Archive for the Entrees Category

One Messy, Time-Consuming Recipe? Why Not TWO? (or: lafille Makes Ribs and Fried Chicken in a Single, Gluttonous Weekend)

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Words on 15 March, 2010 by la fille

Okay, so the past month or so has been kind of insane.  Remember how I told you about all the houseguests over Mardi Gras, and how it wasn’t really my bag? Well, I moved out. I only moved in with Roommate in the first place because it was a mutually beneficial arrangement—he had someone bail on him, and I needed a place pronto. Had the situation been different, neither of us would probably have chosen the other to live with.

Anyways, in the span of about four days I began looking for a place, found THE MOST AMAZING, PERFECT HOME EVER, paid a deposit, and moved out. So I am now no longer a Mid-City-ite, but a denizen of the Lower Garden District, which feels a lot more suited to my sensibilities.

Then, maman came to visit for several days, which ended up being perfectly-timed, since she’s happiest when she has a new space to decorate and get all spruced up. Not only were my belongings magically unpacked and arranged while I was at work, she insisted, as parents do, on making sure I had everything I needed before she left, so I got lots of nice new stuff for the kitchen. CHA-CHING.

This past weekend was really the first time I got to take a breath since before Mardi Gras, so what did I do (besides watch all of BSG Season 2 [OMG IT’S SO GOOD IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED IT STOP READING AND NETFLIX THAT SHIZZ BUT NOW I THINK EVERYONE IS A CYLON ARE YOU A CYLON?!?!?! ALSO I HATE GAIUS BALTAR WITH THE POWER OF A THOUSAND SUNS]) but embark upon not one but TWO [2] major cooking projects, both of which turned out quite successfully if I do say so myself.

I attempted a couple of  warm weather Southern classics that I love to eat but had never cooked before: barbecued ribs and fried chicken. The ribs I made in the oven, not the grill, and definitely were worth all the work I put into them (I made a marinade, a dry rub, a mop spray, AND a sauce, all from scratch). I’ll post all those recipes in the next day or so.

Here’s the chicken, though.


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Recipe: Fried Chicken

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Recipe with tags , on 15 March, 2010 by la fille

For those of you who’ve never tried it, making fried chicken is pretty darned messy (trans. a whole lotta fun). I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but halved it across the board since there was no way BFF and I could eat two full fried chickens before we started having nightmares about Colonel Sanders coming to bludgeon us to death with a giant drumstick. What follows is the half-portion recipe, but it’s easily doubled if you want two birds worth of fried goodness.

The only qualm I had with the crispy, greasy deliciousness that resulted is that it was a tad salty. I may or may not have left it in the brine for more than the recommended amount of time, though (hint: I DID), so I am possibly to blame. Otherwise, it was fantastic. Golden and crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Yes, yes. Also, I heartily recommend listening to Johnny Cash and drinking a Louisville Cooler while fixin’ it.

Fried Chicken

via Smitten Kitchen, adapted from several sources, but mostly Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

One whole chicken, cut up

Brine
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 medium garlic head, mashed but not peeled
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoons paprika

Batter
1 large egg
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk

Flour for coating

RECIPE

1. Mix brine ingredients in a large bowl. Place the chicken pieces in brining solution and refrigerate for two to three hours. Remove and place on rack to air-dry.

2. Mix batter ingredients and place in a large bowl. Place coating in large pan to coat chicken.

3. Coat chicken with flour, then place in batter. Drain excess batter off chicken and place in flour again and cover. Use tongs for transfers.

4. To fry, heat peanut oil to 375 degrees in a cast-iron skillet. Do not fill the pot more than half full with oil. Place five to six pieces of chicken, skin side down first, in the skillet and cook, covered for seven minutes. Turn chicken and cook, uncovered, for another seven minutes. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees F before frying the next batch.

5. Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan, keeping warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Cochon– lafille’s Culinary Kryptonite

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Restaurants, Reviews with tags , , , , , on 9 February, 2010 by la fille

Monsieur D just celebrated his birthday, so that was the perfect excuse to treat him to a fancy dinner while he was in town. Cochon was on the shortlist, but after sending a request for suggestions into the aether that is Twitter the answer was clear and I made a reservation.

Now, when it comes to ordering from a menu, I usually pride myself on being a terrific food-chooser. Upon trying the dishes of my dining partners, I inevitably say, “That’s good, but I like mine better,” which is always what you want to be able to say.

For some reason, though, my food choosing skillz vanish when I walk into Cochon.  I acknowledge that it’s a terrific restaurant– I love the concept, and lord knows I LOVE meat (har dee har).

Both times I’ve eaten there, however, I’ve CHOSEN POORLY.

To give Monsieur D an idea of the kinds of things Cochon produces, we started off with the boucherie plate, consisting of homemade bologna, tasso, head cheese, pork rillettes, pickled tomatoes, baby toasts, and creole mustard. Everything tasted delightful, but we were both mainly enamored of the head cheese.

Last time I dined at Cochon, it was springtime and they were running a crawfish special, which I ordered for my entree. While tasty, I later wished I’d just gone with some pig, and vowed to do so on my next visit.

Guess what? I didn’t.

I ordered the rabbit and dumplings, while my companion went with the smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad. Now, to be perfectly clear, there was NOTHING WRONG WITH MY MEAL. It just wasn’t my style– being raised on super-simple chicken and dumplings, I’ve never been a fan of the type that contains carrots, celery, and other sundry additions, which is what they serve at Cochon.

The presentation is lovely, coming out in hot cast-iron, but once again, too much going on for my tastes.

Monsieur D’s brisket, on the other hand, tasted like melty, savory heaven in my mouth and I may or may not have contemplated incapacitating my friend in some manner so as to have the dish for myself. So tender that I hardly believed it was cow, with a mouthwatering sauce that was intensely flavorful, but which allowed the quality of the meat to shine through as well. The horseradish tater salad wasn’t anything to sniff at, either.

Cochon’s got a nice beverage selection, and we got a bottle of Dona Paula malbec, which is a nice, inexpensive red that Monsieur D likes but can’t get in his neck of the woods.

The service was just the way it should be– attentive yet unobtrusive– and when I called to say we were running a bit late, the hostess was accommodating and pleasant. (We ended up being on time for the reservation, which of course made her even more accommodating and pleasant.)

So– super interesting concept, great menu and beverage list, good service, nice atmosphere, tasty food…Cochon gets a lot of attention, but it’s definitely warranted.

Most importantly, the birthday gentleman had a stellar time.

Cochon

930 Tchoupitoulas St

504.588.2123

cochonrestaurant.com

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Recipe with tags , on 8 January, 2010 by la fille

It’s cold right now in New Orleans.

After a couple weeks of fruitlessly trying to get my bedroom warm enough to where I don’t wake up with a frozen nose at 3am, I’ve finally decided it just ain’t gonna happen. I live in a raised shotgun and, although the house has central heat, my room is in the back, has a 12-foot ceiling, and is drafty as hell so it will take a lot more effort than I’m willing to make to warm it up. The front room, however, remains nice and toasty so I’ve migrated to the couch for the remainder of the winter.

In an effort to warm up, I’ve also turned to some tried-and-true comfort foods, including chili, mac and cheese, and pho tai. The first two I made at home, but the craving for pho was strong enough to lure me out of the house and across the river, despite the chill. Oh, Pho Tau Bay, how I love you.

Another dish I tend to crave when it’s cold out is spaghetti carbonara, although I’m not sure why. Maybe I subconsciously know all those fattening ingredients will provide the additional layer of blubber needed for me to make it through the winter.

I know lots of people in the U.S. make carbonara with cream, that just seems to cross the line of decency, you know? Bacon, egg, cheese, oil, and cream? No way, Jose Giuseppe. Italian style for me.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

1 lb spaghetti

1/3 lb bacon, pancetta, or comparable salty pork product, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 egg yolks, beaten

1/2 c. grated Parmesan

salt and lotsa freshly-ground black pepper

RECIPE

1. Begin cooking the bacon in a large skillet. Once the fat starts to render, throw in the onion, season with black pepper, and cook until bacon is done and onions have softened. Set aside.

2. Cook the spaghetti (make sure you salt the water) al dente and drain.

3. Heat the bacon and onions back up and add spaghetti. Once all that junk is nice and mixed, pour the egg yolks over it and toss to coat the pasta (be sure to do so vigorously to avoid having scrambled egg in your pasta). Then add the Parmesan, black pepper and toss it some more! If you think it’s too dry, you can always add a little olive oil or some of the water you cooked the pasta in.

4. Serve and devour, preferably while wearing a Snuggie, buried under a mountain of blankets, sitting in front of a fireplace. Maybe with a cat curled up against you.

Grapevine Cafe, Donaldsonville

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Restaurants, Reviews, Sweets with tags , , , on 30 December, 2009 by la fille

After returning from The Frozen North on Christmas Eve and watching movies ’til my brains turned to mush on Christmas Day, I found myself restless on Boxing Day.

I decided to take a drive up River Road with no real destination in mind, just to see what I could see. I crossed over the Huey P. and went up on the Westbank, through the weird combination of plantations and industry. There were lots of neat things to look at. I was treated to some good advice:

I ended up in Donaldsonville, which has a quaint little downtown area, but was super dead that day, due to it being both Sunday and the day after Christmas. The Grapevine Cafe was open, however, and seemed to be doing a brisk business.

Here’s a blurb from their website:

Grapevine Cafe and Gallery’s award-winning cuisine has earned rave reviews from food writers and local residents for its authentic and original South Louisiana fare.

Our recipes draw from the diverse cultures that have made Louisiana the unique treasure it is. With the perfect blending of Cajun, Creole and African traditions, we are proud to offer you the best in Louisiana dining.

The restaurant resides in a 1920s storefront on the main drag of town and features high ceilings, brick walls, and displays by local artists. I sat by a side window that looked out at a lovely alley-way garden, complete with a cat sitting outside on the sill. “A” for atmosphere!

I knew that the place was famous for Chef Cynthia Schneider’s white chocolate bread pudding– which she served at the James Beard Awards Dinner in 2006– so I was sure to order light to save room for it. I got a cup of seafood gumbo and a grilled crawfish tail appetizer.

The gumbo was good; not as thick as some I’ve had, but it came with a side of rice that solved the problem. It was also accompanied by a scoop of potato salad that was heavy on the relish or pickle juice or something, but tasty nonetheless.

I found myself slightly disappointed in the crawfish tails. The seasonings didn’t add a whole lot of flavor, and the tails themselves tasted like they’d been sitting for a bit before winding up at my table–not very warm. The remoulade tasted like the same pickle monster made it who made the potato salad. Again, not bad, but a little overwhelming.

So. Mediocre fare thus far, but I wanted to stick with it through dessert, which did end up salvaging the whole meal. That’s some damn fine bread pudding, as Dale Cooper would say. Spongy and warm, with a subtle flavor to showcase the stellar white chocolate sauce that it was drenched in. Not to mention the fact that the serving was more than generous.

I’ve read nothing but phenomenal things about the Grapevine Cafe, so I’m guessing I just chose poorly from the menu. If I ever get back to Donaldsonville I’ll give the place another try, this time for dinner, though, since the lunch menu is truncated.

Here’s a copy of Chef Schneider’s bread pudding recipe (via):

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

8 Servings

Stale French bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups chopped white chocolate
2 large eggs
8 large egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly spray the bottom of a 4-by-8-inch baking dish and place a layer of bread slices.

2. In a saucepan, scald the cream with the milk. Add the sugar and white chocolate. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the yolks. Gradually whisk in the white chocolate mixture until blended. Pour half the mixture over the bread and let it stand until absorbed. Cover with another layer of bread and pour the remaining mixture on top, making sure each slice is thoroughly soaked.

4. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the center of the pudding puffs up. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes. Let cool until set, about 15 minutes. Scoop the bread pudding into bowls with an ice cream scoop or serve in squares, topped with warm White-Chocolate Sauce.

White Chocolate Sauce

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup chopped white chocolate

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk in the whipping cream until smooth. Serve warm.

The Grapevine Cafe and Gallery

211 Railroad Avenue

Donaldsonville, Louisiana 70346

(225) 473-8463

(225) 473-8486

(interior photo courtesy of grapevinecafeandgallery.com)

Recipe: Mango Yellow Curry

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Recipe with tags , , , on 29 December, 2009 by la fille

I spent some time waiting tables at a Thai restaurant when I was an undergrad, and while I absolutely despise waiting tables, I did get some positive things out of the experience. Primarily among those things was an unmitigated and abiding love of Thai food. I’m on a quest to find good Thai food here in New Orleans (episodes recounted here and here), and have yet to find a place that satisfies, so I’ve taken to cooking a lot more of it than I used to (here, for example).

All Thai-style curries rock balls, but yellow curry is by far the yummiest. It’s sweeter than green and red due to inclusion of cinnamon and cardamom, which I think provides a perfect balance with the spice. Of course, one varies ingredients depending on the curry, and here’s a list of stuff that’s awesome in yellow curry:

Onion

Potato

Carrot

Chicken

Shrimp

Tofu

MANGO

Almonds

Yellow bell pepper

Cauliflower

Sweet potato

Last night, I made a big batch to take to work for my lunches this week, and I included potatoes, carrots, onion, and mango.

I make a lot of yellow curry, not just because it is my favorite, but because New Orleans is the first place I’ve ever been able to find yellow curry paste in a grocery store and I am so excited about it. They carry it at Hong Kong market on the Westbank, which, if you haven’t been, IS THE BEST PLACE EVER. This is the shit you want to get:

Mae Ploy makes a great curry paste–if you aren’t making it from scratch, go with that brand. They do most kinds: yellow, green, red, massamun, panang, etc.

Although the traditional Thai accompaniment is jasmine rice, last night I used brown rice instead and was very pleased with my decision. I will probably be doing that from now on.

Ok, ok, on to the recipe.

Yellow Curry

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 c. brown rice

1/4 c. yellow curry paste

1 19oz. can of coconut milk (DO NOT USE “LIGHT” COCONUT MILK. IT IS DISGUSTING. GET FAT. IT’S WORTH IT.)

2-3 tbsp. fish sauce

1/3 c. sugar (Usually you’d use brown sugar, but I was out. You probably need less if you’re using brown sugar.)

1/2 c. water

Veggies, meat, fruit, cut into chunks or slices. For example, I used:

2 mangos

1/2 a large potato

1 medium sweet onion

2 medium carrots

Red pepper flakes or Sriracha if you want more spice

RECIPE

1. Cook rice according to instructions on bag. Brown rice takes longer to cook than jasmine rice, to plan accordingly. It usually works that you can start your rice cooking and by the time it’s ready, the curry will be also.

2. Combine curry paste and coconut milk in a wok or giant skillet on medium-high, and stir until the paste is blended in. Bring to a simmer, stir in sugar, fish sauce, and red pepper if you’re adding it. This would also be the time you add a protein if you’re using one, like chicken, and cook that.

3. Add ingredients based on time they take to cook. So in go the potatoes, carrots, and onions first. Simmer, stirring often, until they soften (15 minutes or so).

4. Toss in the mango and any other quick-cooking stuff and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice!

Also, go to Hong Kong Market!

925 Behrman Highway
Gretna, LA 70056-4569
(504) 394-7075

I Got Gott

Posted in Eat, Entrees, Photos, Restaurants, Reviews with tags , , , on 17 December, 2009 by la fille

Something else that’s kinda cool about my new job is that I get a lunch hour. I’ve never worked a nine-to-five type gig before, so the concept of leaving in the middle of the day is new and exciting. I usually bring my lunch and sit in the park across the street, reading and just chilling in general, but yesterday I decided it was time to start venturing out for my mid-day sustenance.

Sending a call for suggestions into the aether that is Twitter, Eating in NOLA suggested Gott Gourmet on Magazine Street. Close by– check. Fast– check. Cheap– check. Online menu for easy phone ordering– check. Works for me!

Through a perusal of their website, I discovered that Gott is committed to being as environmentally conscious as possible, and their to-go packages are biodegradable. That’s awesome! I often feel bad getting takeout because of all the Styrofoam and plastic and whatnot.

Since this was a takeout order, I didn’t get to experience much of the place’s atmosphere, but it seemed clean, bright, and pleasant. The man at the register was friendly and personable, as well.

I ordered the Chicago-style hot dog, which came with chips, and a side of ancho-honey slaw.

That was a good dog. Big ol’ all-beef frank on a poppyseed bun, yellow mustard, shockingly neon green relish, sport peppers, a pickle spear, onions, halved grape tomatoes, and celery salt. Tart, spicy, and savory– all the things a Chicago dog should be!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the slaw, but it was pretty tasty. Even though it was mayonnaise-based (I usually prefer vinegar-based slaws), it wasn’t overly goopy and retained its crispness. The flavor was a lot milder than other similar slaws, maybe because of the addition of honey. Regardless, I enjoyed it.

I’d like to go back sometime when I can sit down and eat. The menu’s gott got (we’re not gonna do that) a fair number of tasty-looking items that look to be creative treatments of standard lunch fare (soups, salads, and sandwiches). They also serve breakfast on weekends.

Gott Gourmet Cafe

3100 Magazine St.

504-373-6579

gottgourmetcafe.com