Recipes

carrots3So we found out recently that my 8 year old is allergic to carrots — like can't breathe and we-now-carry-an-epi-pen kind of allergic.

First, it's a rare allergy in the United States (though about 25% of Europeans have it). Second, it STINKS!

I know those with peanut/nut allergies have it far worse. I mean you can't see those and they're in everything. At least carrots are orange. But the thing is . . . you don't realize how often you eat carrots until you can't. And they're in his vitamins for goodness sake.

That's my son's rice at a Mexican restaurant last night. rice2And they don't make it without carrots. And he loves beans and rice. And he was sad.

And really, I'm sad. Because fresh carrots are so easy and good for you.

Anyway, since we're burying carrots at our house, I decided to share my most favorite carrot soup recipe so maybe it can live on.

This French recipe for Potage Crécy, named for the region in France that grows some of the best carrots in the world, is easy and filling. Like any hot soup, I feel like this more in the cooler months, but we have to say goodbye to carrots now . . . so my and the allergy's timing isn't great.

Potage Crécy
Serves 6
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Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2T unsalted butter
  2. 1T olive oil
  3. 2 leeks, diced
  4. 6-8 carrots, peeled and diced
  5. 2-4 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  6. 5 cups chicken/vegetable stock
  7. 2 1/2t fresh thyme, or 1 1/4t dried
  8. 2 cups half and half
  9. 2T fresh lemon juice
  10. 1/2t fresh grated nutmeg
  11. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Add leeks and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are cooked, about 30 minutes.
  2. Purée soup, either in blender or with stick blender. Add half and half, lemon juice and nutmeg. Adjust salt and pepper.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
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dinnerThe bounty of summertime is always amazing to me . . . and I most enjoy it at the beginning, before I'm tired of any single crop and the heat has sapped my enthusiasm. And, go ahead and call me cheesy, but I like to make a game out of finding ways to use as many fresh, local ingredients as I can in one meal.

For dinner the other night, we started with a super easy, but looks rather gourmet salad of Louisiana baby lettuces topped with Louisiana Strawberries, chopped Sucre candied pecans, blue cheese from somewhere up north and Hanley's strawberry vinaigrette (get this while you can . . . it's seasonal and only available March - May).

And I've found my menfolk tolerate veggies better when I add pasta . . . it's like it distracts them or something. Anyway, back in college, I got this cookbook with easy, from scratch pasta recipes. I've had mine for a long time and it looks pretty crappy, but I still love almost any recipe from it. It's not strictly vegetarian, but it has a lot of meatless options that are really good. The cookbook was out of print for a while, but I looked today and it's back with a much prettier cover on Amazon (just in case you were interested).

So we followed our Louisiana salad with a pasta featuring local mini portobello mushrooms with a side of local yellow squash. I've made the following pasta recipe with both the pepper and herb Boursin, a creamy French cheese, as well as used lots of different veggies. It's a recipe that works well with lots of variations.

Pasta Shells with Portobello Mushrooms, Asparagus & Boursin Cream Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1T butter
  2. 1T olive oil
  3. 1lb portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut crosswise in 1/4-inch slices
  4. 1/2t salt
  5. 1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  6. 1 51/2 oz package pepper Boursin cheese (or herb)
  7. 1lb asparagus
  8. 3/4lb medium pasta shells
Instructions
  1. In a large frying pan, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are tender and well browned, about 8 minutes. Add broth and Boursin cheese and bring to a simmer while stirring.
  2. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1/2-inch pieces. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until almost done, about 6 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until it and the pasta are just done, about 4 minutes longer. Drain. Toss with the mushrooms and sauce.
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SOUTH LOUISIANA

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wafflesSo I've been wanting to talk about the lovely brunch I cooked for my mother and mother-in-law (and all the men) this past Sunday . . . but I've had a few things come up.

I will get to the waffles . . . because all I really want to remember are the waffles. But first, . . .

Kittens.

While we were stopped at a traffic light on our way home from school Monday, my 8 year old asked from the back seat, "hey mom, what's that black stuff by the tree?" Glancing back as the light turned green, I said, "Just the rooooooo......." But no, I saw a face. Roots don't have little faces with big blue eyes. Or furr, or ears. CRAAAAAAPPPPPPPPP!!!!!

So we turned around, I jumped out and grabbed two TINY kittens and put them in the car. The rest of my week has kinda been a blur of caring for two, maybe 4-week-old kittens — bottle feeding every four hours, picking off a million (that is not an exaggeration) fleas, etc.

My husband's comment was simply, "I didn't know you had it in you."

kittensAnd it is kinda a big deal because, you see, I'm not a cat person. Matter of fact, mostly I can just keep my kids alive. But here we are with two more males in the family — Les and Miles. And it pretty much is worth it when Miles drinks from the bottle and his little ears wiggle and then they purr and wobble around.

Oh, and also this week I gave finals, counseled students cracking from stress and took my 8 year old to the pediatric allergist for an allergic reaction to raw carrots where we found out he is pretty much allergic to everything. The doc, who does this everyday, said he wins the most allergic kid award for the day . . .and probably the month.

Can you see why I only want to think about waffles? So here. I throw a waffle recipe at you.

I like to make a triple batch and then put the extras in the fridge or freezer. They reheat great in the toaster for a quick and easy weekday breakfast for my boys.

For mother's day I dressed them up with fresh local strawberries, fresh peaches, toasted local pecans and whipped cream. And I always have Maple syrup . . . my mom is Canadian, eh.

Buttermilk Waffles
Yields 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup unbleached flour
  2. 1T cornmeal
  3. 1/2t salt
  4. 1t baking soda
  5. 1 egg, separated
  6. 7/8 cup buttermilk (get the cultured kind . . . it's better for you)
  7. 2T butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat waffle iron. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Whisk yolk with buttermilk and butter.
  2. Beat egg white until it just holds a 2-inch peak.
  3. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients in a thin steady stream while gently mixing with a rubber spatula; be careful not to add liquid faster than you can incorporate it. Toward the end of mixing, use a folding motion to incorporate ingredients; gently fold egg white into batter.
  4. Spread appropriate amount of batter onto waffle iron. Cook until golden brown, 2-5 minutes. Serve immediately. (You can keep waffles warm on a wire rack in a 200-degree oven for up to 5 minutes).
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martha_stewartMy sister said it, and it's true: Martha Stewart grates on my nerves . . . . but she also does a lot of things really well.

Hmmmm, maybe that's why she grates on my nerves — she has an army to carry out her perfectionism. Now that I think about it . . . I could really use an army . . .

Anyway, the point is that she has a great resource on her website to help make masterpieces out of seasonal produce . . . well, maybe I should say she gives ideas on what the heck to do with all the seasonal produce. There are always a few things in my CSA bundle that I have no clue what to do with, let alone something that my men will eat.

So here's to inspiration for the willing, but not always inspired.

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tomato_swiss_chardI love spring/early summer produce and eating foods that highlight that fresh flavor. And my kids love noodles . . . . and couldn't possibly care less what season it is.

So here's an easy roasted tomato pasta sauce I made recently for my family that's got a little kick for you Cajuns, but features the acidic richness and sweetness of fresh tomatoes. AND can be put over any shape pasta for rascally kids (you may also want to decrease the red pepper flakes and cayenne for sensitive little ones and adults).

And did I mention it was ridiculously easy and only dirties a cookie sheet and one bowl (I hate recipes that require every dish/pot/utensil in my kitchen to make . . . because I hate doing dishes)?

swiss_chard_smallAnd that's fresh Swiss chard and onions from my bundle on the side just sautéed in butter with a little garlic and salt. . . oh, and Chachere's. For those non South Louisianans . . . . that's Tony Chachere's (saa-sha-rees) seasoning that really isn't just a tourist thing you buy at the airport. It's pretty much amazing on most anything you want to add salt to, adding a little kick, a little salt . . . . and a little Cajun.

And I just want to add that not only did my 8 year old and husband like the green blob of Swiss chard (yes, they were skeptical at first . . . .I got a little stank eye), but it's packed with Vitamins K, A and C and magnesium, iron, and I could just go on and on. Basically it's one of those green leafies that is absolutely AMAZING for you. So eat it.

Roasted Tomatoes
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Ingredients
  1. 3 pints (2 lbs) cherry tomatoes, halved
  2. 1/8 cup+ olive oil
  3. Salt & pepper
  4. 1/4t red pepper flakes
  5. 1/8t cayenne
  6. 1 1/2t sugar, or to taste
  7. 3 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
  8. 1T balsamic vinegar
  9. 1 medium shallot, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Mix everything but the vinegar in a large bowl. Spread on cookie sheet. Sprinkle vinegar on top of tomato mixture on cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes.
  2. Serve over pasta or eat alone.
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strawberries_honey2My first recipe from my new Nourishing Kitchen cookbook was strawberries in minted honey syrup with fresh Louisana strawberries, spearmint and raw local honey.

And, I know the cookbook author says it's good with yogurt or whipped cream . . . which I'm sure it is . . . we couldn't help but eat it on vanilla ice cream from my favorite local ice cream company — New Orleans Ice Cream Co.

strawberries_honey
Strawberries in Minted Honey Syrup
// The Nourished Kitchen

1 cup water
1 cup honey
2 pints strawberries
1 small bunch fresh mint

Bring water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the honey and whisk it into the water until it dissolves fully. Continue simmering over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let syrup cool to room temperature.

Hull the strawberries, cut them in half, and set them in a bowl. Pluck the leaves off the stems of mint, tear them with your hands, and drop them into the bowl with the strawberries. Pour the cooled honey syrup over the strawberries and mint, then cover the bowl and transfer it to the fridge. Allow the berries to marinate for a day, and then serve them with their syrup.

Serve with cultured yogurt or whipped cream . . . or ice cream . . .

 

 

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soup_povOne of the many great things about South Louisiana — in addition to the food community — is the vibrant local magazine community.

And in the April issue of Point of Vue there's a recipe for a Southern-inspired vegetarian tomato soup that looks really good . . . . no, I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it's by the executive chef at one of my most favorite restaurants, Cristiano Ristorante in Houma. So the odds are good.

So grab an April issue before the end of the month or check out the recipe on their website.

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cookbookLook what came in the mail! When I got back from my trip, there was an unexpected package at my house. My super-thoughtful sister sent me this just released cookbook from one of my favorite blogs, Nourished Kitchen.

Nourished Kitchen is all about looking back to our food traditions. Traditional foods and recipes made with whole, seasonal and local ingredients. Food that isn't pumped full of fake stuff like preservatives and enhancers and recipes that blend food for the maximum in nutrition and health. Basically everything that food on the grocery store shelves isn't.

My book already has bent pages . . . up first (because of the beautiful strawberries, spearmint and onions I got in my Country Table bundle this week): strawberries in minted honey syrup and roasted tomato salad with mint.

Check back, I'll be posting about it.

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tn_viewSo I took a break. You probably didn't notice . . . but I DID! We took a quick little trip to Tennessee for Easter with my family. And . . . look at the sunset view from my parents' deck . . . can you blame me??

My littlest, who was born and raised in flat-as-a-pancake South Louisiana, thought he was on a huge mountain and asked if he was close to heaven . . . . yes, baby, I think you might be.

Anyway, while we were there, my mom made this awesome creamy but cream-less cauliflower soup — an unusual take on a basic veggie.

Cauliflower Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
  2. 8T unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  3. 1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced thin
  4. 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  5. Salt and pepper
  6. 4 1/2 - 5 cups water
  7. 1/2t sherry vinegar
  8. 3T minced fresh chives
Instructions
  1. Pull outer leaves off of cauliflower and trim stem. Cut around core to remove; thinly slice core and reserve. Cut heaping 1 cup of 1/2-inch florets from head of cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices.
  2. Melt 3T butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, onion, and 1 1/2t salt. Stirring frequently until leek and onion are soft but not browned, about 7 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 4 1/2 cups water, sliced core, and half of sliced cauliflower. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add remaining sliced cauliflower, return to simmer, and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender and crumbles easily — about 15-20 minutes.
  4. While soup simmers, melt remaining 5T of butter in skillet over medium heat. Add reserved florets and cook, stirring frequently until florets are golden brown and butter is browned and imparts nutty aroma — 6-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to transfer florets to small bowl. Toss florets with vinegar and season with salt to taste. Pour browned butter in skillet into small bowl and reserve for garnishing.
  5. Process soup in blender until smooth — about 45 seconds. Rinse out pan. Return pureed soup to pan and return to simmer over medium heat, adjusting consistency with remaining water as needed (soup should have thick, velvety texture but should be thin enough to settle with flat surface after being stirred) and seasoning with salt to taste.
  6. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with browned florets, drizzle of browned butter, and chives and seasoning with pepper to taste.
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Anyway, the break was great, but I realized as I looked out of the airplane window and saw the swamp coming into view that I was happy to be back — South Louisiana is now home . . . and where my heart is.

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french_toastSo my very best friend from graduate school — yea, that's my out-of-place-in-South-Louisiana Syracuse license plate frame — made the great suggestion to make French toast with my 12th Street Bakery bread.

And make French toast we did this morning! My boys said they even liked it better than their beloved homemade waffles.

Anyway, here's a quick and fairly painless recipe for French toast from Food Network's Alton Brown, whom I love. . . just because he's so scientific about food.

French Toast
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup half-and-half
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 2T honey, warmed
  4. 1/4t salt
  5. 8 (1/2-inch) slices of bread
  6. 4T butter
Instructions
  1. In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. Pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.
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And we added some pecans from the Bass Pecan Company in nearby-ish Lumberton, Mississippi, and, of course, some Louisiana strawberries. (Oh and that's kiwi from Italy . . . . totally far away, but hey, I'd love to live there and have local kiwi).

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