Acadian Cuisine with Chowder a la Mame and a la Red Beans

The nights have grown cold and dark. Soup season, a time when we bathe ourselves in broths and stews and chowders and tea until the frost burns away. We visited Acadian country last summer and enjoyed many delicious seafood chowders. Simon Thibault has authored a cookbook that is testament to the food of the Acadians, Pantry and Palate.

This book has beautiful photography and hearty recipes that will help readers pack on the lard to protect against the chill. I made this seafood chowder recipe because it resembled the meal we had on Prince Edward Island at a local “dinner club.” Fair warning, this is enough soup to last two weeks between two people. Thibault says this is a family recipe used for celebrations and reunions. In his hometown of 300 people, Church Point, the ocean is in view from his porch. There are haddock hanging from clotheslines in the neighbor’s yards. The scallops and lobsters are brought in by fisherman to their doorstep. This is what I imagined life would be like as we walked around Acadia National Park last July.

Seafood Chowder A Mame

Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault.

½ pound butter, divided

1 large onion, minced

2 pounds potatoes, diced into ¼ inch cubes

One pound haddock, shredded into pieces

One pound scallops

One pound lobster meat, shredded

½ pound crab meat

1 ½ tsp old bay seasoning

½ tsp paprika

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp salted onions

500 mL heavy cream

2 TB chives, chopped

Melt ¼ cup butter in saucepan and saute onion.

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and boil  until 2/3rds done, till you can pierce with a fork but not all the way through.

In another skillet, warm up the remaining butter and lobster. Add paprika, seasoning and then the cream.

Bring the potatoes down to a simmer, add the haddock, then add the lobster and cream. Add the scallops, crab meat, and salted onions. Add the bay leaves, keep the temperature low, just to keep warm. Serve with chives.

This is the new Acadian chowder, a la New Orleans.

Red Bean Chowder

Adapted from the Essential Everyday Red Beans package

1/2 lb bacon, cooked and shredded

2 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup diced red bell peppers

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 (16 ounce) package small red beans, cooked

4 cups chicken broth

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes , undrained

1 cup corn, frozen is fine

1 cup half and half

1/4 cup sliced green onions

In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels.

Add onions, peppers, garlic and thyme to bacon drippings; salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions are softened (about 3-5 minutes).

Stir in cooked beans, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes.

Stir in corn and half & half; continue simmering 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions and bacon.

With your extra beans, decorate a costume and join us this year for Lundi Gras Dead Beans Red Beans parade.

Gochujang Chicken with Crispy Rice

If residency forces a woman to identify with any one particular Disney heroine, I feel that Ariel from The Little Mermaid is who I’ve become. Each time I come home from a 30 hour shift and find myself ELATED to have the simple pleasure of making myself a salad at home or sweeping my own floor like a real human, it is as though I’m coming up for air from under the sea and wondering why I can’t use a giant flipper for legs. “What would I give, if I could live out of these waters. What would I pay to spend a day… [like a normal human].”

In the constant hospital bum rush I’ve really just been making slapdash salads before I crash and burn when I get home, but here is what I plan to make again as soon as our chicken defrosts. Because it was so spicy and delicious.

Gochujang Chicken with Crispy Rice

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 small onion, finely chopped

8 garlic cloves, finely grated

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated

¼ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

¼ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more

3 cups cooked short-grain rice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon mustard powder

8 chicken drumsticks, patted dry

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

6 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces

 

Mix onion, garlic, ginger, gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, sesame oil, and 1 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl to combine; set sauce aside.

Toss rice, cumin, garlic powder, and mustard powder in a medium bowl to combine; spread out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, season chicken generously with salt. Heat butter and vegetable oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. As soon as foaming subsides, add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add reserved sauce and bring to a simmer; cook until sauce appears to thin out, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover pot, and simmer, turning occasionally, until chicken is very tender, 45–55 minutes.

Divide rice into 4 portions; form into ¾”-thick disks (moisten hands with water to prevent sticking). Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Working in 2 batches, cook rice cakes, turning halfway through, until crisp, puffed, and golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to plates.

Add scallions to chicken and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top each cake with 2 chicken legs and a few scallions; spoon plenty of sauce over.

And for burnout, I recommend a splash of humor. And kindred spirits to enjoy your scarce meals with…

Thanksgiving Cake, Pumpkin Butter, Sipp Soda and Pistachio Bites

How is this the first time I’ve ever tasted pumpkin butter? The pride of making and canning your own preserves is a delight I discovered in medical school in what was the year of the tomato with a sudden winter that made me want to bottle the summertime like a jam and savor it through the winter.

I’ve been on a Franny Choi kick lately, and her Strawberry Moon poem strikes a chord with this canning business: “The house was filled with the smell of it, the last misshapen,/ sweet-heavy berries of the season losing their shapes on the/ stove. The house was filled with the smell of fruit unbecoming,/ fruit pulled to its knees at fire’s feet.”

This cookbook, Can It and Ferment It by Stephanie Thurow is the answer to the food problem of the fall—too much harvest and not enough belly room. I started with this pumpkin butter recipe, but Mom just sent me my first crock and so more to come in the fermentation department!

Isn’t that cute how the book has these little old-fashioned notecard spaces in the text?! Okay, for the big Thanksgiving dinner—consider this delight. I’ve made this cake twice, once with all the layers as below, and again, with four layers of ALL pumpkin spice.

“And so, as the light died, we put our mouths/ on the least lovable, the too=full, the easy-bruised, we shouted,/ I choose you, and you, and you, and you, and canned that/ hunger, and spooned it into our mouths on the coldest days.”

I am so grateful for the family whose love surrounds me even when I’m so far, in some cold and lonely call room by myself, I feel loved and cared for and blessed because of you, family; and, also, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be someone’s missing family on a holiday night in the hospital when we have no choice but to band together for healing and hope.

Three Layer Thanksgiving Cake

Adapted from Food and Wine

CAKES:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for greasing

2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed and drained if frozen

1/3 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

1 1/4 cups candied pecans, roughly chopped

 

FROSTING:

1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Kosher salt

Make the cakes first. Preheat the oven to 350° with racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds. Butter three 9-by-9-inch metal cake pans and dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 1/4 cups of the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with the granulated sugar, buttermilk and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Divide the batter among 3 medium bowls (1 1/2 cups per bowl). Whisk the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour into one of the bowls, then scrape the batter into one of the prepared pans. Fold the cranberries and cornmeal into another bowl and scrape into a second prepared pan. Fold the pecans into the final bowl and scrape the batter into the last prepared pan.

Transfer all 3 pans to the oven and bake the cakes for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

Meanwhile, make the frosting in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt until smooth.

Place the pecan layer on a platter. Scrape 3/4 cup of the frosting on top and spread to the edge. Top with the cranberry layer; scrape another 3/4 cup of the frosting on top and spread to the edge. Top with the pumpkin layer. You could leave it here and display the variety of the layers without putting icing on the sides, or you could spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake and refrigerate until set, 15 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

Look at this MidCity Dinner Club spread for our Friendsgiving this weekend. So grateful for my neighborhood family.

Okay, and then there’s the beverage department—the most refreshing new organic fizzy goodness that arrived on my porch today was from Sipp! DELICIOUS and fresh an au naturale.

My favorite flavor was the elderflower and tarragon sparkling organic bubbly. And then what am I carrying in my scrub pockets for my on-call in-a-rush healthy snack? Setton Farms Pistachio chewy bites! Pistachios and cranberries individually wrapped so I can tuck them into each and every pocket. They are loaded with magnesium, a mineral which is supposed to help relax and calm the anxious. If I could prescribe them, I would.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Over and out.

Travelwise in Search of Konjac Fideos among Palms

Finally, last weekend, my dream came true and “going to work” meant strolling through gardens of bougainvillea-bestrewn gates, sitting by a pool at a Palm Springs resort, meeting with old friends and colleagues and inventing a new beverage I call the Mexican 75. I love academic conferences. I learned a lot at a leisurely pace.

When I travel, I usually have no packing strategy and I lose half a dozen items and/or I can’t find whatever it is I’ve thrown into my suitcase. I tested out these little Russian nesting doll-style soft suitcase squares from Travelwise and for the first time, I could find my swimsuit and socks after three days at the resort. For those who are delighted by Type A-ness, enjoy.

I have been inspired by this trip and the Mexican 75s (a strangely pleasing combination of tequila, lime juice and champagne) to return to the cookbook L.A. Mexicano by Bill Esparza. You should definitely try this recipe for Fideos (which means noodles).

I substituted the noodles with Konjac noodles made by Skinny Pasta. Konjac is a plant native to Japan, and the noodle substance is harvested from the roots, made into all kinds of noodle and rice shapes. They are gluten free, full of fiber and taste totally neutral.

The konjac rice tasted great with an old favorite stir-fry bok choy recipe I love.

Simple Real Food- Beetology, Radishes, Turnips and Arugula

My existence pivots on the bold discovery I made today—finally, with enthusiasm, I am a woman who eats beets and radishes. In this week’s CSA, I received yet another mother load of Hakueri Turnips and Pink Beauty Radishes, which, in past months I’ve chosen to hawk on fellow beet-lovers (rare friends in New Orleans, okay, just one), but now, I turn these root veggies into beet chips and gobble them up on day one! Root veggie chips without oil! It’s so simple! Slice your beets, your radishes, your turnips on a mandolin into little translucent wet wafers, place on a paper towel and microwave for 3-4 minutes on high until crispy. Careful, my first batch actually caught on fire. So not that crispy. You can eat them with dip, or with a light sprinkling of kosher salt. Gosh, my body is going to really love me for this. Turnip the Beet.

Another brilliant discovery in the name of beet-tolerance is these lovely juices from Beetology. Delicious juices with many flavors! My favorite was beet/lemon/ginger flavor.

Keeping in the healthy groove, I need to shower praise on Simple Real Food by Amanda Cushman. She offers a simple cookbook from a woman who came by her trade honestly, like my mother (and who sort of looks like my mother, and seems to have many of the same gourmet tips to offer as my mother…Mom? Are you sure you don’t have a double life in New York??) So many delicious recipes, with lots of flexibility in the text, which I appreciate.

Amanda Cushman writes that she regards salads as main courses, and I’d say her chapter on Salads and Dressings is the most robust in the book, featuring nearly all the Sirtfoods –arugula, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, and, and…

Arugula Watercress Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Adapted from Simple Real Food

2 bunches of arugula, stems removed, washed and spun dry

2 bunches of watercress, or oak leaf lettuce or curly mustard greens

1 lime, juiced

1 TB dijon mustard (my favorite is The Lusty Monk)

1/3 cup EVOO

2 TB chopped fresh herbs and/or TB of Sunny in Paris spice from Penzeys

Pinch of salt and mignonette pepper

Combine all the washed and spun and ripped leaves together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the lime and dijon and whisk, then add the oil slowly while whisking, then blend in the herbs, salt and pepper. Toss the greens with the dressing and enjoy!

I like to eat mine with candied walnuts or candied pecans. So easy to make! Take ¼ cup sugar (combo of white and brown, as you like), one cup of chopped nuts, and 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt—combine all in a pot and heat over medium-high heat on the stove, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the nuts. Then spread over a paper towel to cool and dry. (If you leave them too long in the pot untended they will turn to rock crystals in the kettle, hell to remove.)

Enjoy again and again–I have had this salad four times in the last week.

 

Vampiro Sauce for an LA Halloween – Be Our Guest

We attempt to bring a touch of Hollywood to LA (Louisiana) every Halloween. A neighbor recently said that living near us brought the excitement of living near a playhouse–always a production in the works.

This year we brought Beauty and the Beast to Midcity Porch Crawl and took home Best Costume for a Group!

For those who wanted to Be Our Guest at the castle, we festooned the dining room with dancing plates and flatware chandeliers.

Izzy thought the ice buckets were for bulldog sampling.

From L.A. Mexicano by Bill Esparza I made this Vampiro Sauce into Grey Stuff, which was indeed delicious. Very garlicky. This cookbook is bright and features portraits and stories of the people who offer their home recipes for public enjoyment in L.A. There is a convenient catalogue of many, many Mexican restaurants you should not miss on your next trip to Southern California. It has been excited to return.

Tastes amazing as a spread on hearty wheat Tartine bread, with spicy black beans and quinoa.  Grey food is not common, though, for a reason.

A beauty and my beast.  Such a wonderful year for costumes and friends and festivity.

 

Nourished on a Sunday

Perhaps Nourished spoke to me because I too recently discovered the healing power of food. Lia Huber has written this charming memoir with spiritual notes—a lovely Sunday morning sort of read—in which she describes the journey to the epiphany that food has soul. There are recipes, but for me, the real grit of her book is in the musing. She writes of faith in a way that is not starched (corn or linen) or overbearing. She founded Nourish Evolution, a movement to inspire and connect people more deeply through real food. This sounds like the sort of thing I am already a part of, seeds I have been already sewing and sprouting within and around me unawares. How very Gospel.

“Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4:27

I enjoyed this memoir this morning with my favorite breakfast—poached eggs on tartine whole-grain millet and flax seed toasts with basil snippings and tomatoes. Poached yolk is the best sauce. My backyard chickens give this five stars. Food is about soul. Penzeys (my favorite spice company) has long understood this. We love people by cooking them tasty and healthy food.

Another Sunday sort of cookbook is Sunday Suppers by the Best of Bridge. Great cake—made it for David’s birthday.  Grandma Ruby, wherever you are, this was a hit.  And Mars, this  American Heritage chocolate was also a hit. Thank you! We are all stocked up for hot cocoa season (as soon as we get some cold weather… in a few months).

If I’m lucky to get a Sunday free from the hospital—you can find me in the kitchen doing marathon-meal-making. This cookbook features recipes that seem in print and in character like they were passed to you by an Aunt Myrtle or the bathrobed lady from the porch next door—the house that always seems to have a pie in the oven. I’m aspiring to be that place. And as for today, the bathrobed lady is me.

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