Category Archives: Food

New Orleans’ grocery stores (my personal favorites)

For me, a trip into a grocery store is like a trip to the museum…no matter whether I have eaten or not, all of my senses are engaged as I go down each aisle. The grocery store is a place for me to relax as I peruse the aisle with all of the fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, and cheeses. That is often where I decide what I would like to cook next. I am like a kid in a candy store…

There are some grocery stores I love because of the variety of products that are regional, in no particular order:

Dorignac’s grocery has been serving the Greater New Orleans area since 1947 and has a plethora of products native to Louisiana, from Blue Runner beans to Pontchaloua strawberries to mirlitons to locally caught seafood. The meat department even makes its own italian meatballs, stuffed crabs, au gratins, meatloaf, and red gravy (or marinara sauce). In addition to their cheese, wine, produce, meat and deli departments, they also do catering and have a bakery department which makes wedding cakes and delicious pastries.

Langenstein’s had its humble beginnings in 1922 when it was just a small corner grocery in Uptown New Orleans. However, it has now grown in size with two full size locations in Metairie and Uptown New Orleans. They offer full service cheese and meat departments as well as specialty items local to New Orleans, as well a full service catering department.

Rouse supermarket became a reality thanks to Anthony J. Rouse, Sr. in 1960 beginning with just 4 employees in a 7,000 square foot location in Houma, Louisiana. Mr. Rouse purchased his produce from local vendors and got his fish and seafood from local fishermen. He even made his own sausages and boudin in a shed out back. Today Rouse supermarket is represented by more than 50 stores spanning three states and keeps growing.

 

Acme Oyster House: A great place for seafood and po’boys!

When I visit home I always make a trip to Acme Oyster House in Metairie, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans proper. The main location is in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Their menu is a variety of salads, po’boys, and seafood. While I have had the chargrilled oysters, as well as raw oysters, and seafood platters, which come with fried catfish, soft-shell crab, oysters and shrimp, I often get the same dish when I visit. My favorite dish is the Metry Combo…which is a po’boy with a soup or salad.

po'boy and soup

For my Metry Combo, I choose the Roast Beef Debris Po’boy with Oyster Rockefeller Soup. Roast beef debris is basically roast beef cooked until it is fall apart tender, with the debris or the shavings and accompanying gravy on po’boy bread, usually toasted. Oyster rockefeller soup is a cream based soup with spinach and oysters and topped with a fried oyster. The soup is rich and creamy with chunks of garlic and full-bodied oysters. The roast beef is tender and full of garlicky flavor with a flour-based gravy that clings to the roast beef.

In New Orleans, the sign of a good po’boy is gauged by how many napkins are used to clean up the mess. The more the better. And if gravy is dripping down your arm…well, that’s just a bonus!

Cream Cheese Crab Stuffed Mushrooms…my first attempt!

I love mushrooms…pretty much any way they come. If there was one thing I could eat everyday and not  tire of it, it would be mushrooms. Some of the ways I eat them are sautéed with steaks and atop burgers…in pasta sauces and stuffed (preferably with cheeses and crabmeat). When restaurants have them, I can’t help but place an order for their appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. At the moment, Maggiano’s Little Italy has my vote for the best stuffed mushrooms, but there are many others I have yet to explore.

I decided that it was time to go it on my own. I took to Pinterest to find a recipe. The one I found had cream cheese, crabmeat and herbs…sounded perfect. I improvised a bit based off of the following recipe:

stuffed mushrooms

Cream Cheese Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

12 Large White Mushrooms
6 oz. Whipped Cream Cheese (because it’s softer and lighter) (I used 8 oz of reg cream cheese and let it get to room temperature)
1 Tbls Cream or Milk (I used skim milk)
1/4 cup Crab meat (I used a can of lump crabmeat, to save money, which can be found near the canned tuna in the grocery)
1/4 cup green onions chopped small, use some of the greens – it’s about 5 green onions
2 garlic cloves minced (I used the minced garlic in the jar…3 teaspoons)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese + some for the tops (all I had on hand was grated which worked out well)

Directions:

1. Destem the mushrooms and place on a baking sheet or in an baking dish…make sure there is a lip around the edge to catch any liquid…also I notice that the mushrooms toppled…you may want to put a layer of dry beans down to keep them stable

2. Combine the cream cheese, milk, crabmeat, green onions, garlic, and parmesan and mix well

3. Using a small spoon (like a baby spoon if you have one hanging around), fill each mushroom evenly, be generous so that all the filling is used between the 12 mushrooms. Also, a ziploc with the tip cut off is helpful to pipe the mixture into the mushrooms
4. Top with parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown.

These are quite rich. If there is any mixture left over I would put it in a ramekin or small dish and eat with crackers. It can go either way really.

 

Crescent Roll Blackberry Rugelach…a Practice Run

I recently had a sweet and flaky pastry known as a rugelach. In all my years living in New Orleans, I have never seen one. I have lived in Austin, Texas for over four years and I have finally tried one after seeing them on my frequent trips to the grocery. A rugelach is a Jewish pastry eaten almost any time of the year and is traditionally made in the form of a crescent using dough rolled out in the shape of a triangle (Schocken, 2004). Many fillings can be used such as nuts, chocolate, raisins, or preserves. The one I tasted used raspberry preserves and it was light, flaky, and sweet!

I tried to make my own using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (which were a bit difficult to work with) because I used Blackberry jam…use preserves as they hold in the oven much better. In addition I sprinkled crushed walnuts atop the jam and rolled the dough. I baked them in the oven using the time recommended on the crescent roll package. It did not turn out as planned but they were very tasty.

My recommendation: Use preserves…and try phyllo dough. Next time I will be placing the ingredients on a few sheets of phyllo dough and rolling it in jelly roll fashion. Update to follow on that experiment.

Here is a picture of a rugelach by Yair Rand

by Yair Rand

Chicken & Chorizo Paella

Chicken-chorizo paellaMy husband has often asked me to make paella, which I have never made, often because I thought that I needed a proper paella pan and also because I thought it would be a lot of work. I decided to take on the recipe this weekend and learned that neither of my presumptions were true. First, I searched Google to see if a proper paella pan was necessary and I found the most people used a cast iron skillet as an ample alternative. Being that I already have a 12″ skillet, I was set. Next, came the ingredients, so off I went to the store.

Before getting into the details, I must note that I was inspired by the following recipe. Besides the skillet, I needed the following:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 saffron threads (I purchased the actual saffron threads from my local spice shop)
  • 2 c. short-grain white rice (I used Aborio)
  • 4 c. chicken broth (which is a 32 oz. container…there are low sodium varieties as well)
  • 1 lb. chorizo, cooked and diced
  • 1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced (I shredded a store bought rotisserie chicken which saved time and steps)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used a pint of grape tomatoes)
  • 1 c. thawed peas
  • 4 tsp. smoked pimentón (Spanish paprika)
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • salt + freshly ground black pepper (season to taste)
Preparation:
  • Over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil into the pan and sprinkle in saffron threads. Heat until fragrant
  • Add garlic, onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Cook until soft.
  • Add remaining olive oil and pour in rice. Stir well making sure all rice is coated in oil.
  • Add chicken broth.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat.
  • While the mixture was simmering, you can cook your chorizo in another pan. It finishes up in perfect time.
  • After about 15 minutes add chicken, chorizo, and peas.
  • Cook about another 30 minutes and stir often to make sure all rice is getting cooked and nothing is sticking.
  • Season with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and black pepper and serve.

Serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Blueberry Pancake!

 

I was looking for something different to do for breakfast. I never make pancakes at home so decided to try it. Like omelets, pancakes are something that can be customized and changed up. I just purchased some a pint of fresh blueberries from the store so I though I would use that. I was inspired by the following recipe.

oven baked pancake

To make the batter, the following ingredients were needed:

  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling

At the time, I was short on vanilla and baking powder, so I will admit that I used Bisquick Shake n Pour for my batter.

Preparation:

  • Take a cast iron skillet (I used a 10″) and put it in a 450 degree oven with 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, allowing it to melt
  • Once the butter has melted, pour in the batter.
  • Once the batter is spread evenly throughout the pan, sprinkle whatever berries you have on top (I used blueberries)
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until top starts to brown
  • I used a toothpick to check the inside of the pancake for doneness.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar…the finished product was so moist I barely used any syrup.

Now I am armed with vanilla and baking powder to create my next pancake from scratch.

So long to Garcia’s in Round Rock, Texas

Garcia's chips and dip

I love Mexican food. We now live in Austin proper, but when we lived in Round Rock (just North of Austin) we used to frequent this little family owned place called Garcia’s. They had all you can eat enchiladas for $7.00 some weeknights and really great nachos.

 

 

Garcia's nachos

I love when the nachos are laid out on a plate with the toppings on each chip rather than a pile of nachos with all the toppings on top with ensuring that each chip would have some flavor. Sadly, this restaurant has closed and I have been hard pressed to find another restaurant that will satisfy my cravings for nachos and enchiladas. But here are some pictures…