Today I’m making world-famous Natchitoches meat pies. What? Louisiana cuisine extends beyond New Orleans and the Cajun country. Every now and then you can find a culinary gem tucked in the other regions of Louisiana. The tiny city of Natchitoches, with 15,000 residents, is found in the north-central part of the state. They like to brag about their meat pies — of course they are “world-famous.” These little empanadas are stuffed with a spicy meat and vegetable seasoning filling in a pie shell-type crust. Typically the pies are fried, however, they can also be baked, as shown in this photo. I decided to try my hand at making these meat pies, embellishing the recipe just a bit by adding a few additional ingredients. This makes these meat pies extra special in the flavor category, in my opinion.Continue reading
One of my favorite memories of living in Michigan is stopping at apple orchards during autumn for a mug of fresh pressed apple cider and a hot donut. I loved Michigan in the fall with its crisp, cool weather and colorful scenery. Quite a contrast to Louisiana. In my opinion, apple orchards are one of Michigan’s best kept secrets. During apple harvest, family-owned cider mills seemed to pop up everywhere. There is nothing better than cold unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider. As an added attraction, most of these cider mills sold fried cake-style donuts which were made on the premises. They are the best donuts ever and I am really wishing that I had some. But, I’m a long way from Michigan. This year I decided to make my own “Spiced Cake Donuts with Apple Cider Glaze.” After many attempts, I achieved a wonderful fried cake donut. My donut is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And my recipe isn’t too, too sweet. I’m glad that I finally figured out how to make fried donuts at home. This recipe is a little tricky, follow my instructions exactly to get the same results .Continue reading
I have decided to postpone the recipe which I had planned for today. Instead, I am making “English-Style Beer Batter Cod” in honor of the life and legacy of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Beer battered cod is a far cry from the cornmeal-style breaded catfish which is so common in Louisiana across the Atlantic ocean from England. But battered and fried cod is delicious! All the attention on the Queen and royal family brings back memories of a trip for a few weeks to the British Isles which I made when I was in college. The trip was not about food; but I have never forgotten the wonderful fish and chips, wrapped in a newspaper, which we purchased from a street vendor in London. The fried cod was truly a “melt in your mouth” fish. The chips (French fries) were thick and tasty. Best of all, the fish and chips were served with malt vinegar. I loved it! So, I am recreating the fried cod recipe for my blog post today. And surprise, beer battered cod is actually extremely easy to make! Just pay attention to the details. Plus, I have a few fairy tale-like photos of Queen Elizabeth II and a royal procession taken in 2004 during my son’s scout trip to London to share at the end of this post.Continue reading
Cauliflower happens to be one of my most favorite vegetables. Of course, I have many “most favorite vegetables.” But cauliflower has a unique flavor and, when properly prepared, it loses all of the obnoxious sulfur tones. It is a vegetable which grows on you — the more you eat it the more you like it. I learned to like cauliflower when fried cauliflower was served on the cafeteria lime at the hospital where I worked at in Flint, Michigan. That was in the heydays of the auto unions and Flint was the ultimate “auto town.” Autumn and winter are the seasons for cauliflower when you can pick up some really nice ones. I decided to see if I could make an oven-fried variation of the fried cauliflower bites that I used to like so much using this really nice cauliflower which I purchased recently.Continue reading
When the very nutritious vegetable, the sweet potato, is cooked perfectly, it is tender yet still a little crisp with a wonderful sweet flavor. I have decided that it is actually a little tricky to cook sweet potatoes properly. But I think I found the prefect sweet potato fry in a restaurant in Breckenridge, Colorado, of all places. We recently visited this very upscale restaurant with a James Beard Chef winner on the staff. The sweet potatoes were cooked and served immaculately. I came home to try to duplicate their recipe.
It you ever want an authentic taste of traditional southern cooking at it’s best; stop at a restaurant in the tiny town of McComb, Mississippi, on your travels along Interstate 55 which goes between Chicago and New Orleans. This is where I first tasted eggplant — their version is breaded and fried — and fell in love with this vegetable — it is a flavorful “melt in your mouth” eggplant dish. Don’t travel this way often? Too bad, you are missing much of the rural South and alot of good cooking.
Let’s begin the new year by cooking something new: Anasazi beans. These heirloom beans have an interesting history. The beans shown here are from a farmer’s market in Taos, New Mexico, which is the closest town to the Taos Pueblos. My brother’s family purchased the beans while on a cross-country driving trip from California. Along the way they visited several American Native Indian cliff dwelling sites and ruins. I made a hearty soup with the beans.
While visiting in Germany last week, I discovered that folks there don’t drink iced tea. It’s not on restaurant menus, there was no instant ice tea mix or family sized ice tea-bags in grocery stores. Missing a glass of ice tea, my son and I bought tea bags and brewed our own. We randomly selected Darjeeling tea and it was actually the best iced tea I’d had in quite some time. After returning back home to Louisiana, I decided to attempt to make sun-brewed iced tea using Darjeeling tea bags. Continue reading
Would you guess that Louisiana is famous for icebox pies? Probably not. However, several iconic diners across the state have a reputation for fine icebox pies. The family diner, Strawn’s Eat Shop, in Shreveport is one such spot. This restaurant is the inspiration for Denise’s Banana Cream Icebox Pie with Toasted Coconut which I am making for Mother’s Day. It is an old-fashioned and sentimental pie.
Warning — you may not be able to stop eating this apple pie. There is something irresistible about the combination of a flaky pie crust, an aromatic (but not too sweet) apple filling and a crunchy oatmeal crumb topping. Autumn is the time of year to find varieties of apples at farmer’s markets and produce stands that don’t appear at other times of the year.