Family Favorites: Old-Fashioned Scalloped Potatoes

Mrs. Grossnickle made the best recipe of “Scalloped Potatoes” that I can ever remember. The dish was probably loaded with cream and butter. Not healthy by today’s standards, but very tasty. When I was growing up, the Grossnickles lived across a cow pasture which we could see from where we lived on a small hill. “Scalloped Potatoes” was served at almost every Sunday dinner after church and especially at holidays such as Easter. I am guessing that we were invited to the Grossnickle’s home for some of these meals and this is where I ate the “best” dish of “Scalloped Potatoes.” I consider this to be an old-fashioned “comfort food” and still like the dish after all these years; although with slightly less cream. For nostalgia, I’m making this dish again on Easter Sunday.

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Rich Meyer Lemon Tart with Gingersnap Crust

I have a Meyer lemon citrus tree growing in my backyard which makes a crop of fruit each winter — sometimes more, sometimes less. The fruit look like very large lemons with a tart, aromatic flavor, although they are technically not lemons at all. I look forward to figuring out recipes to use these unique lemony-looking fruit. Every now and then I like to indulge in something special and rich. A recipe for a Meyer Lemon Tart with a Gingersnap Crust in a magazine caught my eye. I’ve had this magazine tucked away for a couple of years — this seems like a good time to try the tart. The crust is made like a graham cracker crust — only using gingersnaps. The filling is similar to a Key Lime Pie using sweetened condensed milk and Meyer lemons. The ginger flavor in the crust balances the sweet, rich filling. If you like sweets, this is dessert hard to to resist.

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Meringue Nests with Fresh Fruit for Passover and Easter

I cannot remember a Passover meal without my mother-in-law’s meringue nests for dessert. These are truly a family tradition. The little meringue shells are made from egg whites and sugar with a hint of vanilla extract and are filled with fresh fruit. They are tasty and colorful and truly remind me of spring. Fill them with whatever fruit is in season — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Best yet, this dessert is fat-free and healthy. It will surely impress! This is the “perfect” and elegant dessert for spring — serve it for Easter dinner, too!

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Baked Crawfish Macaroni and Cheese & a Shrimp Variation

Here is my second crawfish recipe for this spring during the peak of the Louisiana crawfish harvest. I don’t think that I would have considered making macaroni and cheese with crawfish but a local magazine featured this dish. Wow, this baked version is pretty good. Although I was skeptical at first about adding seafood to macaroni and cheese, the flavors blend nicely. The recipe uses penne pasta baked in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with Italian bread crumbs. Yum. Since crawfish tails are so, so expensive, I made several “trial runs” of the recipe using peeled shrimp. These turned out great, too. Here is a shrimp variation.

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Easy Crawfish and Corn Bisque & Shrimp Variation

Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for Louisiana crawfish — “Crawfish and Corn Bisque.” Crawfish season in Louisiana has arrived and it is time to cook up some crawfish recipes. Our local Rouse’s Supermarket serves a very tasty version of “Crawfish and Corn Bisque” on their soup and salad bar. Surprised to find crawfish soup at a grocery store? The Rouse folks are from New Orleans and they do know how to cook. I like to occasionally stop by and pick up a quick noon meal at Rouse’s lunch counter; this time they were serving the soup. I have been contemplating making the bisque myself and decided to concoct make my own recipe by combining ideas from several Louisiana chefs and sources.

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My Favorite “Hush Puppies”

A fried catfish platter with French fries and hush puppies is a favorite Friday night supper during Lent. And you can’t find a better plate of a fried catfish than at the iconic Baton Rouge restaurant of Ralph and Kacoo’s Seafood. I wasn’t surprised when I checked out their internet site and saw that they boasted of being the largest seafood restaurant in the South with a seating capacity for 800 patrons. The restaurant is massive and everything about the place shouts “big.” The restaurant has an interesting saga. My favorite food and memory of Ralph and Kacoo’s Restaurant is however, not the catfish, but their hush puppies. Their little fried cornmeal treats are unique — just a touch of sweet with green onions and spices. The best ones that I ever have eaten. I am going to try to re-invent these hush puppies. However, rather than frying catfish, we’ll more likely serve them with broiled or baked catfish — I’ll save that recipe for another time.

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New Orleans Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole is a venerable and classic New Orleans entrée. It combines the “Holy Trinity” of fresh vegetable seasonings with tomatoes, spices and shrimp to make a flavorful and satisfying dish. Although not seen as frequently on restaurant menus as perhaps in past years, the entrée is certainly served in New Orleans’ homes during Lent on Fridays. And most Louisiana chefs have a rendition of this dish somewhere in their files. With Lent here, I am making my Shrimp Creole recipe again. There are two approaches to making this dish — since I couldn’t decide which I like better; I made both variations. And I love tomatoes. This is my type of dish. Serve Shrimp Creole with rice. (And I have included several Mardi Gras 2021 photos at the end of the post.)

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Classic New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding

I am making “Classic New Orleans Bread Pudding” as a sentimental tribute to all the Mardi Gras parades and festivities which have been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sad, but true — hard to social distance with these huge crowds and parades — and they have all been cancelled in the greater New Orleans area. Most restaurants in southern Louisiana offer a variation of Bread Pudding on their dessert menus — I view this as the quintessential New Orleans dessert. My favorite bread pudding recipe comes from well-known Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme, and his Louisiana K-Paul’s restaurant. His recipe hits the spices just right — it is something special. I have adapted Prudhomme’s recipe slightly and am making it in honor of Mardi Gras this year. I will miss the fun and revelry!

 

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Let’s Eat Fruit: “Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl”

The 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released to the public on December 29, 2020. These guidelines are updated every five years. Panels of nutritional scientists and researchers meet to review the latest nutrition research on how to keep Americans healthy — what foods and nutrients do we need to eat. Their reports then undergo scrutiny by anyone who wants to make a public comment. (This amounted to more than 62,000 comments!) After all the comments are considered, a policy report is released to the public. The report is important because it dictates how government funds are allocated and spent, especially for food programs. As expected, one of the conclusions state that Americans don’t eat enough fruit. And this, unfortunately, is often true at our house. Although we always have fresh fruit around; sometimes it gets skipped. When I make a “Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl,” the fresh fruit seems to quickly disappear. Here’s a little more about the Dietary Guidelines and also how I make my fruit bowl.

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Easy Cook: Chili Con Carne with Louisiana Red Beans

Here’s an easy and very tasty recipe for “Chili Con Carne.” This is a great concoction for cold winter weather to warm up the body and soul. Or make a pot of “Chili Con Carne” next weekend and watch the football Super Bowl game — your family can help themselves to the chili and you won’t miss a football play. The recipe includes dried red beans –giving it a Louisiana “touch” — as certainly the dried version of red beans is used in traditional New Orleans cooking. I made this chili several times to tweak the recipe and the result is a pleasing blend of chili peppers and seasonings, tomatoes, kidney beans and beef. The chili has “bite” but no one component overpowers the other. I think I got this recipe “just right.” With the dried beans, this recipe takes several hours to cook — so start early in the day.

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