Profile

jawinfree

I grew up outside of New Orleans so food has always been a big part of my life. Cooking at home is very important to me - we rarely eat out or do takeout while at home.

  • Location: USA
  • Favorite foods: Asparagus, salads - grain or veggie-based, Veal Chops, Foie Gras (only about 3 times a year), smoked meats, pulled pork, jelly belllies, nachos, chicken (as long as not dry), flank steak, my dad's brisket, beets, snap peas....
    I could go on and on.
  • Last bite on earth: Salad of roasted beets and goat cheese, a small portion of spaghetti with olive oil, parmesan and black pepper, a veal chop, grilled served with a half of a deep fried artichoke as found in the Travestere district of Rome. No dessert.

School Food we actually LIKE...

I went to a small, private, Catholic elementary school in south Louisiana. And we had awesome lunches, mainly because the women were moms, Italian, made most things from scratch and had been there forever because they liked the kids. I was just inspired to look at their current menu and much is the same - spaghetti (they made an amazing red gravy that I still remember), jambalaya, red beans and rice, turkey casserole, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken parm. Hope that it is still similar in quality. We were definitely spoiled, as we learned once we got to the public high school in the same town.

Who amongst us, has the best pickiest eater story?

Let me see; as I child I wouldn't eat eggs in any recognizable form but had no problem with custard, which killed my mom since I claimed that I was "allergic" to them. Now, love them in any form and the runnier the yolk, the better. Also didn't like raw tomatoes and now love them. Otherwise, I did the whole not eating lamb and veal thing while a teenager and now bemoan the meals I missed out on. I do have to have fresh veggies on a constant basis or I get cranky. My mom started me on salad within my first year of life and I think that set me up for my veggie fixation. And now will try almost anything.

I am actually allergic to certain tree nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts) but not to peanuts (not a nut actually but a legume), pistachios, almonds, macadamias. Since I do actually go into anaphylactic shock, pretty sure that my allergy is real. My younger brother is allergic to all fish but not to shellfish or oddly, tuna in a can. Same reaction so same conclusion. Odd that both of our food allergies are somewhat common, but then shoot off from the norm (not peanuts but only certain tree nuts; not shellfish but just fish).

I nannied for a 3 year old who would only eat pasta, string cheese, baby carrots and chicken. And the occasional sweet but that was strictly a day-to-day choice. He had been doing that diet for a year and the pediatrician just said that he was healthy, was getting decent nutrients and to not stress about it too much. Now he's great so... His sister would only eat toast, pancakes, etc. (anything that was one layer and lay flat on the plate) if you made faces on it with various things. That was workable. Another kid I knew ate ketchup as though it was a food group. Oh, and one of my twin nephews (almost 4) is a vegetarian by choice. His brother is decidedly not.

Incidentally, if you want to find an extreme case, you might check out the blog dooce.com. Her older daughter Leta pretty much only eats brown foods, despises cake and if not given options that work for her, will eat only a bowl of croutons at school lunch. That would make me nuts.

Is it bad form to mess with someone's family recipe?

@shoneyjoe - I laughed out loud at your comment. I've so been there!

Otherwise, as has been said, changing hand-down recipes can be tricky, for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with the way the dish tastes. My husband's mother passed away last year (way too young and somewhat unexpected) and since then he has requested a lot of her dishes. Do I love all of them? Nope. Are there any that I hate? Just one and I am exempted from making it due to a food allergy. Have I made all of the rest in the last few months? Yes, with a few judicious changes if I felt they were really warranted. In most cases, he doesn't notice or at least doesn't comment and I don't point them out. It works for us.

Addicted to Garlic !! How bad is it ?

Growing up in South Louisiana, onions are the beginning of almost any savory cooked dish and my family has always added garlic for good measure. I haven't yet noticed any reason to slow down this habit, although I did realize recently that the tzatziki I had made a few days prior was a lot more pungent than it had been originally. I always seem to add a bit too much when making and tasting, somehow forgetting (or ignoring) every time that it will get stronger as it sits. I tell my husband that there are much worse faults, of which I possess many.

New Orleans cookbook

I have to heartily second three of the previous mentions: John Besh's "My New Orleans", Rima and Richard Collin's "The New Orleans Cookbook" and any of the "River Roads" cookbooks (there are 4, I think). Also good to add on would be "Talk About Good" by the Lafayette Junior League and Tom Fitzmorris's "New Orleans Food". The foreward may be by Emeril but the cookbook is really solid. I also enjoy his NOmenu.com site for restaurant recs, etc.

2 caveats: be prepared for the amount of butter and heavy cream that will be found in many of these recipes - it is New Orleans after all. And, I was born in th suburbs of NOLA but now live much further afield - SLC to be exact. I may wax rhapsodic about the food scene there a bit too much and be unfairly prejudiced.

Good Cooking!

Preggo control freak seeks TG menu advice...

I agree with therealchiffonade about lists and schedules being done in advance - I love doing those for any big event or dinner. I find that it really helps to center me and meals usually go off well when I have done those. Bar the gravy turning over in the car and other such disasters.

And I also commiserate with you on the whole transporting it thing and doing it all yourself, no matter how much you love cooking and want to keep tradition alive. I actually was going to start my comment with some words about not holding onto your issues with family (we all have them) and their lack of enthusiasm/willingness to help, etc. But then I started thinking about how some members of families just end up being the ones doing it all because we don't say no, we want traditions to stay alive, we actually want to eat good food at a holiday (and all other days as well) and so on. Guess I'm still holding on to my issues - SIL pregnant, has to have tons of protein, no gluten, some hate turkey, gelatin salad is still a "must" for the table, how many leftovers can we take home if we contribute nothing but our presence to the meal; that list is apparently endless for my family. Oh the joy!

But kudos for taking it on, I vote for 2 starches minimum (including bread) - maybe a rice-based dressing with sausage in it? This is one I've been successful with in the past: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wild-Rice-Dressing-with-Sausage-Corn-and-Leeks-104301
I do just use a wild rice blend and add chopped onion, garlic, celery and sometimes carrot to amp up the veggies, as well as subbing andouille for the smoke sausage. Does really well being made ahead as directed in the recipe and then finished day of. I always feel like with more than one starch on the table, rice is a good second option to potatoes, etc.

Otherwise, have a happy TG, and good luck with the transport - you really can't overthink that part, as well as making things more secure than you feel they need to be for the trip.

Cafeteria Food

I went to a small, private, Catholic elementary school in south Louisiana. And we had awesome lunches, mainly because the women were moms, Italian and had been there forever because they liked the kids. I was just inspired to look at their current menu and much is the same - spaghetti, jambalaya, red beans and rice, turkey casserole, mashed potatoes, chicken parm. Hope that it is similar in quality. We were definitely spoiled, as we learned once we got to the public high school in the same town.

What's your "Death Row" meal?

Fried Oyster, Bacon, Romaine and Avocado Salad (Luke, New Orleans) BBQ ribs (City Market, Luling, TX)
Frites and Belgian sauce to accompany (Friet Museum, Bruges)
Burger of the Gods (Lunchbox Laboratory, Seattle)
Iceberg wedge salad with my dad's blue cheese dressing and a few vine-ripe chunks of tomato with plenty of salt and pepper
A few French caramels finished with fleur de sel
Profiteroles filled with pastry creams and finished with dark chocolate sauce

Have sirloin steaks - now what? Help!

I would recommed cutting the meat very thinly (freezing for 15 minutes or so helps with this) and then making beef stroganoff. Add butter to a large skillet over medium high heat and then saute 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and one onion, diced. Season with salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. Remove from pan once both are cooked - about 5-7 minutes and set aside. Add more butter to the pan, season the beef strips with salt and pepper and saute till browned. Then add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of dried mustard and one beef boullion cube that has been dissolved in 2 cups of boiling water. Add 1 teaspoon of dried dill if you'd like. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until beef is tender. If there is a lot of sauce after simmering, take 2 tablespoons of flour and mix it into 1/2 cup of cold water. Add to meat mixture and bring to a boil. Let that boil for 1 minute or so to remove the raw flour taste. Your sauce should be thicker. Then add the mushroom onion mixture to the beef as well as 16oz of sour cream, making sure to not boil the sour cream. Heat everything through and serve over egg noodles or rice.

It is warmer weather so maybe beef stroganoff seems a bit heavy but this is a dish my husband will request on the hottest day of summer. And I have to admit, it is really good.

Cook the Book: The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook

Oh, and thank you so much @thonner for the en papillote suggestion. We all love fish and that is such a simple and elegant presentation. With a cold rice salad, that could be a very nice meal.

Cook the Book: The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook

I am not gluten-intolerant but have a SIL and nephews who are quite sensitive to it. So my cooking of family dinners has had to change a bit. I still make chicken "pot pie" but use cornstarch to thicken and top it with mashed potatoes so more of a shepherd's pie variation. A lot of roasted turkey and pork with rice stuffings for the "important" meals have come into play. For the more everyday, everyone loves a roasted chicken and I use polenta about every way that you can - soft, grilled, patties, as a grits casserole. It can be thought-provoking to adapt but not impossible by far.

The Condiment Game

Well , if we had to be limited (which would kill me as I am the "Condiment Queen"), they would be

Mayo
Grainy mustard
Soy Sauce
Sriracha
Vinegar - either red wine or rice wine

This is really hard....

Dinner Tonight: Baked Ziti

Just as an FYI, probably best to not use whole wheat pasta in this recipe. I made it using just that awhile back and the noodles completely disintegrated and became mushy. And to think that I was trying to balance a bit of health with the fatty deliciousness!

Guilty Food Pleasures

Let me see, even my my husband doesn't know about some of these. The shame is too great....

StoveTop Stuffing - I can eat a bowlful or more in one sitting
Taco Bell Baja Chicken Chalupa
McDonald's Fries
Pringles - really, any flavor
Jelly Belly jellybeans - Lemon, TuttiFrutti and Orange

Okay, now I will hang my head in embarassment.

Beer Dinner - Menu thoughts

My husband and I are crazy about beer and food pairings, well he more about the beer and me the food. We are hosting our second "Beer Dinner" this weekend and have come up with this tentative menu. I'm just curious about other's thoughts, comments and ideas.

* Chicken Liver Pate with Crostini
* Beet and Apple Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette
* Lamb Meatballs with Mint Pesto, Whipped Goat Cheese with Lemon Zest, Reduced Balsamic Syrup and Toasted Pine Nuts
* Short Ribs, Asian Style with Jasmine Rice Cakes
* Shrimp in an Ouzo and Beer Scented Tomato Sauce over Roasted Root Vegetables
* Tripel Bock Truffles and Beer Shakes

A few notes: I know that serving the shrimp after the beef may be considered odd but we have some somewhat picky eaters coming and believe it or not, serving shrimp and lamb successively may leave some diners not eating 2 courses in a row. And yes, we should make the menu approachable but when serving more than 10 people, you end up with some issues that can't be avoided. Also, 6 courses instead of 5 is a bit out of the norm but dessert is my least-favorite and so I am copping out a bit on it and would rather put my focus on the savory items. Plus each course will be on the small side.

My husband has yet to choose the beers for each course (we divide the duties so well!) but I am looking for feedback about the menu.

Quick and Easy Mac and Cheese

I'm in a bit of a quandry as my MIL passed away a few months ago and now, no one can find her recipe for an easy mac and cheese. None of us ever made it, it was just something she would serve when we had dinner at her home.

I do have my own recipe for mac and cheese, but it is more sophisticated and a lot more work. Plus my husband really wants this "comfort food." What I do know about her version is that you used uncooked elbow macaroni, shredded cheese (definitely cheddar and maybe another kind?) and poured milk, pretty sure whole or 2%, over the dish once assembled. Then it simply baked.

Can anyone help me with my problem?

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I often find myself craving that crispy, saucy, glazed fried chicken that's ubiquitous on Chinese-American restaurant menus—the stuff used to make General Tso's, or Orange Chicken, or Sesame Chicken, or Americanized versions of Kung Pao Chicken. But frankly, the sauces and vegetables that come with most restaurant versions just ain't very good. Wouldn't it be great if I could just make this stuff for myself at home to suit my own tastes? Yes. The solution is picking up a couple boxes of chicken nuggets from Popeye's to use as the foundation. More

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