BELOW YOU WILL FIND THE LAST POST TO LE CORDON VERT.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
For the past two weeks I have been attempting to bake bread. Of all things--bread; sans bread machine. I have never in my life attempted to make bread. Sure... I've made a banana bread here and there. Quick breads are nothing more than a giant muffin if you think about it. I can handle muffins. Six year old girls can handle muffins; Easy Bake Ovens make sure of that. But the bread I attempted, foolishly with no training (pastry school drop out), was not a quick bread. It was a yeast bread. The mother of all yeast breads in my book: po'boy bread. Not quite a French baguette, not quite a loaf of sandwich bread. The inside texture is expected to be light, airy, almost non-exsistent. The outside crunchy, chewy, and golden brown. Mine was none of the above.
Did I expect it to be perfect on the first try? Not really. I was hopeful, of course, but not cocky (which is rare in the kitchen). I did, however, expect it to be edible.
My first loaf was possibly the biggest insult to po'boy bread ever created by a native. It was ugly and overly salted. It was incredibly dense, almost biscuit like, but not in any way light and fluffy. Maybe the abandoned love child of a brick and a sponge would be a better comparison? The recipe I used was vegan, which should have been a red flag right there, but I carried on. Flour, salt, yeast, water...those all sounded like perfectly logical things to include in a French Bread recipe...what else could you need? Well, obviously something else, although I have yet to figure out what. It didn't even SMELL like bread while it was baking. That's a sure sign of a mis-step. It went from baking sheet to trash in 60 seconds, still so hot it melted right through the garbage bag (a fact that didn't come to light until the following day when the trash was to be taken out). A word of advice: never try to conceal the evidence of a baking experiment gone awry in a plastic garbage bag if said evidence is still 4000 degrees and fresh from the oven.
Attempt two was no more successful, nor was three or four. I have wasted to date a bag and a half of flour, numerous pinches of salt, and have laid oh so many unsuspecting yeast organisms to rest only to come up empty handed on the bread front. I am doing extremely well on bread-shaped doorstops however, if you know anyone who is interested.
Cooking is an art; baking is a science. Cooking is an art; baking is a science.
I am not a scientist. I do not enjoy the precise measuring of ingredients, or making sure this is exactly that temperature before adding those. Where's the fun in that? I much more enjoy tossing things together in a haphazard flurry of inspiration, sort of like Pollock. Yes, if cooking is an art, then the chef is an artist, and in such scenario I would be Jackson Pollock. Chaotic, controlled, genius. (I have some nerve don't I? lol). This is probably why my french bread resembled one of those loaves you can pick up in the children's toy section: the only portion of the bread baking process I enjoyed was the kneading and was not eager to quit once I was going. It was the only ACTION of the whole act. Bread making, for those who don't know, goes a little something like this: Stir; wait. wait. wait. Mix; wait, wait, wait. Knead; wait, wait, wait. Punch; wait. wait. wait. Form; wait, wait, wait. Bake; and then in my case: dump. You'll notice one word repeats itself numerous times in this whole deal: wait. One of my least favorite words on this planet.
Wait. Ugh. WHY? I have no patience when it comes to food. I want it now. It's ironic that I am a member of the Slow Food Movement isn't it?
To cut this long ramble short, today's post was intended to be Po'boy bread. The give-Leidenheimer-a -run-for-his-money type bread that would make your friends stand in awe of your baking prowess. However, cooking is an art, baking is a science and I have yet to develop the patience to get it right. So what I have for you is, well, probably going to be a little disappointing for a number a reasons. One, it isn't bread of any kind. Two, it's not typically New Orleans. 3.) It's a salad. and 4.) It involves shaving vegetables, which is just as time consuming as baking bread ( to me, but it's action oriented and that makes it better somehow). It's a carrot salad.
Julienned carrots dressed in a simple vinaigrette is one of my favorite French dishes. It doesn't involve a complicated sauce, ham or butter. There is no kneading or waiting involved. You don't even really need patience, knife skills, or that much time if you pick up one of those bags of pre-shredded carrots at the market. It's fresh, crunchy, and figure friendly...not what one typically thinks of when you say French food. It's just what you need when you've gotten completely frustrated that lump of dough sitting on your counter defying you to turn it into something edible.
Shaved Carrot Salad
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and shaved or julienned
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons Creole mustard
Maldon salt or Fleur de Sel and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy.
This technically will serve about 4 if you are serving it as a side dish, unless I get to it first, in which case it serves only me.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I don't have a lot of time to post this week, but I didn't want to leave you empty handed. Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager is back! This year's batch is the strawberriest yet (is that a word?, probably not). It's crafted from the first strawberries of the Ponchatoula harvest season and is produced in limited quantities by the Abita Brewery. The taste lies somewhere between Frankenberry cereal and cotton candy, although I can't really decide which one. It doesn't matter though, it's delicious. If you have access to it, you should definitely pick up a 6pk or seven. My forecast is that this Harvest is going to sell out faster than usual, leaving procrastinators in the dust empty-handed. You don't want to be one of those people. You want to be one of the ones who picked up a case and is hording bottles upon bottles in your refrigerator to last you through the sell-out period :)
have a great weekend!
Friday, February 27, 2009
The foodie find this week comes by way of one of my most favorite food writers, the lovely and talented Molly. Orangette has written a book (congratulations!), go get it. You should also check out her blog, it puts this one to shame. ;-)
That's all I have to say. That's all you have to do. You can get it here.
This is probably the only time I will offer you a foodie find that is calorie and fat-free, you should take advantage of it. ;-)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Never the matter though, I’d take this morning’s weather over being included in the 6-week prophecy of doom any day. I’ve never been a fan of winter, and am quite certain I must have been a bear in a past life because once the cold blows in, the only place I want to be is in bed, under mounds of fluffy covers, asleep. I’m pretty sure I could sleep through the entire winter season and not be phased in the least—the only thing I’d feel left out on would be soup, hot chocolate, and possibly Christmas cookies. I could always turn the air conditioning down really low once I emerge, and make up for lost time.
So it’s spring, or at least it seems. The weather here is so fickle, next week we will most likely be bundled up in our overcoats and strangling ourselves with unnecessary scarves. Where was I going with this???
Oh yes. Back to the point. The clovers.
Clovers anywhere else in the country I assume call to mind the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day, maybe a half-hearted attempt at 4-H as a child. In New Orleans, the clovers always show up just in time for the festivities of Carnival Season. Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. Parade Time as I called it during childhood, and would exclaim as soon as I saw the dark green little clubs peeking out from the cold, dead grass of winter.
This morning’s grassy perfume and mild sunshine brought to mind all those things I associate with Mardi Gras...high school marching bands, fight songs and alma maters, marching groups dressed in sequined leotards, vendors selling cheap toys and cotton candy from hi-jacked shopping carts, mardi gras balls, gilded floats filled with masked riders and enough beads to circle the globe, but not enough to last through a five mile route, cheap beer, picnics on medians, the clinking sound of doubloons hitting the concrete, Mc Gruff, Moon Pies, and King Cake.
Ah, king cake. Something I never thought I’d write about, more less recommend. If you know me at all, you know that king cake has been the bane of my birthday existence since childhood. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good king cake, it’s that I never enjoyed king cake as a birthday cake, and since my birthday falls so close to, or occasionally actually on, Mardi Gras, it has reared its ugly unwelcomed head too many times at my birthday parties. All I ever wanted was a chocolate cake with white icing and a few candles. What I got was a giant cinnamon roll, covered with purple, green, and gold sugar, doused with sticky white icing, and then topped with multicolored non-pareils, and one candle suggesting my age. My family insisted on pointing out (in effort to cheer me up and make peace with this non-birthday cake) the fact “everyone is celebrating your birthday” and has even gone so far as to tell me it was “queen’s cake, just for me”. I’ve never been one to buy into much bullshit, and well that just reeks of it. I mostly ate my king cake and went about my business bitterly, always hoping next year Mardi Gras would come earlier and I would get the cake I truly wanted. I even went so far as to waste my candle wish, wishing for a real birthday cake one year.
“Next year I want a real birthday cake…phew”
The following year, my birthday landed on Mardi Gras. I was not pleased. Irony is like karma’s clever sister, and it too is a bitch.
In my thirty years, it has worked in my favor exactly 4 times. Four times out of thirty. Some would say I’m lucky to get king cake as birthday cake. I suspect these are the same people who think I’m lucky to be short because it’s easier to find pants (which it is not).
I decided this year would be the year I make peace with the cake that brings so many excitement and joy every Carnival season and stop giving it the stink-eye. It’s not its fault I rarely got a normal birthday cake. It’s not my fault my birthday is so stupidly placed on the calendar. We’ve been unfairly pitted against each other for years. It’s time to make amends. It’s also time though, for me to push the king cake off on you, as my birthday is rapidly approaching (this year will be 5, 5 times ah-ah -ah)but, won’t be here in time for king cake. Damn, and I was so ready to make progress! ;-)
So… you have my birthday king cake from last year now and catch up, and I will have the 5th normal birthday cake I’ve had in, count them, 31 years on March 3.
This week’s Foodie Find awaits you here. This is the original, the one and only, pain (pun intended) of my existence. It’s also, and I say this begrudgingly, the best one in town. Moist, spicy, sweet, with a slight crunch from all the colored sugar and non-pareils. Get it now, before it’s gone.
Happy Mardi Gras :)
*pain is the French word for bread and is actually pronounced pahn or pan. For the sake of this essay, and my clever sentence…I’m using the meaning of the French (bread), with the pronunciation of the American (payn). Does that make it Franco-American? I always did like Spaghettio’s.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
If I have learned anything in the past three years with the money pit also known as my house, it's that Murphy's Law will find it's way into every project, even the smallest, seemingly simple ones. Our move is no exception.
I'm having technical difficulties to say the very least, and with no clear instruction manual from either iLife 09 or the web hosting provider, I am not sure when the new site will be up and running. It's been a two week game of trial and error. Mostly error. DNS error to be exact.
So guess what? We're squatting here until the new place is ready. You can check here for the regularly scheduled posts until we are settled into the new digs. Hopefully, we'll be out before the authorities bust us.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The Fine Print:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Until then you can check out the apple cake on Orangette, or double chocolate cookies over on The Wednesday Chef. 101 Cookbooks always has something delicious cooking in the kitchen, and Tea and Cookies is beautifully written. You can find links to these lovely ladies in the Recommended Reading section. Enjoy, and I will meet you back here next week.
Have a great weekend!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Picture it: New Orleans, 2008. Just kidding. But seriously, our story begins in New Orleans, New Year’s Eve night, 2008. Your dancing queen fled the confines of Baton Rouge to the glitter-covered land known as Oz with her favorite Kra(+e)mer to kiss 2008 good-bye. A land where balloons fall from the ceiling, drag queens tower 7 feet tall, hefty black (wo)men belt out “It’s Raining Men” like nobody’s business, and where the gin and tonics flow like a glowing blue fountain surrounded by the half-naked, perfectly-chiseled bodies of Greek gods. It was a beautiful thing. Until we met Papi. Ahh, papi.
Have you met Papi? No? Good, keep it that way. This little Puerto Rican fireball wields free shots of Patron (3 to be exact) and a nasty, nasty flu. How does he get you? "Taste my drink". "Okay", you think, in the haze of 12 gin and tonics and under the presumption that alcohol kills 99.9% of all bacteria. Grey Goose l’Orange and Red Bull, while a little girly for me to order personally, turned out to be quite tasty, by the way. One sip, from the side of the cup, not through his straw. Infected with all the symptoms of a Nyquil commercial: stuffy head, check. Fever, check. Achy, grouchy, cursing Papi and his girly cocktail, check, check, and check. And so it has been since Thursday morning, where I awoke so thirsty it seemed a refreshing and perfectly logical idea to drink water, from a mug, in the shower, using shower water. Don’t judge me.
So what’s the cure for this mess: chick-n noodle soup of course, which is perfect because even though I’ve been sick as hell, I’ve also been itching to use my new Slate Le Creuset Dutch Oven. And so, I have been healed, and my pot has been christened. And yes, I have thoroughly learned my lesson. Adios, Papi.
1 large cipiollini onion, chopped
1 cup baby carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic-herb seasoning blend
1 teaspoon Chicken Grill Seasoning, Mrs. Dash
½ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning Blend
1 bag Quorn chick-n tenders
1 cup dried egg noodles, or pasta of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
I had every intention of gushing over the Parmigiano-Reggiano BUTTER I spotted at Whole Foods the other day.(oh yes, you read it correctly Parmigiano-Reggiano BUTTER, as in made from the leftover milk of Parm cheese) Unfortunately for me, and you, I contracted the Papi Flu down in Nola while I was over the rainbow New Years Eve (more on that later) and it is not in my best interest to ingest dairy right now…not even the best, most selective dairy on the planet ;-) The butter will have to wait until next week. I suspect it will be worth it.
My replacement for the guaranteed heaven that was to be, turned out to be utterly disappointing. Have to you been introduced to these shameful cookies? Manner Hazelnut Crème Wafers, meet everyone. Everyone meet the Manner wafers.
In their defense, after the first three or four, the flavor improves and the initial yuck-factor diminishes. This could possibly be because after two your tongue is completely coated in so much cloying sweetness as to not allow you to taste anything but sugar. Seriously, and I say this as nicely as possible, if there were such a thing as a place for misbehaving Nutella to be sent, like Nutella prison, this would be it.
My experience went a little like this: hmm…interesting packaging, feels like a brick. Hmm, opening packaging lends itself to a “Willie Wonka Golden Ticket” musical montage…peel back the little red ribbon and the odd coral-colored wrapper gives way to shiny silver foil, revealing the wafers. Cue the music and glamour shot of the cookies. Upon first sight, they look like long wafers, but grab one and it breaks mysteriously in half, sending wafer dust in every direction. Okay, irritating, but not that big a deal. Put said cookie into mouth and all disappointing hell breaks loose. The overwhelming plain rice cake flavor of the wafer snuffs out any good that could be done from the nutella-esque cream filling lurking in between. Crumbs are sent everywhere with each bite and the thought comes about that surely “they can’t be that bad”. Another is ingested with the same results, and another, until three are missing and the conclusion has been reached, that: Yes. They Are. That Bad. And how the hell did I get wafer dust on my shoulder?
Stay away! Don’t be lured by their enticing European labels, made in Vienna stamp, or promises of Hazelnut Cream. It’s all hype. The truth is, you’re left with a cookie that will make you rethink the Austrian palate, not to mention their baked goods.
If you are still curious, they only come with a ninety-nine cent price tag (should have been a clue right there!),incidentally are vegan, but “may contain traces of milk solids” (for whatever reason), and were procured at Fresh Market. I strongly advise against it. Spend your dollar at Taco Bell on some of those Fiesta Potatoes, while they may not be vegan, a foodie find, or even acceptable FOOD, they are damn tasty, made right here in America, and have been approved by yours truly.