Tag Archives: New Orleans

2018 Cookery Project — Cajun Chicken and Rice

Cajun Chicken and Rice

Cajun Chicken and Rice

I got the recipe for Cajun Chicken and Rice from a new-to-me website called Host the Toast, and I was elated by the results. It’s a one-pot meal that looked and tasted like New Orleans!

Most of the times I’ve cooked chicken dishes, I’ve used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This time, though, I tried boneless, skinless thighs. I rubbed a lot of Cajun seasoning over the chicken thighs and cooked them until they began to blacken, then removed them from the skillet.

After that, I sauteed garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, and andouille sausage—variously chopped, diced, sliced, and minced— in the pan, until they were soft. Here’s the nifty part: I added chicken stock and uncooked brown long grain rice, put a lid on the pan and simmered it for half an hour, until the rice was cooked. Didn’t know you could do that.

All that was left to do was return the chicken thighs to the pan for reheating, and serve.

A happy result. As I said, the finished dish actually tasted like New Orleans.


Rating

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

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Acadiana — Lunch on 15 August 2016


If Friday’s lunch at Le Vieux Logis took me back to Paris, today’s lunch at Acadiana took me back to another of my favourite cities, New Orleans.

Turtle Soup

Turtle Soup

Classic Turtle Soup.  The last time I had turtle soup was at Commander’s Palace, the most famous—and possibly the best—restaurant in New Orleans.  Acadiana duplicated the Commander’s Palace ritual of adding sherry to the turtle soup at table, so that the alcohol doesn’t burn off during cooking.  (At least, that’s what I think is the theory behind the procedure.)  That’s what made it classic.

Gumbo

Gumbo

The Louisiana Seafood Gumbo had a bit of everything in it:  Jumbo lump crab, shrimp, crawfish, oysters, and redfish, all chopped into bite-size pieces of flavour, and served with Mahatma long-grain rice in the center of the bowl.  It was just spicy enough to have a little bite, but not so spicy as to require emergency rehydration.

The portion was v large.  I knew that there was no way I could finish it, let alone have room for dessert, so I asked for half of it to be boxed to take home for dinner.

 Cake

Cake

This was called Chocolate Hazelnut Poke Cake.  And what is a “Poke Cake”?  After it’s baked, the top of the cake is poked, and the resulting holes are filled with a sauce or other flavouring.


Something I learned today:  The name of the city is never, ever pronounced “N’Awlins.”  “N’Awlins” is a tourist affectation that irritates the locals in the same way that “Frisco” annoys people who live in San Francisco.

Duke’s Grocery — Lunch on 6 November 2015

Haven’t done one of these in a while, but lunch today was special.

To promote its 2015 Burger Survey, Zagat arranged for chefs in a half dozen cities to create special hamburgers, available for one week only.  The winner of the Zagat survey for best burger in DC was Duke’s Grocery, where Executive Chef Rick Koplau introduced the Full Monty.

I’ve raved about the East London-inspired Duke’s Grocery in the past.  I think it’s the finest sandwich place in Washington, and since I live only three blocks away, I stop in quite often.  I have my favourites—the Munchen Brötchen, made with chicken schnitzel, emmenthal, garlic-dill pickles, spicy sauerkraut, Applewood smoked bacon, and Warsteiner mustard, on a torta roll, is always excellent—but the menu is constantly evolving, and there’s usually something I’ve never tried before.  It’s posted on Facebook daily, so I usually check it before I leave home.

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Gotta try that White Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese next time I’m at Duke’s.  I got a bottle of white truffle oil for Christmas, but it’s too expensive for cooking; I usually just dab a few drops behind my ears before I go someplace special.

It hit 80 degrees in Washington today, which broke the record.  The patio in front of Duke’s was nearly full when I got there at 1:30.

Zagat

Hamburger Heaven!

This is the Full Monty.

The description reads:  “Two Creekstone Farms Angus patties stuffed with Stilton Blue Cheese; Bacon Rashers; Caramelised Walla Walla Onions; Sundried Tomato Chutney; English Mustard; Rocket; Lyon Bakery Brioche.”

Duke’s regular hamburger, the Proper Burger, consistently wins the “Best Burger In Washington” surveys that pop up in one place or another every month or so.   The Full Monty was better.


One Minor Caveat

Even though the Full Monty was the most satisfying burger I’ve had in months, the Undisputed Best Burger in the World is still the Bacon Peanut Butter Burger at Yo Mama’s, a fantastic dive bar in New Orleans.  Nothing else comes close.

Acme Oyster House — Lunch on 13 February 2015

For my final meal in New Orleans this year, I went to another Institution:   The original, 100+-year-old Acme Oyster House, which, w/its four other Louisiana locations, “…shucked well over 3.6 million fresh oysters in 2008.  That’s almost 10,000 oysters a day and doesn’t even include the fried ones.”

Acme Oyster House

Acme Oyster House

The early lunch line waiting to get into Acme Oyster House.  The weather had turned chilly on my last day in the city, but it was still more than 20 degrees warmer than what I’d see at home that night.

Acme Shrimp

Boom Boom Shrimp

The menu described Boom Boom Shrimp as a generous portion of fried shrimp w/a homemade sweet and spicy sauce.  “Generous” was not an understatement.  I didn’t count, but I think there were somewhere between 30 and 40 shrimp in that bowl.

Acme Jambalia

Gumbo

And it ended with Chicken/Andouille gumbo.  A good note.

Audubon Zoo

So…my last full day in New Orleans.  I hadn’t made it to the Art Museum, but I decided instead to go to the Audubon Zoo, and spend the afternoon in the warm February sun.  That had, after all, been my main reason for coming to Louisiana in mid-Winter.

This is what I saw on my walk from the restaurant to the Zoo:

Magnolias

Magnolia Blossoms

February!  February!

Washington certainly has its attractions, but things like this made me envy the friends and relatives who were sharp enough to move to warm weather cities.

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss


And at the Zoo Itself

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Clancy’s — Lunch on 12 February 2015

For lunch on my last full day in New Orleans, I went to another classic restaurant:  Clancy’s.

Clancy’s has been a neighbourhood restaurant since the late 1940s.   It’s far from the French Quarter, only a few blocks from the Audubon Zoo.   (Hint to Freshman Literature Majors:  Foreshadowing!)

About 30 years ago, it went through a re-birth.  It’s still a neighbourhood standard—from the number of patrons who stopped to visit friends on their way to be seated, it seemed to me that most of the mature clientele knew each other—but it’s also one of the best Creole restaurants in town.   The Times-Picayune included it the 2014 list of New Orleans’ Top 10 Restaurants.

Clancy's

Clancy’s

Clancy's Fried Green

Fried Green Tomatoes

A Southern standard.  Fried Green Tomatoes, served with Shrimp Remoulade.

Clancy's Flounder

Flounder

I didn’t have to think twice when the server said that one of the specials was Flounder Meunière.   Sole Meunière was, famously, Julia Child’s first taste of true French cuisine when she arrived in Rouen, France:

“That lunch in Rouen….It was the most exciting meal of my life.”
—Julia Child

It started her on the way to creating one of the key books of the 20th Century.   It changed her life, and changed the world.

The Flounder Meunière at Clancy’s, swimming in butter and covered w/crab meat, deserves another Julia quote:   “It was a morsel of perfection.”

Just Hanging Out in New Orleans

After lunch at Tujague’s, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the French Quarter.  I’d done most of the standard tourist stuff on previous visits, so I didn’t have an extensive list of must-visit sites and cemeteries.  This time, the trip was mainly an escape from Winter, and an opportunity to taste some really excellent cooking.

There were two things, though, that I couldn’t resist.  Not that I wanted to.

Beignets at Café du Monde

Cafe du Monde Beigneis

I mean, just look at them!  It doesn’t get much better than spending a hour or so munching on these sugar bombs at the open-air, 150-year-old Café du Monde on a warm afternoon in February .

Lazing in Jackson Square

Jackson

A reliable source told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave New Orleans unless I could produce a receipt from Café du Monde and a picture of Andrew Jackson’s equestrian statue from Jackson Square.   I distracted the hundreds of other visitors who were trying to photograph the statue by starting a rumour that Zac Efron and Emma Stone were filming a scene on Bourbon Street.  Once I had the Square to myself, getting this picture was a snap.  (See what I did there?)

Trivia:  That thing about how the number of raised hooves on equestrian statues tells you about the riders’ battle wounds and/or death?  Urban myth.

I stayed in the Square for more than an hour, enjoying the weather and reading a book.  (Child 44.  V good vacation reading, though I suspect the movie will be a disaster, because of the silly fake Russian accents.  You can’t take a serial killer seriously if you’re constantly dreading the possibility that his next line will be “Beeg trouble for Moose and Squirrel.”)

street Band
Street musicians kept playing for spare change.  They were actually talented, in contrast to the DC “entertainers’ who pollute the air in parks and around Metro stations by beating arrhythmically on large plastic trash containers.  (Don’t give them money, btw.   It’s useless.   No matter how much you give them, they won’t stop making a racket,)

Street

Looks pretty, doesn’t it?  I’m now going to tell you a nasty little secret about the French Quarter that you won’t find in any of the official tourist guides.

The first thing you notice about the Quarter is that it really, really stinks.

Not all of it.  I’m talking mainly about the areas around the Bourbon Street, home of the strip joints and open-24-hours bars.   (Strippers and beer.  New Orleans  “notorious” vices are, in actuality, almost quaint.)

There are no service alleys, which means that in the morning, discarded foodstuffs from the area’s dozens of restaurants rot in closed dumpsters on the sidewalk until the garbage is picked up.

And, for hundreds of years, the Quarter has been one of the most famous party zones in the world.  The streets are hosed down every morning, but the street cleaners are fighting a hopeless battle against 200 years of urine, vomit, and spilled beer.  It takes an occasional hurricane to freshen things up.