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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: 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.

shakshuka, or a saucy way to start the day

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By foodorleans · May 21, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Earlier this year, when I began an obsession with poaching the perfect egg, I started replacing the water I'd normally used to poach eggs in with tomato sauce.  Magically, those eggs turned out perfect.  Then I started poaching eggs in salsa for huevos rancheros, and it dawned on me that I might never need to poach an egg in water again.  Why would I, when they're so easy and so delicious in a tomatoey, spicy sauce?

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Tagged with: shakshuka, tomato, brunch, Eggs

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.

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grillades and grits: get your brunch on!

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By foodorleans · December 30, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

If you've never had or heard of grillades and grits, then I apologize for not mentioning them earlier.  They're one of the two most wonderful things to eat for brunch in New Orleans (shrimp and grits being the other).  I've never been to anyplace in town for brunch that didn't offer one or both of these goodies.  Grillades (gree'-awds) are made of beef, veal, or pork; I haven't encountered a rabbit version yet, but I won't be surprised when I do.  The beef is a thin, flat cut of top round or chuck--something that can withstand a long, slow cooking.  It simmers in a pot with the trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper), garlic, and a little jalapeno--not traditional, but I really like it--until the rich broth thickens and intensifies, so what you get is a powerfully flavored beef "stew" that is perfect over creamy cheese grits.  This is a great Louisiana recipe to try if you're hankering for some thick, rich goodness but you don't feel up to stirring a roux, because you don't have to.  The small amount of flour used in the browning of the beef will produce all the roux you need.

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different than the rest: sunday brunch at Patois

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By foodorleans · 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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