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big, easy bites

shakshuka, or a saucy way to start the day

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By Jen White · May 21, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Earlier this year, when I began an obsession with poaching the perfect egg, I started replacing the water I'd normally used to poach eggs in with tomato sauce.  Magically, those eggs turned out perfect.  Then I started poaching eggs in salsa for huevos rancheros, and it dawned on me that I might never need to poach an egg in water again.  Why would I, when they're so easy and so delicious in a tomatoey, spicy sauce?

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Tagged with: shakshuka, tomato, brunch, Eggs

the way of the dough, or the eternal olive ring

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By Jen White · May 18, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

One thing I've learned about bread-baking is that the baker must adapt to whatever the dough has decided to do...but that it's really not a big secret how to make a good dough.  It usually comes down to starting with a small amount of flour and adding more only if you need it (I usually do, because I live in such a humid place). Really good bread recipes will give you that small amount of flour to start with and advise you to add flour in small doses if necessary.  I used to shy away from recipes that said anything about "adding more if needed," because I didn't trust myself to know if it needed it or not.  But working through some of the stickier doughs in The Bread Bible, plus experiencing Jim Lahey's no-knead bread, has helped me relax more, and realize that stickiness can be a great thing.  In fact, the smallest amount of flour you can get away with is usually what will turn out a tender, airy loaf.   It is important to start with a good recipe, though.

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Tagged with: beranbaum, olive, bread, ring

smother me with love: spicy smothered chicken and butter beans

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By Jen White · May 15, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Twice, I've asked a native New Orleanian woman what her family's favorite thing that she cooked was, and been pleasantly surprised by hearing an answer that I'd never heard before in my short, sheltered life.  The first was "rice and gravy," and the second was "chicken and butter beans."  My road to understanding rice and gravy was a winding one, but I think I've got it down (I wrote about that experience for the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which you can find a link to on my "Elsewhere" page).

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my green heaven, continued: fried green tomato parmesan

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By Jen White · May 9, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Because I love them so, I've written a couple of love letters to fried green tomatoes over the years: the fried green tomato caprese "salad" I made without remorse, and fried green tomato BLTs, a longtime favorite.  Green tomatoes are so good when fried, I think a lot of folks never try them other ways, like in a salsa or gazpacho.  I really, really want to use them in recipes like that. I really do!  But when I think of them fried, I just can't resist.

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how i learned the true meaning of jazz fest

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By Jen White · May 8, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Up to this year, Jazz Fest, to me, had always been a puzzle of trying to figure out which day contained the most acts I wanted to see (read: knew who they were) and could therefore maximize my $65 ticket.  We actually went on two days this year, thanks to a pair of free tickets from our neighbors.  But the first Sunday, which we'd been planning to attend ever since we heard he was slated, was primarily about seeing Bruce Springsteen, someone Paul and I have spent many nights singing into the wee hours.  He's kind of a big deal in our house, if you know what I mean.  Since we don't arrive very early, we couldn't get very close to the stage, but we still managed a decent far-away view and a good shot at the jumbotron:

And you know what? Bruce did NOT disappoint. In fact, he was better than I expected him to be.  There's a reason he's called the Boss, folks.  He inspired me to be a better performer (which I still do, from time to time) by reminding me that great performances are always more about the audience than the performer.  So true!  When I left, I felt like a new person.

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Tagged with: fairgrounds, jazz fest, 2012

one cheeky chowder: chipotle shrimp and corn soup

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By Jen White · May 6, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Last week, I wrote a bit about a shrimp stock that Alon Shaya of Domenica prepared before our eyes at Avery Island. I couldn't wait to try his technique of "bashing around the shrimp heads" to extract more shrimpy flavor.  So the first chance I got, this past Thursday's farmer's market, I bought some fresh jumbo shrimp to make a stock of my own.

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dining in at dooky chase

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By Jen White · May 2, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Dooky Chase Restaurant, in the Treme

Yesterday, Paul and I found ourselves at Dooky Chase for lunch, after considering a few of our favorite lunch spots. Something about yesterday just felt like we needed to try something new.  We've actually eaten some of Leah Chases's food before, her famous green gumbo and fried chicken on Holy Thursday, but we got takeout that day because there wasn't a seat to be had.  Dining in at Dooky Chase is an experience not to be missed.  The building itself is unassuming, but once inside you find yourself in a well appointed dining room, white tablecloths and all, with an amazing, colorful art collection (and several of Leah Chase's awards). The art will keep your eyes satiated and your conversation sparked throughout your meal.

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Satchmo winner! And a bit of breadlove.

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By Jen White · April 30, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

This bread is a real winner! But first, we have news:



Thanks to everyone who left a comment last week on my first ever giveaway! I'm happy to announce that the winner of the Louis Armstrong recording is John Mark!  John Mark, send me your address at thesouploop@gmail.com and I'll get this on its way to you.

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Tagged with: no knead, jim lahey, satchmo, bread

Avery Island, part deux: boils, bottles, bloodies & boudin

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By Jen White · April 25, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

This was my lunch. I ate it all.

Avery Island is a gorgeous place; it's surrounded by a long lace of bayous, has plenty of wildlife roaming around freely (deer, bears, raccoons, alligators), and houses the beautiful Jungle Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.  You can spend a full day there soaking up the splendor, especially if you pack in a trip to the Tabasco factory.

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satchmo, rice calas, and a giveaway

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By Jen White · April 24, 2012 · 0 Comments ·


Today, April 24, Smithsonian Folkways is reissuing a rare live recording that Louis Armstrong, New Orleans' favorite son, recorded just months before he died in 1972.  Not only does the CD package (or digital download, your choice) contain Louis Armstrong classics like Mack the Knife and Hello Dolly, but it also includes a 16-page booklet with some of Armstrong's favorite New Orleans recipes!  I got a huge kick out of reading recipes for things like "Oysters a la Gov. James Noe," "New Orleans Pussy Fingers" (catfish strips), and "Walter McIlhenny's Frogs a la Creole."  These are some classic recipes that need to be read and prepared, even if altered, to keep them alive.  I was most excited, though, to find the recipe for Rice Calas--deep-fried rice fritters that were commonly sold as street food in New Orleans.  Served warm, with a powdered sugar sprinkle and dipped into Steen's Cane Syrup, there may be no finer breakfast.  More on the callas in a minute!

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