Browsing Category

Southern

Louisiana, On the Road, Southern, Travels

Spider webs and pepper mash: My trip to Avery Island

September 1, 2015

Throughout my childhood, my paternal grandmother was constantly armed with a bottle of Tabasco. Bland food was the enemy, and there was a lot of it around back then in restaurants, the occasional hospital room and church suppers. In her mind, it all needed correction. She’d reach into her purse for a standard issue 60 ml. bottle of Tabasco, and start dousing. Fast food fries would go from pale beige to orange in a matter of seconds.

That tradition stayed with me when I left Georgia at 18 for college in Washington, D.C. This was forever ago, when dining halls produced food that was crazy tasteless, and I took great pleasure in taking out my own secured bottle of Tabasco. Maybe all that Tabasco love was foreshadowing, because I ended up going to graduate school at LSU soonafter, and then finding myself never able to leave Louisiana.

But in all these years of food writing from Baton Rouge, I’d never written about Tabasco. I was thrilled a few months back when I got a magazine assignment on the McIlhenny family that granted me a behind-the-scenes tour of Avery Island and the Tabasco plant.

What an incredible institution this condiment is.

TabascoViewfromMarshHouse

Continue Reading…

Farmers Markets, Local, Louisiana, Okra, Southern, Summer Produce, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Roasted okra will win you over

August 4, 2015

When you start seeing okra in local groceries or farmers markets here in South Louisiana, you know the summer harvest is petering out. Only the hardiest crops – okra, eggplant and peppers – hang around in Louisiana’s unique brand of oppressive August heat. Okra, in particular, seems to close out the summer, the last blast of freshness until the fall harvest emerges.

So how to put okra to good use? Sure, fried is classic and absolutely delicious. Stewed down with tomatoes is an essential part of the Louisiana culinary roster. Pickled appeals to the masses and is perfect with charcuterie or a Bloody Mary. But for everyday enjoyment, there is no tastier, healthier, faster or easier way to prepare okra than by roasting it in a hot oven. Thanks to my pal, the author and radio host, Poppy Tooker, for recommending this to me a few years ago over lunch.

Continue Reading…

Eggplant, Farmers Markets, Local, Louisiana, Southern, Summer Produce, Vegetables

Sicilian caponata a perfect use for summer eggplant

August 4, 2015

Sicily has long influenced South Louisiana cuisine, a trend that started when large waves of immigrants sailed from Palermo to New Orleans throughout the late 19th Century. Settling in the Crescent City, as well as communities like Independence and Baton Rouge, those Sicilian immigrants (many of them becoming grocers) forever impacted the way we eat here in the Bayou State. Ahhh…muffalettos. St. Joseph’s altars draped in fig cookies. Red gravies simmering endlessly at family stoves. The Sicilian specialty caponata, while not as high profile, is also a dish that was prepared in Louisiana with ease. Trendier today than ever, it’s a perfect use for that late-summer local beauty, eggplant.

Continue Reading…

Desserts, Fresh produce, Fruit, Peaches, Southern

Best homemade ice cream flavor in summer? Answer: peach.

July 20, 2015

Homemade peach ice cream is a tradition across the South, and it’s an incredible treat to savor before the peach season fully slips away. Growing up in Georgia, I have a soft spot for peaches and lots of memories of fresh, churned ice cream with peaches front and center. This was THE flavor ice cream to make in the summer, and I know plenty of people for whom this is still an important seasonal ritual.

As as kid, I didn’t fully appreciate it. In fact, I remember preferring flavors like Rocky Road or “Chocolate Ripple” or something studded with cookie dough or Snickers bars. Peach ice cream was boring and for grown-ups. I’ve come full circle, and thank God my kids have better taste than I did.

Continue Reading…

Cajun, Corn, Local, Louisiana, Seafood, Shrimp, Southern, Vegetables

Corn macque choux inspired by my pal Jay on The Next Food Network Star

June 24, 2015

MOTH_Jay-Ducote.jpg.rend.sni4col.landscape

We’re rooting hard in Baton Rouge for our own Jay Ducote to take top honors on The Next Food Network Star, and one of his recipes on the show inspired dinner at my house this week. Jay is a friend and fellow blogger/food writer (among other talents), and it’s been fun to watch him soar on a national level on both Cutthroat Kitchen and now possibly as Food Network’s next big thing. A few episodes into the annual series, he’s showing his natural ability to gab and connect, and he’s playing to his strengths as a chef who favors big Southern flavors. The Cajun tasso macque choux he prepared for a large crowd during the first episode earned kudos – and it prompted me to make my own version.

Continue Reading…