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Louisiana

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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Louisiana, My Book Shelf, New Orleans, The Writing Life

The Book Shelf: A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook fuses food and fiction

November 18, 2015

“May I select my own?” Ignatius asked, peering down over the top of the pot. In the boiling water the frankfurters swished and lashed like artificially colored and magnified paramecia. Ignatius filled his lungs with the pungent, sour aroma. “I shall pretend that I am in a smart restaurant and that this is the lobster pond.”

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

Few books capture real New Orleans and its quirks like the Pulitzer Prize-winning, A Confederacy of Dunces. Set in the early 1960s, the satirical novel covers the misadventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, an overeducated bombast who can’t seem to move out of his childhood bedroom, and who writes manifestos and suffers from chronic flatulence.

I first read this book when I was considering moving to Louisiana shortly after college. At the time, I was living in Miami, and had been dating a guy who lived in Baton Rouge. Once on a visit, I found the novel on his bookshelf and gave it a whirl. It was deliciously insane, and even though I didn’t fully get the cultural references, I could not put it down.

Fast forward to this year, 2015 — the 35th anniversary of the book’s publication by the LSU Press. I had indeed moved to Baton Rouge way back when, and while that particular relationship didn’t last, I stayed. Louisiana became my home. I re-read the book this spring, and it was full-circle fun. I had a completely new appreciation for “jambalaya with shrimps” and Lucky Dogs.

One of the reasons I read it again this year was because my friend and fellow LSU Press author, Cynthia LeJeune Nobles, was finishing her A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook (LSU Press).

I couldn’t wait to see what she came up with.

(Update: Cindy was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition on Dec 4. Check out the interview here.)

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Appetizers, Celebrations, Louisiana, LSU, Tailgating

LSU-Bama: Embrace your inner corn dog

November 5, 2015

Somehow, we earned the corn dog nickname. There are so many other things we creatively devious LSU fans could have been called, so many other foods we’re obsessed with and probably smell like…but corn dogs…hmm. Always been a head scratcher. Alrighty. Let’s just go with it. Here’s to embracing your trashy, Bama-hatin’, carnival lovin’ corn dog self this weekend over fine specimens made in the comfort of your own home. It is an away game, after all, robbing LSU fans of the opportunity to cook up elephant-themed delicacies outside Tiger Stadium, which have actually been known to stump aghast internet columnists.

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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.

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Crab, Local, Louisiana, Seafood

Succulent, classic Crab Louie salad is fast and easy

September 8, 2015
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A friend sent us this picture from a crab boil underway over Labor Day weekend! He picked up fresh crabs from Hammond, Louisiana, and boiled them during a beach weekend in Destin, Florida.

The blue crab harvest is fully underway here in South Louisiana, and many friends I talked to over the weekend were planning Labor Day crab boils. Yum! As much as I love crawfish, shrimp and oysters, crab — I have to admit — is my all time favorite local seafood. It would be on my desert island list, and my death row last supper.

After our daughter’s cross country meet Saturday morning, we picked up a couple dozen boiled crabs over from Tony’s Seafood for our family of five, and they couldn’t have been tastier. Traditionalists say if you harvest crabs after a full moon, they’re at their fullest, so I guess we were still benefiting from the full moon a week earlier.

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Cajun, Crawfish, Hungry for Louisiana, Local, Louisiana, Southern, Weeknight

A weeknight saved by crawfish tails

September 3, 2015

Here it is early September in South Louisiana, and crawfish season seems like a thing of the past. Backyard boils, Sunday etouffée and rural crawfish festivals are fixtures of spring, not fall. But let’s not be too hasty. One-pound packages of Louisiana crawfish tails are still available in many independent grocery stores in South Louisiana, and they should be around for another few weeks, says my friend Blaise Calandro III of Calandro’s Supermarkets here in Baton Rouge. In fact, it’s only between November and February when local tails are not commercially available.

So stock up for yourself Louisiana peeps, and freeze some for your out-of-state friends, because in addition to being full of flavor, crawfish tails are one of easiest and most convenient ingredients around, especially if you’re a working parent. I can attest. Earlier this week, I found myself trying to pull together dinner at the absolute last minute, and a pound of frozen crawfish tails saved me.

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