Traditional recipes

The Food Almanac: Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Food Almanac: Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Appetizing Streets Around New Orleans
There are two Lemon Streets in Metairie, the suburb of New Orleans just west of the city limits. The longer of the two begins at Argonne Street (a block south of West Napoleon) and ends at West Esplanade. It's interrupted three times along the way as it parallels Transcontinental Blvd., one block east. The best restaurants near Lemon Street are Cypress (a block west, just north of West Esplanade. The other Lemon Street runs east-west for two blocks in Old Metairie, from the Seventeenth Street Canal to Carrollton Avenue.

Edible Dictionary
kaffir lime, n.--A small, rough-skinned, very tart lime fruit, native to Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The leaves of the small tree on which it grows are probably more widely used in cooking than the fruits. They certainly are in America, where the leaves are popular in Thai cooking. But the skin of the fruit also winds up in the dishes on that region, particularly in curries. The leaves are unique: they look like one leaf growing out of the end of another. The give off an interesting oil that adds an aromatic quality to dishes it flavors. The word "kaffir" is an ethnic slur in South Africa, and some would like to see another name used for this lime and its leaves.

Gourmet Gazetteer
The Thousand Islands Bridge connects Canada and the United States across the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. It opened today in 1938. It links three islands in the river, which contains many more. The area is called the Thousand Islands. It is the namesake of the salad dressing. It's not known for certain who invented thousand island dressing--Russian dressing made with mayonnaise instead of yogurt, with chopped onions and pickles added. It is widely supposed that all these little solid bits are the "islands." But the islands under and around the bridge is the real inspiration for the name. Thousand Islands dressing seems to be going out of vogue in recent years, except as a spread for a reuben sandwich.

Eating Around The World
This is the anniversary of the founding of Hungary, in 1000. Stephen, prince of the Magyars--a people who came to what is now Hungary from Asia centuries before--declared Hungary a Christian nation. The pope recognized his authority, and that put Hungary on the map. Hungarian food is distinctive and influential, its flavors having migrated into surrounding countries, notably Poland. Its most famous flavor is that of paprika, but that didn't come along until Columbus brought red peppers to Europe. Hungary's famous wine is Tokai, one of the world's best sweet wines. Not many Hungarian restaurants exist around America, which is too bad. The cuisine is distinctive and good.

Annals Of Pots And Pans
Today in 1913, stainless steel was invented by Harry Brearly. He was working on new alloys for making rifles in Sheffield, England. A bit of chromium in the alloy forms a thin layer on the outside, with the property of healing itself if it oxidizes. It keeps the iron component from rusting. I'm a big fan of stainless steel cookware. Not only is it the preferred material for saucepans and skillets (as long as a heavy bottom layer is attached to transmit heat more uniformly and slowly than steel does), but my entire countertop is made of the stuff. We never worry about where we put hot pans when we take them off the stove.

Annals Of Knives And Cans
This is the birthday (1912) of Jerome Murray, whose most famous invention was a pump that made open-heart surgery possible. However, he also created a number of machines used to produce, package, and cook food. One was a pump to fill cans of soup without crushing the more delicate vegetables. He also invented an electric carving knife and a pressure cooker that gave audible indicators of what was going on inside.

The Saints
Today is the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He lived in the eleventh century, born in the French nobility, and became a Doctor of the Church. He is a patron saint of beekeepers. More important to us here in New Orleans, he was the patron of Bernard Marigny de Mandeville, one of the most famous figures in the early history of our city. St. Bernard Avenue is named for him, in indirect honor of Bernard Marigny, on whose former land the lower part of the street lies.

Food Namesakes
Jack Teagarden, one of the all-time greats of jazz and Big Band trombone, let out his first note today in 1905. . Dr. John Cooksey, Congressman from north Louisiana, was born today in 1941.

Words To Eat By
"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons."--Alfred E. Neuman.

Words To Drink By
"Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise."--Miguel de Cervantes.


Regency Eating.


We are eating in Enland during the Regency period today, which will be nice for a change. John Simpson gives a suggested menu for each day of the year in his book the Complete System of Cookery, published in 1816. Cook books of the time often showed how to set the dishes out on the table too, because the style of service was quite different to today, and the overall display as the diners approached the table was most important. There were generally two courses, each course containing a number of dishes which were arranged on the table with great symmetry. The guests certainly got to appreciate the spectacle, but the food must often have been cool before they got to it. There was no clear distinction between savoury and sweet dishes, although in the particular example today there is nothing that we would confuse with ‘dessert’. When the two courses were eaten, guests would then enjoy the ‘banquet’ – often in a different location. The banquet consisted of fruit and sweetmeats, and eventually all the sweet dishes moved over to the banquet ‘course’ – which eventually became ‘dessert’, from the French verb meaning to ‘un-serve’ or clear away.

We are eating in Enland during the Regency period today, which will be nice for a change. John Simpson gives a suggested menu for each day of the year in his book the Complete System of Cookery, published in 1816. Cook books of the time often showed how to set the dishes out on the table too, because the style of service was quite different to today, and the overall display as the diners approached the table was most important. There were generally two courses, each course containing a number of dishes which were arranged on the table with great symmetry. The guests certainly got to appreciate the spectacle, but the food must often have been cool before they got to it. There was no clear distinction between savoury and sweet dishes, although in the particular example today there is nothing that we would confuse with ‘dessert’. When the two courses were eaten, guests would then enjoy the ‘banquet’ – often in a different location. The banquet consisted of fruit and sweetmeats, and eventually all the sweet dishes moved over to the banquet ‘course’ – which eventually became ‘dessert’, from the French verb meaning to ‘un-serve’ or clear away.

There were two dishes ‘à la Flamond’ on this day, which seems to be taking balance a little too far, to me.

Soup à la Flamond.
Shred turnips, carrots, green onions, and one Spanish onion add lettuce, half a pint of asparagus peas put them into a small soup-pot, a little stock, and about two ounces of butter put them on a slow stove to sweat down ofr an hour put in as much flour as will dry up the butter then fill it up with best stock, and let it boil by the side of the stove for half an hour. Make a laison of the yolks of four eggs (for two quarts of soup) beat the yolks up well with a spoon put a pint of cream that has been boiled and got cold strain it through a sieve, and put a large spoonful of beshemell to it: take the soup from the fire and put in the laison, keep stirring while putting it in, then put the soup on the fire be sure to keep stirring it until it comes to a boil, then take it off: keep it hot by putting the soup-pot into a stew-pan of hot water

Cauliflower à la Flamond
Boil the cauliflower: when done take it up and lay it on the back of a sieve to drain all the water from it, then put it into a stew-pan with a little beshemell when quite hot, dish it up, put parmasan cheese, then brown it with a salamander.


'Treme' Cookbook Captures The Flavor Of A Show And A City

If you find yourself craving New Orleans food, you could go there and melt in the sweltering heat for a dose of gumbo or praline bacon. Or you could settle in on your couch, as I've been doing, and torture yourself watching reruns of the HBO series Treme. It's set in post-Katrina New Orleans and, along with the music, it puts the city's food on center stage.

Now, if you want to cook the food for yourself, there's Treme: Stories and Recipes From the Heart of New Orleans. It's written by Lolis Eric Elie, a writer and story editor on the show, who was born and raised in New Orleans.

The cookbook is divided into sections, each told in the voice of one of the characters — from Janette Desautel, the chef, to Antoine Batiste, the trombonist. Elie says he wanted them to have their own chapter so they wouldn't interrupt each other.

"These are the voices I hear when I walk down the street: 'Boy, you gotta soak your red beans the night before or otherwise they're going to take forever to cook. Or you need to put pickle meat in those beans — I don't know what all this vegetarian stuff is about,' " Elie says. "People talk about the fact that they're sitting in the supermarket line in New Orleans, and people say, 'How you gonna fix that? White beans and shrimp? What you gonna do with that?' I don't think that happens as much in other cities."

The show includes real life musicians and cooks. When we see Kermit Ruffins, he's often cooking over a barbecue.

Elie says he called Ruffins to get his butter bean recipe, but he realized Ruffins wasn't going to write it down for him. Instead, he interviewed the musician to get the details.

For more, listen to my conversation with Elie on Tuesday's All Things Considered. And while you wait for Treme to start up again in December, Elie says you can do one thing: eat.

Recipe: Stuffed Mirliton

(from Treme character Davina Lambreaux)

8 medium mirlitons (chayotes)

3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon Basic Creole Seasoning Blend

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus about 5 tablespoons

2 celery stalks with leaves, finely diced

1/4 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions, white and tender green parts

2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1/2 cup very fine dried bread crumbs, plus about 5 tablespoons

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Put the mirlitons in a 3-gallon pot, or two large stockpots, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot(s) and continue boiling, just until the mirlitons are fork tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer the mirlitons to a colander to drain and cool.

Once cool enough to handle, place the mirlitons on a cutting board or other flat surface. Cut them in half lengthwise. With a paring knife, shallowly trim away any spiny or blemished spots from the skin and tough pulp from the end nearest to the seed. Remove and discard the seed and use a small spoon to carefully remove the pulp from the inside of each half, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick shell. Drain the mirliton pulp in a colander, lightly squeezing it to release excess moisture, then chop the pulp. Set aside the pulp and shells.

To make the stuffing: Season the shrimp with the Creole seasoning and cayenne, mixing well. Set aside. In a heavy 5-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven over low heat, melt the 1/2 cup of butter. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the celery, bell pepper, parsley, green onions and garlic, and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the reserved mirliton pulp and cook for 6 minutes. Put 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs into a small bowl.

Once the mirliton pulp mixture has cooked for 6 minutes, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bread crumbs, mixing thoroughly, then continue adding 2 tablespoons at a time until you have added all of them, stirring thoroughly between additions.

Cook the mixture over low heat, until it is noticeably dryer but still moist, about 3 minutes, stirring as needed. Next, add the seasoned shrimp, salt, and pepper.

Continue cooking until the shrimp turn pink, about 1 minute more, stirring almost constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg, blending well.

Mound the stuffing in the 16 mirliton shells, using it all. Place the stuffed shells in a baking pan, such as a 12-by-17-inch baking pan, that will hold the shells in a single layer touching each other lightly to help support their shapes as they cook. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon more bread crumbs evenly over the top of each stuffed shell and center a scant 1 teaspoon butter on the top of each. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the tops are browned, about 1 hour more. Serve at once.

Note: To make ahead, prepare through the point of stuffing up to 1 day in advance. Cover the stuffed mirlitons tightly and refrigerate. Bake as directed when ready to serve.

Makes 8 main-course servings or 16 appetizer servings.

Microwave pralines are easier to make than stovetop pralines, and just as tasty. Ed Anderson/Chronicle Books hide caption

Microwave pralines are easier to make than stovetop pralines, and just as tasty.

Ed Anderson/Chronicle Books

Recipe: Microwave Pralines

(from Treme character LaDonna Batiste-Williams)

1 pound light brown sugar

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream plus 1 to 3 teaspoons cream or milk for thinning batter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 cups pecan halves, cut in half again (in other words, not too big or small)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Line a heatproof surface like a countertop or 2 baking sheets with wax paper.

In an 8-cup microwave-safe glass measur­ing cup with a handle, combine the brown sugar, cream and corn syrup, mixing until all the sugar lumps are dissolved and the bat­ter is well blended.

Position the measuring cup in the micro­wave so you can see how the batter inside measures the batter will be at or near the 2 1/2-cup mark. Microwave on high without covering or stirring, watching it continuously, until the mixture slowly bubbles up to slightly higher than the 8-cup mark and then deflates to near the 4 1/2-cup mark, 10 to 16 minutes (depending on how quickly your microwave cooks). Do not open the microwave during the cooking process and, if in doubt, cook for less time, not more.

(If you want to make praline sauce instead of pralines, let the batter cook as directed until it has expanded to slightly over the 8-cup mark and then has slowly deflated just to the 7-cup mark. Use warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate the leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 1 week.)

Carefully remove the very hot measuring cup from the microwave and, using a sturdy metal mixing spoon, gently stir in the pecans, butter and vanilla, being careful to not splash any of the hot mixture on your skin. Continue stirring until the mixture is noticeably less glossy, about 3 minutes.

Working quickly, and using two spoons, scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the wax paper, about 1 inch apart and, using a second tablespoon to push the batter off the mixing spoon. If necessary, thin the batter with the remaining 1 to 3 teaspoons of cream as you reach the end of the batter and it thickens as it cools. Let the pralines cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes, then serve as soon as possible. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes 24 to 34 two-inch pralines, or 3 cups of praline sauce.

From Lolis Eric Elie, Treme: Stories and Recipes From the Heart of New Orleans, Chronicle Books (2013). Excerpted with permission.


Watch the video: Friday, August 9, 2013- Evening Edition (December 2021).