Wednesday, March 5, 2014
A New Orleans original
Vieux Carré means “old square” in French. It also happens to be what they called New Orleans’ French Quarter back in the day. So when Walter Bergeron invented this cocktail in the 1930s (while tending bar at a hotel in the French Quarter), it was a no-brainer to name it after the Big Easy’s oldest and most famous neighborhood.
The watering hole where Bergeron worked is now called the Carousel Bar. And yes, it resembles (and revolves like) a carnival carousel.
If you’d like to ride the painted ponies, but can’t make it to Nawlins right now, no worries. Just mix up a Vieux Carré Cocktail—and take your palate for a spin.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
New Orleans flavor in your own kitchen
The US has loads of interesting regional dishes. One of the best known is gumbo, a hearty stew-like dish with bottomless flavor. Gumbo originated in south Louisiana eons ago. Today it’s made with a wide variety of meat and seafoods, in both Cajun and Creole styles. It’s so popular (and the variations are so endless) that probably every family in Louisiana has their own unique recipe.
All gumbos are based on a long-cooked roux (the flour-and-fat mixture that also forms the basis for many gravies). When we make gravy, we usually cook the roux for only a few minutes. For gumbo, we need to cook it for at least half an hour, and usually more like 45 to 60 minutes. It’s a bit of work, yes. But the flavor payoff is worth it. And that flavor is the essence of gumbo.
Mardi Gras is coming up this Tuesday—and it’s the biggest celebration of the year in New Orleans. What better way to join in the festivities than by making a batch of gumbo for yourself? It’s like a party in a bowl.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Kinda sorta like French coleslaw
Celery root (celeriac) is a type of celery grown specifically for its root. Even if you’ve never used it, you’ve seen it in the grocery store. It’s the brown, knobby veggie that (to the uninitiated) looks like a rock. But trust me, it’s edible—with a subtle, delectable flavor.
Celeriac is better known in Europe than in the US. When shredded and served raw—as it is in this dish—it has a crisp crunch. Combine it with tangy dressing, and you have a dish that resembles coleslaw. And one that happens to be one of the iconic dishes of French cuisine.
You can serve Celery Root Rémoulade as a starter, instead of a salad. Or as a side dish to accompany most fish, meat, or poultry dishes. It even goes great with hamburgers. Or as they say in French, les hamburgers.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
A great side dish to accompany, well . . . anything
Never tasted Braised Celery? Well, you’re in for a treat. Because braising makes celery tender and sweet, revealing new depths of this often-overlooked veggie.
For this recipe, we cook celery in tomatoes (marinara sauce, actually), then finish it with a layer of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. We end up with a dish that’s almost a gratin, but not quite.
Braised Celery makes a perfect sidekick for grilled/roasted meat, fish, or poultry. Or anything, really. And its flavor is lip-smacking good. So this might be the perfect time to wear your “Kiss the Cook” apron.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Pecorino Romano perks up this fresh and healthy delight
Looking for a dish with crisp, sunny flavor—one that can make you forget winter’s gloom? This classic Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad is just the thing.
Mushrooms and celery always play nicely together when dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. But mix in some Pecorino Romano cheese, and look out flavor explosion!
This salad takes just minutes to make. So it’s perfect for a weekday meal. But it’s also delectable enough for a weekend dinner party. Don’t you just love it when recipes are that accommodating?
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Celery takes the lead role in this hearty dish
We all have celery in the fridge, right? Usually a wilted, half-used head buried deep in the vegetable bin.
Most of us wouldn’t even think of using celery as a main ingredient. But I say it’s about time this shy veggie got some love.
Our Celery, Corn, and Bacon Chowder highlights the flavor of celery—in a warming comfort food. And with the cold, snowy weather we’ve been having in most of the US lately, I need all the warming comfort I can get.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
This simple, lemon-sauced dish screams “special occasion”
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be looking for a festive main dish. Preferably one that’s impressive, but still easy to prepare. A piccata made with scaloppine is just the thing.
You could use veal scaloppine, of course. But turkey and chicken have plenty of flavor—and they cost a lot less. Plus, your supermarket’s meat case probably stocks pieces of turkey breast already sliced into “scaloppine” (making this dish even easier to prepare).
So if you’re still pondering your Valentine’s Day menu, fret no further. You rang—turkey piccata answered.