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Recipe: Tortilla Española

Tortilla Epanola

Tortilla Española

Tortilla Española, also known as a Spanish omelette, is a thick egg omelette made with potatoes and fried in olive oil.

You can eat it hot or cold. For breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. The thickness of the omelette varies, but I made mine on the thin side due to the size of the skillet I used.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, sliced
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the the onions and salt. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender (about 20 more minutes).
  3. Drain all but two tablespoons of the oil and transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
  4. Wipe the skillet clean.
  5. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs, paprika, salt and pepper together and stir in the vegetables.
  6. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet over medium-low heat.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook until set (about 6 minutes).
  8. Loosen the sides with a spatula, place a plate facedown over the skillet and invert the tortilla.
  9. Heat remaining oil in the skillet over low heat. Slide in the tortilla (cooked side up). Cook for 3 more minutes then slide back onto plate.
  10. Cool slightly before serving.

Obviously, inverting the tortilla is the hardest part of this recipe. It really helps to make sure all of the potatoes are cooked into the egg mixture so that the Tortilla Española holds together.

I may be in the minority, but I prefer this dish served chilled. It goes great with a glass of white wine.

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4 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Brunch, Cookin', Recipes

 

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The ABCs of Festival Season in Louisiana

French Quarter Festival

French Quarter Festival Sign

It’s festival season in Louisiana! For those unfamiliar with what exactly this means, it means it’s time to indulge in good food, listen to amazing music, hang out with great friends and just celebrate Louisiana life. Although we generally do this all year long. In fact, festivals go on in every month down here.

To put you in the festival spirit, I’m sharing my Louisiana festival knowledge (and I’ve learned a lot from researching this post) — from Abita to Zydeco.

Abita — One of the best beers to come from Louisiana. It’s no surprise it’s readily available at most of the festivals in the state. More importantly, festival season coincides with Abita Strawberry Harvest season — a beer brewed with local strawberries.

Bands — From local musicians to international acts, bands from all over come to play the festivals of Louisiana.

Crawfish — It’s no secret we love us some crawfish in Louisiana. The food reflects that. From crawfish pie to crawfish bread to just plain boiled crawfish, you can’t go to a festival without ordering something crawfish-related. And in case you’re wonder, there’s a whole festival dedicated to mudbugs called the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.

Crawfish Gumbo

Crawfish is always popular in Louisiana.
Photo by Jon Sullivan

Daiquiris — Festival fun aside, it gets hot. And there’s no better way to cool off than with a frozen daiquiri. Bonus points if it’s made using real fruit.

Etouffee — A delicious Louisiana dish made with seafood or chicken, rice and a spicy gravy. A cousin to jambalaya. You’ll probably find both at any festival you attend.

Flags — Some festivals are so packed you have to make your own meeting point. That’s when a flag comes in handy. Just set up your chairs, attach your flags and tell your friends to gather under your flag. The more unique it is, the easier you are to find.

Gueydan — Every year in August, the folks of Gueydan hold their annual Duck Festival.

Hot Sauce — You’ll find it at every festival food vendor. Whether it’s Tabasco, Crystal, Louisiana or another brand, don’t forget to add it to your food. And yes, there is a Cajun Hot Sauce Festival.

Steamboat Natchez

Cruise around the Mississippi River aboard the Steamboat Natchez during French Quarter Festival or JazzFest.

International — Louisiana festivals aren’t just for locals, they attract visitors from around the globe. Lafayette even hosts a Festival International de Louisiane.

JazzFest — The biggest and probably most well-known festival in Louisiana. For two weekends each year, the New Orleans Fairgrounds are transformed into a humongous festival with a variety of musicians, tons of food vendors and lots of arts and crafts. JazzFest regularly attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

Kids — All the Louisiana festivals are fun for the whole family.

Lecompte — Known for the Lecompte Pie Festival, this town’s festival has my favorite festival slogan: “A slice of Louisiana is waiting for you.”

Money — Get out your wallet. Festivals are fun, but they aren’t all that cheap. Especially when you want to try a lot of dishes and have a few drinks. Most are free for admission, but if not, that will set you back as well.

Natchitoches — Home of the Natchitoches Christmas Festival. Lots of lights and holiday cheer at this festival. If it looks/sounds familiar, you may recognize it from the movie Steel Magnolias.

Oysters — Another of Louisiana’s treasured foods. Shuck ’em and enjoy them on the halfshell or find them cooked into a gumbo.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake with fresh Louisiana strawberries at the Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival.

Pontchatoula — Home of the best strawberries on Earth so it makes since that Pontchatoula is host to the Pontchatoula Strawberry Festival. You’ll find strawberry drinks and desserts galore at this one.

The Queens — A festival isn’t complete without a beauty queen to reign over it. This is the South after all.

Rayne — Home of my favorite festival theme: the Rayne Frog Festival. When you’re at a festival about frogs, how can you not have a good time?

Shrimp — Seafood is king in Louisiana and shrimp are at the top of the seafood list at most festivals. There’s even a Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City.

Tevas — These ugly-ass sandals are all over the place at most festivals. If you have a pair, my apologies, but they just aren’t flattering — on anyone.

Umbrella — Sure, you may need it in case it rains, but what you really need it for is to generate shade of some sort.

Variety — You’ll find this in every aspect of a festival. The music, the food, the people, the theme, the rides. Most festivals have a little something for everyone.

Watermelon — Is there a better summer fruit? No wonder the town of Farmerville holds the Watermelon Festival every year.

Xylograph — X is always a hard one, but a xylograph is a wood carving. You’ll find them at most arts and crafts areas of festivals. Take home one with your name on it…literally.

Yambilee — Sweet potatoes are also abundant in Louisiana and Yambilee in Opelousas showcases the bright orange tubules.

Zydeco — The famous Cajun music is guaranteed to be playing at a stage near you when you attend a Louisiana festival.

Do yourself a favor and visit Louisiana and one of these fine festivals. I promise you’ll have a great time.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Livin'

 

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Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Roasted red peppers are delicious no matter what dish you place them in (within reason). They’re great on sandwiches, pizzas, in salads, you name it. Another way they can be put to great use is in soup.

I chose to make a simple Roasted Red Pepper Soup that focuses on the peppers rather than other ingredients (like potatoes, carrots, etc.). To complement the red peppers, I used cream cheese to give the soup a nice creamy texture.

Be advised that you will need a broiler to roast the red peppers.

Ingredients:

  • 6 red peppers, cored, stemmed and halved
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 6 oz. cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme (plus more for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers


Directions:

  1. Set broiler to high.
  2. On a foil-lined baking sheet, place red pepper halves skin side up and broil for 15 minutes or until skin is nearly all blackened.
  3. Remove peppers from the oven and place in a large plastic bag (even Ziploc), seal and let steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in large stockpot, saute onion and garlic with olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.
  5. Once peppers have steamed, puree the peppers and onion-garlic mixture in a food processor or blender. Work in batches if necessary.
  6. Return puree to stockpot and boil over medium until bubbling.
  7. Add cream cheese, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Heat until bubbling and cream cheese is melted.
  8. Serve warm and add hot sauce if desired.

Red peppers are known for their antioxidants and nutritional benefits. This recipe can be healthier if you use low-fat or reduced-fat cream cheese.

If the soup is too runny, you can add more cream cheese to thicken it up or continue cooking until some of the chicken stock has reduced.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Cookin', Recipes, Soups/Stews

 

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Recipe: Chicken Taco Towers

Chicken Taco Towers

Chicken Taco Towers

While I won’t go as far as to say chicken tacos are boring, they just need a little extra pizazz. So I decided to mix it up by creating some vertical tacos or what I call Chicken Taco Towers.

The key to successful Chicken Taco Towers is a biscuit cutter or a round cuter of some sort. Not only will it be necessary to cut the tortillas uniformly, but it will help you stack things.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and dried
  • 4 tortillas, corn or flour
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese and/or cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken Taco Tower Close-Up

Chicken Taco Tower Close-Up


Directions:

  1. Using the biscuit cutter, cut circles into tortillas. (If you don’t want to discard the remnants, I would suggest cutting them into bite-sized pieces, sprinkling with salt and baking on baking sheet in an even layer at 400F to make some tortilla chips.)
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and sauté chicken pieces, lime juice, chili powder, onion, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until all chicken pieces are cooked and/or register 185F on a meat thermometer.
  3. Once chicken is cooked and tortilla circles are ready, you can begin assembling the Chicken Taco Towers. Using the biscuit cutter and starting with a tortilla circle, layer beans, chicken, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato.
  4. Be sure to move the biscuit cutter up as you stack and press down the layers firmly before adding another one. I experimented and found the beans best on the bottom. Also, I highly recommend adding chicken with cheese for a melty effect. And, I would save the lettuce for last so it doesn’t get too compressed.

If this assembly is too fancy for you, there’s nothing wrong with making traditional chicken soft tacos. The flavor will be virtually the same. Honestly, I was testing out using my biscuit cutter for layering so I was exploring.

Chicken Taco Towers are just a new look for the tacos we’ve all come to love. And let’s face, some tacos can look pretty sloppy so at least give this method a try.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Cookin', Entrees, Recipes

 

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Review: Mother’s Restaurant

Mother's Restaurant Sign

Mother's Restaurant Sign

Mother’s Restaurant is one of those restaurants both tourists and local New Orleanians can appreciate. While it may fall into the “tourist trap” category, the place does some things really well. That said, there are only a few things that really stand out.

The first, by far, is the Ferdi special (or Ralph if you add cheese). A po boy with ham, roast beef and debris. If you aren’t familiar with debris, it’s the part of the roast beef that drips to the bottom of the pan while roasting. It’s full of flavor and very juicy.

Mother’s has some of the best debris in New Orleans, but the roast beef itself is a little dry. The Ferdi balances out so well because of the debris being a central component. This is definitely the best sandwich Mother’s has to offer.

Mother's Debris

Mother's Debris

Mother’s must turn out a lot of these po boys since the menus boasts that they annually cook over 175,000 pounds of ham and roast beef and serve 150,000 loaves of French bread.

Another one of Mother’s dishes I’m a big fan of is Jerry’s Jambalaya. Every time I’ve had it, the rice has been cooked perfectly, the chicken pieces the right size and the sausage spicy enough to give it a nice kick. Although, I will admit to adding some Crystal Hot Sauce for some added kick.

Mother’s Gumbo is also tasty, but I generally like a thicker roux when I’m eating gumbo. However, it will do in a pinch.

Most people overlook Mother’s breakfast, but seeing as how they cook over a quarter million biscuits, that many people can’t be wrong, right? I have found Mother’s to have some of the fluffiest eggs in town. That said, as good as the breakfast at Mother’s is, there’s a superior breakfast nearby at Majoria’s Commerce at Camp and Gravier. And there probably won’t be as long of line.

Mother's Ralph

Mother's Ralph

All in all, Mother’s Restaurant is a New Orleans staple that probably does serve more tourists than locals, but the food shouldn’t be ignored. They’ve been around since 1938 for a reason and seeing as how they serve a ton of food, everything can’t be phenomenal.

I have to admit, when I moved to New Orleans in 2007, I frequented Mother’s because it was close to my apartment and I liked it. But over the last five years, I’ve come to realize that most of the dishes at mother’s are inferior to some other places in the city. But I still love the Ferdi/Ralph and Jerry’s Jambalaya.

Mother’s Restaurant is located at 401 Poydras and is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Be prepared to wait in line.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Eatin'

 

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Recipe: Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

Turkey Eggplant Lasagna

Lasagna is one of the best family-style meals out there. However, it’s loaded with carbs and calories so here’s a recipe that should cut down on both.

Instead of using pasta, thinly sliced eggplant serves as the layers. I also add some cauliflower to give this lasagna a little bit of a crunch.

  • 6 TBSP Olive oil
  • 3 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Broiling the Eggplant

    Broiling the Eggplant

  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into thin sheets
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Mix the oil with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Then, brush eggplant sheets with oil and spices mixture.
  2. Lay the eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet (you will have to do this more than once). Broil them 2 inches from the flame for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Turkey-Cauliflower Saute

    Turkey-Cauliflower Saute

  4. Remove from home and turn to the other side brushing with the oil mixture and broiling for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Repeat until all of eggplant is broiled then set oven to 350F.
  6. In the meantime, saute ground turkey, cauliflower, garlic, shallots and red onion in a medium-sized pan. Cook until turkey meat is browned then add in chopped hardboiled egg.
  7. Once all ingredients are cooked, place one-third of the eggplant sheets in a wide, shallow 2- or 3-quart casserole dish.
  8. Layer with mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta, ground turkey mix and pasta sauce.
  9. Repeat the layering two additional times then top with mozzarella.
  10. Cover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes then serve.

This is recipe that will feed you and your family of 4 to 6. You won’t even notice that it’s not pasta, but eggplant that makes up most of the dish.

You can also substitute any ground meat of your choosing if you don’t want to use turkey. It may not be 100% authentic Italian, but it will do in a pinch and it’s sure to please most people’s palettes.

Photos courtesy of Miguel Solorzano Photography.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Cookin'

 

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Review: Stein’s Market and Deli

Stein's Market and Deli

Stein's Market and Deli

Stein’s Market and Deli is one of New Orleans’ true foodie gems. Located on Magazine, Stein’s (as the locals call it) serves some of the best deli sandwiches in the city and features an eclectic offering of specialty meats and cheeses, beers, soft drinks, desserts and candy that are otherwise hard to find.

Stein’s offers daily specials (closed Mondays) that are all worth trying. My favorite? The Friday special: Fancy Schmancy Cuban. Stein’s loads its Cuban with ham, pork, gruyere, spicy brown mustard and some of their homemade pickles. It’s perfection pressed between two slices of ciabatta.

My main go-to sandwich on other days of the week is the Fernando. The Fernando is prosciutto, pesto and mozzarella on ciabatta. So simple, so delicious.

I also really enjoy the Southern Animal Foundation. As you can guess, vegetarians should steer clear of this one. The S.A.F. is turkey, cheese, bacon, avocado and cucumber on wheat. Aside from eating the meat, it’s relatively healthy so it’s somewhat guilt-free.

Stein's Daily Special Board

Stein's Daily Special Board

Stein’s also has one of the best Cobb salads in New Orleans. For some reason, Cobb salads in New Orleans are almost non-existent, but thankfully, Stein’s has a version that satisfies.

Aside from the lunch offerings, Stein’s is one of the best places to get bagels in an otherwise beignet city. The bagels at Stein’s come from Davidovich Bakery in New York City, the bakery that claims to make the “original NYC bagel.” I can’t really argue with their claim.

I highly recommend ordering a breakfast bagel sandwich from Stein’s if you’re in the area. You can also order some lunch sandwiches on a bagel. I often order lox and cream cheese with avocado on a bagel and it’s delicious. Though once a lady told me I was weird for ordering that. Some people need to explore more.

If you aren’t hungry, you can also stop by to stock up on some unique beers from around the world. Stein’s has one of the best bottled beer selections in the city and regularly hosts beer classes some weeknights. You can always just pick up a six pack to go though.

Stein's Beer

Some of the Beer Choices at Stein's

If you live in New Orleans and haven’t visited Stein’s or if you’re planning to visit New Orleans at some point, you owe it to yourself to add Stein’s to your list of places to check out. You really can’t go wrong with all the high-quality ingredients they use. You may experience a little bit of a wait and the seating area is slim, but it’s 100% worth it.

Stein’s Market and Deli is located at 2207 Magazine Street. The hours are Tues.-Fri. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All photos courtesy of Amy Jett Photography.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Eatin'

 

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