Breakfast, Hungry for Louisiana

4 crazy fast and easy weekday breakfast ideas

August 31, 2016
Breakfast_fast_proteinpack

The weekday breakfast is like your taxes – required, but a big pain to get over the finish line. Despite what we’re told about its nutritional and social importance, it’s often a fleeting and unsatisfying moment in which food is unceremonious forced onto the plates (or into the hands) of young people as their parents suck down coffee and shoo everyone out the door. And now, here across south Louisiana, the daily sprint is further compounded by a post-flood reality with epic traffic, upended schedules and temporary housing. There’s a lot of stress out there.

So this week, I’m offering four easy breakfast dishes that are intended to provide some inspired calm. Yummy and healthy, they intentionally use minimal ingredients, and part or all of them can be put together the night before.

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Hungry for Louisiana, Louisiana

Donated meals are love letters to Louisiana flood victims

August 24, 2016
RedBeansFlood

No surprise, food quickly became a centerpiece of our collective response to the epic flooding that began here in the greater Baton Rouge area on August 12. Chefs and home cooks in a position to help sprang into action, furiously preparing meals for family, friends and strangers who were leveled by a weather event that seemed to have come out of nowhere. In those first few days of the catastrophe, with many roads closed, businesses shuttered, and homes swallowed up by water, restaurateurs who didn’t flood cooked thousands of meals they brought to shelters and to affected neighborhoods. There was no great plan — just urgent, heartfelt action. Continue Reading…

Farmers Markets, Hungry for Louisiana, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Vegetables

Vegetable gratin a mouthwatering meatless main

August 10, 2016
TianPlated

I’m not a vegetarian, but I make it a point to go meatless at least one night a week. It’s a great way to force yourself out of that confining protein-starch-veggie template that lords over the dinner menu and probably has us eating more than our fair share of meat. It also guarantees you enjoy new flavor combinations since vegetarian cooking so often relies on fresh herbs and aromatic vegetables to impart that umami punch.

One of my favorite veg-centric dishes is a savory vegetable gratin, a layered ‘veggie bake’ if you will that’s also referred to as a tian. While it’s packed with healthy fresh vegetables, it’s got a gooey layer of melted Gruyere on top, and a layer of tender potatoes and onions on the bottom, both of which give it main course heft. Yum.

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Cucumbers, Farmers Markets, Fresh produce, Hungry for Louisiana, Squash

Get Pickled! Quick refrigerator pickles for the cucumber bounty

June 24, 2016
QuickPickles1

If you have an abundance of summer produce, but the thought of traditional canning sounds daunting, this recipe is the answer. Quick pickles are an easy and flavorful use of a variety of seasonal vegetables, but they work especially well with items that are in full swing right now: cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Throw in sliced onion and peeled garlic cloves for extra flavor and hot peppers for added punch.

The method couldn’t be easier. You’re simply creating a straightforward brine with vinegar, water, sugar and salt on the stovetop, turning off the heat and adding thinly sliced vegetables. Transfer everything into an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of hours and you’ve got an incredible bread-and-butter pickle that will enhance a range of dishes.

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Appetizers, Beans/Legumes, Farmers Markets, Hungry for Louisiana, Tomatoes

Bruschetta with Black-eyed Pea Hummus and Fresh Summer Tomatoes

June 17, 2016
Bruschettawithtomatoes&BEPeahummus

Mid-June. Oh man, there’s no better time of year when it comes to fresh foods here in the South. We wait all year for the true taste of tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, blueberries, peas, beans and other local treats, and when they start pouring in from farms, it’s a mad rush on putting them to good use.

In this summery appetizer, sweet, juicy local tomatoes are perched on toasted bread slices that have been slathered with garlicky black-eyed pea hummus. It’s a great way to start the night, and it’s built on layers of seasonal flavors. Look for fresh black-eyed peas from local farmers, but frozen ones work well, too.

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Farmers Markets, Hungry for Louisiana, Vegetables

Two bean salad with lemon-Dijon vinaigrette

May 17, 2016
BeanSalad2

Fresh green beans are one of my favorite vegetables, in part because they’re one of the few that all three of my kids like. It’s crazy how hard that is. And now that beans are in season* and emerging from numerous regional farms, I’m having a field day cooking with them.

Frequently, I blanch a batch and put them in a food storage bag in the fridge, taking out handfuls a couple of times during the week to sauté for dinner. I love them tossed in a hot pan with olive oil and fresh garlic, then doused with a little soy sauce and topped with basil slivers. Or sometimes I add lemon peel, toasted almonds and fresh chives. They’re amazing with Hollandaise, and I love them served as an hors d’oeuvre with spicy peanut sauce. These guys are versatile.

This week, I’m combining fresh, blanched green beans with gorgeous wax beans, also in season, and using them as a salad with fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta and a homemade lemon-Dijon vinaigrette.

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