May 192015
 

nola4

For decades now various groups of my friends have bellowed at me in disbelief that I, of all people, considering my love for music, passion for the Blues, food, history & symbolism MUST get thee to New Orleans and why not during Jazz Fest.

With my entire Jazz Fest weekend sorted out months in advance by a native of Louisiana, veteran festival attendee, mad foodie & hugely resourceful friend of a friend with friends in many places and I with a few crib notes of my own I shed a number of deep seeded qualms and I was off to New Orleans.

My first approach to the fairgrounds was a very daunting affair ‘Elton John Saturday’.

Mother Nature was showing off that morning giving us her most perfect festival weather in days so to begin with I learned very quickly that my friend had not seen traffic backed up the way it was since Bruce Springsteen played the festival a few years ago. Her parking spot at her friend’s home just around the corner from the front gate pedestrian aorta was taken so we were forced to drive around to the exact opposite end of the fairgrounds, paid to park on a front lawn, then weaved our way for what seemed like miles through a neatly maintained neighborhood of ranch homes where hawking kids saw brisk sales of lemonade & water, then through a few security checks points, ticket scanned, a walk past the stables then onto the pitch and that’s when I saw the CRAWFISH MONICA ‘booth’.

Like the sound of a gong going off in my head a calm came over me, I felt settled in, as I recalled and heard my dear friend Suzie B’s distinctive voice saying, ‘You’ve gotta have the Crawfish Monica”. Note ‘gotta have’ and not try, crawfish Monica.  She said this to me so emphatically this is when I caved, 6 months prior to Jazz Fest, in Austin, Texas at Suzie B’s Rocker’s for Knocker’s benefit to raise money for medical expenses in connection with treatments she’s in need of.  The response to her benefit was overwhelming and it spurred the last prod that got me to The Big Easy.

On my first ever approach to the CRAWFISH MONICA ‘booth’ I said to the  smiling, freckle specked cheeked, young adult wearing her orange, 2015 crawfish Monica T-shirt & baseball cap backwards, “I’ll take a life time supply please” and I hadn’t even tried it – but boy oh boy I could see that this was a dish I was going to eat right up.

So without further ado, let’s see how I’ll make CRAWFISH MONICA – My own

INGREDIENTS

1/2 # organic pasta – I used fusilli Rotini is what most recipes call for.

3 T butter & olive oil

1/2 large onion – diced

3 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 jalapeno minced

Cajun spice mixture – primarily paprika, fresh ground peppers, dry mustard, salt, &  herbs

Sriracha sauce – – squirt

Splash of white wine

Lemon juice – from a good sized wedge

1C heavy cream

1/2 # crawfish tails

Chives or scallions for garnish tho I used fresh watercress

 WHAT I DID

I began by cooking off a 1/2 pound of organic fusilli in a well salted rolling boil for 9 minutes. I retained 1/4 C of the cooking liquid, drained the pasta, returned it to the warm pot, added the cooking liquid & swirled some olive oil over & stirred it. Let that sit with a top on the pot.

I created my own Cajun spice mix as described above. Many spice mixes like this call for onion & garlic powders. I never use them because I’ve never found a quality source.

Mince & prepare all the veg ingredients because once this dish starts cooking it comes together very quickly.

I happen to have butter in the ‘frige because of recent sublets so I used that to cook off the onions, garlic & minced jalapeno. Do not let the onions get color. They cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add your spice mix. Start with 1 teaspoon – especially if you included cayenne pepper in your spice mix. I used 2ts plus the squirt of Sriacha sauce. Squeeze  the juice of a good sized lemon wedge & a splash of wine.  Cook until just evaporated then add the cream & crawfish.  Cook down to thicken.

Pour the cooked pasta into the crawfish & cream sauce. Stir and serve in bowls. Garnish how you wish.

A number of recipes call to add a cup of Parmesan but I didn’t – for a # of reasons I’ll spare you – no wait – one reason, the Italian, Mediterranean diet expert in me would never add cheese to a fish dish. The more I think about it, I think what the Crawfish Monica/Kajun Kettle inventors do is make a Mornay sauce which is a basic bechamel sauce which a Gruyère and Parmesan cheese  is added to.

I’ll eave you with that. Let me know what Dlinquents delve into making this delicacy.

LOVE your FoodD

 

 

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Jun 262013
 

apricotsIt was a rainy Saturday morning before Memorial Day weekend that I sat with my mom flipping through a Martha Stewart Living magazine at The Sage Cafe,  a new family owned cafe, creperie in Riverside/East Providence when I came upon a stunning picture of glowing yellow pitted orbs of apricots with a few star anise & specks of other spices floating in or on a luscious shiny looking liquid with a circular piece of parchment paper ajar in (probably) a Le Creuset

Once I saw the title of the Dessert – Poached apricots in Lillet  I got it. There’s a no brainer for ya but because Ms. Stewart’s recipes are so great, I did read through it. Of course I knew I’d make it my own and have.

Reducing the liquid is also such a treat. The aroma of the wine & spices reducing filled my kitchen even with the windows opened.

I’ve served the poached apricots with dollops of semi warmed vanilla ice cream but really want to serve them with a dollop of honey infused mascarpone drizzled with the Lillet, spice infused reduction ‘sauce’.

Ms. Stewart’s recipe calls for poaching the apricots in a full bottle of the Lillet. I thought bullocks to this. So this is what I did to make this Dlectable, quick & easy D.ssert:

Half (8) apricots, vertically. Save the pits. I used them in the poaching liquid.

Make the poaching liquid by:

I brought about 1/3 of a bottle of the Lillet, (MStewart calls for a whole bottle)  a cup of orange juice, (not called for in the MS recipe) a splash of cold water,(MS calls for 3 Cups to her bottle of Lillet) I did 2 Ts of coconut sugar, (MS calls for 1/4 C of sugar),  1 split vanilla bean, (1 time I had a vanilla bean, other times I’ve used a splash of vanilla extract), a few star anise, I used a pinch of multicolored pepper-corns, a lemon wedge, a cinnamon stick and I tossed in the apricot stones/pits – to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolved then I added the apricots.

I almost couldn’t believe it myself but I did follow MStewart’s direction to place a parchment paper round over the simmering apricots because a friend explained how this helps to keep the apricots in place and they will cook more evenly. It’s important that the apricots simmer and don’t come to a boil. One time they came to a boil & the apricots simply fell apart. They take close to 5-6 mins to poach in the simmering liquid w/the parchment round on top.

Transfer the apricot halves with a slotted spoon to a serving dish.

Begin the reduction process by bringing the poaching liquid to a boil. IMG_1599 It could take nearly 45 minutes until the poaching liquid has reduced by at least half.  I poured the reduction/sauce into a small creamer and let everything chill in the refrigerator before serving it with, as I said, a dollop of semi warmed vanilla ice cream.

My mouth is watering as I write this. I wanna make this right now but serve it with the honey infused mascarpone. It’s Dlicious!

I hope you enjoy this with friends too.

 

 

 

 

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Sep 092012
 

  

It was an overcast day so it was perfect for a trip out to the Madaket Mall, ‘take it or leave it’, ‘swap shop’, ‘reuse ‘center’ at the dump. From here a visit to the Barlett’s Farm ‘mart’ was definitely in order. I left w/a small vidalia onion quiche, 4 ears of corn, a bunch of heirloom ‘purple haze’ carrots and a yellow watermelon, a treat synonymous with Nantucket to me.

Walking to our car I noticed the Nantucket Catch refrigerator truck with the backdoor opened and a lovely woman in an apron just waiting to hand over her goods.  I got us a gorgeous pound of monk fish.

Here’s what I started with to make a lunch in honor of a composer friend visiting the island for the first time.

Ingredients

Monkfish, purple haze carrots, corn, red quinoa

 

Our finished lunch was: pan seared Salt of D Earth seasoned flour & dry mustard dusted monk fish medallions, honey roasted roasted purple haze carrots, freshly steamed corn off the cob dressed w/olive oil & sea salt, red quinoa and a sauce of molasses, rose’, & a splash of earl grey tea

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Jun 112012
 

When Monoprix is your oasis and you eat so fast you can’t take snaps – this is what we get – a watercolor rendition & another meal inspired from this one.

My friend that opened her home to me on the outskirts of Aix, (en Provence) had not answered two of my phone calls nor a text I sent when I arrived at the TGV station to help get me to her place short of my knowing that her place was close to the  Gare Routière/bus station. When I finally arrived to her place which was a miracle that I found the street on a detailed map, the music was blaring and she was cleaning like a maniac. After a brief conversation to bring each of us to the present, I learned that she was just recently dumped by a guy she had been experiencing such joy with. We took a few nips of the Johnnie Walker red I had from one of my flights out on her terrace while she was hung out laundry to dry, then she was back to cleaning mania in the apartment.

It’s Memorial Day Monday pour moi and a public ferier here in France. I relaxed for a bit w/my Essential French book when my friend suggested if I could get some milk and maybe some jambau for her (10 yr old twin) boys which she has raised on her own since they are 2 yrs. old. I suggested some wine.

I was directed to The Super U “Just at the top of the street” from the apartment complex. Let me also add, I’ve been starving since getting on the train dans Cannes, oh, four hours ago.

Sure enough, the Super U, which I noticed on my way – walking from the Gare Routière – bus station to the apartment, was closed up tight as a drum. Walking away backwards from the Super U which is a huge building in this neck of the woods I spotted an Arab butcher shop opened just round the corner. I entered but it was quickly apparent that I would not be returning with liter of whole milk with Arab writing on it, especially when I was instructed for light/skim lait.

It didn’t feel exactly like I was walking through a ghost town but almost. People were about but many businesses were closed.  I forgot to bring my Essential French book and I was really beginning to wonder how this adventure was going to play out as I reached the top of Cours Mirabeau. I remained calm and carried on.  Something told me, “forget searching for groceries in the back streets – especially at this time of day, nearly 7 PM on a public holiday. I stayed my course and in a matter of minutes I noticed a Monoprix – with doors wide open, travelers hanging about, busy as a beehive.

It’s hard to imagine in the tight knit, well traveled world we’re all a part of now that some may not know of Monoprix – so in short: Monoprix is a French department store and super duper marche/grocer/market w/everything you could ever imagine.

The way I felt when I came upon this Monoprix at nearly 7PM on a public holiday in this most provincial town, it was as though I had come upon Harrods here on the Mirabeau.

This is what I checked out with:

A btl of Rose
Liter of light Lait
1/2 boule of sliced whole grain country bread
A liter of Soup Poissins
1 head of garlic
1 tin of sardines in olive oil
A package of boiled beets
A small round of ‘Billy’ (goat) chèvre
Montagne Les Voiges fromage
4 apricot
1 nectarine
1 bag of thin cracker crisps

I ate an apricot walking up the stairs to leave after checking out. The first thing I made and ate when I got back to the apartment was a piece of toast, then I prepared the toast for the soupe poissins. I rubbed them with garlic and slathered a think glaze of mayo on the toast pieces. Then I was fine to neatly slice and prepare and plate the beets & chevre with a drizzle of olive oil & cracked pepper. I was wishing for chives for some color – but this wasn’t that kind of meal. The liter of soupe poissins came to a good hot temperature over a medium high heat.

My friend ate with her sons while I was out hunting and gathering so I ate with her lovely roommate who speaks very little english – which was fine with me – I was sO hungry. The bottle of Rose’ helped a great deal with the conversation; eventually we were all speaking the same language.

This is the meal my friend made the morning of my departure.

Toasted baguette, frambois infused mineral water with ice, sliced green apple, beets w/chevre, & shaved fennel with a medium soft egg.

 

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