Sweet Potato “Fries”

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.

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Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding is the quintessential New Orleans dessert. Every restaurant in the city has some sort of variation. Here’s an twist to this southern dessert. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie spices along with pecans really dress up classical bread pudding. And it appears like a cake when baked in a spring form pan. I served the dessert with bourbon sauce. Delicious. With Louisiana sweet potatoes available in the fall, this is a good time to make this variation.

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The Secret to Southern Fried Okra

Let’s cook fresh okra. It’s time to take advantage of this vegetable which is plentiful the summertime in the South and is easily grown in a garden here. I’ve discovered several delicious ways to fix okra since moving to Louisiana. “Southern Fried Okra” is one of those iconic recipes. My recipe is easy — using common household ingredients. It is crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The breading actually sticks to the okra for the most part. You may not want to purchase commercially breaded okra after eating this recipe. Give it a try!

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Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar

Here’s an easy recipe for a small batch of eggplant — “Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar.” Eggplant grows well in a Louisiana garden and I needed ideas to cook a few at a time as they ripened in the hot summer heat. One of my favorite eggplant dishes is served at a local Lebanese and Greek cafe. It consists of sauteed eggplant which is doused in lemon juice and garlic. The soft eggplant pulp blends with the spices perfectly and it is another “melt in your mouth” eggplant recipe. Thought I’d try to make a variation with my garden eggplant.

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My Louisiana Crawfish Po-Boys

The Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans each April is more than just great music. It is about our good Louisiana food and culture, too. One of the most popular foods being sold during the festival is Crawfish Bread. This is truly a Louisiana dish and is simply delicious.  It makes a great way to sample our native Louisiana crawfish in all it’s glory. Here’s my take on this dish — I’m calling my recipe, “Crawfish Po-Boys.”

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Louisiana Crawfish Pie

Crawfish is a Louisiana novelty; in season in the spring. Traditionally, this fresh-water crustacean is boiled in a large pot with plenty of spices added. Then peel the tails, eat the meat and enjoy. There are other ways to prepare the crawfish meat; one of my favorites is crawfish pie–shown here in an individual phyllo shell.

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New Orleans-Style Shrimp Po-Boy

When visiting Louisiana you must try a Shrimp Po-Boy. It is one of our specialties. New Orleans is filled with small neighborhood restaurants and many offer po-boys. Here is a small store in a filling station in Mid City, New Orleans, close to where my son lives. It makes 32″ po-boys to order and the shrimp po-boy is delicious.

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Crawfish Cardinale: A Little Lighter

Spring is crawfish season in Louisiana and the mudbugs are becoming more plentiful as the weather gets warmer. While boiled crawfish is probably the most popular way to prepare crawfish, the peeled crawfish tails are very tasty when prepared in other ways. Crawfish Cardinale is an easy and elegant recipe. Crawfish Cardinale - 2 - IMG_3453_1 Continue reading

Louisiana Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Incredibly, we’re headed into several more days of freezing sleet and snow here in Louisiana. Haven’t seen this much icy weather in several years. Schools and businesses are closed; so we’re basically on lock-down. At least it would be wise to stay home and warm today and tomorrow.  Start a fire in the fireplace, do some cooking, check the blogs.

Looking around my kitchen for things to cook in this cold weather, hearty stews and gumbos come to mind. Gumbo is uniquely Louisiana; every cook probably their own recipe variation. It’s origin really isn’t know; to me it represents a melting pot of all the cultures and foods that were brought to Louisiana. Gumbo is served in southern Louisiana at about every social event–weddings, parties, church gatherings, buffets lines–I even went to a funeral in a very rural area for an deseased employee and found gumbo served at the wake!

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Gumbo is essentially a dark brown meaty, flavorful soup/stew served with rice; some cooks prefer thin soups, some like thicker. It’s adaptable to many ingredients that a person may have on hand in their kitchen. My favorite is Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

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