In many ways, a recipe is like a fingerprint. While the basic curves and contours are always the same, each has an identity of its own. From the portions and ingredients down to the size of the dice and the speed of the whisk, there is always some level of inherent uniqueness to any one recipe. This individuality may not always be apparent at first-glance – a finger-tip is, after all, a finger-tip – but look close enough and you will find it.
Jambalaya, a New Orleans classic, is particularly well-suited to this individuality. The basic structure of jambalaya centers around the “trinity” — celery, onion, and peppers. Rice is almost essential, Continue reading
Popovers are one of my favorite things to make – and eat. The only problem is that, right now, I’m usually cooking for one. And it’s just not safe to leave me alone with warm popovers. Indeed, the last time that happened, I wolfed down five vanilla eggnog popovers before noon. I think I was able to save one for Caitlin, but I may be wrong.
This past Friday, I attended a pot-luck “dinner.” Only instead of the usual dinner items, everyone was charged with bringing a brunch item. There were donuts, scrambled eggs, french toast, more french toast, smoked salmon, bagels, and the like.
My contribution, naturally, was popovers. Herb and cheese popovers to be exact. I had been meaning Continue reading
Of all the foods characteristic of New Orleans – from pralines to muffalettas – my all-time favorite remains the King Cake (la galette des Rois).
I can remember gathering around the large loaf in grade school, eagerly holding out my plate, and wondering if my piece would be the lucky piece. If the teacher was feeling generous that day, she might indulge our personal choices, and allow us to select that prized piece ourselves. There were those that favored the edge pieces. Others favored a particular color of icing – be it green, yellow, or purple – certain that good luck lay beneath it. And others still allowed simple chance to play its part.
I don’t remember what my particular stratagem may have been, but given the importance of the situation, I certainly had one. You see, hidden in the dough was a small plastic baby. And whoever pulled the baby from his or piece was king or queen for the day.
In grade school, this was no mere sinecure. Continue reading
This is not a food post. Just this once, I’ve decided to stray from the general theme of the blog.
This past Sunday marked the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall near the city of New Orleans. A few days before the anniversary, I sat down at my computer, and wrote out my thoughts on the subject. On a whim, I decided to submit the essay to several newspapers and magazines around the country. This past Sunday, the essay appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer. You can also read it in my alumni magazine.
I was so excited about its publication, that I wanted to share the article with my readers. You can click here for a link to the article as it appeared in the Enquirer, or simply read it below. Continue reading
Memories are a funny thing. I look back at certain events or times, and wonder what it was that made a certain scene memorable, that gave it such staying power.
With childhood memories, the question evokes a stronger response – owing, perhaps, to the idea that a memory resonates with more emotion the more distant it seems. There’s something inspiring and captivating about looking back in your subconscious and finding a picture of yourself at a younger, more exciting age.
There I am, 20 years old, turning a corner outside of a Paris cafe, and bumping into the Prime Minister. There I am, 18 years old, sweating under the bright lights of my high-school Continue reading
I didn’t make it back to New Orleans this Thanksgiving. But I still wanted a piece of the city at the table. To that end, I settled on a piece of pecan pie, inspired by the Pecan Pie served at The Camellia Grill.
The Camellia Grill is a local landmark, its Greek columns set right off the streetcar line and the river-bend, and sandwiched between the Uptown and Carrollton neighborhoods. Its patrons run the gamut, with partied-out college freshmen seated elbow-to-elbow with local luminaries, with everyone in between still waiting to be seated.
Two well-worn green couches sit on opposite ends of the Grill, and serve as the designated waiting area. A series of one-legged stools, bolted to the ground, snakes around the counter, Continue reading
Angelo Brocato’s Italian Ice Cream Parlor is an unassuming place, sandwiched between an Asian restaurant unsure about its own ethnicity, and a sports bar with saloon doors for an entrance. On one corner of the street sits a warehouse, with stacks of rolled carpet piled high in all directions; on the other corner rests Junque Antiques, the building itself looking several birthdays older than its wares.
Parking for Angelo Brocato’s is limited to an empty gravel-filled lot, or whatever spaces are available at 45-degree angles on the wide sidewalk on the river side of North Carrolton Avenue. The parlor itself occupies a one-story storefront in the mid-city neighborhood of New Orleans, a safe distance from the reverie of the French Quarter. Inside, the store displays the black-and-white portrait of its founder, and the wire-rimmed chairs, apothecary jars, and Continue reading
Bananas Foster is a New Orleans original.
The dish was originally created in 1951, by Chef Paul Blangé of Brennan’s Restaurant. Owen Edward Brennan, the owner, had challenged his chef to create a dish that would highlight bananas. At the time, New Orleans was the principal port of entry for Latin America’s banana crop. The recipe also served as the feature article for Holiday Magazine, which had asked Brennan for a recipe to accompany an article about the restaurant.
Bananas Foster is named for Richard Foster, who Continue reading
Popovers are a fickle lot. Sometimes they don’t pop. Sometimes they explode. And sometimes, they simply refuse to come out of their cups. According to one article, chefs at Neiman Marcus spent five weeks perfecting their popover recipe, experimenting with nearly a dozen variations before arriving at their now-famous recipe. Popovers, they felt, were worth perfecting.
I couldn’t agree more. Growing up, Continue reading