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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

in the beantime: red bean huevos rancheros

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By Jen White · 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.

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grillades and grits: get your brunch on!

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By Jen White · 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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an ode to the lunch counter, and The Company Burger

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By Jen White · October 13, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

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.

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by-heart mac and cheese

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By Jen White · October 3, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Most of us have a soft spot for good old macaroni and cheese, and personal preference usually depends on what we grew up eating at potlucks, church dinners, or our grandmother's table.  Some folks insist on American cheese being the only cheese that can meld with macaroni, and some profess a strong affinity for a crispy breadcrumb topping that crunches up in the oven.  Me?  I'm a pretty straightforward, white-sauce-meets-pasta kind of gal, though I'll put just about any kind of cheese into the sauce (anything that grates, anyway--no brie or fresh mozzarella).  I like an extra layer of cheese over the top, and I've developed a tendency to add a dollop of grainy Creole mustard to the sauce before I stir in the macaroni; it sparks the sauce a little bit, just the way I like it.

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making soup sing: chicken minestrone with crispy chickpeas

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By Jen White · September 23, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

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?

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summer's last stand: shrimp and okra stew with a secret

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By Jen White · August 1, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Before the intense heat of this summer drives us all inside to eat nothing but cold sandwiches and ice cream, and before every last tomato has been incinerated by the sun, I want to share a special creation with you that we concocted at the beach: shrimp and okra stew with a secret.  The secret is chipotle pepper. (Italics is the typist's whisper).  Not that chipotle peppers in adobo sauce haven't been popularized in recent years--they're showing up in everything from hot wing sauce to salad dressing--but they're not indigenous to New Orleans cuisine.  But they really put this shrimp and okra stew over the top, I tell you!  Wowza!

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un petit tour de france: ratatouille and rice gratin

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By Jen White · July 23, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Yesterday, I was inspired once again to buy local, seasonal produce and see what I could make with it.  The inspiration came from this wonderful French documentary, Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution (more on that below*).  When I got to the store, I wasn't set on a French menu by any means, but I just did this staring thing I've been doing lately--I stand in front of the produce wall and stare straight ahead.  I soften my eyes and don't try to focus on anything, and see what colors stand out to me.  This is not unlike the way I look at a painting by Monet or Renoir--there's that Frenchiness again.  This time, eggplant and squash called to me.  And that one plump red bell pepper, all alone.  So I was struck with the solution of ratatouille, and just went all-out French and bought a whole chicken to roast.  Why the heck not?

[veggies roasted and ready for layering]

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summertime bread & breakfast

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By Jen White · July 9, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

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.

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