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things I lurve

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By Jen White · July 13, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

It seems that summertime brings about a chance to try new snacks, read lots of books, and watch lots of shows...so here are a few things I've been loving lately:

1. Yoplait honey caramel Greek frozen yogurt bars. These bars are super creamy and really remind me of vanilla pudding pops, which I used to eat during summer visits to my grandma's house.  But they're much healthier: only 90 calories each, plus they include live and active cultures. And they're nice and cold to boot!

2. San Pellegrino Blood Orange Italian Soda.  I had one of these the other day at my friend Natalie's house, and it was like I'd finally found my ideal soft drink: it's sweeter than San Pellegrino orange, but still doesn't seem overly sweet. Plus the pink tinge is summery and fun. Speaking of summery and fun, I think this would make an AWESOME float over some vanilla ice cream.

3. Call the Midwife.  I love this BBC-to-PBS series about midwifery in 1950's London. PBS.org is posting full episodes from the second season now week by week, perfect for lazy summer afternoon viewing (and napping, if necessary).  If you like ER, Girls, and/or Downton Abbey, I think you'll find it completely worth the watch.

4. Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey.  This is the perfect light book to dip in and out of when you need a break from whatever else you're reading, or when you need inspiration to do your own art, or when you're just waiting for the popcorn to pop.  I've always loved reading about the processes with which famous (or even not famous) artists make their work.  What I especially love about this particular collection of processes is that it includes nearly every fine art genre: music (though limited to classical composers), visual artists and designers, filmmakers, and writers of all shapes and sizes. Ideally, we'd have dancers and actors in there too. But I'm happy for now reading about some of my personal faves: Mozart, Hemingway, Chuck Close, Woody Allen, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, and Alice Munro, to name a few.

Tagged with: things i lurve

eat local challenge: ratatouille to the rescue!

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By Jen White · June 14, 2013 · 0 Comments ·
For my second local-food recipe this week, I've gone as simple as you can, when it comes to dealing with all the squash, eggplant, and tomatoes we have running around here right now: ratatouille.  There's nothing better for taking advantage of our currently booming crops like this simple, homey, ultra-satisfying melange of eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and herbs.  Moreover, ratatouille is highly adaptable and very versatile! You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks; you can eat it as a main dish, over rice or potatoes, with cheese or without, or as a side dish to just about anything (I busted out some roasted chicken for this one, but sauteed shrimp or baked fish, or even grilled sausages would be super). You can also add or subtract ingredients as you wish, but keep in mind that this is basically a quick-cooking stew of soft, mildly flavored, yet colorful vegetables, so you might not want to add, say, beets. They'd just bloody everything up.

Because most of the vegetables used in ratatouille are rather "shyly" flavored, you'll want to use a good dose of herbs for flavor.  Rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano are all typically French and typically perfect in ratatouille.  You'll also need salt, and vinegar or wine really helps brighten things up at the end.  If you're not opposed to a non-local ingredient, you can throw some kalamata olives in there and boost the flavor quite a bit. Cook ratatouille as long as you like for the desired consistency: I like the eggplant to get really soft and velvety but I like a little bite left in the squashes, so I throw everything in together and just let it work itself out. But if you like more assertively textured eggplant, you might want to add it after the squash gets going for a bit.

after cooking about 10 minutes, everything together

after cooking about 20 minutes. It looks like there are olives in there, but that's really just the bits of skin I left on the eggplant.

ratatouille

  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, or other oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled if desired, diced in 1" cubes (I peel half the skin off so I can keep some purple color)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 or 5 summer squash, any variety (I used 1 zucchini, 2 yellow crooknecks, and 1 large white pattypan), diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, in any combination)
  • 1 teaspoon cane vinegar or 2 teaspoons white or red wine
  1. Heat a large saute pan with high sides over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. 
  2. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant, red bell pepper, squash, and garlic, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir and saute for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until things start to get soft.
  3. Add the tomatoes and herbs, stir well, and continue cooking over medium heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It will stick a little no matter what.  When things are getting really soft, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 10 minutes, or until the texture is to your liking and everything is tender.  Add in the vinegar or wine at the last second and stir to combine.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning; you may need more salt (I used about 3 teaspoons total).

serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish

eat local challenge: bacon-baked eggs

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By Jen White · June 14, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

For this week's local-food recipes, I've gone back to basics and made some really simple things. There are a lot of reasons for this! Including the fact that today is my students' final music recital of the year, summer session just started at the studios where I teach, Paul and I are planning our honeymoon, and today is also mah birthday! In other words, I haven't had much time to plan meals, shop, or cook lately. Luckily, when you've got oodles of local products to choose from, you really can still make some simple, local meals.

First off, today, is a super-simple breakfast of bacon-baked eggs; that is, baked eggs with a little bacon in the bottom (and bacon grease if you must). Baked eggs are an easy way to cook eggs for a crowd and just as easy to cook for one or two. While they're baking, you can make toast, drink your coffee, water the plants, and just lounge around being fabulous.  Local eggs are easy to score at the Crescent City Farmer's Markets, Hollygrove Market, and Cleaver & Co., and you can get some yummy local bacon at Cleaver as well.  And if you're into this sort of thing, grease the ramekins with a little rendered bacon grease (it just takes a smidge) for a local cooking fat and extra flavor! Dang, you're local!

bacon-baked eggs

per egg:

  • 1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • a smidge of bacon grease or butter or other oil, for greasing
  • 1 fresh egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon half and half, milk, or cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated cheddar or other cheese (optional)
  • snipped chives, green onions, or other herbs, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and put a small kettle of water on to boil (for the water bath).
  2. Lightly grease a small, oven-proof ramekin with bacon grease or butter.  Sprinkle the bacon into the bottom of the ramekin.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl and gently pour it over the bacon. Top with a sprinkle of salt and a grind or two of pepper, to taste. Pour a tablespoon of half and half over the egg, and top with cheese if using.
  4. Gently place the ramekin(s) into a baking dish with sides at least as high as the ramekin tops.  When the water comes to a boil, carefully pour it into the baking dish so it comes 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Carefully place the baking dish in the oven.  Bake for 9 to 13 minutes, according to desired degree of doneness. 9 minutes will give you a very runny egg.  I went 12 minutes for medium-hard.
  6. Remove ramekin(s) carefully, top with chives or other herbs, and serve with toast or on its own. Yum!

serves 1 egg per person (or 2 per person if very hungry)

eat local challenge: drum roll, please

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By Jen White · June 7, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

I've been wanting to post this recipe since Paul and I dreamed it up years ago, when we first moved to town and started enjoying the local seafood...and the Eat Local Challenge month is the perfect time to cook it up again! Of course, since it's a sandwich (built on real, floury bread), you'll need to include the bread as one of your non-local foods for the day. But of course, buy the bread from a local baker! I got my French boule from the Thursday Mid-City farmer's market. It's rustic, but still a good all-purpose bread that makes great toast and sandwiches.  And if you don't want to include bread, just make the other components of the dish and eat them on a plate, sans bread, or over some cooked rice or grits.

This sandwich has several parts: a fruit salsa, for sweet & spicy flavor; caramelized onions, for richness; sauteed greens, for earthiness and color; and the fish, which you can season heavily or lightly, depending on your preference. I don't remember exactly what it was that caused Paul and me to put all of these things together, but it could have been trying to use everything we'd picked up at the farmer's market that day, or it could have been the influence of all the great restaurants we'd been visiting. Our tastebuds were not okay with the same old, run of the mill sandwich. It had to be elevated. ELEVATED, baby!

A panful of onions becomes...

...this! And delicious.

Four handfuls of spinach becomes this, in seconds flat!

Cooking fillets in a pan with butter and Cajun seasoning like this is, essentially, bronzing them.  Look for a deep golden color and just the slightest hint of a "crust" of spices on the outer surface.

the drum roll

for the salsa:

  • 2 large peaches or nectarines
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (I used Steen's Cane vinegar)
  • drizzle of pecan or olive oil
  • salt to taste

to complete:

  • 3 medium white or red onions, or a combination
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or oil of choice, divided
  • 4 large handfuls fresh baby spinach (or kale)
  • 2 fresh black drum fillets
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning blend, such as Tony Cachere's (optional)
  • 4 slices hearty bread or French bread, toasted
  1. First, make the salsa: peel and dice the nectarines or peaches and place them in a small bowl.  Add the jalapeno, bell pepper, oil, vinegar, and salt. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate to blend the flavors.  
  2. Halve and slice the onions thinly. In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium high heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt.  Stir until the onions become translucent, then reduce the heat to very low and continue cooking until the onions have shrunk down quite a bit and are golden brown and sweet-smelling, about 30 minutes.
  3. When the onions have about 10 minutes left to go, heat another medium skillet over medium-high heat, and melt one tablespoon of butter in it.  Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and stir until the spinach is bright green and wilted, about 4 minutes. Squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach by pressing a spatula against it on the side of the pan. Set aside.
  4. Season the fish fillets on both sides with Cajun or Creole seasoning if using, or with salt and pepper if not.  Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in it.  Add the fillets and cook until done, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.  
  5. To assemble the sandwiches, place a portion (half or a little less than half) of the onions on one slice of bread (the juicyness of the onions will also act like a spread).  Top the onions with one of the fish fillets.  On another slice of bread, layer half the spinach, then a generous scoop of fruit salsa.  Repeat with the other two slices of bread.  Top the fruit salsa bread with the fish bread, and smash together and eat it all up!

makes 2 generous servings

eat local challenge: brave new breakfast

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By Jen White · June 7, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

Ever wake up and feel like you needed some extra color in your life? Try these organic purple potatoes from Inglewood Farm via Hollygrove Market! They're cute, yummy, and break up your normal, everyday, potato-breakfast routine.  If you have a potato-breakfast routine, that is.  I like to use up extra potatoes I've got lying around sometimes in a kind of roasted homefry/hash kind of thing, which is really easy to do. It takes a bit of time, but you can pop them in the oven, take your shower and drink your coffee, and then finish the eggs in the last few minutes of roasting. 

I'm calling this little number "Two Potato Hash with Poached Eggs," but you can use any vegetables you have to supplement the potatoes. Carrots, turnips, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans are all good choices. Add smaller things, like green beans and tomatoes, to the roasting pan when you have about 25 minutes left to go.  When it comes to poaching eggs, by all means, use the method you like best.  I sometimes use my little saucepan with the egg-poaching inserts; it works well enough, though it's not fancy, and it generally relieves all my stress about the little poachers coming out right. But if you'd like to try the in-the-water method of poaching, I've included my method below.  It's different from what you'll usually see--there's no vinegar and no water-swirling--but this is the only way I've gotten them to come out.

red onions and purple potatoes from Hollygrove; red potatoes from Mid-City Thursday market

Eggs immediately after adding them to the water. Notice I have a bit of shell stuck to the lower egg. If that happens, just wait till the egg is finished cooking and draining on the paper towels, and you'll be able to easily pick the shell off.

Eggs after 2 minutes.

two potato hash with poached eggs

  • 1 1/2 pounds purple potatoes
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes
  • 2 small red onions
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, pecan oil, or other oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary are nice if you have them)
  • 1 to 6 eggs (1 to 2 eggs per person, depending on appetites)
  • snipped chives or other fresh herbs, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Wash the potatoes and cut them into roughly 3/4" chunks. Cut the onions into 3/4" chunks and combine the potatoes and onions in a large shallow roasting pan.
  2. Drizzle all the oil over the potato mixture. Toss with your hands to evenly distribute the oil and make sure all the pieces get coated. Season generously with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs, and toss again.  Place in the oven and roast for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
  3. When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left to roast, fill a deep saute pan or a medium saucepan with 2" of water (I used a 9" saute pan with 2 1/2" tall sides).  Bring the water to a boil, almost--the pan will have those tiny bubbles that are starting to barely trail up to the surface of the water--then turn the heat off.  Break each egg into a small bowl and gently tip the egg into the water.  Let sit undisturbed for a minute, then take two spoons and gently bring the ragged egg whites back around their yolks.  You can keep them in the water off the heat for 4 minutes (total) and get a nicely done egg with runny yolk, or if you're cooking several eggs in the pan and you think the water temperature needs a little boost, turn the flame back on after two minutes of cooking.  Gently lift each egg out with a spatula and drain it on paper towels.
  4. When the potatoes are done, give them a nice stir and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve poached eggs on beds of roasted potatoes and onions.  Sprinkle fresh herbs over the top.

serves 3

eat local challenge: a market in a bowl

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By Jen White · June 1, 2013 · 0 Comments ·
Hello NOLA locavores! For today's lunch idea, I've concocted a simple, restorative soup that showcases a rainbow of fresh market vegetables. Soup is one of my favorite things to eat for lunch, and is a great way to get lots of nutrients and stay hydrated.  I've also been thinking of those doing the Eat Local Challenge who might be wondering how they can get a locally sourced meal during a workday lunch hour--make some soup on the weekend and take it to work for several days! And if you don't have a microwave at work for heating up soup, look up recipes for chilled soups like gazpacho, cucumber-yogurt, or even curried corn chowder. I bet you'll find something that floats your boat.

I made a chicken stock for this soup, but if you don't think you'll have time for that, just grab some pre-made chicken stock at Cleaver & Co. It's made from local chickens so it's acceptable for the challenge!  And if you don't want chicken at all, just make a vegetable stock, or buy one (it might not be local but hey, everything else will be).  Feel free to substitute different vegetables or herbs according to what you've got.  This is a fairly light soup, so for a meal, I'd add some cheese and bread or a salad with fruit and nuts.

If you want to make a chicken stock but don't know how, here's the method I used. First, I roasted a chicken I bought at Hollygrove Market. I rubbed butter all over it and pushed some butter under the breast skin; seasoned all over and in the cavity with salt and pepper; and stuck some onion chunks, lemon quarters, and thyme sprigs inside the cavity. I tied the legs together, stuck the wingtips under the body, and roasted (uncovered) at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduced the heat to 375 for 60 more minutes. It's done when the juices run clear at the thigh bone.

I let the chicken cool a bit, then tore all the meat off the bones and set it aside to use in the soup later. I threw the whole chicken carcass, with skin (minus the lemons from the cavity) into an 8-quart soup pot. I added a few carrots, a few celery stalks, an onion, a tablespoon of peppercorns, some bay leaves, and thyme sprigs to the pot, then covered it all with water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours, adding more water halfway through if necessary to end up with 3 1/2 quarts of stock.  Strain through a sieve and return to the soup pot.


summer market chicken soup

  • 3 1/2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 2 leeks, washed well and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded kale, loosely packed
  • 3 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • thyme sprigs, about 4
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • snipped chives, for garnish

  1. Heat the chicken stock in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add the bell pepper, zucchini, squash, and garlic and saute until nearly tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the contents of the saute pan to the stock, along with the kale, chicken, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer and let the flavors meld for about 10 minutes at a gentle simmer. Check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
  4. Top each serving with chives.

makes 6 large servings

eat local challenge: just another riz jaune I love New Orleans

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By Jen White · June 1, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

It's June 1, and the New Orleans Eat Local Challenge is underway! Even if you don't officially join the challenge, I advise everyone to try to seek out more local products this month, to get to know better the options we're so very fortunate to have living here in New Orleans.  The Eat Local Challenge is to eat food produced within 200 miles of the city, so we pretty much have our pick of all the wonderful things we'd want to eat anyway--seafood, meat of all kinds, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, rice....  The main thing to remember when you're aspiring to eat more locally is that it's not about limiting your diet to local foods, it's about educating yourself to understand the wealth of local foods that are all around us.  And leniency is permitted--you'll see me using olive oil, spices, and a few other things that certainly aren't produced within 200 miles.

I'll be bringing you a breakfast and a lunch recipe each Saturday throughout the month of June to help get the ideas flowing for using the local products you've been accumulating. Personally, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my breakfasts, especially leafy greens. I picked up a gorgeous bunch of kale at the Thursday Mid-City market and knew it would add a welcome bitterness to a popcorn rice riz jaune I'd planned to make. This is a new favorite dish at our house!  The popcorn rice, from Cajun Grain (purchased at Hollygrove Market), is slightly sweet, and smells just like popcorn when it's cooking.  I also tried a new andouille, from Cleaver & Co. Their version is rustic and spicy; it doesn't stay in neat slices like some mass-produced andouilles, so it's perfect for a country-style dish such as riz jaune, where you kind of want little bits of andouille everywhere.

Riz jaune is sort of like a Cajun fried rice: you add beaten eggs to cold, cooked rice, stir it up to make it yellow (jaune), and add in flavorful bits like andouille or tasso and any kind of seasoning vegetables you like. It's a very versatile recipe, so feel free to substitue any ingredients you choose. You can top it with cheese at the end if you have it--I think Ryal's goat feta would be extra-good here.

riz jaune with andouille and kale

  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, in 3/4" dice
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 cups shredded kale (no stems)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 3 cups cold cooked rice (any kind will work)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, saute the andouille over medium high heat until brown. Remove from the skillet, draining off the fat; wipe out all but a very thin coating of fat from the skillet.
  2. In the fat left in the pan, saute the onion over medium-high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the kale and saute until tender, about 4 more minutes.  If your andouille is not very salty or spicy, this is a good time to season the vegetables with salt and pepper. I did not need to do this!  Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons oil or butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add all the rice, stirring to coat the grains with oil. Stir for a few minutes to heat all the rice. Pour in the eggs and stir until the rice is yellow and you see no more runny egg. 
  4. Add sausage and vegetables to the rice mixture, stirring well to incorporate everything. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

serves 4 as a one-dish breakfast

foodie times all around!

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By Jen White · March 20, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

There are some great food events coming up soon in our fair city! Here are some you don't want to miss:

First up, Hogs for the Cause. This yearly fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer has been extended to include Friday evening, and has great music all day, plus a bbq cook-off. Tickets are $5 and the event is in City Park. 

March 23-24, The Roadfood Festival in the French Market brings you famous "road food" from around the country. You can get your fill of ribs, tamales, cheese dip, and strawberry shortcake, with no entry fee! You might want to wear your elastic waist pants, though.

And if you're looking for a more organized event, try out Dishcrawl. The first New Orleans Dishcrawl event is set for Tuesday, March 26, and will take place in the Carrollton neighborhood, winding its way through (secret) restaurants in search of some of the neighborhood's best flavors. Tickets for March 26 are sold out, but the Irish Channel Dishcrawl, set for April 10, still has some available. Happy festing!

the miracle of 5-hour onions

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By Jen White · March 7, 2013 · 0 Comments ·
French onion soup, a la Bouchon, made with 5-hour onions

Paul had been requesting French onion soup for, I don't know, about 2 years? And I kept putting it off, partly because I knew there were so many different ways to make it and I had no idea which to try first. But Paul was pretty adament about trying Thomas Keller's version in the Bouchon cookbook. Two things about this recipe stood out at once: there's no alcohol involved in the cooking--no wine, brandy, or sherry, which nearly every recipe for French onion soup calls for (he does call for sherry vinegar at the end, but that's different).  And the onions for the soup cook for 5 HOURS.  Much, much longer than your typical formula for caramelized onions. But these are not your typical caramelized onions. Oh, no. These are onion butter.

All it takes it about 8 large onions, a stick of butter, a little salt, 5 hours, and a heat diffuser, aka simmer mat or flame tamer. Above is the one I got off amazon.com for about 10 bucks. The heat diffuser is a little disk that you place directly on your burner (gas, electric, ceramic, whatever) in order to evenly distribute the heat, so you don't get "hot spots" in the pot which lead to burned food.  Only with a heat diffuser, and a very sturdy pot, can these onions even withstand the torture of 5 slow, hot hours. Being in the pot without a heat diffuser would be like going on a five-hour bike ride in Joshua Tree National Park and putting sunscreen on only half of yourself. Hot spots.

Start out by slicing about 8 large onions, or 7 quarts' worth. Throw them in a big heavy pot (this is our 8-quart Le Creuset) set on top of the heat diffuser and turn the heat to low. Toss in a stick of butter and a tablespoon of kosher salt. 

The onions will give off a lot of liquid and start cooking down quickly. You'll need to stir them about every 30 minutes or so. This is after about 1.5 hours...

and this is after hour 4.  If by the fifth hour they aren't dark brown and wine-scented, turn the heat up a bit and stir them more frequently. They'll color up and become the richest little devils you've ever tasted.

Like so. The amazing thing is that what started as 7 quarts of onions is now a mere 2 cups, but the same amount of butter is still in the pot.  It's gotten acquainted with the onions and melded together so what you have now isn't really onions. It's like flavor magic.  Truly, these do taste like they were cooked with a bottle of red wine.  At this point, do whatever the heck you want with them. I'm no one to boss you around.  But here are a few suggestions:

Use them on a pizza. We made this one with 5-hour onions, smeared around sort of like a pasty sauce, sauteed squash, prosciutto, and smoked gouda. Oh. My. Goodness.  

Or, use them on a sandwich--they spread like jam once heated up a little bit (if you take them cold from the fridge, they're stiff because of all that butter).  This was the beginning of a beautiful sandwich: 5-hour onions, roasted pork tenderloin, vinegary greens.  Very good stuff.

Or, stick with a more classical use, and make good 'ol onion soup. Thomas Keller's recipe really is pretty simple: Place 1.5 cups of the cooked onions in a pot and sift a tablespoon of flour over them, cooking on low heat for a couple of minutes. Pour in 3 1/2 quarts of very rich beef stock. Add a sachet of 2 bay leaves, 12 peppercorns, and 6 thyme sprigs, tied together inside cheesecloth. Simmer for about an hour or so, until reduced to about 2 1/2 quarts.  Season with salt, pepper, and a few drops of sherry vinegar.  (The complete recipe, including croutons, can be found here.)  You will be very pleased with yourself.

5-hour onions (adapted from Bouchon)

  • 7 quarts peeled, sliced onions (about 8 large yellow or white)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  1. Place a heat diffuser over a burner, and a large heavy pot (8 quarts at least) on the diffuser. Melt the butter over low heat.
  2. Add the onions and salt, and cook over low heat for 5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
  3. Use as your heart desires.

makes about 2 cups.

love and pasta at domenica

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By Jen White · January 24, 2013 · 0 Comments ·
passing the plates at Domenica

I have a serious, life-long, nearly debilitating crush on handmade pasta.  I love its freshness, its tender bite, and the way just a little sauce elevates it into the highest form of art.  When I see it on a menu, at places like La Petite Grocery or August, I'm done. Take the menu away, just bring me the pasta, please. Pronto. So Domenica, whose menu features handmade pasta at every turn, among other authentically prepared Italian delights, naturally holds a place very dear to my heart--my almost Italian, highly dramatic, pasta-loving heart.

Left: octopus carpaccio. Right: tagliatelle with rabbit and porcini

I met the chef of Domenica, Alon Shaya, last year at the Tabasco event I attended on Avery Island, where he proceeded to make fusilli by hand, torture shrimp into a beautiful stock, and generally wow us all with his homemade cured meats and warm olives.  He's a master at his craft, and the restaurant reflects his easy-yet-professional style.  Vegetarians and vegans have nothing to fear here: just tell them, and they'll please most eagerly.

roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta

with your cheese and/or salumi board, you get these savory "beignets", little puffs of crackly, buttery bread

At Avery Island, Shaya prepared a 5-course tasting menu featuring different Tabasco sauces. The meat course was a slow-roasted porchetta, but for the vegetarians, he offered a whole roasted cauliflower.  You can order this at Domenica, along with the most fantastic whipped feta cheese as a sauce.  Hint: try this whipped feta on everything you possibly can.  It never fails!

whole roasted cauliflower with its accompaniment of whipped feta (looks like hummus, but is so not hummus)

This is a great place to bring a bunch of friends and order many small plates so everyone can have a taste of the good life. Be warned that it will be a little on the noisy side, so save your important discussions for another time and place. Also, though they have a wine list, you can bring your own bottles with NO corkage fee.  True!  Plus, they're making some smashingly good king cakes these days.  Check out their happy hour, 3:00-6:00 daily, and be on the lookout for their Seder Menu, which promises to be special.


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