Category Archives: Southern food

Staying warm with Olive Oil Biscuits

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Last weekend I attended FoodBlogSouth 2014 with my friend, Helana Brigman of Clearly Delicious (also known as Dances with Lobsters.) One of the vendors who provided samples in our swag bags was California Olive Ranch.  California Olive Ranch also had a display table where they provided samples of their Gold Medal line.  In addition they were providing samples of Olive Oil Biscuits.  The recipe for the biscuits was provided by Season 1 Winner of Master Chef, Whitney Miller.  Although I had eaten a Southern Living biscuit that had been passed around at breakfast, I simply had to try one of the Olive Oil Biscuits with some fig jam.  As I was spreading the jam on top of my biscuit I noticed that recipe cards were provided so I grabbed one.  I knew that with the crusty outside and moist inside, I just had to have that biscuit again.

I returned home to a dismal weather forecast.  In case you aren’t paying attention, or reading this post long after I have set it loose on the Internet, Louisiana is currently having record cold weather.  Schools have been shut down in Baton Rouge for two days now and we were promised lots of sneaux.  We got feaux.  It sleeted most of the afternoon yesterday and the roads are covered with ice but I saw not one real snow flurry.

Several years ago my sister moved from Louisiana to Canada.  After her first Canadian winter experience she observed that Canada is better at heating structures than is Louisiana.  I can’t argue with her, as Louisiana just doesn’t have to deal with cold as much as Canada.

Regardless of the central heating situation in my house, I know that baking will warm my kitchen.  Since the kitchen is the center of the house, after it is warm, I don’t usually hear complaints.  When I awoke yesterday morning I knew immediately that Olive Oil Biscuits were the order.  The recipe card said that the recipe makes seven biscuits but I was able to make eight.  They’re baked in a cast iron skillet and that skillet holds seven biscuits so I had to bake one in a separate pan.  If you don’t have a 9-inch cast iron skillet, get one.  I use mine every day!

Not only were the biscuits easy to make, but the aroma of baking biscuits was strong enough to awaken my sixteen year-old daughter and beckon her to the kitchen from her warm bed.

The recipe may be found on Whitney Miller’s blog.  She has altered her grandmother’s biscuit recipe to include olive oil.  The recipe on her blog varies slightly from the recipe card.  On the card she directs the baker to press the dough into a circle and cut into 7 rounds.   She cautions that one should not overcook the biscuits and suggests that when the biscuits are done, if the tops are still pale the broiler should be used to brown the top of the biscuits.

This morning my daughter wanted more of the yummy biscuits we had yesterday.  I think this may become a habit.

GG

 

Killer Poboys are a danger of the serial kind — I am compelled to return again and again…

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DSC_0156
It all started when after a day of Saints football and drinking in the French Quarter, my sisters, our husbands and I  were looking for a place to eat before we headed to watch Better Than Ezra play at Harrah’s Casino.   For some reason no one in our group had thought about the fact that few restaurants are open in the Quarter for dinner on Sunday.  We headed to Vacherie which was near our hotel.  We had eaten at Vacherie for breakfast a few times and just knew that dinner was going to be perfect!   I should have known when I walked into the dining room and saw no one, that something was not right.  “We are closed for dinner on Sunday,” was the reply when I asked for a table for eight.  After trying a couple of other places, we were quite frustrated.  We really didn’t want to go to an elegant restaurant where jackets are required.  Casual atmosphere was in order for the evening, but it goes without saying that it had to have flavor and atmosphere.  It was time to head to the Erin Rose…not to eat, because they don’t serve food.  For some reason the Erin Rose, a small Irish pub on Conti, became my brother-in-law’s favorite New Orleans Irish Pub the night we were kicked out of the place because he argued with a Texan in a ten-gallon hat about who had to buy the next round. For some reason we always run into the most interesting people there.

I digress.

The Erin Rose was the perfect environment to brainstorm over a pint. Little did we know what would happen next!

We headed to the back of the bar, because the front was full–the back is cozy and it soon filled up too. Once in the back, we discovered that we were wrong. The Erin Rose has food! Not only food, but Killer Poboys! This pleased me to no end, because I. Required. Food. NOW! I had to wait a bit though.  I was hesitant. These are not your every day run of the mill poboys. The sign said that they are, “Internationally inspired chef crafted poboys.”   I mean, it seemed a sacrilege of sorts to play with the traditional New Orleans sandwich.  I really had my mouth set on a shrimp poboy. Crisply fried shrimp on a loaf of French Bread and fully dressed (meaning that it has lettuce, tomatoes and mayo)– that is what I just HAD to have! I told my Loup Garou to order a Shrimp Poboy and a Tin Roof beer…and make it snappy! He brought me the menu and I paused…

Menu from Killer Poboys in the Erin Rose, New Orleans
Killer Poboys Menu

The Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp Poboy has:

“Marinated Radish (radish is my favorite red vegetable!), Carrot, Cucumber, Herbs and Special Sauce (hmm…got to have the special sauce!).”

Be still my beating heart…that just makes my mouth water to read about it.

But on a poboy?  It sounded like something I would expect to find in an Asian restaurant served over noodles.

While he was ordering, my Loup Garou found out from the chef that they have not been at the Erin Rose very long. (We knew this because we were in the Erin Rose in April.) They take cash only, and they serve menu items until they run out of the ingredients. The first one they usually run out of is the, “Dark & Stormy Pork.” NOLA Rum braised pork with lime slaw and garlic aoli sounds decadent.  We weren’t able to have any because Goldilocks had been there right before us and it was ALL GONE!

When I saw the poboy that I ordered, I just knew that I had to take a picture of it, because I knew I was going to write about it.

Apparently, however, I did not take that photo.  I really thought I did, but I can’t find it!

I must have been so enraptured with my poboy that I just plain forgot!  It was the perfect blend of Asia and New Orleans.  The marinated shrimp was grilled and served with fresh cilantro, radish, carrot and cucumber, and was so amazing that I still remember the way it tasted a month later.  In fact, I swear I dreamed about it.

In fact, last weekend at Food Blog South, 2013, my friend, Helana Brigman of Clearly Delicious  and I were chatting with the keynote speaker, Kenji Lopez-Alt, Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats. He wanted to know the best place to get a poboy in New Orleans. I suddenly had a flashback to a memory of being in my grandmother’s black Cadillac, my grandmother, my mother, my sisters and I  piled in my grandmother’s car and headed to Deanie’s Seafood to get shrimp poboys.  My grandmother lived in New Orleans when I was growing up, and Deanies was her go-to place for a shrimp poboy.  I mentioned a couple of other  traditional New Orleans poboy restaurants such as Domalise’s… and then…

Suddenly I felt a flash of heat on my side!  I looked down at the bag on my shoulder and remembered that I still had the menu from Killer Poboys with me.

Of course, I ripped it out, (it was kind of crumpled by then from all of the times I took it out and read the ingredients again) and told him that he simply HAD to try the Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp poboy at Killer Poboys, (of course with Zapps Cajun Crawtators on the side.)

He may take my word for it…or not.

However, just this morning, I saw a CBS story about the legendary poboy and its history. Mo Rocca interviewed the chef of Killer Poboys as part of his segment about: NOLA’s po boy: The story behind the iconic sandwich.

The caption underneath says, “A new CBS News poll shows 60 percent of Americans would like to try the famous new Orleans sandwich,..”

Coincidence? I think not.

Why don’t you try it and decide for yourself?

Killer Poboys on Urbanspoon

 

Red velvet cake

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Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake. It’s a home tradition.

One of my favorite birthday traditions practiced by my mother that I have carried on with my children is the birthday dinner request.  Usually this means that the person having a birthday may choose their favorite meal on their birthday.  Some years I requested crabmeat casserole.  Other years it was homemade fried chicken or chicken tetrazzini.  No matter what the meal was, I could count on a Doberge cake from Gambinos or a homemade red velvet cake.  In fact, one year my mother was in the hospital for my birthday and could not bake a cake for me.  She asked my aunt to bake it for me.  Imagine my reaction when my aunt asked me if I cared if it was green velvet cake or red velvet cake because she had green food coloring but no red!

This red, chocolate concoction has been served at my house for as long as I can remember, but most of my friends were strangers to it until they ate it at my house. Red velvet cake was so unknown that I once served it at a dinner and someone asked if it was peppermint.  When I explained that it was chocolate, the man did not believe me…until he saw everyone else enjoying it.  When everyone else was almost finished, he decided to try it.  He exclaimed, “This is chocolate!” as if it were some eureka moment.  Yes, this cake is chocolate.  So what if it’s red?

This cake has recently been blogged about quite a bit…and it seems that some are a little tired of the hype.    Stella Parks, of Gilt Taste suggests that her experience with red velvet cake has been less than positive.  So, she invented her own version.  I want to  try it but its such a family favorite that it would seem a sacrilege.  Instead of red food coloring she uses red wine to add color to her cake.  Now, that is one change I might be willing to try.  Given my family’s affinity for red wine, they might even go for it.

I suspect that the groom’s cake from the film Steel Magnolias may have contributed to its identification with, “all things southern.”  There are tons of posts all over the Internet with recipes for a, “bleeding armadillo” cake.  I am in no way tempted to follow that yellow brick road.

The red velvet cake I grew up with did not have a cream cheese frosting like many of the recent red velvet cakes I have encountered.  It had a cooked milk icing that was so buttery and sweet that I can still sometimes taste it when I think about it.  To this day, I prefer the recipe that my mom has always made, although I will eat one with the cream cheese icing if it is offered.

Red velvet cake was such a tradition in our house that it became a part of the bedtime stories our father would spin for us.  When I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time I would not go to bed for fear of the Wicked Witch of the West.  So that I would go to sleep, my father told me a story to give me some courage.  The story was so good that I, and later, my sisters would often request a, “Mean Old Witch” story before bed.  As you might expect, the story ALWAYS began with:

“Once upon a time, there was a meeean oooold WITCH, and she lived in the deeeep, dark forest.  One time, (insert name of listener here) was on her way to visit her Memere (our grandmother) in New Orleans and….”

The mean old witch would always try to get us and we would always foil her plan with red velvet cake and silver bells (Hershey’s kisses.)

So, at risk of contributing to the southern cliche,  I feel that I must share this recipe because it has saved my life enumerable times and has been a part of my home life.  After all, there is no place like home.

Red velvet cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour sifted twice before measuring
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour two 8-inch baking pans.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together shortening and sugar with a mixer.
  4. Add eggs to batter.
  5. Put aside the above mixture.
  6. In a small bowl add the cocoa. Stir in the food coloring to make a paste.
  7. Add the cocoa/food coloring paste to the shortening mixture.
  8. In a separate bowl sift together flour and salt.
  9. Alternatively with the cup of buttermilk, add flour and salt mixture in small amounts to the red shortening/ egg mixture until the batter is thoroughly mixed.
  10. Dissolve 1 Tablespoon of baking soda with 1 Tablespoon of vinegar and fold in to batter. Make sure that the ingredients are well combined.
  11. Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
  12. Bake until done. (Around 35 minutes.)
  13. Allow the layers to cool before removing them from the cake pan. Spread frosting -- recipe to follow.
http://www.gumbogoddess.net/?p=214

Red velvet cake frosting

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In the top of a double boiler add the flour.
  2. Whisk the milk into the flour.
  3. Cook the mixture over a double boiler until it thickens.
  4. Allow the milk/flour mixture to cool, being careful to stir it often so that it doesn't develop a film on top.
  5. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer until fluffy.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture.
  8. Mix until of spreading consistency.
  9. Spread the icing on red velvet cake!
http://www.gumbogoddess.net/?p=214

 

 

 

The Secret of Delicious Greens

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Labor Day weekend in Louisiana was spent waiting for a storm.  Tropical Storm Lee brought mostly rain and a little wind.  One of my favorite pass times during stormy weather is cooking.  I put on a big pot of white beans and really had an en vie (craving) for some mustard greens.  Mustard greens are more readily found in the spring, but I was able to find a few bunches to throw into my cast iron pot.

 

washing mustard greens
Be sure to wash mustard greens thoroughly

When I was a child, I remember walking into a kitchen and smelling the pungent odor of the greens. (Mustard greens are related to cabbage.)  The odor and the bitter taste were characteristics that made me run!  Something changed when I was in high school and college.  I had some greens at a southern home-style restaurant that I really liked.  From then on I ate them when they were offered.  Eventually I learned to cook them.

If you’ve ever cooked spinach, you may have experienced the phenomenon of wilting.  Like spinach, mustard greens wilt, so if you start out with a pot full of leaves, once they start wilting, they take up less room. As I mentioned, mustard greens are somewhat of an acquired taste and for a while, I only cooked 1 or 2 bunches at a time because the kids –although they have ventured to taste it – have yet to enjoy mustard greens.  Now, because so many people have enjoyed my mustard greens, I always cook extra to share.

When possible, purchase greens in bundles, in the produce section or at your local produce stand.  The pre-washed greens that are cut up and bagged may look easier, but I find that the stems increase the bitterness of the greens.  Because the bagged greens usually are cut up with the stems, I avoid them.

I cook mustard greens with two pots – one for wilting and one for cooking.  The wilting pot is usually a very large stock pot.  Once they’re wilted, I move them to a cast iron pot for cooking.

It’s very important to wash the greens well.  They’re usually sandy and gritty, and you should rinse each leaf well before tearing it from the central stalk.

Here’s how I cook my mustard greens:

mustard greens in a pot
Pot of greens

Delicious Mustard Greens

Ingredients

  • 2-3 bunches of fresh mustard greens
  • 1 tablespoon of light olive oil
  • 2 cups of chopped yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of pork or turkey tasso, roughly cut up into bite-sized bits
  • 2 cups of chicken broth or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Unfasten the bunches of mustard greens and wash them thoroughly in cold water.
  2. Tear the soft green leaves from the center stalk of each leaf, and discard the center stalks.
  3. Put the leaves in a large stock pot and cover with water.
  4. Heat the pot of leaves on the stove until the water is just boiling.
  5. While the greens are heating, heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot.(I use a 12' cast iron dutch oven.)
  6. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  7. Add the tasso to the onions and garlic. Saute until the tasso has been heated thoroughly and the vegetables have started to take on the color of the tasso.
  8. Keep the tasso and vegetables on low heat until the pot of greens has come to a boil.
  9. Drain the water from the greens and remove the greens to the pot of tasso and vegetables. Stir to blend them together.
  10. Add chicken broth to cover the greens -- approximately 2 cups.
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Simmer, covered for around 30 minutes or until the flavors of the seasonings have blended and flavored the greens and the broth.
  13. Serve as a side dish in a ramekin or small bowl. Make sure to include both the greens and the liquid, which is also called, "pot liquor."
http://www.gumbogoddess.net/?p=171

Red Beans and Rice in a cast iron pot.

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Red beans in a cast iron pot
Red beans in a cast iron pot

Red beans and rice.  Rice covered with creamy, flavorful beans that melt in your mouth.  Juicy smoked sausage that bursts in your mouth with just the right amount of smoky goodness.   The beans may or may not be spicy.  Flavor and texture are key!

I was in the grocery store shopping for the ingredients to cook red beans and talking to the Loup Garou via cell phone.  I remembered that he doesn’t care for Andouille sausage…I do.  We settled for smoked sausage – it was a good choice.  That smoky flavor is what I wanted.

Traditionally, red beans are served on Monday, which was wash day in most households.  Mama would put her pot of beans on the stove and they would cook all day while she was washing the laundry — beans don’t need much tending, so they’re the perfect dish for a busy day.

There are different schools of thought about whether or not the beans should be soaked.  People who soak their beans do so to bring out the substances that cause intestinal gas.  Beans are soaked overnight and the water is drained.  According to Harold McGee’s book,  On Food and Cooking…, simply cooking them for a long time will do the job  of breaking down the offending enzymes and carbohydrates without the loss of nutrients caused by soaking and pouring out the water.

When I worked at the library, I would often cook red beans in a slow cooker.  I soaked the beans overnight, and in the morning I poured out the soaking water.  I  sautéd the vegetables, meats and seasonings, add them with the soaked beans to my slow cooker and cook them all day long.  When I would arrive home, the aroma of the cooked beans would descend upon me like a curtain of velvet.  Now that I work at home, I can cook the beans in our magic pot (a big ancient cast iron pot) — I don’t soak them overnight anymore.  I can simmer them slowly and tend them carefully by adding chicken broth regularly to the pot of beans – covering them with the broth as a mother covers her sleeping child with a blanket.

“What about your pots?” Our friend Judie asked us recently while we were discussing the blog.  She is from Virginia, and said that she did not know about cooking with cast iron pots.  She knows we cook with cast iron because she has experienced the Loup Garou’s amazing crawfish etouffee, cooked in a cast iron pot.  What she did not know is that we have a wide range of sizes – they range from a 6 inch skillet to a 25 gallon pot that we heat with a propane burner outdoors and stir with a metal spatula that looks like a boat paddle.  Cast iron pots are a traditional element of Louisiana cooking.  They’re perfect for cooking a gumbo, stew, beans or jambalaya.  In fact, we have started taking a cast iron skillet with us when we travel…just in case.  We advised Judie that if she wants to start a collection of cast iron that the best pots are the older, already seasoned pots.  Most of our pots have been handed down to us from our parents and grandparents.  One may sometimes find old cast iron pots at a flea market or garage sale.  In another post I will talk about cast iron pots and how to take care of them.

Like many Louisiana dishes, red beans are often better the next day because the seasonings have more time to soak in!

Red Beans and Rice in a cast iron pot.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of dried kidney beans, rinsed and picked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 cups of chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound pork tasso, chopped in a food processor
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4-6 cups of chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 chopped jalapeno peppers

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large cast iron or other heavy pot. Make sure that you allow room for the beans to swell.
  2. Add onion and garlic, and saute until onion is translucent.
  3. Add celery and bell pepper and saute until wilted.
  4. Add chopped tasso and mix it in with the vegetables.
  5. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and combine it with the vegetables
  6. Stir in the red beans and combine with the tasso, chicken broth and vegetables
  7. Add chicken broth or water to cover beans
  8. Stir in bay leaves and jalapeno peppers
  9. Add salt and pepper
  10. Cook for 2 hours
  11. Add smoked sausage and then cook another 2 hours
  12. As water evaporates, you may need to add more broth or water -- make sure that beans remain covered with liquid. Cook for at least 4 hours, but you may cook them longer as long as you maintain the liquid in the pot.
  13. Add scallions right before serving
  14. Serve in a bowl or in a plate over rice
  15. Suggested accompaniment -- cornbread
http://www.gumbogoddess.net/?p=159
Red beans in a cast iron pot
Red beans in a cast iron pot

PoBoys, Dr. Pepper and Zapps — a southern thing? Yes Ma’am!

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I think that some of us who grew up with regional food traditions take our good fortune for granted.  In the south, and especially in Louisiana, we eat things that raise eyebrows.  Crawfish, for instance — some people are completely grossed out by the idea of eating something that came from the mud!  Because we’re known for eating some unusual things, some visitors are hesitant to ask what they’re being offered to eat!

I’m reminded of the first time my Canadian brother-in-law, the Doc came down for a visit.  He had been dating my sister for a couple of months, long distance, and came down to Louisiana bearing lobster (which to his horror, my sister proceeded to boil in crawfish boil spices.)  It was my birthday, and I had the day off.  My sister did not have the day off, so the Doc and I had lunch.  We ate at a Baton Rouge restaurant where the menu offered, “Zapps” on the side of just about every sandwich.  After perusing the menu for a short time, the Doc raised one eyebrow, looked up, and said, “Caroline, what is a Zapp?”  I had to explain to him that Zapps were only the best potato chips in the country!  After the Doc and my sister, the Hen were married, I went to visit them in Canada.  I brought with me a bag of Spicy Cajun Craw-tators that the Hen had requested.  The doc finished them off before the day was over!

The Hen missed her Zapps, but even more than that, she missed Dr. Pepper!  It’s almost impossible for her to find Dr. Pepper where she lives!  One of our favorite treats at Memere’s house was a Purple Cow.  Crushed ice and Dr. Pepper with vanilla ice cream in a tall glass was a refreshing summer drink!

We have passed our love of Dr. Pepper on to our children.  Last weekend, as you may remember from my earlier post, Loup Garou, the Cub and I traveled to Texas to pick up the young goddesses from camp.  The goddesses are not given soft drinks or candy at camp, so Dr. Pepper is a standing order when they leave camp!  Because we usually buy the Dr. Pepper in Kerrville, Texas, we learned a secret about the Dr. Pepper in Texas!  Dublin, Texas boasts the oldest Dr. Pepper bottler in the world!  Not only that, they still use the original formula, which has real cane sugar as a sweetener, not high fructose corn syrup!  They’re celebrating their 125th birthday this year.  My grandparents told me that their mothers always had a Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and 4.  According to the Dublin Dr. Pepper website, there was a study released  in the 1920’s showing that the human body has a dip in energy at 10, 2 and 4.  Dr. Pepper advertised that their drink was perfect for those times that we need a little energy — especially at 10-2-4!

Finally — the poboy must be mentioned.  In fact, when she comes home to visit,  the Hen usually picks one up in the New Orleans airport as soon as her plane lands!   The poboy, or “poor boy” sandwich was invented in New Orleans and is always on crusty, yummy French bread.  It is a lunch tradition in Louisiana and many times includes fried or grilled shrimp, fried oysters (also called an oyster loaf) or a combination of these.  Poboys can also be made with ham, roast beef or other sandwich meats.  In a restaurant, the poboy may be ordered, “dressed” or “undressed” which basically lets the server know what you want on the sandwich — lettuce, tomato, pickle, etc. It’s believed that the poboy came about during a streetcar company strike in the late 20’s.

Last night for dinner, Loup Garou brought home a loaf of French bread, so for lunch today I had a roast beef poboy with lettuce, tomato and pepper jack cheese!  That Dr. Pepper was so good — it’s a shame we only have two left!  I wonder if the kids counted them before they left for school!

 

GG

 

 

 

 

Shrimp and grits…for 20?

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Shrimp & Grits
Shrimp and Grits

 All day Wednesday, we were talking about supper…well, we had finally decided WHAT was for supper.  Loup Garou’s brother, the California Loup Garou (CLG) had requested shrimp and grits.  I had been just dying to make shrimp and grits, and even got my mother’s friend, Renee to give me her recipe, because it’s just about the best I have ever had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have her recipe with me in Destin, so I had to consult the oracle known as the Internet!

By five o’clock, I said that we just had to decide on a number, because I still didn’t have the shrimp.  I told the Loup Garou Mum that I had invited my cousin and his wife (they lived in the area and I hadn’t seen him in YEARS!) for 7:00.  She said, “YOU WILL NEVER GET THAT DONE IN TIME.”  So there was the challenge.  We decided that the number was 20, because that is how many we cooked for Tuesday.  We had different people, but it sounded like a good number.

So, at 5:00, the Loup Garou, our friend, the Duke, and I set out on our grocery store adventure.  I really wanted stone ground grits, but we didn’t have time to go to multiple stores.  The Duke had lived in the area so I asked him where we could find peeled shrimp during 5:00 traffic.  He said that there was a seafood market near the grocery store, so we just decided to get everything in those two places, and just deal with whatever ingredients we found.

I did not find stone ground grits, or peeled shrimp.  I did, however find some very fresh medium shrimp and I had two strong men who were volunteered to peel them.

We made it home by around 5:45, and immediately got to work!  The Loup Garou chopped the veggies while the Duke peeled the shrimp.  I could not have finished on time without their help!

We fed twenty-three people that night — shrimp and grits, and the bread that my cousin brought to go with it!  Several people asked me to post the recipe, and I will, with a few important points:

 I will print the recipe that I prepared — it fed 23 people with a little left over.  If I had been at home there are several things that would have been done differently.  One of my biggest challenges was the size of the pots provided in the condo we were renting.  We made a note to create a travel box to bring on future trips.  I plan to perfect a smaller version of the recipe to post later.

This recipe was inspired by two different recipes:  Bobby Flay’s Shrimp and Grits recipe and the Spicy Shrimp and Grits recipe from Epicurious:

Ingredients:

Water —  24 cups

5 12-oz cans evaporated milk

5 cups quick  grits

1 lb packed coarsely grated sharp cheddar

1 stick unsalted butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 lb bacon, chopped

5 lbs medium shrimp peeled and deveined

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup chopped parsley

2 bunches of green onions

4 cups chopped onion

3 cups chopped bell pepper

2 14-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes

1 T hot pepper sauce

2 T granulated garlic

 

Onions and bell pepper
Chopped onions and bell pepper

Directions for grits:

  • Bring  water and evaporated milk to a boil
  • Add salt and black pepper
  • Add grits.   Cook until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese.
  • Add cayenne.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Shrimp sauce:

  • While grits is cooking, begin cooking bacon in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels.
  • Saute the onion and bell pepper in the bacon drippings until the onion is translucent.
  • Add tomatoes
  • Add garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste (remember that grits has salt, and make sure the amount of salt is balanced between the two.)
  • Add shrimp.  Saute the shrimp until just opaque in center.  Be careful not to overcook the shrimp!
  • Add lemon juice
  • Add bacon, half of green onions and half of the parsley.
  • To serve, spoon hot grits on to plates.  Top with shrimp sauce.
  • Sprinkle a little parsley and green onions on top of each serving

Note:  If you find that the liquid in the shrimp sauce is evaporating too quickly and want a little more juice, you may add some low sodium chicken broth, white wine or beer while the veggies are cooking.

Shrimp sauce
Shrimp sauce

I had a wonderful visit with my cousin, and we were able to catch up after many years.  Some of the Loup Garou Mum’s family and several friends were present.  So many of our south Louisiana traditions center around meals shared by family and friends!  I realized that family and friends were the most important ingredients in our meal that night!

xoxo,

GG

Destin and Stinky’s

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Gulf of Mexico in Destin, Florida
I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico so clear and beautiful!

 

The Loup Garou, the cub and I have recently returned from a trip to Destin, Florida, where we had a fabulous time playing on the beach, and visiting with the Loup Garou relatives who were also in town for a sort of family reunion. The day we arrived, we were somewhat discouraged. The sky was black and cloudy and the weather report predicted not much change for most of the week. Sunday arrived with rain and clouds as predicted. We had planned on grilling for supper that night, but because of the rain, Monday’s supper was moved up to Tuesday — spaghetti for an unknown number of people. We planned on twenty and that was about what we had….but I know some people had seconds.

Spaghetti Sauce
Sauce for 20

We awoke Tuesday morning to beautiful skies and calm waters! I have never seen the Gulf of Mexico look so beautiful and clear!! The weather stayed nice until the day we left. We decided on dinner out Tuesday night, and ate at a restaurant called Stinky’s Fish Camp.    The atmosphere was relaxed — casual and rustic, with a New Orleans music theme — lots of posters for New Orleans bands and music venues.  Unfortunately there was a wait — an hour and a half!!  Because there were so many of us, and because we ordered several appetizers on which to manger while we were waiting, I will share with you some recommendations.   The fried green tomatoes with crawfish etouffee and the crab cake with warm remoulade were well recommended by those who partook.   One of the best appetizers is the fire cracker shrimp!  We ordered it as an appetizer, but it was so good that the Loup Garou Mum had it as her main course!  The fire cracker shrimp is sort of a tempura shrimp with a sweet and sour glaze, and sprinkles of sesame seeds.  Others of us who had shrimp dishes found that our shrimp had the tails still on, which is not always fun, and one of us was less enthusiastic about his meal because of the pesky shells.  Both the grilled shrimp with angel hair and the fried shrimp were served tail-on, but were tasty.  The grilled shrimp with angel hair is served with sauted vegetables and a pesto sauce.  I recommend the Hot New Orleans Garlic bread as an accompaniment to the dish.   The winner entree of the evening was ordered by the Loup Garou, and was Stinky’s fish of the day.  Offered several choices of fish, Loup Garou chose the grouper and it was an excellent choice!  It was cooked to perfection — moist and flaky white grouper on a bed of stir-fried veggies that were a perfect compliment to the fish.  Because it was quite late when we left, several of us brought home leftovers to finish later.  Apparently, in Destin, if you want to eat at a restaurant for dinner, you should go somewhere where reservations are taken (Stinkys doesn’t take reservations) or be prepared for a long wait.  We loved the food there, but recommend that if you want to try it you should go early and be prepared to wait a long time!!

Wednesday night, someone suggested going out to meet other family members for dinner, and we decided that it was a much better idea to cook something and have everyone eat with us…the two questions were what to cook and how many people were coming!

The next post will be about what we decided to cook!

 

xoxo,

GG

How can you lose weight in Louisiana and still eat good food?

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The Epicurious Food Dictionary definition of a hush puppy describes it as a special dumpling traditionally served with fried catfish.  In Louisiana, I have seen hush puppies served with just about any fried seafood dish.  My first memory of them is when my parents took me to Ralph and Kacoos restaurant in False River, Louisiana.  They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.  Dark brown on the outside, and yellow deliciousness in the inside…cut open and filled with lots and lots of butter.

My husband, in preparation for the new diet that he will be starting, decided that he needed to eat as many bad carbs as he can because he is about to do without them for the near foreseeable future. Last night, we ate at a long-established Baton Rouge seafood restaurant and he ordered hush puppies as an appetizer.  His son wanted to know why they are called hush puppies.  The librarian in me just had to look it up!  Apparently there are many stories about when they were first made,  no one really knows for sure why, other than they were used in the south to quiet the dogs.  Sometimes the explanation is as simple as it seems to be.

Soon I will be presented with the challenge of keeping my husband interested in the South Beach Diet  long enough for him to lose the weight he wants to lose, and keep it off.  So, I will be working on new ways to prepare the food we love, as well as some new things that we’ve never tried.

 

I believe it’s possible to lose weight in Louisiana and still eat good food!