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Breakfast, Budget, Easy, Eggs, Local, Louisiana, Vegetables

Easy, fast and cheap: Sweet potato-spinach frittata

January 20, 2016

Frittatas are fast, affordable, easy and the perfect vessel for leftover meats, herbs and veggies. If they’re not yet in your repertoire, it’s time to give these quick-cooking, crust-free egg tarts a try. They’re versatile in flavor and in texture, and depending on the fat content of the dairy products, they can be rich and unctuous or lean and healthful. They’re a great use of Louisiana’s year-round local produce, and they can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. And, clean up is easy since you use minimal equipment.

One of my favorite flavor combinations in a frittata is sweet potato and spinach. Here’s how to make it….

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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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Celebrations, Christmas, Citrus, Fruit, Healthy, Kumquats, Local, Louisiana, Salads, Southern, Thanksgiving

Ambrosia revisited: Southern holiday fruit salad goes all natural

November 24, 2015

For the record, I’m a big fan of the mini-marshmallow.

Big fan.

One of my greatest food memories is cozying up to a marshmallow-y fruit salad — classic Southern ambrosia – that someone brought to my maternal grandfather’s after funeral gathering. I’ll never forget the way the baby marshmallows melted into the citrus juice, creating creamy goodness and a perfect comforting texture. I couldn’t stop eating it. Years later, I similarly fell in love with something called Green Stuff, a congealed cottage cheese and marshmallow fruit salad made by an old boyfriend’s mother and always served at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Yum. I love a bowl of trashy.

But as much as I savor marshmallows, and as much as I bow down to tradition, this year, I wanted an all-natural version of the classic holiday side….

Ambrosia

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Farmers Markets, Local, Louisiana, Sandwiches, Soups, Southern, Vegetables

Meatless Mains: Curried 3-squash soup with fresh tomato bruschetta

November 19, 2015

Here’s one for my vegetarian pals, or anyone who likes to incorporate an occasional meatless main course: a veggie-centric soup-and-sandwich combo made with fresh farmers market ingredients.

A couple of weeks back, I posted on 5 fall produce soup ideas, and briefly mentioned this one: roasted butternut squash soup studded with sautéed summer squash and zucchini. It showcases the range of produce available in south Louisiana right now. We can still get a lot of summer produce alongside the inaugural harvest of fall vegetables. And with fresh tomato bruschetta on the plate, too, this dinner takes advantage of Southern vegetables that refuse to be confined to just one season.

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Appetizers, Farmers Markets, Hors d'oeuvres, Local

Need a stress-free hors d’oeuvre? A cheese board is the answer.

October 22, 2015

For a fast hors d’oeuvre, nothing is tastier, easier or prettier than a cheese board assembled from a few great cheeses, some fresh bread and seasonal garnishes.

Recently, I wrote an article for 225 Magazine on “Goat Lady” Wanda Barras, the farmstead cheese maker from St. Martinville, Louisiana, who sells her award-winning Belle Ecorce goat’s milk cheeses at the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge. Barras’ cheeses are officially “farmstead,” as opposed to “artisan,” because she uses milk from her resident herd of Nubian and La Mancha goats instead of milk purchased from an outside source. Her cheeses are absolutely delicious. I picked some up this past weekend after doing a cooking demo at the Saturday market.

Recently, Barras added a few Jersey cows to the mix, and now she’s also producing delicious aged cow’s milk cheeses. She has at least three regular varieties of bleu and the Camembert (pictured here), which is vibrant and punchy. Its flavor profile and texture is so much more complex than the garden variety Camemberts in the supermarket. I’ve also got a few of her flavored chevres here, including the cracked pepper and red pepper-topped Parisian. They’re creamy and sublime.

I like to serve cheese with toasted slices of a fresh whole grain baguette, and I love to throw in some quince paste (membrillo), which goes nicely with a salty cheese like Manchego, its traditional mate, or even good Parmesan.

Don’t sweat the food styling. Thankfully, expectations for arranging a cheese board have become increasingly relaxed. Over-the-top Martha Stewart is out. The more natural and loose the platter looks, the better.

Enjoy!CheeseBoard

Boudin, Cajun, Hungry for Louisiana, Local, Louisiana, Southern

Gameday boudin balls

September 14, 2015

Boudin links are great. We all know that. But boudin balls are better, because as we also know, what pork and rice really need is to be deep-fried.

This weekend, as LSU fans across the state prepare for the game against Auburn, many of them will stock up on Cajun charcuterie’s greatest guilty pleasure. Whether you tote your boudin balls to a tailgate party in a grease-stained paper bag, or on a behemoth disposable platter gilded with parsley, boudin balls are the pinnacle of gameday finger food.

BoudinBalls2

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