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big, easy bites

smother me with love: spicy smothered chicken and butter beans

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By foodorleans · May 15, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

Twice, I've asked a native New Orleanian woman what her family's favorite thing that she cooked was, and been pleasantly surprised by hearing an answer that I'd never heard before in my short, sheltered life.  The first was "rice and gravy," and the second was "chicken and butter beans."  My road to understanding rice and gravy was a winding one, but I think I've got it down (I wrote about that experience for the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, which you can find a link to on my "Elsewhere" page).

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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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pepper jelly rugelach: a change of spice

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By foodorleans · December 13, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Welcome to the third installment of my Christmas Hannukah bake-a-thon!

Have you ever had rugelach?  Ever heard of them?  They're these awesome, petite crescents of cream cheese and butter dough wrapped around a filling such as cinnamon, nuts, or preserves.  The fact that the dough is almost nothing but cream cheese and butter pretty much had me hooked.  But I also saw an opportunity to inject a little deep-south peppery twist on this classic cookie.

Pepper jelly. You know, the jalapeno-spiked stuff that gets poured over blocks of cream cheese?  Turns out it's a remedy for someone who bakes and eats lots of cookies and, quite frankly, needs a little help preventing palate fatigue (that's Melissa Clark's term, not mine, but it's well-put).  I was afraid these might be too spicy in the end, but they're just spicy enough, and a welcome change of spice from the typical holiday range of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.  I think you'll like them.  And let's forge ahead and put pepper jelly in all kinds of sweet things!  It'll be a revolution.

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ready to roast: Susan Spicer's jalapeno roast pork

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By foodorleans · September 4, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Ah, September...I don't know what the weather's like where you are, but here in New Orleans, it's pretty darn wet.  But once the rains of Lee move northeast, we should get some fall-like weather, topping out around 75 degrees!  Practically winter.  I'm always ready to do some roasting as soon as the major summer heat subsides, and I'm jumping the gun a little here, but with good reason.  We're making this scrumptious jalapeno-roasted pork from Susan Spicer's wonderful cookbook, Crescent City Cooking, so we can use the leftovers in a Labor Day/Paul's Birthday jambalaya tomorrow.  Hooray!

[two pork shoulders (double recipe) about to go in the oven]

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

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By foodorleans · 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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hoppin' jen (aka a big bowl of peas n greens)

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By foodorleans · January 25, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

Happy 2011, everyone!  Carnival season is well underway.  About 5 weeks left til Mardi Gras.  Our garage has undergone an intense cleaning.  Arcade Fire will be at Jazzfest. We're going to try a small garden. It's shaping up to be a great year.

We were in Oklahoma over New Year's, and didn't get a chance to make our standard black-eyed-pea and greens feast that we've enjoyed since moving here...but here's a simple recipe for some down-home greens 'n peas that'll fit the winter soup bill and sneak in some luck before January's out.

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gazpacho salsa, and grooming your vegetables

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By foodorleans · July 3, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

I'm a lucky girl. Lynn Becnel, my co-worker and an excellent cook, often shares fresh lemons from her trees, rosemary and basil from her garden, and even the bounty that others have brought to her from their gardens.  Recently, I left work with bags of okra, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers she'd brought from a gardner friend with a bumper crop.  And when I see fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and it's hotter than hades outside, I think gazpacho.  This recipe started out as soup, but when I tasted the vegetables, before adding the tomato juice that would become the "broth," I stopped tinkering.  It was good.  It tasted like a handful of garden--who was I to cover up all that gorgeous flavor?  So gazpacho salsa was born.

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in need of comfort: pan-fried catfish with black-eyed pea salsa

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By foodorleans · May 29, 2010 · 0 Comments ·

I have to be honest:  I'm a little down these days. It's normally a great time to be in this wonderful city--festivals, sno-balls, seafood everywhere you look--and of course, that's the reason for the blues.  The seafood.  No fried oyster po-boys, no raw oysters in some spots.  Fishing folk shuttling executives out to the rigs instead of pulling in hundreds of pounds of shrimp.  It's a crying shame.

I haven't even felt much like cooking lately, though I've been desperate to eat something homey and comforting.  I just couldn't think of what that was.  So yesterday I started scribbling, doodling, trying to get down to the basics of what would make me feel better, and I came up with one of my favorite childhood meals:  fish sticks, peas, and mac and cheese.  Have you ever had this, or something like it?  With a little ketchup on the plate, it looks beautiful, in a Crayola kind of way:  crunchy golden fish sticks, a big splotch of red ketchup, bright green peas (cooked from frozen in nothing more than salted water), and orangy-yellow mac and cheese from the blue box.  Every time my mom pulled the ingredients out for this feast, I got so excited.  It was happiness in one of its purest forms:  looking forward to something.  Plus, I liked the challenge of getting one of those straight macaroni on each of my four fork tines before I took a bite. 

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