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big, easy bites

eat local challenge: bacon-baked eggs

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By Jen White · June 14, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

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!

bacon-baked eggs

per egg:

  • 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

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and put a small kettle of water on to boil (for the water bath).
  2. Lightly grease a small, oven-proof ramekin with bacon grease or butter.  Sprinkle the bacon into the bottom of the ramekin.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)

the theology and geometry of Greek lasagna

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By Jen White · August 23, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

If you're back in school, back to work, back in stressland of any sort, you might be craving some sort of soul-fortifying food hug right about now.  One of my personal favorite food hugs is a big ol' pan of lasagna--and not a thin, dainty one, either. It's got to be tall and stacked through with vegetables, meats, and a ton of cheese.  Lasagna is such a childhood classic for many of us who grew up with moms who liked to cook both ground beef and casseroles, yet it's still adaptable to current tastes, or to current needs to clean out the pantry.  It's also just a beautiful, big pan of goodness, a culinary specimen of theology and geometry.  If you like to build things that taste good and heal your soul, you'll like this.

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Tagged with: lasagna, baked, beef, Sausage, Greek, pasta, cheese

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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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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a fish tale: shrimp and artichoke-stuffed trout

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

Once upon a time, I was served a whole trout in a fancy restaurant.  I whimpered loudly enough for the waiter to notice I wasn't about to eat anything that stared back at me. He took it back to the kitchen, decapitated it, and I was fine. In fact, I ate all the creme brulee nobody else could finish. I was 15. The end? Not quite.

Now, I love getting a whole fish. First of all, they're beautiful. Second, fish and shellfish and their kin are just about the only creatures we can eat in a "whole" state, skin and bones and all, as a reminder of what it is that we're eating. It's much more natural and psychically helpful than eating a McRib, I think.  So I love eating them, but I've never before known how to clean them fresh out of the water...until Sunday.

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Tagged with: baked, artichokes, trout, lemon, shrimp, Fish

making grocery: corned beef with cane syrup and creole mustard

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By Jen White · March 11, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

This stuff is GOOD. A simple corned beef brisket, boiled briefly to reduce excess saltiness, then baked with a cane syrup and Creole mustard glaze. GUH.  I'd never baked corned beef before with a sweet accent, but it really does make perfect sense--kind of like dragging your slice of bacon through the extra pancake syrup on your plate before taking a bite. You do that, don't you?  If you bake ham with brown sugar, you'll like this.

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banana-nut muffins to the rescue!

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

[Bake and freeze, for those days when life is too hard to make toast.]

When January 1 was just a glimmer on the horizon, I started thinking about making some resolutions--something I don't usually make, but I felt up to it this year. I'm turning 40, why not resolve to do something to improve my life, or better yet, some things?  I spent a few weeks toying with ideas, but I didn't want to make any resolutions that were going to set me on a sure course to fail.  If there's one thing I've learned in all these years as a human, it's that failing myself doesn't feel good.

I did not resolve to exercise three times a week, or to go on a diet, or to read 52 books this year.  I did resolve, however, to eat breakfast every day.

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snacking good: natchitoches meat pies

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By Jen White · January 22, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

[Baked or fried? You decide.]

Natchitoches meat pies are one of those special little treats with a name as fun to say as they are to scarf down. Nackadish--that's how you say it--is a small town we drive through on our way north to visit Alexandria or Oklahoma, and it's where Steel Magnolias was filmed, and it's famous for these little pies. It's a beautiful little place, with a picturesque riverfront lined with shops and restaurants that have their own sort of French Quarter-ish wrought-iron balconies (remember the Easter scene where Jackson slapped Ouiser? That's the riverfront!).  But you don't have to go into the actual town to get yourself some meat pies; just stop at any gas station right off I-10. They all fry them up and they're all pretty wonderful.

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for twelfth night: king cake with bacon-pecan praline filling

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

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.

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fancy pants white chocolate cherry shortbread

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By Jen White · December 16, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Happy Friday, cookie monsters!  It's the final day of my bake-a-thon, and I am beat (ha).

This last little cookie is a real show-stopper that I found online at bhg.com. They're called White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbreads, but they also have a slight amaretto quality to them due to a shot of almond extract. They're super-rich and taste a bit like cherry cheesecake. In short, my, my, they're outstanding.   I was looking for something really different in flavor and appearance from the other items going in my gift boxes, which are mostly shades of brown.  This hot little pink number really fit the bill, and they taste professional-bakery-fancy.

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