Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Orleans Recipe Round-Up

I don't know if it is the weather, the desperate need for a vacation, or what, but I have been craving all things New Orleans of late.

Must be an early case of Mardi Gras fever or something.

Whenever Mr. ReddHedd and I have gone there, the pace of our lives just seems to slow down, and whatever troubles we've been carrying around dissipate with that first bite of sublime red beans and rice and a po' boy at Mother's.

If there is a heaven for foodies, there will be a Mother's there.  Along with Mr. B's Bistro (warning:  annoying music begins on this page, so click with caution or a handy mute button -- me no like the web page re-do, people) for the barbeque shrimp -- divine -- alongside pretty much anything I've ever eaten at the Jazz Bistro at Arnaud's.  The list goes on and on and on, because I have quite literally never had a bad meal in New Orleans.

And believe me:  when we are there, we definitely eat.

So what's a girl to do when she's craving traditional New Orleans fare, but she lives in chilly, dismal, frozen wasteland territory?  Cook it herself.

A great source for recipes is the Times-Picayune's superb food page, which has been collecting NOLA cuisine receipts forever.

After Katrina, they published a cookbook which is one of my all-time favorites, because it not only includes fantastic recipes but also lots of tales about the cooks and the city and the origin of so many of my favorite dishes: Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

As with all of us, food is comfort and family warmth and so many other things.   And this book is filled to the brim with some amazing recipes.

After the mess that was Katrina, after lives were turned upside down and the people of New Orleans and surrounding areas were scattered to the four winds across the country, it was food from home that they craved.  But with recipe boxes under water or entire family recipes from generations of home cooks lost completely, that seemed yet another impossible mountain to climb.

Then the Times-Picayune stepped into the breach and became a sort of "help wanted" column for months of people desperately searching for a recipe, and other folks writing in with the one they'd always used.  It was an amazing thing, all the more so because chefs at some of the finest restaurants in town started sharing some of their recipes as well for folks stranded here there and everywhere. 

Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans was the end result of all of this back and forth, and a tribute that was lovingly packaged as a recipe box that would reconnect folks with their homes, one bite of red beans and rice at a time.

It is said that Louis Armstrong used to sign his correspondence "red beans and ricely yours."  I love that, and it gives you an idea of how central food is to the New Orleans way of life -- it's not just for sustenance, it's almost a religion, a faith that no matter what may be buffeting you in the rest of your life, sitting down to a warm, family meal with just enough spice to make it interesting can give you a little time to exhale in the midst of your own personal storms.

So today?  I'm going to cook up a pot of gumbo at our house.  And I thought I'd share some tasty recipe ideas for your own meals to come:

-- Crescent City Crockpot Red Beans And Rice
-- Sweet Potato Pudding
-- Buster Holmes Red Beans And Rice
-- Brennan's Banana Foster
-- Summer Crab And Tomato Salad
-- Chicken And Andouille Gumbo
-- Marcelle Bienvenue's Jambalaya
-- Turkey Bone Gumbo  (great for leftover Thanksgiving turkey or roasted chicken)
-- Shrimp Remoulade
-- Seafood Gumbo
-- Roast Beef for Po'Boys
-- Crab And Shrimp Etouffee
-- Jimmy Farenholtz' Red Beans And Rice
-- Bally's Bread Pudding
-- Seafood Seasoning Mix
-- Creole Seasoning
-- Barbecue Shrimp
-- Grilled Seafood Po'Boy
-- Jambalaya With Shrimp And Andouille Sausage
-- Cornmeal Crusted Catfish
-- Shrimp Po'Boy With Spicy Ketchup
-- Andouille With Red Beans And Rice
-- Catfish Po'Boys
-- Make Ahead Muffuletta Party Sandwich
-- Mufuletta
-- Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce
-- Garlic-Cheese Grits
-- Olive Salad

(My own photo from the French Quarter during my very first trip to New Orleans.  I am in love with the turquoise they use for accent color, and have got to find a way to incorporate it into our own home somewhere.)


SanderO said...

Christie... someone pointed me over and I want to give you a big cyber hug. I miss you terribly over at FDL. Hope you are finding your stride and the little one is joying you up.

I hope you come back to us one day, we need you more than ever.


Christy Hardin Smith said...

Hey Sander -- good to see you. We are doing well, and I'm feeling better most days (although I'm in the middle of a bit of a flare at the moment).

Hope things are well with you.