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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!


I've never given anything away before on this blog, but Smithsonian Folkways has donated one of these CDs to one of my lucky readers, and I just had to do it.  I believe in Louis Armstrong and recipes more than just about anything else, so I would like to send you this multimedia CD if you will only leave a comment here on this post telling me what your favorite New Orleans food is. That's it!  The comments will be collected through Sunday, April 29, 2012.  I'll select one comment at random and announce the winner here on Monday, April 30. Good luck to you!


I've been wanting to try traditional rice calas (some folks say "CAL-uz," some say "cal-LAH") for such a long time.  The only thing similar to them I'd had was a shrimp and rice calas appetizer at Charlie's Seafood, which was scrumptious.  But making the original version, slightly sweet and loaded with cinnamon, was a goal of mine this year, and what a treasure they are.  My recipe is based on the one included in the liner notes, with a few alterations (I added flour, baking powder, and salt) to make the batter hold together.  You drop the rather wet batter by spoonfuls into hot oil (trying to keep them ping-pong ball-sized or smaller, or they may not cook through), and fry for just a minute or two.  Drain, roll in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, then dip into cane syrup--or you could use molasses, honey, or some sort of fruit preserves.  Yum!

rice calas (adapted from liner notes to Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Satchmo at the National Press Club)

  • 3 cups cooked rice, cold
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • powdered sugar
  • Steen's cane syrup, for dipping


  1. Heat vegetable oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches in a deep pot over high heat, until about 360 degrees (test by dropping a small cube of bread in the oil; if it immediately starts sizzling and turning into a crouton, it's good to go. If it starts turning brown and burning right away, it's too hot.).
  2. While the oil heats, combine rice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and combine well, making a batter that's a little on the wet side, but thick enough to stay on a spoon without running off.  Add more flour if necessary to get the right consistency.
  3. When the oil is ready, scoop up a small amount of batter onto a tablespoon, then use another spoon to carefully push the batter into the oil.  Fry in batches for only a minute or two, until golden brown all over. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.
  4. Dust with powdered sugar and dip into Steen's cane syrup (or molasses, honey, or preserves if you must).


makes about 32 small fritters

Note: If you, like I did, make the fritters too big and they don't cook all the way through, just tear them in half and drop them back into the oil for a few seconds to cook through.  They'll taste just fine.


My gosh, these look so good! I don't have a whole lot of experience with deep frying, so your thorough directions and how-to pictures make this look so simple. Would love a handful of these delicious little rice balls with coffee!

posted by Melissa C.

Oyster Po Boy with hot sauce

posted by

Thanks, Julia! Deep frying used to make me nervous, but I've done it several times now and it's becoming old hat. I hope you try these!

Melissa: that's my favorite too.

posted by AiLien

It's impossible to choose a NOLA fav!
Oysters on the half-shell for or a shrimp po'boy for simplicity.
Or jambalaya. Hell, I don't know!

posted by John Mark

Crawfish boil (all of it) but that might be cheating. Or maybe Drago's chargrilled oysters. Really, though, the oyster poboy is just about right. And a sazerac.

posted by John Mark


posted by Chris Pappas

At this time my favorite New Orleans food is the Red Beans and Rice I had on my last visit to New Orleans.

posted by

I'm liking the oyster love here! Gotta love them ersters.

Aw shucks, CP.

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