A Special Holiday Buffet

I thought it would be fun to share some appetizers that are traditional in New Orleans.  These dishes would be a great addition to your holiday parties.  They are simple, tasty and perfect for the next round of festivities.  The roast tenderloin and baby new potatoes are personal favorites that will go with the Creole dishes perfectly!  Don’t forget your favorite cocktails, wine and a big bottle of  bubbly!

Pickled Shrimp*

Spicy Pecans*

Baby New Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Caviar and Fresh Chives

Roast Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

Chilled Crab Legs with Ravigote Sauce*

pickled shrimp

Pickled Shrimp*

Deliciously piquant, these shrimp make the perfect hostess gift when presented in a mason jar, a great appetizer of try tossing them in a crisp green salad.

1 medium red onion, in small dice

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced ( included green ends)

1 cup chopped fresh parsley (flat leaf)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup Creole mustard or other coarse mustard

2 tablespoons sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup cane, malt or cider vinegar

1 1/4 cups extra virgin-olive oil

2 bay leaves

3 pounds medium to large shrimp, boiled (peeled, deveined, tails on)

Combine the red onion, green onion, parlsey, crushed red pepper, garlic, mustard, and sugar in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper.  Add the vinegar, and whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until the marinade emulsifies.  Add the bay leaves and adjust the salt and pepper.  Add shrimp and stir.  Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.  This will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

spicy pecans

Spicy Pecans*

These are great to keep on hand throughout the holidays!  I KNOW you can’t eat just one!

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 cup honey

 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 pound pecan halved

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the honey, salt, and cayenne pepper, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Remove from the heat, and add the pecans to the honey mixture.  Stir to mix well.  Spread the coasted pecans on a sheet pan, and bake in the pre heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, possibly more often toward the end.  Serve when cooled, first separating any pecans that stick together.  Store in an airtight container.

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Baby New Potatoes with Creme Fraiche, Caviar and Fresh Chives

2 pounds small new potatoes, halved and steamed until just tender

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 small jar caviar

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Coarse sea salt

Take the cooked potatoes and scoop the middle out with a small melon baller.  Mix the heavy cream and sour cream to make creme fraiche.  Place a spoon full of this mixture into each cavity of the potato halves.  Place 1/4 teaspoon of caviar (your choice of quality and type) on the creme fraiche and sprinkle with chopped chives.  Sprinkle the finished, stuffed potato halves with coarse sea salt and serve on a platter.

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Roast Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

1 3-4 pound beef tenderloin

6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Coarse Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons good olive

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Cut small slits along the length of the tenderloin and insert half of a garlic clove.  Rub the entire tenderloin with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  Place the tenderloin in a long metal baking pan and sear on all sides until browned.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and roast the tenderloin for about 45 minutes, for medium rare, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reaches your desired doneness.  Slice 1/2 inch thick slices and place on a serving platter.

Horseradish Sauce:

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons good horseradis

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Mix all ingredients and serve in a small crystal bowl on the meat platter.

Snowcrab-special-featured

Chilled Crab Legs with Ravigote Sauce*

This is one of my all times favorites.  Commander’s Palace is famous for their Ravigote Sauce.  Chef Jaime shares this and the other recipes I’ve included in this post that have an asterisk (*) by them.  This is simple and so delicious!

5 pounds snow crab legs

Crab boil seasoning (I use Zatarain’s)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the crab boil seasoning and then the crab legs.  Boil, covered for about 15 minutes.  Remove the legs and chill until ready to serve.

Ravigote Sauce

1 cup Creole Mayonnaise (recipe below)

1/2 cup Creole mustard or coarse-ground German mustard

1 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped

1 medium egg, hard-cooked and diced small

1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, capers, egg, and horseradish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Fold in the green onions.  Cover and refrigerate.  It will keep for a few weeks.

Creole Mayonnaise

1 medium egg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 medium white onion, diced

2 1/4 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Place the egg, lemon juice, and onion into the bowl of a food processor and puree.  With the motor running, slowly add half the oil.  Then add the hot sauce, pepper, and salt.  Stop the motor, scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and, with the motor running again, slowly add the remaining oil.  Taste and adjust salt.  Store, covered, in the refrigerator for a week.

Traditions

I can’t think of a more beautiful place during the Christmas season than New Orleans.  Always thought of as one of this country’s most romantic cities, the holidays and all of the special traditions and activities simply add to that reputation.

My favorite place to kick off the holiday season is The Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans.  Thousands of white lights illuminate the lobby turning it into a winter wonderland.

The bar serves libations that can be sipped as you stroll through the lobby enjoying watching the people and the celebrating.

Last night the lights officially welcomed the season of giving as the annual crowd of eager onlookers gathered to watch.  What a beautiful way to begin this time of love, faith and wonder.  It makes me feel like a child again!  Get your “HoHoHo” on and pay The Roosevelt Hotel a visit!  You won’t be disappointed!

Simple Sundays

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This is music I found on YouTube.  A longer selection that most Sunday’s but it’s so beautiful I think you’ll enjoy listening and watching the beautiful pictures of Fall.  The colors, smells and memories of so many wonderful times with family and friends during this special time of year come to mind and provide comfort.  I wish you all a beautiful day of rest filled with love, good food, good drink and someone you love.  Peace!

Simple Sundays

 

Ethereal music for a quiet Sunday morning.  French pressed coffee with chicory in my over sized mug….a splash of real cream.  I find it’s the little things that make more sense to me now.  Slowing down to a gentler way of living.  I have a sense of eternity not known to me before the losses of this past year.  I also have an inner peace I have not experienced before.  There are times when it is still unbelievable….how could it all have happened?  The important thing is to continue to live and to savor the many memories.  Always remember…the love never dies…not ever.  Peace!

Autumn Appetite!

The weather is still up and down with warm days and somewhat cooler evenings.  Summer food doesn’t appeal any longer!  I’m sharing a menu that I think of as transitional, it’s easy and so delicious.  Whether you are entertaining or serving a Sunday dinner to your family, I think this fits the bill!  Enjoy and bon apetit!

Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

 Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

Plum Torte

White Bordeaux

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Endive Spears with Herb Goat Cheese

2 heads of endive, washed and separated into spears

1 small log goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped, flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh chives

1 teaspoon minced, fresh garlic

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the endive spears, wash them and separate the spears, then place them on a plate.  Let the goat cheese come to room temperature.  Mash with a fork, adding the fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Place one teaspoon on the end of each endive spear.  Arrange on a serving plate, that’s it!  Quick, delicious and not too fattening either!

chicken with pasta and veggies

Chicken with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Olives and Capers over Quinoa Spaghetti

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

1 box cherry tomatoes

1 cup pitted olives (I get an assortment from the bin at Harris Teeter where you can choose from different varieties)

2 tablespoons capers, drained

2 cloves garlic minced

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped, flat leaf parsley

Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry.  Place the olive oil in a large skillet, bring to medium heat.  Brown the chicken breasts well on both sides, remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate.  Add the white wine over high heat to deglaze the drippings from the chicken, let reduce by about 1/4.   Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about ten minutes.  Return the chicken to the skillet, spooning the sauce over it and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat.  Serve over pasta with asparagus on the side.

Fresh Asparagus with Lemon Butter

1 bunch fresh asparagus, wash well and snap an inch or so off of the bottom of each spear

1/4 chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about two lemons and zest from one lemon

Steam the cleaned asparagus in the chicken broth for about seven minutes, until “just tender”, add the butter, lemon juice and zest, tossing well.  Serve on the side with the chicken and pasta.

plum torte

Plum Torte

(Thanks to www.forgoodnesstaste.com for the lovely photo and recipe)

1/2 c butter

1/2 c sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. almond or lemon extract)

1 c flour 1 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)

1/4 tsp. salt

Topping: 1/2 c. sugar + 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375º.  Butter an 8×8 pan.  Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla (and almond or lemon extract).  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add it in all at once and just mix until combined.  Don’t overmix or your batter will be tough!  (Mixing builds gluten which you want in bread, but not in pastry!)  Spread in the bottom of your buttered pan.

Place the plum halves into the batter by laying them on top, skin sides down, and pressing gently to “set them” in the batter.  Then spread the topping over the top of it all.  It will look like way too much cinnamon sugar, but it isn’t!  Trust me!

Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the plums have begun to give off their juice and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

On The Lakefront

 

 

As the weather cools off festivals and concerts begin to pop up all over the North Shore and New Orleans area.  People meet in throngs to celebrate the gentle lake breezes and enjoy wonderful music and food.  Last Saturday night was no disappointment as we met friends for the Louisiana Philharmonic Halloween concert.  We loved hearing the famous music of Saint-Saens, among others.  Thousands of locals congregated at the band shell on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain sharing picnics, wine and joy.  It reminded me of my New York City days when we always met friends in Central Park for the amazing concerts there.  One thing I love about this area are the similarities I find to bigger city living.  And the fact that everyone is always ready to celebrate….even for no reason!  But at this event it was all about witches, goblins and all things Halloween.  Skylar took the video you see above.  It will definitely give you a sense of the spirit of the evening.

I couldn’t help taking a photo of two witches posing on the wall that borders the shoreline.  I would love to have included shots of the Louisiana Philharmonic as they played….way too crowded to even get close.  So we sat back, visited with friends both expected and unexpected!  It’s always so good to run into people you haven’t seen for months.  The festival atmosphere of the evening was wonderful!  Cool breezes….good red wine….cheese from Acquistapace and a lovely evening of fun and merriment!

As we packed up to leave the sun was setting on the western horizon of the lake.  Sailboats lazily rocking in the water made me wish I were on board.  What a beautiful place this is.  I never cease to be enchanted by the culture and history as well as the spirit of the people who call this home.  I’ve been here for three years now.  Not the easiest of times but every day gets a little better and I fell a bit stronger.  I’m learning that time is the only healing balm for sadness.  Have a wonderful Halloween this evening….wherever you may be!  We’ll be with friends celebrating the evening and the season.  Fall has arrived and not a moment too soon!

 

 

Simple Sundays

 

 

 

The piece I discovered and decided to feature today is the final piece from Eric Whitacre’s electronica opera “Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings”.  “BLISS’ has long been one of my favorite words.  This is not a long piece but it is beautifully ethereal.  It brings a feeling of peace to my heart that is much needed.  I hope you’ll relax and enjoy!  Do something just for you today.  What brings you bliss?  The answer is within…only you can find it! Peace!

 

It Was Divine!

Forks & Corks….the scene of a fabulous 80’s Halloween Five Course wine tasting dinner on Wednesday evening. Guests arrived in the finest 80’s costumes.  Even “Ronald Reagan” made an appearance, shaking hands as he worked the room!  If you haven’t experienced the culinary magic of Chef Austin ‘hoss’ Blaise then make a reservation and enjoy a real treat…no tricks involved.  I’m featuring some photos from the evening as well as the food.  So let’s begin!


Halloween vignettes filled the main part of the restaurant….fog machines and all to provide a ghostly feeling for this very special evening!

Tables beautifully set waited for the evening’s guests to arrive.

We began the evening with a delicious “Ghostly Gnocchi”.  The dish featured handmade pumpkin gnocchi with a generous dollop of mascarpone, pancetta lardons, toasted pistachio nuts and fresh sage.  Each bite was filled with the distinct flavors of Fall, a perfect combination of textures and, of course my favorite, pistachio nuts!  Served with a crisp Landmark Chardonnay the festivities began.

Next up, “Spooky Salmon”.  Olive oil poached salmon with crispy rock shrimp, squid pasta pearls, charred garlic and tomato confit with fresh basil butter….foodie heaven!  Not only beautiful to look at, the dish was a hit!

A “Demonic Duck” dish followed, but I would think of a more heavenly name!  The flavors of this amazing entree did not disappoint.  Molasses cured duck breast served atop sweet potato pave with blackberry compote and chipotle gastrique.  This dish was probably my favorite of the evening, but it would be hard to say.

This amazing Chateauneuf du Pape helped bring the flavors alive, enhancing the molasses flavor of the duck breast….c’est magnefique!

This divine beef dish named “Scared Sh**tless Shortribs” completed the entrees for the evening.  Braised in Guiness Stout, the shortrib was placed atop a serving of roasted butternut squash polenta with bacon-red onion marmalade and wilted spinach.

Yes, I did manage to save room for dessert!  “Boo Brownies” provided the perfect ending to this lovely five course treat.  The white chocolate brownie, served with a scoop of dulce de leche gelatto made my heart sing!  I definitely had a clean plate after this delectable course.

I highly recommend this delightful dining destination.  With it’s lovely ambience and friendly, knowledgeable staff, it’s a winner .  Located at 141 TerraBella Blvd. in Covington, this could very well become one of your favorite spots for date night or any occasion.  Owner, Osman Rodas, our host for this wonderful evening, also owns Pardos American Bistro, soon to open in its new location and Pepe’s Mexican Kitchen in downtown Covington.   We hope to have news for you soon as we begin scheduling podcasts and video taping in December.  These restaurants will certainly be on our list of the best places to eat on the North Shore.

For reservations, please call:  985-273-3663

Wine…Dine…Fall For The 80’s

It’s happening tonight…6:30 pm…Forks and Cork is the location.  Think of your favorite 80’s character and put on your costume! This place is a sleeper. Tucked away at 141 TerraBella Blvd. in Covington, this is the perfect setting for intimate dining and some of the best food I’ve experienced on the North Shore.   Tonight will be a fabulous time for people watching and enjoying our “Fall into Fall” as local weather cools down a bit!

Image result for forks and corks covington louisiana

This will be a sumptuous  “wine and dine” dinner.  The five course menu will have you wanting more as it begins with “Ghostly Gnocchi” and carries through with delicious Salmon, Duck and Shortrib dishes all paired with the perfect wine.  The evening ends with “Boo Brownies”.  You will NOT be disappointed!

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Forks and Corks is the place.  The food is delicious and the wine will be perfect!  I hope to see you there!  I’ll be the one looking like “Stevie Nicks”!  Stay tuned for photos and reports on the event this coming Friday!

Forks&Corks…..985-273-3663 for reservations!  COME JOIN ME!

Simple Sundays

 

What better way to start the day than with mellow music and beautiful sunflowers, nature and horses?  Getting back into horseback riding is on my bucket list…wish me luck!  I discovered Mark Knlopfler’s lovely music while browsing on YouTube.  I hope you’ll enjoy the music, sip your coffee or tea and plan a wonderful, relaxing day!  Peace!