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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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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Cauliflower (Or Broccoli) Au Gratin
* NOMenu.com

Cauliflower (Or Broccoli) Au Gratin

The idea of broccoli or spinach or something else au gratin, baked to bubbly and crusty with lots of cheese , the way our steakhouses do, sounded great to me–even though I’m no big fan of those dishes. I had a cauliflower in the refrigerator, fresh from the farm of a friend. Next thing I knew, I had cauliflower au gratin. Read More. . .

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Corn Macquechoux
* Red Bean Edition

Corn Macquechoux

RecipeSquare-150x150 “Macquechoux” is the Cajun French rendition of a word used by the Native Americans who lived in what is now Louisiana. It meant “cooked corn,” so “corn macquechoux” is redundant. But never mind. It’s a delicious and common side dish in Cajun country, good enough that it’s made its way into New Orleans Creole cooking. The corn is cooked down with all the ingredients of a Creole sauce and a lot of butter. The corn becomes soft and almost a stew, but the kernels don’t disintegrate. In some families, enough sugar is added to the concoction to make it unambiguously sweet.

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Stuffed Artichokes
Vegetables

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes Stuffed artichokes, Italian style, are an old New Orleans favorite. They’re at their best in springtime, when the new crop of artichokes appears. The stuffing is mostly bread crumbs and garlic. Not everybody likes (or understands) stuffed artichokes. My wife does; I don’t. This recipe came from the old Toney’s on Bourbon Street, which sold them by the hundreds. 4 fresh medium artichokes 2 cups bread crumbs 3 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic 1/4 cup olive oil 4 anchovy fillets, chopped 3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley 1/4 cup grated…

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Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)
Bakery

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

RecipeSquare-150x150 Greek spinach pie is everybody’s introduction to the cuisine. That’s lucky, because one taste of spinach pie hooks you for life. Fortunately, it’s also found in most restaurants whose cuisines were touched at any time in their histories by the Ottoman Empire. Some restaurants have taken to doing this as a small turnover, but this is the original casserole style. It’s more often served as an appetizer than as a side dish. Recipe details. . .

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Creole Eggplant Gratin Delmonico
Vegetables

Creole Eggplant Gratin Delmonico

Creole Eggplant Gratin Delmonico Here’s another extinct restaurant dish you can’t get anymore. It was the favorite side dish at the old Delmonico, before Chef Emeril took over. Especially right after it comes out of the oven, it’s delicious–even if you don’t like eggplant. I had this dish for the last time at Delmonico two days before the old regime closed down. It was the night of the Babylon parade, which passed right on front on St. Charles Avenue. We had most of our dinner, went out to watch the…

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Mirliton and Root Vegetable Gratin
Vegetables

Mirliton and Root Vegetable Gratin

Mirliton and Root Vegetable Gratin I originally served this dish at one of my Christmas dinners, and it was so well received that I’ve made it often since. Lately, a lot of people have called me to ask for mirliton recipes, and here is a good one. It’s a variation on the French classic gratin Savoyard, with other root vegetables instead of the usual potatoes and mirlitons, a favorite vegetable around New Orleans. It’s called chayote elsewhere. 2 slices lemon 2 whole cloves 1 tsp. black peppercorns 1 rutabagas, peeled…

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Carrot Soufflee
Vegetables

Carrot Soufflee

Carrot Soufflee A surprisingly large and enthusiastic bunch of diners love carrot soufflee, for reasons I’ve never been able to determine. The restaurant with the most famous version of the dish is Piccadilly Cafeteria; that fact proves once again that good food is where you find it. It’s a simple enough dish, really. Fresh carrots are essential, and the larger they are the better this comes out. 3 lbs. carrots 1 tsp. cinnamon Pinch nutmeg 1/4 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. white pepper 4 Tbs. butter 4 Tbs. flour 1 1/2…

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Creamed Spinach
Side Dishes

Creamed Spinach

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is an old American classic, found not only in the venerable establishments like Antoine’s and Galatoire’s, but also in the new breed of steakhouses that have popped around town. The funny thing about creamed spinach is that it contains no cream. Also no cheese, although if you want to sprinkle some of it with bread crumbs on top and bake it as a casserole, you will find a doubling in the number of compliments from eaters. This stuff is also essential for all dishes Florentine or Sardou.

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Pureed Sweet Potato Casserole
Vegetables

Pureed Sweet Potato Casserole

Pureed Sweet Potatoes I’m not calling them mashed, because they come out a lot better if you run them through a food mill or something similar. That takes out all those little strings and funny lumps in sweet potatoes. You could mash them if you don’t have a mill without a loss in flavor, however. It’s mostly a texture thing. Absolutely the best way to cook sweet potatoes for mashing is to microwave them. There’s only one problem with that approach: no two microwave oven function the same way. The…

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Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms
Grits, Polenta & Cereals

Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms

Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms In New Orleans, bread pudding is usually a dessert. But not this one. Out come the sweet ingredients, replaced by mushrooms, onions, and cheese. It’s my wife Mary Ann’s idea, and we often use it as side dish. It’s a Thanksgiving fixture now. This is at its best with meaty, wild-tasting mushrooms: portobellos, criminis, shiitakes, chanterelles, porcinis, etc. The best cheeses are the ones that melt well and have an interesting tang: Gruyere, Fontina, Swiss, Provolone, mozzarella. (If you use the latter two, use a…

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Peas In A Roux
Vegetables

Peas In A Roux

Peas In A Roux This is an old, nearly-extinct local dish that intrigues me, especially after Arnaud’s revived it for awhile. I remember that the school cafeteria served peas like this once in awhile, and that my mother may have even done so. After failing a couple of times to get it right, I found that the roux has to be very loosely bound with a vegetable stock. 1 stick butter 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms 1 green onion, sliced 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp. mild garlic-flavored…

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Artichoke And String Bean Casserole
Vegetables

Artichoke And String Bean Casserole

Artichoke And String Bean Casserole This is a fixture at Thanksgiving dinner at our house. It comes from my wife Mary Ann’s family, and I don’t know who brings it–just that it’s always here on Turkey Dday. Like many old family recipes, it could be improved by ingredient upgrades–specifically, using fresh or even frozen green beans instead of the canned. But I can’t say it’s not good made just as it came down from the previous generation. 1/2 cup olive oil 1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped fine 8-10 garlic cloves,…

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Spicy Green Beans Amandine
Vegetables

Spicy Green Beans Amandine

Spicy Green Beans Amandine Some vegetables have become so identified with their canned versions that restaurants hesitate to serve them. I’m happy to see that, in regard to green beans, this prejudice has passed. All of a sudden, green beans have become cool. Not only that, but the squeaky, undercooked style that chefs used to force upon us has mellowed into a softer, more flavorful, and much more aromatic approach. (Stopping well short of the mush into which green beans used to be cooked, however.) Here is a classic way…

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Asparagus Parmigiana
Vegetables

Asparagus Parmigiana

Asparagus Parmigiana This is my favorite recipe for asparagus as a side dish. It takes a few minutes longer than just boiling them, but the results are superb. I have made the quantities of everything vague on purpose; your taste will get you there. Figure four to six asparagus spears per person. The dish works best with larger asparagus. If they’re really big, you’ll want to cut off perhaps as much as two inches from the bottoms of the spears. (If that gives you a lot of asparagus bottoms, wrap…

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Eggplant Pontchartrain
Vegetables

Eggplant Pontchartrain

Eggplant Pontchartrain Ever since Tujague’s started serving more than one choice of entree with its classic old Creole table d’hote lunches and dinners, they’ve had to create a few new ones. This is my minor reworking of an eggplant dish of theirs, topped with an herbal seafood sauce over fried eggplant. In crawfish season, you can substitute crawfish tails for the crabmeat and shrimp. Don’t put the crawfish tails in until step 8. 1 medium eggplant Salt All-purpose flour 1 egg yolk 1 Tbs. milk Italian seasoned bread crumbs 1/2…

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Creole Corn Pudding
Vegetables

Creole Corn Pudding

The inspiration came from VooDoo BBQ, but this is my version of that old-timey, little-seen side dish. You can use either fresh corn on the cob (if you do, par-boil it before stripping it from the ears) or frozen corn. Read More. . .

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Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Beer-Battered Onion Rings My thinking about onion rings is that the thinner they are, the better they are. To make that work, the coating must also be thin. Since flour won’t stick to the rings all by itself, I use a wash made of eggs and beer over the first coating, and then come back with a heavier second flour coating. The hardest part is slicing the onions. A mechanical slicer works best. We use a Ron Popeil product from the early 1970s called the Kitchen Magician, inherited by my…

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Braised Celery

Celery isn’t often used as a vegetable side dish. But it should be. It’s familiar, while at the same time something new for your eaters. It’s easy to prepare, using ingredients you have on hand. It goes with almost every main dish. It’s crunchy. And it’s good! The best results come from using the fourth through tenth ribs that come off the stalk. Those are large enough to have good flavor, while still being tender and blemish-free. Read More. . .

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Artichoke Balls

RecipeSquare-150x150 These are popular at many a New Orleans table during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving. They’re easy to make and hard to resist eating. They should still be soft when you take them out of the oven; browning is not really a goal.

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Baked Eggplant Casserole A La Morrison’s Cafeteria.

RecipeSquare-150x150 When the holidays roll around, my dining habits become even more traditional than usual. (And that’s saying something.) In serious bouts with nostalgia, I start thinking about such extinct foodways as cafeterias. Two cafeterias were of note in New Orleans during the 1950s through the 1980s: Wise’s and Morrison’s. Both places served certain dishes that were not often found in any other restaurant. One of those dishes was famous both at Wise’s and at Morrison’s. The recipes were different, and there was an ongoing argument as to which was the better. (My vote: the old Delmonico’s. I wasn’t a fan of either cafeteria variation.) I don’t know what Wise’s eggplant recipe was, but the Morrison’s version came to me from a good source.

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Gratin of Pumpkin

RecipeSquare-150x150 I originally served this dish at one of my Thanksgiving dinners, in another effort to use the meat of the jack o’lantern-style pumpkins so cheap that time of year. I’ve made it often since. It’s a variation on the French classic gratin dauphinois.

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Broccoli-Macadamia Stir-Fry

RecipeSquare-150x150 Broccoli, believe it or not, is the most popular vegetable in American restaurants. More broccoli is sold in sit-down, menu establishments than even potatoes. And the industry has not even resorted to the irresistible name “little trees,” or to this very good sorta-Oriental approach.

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Asparagus Risotto

RecipeSquare-150x150 On my first visit to Italy, we were served risotto with every meal. My favorite versions were those made with green vegetables. Every time I see asparagus in the store, risotto crosses my mind. The critical ingredient is Arborio rice, a variety now widely available even in supermarkets. It’s extra starchy and creates the texture you need. I would also highly recommend using either Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese. Both are expensive, but intense in flavor so that you don’t need to use as much.

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Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed With Italian Sausage

RecipeSquare-150x150 What can we do with portobello mushrooms other than straight grilling? They look so good even in a plastic-wrapped package that you want to figure out new uses for them. This recipe starts with a light, dry grilling to take some of the moisture out of the mushrooms so they’ll hold together better. The Italian sausage is then broken up with some classic savory vegetables for a Creole-Italian take on stuffed mushrooms. The filling is quite loose, but avoid the temptation to stick it back together with cheese or bread crumbs. These are good as an appetizer, or as an entree with pasta bordelaise. You can make the same recipe with smaller mushrooms for finger food.

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Stuffed Onions Florentine

RecipeSquare-150x150 This dish was in my very first cookbook, a little tome published in 1982, long out of print. One day not long ago, someone called me on the radio and said they’d made it and loved it. I cooked it again, made a few improvements, and found out why the caller liked it so much.

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Eggplant Marinated In Olive Oil

RecipeSquare-150x150 This is a superb antipasto made by marinating eggplant with olive oil, garlic, crushed red peppers and herbs. It’s easy to assemble, but it has a drawback: you have to make it at least two weeks before you plan to use it. A month, maybe even two or three months is even better. This recipe comes from La Cucina Di Andrea’s, a cookbook of Chef Andrea Apuzzo’s recipes that I wrote with him in the late 1980s. Read entire article.

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Marinated Baby Artichokes

RecipeSquare-150x150 If you can think ahead about a week or two, you can serve your family or guests these eminently tender, succulent baby artichokes. After marinating for a long time, the leaves become completely edible. With all the oil, this is messy to eat, but good. The recipe comes from Chef Andrea Apuzzo at Andrea’s, and the cookbook he and I wrote together, La Cucina Di Andrea’s. Read entire article.

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Baked Blackeye Peas

RecipeSquare-150x150 Baked Blackeye Peas

I love blackeye peas, which have a much more assertive taste than most beans. I really think that you have to cook them differently from the way you cook red beans. This method heads off in the direction of barbecue beans, without the sauce. It helps to boil the beans the night before, then bake them all morning long. This is actually my wife’s recipe, and we serve it at most of the casual barbecues we are called upon to do. Recipe details. . .

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Spinach a la Wohl

RecipeSquare-150x150 In my bachelor days I was a regular guest at the large Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts hosted by my good friends Kit and Billy Wohl. Kit is the author of Arnaud’s Cookbook, and the series Classic New Orleans [Desserts, Appetizers, etc.]) Kit would divide the kitchen down the middle: cooks and burners on one side, talkers and wine drinkers on the other. I was usually recruited to wash and chop spinach (on the talker side–we usually had actual chefs in attendance). It would go into an ever-evolving creamed spinach recipe that was always part of the dinner, although it never tasted the same twice. Here it is from one particularly good batch. Recipe details. . .

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Macadamia-Broccoli Stir-Fry
Vegetables

Macadamia-Broccoli Stir-Fry

Macadamia-Broccoli Stir-Fry My wife told me we had a lot of broccoli in the house, and that she wanted to try something new with it. Here’s what we came up with, using other surplus items off the shelf. It’s more or less Chinese. Came out good! 1 bunch (1 lb.) fresh broccoli 1 Tbs. vegetable oil 1/2 tsp, crushed red pepper flakes 1/2 cup orange juice 1 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 1/2 tsp. salt 1 cup carrots, sliced diagonally 2 tsp. cornstarch 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts 1….

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