Month: June 2015

Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

My daughter had mononucleosis the last two weeks of the school year.  This certainly caused a lot of stress in our home.  I spent quite a lot of time on the phone with teachers and counselors trying to get extensions, exceptions and retakes arranged.  As a result, I was given the unique task of videotaping my daughter’s culinary I final.  You may think, “How fun!”, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

I have taught both my daughters to cook, but not in a formal, culinary, way.  It was always, watching me cook, or making some “family” recipe or something special. I have never approached teaching my daughters to cook  from an instructor perspective, but now I was being asked to watch another teachers work.  It was eye opening to say the least.

I do not want to admonish the teacher, at all.  I have never taught 40 kids at one time. Nor do I ever want to. I spent the hour of videotaping, biting  my tongue.  I wanted to rescue her from mistakes.  I held my breath, terrified that she would cut her finger off, as she moved the knife towards her, rather than away.  Did she wash her hands as often as she should have? Did she change cutting boards? Is that dice bite sized? It was daunting!

#2

By the end of this week, she had received her grade and ended the year with an B in the class (good thing!) and a high B on the final.  It just goes to show that, as parents, we are much harder on our kids.  I am proud of the work my daughter did.

The recipe she cooked was for Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice.  This project was originally assigned as a group project.  Since my daughter wasn’t in class, the recipe was written without her.  When I tasted the recipe, I thought it was good, but could use a little refinement. The photo is of the original recipe, then I offer my changes.  Happy cooking and remember to practice your knife skills!

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Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Ingredients
Servings: dinner entrees
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over a medium high heat; add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring. Reduce heat to medium flame and add tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with cayenne, curry, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. Stir in reserved tomato juices.
  4. Add the chicken, potates, and stock; Simmer and stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon Chicken mixture over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve Hot
Recipe Notes

There should be plenty of juices that have thickened from the potatoes.

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New Orleans or N’awlins

Oh my goodness! Over Memorial Day weekend while you were barbecuing, crab boiling or just laying back, I was eating my way through New Orleans!  It was oh so yummy.  lucky you I have taken pictures, reviewed everything and even dug out an old recipe to share with you.  So sit back, loosen your waist band and start reading.

I started the weekend at John Besh’s restaurant Luke. We were able to book the back for our party and the eating ensued. We started with fresh P&J oysters, the crispy brussels sprouts, flamenkuchen and the crab hush puppies. While I thought they were all delicious, the “hush puppies” were more fritters than hush puppies. For dinner we had the Luke Burger, Shrimp and Grits, the Crab BLT, and the market fish.  The grits were amazing!  They were just the right amount of creamy with enough texture to feel the “grit” of the corn. The desserts were okay but to be honest we were so full, it didn’t matter.

Red Fish Meuniere, with crabmeat
Red Fish Meuniere, with crabmeat
Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits
Soft Shell Crab BLT
Soft Shell Crab BLT

The next day we went for a airboat ride and saw the alligators so it seemed only right that we went to “Daisy Dukes” and had an alligator po’ boy.

Wally Gator
Wally Gator

It was a good thing we did because we were having hotel banquet food.  It was okay as hotel food goes, but we were left unsatisfied at the end of the night.  It was late so of course we headed over to Cafe du Monde for beignets.  It turned out to be the great powdered sugar war of 2015!  Beignets are absolutely heavenly! A couple of tips: eat the beignets hot, they lose something as they cool. Have the chicory coffee.  You can get it hot or iced and do the cafe au lait.  Delicious!

Jambalaya
Print Recipe
A Louisiana Creole dish that came from the Spanish and French influences in New Orleans. It is very similar to a Spanish Paella.
Servings
11 cups
Servings
11 cups
Jambalaya
Print Recipe
A Louisiana Creole dish that came from the Spanish and French influences in New Orleans. It is very similar to a Spanish Paella.
Servings
11 cups
Servings
11 cups
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the chicken fat over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onions, 1 cup of celery,and 3/4 cup green bell peppers. Cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be a rich dark brown, but not burnt.
  3. Add the hame, sausage and remaining onion, celery and green bell peppers. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaves, seasoning mix and Tabasco. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn the heat to high, fold in rice until well mixed. Add the stock, cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Return to medium heat and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread and cold beer. Enjoy!
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New Orleans Tastebud Tours

While I was in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of doing a walking tour of food and history.  We used a company called Tastebud Tours and they were great.  Here’s a little food and history lesson for you.

We met at Little Vic’s to start our tour. Lindel was our tour guide and she certainly knew her stuff! She is a native New Orleans who just happens to be ahi story teacher for her day job. It was great to listen to her tell us he history with such passion.

Muffuletino at Little Vic's.  They use a cabbala bread.
Muffuletino at Little Vic’s. They use a cabbala bread.

Little Vic’s was chosen for their muffuletino. It their version of a traditional muffuletta. These sandwiches are usually layered with mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham and provolone topped with an olive spread. Long story short the owner of Central Grocery, in New Orleans, noticed his patron struggling today the ingredients separately while balancing on a rate. They really didn’t have time to relax since they had to get back to work. He suggested slicing the bread open and making a sandwich. The thick braid bread they used proved hard to bite into as a sandwich. The Grocer created a new bread, called muffuletta that had the flavor they were used to but a softer consistency. The olive sale was key because they would often let the sandwich sit in the sun to warm the cheese. A mayonnaise based dressing would spoil but the olive spread just gets better with the heat.
We had a quick history lesson on the difference between a Cajun and Creole. Cajuns are Acadians. They descended from the French settlers. With all the different accents, it got boiled down to Cajun. The Creoles were more descendant from the Spanish settlers and there was a great Caribbean influence, as well.

Jambalaya!
Jambalaya!

Next we were off to The Coffee Pot for some authentic jambalaya. It is important to note that the super spicy food often associated with New Orleans cuisine, is not necessarily an accurate representation of what really happens there. The heat is much more subtle and should hit your mouth just at the back of your tongue. The recipe I shared in my previous post I’d from Paul Prudhomme and is a little spicier. It is tomato based.
Next we tried Gumbo. Gumbo originated as an African soup that was cooked up by the slaves in New Orleans. On their day off they would go up to Congo Square to congregate culturally. This is where jazz started, too. Typically, they would bring what they had been given by their owners/employers to throw into the mix. While there are many versions. The African version uses okra as a thickener. We tried both a tomato base and fish based. I personally liked the tomato base better but they are equally great.
We made or way to Johnny’s for Po’ Boys. These sandwiches are traditionally beef,but are a pretty simply composed submarine sandwich. They get there name from a sandwich shop that was owned by two men that used to be streetcar conductors. When the streetcar conductors went on strike in 1929, the former colleagues would come in to the shop and asked if they had a free sandwich for a “poor boy”. Withe dialect in New Orleans it wasn’t long before it was shortened. We were served traditional roast beef Po’ Boys. They were delicious! The line out the door is clearly an indicator of the popularity and reputation of Johnny’s.

Fun at Cafe Beignet!
Fun at Cafe Beignet!

Our last stop was at Cafe Beignet, just off Bourbon Street for just that, beignets!! They were delicious.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of New Orleans. I did!!!!

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