March 26 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is National Spinach Day. Spinach was first grown in what is now Iran about 1500 years ago. It spread to all parts of the world, almost immediately replacing other green leaves wherever it went. ¶ Spinach is among the most healthful and delicious of all those we eat. It’s rare among them in that it’s eaten raw as often as cooked. Its flavor is distinctive but not strong. The younger the spinach, the more tender the leaves and better the flavor. ¶ And then there’s the Popeye connection. From it we learn that eating spinach turns funny-looking pipsqueaks into powerful heroes. That’s because of its reputed but overstated iron content. ¶ Popeye continues to inspire the eating of spinach, enough so that today in 1937, farmers in Crystal City, Texas–the spinach-growing capital of America–put a statue of Popeye in its town square. Read entire article.

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Honey Lamb en Brochette

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a lamb shish kebab with a New Orleans taste, and a little bit of sweetness, which lends itself well to lamb. I use the herbal B&B liqueur in this, but think also about other sweet, fruity liqueurs. Apricot brandy, for example, or peach schnapps. The best way to prepare this is on a charcoal grill, but a gas grill (indoor or outdoor) will also work well. More to come. . .

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Strawberry Shortcakes

RecipeSquare-150x150 A true shortcake is not the sponge cake that’s typically used for this famous old dessert, but something a lot like a drop biscuit. We make these all the time, and it’s an essential for our Easter parties. Read entire article.

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Juiced, Peppered And Blasted Hanger Steak

RecipeSquare-150x150 The flavor of hanger steak makes a statement. It is unambiguously beefy, but it also has a distinctive hint of variety meats that makes it a little gamy. In some ways, it reminds me of the flavor of dry-aged beef. The challenge in cooking hanger steak (after you find one, which is not easy) is in making this fibrous muscle tender enough to slice and chew. For that I marinate in pineapple juice, add olive oil, and cook with the highest heat I can muster in my outdoor grill. Even if you like rare beef, I’d recommend taking this to about medium–135 degrees or so. And slice it with a sharp knife in the kitchen. Table knives, even steak knives, literally don’t cut it. More to come. . .

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March 20 In Eating

March 20 In Eating

AlmanacSquare It’s Ravioli Day. A raviolo (singular–but who ever eats just one?) is made by inserting dollops of some flavorful stuffing between two sheets of pasta, pressing the sheets together until they adhere, and then cooking them. ¶ They come in all sizes and are made with all stuffings. The truth about ravioli was revealed to me when I was a child: the kind you don’t want are beef ravioli, which are almost inevitably nasty.¶ The standard ravioli these days are stuffed with cheese, usually a mixture of ricotta and Parmigiano. Spinach and mushrooms are other common stuffings, usually with a bit of cheese added to the mix. Some clever chefs, in their efforts to deconstruct food, have taken to casting cooked pasta sheets randomly in a bowl with the stuffing ingredients interspersed but not sealed. ¶ The first time I saw this I thought it was amusing, but it’s been done too many times now. Besides, that assembly has another name: lasagna. Read entire article.

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Raw Oysters Mignonette

RecipeSquare-150x150 Mignonette sauce–it’s more like a cold relish, really–takes you just a short step away from eating raw oysters with nothing at all on them. The flavors don’t get in the way of those of the oyster, and the contrast between the metallic brininess and softness of the oyster. . . Recipe details. . .

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March 19 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, carpenter, father of a very distinguished Son, namesake of my own father (no insinuation there), and patron saint of Sicily. It’s that last connection that explains all the celebration of the day in New Orleans. ¶ Because St. Joseph’s Day always falls in Lent, the food connected with the day is meatless. The famous dishes on this day include cardoons (the stems of an artichoke relative), pasta milanese con sardi (see below), fennel salad, eggplant caponata, fava beans, and a wide range of cookies, flavored with anise, sesame seeds, and almonds. Some only appear that this time of year. ¶ St. Joseph’s altars are found in both homes and businesses, and are almost universal in Italian restaurants. Many of the altars are listed in the newspaper today. Stop by, have a few cookies, pick up a lucky fava bean, say a prayer to St. Joseph, and feel moved by yet another essential New Orleans cultural undercurrent. Read entire article.

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Grilled Coriander-Crusted Fish

The marinade for the fish is one that the late, great chef Gerard Crozier used to prepare for curing duck breasts. The flavor is quite powerful, especially if it’s left on for several days. I thought it would be great for escolar’s rich flavors, but with less time in the marinating bag. This recipe would also work well with tuna or swordfish. Read More. . .

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Enchiladas Criollo

RecipeSquare-150x150 Here is my version of a seafood enchilada, using a few ideas from our own local cuisine (“Criollo” in Spanish). I go against common local practice in resisting the temptation to use every kind of seafood in this. Use in season shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat, scallops, flaked fish, even oysters. . . but just one or two of those, not all. Also, you will never convince me that seafood and melted cheese are a good combination, but you may like to add some Monterey jack cheese into the sauce or the filling.

Click here for recipe details.

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Blackened Tuna

Blackened Tuna

Blackened Tuna There’s no better fish for blackening than tuna. By wonderful coincidence, no way of cooking tuna is better than blackening. The essential thing to know is that blackening fish creates a terrific amount of smoke and perhaps flames. It’s best done outdoors over a very hot fire. And don’t be shy about getting the heat up there–it can’t possibly be too hot. 4 tuna steaks, about 10 oz each, cut at least an inch thick (but the thicker, the better) 1/2 cup white wine 1 tsp. Worcestershire 2…

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Recipe Of The Day. Food Almanac.

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a spectacular side dish for almost any meat, but it’s especially fine with beef. The ragout of mushrooms is much more intensely flavored than the same mushrooms sautéed in butter would be. And now that we can find coarse-ground grits that stand up to cooking, we’re getting used to using it as a side dish at dinner. This comes out fine with standard white mushrooms, but it’s better to mix in some exotic or even wild species if you can find them. Recipe details. . .

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Barbecue Shrimp

RecipeSquare-150x150 The dish is simple: huge whole shrimp in a tremendous amount of butter and black pepper. The essential ingredient is large, heads-on shrimp, since the fat in the shrimp heads makes most of the flavor. Resist the urge to add lots of herbs or garlic. This recipe is largely based on the new recipe created by Chef Gerard Maras in the early 1980s at Mr. B’s. The butter emulsifies into the other liquids, and gives not only a bigger flavor but a nicer-looking dish. Recipe details. . .

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March 8 In Eating

March 8 In Eating

It is National French Onion Soup Day. Let’s make some before the cool weather ends completely. The story behind the dark, slightly sweet, aromatic onion soup, served in a crock with a cap of cheese on a floating crouton, was that it was first served in Les Halles, the gigantic marketplace that once was in the center of Paris. Like all such markets, it opened very early in the morning, and it could be cold. One of the vendors began cooking an onion soup covered with enough cheese to keep the soup from cooling quickly. The cheese would re-seal itself after every incursion of the spoon. (So it’s wrong to eat the cheese first, at least if you want to be entirely traditional.) Although French onion soup lends itself to cold weather eating, it’s pretty good all the time. I make a version that involves using six different onions and six different chili peppers (small ones). Read More. . .

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Pear Clafoutis

RecipeSquare-150x150 A clafoutis uses a runny version of Belgian waffle batter as a matrix for fruit–classically, cherries. But you can make it with anything sweet, and few fruits would make this more appealing than ripe pears. When you make this recipe, use more pear than you think you’ll need. And although the pan will seem to contain too much batter, go with it–it won’t run over. Recipe details. . .

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March 7 In Eating

In 1876 on this date Alexander Graham Bell was granted the patent for the telephone, thereby allowing us to call restaurants to reserve tables. What did people do to get a spot in the dining room before the phone was in widespread use? Perhaps reservations were not needed, or the reservation concept was not in existence. Read More. . .

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Baked White Beans With Bacon

This is one of my wife’s favorite recipes. We used to serve by the gallon at a school festival where she and I worked on a barbecue booth. There’s one problem with it: it takes forever to cook. But it needs very little tending, and it’s a great break from good old red beans and rice. This recipe makes enough for a big picnic or family gathering, but you can cut everything in half for a more modest serving. Read More. . .

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Béarnaise

Béarnaise

Béarnaise is my favorite sauce. It’s good on almost everything: steaks, fish, fried potatoes, eggs, chicken. . . I could go on. Its finest employment in the Creole arena is in a dish called chicken Pontalba. If you find fresh tarragon or chervil, use twice as much as called for here. Read More. . .

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Roasted Potatoes

RecipeSquare-150x150 We wanted potatoes to go with some beautiful strip sirloins we’d found, but we didn’t want mashed or fried or baked. So we roasted, with the potatoes at Mosca’s and the potatoes fournou from Greek restaurants in mind. After a few tries, here’s what we came up with. Read More. . .

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Sea Bream Nouvelle Creole

Sea Bream Nouvelle Creole

Most of the time, seafood and tomato sauces don’t work well together. But when they do, they become spectacular. In this one, the conjunction of hollandaise with the tomato sauce is what makes the magic. It can be prepared with many kinds of fish, but the one that seems perfect is Gulf sheepshead–also known as sea bream. Read More. . .

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March 1 In Eating.

March 1 In Eating.

March 1, 2017 Days Until. . . St. Patrick’s Day–March 17 St. Joseph’s Day–19 Easter–April 1 Today’s Flavor This is national Tex-Mex Cooking Day. Today in 1845, President John Tyler annexed Texas to the United States. With the permission of the Texans, of course. A Texas cuisine was already in place. It could even be said that Tex-Mex food was already born. It has grown ever since, with the influence of Germans, Czechs, Africans, and a constant flow of people from Central America. It’s still not enough to keep the…

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Garlic And Potato Soup

RecipeSquare-150x150 Garlic soup is delicious. After the garlic has been roasted long enough to make it soft and nutty, the sharp flavor we associate with the savory vegetable is nearly gone, and new flavors appear. This version uses a lot of garlic, but spreads it out through the agency of potatoes. It’s a great soup in the wintertime, and in the summer it can be served cold. Recipe details. . .

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Stonebreaker’s Spinach-Artichoke Dip

RecipeSquare-150x150 This spinach and artichoke dip is the great one they made at Steve Stonebreaker’s restaurant in the late 1980s. Steve was one of the original football Saints. He operated a very good grilled-rib restaurant in Metairie Recipe details. . .

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Shrimp Toast, Great Chinese Appetizer.

RecipeSquare-150x150 Shrimp toast is a wonderful Chinese appetizer that few restaurants do well. The best I ever had came from Kenny Cheung, who for years operated the now-gone Peking in New Orleans East. I once walked into his kitchen and saw an entire sink full of fresh shrimp he’d just bought. He beamed at me and said, “Not many Chinese restaurants peel fresh shrimp for shrimp toast!” It is much simpler to prepare than the finished product would have you believe. It is delicious served with Chinese plum sauce, which can be found at any large supermarket. Recipe details. . .

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Shrimp Limone

This is a dazzling dish for shrimp lovers. The lemon is really out there, and the bit of smoky richness from the ham and a touch of red pepper at the end brings it to the culinary border of Italy and Louisiana.. . More to come. . .

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February 23 In Eating

February 23 In Eating

AlmanacSquare Today in 2007, a group of New Zealand fishermen landed the largest colossal squid ever caught. It was just under forty feet long, and weighed almost a thousand pounds. These fantastic creatures have been known for a long time, but almost never encountered live. They can fight a sperm whale to the finish, the winner not a foregone conclusion. Not enough breading and oil could be found to fry this calamari, so it was grilled and served with aioli instead. Read entire article.

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Brabant Potatoes

RecipeSquare-150x150 Brabant Potatoes

In most restaurants, these are nothing more than cube-shaped French fries. But if you take the extra step outlined below–drizzling them with garlic butter and then running them through the oven for a few minutes–you’ll have a side dish so incredible that you’d better make a lot of them. Recipe details. . .

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February 21 In Eating

February 21 In Eating

Deft Dining Rule #249 

Ask which is the worst table in the restaurant, and you’ll never be brought to that table.

Edible Dictionary 

aloo gobi, Indian, n.–Potatoes and cauliflower make up the bulk of this popular Indian dish, usually served as a vegetarian entree. It’s cooked on top of the stove with high heat, giving a roasted quality. The flavor profile is made further complex with a generous supply of Indian spices (ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cumin and chile peppers, among other things). The finished dish packs quite a flavor punch, and is difficult to stop eating. The idea has lately become a favorite of chefs whose cooking knows no national boundaries.

Today’s Flavor

The Web buzz is that today is National Sticky Bun Day. I haven’t yet mentioned that February is National Potato Month. And today is National Hash Brown Potatoes Day.

Hash browns are a fuzzy concept. In shape they run the gamut from large diced potatoes to finely shredded. They’re usually cooked in a hot grill or skillet, but the other ingredients combined with it ranges from nothing at all to cheese, onions, bacon, ham, and whatever else the cook at the greasy spoon has handy. Everybody has a different preference.

Mine is for the way my wife Mary Ann makes them, which takes advantage of her penchant for burning things. She pre-bakes potatoes a little less than you would for eating. Then she melts some butter in a hot skillet and shreds the potatoes right into the skillet, scattering some chopped green onions as she goes. Then she walks away until she smells something burning, turns the potatoes over, and lets them go a little longer. This technique is terrible for most cooking, but happens to be perfect for hash browns, and the result is irresistible.

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Crawfish Cardinale

RecipeSquare-150x150 Crawfish Cardinale

The most famous and best crawfish dish at Antoine’s is, like many of their dishes, an adaptation of something else on the menu. In this case, it’s crawfish mariniere with a bit of what they call “tomato sauce,” but which I’m almost certain is actually ketchup. This recipe duplicates the dish closely, then adds a couple of other flavors I like with crawfish (the tarragon, chervil, and dill, all optional). Recipe details. . .

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Blackened Catfish Salad

RecipeSquare-150x150 To blacken fish properly requires a very hot skillet, which will throw off a lot of smoke and perhaps even a few flames when the butter-coated fish hits the pan. Be sure to have a good exhaust fan going. Or take the whole shooting match outside, and do it on an outdoor grill. Recipe details. . .

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Tex-Mex Chili Sauce

Tex-Mex Chili Sauce

This is half a chili con carne recipe. It has the seasonings and the flavor, but not the meat. You use it as a sauce, not as a finished dish. It’s good on chicken, pork, and cheese-and-onion enchiladas. But triple all the ingredients, add three pounds of cubed or ground beef chuck at the end of Step 1. and you’re on your way to a good, heart-warming (and heart-stopping) bowl of red. Read More. . .

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February 13 In Eating

February 13 In Eating

AlmanacSquare The buzz on the Web is that today is National Tortellini Day. Tortellini come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. They’re small ravioli–little pillows of pasta usually rolled up around the stuffing instead lying flat. The filling is most often cheese, but spinach, tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, or other fillings–more often vegetable than meat–can be enclosed in tortellini. A slightly large variation is called tortelloni, which no doubt has its own special day. There’s more. . .

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Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Confession: I never make fried chicken the same way twice. It’s a work in progress that’s been going on for over ten years. This recipe is an amalgamation of the ideas that resulted in the most delicious chicken–so far. Read More. . .

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Aline’s Grits And Eggs

Aline’s Grits And Eggs

When I was a kid, I didn’t like eggs. My mother thought this was such a deficiency in my diet that she created a version of grits in which eggs are cleverly–and deliciously–hidden. I liked grits, so I downed this with delight. She topped the concoction off with applesauce. I had a glass of chocolate milk on the side to cool my throat if I ate the lava-like grits too fast. I still love this entire ensemble–including the chocolate milk. The eggs not only enrich the flavor of the grits, but give them a lighter texture. Read More. . .

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Bayard Salad

Bayard Salad

This is a singular salad from Antoine’s that you’ll like if you have a taste for strongly-flavored crunchy food. It is a ball of chopped vegetables in a vinaigrette, set atop an artichoke bottom, then topped with a rolled anchovy filled with Louisiana caviar. It has an almost Cubist appearance–like the sort of salad you’d expect Picasso to make when he was in a creative mood. It’s not for everybody, but I like it. Point of interest: a lot of the ingredients in here are the raw materials for Antoine’s famous oysters Rockefeller sauce. But pretend you didn’t notice. The salad is named after a legendary horse with magical powers from French Renaissance poetry. I don’t know why. Read More. . .

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February 8 In Eating

February 8 In Eating

February 8, 2017 Days Until. . . Mardi Gras–5 Valentine’s Day–6 The Chemistry Of Food Today is the birthday of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev, who created the periodic table of elements, seen in every chemistry classroom. I’ve often thought that a periodic table of food would make in interesting kitchen poster. Let’s see. . . Water would be Element 1. Chicken Stock is Element 3, Veal Stock Element 11, Beef Stock Element 19. Salt would be Element 17. Sauvignon Blanc is Element 2, Chardonnay is Element 10, Pinot Noir Element 18….

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