The Big Easy: A food tour of New Orleans

Morning Call

Morning Call, better than Cafe du Monde

There are so many reasons I can give for not having posted recently, but I think I’d rather let pictures do the talking. New Orleans is an amazing city. Amazing people. Amazing architecture. Amazing foooooooood.

I see you....

Sha Sha Sha Shuga Shaka!

Beignets!

The Fly

Gator Soup - Delicious and spicy!

Gator Po'Boy

Gator Po'Boy

Snow Ball!

Pinapple and Candy Apple

MMMMMM

The men

Cajun oysters

Duck Confit - Boucherie

Daquiris - Come on, we had to!

Crawfish boil!

As I went through my pictures upon my return, I got excited to go visit all over again for my best mate’s wedding next summer, just to experience more of it. I also realized, I ate a whole lot more than I took pictures of! Man, the things you forget to do when you are hungry and have quintessential Cajun and Southern food in front of you. Just remember, even though they aren’t pictured, to enjoy the best oysters, ever, follow these steps: go to Acme Oyster House: order chargrilled oysters; stuff your face; realize you need more; order second round; repeat. 🙂 We had wonderful hosts. What can we say.
Thanks J + E

Any advice on something we might have missed?

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England, not food, on the mind

You might have noticed…I am slacking in my posting. Sometimes its not the easiest thing to come home, cook, shoot piccies, and post all in one go (much less so if you throw Pilates, Yoga, and or Running into the fray!). Thus… I present you with not a recipe today, that will come soon, but an image of a place where I learned more than I knew I would about myself, and my love for food and sharing its deliciousness: England. The same hands that bake, cook, and dish up the food I want to share with my family, friends, and you took them.

The Hydes, Thaxted, England - The farm I love and miss

The Hydes in Bloom

Cheers,

Heather

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When in doubt… make brownies!

Brownies - Or one giant one at the moment

For those of you who know me, I am a bit of a domestic dork, as you might say. Yes, I am that girlfriend that makes her boyfriend’s lunches, and packs a tasty snack for tea time (he’s British, what can I say, old habits die hard people). I of course enjoy these baked goods too now and again (if I get to them before the men do) but really I just bake to get random messages on my phone saying how wonderful I am 🙂

Brownies, however, are a special treat. I have always found it hard to really latch onto one brownie recipe, being they are all so different. Some suggest cooking till they are crumbly, some fudgy, some thin, some extra thick, some with cocoa powder, some with milk chocolate. This girl though, likes it simple, and classic, and Ottolenghi’s superb rendition of brownies that I miss dearly, and used to enjoy back in my days spent wandering the streets of Islington (London, for those of you non other side of the pond folk) and tucking into. They are the perfect combo of moist, a wee bit fudgy, with a crisp crackly top, a smooth and creamy mouth feel, and are dark dark dark! I even sometimes add a few dark chips to stay whole at the end. Needless to say, I love these brownies, and my lover loves me more for making them, so give them a go and see what happens 🙂 Scrummy!

Perfect size for one

What is you favorite style of brownie? I am always up to new challenges! 🙂

Dark Chocolate Brownies

(Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Cookbook Ottolenghi)

200g unsalted butter (plus a bit more for greasing the pan)

280g whole wheat pastry flour

½ tsp salt

300g high-quality dark chocolate broken into piece(60% or higher cocoa content preferred)

220g caster sugar

2 large brown eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 22cm square baking tin with butter and line with parchment paper (if available).

Sift together the pastry flour and salt in a large bowl, set aside.

Place a heat-proof bowl with the butter and chocolate in it over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Leave to melt, stirring from every now and again. As soon as it’s melted remove the bowl from above the water for you do not want the chocolate mixture to become too hot.

In a large bowl lightly whisk together the eggs, sugar & vanilla. Work them until just combined. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture. Then add the sifted flour in batches.

Pour the batter into your greased (or lined, if you prefer) tin.  Place on center shelf of  the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 mins (don’t overcook!). Sometimes, 20 mins is enough. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin (you may even want to chill it first).

This will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They are tasty chilled and sliced thin, or in luscious squares that are melt-in-your-mouth warm. Any which way will do!

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Winters Call for Curries

Indian Curry and Roasted Lamb

When its cold, the wind whips through your drafty San Francisco windows (and let’s be honest, under the doors and through any other possible place it can through an extra-mature San Francisco Victorian) all you want, is a curry (well… and to have a few extra days off to just relax, chill, and cook like mad, but when that can’t happen, go with the curry!).

Simmmmmer down now!

This can be just as true when you are anywhere else in the country/world(say-Boulder-where we combined the love of two curries to create this superbly delicious meal) but here in San Francisco, where there is a plethora of ethnic food (and people who are more Californian than I will ever be but know their way around their heritage’s food culture) as well as two pushy boys who LOVE beer and, you guessed it – curry – curry comes up in conversation and as the dinner choice quite often.

Roasted Indian Spiced LambNow, I’m a lover of curry, but i get a hankering for different kinds at different times, and although I love me some tasty meats, I do need to have some vegetably goodness in there to really make it a satisfying knock-your-socks-off deal. Enter the roast Indian leg of lamb and South Indian Vegetable Curry duo. Add a little Naan(preferably picked up from your favorite take-away) or rice if the former isn’t the easiest option, and you are going to be one smug Indian-food eating camper.

THE Curry

The vegetable curry is one that has graced our kitchen many a times, and can take on new forms every time based on the bounty we previously picked up at the farmer’s market that week. The time above we included the goods of the season: cauliflower, carrots, turnips, potatoes, peas(frozen are just as tasty as anything, so don’t forget them!) broccoli, and spices mixed with tamarind and coconut milk. All meald together to create a flavorsome, healthy, and satisfying curry.

Leg of Lamb is tasty roasted always, but add to it a yogurt and Indian spiced marinade, that is slathered on throughout the roast, and your typical sunday roast will be so incredibly delectable, the smell so inducing, you won’t know what to do with yourself come next week and its seemingly simple preparation.

What am I suggesting? Go for the curry! Go for the ethnic. Smell the fragrant meat and curry, and you too, will become subject to a love of curry on those chilly, wintery days.

What’s your favorite wintery warming curry or stew?

Spicy Lamb Roast

(Adapted from Best Ever Indian Cookbook)

3 -3.5 lbs leg of lamb (without bone, with needs a longer cooking time)

1 tsp hot chili powder

1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp coriander, ground

1 tsp cumin, ground

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp bread crumbs

3 tbsp yogurt, plain

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp golden raisins

1 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Trim lamb of any extra fats on the outside. Rinse and pat meat dry, set aside. In a bowl, mix together the chili, garlic, coriander, cumin, and salt. In food processor (or if you don’t have one, like I don’t! use and immersion blender, or even a regular blender!) mix together the bread crumbs, yogurt, lemon juice, and raisins. Add the spices and oils to the blender and mix well.

Place the meat in a roasting pan, pour marinade over the meat and rub in well. Then place the roast, covered,  in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven, and spoon/spread the sauce over the mean once more. Place the meat back in the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the lamb is to your desired pinkness.

Remove lamb from oven, let rest for 10 minutes(very important step! let the juices get themselves back into the meat, if you cut it now, you loose the juice!), and slice to serve.

South Indian Lentils and Veg

(Adapted from Best Ever Indian Cookbook)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 (if want it not too hot) 4 (for spicy) dried red chilies

6 -8 curry leaves (I find these in Indian shops, or on my trips back to England, from Bart Spices where you can order them)

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 to 4 tbsp shredded or flaked coconut

1 cup red lentils

2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp tumeric

1 to 2 lbs mixed veg, depending on how vegetably you like your meal, we used carrots, turnips, green beans, peas, chopped onion, red and yellow pepper, cauliflower, and spinach)

4 tbsp tamarind juice (can find in indian or asian shops)

3 to 4 tbsp coconut milk

4 tomatoes, quartered, or 1 can of stewed tomatoes

Fresh cilantro (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. When hot, quickly fry the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies (be careful, this might make you cough a bit if you place your face over the pan), curry leaves, garlic, and coconut in the pan until very fragrant (but not burnt!). Add the onions and pepper(if using) to the mixture and cook until softened. Mix in the lentils, garam masala, and tumeric. Stir in 2 cups of water or stock (chicken or vegetable work best). Simmer until the lentils have broken down.

Add the other vegetables, coconut milk, tamarind juice, and tomatoes. Cook until the vegetables are to your preferred texture. I like toothsome veg, so I let this simmer for a good 20 minutes or so. Serve with fresh cilantro on top.

 

 

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25 and still alive: Kahlua + Baking = Cake

Sanitas Trail in Snow!

I will be the first to admit. I have been a slacker on my blog as of late. I will now proceed to blame it on my dire old age: of 25. My birthday came and went with the holidays in a blur, and consisted of a superb dinner (and a reminiscent one at that!) at The Kitchen in Boulder, preceded by a morning hike in the snow, a bit of Prosecco with the Turnbull Davies familia, and followed by more Prosecco and some mean bowling(on the Wii… I know, very exciting, we did watch the ball drop at least okay!). But further to the point. This birthday was a special one.

No. It wasn’t my golden.

Ready to be had!

No. I did not get hitched (although I did get the coolest stacked ring from San Francisco Designer Samantha Edson, via The Mission Statement and a thoughtful Brit!)

This year, I got a cake. Baked just for me!

Look at that beautiful crust!

I know, you are thinking to yourself, “HEY! Cheater! You don’t post for over a month, and then the first one back, you post something, that you didn’t even make!” Well. Its okay. I needed a kick in the bum to post, and I could not not share this delicious moist boozy goodness of a cake with you. Its master is the Brit’s Mum (yes, she is called Mum, so I will just go with it), and it has won over many a folk, including those that do not normally count themselves as dessert devotees (although, honestly, HOW do people like that even exist? I don’t know. It’s bonkers, really).

Kahlua Cake. In a bundt pan! Never has a crusty golden cake looked so good (or retro! and amazing!) as this one. This cake was special, and made my birthday extra great (and, since I have not had a baked good made for me in oh, 8 or so years, this was pret-ty exciting stuff to me)! So here’s to the Brit’s Mum, to a New Year and working harder at posting, and here to sharing the great recipe with you!

A week behind schedule, here is the most sought after recipe!

CHOCOLATE KAHLUA CAKE

1 cup chopped pecans
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 sm. pkg. instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. kahlua liquor

(If cake mix already contains pudding, omit pudding, use 3 eggs and 1/3 cup oil.)Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour tube pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Mix remaining ingredients together. Pour over nuts. Bake 1 hour. While hot spoon glaze over cake in pan. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until glaze is used. Cool in pan. Invert on plate.
GLAZE:
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. kahlua
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in Kahlua. remove from heat, and drizzle onto cake as instructed above.
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Plum Tart with a late start

Rustic Tart

I don’t know where the time went this year, but sometimes, you just need to sit back, relax, and make a tart to let it all settle. That exactly what I did when fall came about and my whirlwind of a summer (and frankly, year) happened. We were going to a housewarming party. Chill in the air. Most people think, oh! Bring booze. Well… we did that too… but I thought housewarming… tart! YES! I used the last of my lovely little italian plums (last of the stone fruit I had kicking around, sigh) and got to work. The tart crust took a little bit of work, and included sending a bit of almond shrapnel here and there, but it it was all worth it. The tart came about to impress my recently relocated brother, who hadn’t eaten any of my baking since I lived at home, back in my amateur days (but I definitely had a specialty of Pumpkin Bread… and I won the Brit over with this 5 years back.. maybe things don’t change). So, it meant onto harder, more sophisticated territory. Tart territory.

This beauty was a looker before it even went in the oven, and was more so when it came out! The base was unlike other tart crust I have had. Not to sweet, with a lovely crumb that was more similar to a nutty sponge than a traditional tart shell. It was scrummy. With a bit of whipped cream, it really was spot on. Speaking of spots… good thing I am a master at hiding away the messes my brother and I used to create (practice from back in the day, haha! just kidding bruv) for the tart definitely got a love dent from a rampant backpack on our trip with the tart…but we mended it all the same and went over with a real bang. I can’t wait to try this with other fruits… what do you think of quince?!

Plum, Almond, and Lemon Tart

(Adapted from Pure Dessert: By Alice Medrich)

1/2 cup whole almonds

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/8 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp firm (not hard or frozen) unsalted butter

4 to 6 medium plums, or 12 small italian plums

*Notes: Other pitted fruits would work too. Also, you will need a tart pan with a removable bottom, and the fluting just looks so much more gorgeous!

Pre-heat oven to 375F with a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Butter tart pan well, and set aside. In a food processor (or small processor attachment to an immersion blender, like I have) combine almonds, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract and process until well minced and combined. Add flour and baking powder, if using a normal food processor, and pulse again, or, if like me you have a mini one, add the almond mixture to the flour and baking powder in a large bowl, mix to combine. Add the butter pieces, and then the egg, until the mixture is “damp” (no dry flour anywhere) and is starting to be able to stick together to form little clumps (more like wet sand on a beach, not dry sand). Press the dough into the tart pan around the bottom and sides in an even layer.

Zest a lemon, and sprinkle zest onto dough. To prepare the plums, cut up the plums depending on size, into pieces about 1 inch long, and remove the pits. Leaving 1/2 of room around the “rim” and a teensy bit of space between each piece, place the plums in a pattern of your choice on the dough(circles work quite well), skin side up. Press them slightly into dough to make sure they don’t turn over in baking(tricky little things).

Place tart in the oven and bake until the pastry is puffed, dark golden brown at the edges, and a lovely golden color between the pieces of fruit, about 40 to 45 minutes (I would check at 35 minutes).Let slightly cool, and eat.

Tip: If a bit of fruit syrup collects in the center of the tart, use a knife tip to spread it over the fruit and give it a little shine.

 

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Welsh Rarebit, an English Breakfast, and a top notch girlfriend(maybe?)

Look at him. He is so intently starting at something. But what could it be? It’s not me, I can assure you (I am the photographer you dirty minded people! and its early in the morning! and on a Saturday no less!). Yep. That’s right. It’s the football. You Yanks out there like me, it is not the game our country calls football, where the ball only touches feet for field goals (unless you are from Chicago like me, then even this is still troublesome. 85 baby= curse).

Dig in!

Its soccer football. You know, the word the rest of the world uses to refer to that game.  Premiership League, to be exact. Oh. And. That boy looks so intent because its HIS team, the team he has watched since a wee lad, through taped games on the telly in Jolly Ole. Tottenham Hotspurs. They are the same team we watch on our 300 lb Goliath of a tv screen(Love you Dad, but that thing is a beast to move!), that exponentially made our cable go up to more than a phone bill (FSC anyone? I miss Satanta!), and that has nearly brought a tear to his eye last season when they made it into Champions League. Yes. I have turned into that girlfriend. I know the team. I know their numbers and names, and their game days, and I have a favorite player (Dawson). But really, the best part about watching it? Hands down,  either early morning brekkie, or sitting in a Pub with like-minded folk, either here or the other side of the pond. Seeing that we were watching our English Sports, it seemed only appropriate to have a similarly themed breakfast of deliciousness.

Enter – Welsh Rarebit. Some of you might be looking at bit puzzled at the moment. You are thinking, this really is a food? What is it? Is it English? Welsh? British? UK? Choose your terms wisely, some might be offended.

Bubbly goodness.

The key to Welsh Rarebit comes from its cooking process. Think grilled cheese crossed with a Croque Monsieur, throw in a few adult-like ingredients such as stout and mustard hearty bread, and you have yourself one savory party in your mouth. This is a meal the Brit will happily make for me, and I will more than happily eat. Now, it wouldn’t be the perfect setting without some English Breakfast tea(or a pint, truthfully, at least on game day!) and we savoured our last bit from the Algerian Coffee Co. in London (yes, they sell tea too!) a fried egg, and one more kicker: Oven Roasted Tomato Chutney.

I mean really. Who KNEW oven dried tomatoes with spices, onions, and a bit of simmer time could be so amazingly good. I know now, and will make that 5 lb bag of dry-farmed tomatoes I got this year into 15 to 20 next year. As we sat down on this crisp Saturday morning, and enjoyed some Rarebit, we missed England, but were content with our nostalgic roots.

PS – What’s that you say? What’s on the plates? A Hotspur logo or two? Where did those come from!? Yes. I am also that girl. The one that makes ceramic dishes. That are of a certain football team crest. And made duplicates, due to a birthday and a change of sponsors and field kits. Moving on…Gawd… what happened to that little domestic in me…. Oh when the Spuuuuurs…

Welsh Rarebit with Fried Egg and Oven Roasted Tomato Chutney

(Adapted from Great British Recipes, by Brian Turner and The Naked Chef Takes Off, by Jamie Oliver)

1/2 to 1 cup Sharp Cheddar, grated

1/4 Stout

1 to 2 tsp Whole grain mustard

1 to 2 tsp Worchestershire sauce

Fresh ground pepper and salt

If you fancy, put a bit of chili flakes in the mix

2 to 4 thickly sliced pieces of whole wheat, or grain bread (can substitute white varieties such as sourdough, rustic, etc. if you prefer)

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Preheat broiler to low. Place bread in toaster and lightly toast, to just firm up the outside, but do not darken the bread. Lay the bread flat, and spread one side of the bread with your cheese mixture. Repeat until all the slices have been covered and it seems cheesy enough to your liking.

Place a pan on the bottom of your oven, or a shelf below the shelf you will use to broil your bread. With oven mitts, slightly pull out the shelf you will place your bread on, place all of the pieces on the shelf, and slide the shelf back under the broiler. Now, watch intently. These will get bubbly and cheesy and crisp fast. When browned, remove, and serve with your choice of tea, coffee, condiments, and possibly eggs. HP Sauce also works well with this, if you want to go with a full English feel.

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