popular flavors for ice cream sodas in the days when drugstores still made such things. Now nectar as an essential flavor in the vast arrays of syrups poured over finely-shaved ice for sno-balls. Read More. . .

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Shrimp And Red Bean Salad With Arugula

Shrimp And Red Bean Salad With Arugula

Shrimp And Red Bean Salad With Arugula This was a fantastic appetizer created by Annie Roberts, who was at the time I had the dish the chef of Robert Mondavi Winery. It was served at a picnic on Mondavi’s then-newly-planted Carneros vineyards, in the early 1990s. I like it so much that we make it often when the great Louisiana shrimp appear. Pretty good with big crawfish tails, too. 1 Tbs. olive oil Zest of 1 lemon, chopped 1 shallot, sliced 1 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley 2 sprigs fresh thyme…

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Fresh Salsa

Fresh Salsa

This is the enhanced first stage of making guacamole. My wife once said to me, why don’t you make that into a into a salsa? So here it is. You can chop everything in a food processor, but it looks nicer and tastes better if you do the chopping by hand. If you use the machine, chop in a few short busts and stop just before it seems right. Read More. . .

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Crab Cakes a la Charley G’s

Crab Cakes a la Charley G’s

Crab cakes were the most talked-about specialty in the years when Charley G’s had a restaurant in Metairie. (They still operate in their home town of Lafayette.) Their solution to the challenge of making the greatest amount of crabmeat stick together in the least amount of binder was solved by pushing the crab lumps into a matrix of bechamel. (That’s what you get when you whisk milk into a blond roux.) Read More. . .

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Sirloin Strip Steak Bordelaise

RecipeSquare-150x150 For charity dinners I have been known to buy a whole or half sirloin strip roast–preferably bone-in–and marinate it in a whole bottle of red wine. It gets roasted in the oven, while the marinade gets reduced down and flavored with savory herbs. Very dramatic preparation. Also, this is the perfect steak to serve on Mardi Gras or Lundi Gras. It’s the dramatic farewell to beef that Carnival is about. Read entire article.

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Crawfish Willy Coln

RecipeSquare-150x150 Chef Willy Coln came to town to run the kitchens of the Royal Sonesta, then opened his own terrific German restaurant on the West Bank. He worked for over a decade afterwards as executive chef of the Inter-Continental Hotel. Here is one of the dishes he developed for the hotel’s Veranda Restaurant, where it was served as an appetizer. Read entire article.

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Crawfish Pasta

RecipeSquare-150x150 I’m pleased to know a few people for whom famous local dishes are named. Monica Hilzim and her husband Pete have a company that makes pasta sauces, among other things. “Crawfish Monica” is their registered trademark for the star in their stable. It’s one of the most popular dishes at the Jazz Festival, among other places, and I get so many requests for the recipe that I developed my own version. It gets its distinctive pink-orange color from Creole seasoning. Read More. . .

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Cool Water Ranch Barbecue Sauce

Cool Water Ranch Barbecue Sauce

I started making my own barbecue sauce when I volunteered to run a barbecue both at the festivals at my children’s schools. I used two bits of knowledge gleaned from my barbecue-eating activities. The first came from Harold Veasey, the founder of the now-extinct Harold’s Texas Barbecue in Metairie. He told me that the secret to his sauce is that he “kills it”–cooks the tomatoes so long that they take on an entirely different, sweet flavor. The second datum was my noticing the taste of cinnamon in the barbecue sauce at Corky’s, the best bottled sauce I’ve found. Neither source would give me a recipe, so I went my own way. This takes a long time, but it’s worth it if you make a great deal of it. Read More. . .

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Veal Rockefeller

Veal Rockefeller

Veal Rockefeller It may be possible to make anything into a Rockefeller dish, but not all of them are good. Crabmeat Rockefeller, for example, kills the flavor of the crabmeat. This dish does work, however, and if you like veal scalloppine dishes I think you’ll go for this one. It’s a little rich. The idea comes from the late Perry Fusilier, who was for many years the maitre d’ at LeRuth’s. 3 Tbs. olive oil 12 medallions of veal, about 2 oz. each, pounded out 1 cup flour 1 Tbs….

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Lost Bread (Pain Perdu)

RecipeSquare-150x150 “Pain perdu,” as the Old Creoles like my mother called it, got its name from its use of day-old stale French bread. Lost for most purposes to which French bread is usually put, these crusts are soaked in eggs and milk, fried or grilled, and served for breakfast. It is, you’ve noticed, quite like French toast, but a good deal richer. Recipe details. . .

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Fish On The Half Shell

Fish On The Half Shell

If you cut big fillets from a redfish or drum and leave the skin and scales on, you can grill it over a hot fire without having to turn it. The skin and scales get black, but the fish stays moist because it’s steaming in its own juices. You absolutely must do this outdoors, because the smell of the burning scales in the beginning is not the nicest thing you will ever sniff. (Don’t worry–it won’t show up in the flavor of the fish.) Read More. . .

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Food Words. Fish On Shell.

Food Words. Fish On Shell.

The Future Of Restaurant Criticism. This article originally was prepared to appear in the NOMenu Daily a few days ago, when a computer glitch made the whole article disappear. It was almost as if it were trying to tell me something. A lot of people wrote me, asking me what the deal was. Simply, it speaks for itself. But it’s not announcing my exit from the profession. I don’t expect to check out of this enterprise anytime soon. Sorry if you find it puzzling.–Tom Fitzmorris. It’s easy to get a…

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May 7 In Eating

AlmanacSquare New Orleans was founded today in 1718. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, chose a high spot in a sharp bend of the Mississippi River to begin a French colonial town. It’s where the French Quarter is now. He named the place for Duke of Orleans, Phillippe II, a flamboyant guy. The feminine form of the city’s French name–La Nouvelle Orleans–is a joke about his personality. Nobody questioned whether this were a good place to put a city, because it wasn’t a city yet. Without a doubt, the spot was a terrific port. That remains true to this day. So away we went! Read entire article.

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Eggs Bitoun

RecipeSquare-150x150 “Kosher eggs Benedict” is what chefs Andre and Maurice Bitoun called this dish. Made with a single egg and smoked salmon in place of the ham of a standard Benedict, it was an appetizer at the Bistro Steak Room in Westwego, an excellent French-Creole restaurant the brothers ran in the 1970s and 1980s. Recipe details. . .

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May 1 In Eating

May 1 In Eating

AlmanacSquare May is alleged to be all of the following: National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, and National Strawberry Month. And some silly ones: National Chocolate Custard Month and National Gazpacho Aficionado Month. The first week of May is supposed to be National Raisin Week. Read entire article.

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Salmon With Sweet And Spicy Glaze

RecipeSquare-150x150 My wife Mary Ann greatly enjoys a dish called barbecued salmon. It’s sort of a cross between smoking and grilling, with higher heat than you’d use for lox-style smoked salmon. It can be served hot or cold, usually with a sweet glaze with some zing. Someone gave me a side of salmon from an Alaskan trip a few years ago, and here’s what I came up with in this direction (after a few tries). Recipe details. . .

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Creole-Italian Chili

RecipeSquare-150x150 For the past few months I have been entertaining myself with new ways to use spicy Italian sausage. Chili, a dish that admits of infinite variations, sounded like a good bet. I wait for it to turn cold outside, because that’s the kind of weather for this. It will be quite chilly tonight. More to come. . .

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April 24 In Eating

April 24 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is National Prosciutto Day. Prosciutto is dry-cured ham. Dry-curing takes much longer, and creates a much more intense flavor, than the brine curing more commonly applied to hams. To make prosciutto, salt is applied to the outside of skinned pig legs, usually with the bones still inside, and hung up to dry for as much as a year. ¶ In the old days, that was done outdoors. Now prosciutto makers have big warehouses whose walls allow free movement of air from outside through the hanging hams. The word derives from a Latin word that means “all dried out,” which it is after all that time. ¶ The best prosciutto comes from Parma and San Daniele in Italy, but much prosciutto is made in this country. Its flavor is very intense; it should be sliced as thin as possible, and used sparingly. ¶ Classic uses of prosciutto include wrapping melon slices with it, stuffing it into veal and poultry concoctions, and standing alone as antipasto. Read entire article.

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April 23 In Eating

AlmanacSquare This is National Picnic Week. It’s a wonderful day for a picnic in South Louisiana, the only place in the world where a picnic might well include boiled crawfish. Perhaps even boiled there in the park, now that everybody seems to have one of those gas-fired rigs. The word “picnic” comes from the French expression “pique nique,” which roughly translates as “picking at little things.” That’s what you do, of course. The funny thing about picnics is that you wind up eating more than you would at a formal dinner, especially if ribs or burgers are in the offing. That potato salad will come and get you, too.
Read entire article. National Picnic Week. It’s a wonderful day for a picnic in South Louisiana, the only place in the world where a picnic might well include boiled crawfish. Perhaps even boiled there in the park, now that everybody seems to have one of those gas-fired rigs. The word “picnic” comes from the French expression “pique nique,” which roughly translates as “picking at little things.” That’s what you do, of course. The funny thing about picnics is that you wind up eating more than you would at a formal dinner, especially if ribs or burgers are in the offing. That potato salad will come and get you, too. Read More. . .

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Gnocchi with Crabmeat and Prosciutto

RecipeSquare-150x150 This rather rich dish brings crabmeat and dry-cured ham together in a cream sauce with gnocchi, the little potato-and-flour pasta dumplings. You can make your own gnocchi if you like (quite an undertaking), but you can buy relatively decent fresh gnocchi in the refrigerator case at the store. Recipe details. . .

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Soft-Shell Crab with Pecans

RecipeSquare-150x150 We’re just about at the end of soft-shell crabs for this year. But I’m still hearing from listeners and readers that they’ve scored a few, so here’s a grand finale for the season. Pecans add a fascinating flavor dimension to all kinds of seafood. They’re used most commonly with fish, but I think they’re great with soft-shell crabs. Recipe details. . .

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Crabmeat Au Gratin

Crabmeat Au Gratin

“Au gratin” does not mean “covered with a thick layer of day-glo melted cheese.” Unfortunately, that’s the accepted meaning in this country, where we somehow have the idea that adding cheese to anything makes it better. The best versions of crabmeat au gratin prove the opposite is true. Take it very easy on the cheese. This crust is mostly bread crumbs, although there’s some Parmesan cheese both in the crust and in the sauce. You will thank me for not ruining the taste of the crabmeat with melted Cheddar or the like. Read More. . .

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Boiled Brisket of Beef

Boiled Brisket of Beef

Boiled Brisket of Beef Until recently in New Orleans, the favorite method of cooking brisket is to boil it. Now smoked barbecue-style brisket has taken over, and the good old boiled brisket has faded. It has a wonderful by-product: the beef broth that comes from the boiling. In many cuisines, this is done mainly to derive a stock for making soups our sauces; the meat is often discarded. But despite the long cooking time, the brisket still has a lot of flavor, and makes a great match with boiled cabbage,…

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April 12 In Eating.

April 12 In Eating.

April 12, 2017 Days Until. . . French Quarter Festival–April 12-15 Jazz Festival–April 27-May 6> Today’s Flavor Today is National Licorice Day. Most licorice on the candy rack contains no actual licorice. The natural licorice flavor–similar to those of fennel or anise–comes from the root of a European plant. It contains, in addition to the distinctive taste, a compound called glycyrrhizin–the sweetest natural substance on earth. It’s being used in a new kind of artificial sweetener that hasn’t quite been perfected yet. Licorice is more widely used in drugs and…

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Meat Pies

Meat Pies

Spicy meat pies, as big as your hand and shaped like a half-moon,are a major specialty in the central Louisiana town of Natchitoches (pronounced “NAK-uh-tish”). That French colonial city boasts being even older than New Orleans. We get our share of meat pies at the Jazz Festival and the like, but the temptation to make them at home is strong. I must warn you that this is not easy. The filling is straightforward, but the dough is a little work (as is all pie dough). And then you have to deep-fry, never any fun. (They can also be baked, but they’re not quite the same that way.) Still, these things are so good that Learn to cook these things. . .

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Oysters Casino

RecipeSquare-150x150 In the Northeast, clams casino is a familiar dish on traditional menus. We rarely see the dish in New Orleans (in fact, we almost never eat clams). But I always loved the sauce, and find it spectacular baked on top of oysters on the half shell. It’s also not bad as a casserole with shrimp. Recipe details. . .

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April 10 In Eating

April 10 In Eating

AlmanacSquare National Soft-Shell Crab Day. Soft-shell crabs are just beginning to appear right now. The early part of the season is best, with the biggest specimens we may see all year. Soft-shell crabs are almost absurdly delectable. Every creature that eats crabs relishes these. It’s a wonder any crabs make it past that vulnerable stage. Soft-shell crabs are blue crabs that have just molted their too-small shells. Almost all the ones that come our way are farm-raised. (The wild ones hide very effectively, and finding one is dumb luck.) Soft-shell crab producers can tell when a crab is about to molt. Read entire article.

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Steak With Lobster Perigourdine

Steak With Lobster Perigourdine

The last word in surf ‘n’ turf was created by Chef Greg Brandt, when he was cooking around New Orleans. I don’t know where he is now, but after shooting a television piece with him at the old Greco’s in the French Market, I glommed onto this recipe and play with it any time leftover lobster comes my way. I’ve also found that this works well with big shrimp. This is more ambitious than most of the recipes I give you, but it requires more attention than skill to make it right. Read More. . .

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Seared Scallops with Artichokes

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RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a signature dish at the Pelican Club, where Chef Richard Hughes calls it by the misleading name “scallop-stuffed artichoke.” It’s sophisticated in both flavor and appearance. It’s best made with dry-pack (also known as “day-boat”) scallops, which have not been processed for long shelf life. (The ones in the supermarket probably are not this kind.) Careful: don’t overcook the scallops! Use high heat and get them out of the pan while they’re still bulging.

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Toney’s Stuffed Macaroni

RecipeSquare-150x150 Stuffed macaroni was a major house specialty at Toney’s Spaghetti House on Bourbon Street, and I dish I’ve never encountered anywhere else. It’s essentially a very light, soft mixture of the same things you’d use to make meatballs, but in different proportions. Many customers ordered it with meatballs, in fact. The macaroni part was the biggest tubular pasta available. You could also roll it up in sheets of pasta, like cannelloni but smaller. Or in large pasta shells. Recipe details. . .

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Quiche Lorraine

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is one of the most delicate dishes I’ve ever eaten. The flavor of the fish is refined and carried on a cloudlike texture. It was created by and is the famous dish of L’Auberge de l’Ill, a three-star restaurant in Alsace, France. Their chef brought it with him to the fondly remembered Henri, where the food of L’Auberge de l’Ill was served. Thin, milder fish work best–particularly flounder, sea bass, and small drum. Read entire article.

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Gratin Of Crawfish Tails

Gratin Of Crawfish Tails

This is what I came up with when I tried to blend some of my favorite crawfish appetizers into a single dish. Don’t attempt this when crawfish are out of season. Freshness is essential. Best: crawfish you boiled (without crab boil) yourself and peeled. Worst: imported crawfish. Read More. . .

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Muse’s Eggplant with Seafood (Eggplant Vatican)

RecipeSquare-150x150 Chef Muse Benjamin, while not as well known as the superstar chefs of our day, was one of the most influential chefs of his time. He was active for more than fifty years, until his death about seven years ago. Restaurants whose food he defined included Delmonico, the Quality Inn on Tulane Avenue (when that was a great restaurant), the Red Onion, Frank Occhipinti’s, and a few other places. The chef prepared this dish in honor of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1987. The dish has a few old-fashioned touches, but nobody’s saying you couldn’t use fresh herbs or leave out the Accent. On the other hand, I thought it would be interesting to give you the recipe as I saw Chef Ben do it. Recipe details. . .

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Asparagus and Crawfish with Glazed Hollandaise

Asparagus and Crawfish with Glazed Hollandaise

The perfect time to make this dish is springtime, when both crawfish and asparagus are excellent and inexpensive. The flavor blend, enriched by the hollandaise, is remarkable. What makes it especially appealing is glazing the hollandaise, a simple old technique not often enough employed. Read More. . .

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