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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

andouillin' it: spinach, mushroom, and andouille omelet

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By Jen White · January 3, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

Happy 2013! Let's get cooking! 

You might have read this post last year when I talked about a resolution I'd made for 2012, to eat breakfast every day.  For the most part, I kept it up--at least I did MUCH better in 2012 than I had in 2011. It's also a habit I plan to keep for 2013, with even more variety and vegetables in every breakfast.  One of my favorite ways to sneak in extra vegetables is in an omelet, which makes it easy to use small amounts of meats, veggies, or cheese that you have sitting around in your fridge, patiently waiting to be adopted into some interesting concoction.

Omelets themselves can be kind of tricky, but I'm making a "country style" omelet here, which is much easier (in my opinion) than the traditional French style.  If you want to try a French omelette, study this Julia Child video first. Just watch the first 30 seconds, and you'll see how easy it can be. That kind of omelet making is kind of like winning an olympic gold, so if you've got the guts, go for it! Or do it like I do below, which will give you an omelet big enough for two.

It takes a non-stick skillet or omelet pan to make an omelet, and I always use the same pan to pre-cook the filling first. After sauteeing the vegetables, just wipe the pan out really well; no need to wash it.

The filling, sauteed and ready to be tucked into the omelet.  I have to tell you that this melange is really good on its own, and would make a nice dinner tossed with rice or pasta.  

In an 8"- to 10"-skillet, melt the butter over medium heat (closer to medium-high) until the foaming subsides.

Pour in the eggs!

Start dragging eggs from the outside edge toward the center with a rubber spatula. It will seem like you're making too many lumps in the middle, but all the rest of the liquid egg will become the same thickness as those first lumps, so don't worry.

Keep repeating this dragging motion, letting the uncooked egg run under the cooked edges, 

until the top of the omelet has only...

a little runny egg left on top. It should take about a minute and a half to get to this point.

Turn the heat to low and cover the top for a minute, to help set the runny egg whites.

Place two-thirds of the filling on one half of the circle, topped with the cheese.

And carefully, very gently, coax the empty half over the filled half with the rubber spatula. I spy a crack in my omelet!

Yep, that's a pretty big crack! But I'm not worried, because that's what I saved the rest of the filling for:

to help cover mistakes.

spinach, mushroom, and andouille omelet

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/3 cup diced andouille (remove the casing before you chop)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tabasco or other pepper sauce, to taste
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shredded swiss cheese (or use 1 big slice, torn into pieces)

  1. Heat a medium (8" to 10") nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in it.  Add the onion and andouille and saute for five minutes, until they start to brown. Add the mushrooms and thyme, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute another 3 to 4 minutes, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and turn soft.  Add the spinach, stir until it wilts (about 30 seconds), and remove the filling to a bowl or plate.
  2. Wipe out the skillet well so there are no stuck-on parts of anything left.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and a few shots of Tabasco if you like it (I do!).
  4. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the nonstick skillet over medium heat (leaning toward medium-high, but not too high).  Swirl the pan to completely coat the bottom with butter--add more butter if you need it. When the butter starts to lightly brown and most of the foam is gone, pour in the eggs.  With a rubber spatula, start pulling the cooked egg from the edge of the pan toward the center, forming large curds of egg.  Do this for a minute, dragging eggs and letting the runny parts cook at the edges, until you have just a little bit of wet egg on the omelet top.
  5. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid, and let the top cook for about 30 seconds, until it's just set (it will still be a little wet, but that's totally fine).
  6. Place 2/3 of the filling over one half of the omelet circle and top with the cheese. Carefully, and with a great deal of faith in yourself, use the rubber spatula to lift the empty half of the omelet over the filled half. Keep loving yourself even if there's a crack!
  7. Leave the folded omelet in the pan for a few more seconds, to help the cheese melt. Carefully slide or lift it onto a plate and top with the remaining 1/3 of the filling.

serves 2

5 easy pieces, part 4: greens with andouille

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By Jen White · November 30, 2012 · 0 Comments ·
There's a fantastic recipe called "Voodoo Greens" in The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine by Chef John Folse that produces the most amazing greens I've ever had.  The recipe calls for no fewer than 6 types of meat and sausage, 8 types of greens, and takes hours of simmering, but the liquor that accumulates in the pot is highly addictive. We've made Voodoo Greens before to go along with a big pot of black-eyed peas for New Year's, and I've seen friends drink the greens juice straight from the bowl.

I want a bowl of meaty greens sometimes without the hours of work, though.  This is a shortcut method for a side dish that works well with fish, pork chops, meatloaf, or chicken, or as something to toss with freshly cooked pasta.  You can also use it as an omelet filling (just make sure you drain off the juice).  Get green!

greens with andouille

  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, casings removed, sliced in quarter-circles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large bunches of greens (I used mustard and collards), stems trimmed and leaves chopped or left whole, as desired
  • red wine vinegar, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat and pour in the oil.  Saute the andouille for about 5 minutes, until browned.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for a minute. Pour in 2 cups of chicken stock and start adding the greens a few handfuls at a time, until they wilt down enough to all fit in the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes to an hour, until the greens are very tender.  Keep checking the liquid level and add more chicken stock if necessary to keep the greens from drying out and burning.
  4. Season to taste with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and Tabasco.

serves 4 to 5 as a side dish

MORE EASY PIECES: part 1: smoked salmon breakfast pizza; part 2: roasted potatoes and turnips; part 3: butter bean hummus

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 leftover's leftovers, or the cajun frittata

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By Jen White · November 28, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

We didn't even cook a Thanksgiving dinner at our house, and we still have mountains of leftover bits and pieces in the fridge! Part of the reason is turkey gumbo, or what I like to call the best leftover turkey invention EVER (here's Paul's recipe from my hibernating soup blog).  But after the gumbo's been cooked, eaten, and frozen in Tupperware, there's a good chance you still have some veggies and sausage (or turkey or ham) lying around, looking forlorn.  It's frittata time.

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different than the rest: sunday brunch at Patois

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By Jen White · September 28, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Jot this down in your travel notebook, your vacation planner, your dream journal, or last year's Jazz Fest ticket: reserve a table for Sunday brunch at Patois next time in New Orleans.  If you're into local, good, and hidden, Patois is your dream spot.  The brunch menu (not to mention the dinner version) is so good, you'll spend about 15 minutes deciding what to order while you're nibbling the biscuits and muffins from the bread bowl.  We looked over many brunch menus before deciding to meet up at Patois, and I think it was one of the best brunches we've had in the city.

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what's creole, what's cajun, and what's jambalaya?

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By Jen White · September 8, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Because New Orleans (and all of Louisiana) is such a melting pot, and because Cajun and Creole dishes often have similar roots, including French, Spanish, Italian, African, Haitian, Cuban, German, and Native American, some of the distinctions between what's Creole food and what's Cajun food can be hard to make. In his book My New Orleans, chef John Besh explains that Creole gumbo pays tribute to a "rich variety of cultures and ingredients, whereas Cajun gumbo evolved as the essence of peasant food, a way to feed a large number of people making the very best of whatever meager ingredients were at hand," and John Folse's Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine extolls Creole cuisine as a "more sophisticated cousin" to Cajun cooking. Explanations like these work perfectly when comparing elegant Creole dishes to rustic cast-iron Cajun stews, but the waters grow murkier near a pot of jambalaya.

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gone crawfishing

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By Jen White · April 18, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

Crawfish has two usages as a verb in Webster's: one is to catch crawfish, and another is to back out of something you've committed to. But I'm proposing a third definition: to crawfish is to celebrate the deliciousness of the little creatures by churning out as many recipes as you can in one weekend and stuffing yourself full of their glory. And with that definition in place, I can honestly say I have been doing a lot of crawfishing lately.


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