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eat local challenge: bacon-baked eggs

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By foodorleans · 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)

eat local challenge: brave new breakfast

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By foodorleans · June 7, 2013 · 0 Comments ·

Ever wake up and feel like you needed some extra color in your life? Try these organic purple potatoes from Inglewood Farm via Hollygrove Market! They're cute, yummy, and break up your normal, everyday, potato-breakfast routine.  If you have a potato-breakfast routine, that is.  I like to use up extra potatoes I've got lying around sometimes in a kind of roasted homefry/hash kind of thing, which is really easy to do. It takes a bit of time, but you can pop them in the oven, take your shower and drink your coffee, and then finish the eggs in the last few minutes of roasting. 

I'm calling this little number "Two Potato Hash with Poached Eggs," but you can use any vegetables you have to supplement the potatoes. Carrots, turnips, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and green beans are all good choices. Add smaller things, like green beans and tomatoes, to the roasting pan when you have about 25 minutes left to go.  When it comes to poaching eggs, by all means, use the method you like best.  I sometimes use my little saucepan with the egg-poaching inserts; it works well enough, though it's not fancy, and it generally relieves all my stress about the little poachers coming out right. But if you'd like to try the in-the-water method of poaching, I've included my method below.  It's different from what you'll usually see--there's no vinegar and no water-swirling--but this is the only way I've gotten them to come out.

red onions and purple potatoes from Hollygrove; red potatoes from Mid-City Thursday market

Eggs immediately after adding them to the water. Notice I have a bit of shell stuck to the lower egg. If that happens, just wait till the egg is finished cooking and draining on the paper towels, and you'll be able to easily pick the shell off.

Eggs after 2 minutes.

two potato hash with poached eggs

  • 1 1/2 pounds purple potatoes
  • 1/2 pound red potatoes
  • 2 small red onions
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, pecan oil, or other oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary are nice if you have them)
  • 1 to 6 eggs (1 to 2 eggs per person, depending on appetites)
  • snipped chives or other fresh herbs, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Wash the potatoes and cut them into roughly 3/4" chunks. Cut the onions into 3/4" chunks and combine the potatoes and onions in a large shallow roasting pan.
  2. Drizzle all the oil over the potato mixture. Toss with your hands to evenly distribute the oil and make sure all the pieces get coated. Season generously with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs, and toss again.  Place in the oven and roast for about an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
  3. When the potatoes have about 15 minutes left to roast, fill a deep saute pan or a medium saucepan with 2" of water (I used a 9" saute pan with 2 1/2" tall sides).  Bring the water to a boil, almost--the pan will have those tiny bubbles that are starting to barely trail up to the surface of the water--then turn the heat off.  Break each egg into a small bowl and gently tip the egg into the water.  Let sit undisturbed for a minute, then take two spoons and gently bring the ragged egg whites back around their yolks.  You can keep them in the water off the heat for 4 minutes (total) and get a nicely done egg with runny yolk, or if you're cooking several eggs in the pan and you think the water temperature needs a little boost, turn the flame back on after two minutes of cooking.  Gently lift each egg out with a spatula and drain it on paper towels.
  4. When the potatoes are done, give them a nice stir and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Serve poached eggs on beds of roasted potatoes and onions.  Sprinkle fresh herbs over the top.

serves 3

eat local challenge: just another riz jaune I love New Orleans

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By foodorleans · 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 foodorleans · 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 5: mashed potato cakes

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By foodorleans · December 2, 2012 · 0 Comments ·
Finally, here's an easy recipe for turning leftover mashed potatoes into something other than soup. These cakes are simple to mix, quick to cook, and will do wonders for your brunchatude (top it with a poached or fried egg, above, and you're in business!).  You can also jazz them up further by mixing in any little bits of cheese you have lying around, goat cheese and cheddar being two excellent choices.

mashed potato cakes

  • 2 cups leftover cold mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • butter and olive oil

  1. In a medium bowl, combine mashed potatoes and egg and mix well (it should be a little stiff still).  Season with salt and pepper if you think the potatoes might be a little bland.
  2. With your hands, form potato mixture into small cakes, about 2.5" in diameter and 1/2" thick. You'll have 4 to 5 cakes.
  3. Dredge the cakes carefully in dry breadcrumbs, pressing a little to help the breadcrumbs stick.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil together.  When the butter stops foaming, add the cakes without crowding (you may need to do two batches).  Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until the other side is browned, about 4 more minutes. Serve immediately.

makes 4 to 5 cakes

MORE EASY PIECES: smoked salmon breakfast pizza; roasted potatoes and turnips; butter bean hummus; greens with andouille.

5 easy pieces: smoked salmon breakfast pizza

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By foodorleans · November 27, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Folks, I've got a backlog of food photos I took near summer's end, and even though I don't have time to scratch out full-fledged posts for them, they're still worth sharing. So this week, a stretch of 5 easy recipes to make--so easy they barely warrant a recipe at all, but I'll include one anyway. Check back every day through Saturday for a new post!

This super-easy tortilla pizza is a spin on a quick snack we make often around here, usually with pepperoni and mozzarella, but it makes a tasty breakfast when you've got some lox to rock out.  To make a pepperoni or other kind of pizza, use the tortilla-crisping method described here, then return to the oven after topping the pizza until the cheese melts and everything's hot.

smoked salmon breakfast pizza

  • 1 large (10") flour tortilla
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • goat cheese, about 1/4 cup, softened
  • a few slices of gravlax or other smoked salmon
  • capers
  • green or red onion slices

  1. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove baking sheet and lay the tortilla on it. Brush lightly with olive oil, then return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until it's crisped and toasty (it may get some air bubbles in it but you can flatten these with your hand).
  3. Spread tortilla with goat cheese and layer with salmon, capers, and onion slices. That's it!

serves 1 to 2

i'll have another...Milk Bar!

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By foodorleans · November 19, 2012 · 0 Comments ·
The Milk Bar, 1514 Delachaise St.

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:

in the beantime: red bean huevos rancheros

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By foodorleans · August 17, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

The beantime is, I've decided, that stretch of days after making a giant pot of red beans during which this debate is always on your mind: Do I freeze them? Keep eating bowls of beans and rice? Or think of some interesting things to do with them?  Usually, in our house, we freeze a portion and keep eating red beans at every meal, in some form.  Burritos made from red beans, rice, and cheese, or a quesadilla with red beans, cilantro, and pepper jack are two common things we use them for, but huevos rancheros is undoubtedly my favorite. Plus you can eat it any old time of day!  It's a super-easy dish to make, and I've got a couple lil' twists to share.

continue reading...

the gift of grits: creamy peppered mascarpone grits

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By foodorleans · July 30, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

So, a couple of years ago, on this very blog, I made a statement I'd like to retract: "I don't cook grits with milk or cream--I just don't see the need." You see, I was stuck then on the notion that grits cooked in chicken broth were the most flavorful and avoided scalding milk in my favorite pot, even though my friends were all telling me that cooking grits in milk was the way to go.  Eventually, I tasted several versions of grits that were so creamy and luxurious, I had to know how they were prepared, and the answer usually came back as "cooked in milk." So now, I'm a milk convert.  Whenever I happen to eat breakfast at a restaurant that serves watery, thin grits, I get cranky and insist that they should be doing the milk thing too.  And now I have an even richer, more wonderful addition to my favorite grits: mascarpone cheese.  We were introduced to mascarpone cheese grits at La Provence in late May, and they were a dreamy revelation of what grits could be. Mascarpone is a thick Italian cream cheese that's not as salty as our usual cream cheese--it's more like a consolidated version of ricotta.  In fact, it tastes a lot like unsalted butter to me, and it melts as easily into the hot grits as butter would.

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banana-nut muffins to the rescue!

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By foodorleans · 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.

continue reading...


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