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!
- 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
- Preheat oven to 400 and put a small kettle of water on to boil (for the water bath).
- Lightly grease a small, oven-proof ramekin with bacon grease or butter. Sprinkle the bacon into the bottom of the ramekin.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
For most folks the holidays are over, but in New Orleans, they're JUST BEGINNING. Yep.
Friday night, January 6, is Twelfth Night! That means it's the start of carnival season, and officially the coolest day of the year to eat king cake. But you should strive to eat a piece of king cake at least once a week every week leading up to Mardi Gras. Pick up a cake at your favorite place, take it to school/work/home, and slice it all up at once so you can see who gets the baby. If you get the baby, you bring the next cake.
I guess you could say I'm a bit obsessed with po-boys lately. In the weeks leading up to the po-boy festival, I visited a couple of my favorite po-boy spots to reminisce, to remember how good the basics can be. I had fried shrimp at Parkway and shrimp and oyster at Crabby Jack's, and then those wonderful little odd po-boys at the fest. I thought I'd had my fill for a while, until Paul told me he'd overhead someone talking about a blackened shrimp po-boy. My interest was piqued. Then, he said, "It'd be good with a little bacon sprinkled on it." Yes, it would. Then, "And maybe some goat cheese?" I almost fainted. Yes, blackened shrimp with bacon and goat cheese would be good--very, very good. If it sounds bizarre or even blasphemous to load a seafood po-boy down with extras like bacon and cheese, consider the Peacemaker, that ultra-delicious po-boy of fried oysters, bacon, and American cheese. Sounds crazy, but it's fantastic. If American cheese can't hurt a po-boy, then for sure goat cheese couldn't.
Tagged with: crabby jacks, peacemaker, blackened, po boy, parkway, goat cheese, oyster, easy, bread, cabbage, tomato, shrimp, sandwich, bacon, seafood
When I get a hankering for something, I become a relentless researcher. In a way, it's a hindrance--I believe there is one perfect way to make what I want using the ingredients I already have, and I look through every book and website I can find, sure that it will appear. That rarely happens, but that's how I end up making my own versions of things. (Sometimes it would be nice to just look up a recipe and buy what it calls for, though.)
Paul has been busy lately re-seasoning the cast iron skillet, and it's more beautiful than ever; it's got that slick, midnight-black, nonstick coating that it never really achieved before the last time it got caught in a little flood in the basement. We were anxious to get some good cracklin' cornbread going in that thing, although we didn't have cracklins, we just had bacon. And I didn't have milk, I just had buttermilk. And I wanted a little tiny bit of sugar and some flour along with the cornmeal, so we didn't have to eat cornmeal hockey pucks. The search was on. I never found a recipe that used the exact size of skillet we possess (9") and hot bacon drippings and buttermilk, etc., so I ended up adapting John Besh's recipe from his book My New Orleans. Luckily--and it was truly lucky, because I never really know what's going to happen when I alter recipes for baked goods--it was just what we wanted. A little chewy, very savory, and crispy on the edges from the screaming hot skillet.
Tagged with: skillet, cracklin, besh, iron, Buttermilk, baked, corn, bread, comfort, southern, butter, bacon
Between the ages of 3 and 10, my family lived in a place called Weatherford, Oklahoma. It's a small, windy town off I-40, about an hour west of Oklahoma City. Naturally, we all ate a lot of beef, and much of it in the form of burgers. This was the mid-70s, and Weatherford was just small enough to not have a McDonald's (in spite of I-40), but we were big enough to have a Sonic, an A&W Drive-In, a Mr. Burger (local chain), and a great diner called Magill's, on Main Street. It was my favorite place ever, the first eatery I remember loving and wanting to have all to myself. We ate cheeseburgers hot off the griddle, french fries, and thick, dreamy malts. It was the place I made my first "sauce"--mayo & ketchup, mixed. And if I was lucky, I got to sit at the counter.
Tagged with: cornhog, freret, grilled, jam, hot dog, corndog, uptown, arugula, egg, beef, onion, cheap, turkey, tomato, LAMB, counter, goddess, cheese, burger, bacon, green, fries, Lunch
Soup weather, a.k.a. my favorite season, has arrived! Once the high dips below 90 for several days in a row, I consider it official. There are so many delectable soups to rustle up and dig into, though, and it's really hard for me, as a devoted soupster, to choose which to make first. This year, I settled on minestrone for its calming, vegetableish effects, but I had an ulterior motive...I wanted to try frying some chickpeas, and I decided they'd come in handy as a crunchy crouton for the soup. I'd planned to include chickpeas in my minestrone, so what could be easier than reserving a few chickpeas from the can and frying them up?
Tagged with: chickpea, Minestrone, kidney, crouton, Bean, broth, thyme, carrot, basil, parmesan, celery, onion, Soup, bread, autumn, fried, cheese, bacon, fall, WEATHER, Chicken
I love little fried bits of things--shrimp, hushpuppies, onion rings, green tomatoes--but I've found a new favorite thing to satisfy that crunch-crunch, home-fried crispy urge. It's fried okra. Growing up, I never used to go for it, while the rest of my family inhaled it by the handful, especially when it came from my Southern-cooking grandma's kitchen. I think okra had too much of a deep, earthen, brown taste...it was bitter, like Brussels sprouts. It seemed, to my palate accustomed to raspberry Zingers and spaghettios, almost burnt. Of course now I can't seem to get enough, and I think it's the oddness of okra that I find so wonderful. There's really nothing else quite like it.
Tagged with: crouton, cornmeal, Buttermilk, dip, okra, lettuce, oil, easy, tomato, fried, quick, garden, dressing, salad, summer, cucumber, bacon
This week was our first visit to Hollygrove Market and Farm, right in the city. Hollygrove offers a CSA (community supported agriculture) box filled with freshly picked goods from farms within a hundred-mile radius of New Orleans, and I'm sure many of you are taking advantage of these types of boxes in your own areas. They really are a great way to support local food growers and to learn how to cook with what's in season. Two things I love about Hollygrove's operation are that they offer two boxes each week, on Tuesday and Saturday (sometimes slightly different), and you don't have to subscribe--just come get it when you want it (or order home delivery). Also, you can pick up other vegetables and fruits a la carte at the market, as well as organic meats, coffee, dairy products, and some interesting pantry items.
Tagged with: shiitakes, hollygrove, chanterelles, almond, CSA, local, goat cheese, basil, herbs, peaches, crisp, lime, sugar, market, summer, blueberries, bacon, pizza, Farm, Fruit
Fact: smoothie + bread = breakfast.
I love a good smoothie. And I love me some homemade bread. I think there's some kind of law against baking during the summer in New Orleans--when I ask for parchment paper at the corner store, they look at me like I'm nuts. I guess I am a little nuts, but darn it, I'm gonna keep making bread because I love it and this is when I have the time.
Smoothie A: My classic, all-around go-to blend of vanilla yogurt, orange juice, a banana and frozen strawberries. Blip it up and drink it down.
Tagged with: kiwi, storm, egg, Homemade, bread, breakfast, Banana, blueberry, mango, yogurt, white, butter, cheese, beach, summer, bacon, orange, toast, smoothie, juice, strawberry, Fruit
I'm going to keep this simple: I believe it's impossible for anyone to not like Mondo. Susan Spicer's intent with this new restaurant, located in Lakeview, was that every diner would find something to his or her taste, and the carefully crafted menu accomplishes this task. It might be true that any restaurant serving pizza can boast that it satisfies even finicky eaters. But what Mondo does is sneak subtle culinary lessons into even the tamest plates, so that nonadventurous patrons will feel satisfied and enlightened at the same time. Here are some examples, from our first Mondo visit, of the easy-to-enjoy twists put on comfortable classics. First, our snack of caramel-bacon popcorn:
Do you like caramel corn? Then you like caramel-bacon corn.
Tagged with: mondo, spicer, lakeview, popcorn, okra, Pork, small, mussels, shrimp, bacon, family, kids, restaurants, crab