Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cauliflower-pesto gratin

Less a gratin, and more chunks of cauliflower covered with pesto, cheese and breadcrumbs. But who cares, it still tastes good.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into large pieces and boiled briefly (not cooked all the way through)
1/2 cup shredded gruyere or swiss cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Coat the cauliflower in the pesto and place into a casserole dish. Cover with cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baked apples

Good hurricane food, and this used up all the rest of the apples my mom brought me. As an added bonus, my stepson actually voluntarily ate some. (Me: "Do you want some baked apples?" Him, suspiciously: "What are those?" Me: "Apples with cinnamon and sugar." Him: "Oh, I'll try that!")

Baked apples involve exactly four ingredients:

Peeled apples, cut into chunks

That's it. For every 4-5 cups of apples, add a handful of sugar, and 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Mix all that together, and dump into a casserole dish. Dot the top with bits of butter (maybe 2 tablespoons total) and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so, or until soft all the way through.

Can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature, as a side dish, breakfast, or dessert.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ratatouille salad

More things you can make in advance of a hurricane, that can be eaten at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

1 eggplant, diced
1 large squash or zucchini, diced
1-2 large tomatoes, diced
1 shallot, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, diced
olive oil
fresh thyme
fresh lemon juice

Saute the eggplant in the olive oil for 10 minutes or so, until soft. Remove from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add a little more oil and saute the squash for about 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and thyme, cook for 1 minute. Empty the pan into the bowl with the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lemon juice, and mix together. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No-mayo coleslaw

As Hurricane Irene lumbered up the East Coast yesterday, I spent the day in hurricane preparation.

Step 1: the usual. Make sure we have plenty of water, candles, batteries, and cash. Bring in everything from outside. Pick everything in the garden. Wash all the dishes and laundry in case we lose power. Charge all the phones.

Step 2: Turn all the perishable food into non-perishable versions.

I had a refrigerator full of vegetables. Normally this is a good thing, but if we lost power, I'd be SOL when it came to transforming those veggies into dinner. (Since I don't have a grill or a propane camp stove or anything.) So I spent yesterday cooking, turning all those veggies into things that could be eaten at room temperature. (I also made bread.)

Tabbouleh. Kale salad. And today's no-mayo slaw, recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
1 small head red cabbage, shredded
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 bell pepper and 1 jalapeno, shredded
cilantro to taste

Mix those things together. If you're making this in advance of a hurricane, like me, keep the dressing separate until you want to eat the slaw, to keep it from sitting in the fridge for a few days in its own juices and getting soggy.

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1 small minced garlic clove
1/4 cup peanut or olive oil

Mix together the first three, and add the oil in a steady stream while whisking constantly.

Now, if the power goes out, I have a bare minimum of things that might go bad (mostly the meat in the freezer, and the eggs). All the food I prepared can survive for, and be eaten at, room temperature for several days, saving the space in the cooler for the meat and eggs and whatnot.

Best of all, it's all healthy fresh food, which means we won't have to subsist on granola bars and cold canned soup.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


As Hurricane Irene barrels up the East Coast, I'm in the middle of my hurricane prep. I've lived through hurricanes before, and we're far enough north so that our biggest problem will most likely be lost power. I'm moving all the pots from the container garden inside, along with the patio furniture, and picking every tomato that might even think about being ripe; making more bread and freezing more water; and filling every available container with water, just in case. We've got plenty of candles, games and wine, so we should be fine.

In honor of the occasion, what better drink to pass the waiting game than a Hurricane?

The classic Hurricane recipe is:

1 oz each vodka
light rum
151 rum
triple sec
grapefruit juice
pineapple juice

And the New Orleans variation is:
light rum
dark rum
151 rum
pineapple juice

But I don't have half that stuff, so I make mine as so:

golden rum
dark rum
maraschino cherry juice
sour mix (lemon juice and simple syrup, mixed)
a wee bit of sugar

Shake and serve over ice. Watch The Weather Channel obsessively while consuming.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fried okra

Now, a lot of you are looking at the word "okra" and thinking, "Ewwwwwwww! Slimy!"

This means you have never had okra done the right way.

It's true that okra does get slimy if it's boiled/overcooked. But who would ever want to boil okra? Okra is for two things: gumbo, and fried.

Fried okra is the only vegetable my notoriously picky brother would eat growing up. (I know the "fried" part kinds of kills off the "vegetable" part.) And hey, you can fry cardboard and it would taste good.

For my Northern neighbors who may not be familiar with okra, well, it's not widely available in the Boston area. It needs long, hot summers to grow, and a constant soil temperature of at least 70 degrees. It just doesn't get hot enough up here, which is why when you can find it, it's usually $4.99 a pound at Whole Foods. But down South, it grows like weeds, which is why my mother graciously brought me a bag of it when she visited.

Okra, sliced
Egg, mixed well with 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
Mixture of cornmeal, flour, and spices (mostly cornmeal, maybe 1/8 - 1/4 flour, spices to taste like paprika)
Vegetable oil

Dredge the sliced okra in the egg wash, and cover in the cornmeal mixture--standard frying procedure for anything. Get the oil really hot, preferably in a cast-iron skillet, and fry the okra a handful or two at a time, until browned and crackly on all sides. Let drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Potato and squash tart

When I was a kid, summer dinners usually consisted of a) fresh tomato slices and b) fresh corn on the cob. Maybe c) salad. There wasn't a lot of meat involved, and 98% of it came from the garden.

Last night I served this potato and squash tart with a tomato salad (fresh cherry tomatoes, olive oil, feta), fresh corn on the cob, and some fresh champagne grapes.

It was just about the most perfect summer meal ever.

1 square of puff pastry, thawed
1 potato, sliced thin
1 yellow squash, sliced thin
saffron, if you have it (if not, don't worry about it)
fresh basil

Boil the potato slices for a few minutes, but not until they're all the way done. Just halfway done. Drain.

Lay the puff pastry on a greased baking sheet, prick it all over with a fork, and layer the potato and squash slices in rows. Sprinkle with salt, and saffron if you have it. Bake at 350 until the edges are puffy and browned.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil and serve.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shittake mushroom crostini

My mom brought me four boxes of shittake mushrooms during her visit this past weekend, but they weren't exactly fresh. In fact, they were starting to go bad the very next day. But I couldn't very well let a bunch of shittake mushrooms go to waste, now could I?

I sliced them all, sauteed them gently in a little butter and fresh thyme until browned, and sprinkled with salt.

I then took some homemade bread, sliced it, and toasted it.

Then I layered the mushrooms on the toasty bread and sprinkled it with truffle oil.

Best appetizer ever.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eggplant, squash and tomato gratin

It's a happy day when you find yourself with too many fresh eggplants, squash, and tomatoes to fit onto two ratatouille pizzas--when you have to figure out something else to do with all of them before they go bad.

So I made this eggplant, squash and tomato gratin.

1 eggplant, sliced thinly
2 summer squash (yellow or zucchini), sliced thinly
2 big tomatoes, sliced thinly
20-25 cloves of garlic; or one big onion, sliced thinly
parmesan cheese

First, scatter the garlic cloves or onion in the bottom of a casserole dish, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and layer the vegetables in rows (a row of eggplant, a row of squash, a row of tomatoes, repeat) on top of the garlic/onions. Over each row sprinkle some breadcrumbs and parmesan. Keep adding rows, alternating, on top of each other, until you run out of vegetables.

Technically you could stop here. But I also added a thick layer of chopped fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage, sorrel, and even some baby beet greens) and several slices of provolone cheese over the top.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so--or, in my case, until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.

Sort of like a casserole-style ratatouille, with cheese.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Apple pie

Good ol' all-American apple pie.

My parents were visiting this weekend, and my mom brought me (as per usual) a carload of food. She gave me a gallon Ziploc bag each of fresh basil, rosemary and oregano, a grocery sack full of fresh-picked apples, another sack full of potatoes, a head of cauliflower, 6 squash, four boxes of shittake mushrooms, two huge bottles of lime juice, and another bottle of fresh homemade peach syrup.

I froze the lime juice, put the peach syrup on pancakes, hung the rosemary and oregano to dry, turned the basil into pesto, and turned half the sack of apples into two pies.

Use this pie crust recipe.

Peel several apples and cut into chunks (enough to slightly overfill your pie dish).

Mix the apples with a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or so of cinnamon, another tablespoon of flour, and the juice of a lemon.

Divide the pie dough into two balls. Roll out one, arrange it in the pie dish, and add the apple mixture. Roll out the other half, and cut a few decorative shapes in it. Arrange that over the top, trim the edges, and flute with the edge of a fork.

Mix an egg yolk with a splash of water, and brush that over the top.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then lower to 350 and bake for another hour.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sriracha chard pickles

Check out these Sriracha fridge pickles, made from swiss chard stems. I made them and can I just say this is the best use of Sriracha plus something that would otherwise get thrown out that I know of.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tomato sauce, with fresh tomatoes

I finally collected enough big tomatoes to make a batch of fresh tomato sauce. From my very own garden.

As you might imagine, fresh tomato sauce tastes completely different from that stuff out of a jar. It's much lighter and much more subtle, and so it might taste bland at first (because it's not loaded up with salt and preservatives). But that light, subtle base will give you an excellent launchpad for fresh herbs and fresh pasta.

First, you'll need to peel and seed the tomatoes.

To do that, drop them into a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds or so. When the skin splits, like so:

Remove them with tongs into a bowl of cold water and let them cool down for a minute.

Then the skins will slip right off, no peeling required, just like a pair of pantyhose. (This method works great for peaches, too.)

After that, slice them into quarters, discard the core, and push out all the seeds and juice into a bowl, leaving the meat of the tomato. It'll look something like this when you're done:

Discard the seeds and skins. (And all the juice: this is a fairly messy process.)

After that, just chop the tomatoes and make your sauce.

I like to start with a base of shallots (milder than onions, so the tomato flavor really stands out) and garlic. Saute a chopped shallot and a few diced cloves of garlic in olive oil, then add the tomato chunks.

That's it. Just let that simmer on very low heat for a while. Right before serving, doctor it up with a bit of salt, and freshly chopped oregano and basil. Maybe some thyme. Season to taste.

Like summer in a bowl.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dinner party

I had this awesome dinner party last weekend, full of summer goodness. We had the caprese salad, above, with tomatoes and basil from my very own garden; the watermelon gazpacho, below (added bonus: add some tequila, and this would make a killer Bloody Mary--err, Bloody Maria, as I believe it's called with tequila).

Plus a gruyere souffle and zucchini cake for dessert.

Good friends, good food, a couple bottles of good wine. On a beautiful summer evening. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eggplant caprese

Like caprese salad, but with slices of roasted eggplant thrown in there.

I took an eggplant, sliced it, and roasted the slices in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Then I layered those in a casserole dish with a little tomato sauce, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil, with a tablespoon or so of breadcrumbs and parmesan on top. I baked those at 350 for another 10 minute. A perfect light-yet-filling summer meal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Caprese salad

Good ol' caprese salad. Nothing but slices of tomato, layered with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

But there's one very important point about this particular caprese salad: I grew those tomatoes. And the basil.

I've always wanted to have the caprese-salad-making tools at my disposal--but in previous gardening efforts, the tomatoes were cherry tomatoes, or the basil didn't come up, or there just wasn't enough to go around.

But I made that caprese salad for four adults for a dinner party. That's a lot of tomatoes and basil.

And, really, does anything taste better than a tomato fresh out of the garden, still warm from the sun?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gardening update (warning: with death)

I've declared war on all rodents.

I discovered, just as the tomato harvest was coming in, that squirrels and chipmunks were devastating the harvest. They were stealing and eating as many green tomatoes as they could carry. So far I estimate I've lost at least 25 big beefsteak tomatoes and who knows how many cherry tomatoes, and that's just counting the tomato carcasses I could find.

I mean, just look at those big beautiful heirloom tomatoes up there. Those are MINE. That I've labored over since FEBRUARY. Those squirrels and chipmunks can SIT AND SPIN, and that's putting it nicely.

Here are the bullet points:

1. Squirrels and chipmunks will eat all your tomatoes.
2. Repellents, mothballs, cayenne sprays, and individually Ziploc-ing all the tomatoes will not stop the slaughter.
3. The only thing that works is to kill them.
4. Rat traps and Death Buckets work best for this. (As an added bonus, I've been getting some mice, too. The fact that there are mice around outside mean I will very soon be putting mousetraps back out inside the house.)
5. Death Buckets = fill a 5-gallon bucket about halfway with water. Float about an inch of black sunflower seeds on top. (They float.) Place a board running up the side of the bucket to the top. The chipmunks (and mice, apparently) will run up the plank, see the sunflower seeds, think it's a solid base, and jump in. Then they drown.
6. So far I've nabbed 10 chipmunks, 2 squirrels, and 4 mice. The tomato carnage has dropped precipitously (though it still continues).
7. Don't worry, I brought all the rat traps inside when children arrived. I've been relying solely on the Death Buckets since then.

Unfortunately, rat traps will not automatically kill squirrels--just slowly suffocate them. My husband, bless his heart, obliged by putting them out of their misery with several well-placed shovel blows to the head. That took a little piece out of both our souls. I was hoping to find a more, erm, efficient way to dispatch them, but in the absence of the rat traps, the squirrels are getting especially brazen. They chewed two big holes through a metal mesh screen to get inside the sunroom, whereupon they devastated the bag of sunflower seeds. They're also eating all the seeds out of the Death Buckets (even when there are, you know, bodies in there--ewwwwwwwww), and generally being a giant pain in the ass. I think I will have to put the rat traps back out, and just drown them after they're caught.

(And no, I can't humanely catch them and re-release them somewhere else. That's illegal here.)

The good news is that my cat killed a snake. My blind cat. Killed a garter snake. He was so proud of himself. He finally earned his keep.

The other good news is that things are finally starting to come out of the garden. Tomatoes, a little, but also zucchini and tons of herbs, including the long-awaited basil. The cucumbers and peppers are coming along nicely, I should have something from those plants soon, and the corn is starting to tassel out.

Here's part of the tomato garden, shored up with extra twine:

Here's part of the squash patch and some peppers:

More peppers:

A baby butternut squash!:

A baby pepper!:

Next year, to prevent this kind of wholesale carnage, I think I'll plant one big garden patch (rather than lots of locations all over the yard), plant onions all around the outside, and continue the trapping throughout the winter. If I'd known the chipmunks were going to cause such a problem, I would have done something about the exploding population a long time ago.

Other things I'll do: not plant so many beefsteak tomatoes. They seem to like those way more than the sauce/cherry varieties. Not plant cauliflower or carrots (I lost those to the rabbits first thing). Not plant so many peppers--it doesn't seem to get hot enough here. Plant more kinds of squash and green beans. Get a dog.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crawfish n' grits

Just like shrimp n' grits, but with crawfish!

I made it out of Louisiana crawfish and gator sausage, combined with green peppers, onion, and tomatoes, served over cheese grits. It was really good.

1 onion, diced
2 green peppers, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
olive oil or bacon fat
2 cups tomato sauce, or several big fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 lb sausage (I used gator sausage; andouille would also work)
1 lb crawfish (or shrimp)
seasonings: cayenne, dried chili flakes, salt and pepper, a little cumin
fresh parsley

Quick grits are okay here: make according to the directions, and stir in two big handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese.

Saute the onion, peppers and celery in a little olive oil or bacon fat until soft. Add the sliced sausage. Cook for another couple of minutes, and add the tomato sauce/tomatoes. Add the seasonings, stir well, and cook over medium-low for 15 minutes or so, to let the flavors meld. Add the crawfish/shrimp at the last minute, and serve over the cheese grits with fresh parsley on top.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cinnamon bread

It's that time of year again--time when my stepson visits from California, and refuses to eat anything that doesn't come in hot dog or nugget form.

Well, happily, that's no longer entirely true. He's expanded his repetoire to include spaghetti with tomato sauce (he'll even eat the chunky homemade sauce), carrot sticks, and cinnamon bread. Carrot sticks remain the only vegetable I've ever seen him eat voluntarily--but as long as he keeps eating them like they're going out of style, I don't care. He also ate a little homemade mac n' cheese, after I assured him that I made it with cheddar (he remains suspicious of non-dyed-orange cheddar, even if he watches me take it out of a wrapper that says "cheddar").

I made this loaf of cinnamon bread (courtesy of The Pioneer Woman) on his first day, and he loved it. So maybe one day I'll be able to get him to eat homemade regular bread.

Reprinted below:

1 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Butter
2-1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2 whole Eggs
1/3 cup Sugar
3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
Egg And Milk, Mixed Together, For Brushing
Softened Butter, For Smearing And Greasing

Melt butter with milk. Heat until very warm, but don't boil. Allow to cool until still warm to the touch, but not hot. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir gently, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Combine flour and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add half the flour and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the other half and beat until combined.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and beat/knead dough on medium speed for ten minutes. If dough is overly sticky, add 1/4 cup flour and beat again for 5 minutes.

Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so it's warm. Drizzle in a little canola oil, then toss the dough in the oil to coat. Cover bowl in plastic wrap and set it in a warm, hospitable place for at least 2 hours.  Turn dough out onto the work surface. Roll into a neat rectangle no wider than the loaf pan you're going to use, and about 18 to 24 inches long. Smear with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon together, then sprinkle evenly over the butter-smeared dough. Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal.

Smear loaf pan with softened butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix a little egg with milk, and smear over the top. Bake for 40 minutes on a middle/lower rack in the oven. Remove from the pan and allow bread to cool. Slice and serve, or make cinnamon toast or French toast with it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Herb risotto

One of the most amazing things about gardening is being able to cut handfuls of fresh herbs whenever you want. When we returned from our vacation in New Orleans, there wasn't much in the house (we'd cleaned out the refrigerator before we left), and were expecting houseguests in a few days--so I wanted to wait until the last minute to go grocery shopping.

So I made herb risotto for dinner, using pantry staples (arborio rice, an onion, chicken broth, parmesan) and handfuls of fresh herbs from my backyard: parsley, basil, chives, tarragon, hyssop, marjoram, thyme, and mint.

I made a standard risotto and threw all the herbs in at the last minute. The great thing about this is that you can use whatever you have on hand, and it will still be marvelous.

Friday, August 12, 2011


And last but not least, Cochon.

This was our first meal in New Orleans and my husband's favorite. Cochon and I go way back, I've eaten there every time I've ever been in the city. (It was my second favorite meal of this trip, next to Patois, but Cochon will always be my favorite NOLA restaurant in general.)

The best way to eat there is to split a bunch of the lovely appetizers. Here's what we shared:

fried rabbit livers with toast and pepper jelly
fried alligator
fried boudin balls
pork cheeks with spoon bread
rabbit and dumplings
peach pie

Seriously, doesn't that all sound divine? It was, too.

One of the things I like most about Cochon (other than their devotion to all things pork) is that they have whisky and moonshine tastings. That's right, moonshine. As in that stuff that normally comes out of a Mason jar and tastes like paint thinner. I grew up in Virginia and I guess naturally assumed that all moonshine was illegal, since it was there--but it turns out moonshine, at least in Louisiana, is perfectly legal and in fact comes in a) flavors and b) actual bottles (not just Mason jars).

So I got a moonshine tasting, featuring--what else?--Virginia moonshine. Specifically, Virginia Lightning from Culpeper, VA, which ironically enough cannot be bought or sold in Virginia. I also had a cocktail with cucumber vodka, strawberry moonshine, and Barritts. My husband, having lived in Culpeper for a time and still being scarred from that experience, opted for the whisky tasting and proclaimed the George Dickel #12 the best.

Random notes: we both split a cocktail called the Swinekiller, with Hendricks gin, rhubarb bitters, and limeade. Our favorite cocktail of the trip.

Also, Cochon has opened a deli just around the corner called Cochon Butcher, featuring a meat counter and sandwiches. We got sandwiches to go on our way out of town and they were, of course, really good. (Their pickles are surprisingly tasty, as well.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011


We didn't actually have a meal at Coquette, but I'll make sure we do next time. We stopped in as we were walking through the Garden District, as a thunderstorm was threatening to blow in. We spent a lovely couple of hours lingering at the bar, sampling their wine list and artisanal cocktails and enjoying a lovely cheese platter and plate of beignets. What better way is there to pass a rainy afternoon?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Patois, I think, was my favorite meal of the trip.

Here's what we ate (in order of photos):

grilled octopus
charcuterie plate
Creole cream cheese semifreddo

Along with a bottle of Emeritus pinot noir and a martini made with pickle juice.

Isn't that just, like, the most awesome menu ever?

Seriously, I love menus like that. The food was great, needless to say, but I really appreciate when a restaurant is willing and able to feature the more esoteric ingredients like sweetbreads and octopus. It means they're not afraid to tackle the weird stuff, and more importantly, that their clientele isn't afraid of it, either. (A restaurant wouldn't list octopus if no one ever ordered it.) And a clientele that isn't afraid to order octopus, is a clientele that is probably cultured, well-educated, and hip to good wines. Which means a) a great restaurant, but also b) a fun neighborhood to go out in and c) interesting people to talk to at the bar.

The inside was pleasantly casual, with two stories and a wood floor, our waiter was so accommodating it was almost funny, and the courses were perfectly timed. My only quibble is that we were whisked away immediately to our table, so that we didn't get a chance to linger at the bar. I do love lingering at the bar and chatting up the bartender, to see what he/she knows about their craft. (I tried that at Cure, only to be offered a drink already on the menu and then ignored. Great drinks there, but not the chattiest bartenders--which I wouldn't have minded, if we hadn't been the only ones there.) But that's a minor point.

Verdict: Go. Then go again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Brennan's is one of the old French Quarter stalwarts, still serving turtle soup and bananas foster after all these years. We stopped in for their traditional breakfast, which was a) expensive, b) nothing but tourists, and c) really delicious.

I started with a baked apple in cream (top photo), accompanied by a "Creole" Bloody Mary with pickled green beans. Note: it's hard to find a really good Bloody Mary. I've had too many Bloody Marys that were merely vodka with tomato juice and maybe some Worchestershire--not spicy, not complexly layered with flavors, definitely not tasty. Brennan's is one of the very few Bloody Marys I've had that were up to my own standards. It was spicy, complex, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about it (except maybe the price).

(Speaking of prices, they had the balls to charge us $4.95 each for coffee and hot tea. Now, I can understand charging for the Bloody Mary. But really, shouldn't coffee come free with the meal, especially if it's three courses for $45 a person? I mean, come on.)
Then I had the Eggs Sardou, which is poached eggs in artichoke husks on a bed of spinach with hollandaise sauce. The eggs were divine, but that broiled tomato in the middle? Was a hard, tasteless, barely pink supermarket tomato. In Louisiana in the middle of the summer, and they can't get a better tomato than that?

Dessert was--what else?--bananas foster, flamed tableside.

Verdict: generally excellent. Too obvious they're catering to tourists with the breakfast, what with the high prices and charging for coffee and crappy tomatoes and all. Next time, I'll get breakfast at a diner--it probably won't be quite as delicious, but coffee won't be $4.95, either, and who needs breakfast to be a gourmet meal?

Monday, August 8, 2011


We were only at Bacchanal long enough for a couple beers and a cheese plate, before heading off to Elizabeth's for dinner, but it was still fun. I love the concept of this place: retail wine shop in front, hang-out joint in back. The retail wine shop sells cheese and beer, as well; you can make your selections and then consume them in the backyard, which is filled with mismatched tables and chairs. Most nights there's live jazz back there; many nights there is also a guest chef, cooking up something hot and delicious.

Like I said, we were there in the afternoon, so I can't speak to the jazz or the guest chef. But just look at that great selection of beers we were drinking!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Ah, Elizabeth's. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

First, you are the home of praline bacon. Second, you are the home of praline bacon. Third, you are casual, hip, delicious, and cheap. Fourth, you have a bar and free parking.

Did I mention the praline bacon?

OK, I've visited Elizabeth's before, and had the praline bacon, and the New York Times has written about them, and blah blah blah. We went back for dinner with my sister and her husband and you know what? Still delicious.

Unfortunately, I did not order the most delicious thing at the table (my brother-in-law did), which was the andouille-and-shrimp crusted drum. I had the fried green tomatoes and the soft-shell crab stuffed with crab, which was lovely, but covered with a Sriracha-based sauce that was so hot it overpowered the delicacy of the crab (deep-fried though it was). Also ordered: the scallops and the rib-eye. No disappointments.

Also, there was praline bacon.