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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

i'll have another...Milk Bar!

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By Jen White · November 19, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

The Milk Bar, 1514 Delachaise St.</p>

When Paul and I first tried the Milk Bar last spring, we were pretty jazzed: we got two delicious, hot po-boys, with not-your-average-bear fillings, for a very good price. But there was the issue of parking, and driving all the way up to Touro (the original Milk Bar is right next to it), and the fact that it wasn't open on weekends if we wanted to take out-of-town guests there. Those things made it not quite convenient enough of a place to eat, even though I really wanted it to be.

The new Milk Bar, 710 S. Carrollton

Now, the world is a better place. There's a new Milk Bar in the Riverbend! AND it's open Monday through Saturday, 8:00 am to 9:00 pm.  My sandwich prayers have been answered!

There are a few things I want to tell you about this place. It's not your average po-boy shop. In fact,

  • there isn't a fryer, so there are no french fries (though they have Zapp's)
  • there's no fried seafood
  • there's no alcohol

But what isn't average-po-boy-shoppy about The Milk Bar is also what makes it a special place, because it has

  • a full coffee menu
  • extremely delicious milkshakes and smoothies
  • lots of salads--not something Nola is known for, right?
  • out of the ordinary po-boy fillings
  • a couple of breakfast sandwiches
  • free lollipops
  • good prices!

The Milk Bar is owned by an Australian wife and a Brit Husband, and though they don't serve lamb pies (which made Paul a bit cross at first), they do serve roasted lamb in po-boys, sandwiches, and salads. And let me tell you that it is GOOD.  The roast lamb po-boy that Paul has gotten twice now (pictured above) is the best-tasting roasted meat po-boy I've ever had. It's rich and meaty but not overloaded with garlic, and the gravy is present, but it doesn't totally soak through the bread, rendering it unpickupable. This is a 12-incher for $8.00 NOT EVEN KIDDING.

And the Thai Chilli Chicken (above) is delicious. Truly one of my favorite sandwiches ever. It's a little sweet from the chilli sauce, but I've never minded that.  $7.00. For real.

This is the Chicken Parmesan po-boy, which is very tasty, but be warned, not fried. They use roasted chicken in it, same as for the Thai Chilli Chicken. Still, warm and melty with mozzarella and red gravy, it's a good tasting sandwich, and healthier to boot.

As far as I can tell, The Milk Bar has no website. I'm including photos of the menu I got last week so you can read and salivate:

cooking lessons: lighter chicken and biscuits

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By Jen White · August 12, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

This recipe, a favorite of ours for years now, comes from the relentlessly delicious kitchen of The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  I've spent many happy hours of my life curled up with her cookbooks and a cup of coffee, dreaming that I too had a cooking assistant named Barbara by my side, and that I too had a gigantic barn-sized kitchen with two dishwashers and plenty of gorgeous natural light.  If I had those things, couldn't I too whip up some fantastically comforting food for my husband and millions of viewers?  I think I could.

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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 read here).

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t.g.i. fryday: chicken-fried eggplant

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By Jen White · April 13, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Do you remember the eggplant at Liuzza's I wrote about a while back, the eggplant I said was like eating eggplant dreams? Well, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  We've been back to Liuzza's no less than four times in the past weeks just for the eggplant (of course, we stay for more).  I really wanted to replicate it with this fried eggplant, though that's not quite what happened. But what did happen was something mighty delicious.

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Tagged with: liuzza's, eggplant, fried, Chicken

somewhere there's a picnic: extra-crispy fried chicken

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By Jen White · April 4, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Hopefully, in about 48 hours when the floods have subsided, we'll head out for a picnic.  We'll pack up some fried chicken or buy some crawfish or pick up a coupla po-boys, but whatever the food is, we'll grab some shade to enjoy a few hours of the last precious non-heatstroke-inducing sunny days in New Orleans.  Gosh, I sure hope this rain stops soon!

Fried chicken has got to be the quintessential picnic food, and all over the country, too--not just the south.  Everybody loves it, it travels well, it's easy to eat out of hand, and it's usually really, really good.  When I get a hankering to fry up some chicken, Paul does his happy dance and begs for me to fry about 30 chickens.  He could probably eat it all!  We've tried lots of recipes over the years, but I recently unearthed a couple of tricks (read: secrets) that help it come out pretty heavenly and super duper crispy:

  1. Dredge your chicken dry-wet-dry, and put an egg yolk in the wet batter.  True!
  2. After frying, bake all the chicken at 350 for about 40 minutes, so you won't bite into any undercooked pieces. It's true! This is Ina Garten's method, and it saves me all kinds of grief.


When it comes to seasoning the dry flour and the wet batter, there are no rules.  You can make it garlicky, herby, extra extra spicy, or even...mustardy?  Try anything!  I'm always happier with my chicken when I'm afraid I've overseasoned the flour, so I would advise you to just go for it.  GO FOR IT.  You might just have the most heavenly picnic in history.

extra-crispy fried chicken

for the wet batter

  • 1 cup flat beer (or water)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • lots of ground black pepper
  • several shots of Tabasco


for the dry flour

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • lots of ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)


  • 3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts (I used 6 drumsticks and 4 thighs)
  • several cups of vegetable oil for frying


  1. Preheat the oven to 350, and set a baking rack over a sheet pan to hold the chicken once it's fried.
  2. Make the wet batter: Combine the beer and egg yolk well in a small bowl.  Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and Tabasco in a medium bowl, whisking well.  Slowly pour the beer mixture into the flour mixture, stirring thoroughly to remove any flour lumps.  (If this mixture gets too thick from sitting out, thin with a tablespoon of water.)
  3. Make the dry flour: Combine all the ingredients, whisking well, and divide between two medium bowls (one bowl will be for the wet chicken).
  4. Heat 1" of vegetable oil to 365 in a medium to large pot (I use an 8-quart pot) with high sides.  If you don't have a frying thermometer (I don't), test the oil by dropping in a crouton-sized piece of bread--any old bread will do.  If it starts sizzling immediately and turning into an actual crouton, it's good to go.  If not, it's not hot enough--or it's too hot if the bread starts to burn right away.
  5. While the oil heats, rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. If you like, you can season the naked chicken first, with salt, pepper, cayenne, or what have you.  Dredge the chicken first in dry flour, then in wet batter, then in the other bowl of dry flour.  Set aside until ready to fry.
  6. Add chicken to the hot oil in batches to avoid overcrowding; I fry 4 pieces at a time.  Fry for about 15 minutes per batch, turning over after 8 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.  Remove to the baking rack and let rest while you fry the other batches.
  7. When all the chicken is fried and on the baking rack, place the baking sheet in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a knife.  Let cool about 5 minutes before eating.
  8. See? I told you it was crispy!


Makes 8 to 10 pieces, serves 4

P.S.: Even with this amount of Tabasco and cayenne, the chicken wasn't too spicy.  So if you want red-hot chicken, I would definitely increase those amounts!

Tagged with: Crispy, cayenne, fried, summer, Chicken

doux the roux: chicken and andouille gumbo

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By Jen White · February 17, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Nothing beats a good bowl of gumbo, ever. A few weeks ago, when we were traveling to Oklahoma for Christmas, I asked Paul what his favorite thing to eat in New Orleans was. I was thinking that my personal favorite was a seafood po-boy, but Paul answered without a second of hesitation, "Gumbo." It's true that our city is the best at making gumbo. There's nothing quite like it for the combination of comfort, soul-edifying flavor, and use of traditional ingredients that it offers. It's taken a long time for me to post a recipe for gumbo on this site, and it's with good reason. We've been making gumbo for years and have tried all sorts of approaches, but we've got a good one here that's sure to please. When you make gumbo, make a big pot and don't take any shortcuts. It's worth it; your New Orleans soul will thank you.

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the secrets of the old: pasta with breadcrumbs and sweet onions

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By Jen White · January 13, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Yesterday I read a great article on alternet.org that my friend Meredith highlighted on her blog, The Boiled Down Juice: it's called Compost Cuisine, and it's full of really interesting ways that a few chefs in California are using "whole vegetables" in the same way other chefs use whole animals, or in other words, using all parts of the animal, from head to tail.  They're doing things like stuffing squash stems and slow-cooking kale stems until they're soft like pasta, and reducing lemon and carrot peels into flavor-packed "ash" in the oven.  I don't know if I'm up to ashing my vegetable peelings, but it's fun to see what possibilities there are in cooking things that we would otherwise throw out, or if we're more sustainability-minded, throw in the compost pail.  It's good to find creative, delicious ways to use up what's old.

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old habits, new dishes: sweet potato grits a la Virginia Willis

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By Jen White · October 18, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

[sweet potato grits and deviled chicken thighs]

My name is Jennifer, and I am a cookbook junkie.  Recently our library underwent a complete cleaning, reorganization, and shelf-ification, and a few discoveries were made: Paul and I have duplicate copies of many things.  We don't have much in the science genre.  And I have approximately 250 cookbooks.  Cookbook collecting is definitely a habit for me, and reflects my evolution as a cook.  Consider the first cookbook I ever bought, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, in 1991.  I had my first apartment at O.U., and though I wasn't a vegetarian, I was deathly afraid of poisoning myself by preparing meat improperly; thus began a long period of collecting vegetarian books.  Or my long-lived low-fat obsession, punctuated every Christmas with the latest Cooking Light yearbook. Thankfully, Cooking Light has lessened its low-fat strictures somewhat and is more about well-balanced eating, so I still follow it.  And in recent years, my focus has been Louisiana and Southern cooking, resulting in enough volumes to fill an entire shelf.  The latest purchase, Basic to Brilliant, Y'all, by Virginia Willis, is a great collection of Southern-based recipes with solid cooking techniques built in to each recipe (Willis is classically trained).  It joins the ranks of my favorite cookbooks that actually teach you how to change the recipes into something else, which is equivalent, in my mind, to a private cooking lesson (How To Cook Without a Book, The Art of Simple Food, and In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite are similar books).

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by-heart mac and cheese

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By Jen White · October 3, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Most of us have a soft spot for good old macaroni and cheese, and personal preference usually depends on what we grew up eating at potlucks, church dinners, or our grandmother's table.  Some folks insist on American cheese being the only cheese that can meld with macaroni, and some profess a strong affinity for a crispy breadcrumb topping that crunches up in the oven.  Me?  I'm a pretty straightforward, white-sauce-meets-pasta kind of gal, though I'll put just about any kind of cheese into the sauce (anything that grates, anyway--no brie or fresh mozzarella).  I like an extra layer of cheese over the top, and I've developed a tendency to add a dollop of grainy Creole mustard to the sauce before I stir in the macaroni; it sparks the sauce a little bit, just the way I like it.

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