Monthly Archives

February 2015

Lent, Louisiana, Shrimp

Lent: Restraint tastes good in Louisiana

February 26, 2015

Lent may be the season of restraint, but in Louisiana, it’s become 40 days of seafood-centric culinary creativity. From backyard boiled crawfish to indulgent chef’s specials on Fridays, there’s no shortage of good eats wrapped up in all that contemplation and sober self-sacrifice.

Last Friday — the first Friday of Lent this year, I dropped by Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge to check out the action. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the hot food line at Tony’s was still 25 deep. Bummer. I didn’t have time to wait for the fried catfish snack and trio of boudin balls I’d been fantasizing about driving up I-110. “Man. Look at that line,” I said to the guy bagging up my fresh shrimp. And as if it required no other explanation (even at 3:30 in the afternoon) he said, “Well, it is Lent.”

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Breakfast, Eggs, Farmers Markets, Louisiana

Editing the Egg McMuffin

February 23, 2015

It wasn’t that long ago that fresh eggs – the kind with deep golden yolks from happy chickens – were hard to come by. Our farmers market here in Baton Rouge would routinely sell out, especially if you were a sleepy straggler (like me) who liked to get there late. Now it’s much easier. More vendors are selling them at our farmers markets – and probably yours, too. And in many cities, urban poultry is commonplace. I’m usually not without locally raised eggs, and one of my favorite uses for them is in a….

homemade egg McMuffin.

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Farmers Markets, Fruit, Valentine's Day

Pavlova is an easy and beautiful dessert

February 12, 2015

This is one of those years in South Louisiana when Cupid haters get some relief since February 14 falls squarely on the final Saturday of Carnival season. No need to sweat the red roses when you can crisscross the state for bawdy floats and bead collecting. But, if a side of you loves a good schmaltzy Valentine’s dinner at home staring doe-eyed across the table at your sweetheart, I have the perfect dessert for you. It’s gorgeous, simple, comes in red and white and, yes, uses local Louisiana strawberries. Plump, juicy berries are now available from regional growers, but if you source them from the farmers market, don’t drag your feet. This past Saturday, vendors at the Red Stick Farmers Market sold out of strawberries before closing time.


The Valentine’s Day dessert I’m recommending is a pretty throwback – Pavlova. It’s a meringue-based dessert named for Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova and created in either New Zealand or Australia (still debated between the two). The meringue, we’re led to believe, is a nod to a fluffy white tutu. But more important than this dish’s whimsical elegance is that it tastes great and is easy to pull off.

There are numerous recipes for Pavlova, but this one is reliable. And, it doesn’t insist you draw a circle on a piece of parchment paper to use as a guide as you pour the meringue onto a baking sheet. You are perfectly capable of making the shape of a circle on your own, and, anyway, perfection is overrated.

Not only did the strawberries in my Pavlova come from a Louisiana farmer, but the eggs did as well. You only need the whites. Hang onto the yolks for aioli or to enrich quiche or scrambled eggs.



Serves 12

Cooking spray
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 egg whites
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
Fresh fruit for garnish

Heat oven to 275 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, spray it lightly with cooking spray and dust with cornstarch. Beat egg whites in a clean, dry bowl at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add 1 cup sugar gradually, about ¼ cup at a time, until the whites form stiff peaks and begin to look glossy. This takes about 3 minutes. Add vinegar and vanilla extract. Spread mixture onto parchment paper in the shape of a 9-inch diameter circle. As you form spread the meringue, press down slightly in the center, allowing the outer rim to be slightly higher (like you would pizza dough).


Bake for 45 minutes. Carefully remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a rack. Some cracking is normal. When it’s cool, you should be able to slide the meringue off the paper and onto a serving plate.

Beat whipping cream at medium speed until soft peaks begin to form. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and almond extract. Spread over the top of the meringue, leaving the rim. Garnish with fresh fruit. Cut into slices to serve.



Latin American Cuisine, Local, Vegetables

5 great finds….in a Latin American market

February 10, 2015

I’m always blown away by the number and variety of affordably priced gems at Latin American supermarkets. These spots are perfect for browsing, learning, getting inspired and grabbing lunch on the go. Here are 5 of my favorite items from La Morenita Meat Market in Baton Rouge, one of my go-to spots. Scroll through, and if you’re a fan of the mercado, tell me what inspires you.

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Asian, Healthy, Leftover Magic, Rice, Southern, Weeknight

Leftovers make great fried rice

February 4, 2015

How many times have you had leftover rice sitting in your fridge? For us here in south Louisiana, it’s a lot. Red beans and rice, crawfish étouffée, gumbo and other dishes can leave behind a surplus of perfectly cooked rice. But no matter where you live or what you cook, there’s no need to toss the rice that may be taking up space in your refrigerator. Combined with the roast chicken or grilled shrimp that are probably also lying in wait, those plump grains are easily converted into fried rice, a quick and convenient dish with great umami and rib-sticking flavor.

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Desserts, Southern

Orange pound cake with orange glaze

February 2, 2015

Pound cake. Yum. What self-respecting Southerner doesn’t love it? My sweet mom makes one for me and my crew every time we head to Georgia to see her. I like to pretend it’s just for me, but it’s really for my husband John. Spoiled son-in-law. We eat it as a late night snack as soon as we arrive, weary after an 8-hour drive that should have only taken 7. We eat it for dessert. We toast thick slices for breakfast (and sometimes add more butter on top). We saw off thin slivers each time we walk by the lucite cake plate to “even it out.” It’s long gone before the weekend is over.

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