Monthly Archives

December 2015

Celebrations, Christmas, Corn, Crab, New Year's, Seafood, Soups

Succulent and creamy Emeril’s corn and crab bisque just right for New Year’s Eve

December 29, 2015

There are two kinds of New Year’s Eve participants: those who go out, and those who stay home.

I’m generally planted in the latter camp….have been for years….and if you’re like me, there’s a good chance you’re casting about for something special to serve for dinner, something that screams romance, friendship, family or just final decadence before resolutions come home to roost.

I’m here to recommend one of my all time favorite soups, Emeril’s corn and crab bisque. Done right, with its perfect balance of dairy and stock, its tender corn and succulent jumbo lump crabmeat, this soup delivers elegance in a way that others don’t. I’ve served it as a main course and as a starter, and each time I’ve placed it on the table, it’s earned rave reviews.

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Appetizers, Celebrations, Christmas, Hors d'oeuvres, Local, Louisiana, New Year's, Seafood, Southern

Marinated seafood: West Indies salad and pickled shrimp perfect for parties

December 28, 2015

The best party dishes are ones that fit two criteria: you can make them ahead and serve them at room temperature. And marinated seafood, like classic West Indies salad and southern pickled shrimp, fits them both. Think of them as a sort of Gulf Coast ceviche, even though you’re beginning with cooked seafood.

The Mobile, Alabama favorite, West Indies Salad, is made with crabmeat, minced onions and an oil and vinegar solution, and Charleston-born pickled shrimp, involves fresh boiled shrimp riding it out in a tangy marinade for a couple of days before serving. They’re delicious crowd pleasers that offer a refreshing counterpoint to party buffets where the rest of the line-up can be heavy.

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Healthy, One Pot, The Family Life, Weeknight

5 ways to perk up chili night

December 21, 2015

Of all the one-pot dishes you might make this holiday season, I’ll argue that a big ol’ batch of chili is the easiest. There’s no roux involved. It doesn’t require sourcing or cleaning seafood. It’s fun to serve with a topping bar. And it’s universally beloved by kids and adults.

Chili is so fast and easy that sometimes I make it too much, so I’ve been working on keeping it interesting.

Here are five ways to enliven your chili habit as you head into frenzied holiday entertaining. Enjoy.

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Citrus, Desserts, Fresh produce, Fruit, Kumquats

Fresh Kumquat Cake a Great Use of Winter Fruit

December 10, 2015

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, kumquats are in big supply in southern Louisiana and other parts of the country right now, overloading backyard branches and appearing in the produce aisle in pint-sized containers. According to the LSU AgCenter, we grow two kinds of kumquats in Louisiana, the oblong Nagami and the rounder, sweeter Meiwa.

I have a couple of Meiwa kumquat trees in my herb garden, and every year, I struggle to use the crazy abundance of fruit that won’t stop coming. They’re like sharks teeth. Pick one, and it seems like a dozen more are right behind it in varying stages of ripeness, ready to take its place.

This simple kumquat cake is moist and flavorful and is a great way to use 2 cups of fresh fruit.


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Cajun, Crawfish, My Book Shelf, The Writing Life

How Louisiana got to TV writer and “Plantation Shudders” author Ellen Byron

December 8, 2015

Television writer and novelist Ellen Byron is a Louisiana junkie.

The New York native and Tulane University graduate, who now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter, can’t get the Bayou State out of her system, admitting that she sheds tears of joy when she visits New Orleans and tears of sadness when she leaves. In 2015, Byron sunk all that residual Louisiana passion into a new mystery novel, Plantation Shudders, a fun and breezy jaunt with nods to classic inn murders (which guest is really the baddie?), except told in modern day Cajun Country. The second in the series, Body on the Bayou, will be released in September 2016.


I especially appreciated the heroine’s name, Maggie, short for Magnolia, bringing back memories of me trying to buffalo college friends in Washington, DC, that my real name was a southern flower and not the truer, dowdier Margaret.

Ellen and I discovered each other recently, and had a great time connecting and sharing notes as writers inspired by Louisiana. I picked up her book and read it over one weekend, relishing her depictions of my zany adopted home. Here’s some of what we discussed.

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