Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Turkey Bone Gumbo

OK, sorry it has taken me so long to get you a new post out. I have been very busy with my job and haven't had much of a chance to cook or even try any new restaurants. I will be in New Orleans around the first of January and hope to try somewhere new. Until then I want to wish all my friends and readers a wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Now you might be a ham house but for those of you that do turkey here is a great recipe for an old Cajun or New Orleans standby. I love turkey bone gumbo and I especially love it served with dressing/stuffing or whatever you call it in your area. If you want, you can cheat and use Stove Top. Have a safe holiday and check back in the new year.

Turkey Bone Gumbo

1 turkey carcass with leftover meat (about 3 cups)
1 lb smoked sausage
2 cups onion (diced)
3 ribs celery (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup oil
1 ½ cup plain flour
¾ gallon water
2 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs tabasco
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme (or ½ tsp dried)

Remove any meat off the bones, hopefully you might have at least 2 - 3 cups of meat. Shred this up and set aside. Boil the turkey carcass in the water along with any leftover drippings or skin from from the turkey pan. Bring to a boil for 10 mins. and turn down to MED/LO for about an hour. This will reduce down to about ½ gallon of stock. Skim any fat or foam off the top that might accumulate and strain the bones and skin out. Keep this warm and handy.

In a stock pot or cast iron dutch oven(preferred), make a milk chocolate roux by heating the oil on MED and adding the flour. Stir continuously until it is the desired brown color. Add the onions and stir until they are softened and the roux changes a darker reddish color. Add the garlic, celery, smoked sausage, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick to the pot.

Add a few cups of stock and whisk in well. Now add all the spices and sauces to the pot, cook on MED/LO for about 30 minutes. Add the turkey meat and the rest of the stock. Stir well, check for seasonings, and turn down to LO and cook for another 30 minutes, if you can stand to wait that long. Garnish with thinly sliced green onions and serve with rice or turkey dressing(my favorite).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Most Haunted Locations

In observance of Halloween, I am posting this listing of America's Top Haunted locations. As you can see the first one is from Louisiana, in partially keeping with the theme of Cajun and Creole. I know, it's a stretch, but I love Halloween and always try to do something special for the occasion.

I am providing links to websites where you can find more information about these places and how to visit them... if you DARE!!! I have to admit I have never visited any of these places, but I'd love to! Three of my favorite shows are Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal State. I love any of these shows about the paranormal, as I used to do quite a bit of ghost hunting in my college days. This was before ghost hunting was popular and all the rage.

We investigated many houses, buildings, and even a radio station. We caught some EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), and had personal experiences while investigating. Now, I do believe in ghosts, I have had experiences that, although I can't swear were 100% paranormal, I do believe in my heart and mind that they were. These shows about ghost hunting are entertaining, but I don't know how legitimate they always are. I wonder when the networks need ratings, if the shows are told to "get some good evidence" or else. There have been accusations leveled toward some of them suggesting this type of behavior.

I don't care, I believe in them anyway and still love watching the shows about them. Now, some of the following locations have been investigated by many of these shows, some more than others. Any of you readers who share my fascination with these haunted locations will recognize most, if not all, of these as being some of the most prolific ones anywhere. I hope you enjoy this post and have a very Happy Halloween.

The Myrtles - St. Francisville, Louisiana
The Myrtles Plantation is located in St. Francisville Louisiana and has always been on everyone's top lists of haunted houses to visit. The haunting concerns the story of Chloe, a slave who worked in the main house. She was caught ease-dropping on a conversation of the owner. She was punished by having her ear cut off. As revenge, she baked a cake for the family and added just enough poison to make them ill, or so she thought. She poisoned and killed the wife and two daughters and was hung for her crime.

Reports claim she still walks the house and grounds as do the ghosts of the two little girls she poisoned. Pictures have been made with her showing up in the background, as well as guests and guides have reported feeling the sensation of what would be a child's touch or tugging on their clothes.

The Villisca Axe Murder House - Villisca, Iowa
The Moore family of Villisca, Iowa were murdered in their sleep on June, 9th 1912. Josiah B. Moore and his wife Sarah, their children Herman, Catherine, Boyd, and Paul, along with two little neighbor girls Lena and Ina Stillinger, went to bed after returning from a Wednesday night church service. Sometime, while they were at church, someone snuck into the house, hid in the attic, and waited until the family was asleep. He then made his way systematically through the house hacking them all to death with an axe. Eight people in all.

The house understandably went through many hands until Darwin and Martha Linn bought the house in 1994. The house was restored to it's 1912 condition and was offered for paranormal investigations after so many reports of the house's haunted condition had peaked spooky interest. Many claim it is one of the most haunted houses anywhere. Many hours of evidence have been gathered by different ghost hunting teams, including videos of the children's rooms where doors open and close, and balls that roll around by themselves.

Their murders were never definitively solved and still are the subject of debate amongst ghost hunters and amateur crime solvers to this day. It is truly a genuine haunted house.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium - Louisville Kentucky
Completed in 1926 Waverly Hills was a renown tuberculosis hospital that not only treated thousands but also saw the death of some estimated 63,000 patients. Because if the high volume of deaths, since the survival rate was so low, this place is one of the most haunted locations in the country. Many sightings range from several ghosts if children, a suicidal nurse, and a homeless man and his dog, just to name a few.

This sanatorium is very popular with the ghost hunters and paranormal seekers that schedule tours year round. For more info go to Waverly Hills Sanatorium and check out the stories and evidence.

Goldfield Hotel - Goldfield Nevada
The Goldfield was built during the heyday of the Gold Rush. According to the legend the hotel is haunted by multiple entities including George Winfield, the hotel's previous owner, as well as his mistress and prostitute named Elizabeth, whom he chained to a radiator during her pregnancy. According to legend he threw the baby down the mine shaft the hotel was supposedly built over, and this is the main cause of all the trouble.

Shadow people, full body apparitions, and mysterious sounds have been heard throughout the building for years by casual observers and paranormal investigators. I am sure after they observed something they weren't too casual after that.

Eastern State Penitentiary - Philadelphia. Pennsylvalnia
Eastern State Penitentiary broke sharply with the prisons of its day, abandoning corporal punishment and ill treatment. This massive new structure, opened in 1829, became one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and soon the most famous prison in the world. The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change.

By the 1960's, the aged prison was in need of costly repairs. The Commonwealth closed the facility in 1971, 142 years after it admitted Charles Williams, Prisoner Number One. The City of Philadelphia purchased the site in 1980, intending to reuse or develop it. Since its closure visitors, employees and those researching paranormal activity have reportedly heard unexplained eerie sights and sounds throughout the prison.

Get out this Halloween and visit one of these Haunted Places. Thanks to Patricia Barden, and Pam Culver for their wonderful photographs.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ridgewood Barbecue

As some of you know I have featured quite a few barbecue places on this blog. Although it might not fit into a "Cajun and Creole" theme, it is a Southern food and is a point of interest amongst foodie readers. Besides, smoked meats are a staple of the Cajun diet. Now, people all over believe their region has the best barbecue and I am no different. The big difference though is... I am right, these others are wrong. My barbecue restaurant back home is the best ANYWHERE. So here is my post about the famous Ridgewood Barbecue, the finest barbecue in the South, (or any direction for that matter.)

Ridgewood was opened 1948, as Ridgewood Inn, on a tiny road in Tennessee between the towns of Elizabethton and Bluff City. I grew up in Bluff City and Ridgewood soon became my favorite restaurant as a lad, although my mother didn't like it because of her dislike of smoked meats or anything for that matter, Dad sure loved it. Their sauce is phenomenal. It is a tomato based sauce sweetened with brown sugar and molasses. For any of you North Carolina barbecue snobs this is a real barbecue sauce not a bucket of vinegar with some pepper flakes in it. Please, keep that ole' swill for your Korean Kim Chee. This is barbecue sauce made the way God meant for it to be made.

Back when I was a kid, (remember the dinosaurs?) yeah, that was my era, anyway, when I was a kid we'd go and Mrs. Proffitt (Grace Proffitt, the owner) would meet you at the door and sometimes would close it in your face. Now, she wasn't being rude, this was because the restaurant was full. You'd hear people bitchin' and complainin' about her, but I understood it perfectly well. So now here is the secret... can everyone hear me? OK here it is, WHEN THE RESTAURANT IS FULL, THERE'S NO ROOM TO STAND!!! Is that soooooo difficult of a concept to grasp??? I don't know about you, but if I am eating I DO NOT want some tool looming over me goonin' at every bite I take. Set you ass outside and wait your turn. Now if you showed up with a baby, you were allowed in, if the place is full and it's raining... TOO BAD! Grace was always as sweet as could be to me, never did I set foot in the place without her asking how Mama was. She was a barbecue Godess.

Now about this particular visit. My best friend growing up, Terry, (or Ted as he now likes to be called, some California thing) was in visiting and he loves Ridgewood as much as I do, if that is at all possible. We made our way over and nearly panicked when the parking lot was jammed full. We actually parked on top of someone else's car, I believe, and made our way into the holding pen. Yes, griping whiners, there is now somewhere you can sit and cool your heels while you await entering the restaurant, sort of.

Any-who, the girl came over and we ordered identical meals without even glancing at the menu. Menu, shmenu we already knew what we wanted before leaving the house. Heck, we set our menu back in the 70's and it hasn't changed hardly at all. Pork Sandwich, Fries, Barbecue Beans, Iced Tea, that's the menu as far as we are concerned. Keep the sauce bottle handy, by the way. Now the waiting commences, look around a bit... oh great, we're in the add-on dining room and there are at least 3 screaming babies, and 2 big-hair women talking WAY TOO LOUD! Where do they still find polyester pantsuits?

Here it is... the Heavens open and the cloud part. I hear the singing of angels, I can imagine Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” in the Sistine Chapel, where God is reaching out to man, but there's a pork barbecue sandwich in his mighty hand. Yes, MY pork barbecue sandwich, oh and I got the fries and beans too. Suddenly all was well in the world. No Middle-East conflicts, North Korea and South Korea were buddies, it was like we were propelled back into a kinder, gentler era where Reagan was president, and french fries were actually made out of potatoes.

My sandwich was awesome. Dripping with sauce, especially after I gave it an extra dose for good measure. Those beans are downright sinful, savory, sweet, with scraps of smoked pork swimming around in the decorative bowl like the three Bradley girls of Petticoat Junction would swim around "au naturale" in the Cannonball's water tower. Well, at least that's what my small twisted mind could imagine went on before the whipped their petticoats off of that railing. Oh Bobbie-Jo, you were the woman for me... oops sorry, I got carried away.

Proper Ridgewood etiquette requires you to DROWN you fries in the barbecue sauce, I mean really, there are fresh-cut fries, deep fried and crispy. you can see the browning on the edges where the natural sugars in the potato had caramelized. By the way, the use GIANT potatoes for the french fries. These are simple natural fries, no season salt, heck, no salt. Terry and I settled in for a session of quiet eating only to be disturbed by the occasional offer of more tea.

We are getting near our full level though, I don't think I can eat any more, but there is still delicious goodness left on the plate, how can I leave that. I can't take it home, no matter how good it is here it can never achieve this standard after a go-around in the Fridge and the Microwave. There has to be room somewhere mayb... oh, there it is, just under my 4th rib. I sop up the last remnants of the sauce with my final bite of sandwich and even catch an errant french fry I had somehow missed. Well Mister French Fry, thought you could get away did you?

We have done it! Another perfect meal at Ridgewood. OK, I rarely get there because I do overeat when I am there. Even their Bleu Cheese Dressing is awesome. My brother-in-law Frankie would sometimes order just a bowl of Bleu Cheese dressing and a fist-full of crackers. Evidently, this dressing is made to go on something called a Sa-Lad. Some with lettuce or, whatever. You have to go to Ridgewood. Mrs. Proffitt has passed on now as has her son Terry. Her Grand-Daughter Lisa Peters now runs the restaurant and luckily little to nothing has changed, and I hope nothing ever does. HERE is a nice little history and write up on the place in an interview of Larry Proffitt.

To get to Ridgewood, just make your way to Bluff City Tennessee and let your nose take you to the heavenly aroma, or you can type this into you Garmin, or whatever. Ridgewood Barbecue, 900 Elizabethtown Highway, Bluff City, TN 37618. (423-538-7543). No website that I know of but they do have a FaceBook Page. Try some real barbecue when in East Tennessee. Call me and I'll meet you over there. Enjoy!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Sassafras Leaves and Filé Gumbo

Wow, it is such a beautiful day here in East Tennessee, I am so glad I got out amongst nature and accomplished something I have been wanting to do forever. I called my brother Phil and he and I went down to our family's property (actually it's a cemetery our family owns) and we scouted out some Sassafras Trees. Other than the tea, most people might not know what sassafras is good for. If you dry the leaves and grind them into powder, you will have made filé powder. "Great" you say, "what is filé powder???"

Filé (fee-lay) is used in cajun cooking, primarily in the preparation of my favorite cajun food... GUMBO! The sassafras tree has 3 different and distinct leaves as pictured. These three leaves all came off the same tree. There is a 3 lobed leaf, an ovoid leaf, and one shaped like a kid's mitten. Most say it was the Choctaw Indians in Louisiana that taught dem Cajuns to use it for flavoring and thickening the gumbos. I have bought filé powder before but it doesn't seem to have the strength to work properly. I found THIS ARTICLE on making filé powder that will help.

You can find the trees in most wooded areas of the southeast on down as far as Texas. Since this is my first time harvesting it, and I've read you should break off small limbs, spray them off with water and let them dry for about a week out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will make them brown. I have a few pics here for you. So, while the weather is nice, get out and pick some, and make you some good filé powder. Be sure not to put it in until your gumbo is nearly finished. Some put it in after cooking or offer it at the table for guests to use at they're discretion.

Both my Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and my VooDoo Bayou Seafood Gumbo recipes are accessible by clicking on their highlighted titles, try your new sassafras leaf Filé out on one of those recipes. Have fun and enjoy the fresh air once you're outside picking leaves.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gunplay at Galatoire's

You know, when it's a lovely afternoon and you're having a wonderful meal at MY favorite restaurant in New Orleans, Galatoire's, you'd expect to get through the event without pistol fire interrupting the proceedings. Some lady dropped her purse and the gun inside hit the floor and went off, burying the bullet harmlessly in a wall. I doubt many of their 90 yr. old waiters even heard it go off. Knowing the Galatoire's crowd I doubt there was a cessation of eating to notice if anyone was dead. Oh how I LOVE New Orleans. And gals that carry guns to lunch... that's nearly as sexy as Galatoire's Soft Shell Crab Meunieré Almandine.

CLICK HERE to read the story from by Brendan McCarthy of The Times-Picayune.


Drago's Restaurant in Metairie, LA

For years I had been hearing about Char-Broiled Oysters at a restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana just outside New Orleans. Since I rarely have transportation to get around, especially out to Metairie, I usually busy myself with French Quarter restaurants. This one kept nagging me though. When I was a kid Char-Broiled was all the rage. Burgers, steaks, chicken, etc. as a matter of fact my Mom's friend Francis used to refer to it as "Char-BOILED", which always brought a smile to my face. So the thought of char-broiling oysters intrigued me even though oysters have never been my favorite bivalve. OK, I like them fine, it did take me a while though to come around.

My Dad LOVED oysters. The old man could and would go through a few pints a week sometimes... he also liked oysters (sorry I couldn't resist). He would buy them, dip them in an egg wash, roll them in cracker crumbs, and pan fry them. This was his favorite thing to make at home. He loved them so much he could barely resist eating all of them raw on crackers before he got them fried. Now I wouldn't eat them back then, they looked nasty and I couldn't get around the texture, or lack thereof, but I sure put a hurtin' on some at Drago's.

My buddies Noonan, the cruise director on the Triumph, and assistant cruise director Cory, met me and off we went to try something new. The only thing I knew to order was the oysters. So we got a dozen for an appetizer. Well once we ate one each we immediately ordered more. Good golly, Miss Molly were those things GOOD! Char-broiled in their half shell, bathed in a spicy butter, and topped with Parmagiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses, broiled to perfection, brought out still bubbling... da-yammm. I now have a newest, favoritest food in the whole wide world. They are served with pieces of French bread that you dip into the leftover, buttery oyster-nectar. The only problem with these oysters is that you want to eat them as soon as they come out and you can get a severe burn from the savory Napalm they're bathed in.

Noonan and Cory were going at them as hard I was when our entreés arrived. We barely noticed there was other food on the table. How could we turn our attention away from these beautiful, hot, buttery, crusty, oysters? They were like crack on the half-shell. It wasn't until we ran out and our eyes cleared, that we realized we had more food. Now the meal just got more interesting.

The boys had ordered the Lobster Lunch Special. A fair sized lobster served with a salad and some red potatoes. The crustaceanally challenged Cory had to download a Marine Forensic Pathologist's chart to figure up how to open his up to get at the goodies. He eventually found his way with some prompting from Noonan and I and was merrily on his claw-crackin' way. Noonan however evidently knew his way around the lobster and wasted no time peering around its nether regions for pockets of tasty tail-meat.

For my appetizer I got Mama Ruth's Seafood Gumbo. It was a dark maroon which indicated a dark roux and tomatoes. Truly a Creole gumbo. Lots of nice shrimp, crab and quite a few oysters, (more than most have). It was nice, tasty, and definitely wasn't institutional gumbo like is served in so many New Orleans restaurants now. It is one of the better ones in town. Now you Cajuns out there be warned, it's got tomatoes in it. I'm just sayin'.

For my entreé, I had ordered a Barbecued Shrimp Po-Boy. Now, when I say barbecue, I don't mean the traditional "barbecue" but New Orleans style sautéed shrimp. Buttery, garlicky, and savory from wonderful spices, these shrimp were piled high on that crusty french bread. It was a great po-boy and wonderful accompaniment for the gumbo and oysters. All in all, it was a great meal and a fun day trying out a new restaurant.

About Drago's, Drago Cvitanovich has a wonderful restaurant here in Metairie as well as his place in downtown at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. I had been hearing about it for some time, but this was my first opportunity to get out there. The service was great, ice tea was tasty, and everyone was very friendly, but I cannot say enough about the char-broiled oysters. They are totally amazing as well as simple in their preparation. As for a recipe, I found this one below at Gumbo Pages. Enjoy making these, but try your darnedest to get out to Drago's when in the neighborhood, it is well worth the trip.

Drago-Like Char-Broiled Oysters

32 large oysters, on the half shell, disconnected.
1 cup salted butter
2 tbs garlic (minced)
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup each Parmagiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses (grated)
½ cup parsley (minced)

Heat your charcoal or gas grill up to MED/HI. Melt the butter with the garlic and pepper in a sauté pan. Mix the cheeses in a small bowl. Spoon some of the melted butter mix onto each oyster. Add a pinch of the cheeses and parsley to each oyster and place them on the grill. Grill the oysters until they are hot, bubbly, and crusty on the top.

*You can use your broiler in your oven as well if a grill is not available. Save your shells and then next time you can buy already shucked oysters and save a little money. You just need to wash them like you wash a dish.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010 Boudin Cook-Off

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this. As you well know I LOVE BOUDIN!!! It is one of my favorite things in the world to eat. I got this note from Bob at the officialistest boudin website they is I am going to paste it in as I got it. It is the press release for the 2010 Boudin Cook-Off. I can't make it so bring me some by when you leave.

Lafayette Louisiana holds one of the state’s most unique food related festivals each October. The annual Boudin Cook-Off is a celebration of Louisiana’s Cajun boudin sausage, which is a delicious blend of pork, rice, and seasoning loosely stuffed into a casing and eaten throughout South Louisiana from sunup to sundown. At the Boudin Cook-Off over twenty of the region’s top boudin makers bring their best boudin and boudin inspired dishes in three categories (traditional, specialty, and unlinked) to sample to the crowd and to vie for approval from the judges and from the people in the form of the coveted People’s Choice Award.

Last year’s entries included boudin stuffed jalapenos, shrimp boudin egg rolls, boudin pie, boudin wontons, a boudin burger, smoked boudin, and boudin balls. There’s no other event quite like this boudin extravaganza. It is free to attend, offers live music, free activities for the kids, and includes a boudin eating contest where contestants attempt to scarf down six links of boudin in the fastest time. The folks behind, the web’s premiere (and sole) boudin reviewing website and resource for all things boudin, coordinate the whole thing.

Information on the cook-off, which is held on October 16th in downtown Lafayette, can be found at, Downtown Lafayette, and the Lafayette Convention and Visitor’s Commission also present the event.

New Posts are a-Coming

Hey readers, I just wanted to drop you folks a note and let you know I have been swamped with work lately, and I do have some blogs in the works. We will be going to Drago's in Metairie, as well as Acme Oyster House out that way. I also have a trip to the French Market to see all the new vendor stalls. We will also go to Mobile Alabama for a meal at Wintzell's Oyster House.

Until then I will leave you with a lovely lady that is an incredible singer and happens to be engaged to one of my best buddies. She is Alicia Nugent. In the five short years since Alecia's debut CD, she has gone from being the toast of Hickory Grove, Louisiana to one of the most celebrated bluegrass & country singers across America’s heartland. Her new CD is called "Hillbilly Goddess" and here is an excerpt from it called "Don't Tell Me".

Head over to her site at and check her out. I think she's wonderful and it's nice to see some bluegrass coming out of Louisiana.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Next Food Network Star

I received this letter about auditions in New Orleans.

To Whom It May Concern:
I am a Casting Assistant for The Next Food Network Star, Food Network’s hugely successful culinary reality series, which is currently casting for its 2011 season. We would like to inform you and your readers that we are holding an Open Casting Call in New Orleans, LA on Monday, August 16, 2010.  This is the first time we are coming to New Orleans for an open casting call and we can’t wait to meet all the potential candidates there!
We are looking for people who are full of life, passionate about cooking, and knowledgeable about food to meet us in person at our open casting call. Please help us spread the word to any chef, home cook, caterer or culinary enthusiast who might be interested in becoming the host of his or her own cooking show on Food Network!
The details of our event are as follows:
Monday, August 16, 2010
W New Orleans
333 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to contact me.  Thank you for your time and assistance.
 Julie Boskoff
Casting Assistant
The Next Food Network Star 7

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jestines of Charleston

Welcome back to RouxBDoo's Blog, and although it is called Cajun and Creole, many of you know I occaisionally cover other types of Southern foods, like "Low Country", which is another of my absolute favorites. As you might remember I am periodically working out of Charleston, South Carolina, and it has afforded me a chance to try out some of the local cuisine.

What is Low Country? Well, geographically the Low Country is comprised of areas between Coastal South Carolina and Georgia. That coastal plain is below sea level giving it the moniker "Low Country." Culturally the area is known for some of its earlier inhabitants, known as the Gullah. The Gullah were a people made up of freed slaves, Caribbean or West Indian Islanders, and some of the local Native Americans. Many still inhabit barrier islands where their language is still partially intact and their cuisine has influenced dining and restaurants for many years.

One popular Low Country restaurant in Charleston is Jestine's Kitchen. Located at 251 Meeting Street, be aware there is usually a line around the corner most any time they're serving, which is opening at 11:00am through 9:30pm or 10:00pm on weekends. Jestine's is named in honor of Jestine Matthews, a Low Country resident born in 1885. Her mother was native American and her father a freed slave from Wadmalaw Island. The restaurant is a memorial to her cooking, by a family that had employed Jestine for several generations. Although she passed away at the tender age of 112 in 1997, her memory lives on in this restaurant and its food.

I arrived around noon on a Saturday, on a recommendation from my cab driver from the airport. I had my luggage in tow, which was no problem at all to the staff, I parked it inside the front door, poured a glass of ice-water, and took my place outside in line. Fortunately, there was a large menu board in the facing window that let waiting customers read the menu, rather than staring hungrily at the annoyed, dining patrons which is usually the case.

Once inside I looked over the menu and had a tough time deciding what I wanted, all of it looked appealing. I was craving shrimp, so I considered the fried shrimp basket. Now, as you sat down you received a small bowl of some bread-and-butter "icebox" pickles. These were very tasty and went well with the corn bread I got as a pre-appetizer. The appetizers included Chicken and Rice soup, Crabcakes, Corn Fritters, and the always overpriced Fried Green Tomatoes. Charleston restaurants seem to think that Friend Green Tomatoes rank up there with Foie Gras and Caviar. C'mon people, they're slices of tomato dusted with seasoned cornmeal, and deep fried... get over yourselves. So I went in another direction.

I chose the Corn Fritters. I'll have to say they were HUGE. For around 5 bucks you got two Corn-Grenades that were very dense and heavy, and I hate to say I was not really a fan. I was expecting light, hushpuppy-like fritters, maybe in a basket. The taste was OK but a little too bulky. Well, no worry, I didn't have to wait too long until my shrimp arrived. There were about 8 medium sized shrimp, lightly breaded and fried to perfection. They were very good but I could've used a few more, I guess I should've ordered the larger Fried Shrimp Platter. The accompanying slaw and fried okra were very tasty and nice to round out the meal.

I will say they have awesome iced tea. They call it "Jestine's Table Wine" that comes sweetened, if you so desire as with most restaurants in the South. Also I should point out that Jestine's offers Daily Blue Plate Specials in addition to the Salad, Sandwich, Basket, and Plate sections of the menu. There were some Low Country regulars as well as lots of seafood on the menu, the Pecan Crusted items sounded interesting. I was on my usual traveling budget and trying to avoid the sugars associated with desserts, so I bypassed them. I understand Jestine's also operates a sweet shop on Wentworth St. in Charleston as well, so I bet dessert would have been good. I seem to remember being offered Pecan Pie.

Overall, I thought the food was good, price wise the plates run between $10 to $15. The baskets are a bargain running from $5 to $9 as do the sandwiches. All together you can easily get a great meal for under $20, or thereabouts. The atmosphere is nice, decorated with a variety of Salt-n-Pepper shakers and other Southern kitsch that make this little place homey and inviting. The surly waitress I had was a bit snippy but that might be part of the ambience. The service was great nonetheless and I had a nice time overall. So when in Charleston, check out the line outside, calculate the heat index, and then determine if you want to try Jestine's... you might be glad you did.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Noisy Oyster in Charleston

Hello friends, welcome back to my blog. I have a new restaurant for you, I had an opportunity to visit yesterday while I was in Charleston SC. It is called the Noisy Oyster, and if the rest of their food was as good as I had... their food is wonderful. I visited their restaurant on Market St., one of their 3 locations in Charleston, and luckily I was there early and before anyone else. Everyone was nice and friendly, and I was seated quickly and met my waiter Josh. When I travel I keep myself on a budget, so I looked over the menu to see what was good and within my price range. Everything on the lunch menu was very reasonable, plus I was also in the posession of a $5.00-off Appetizer coupon I had secured from a time share booth down the street.

I decided on the She Crab Soup for my appetizer since that is one of my favorite soups. Any creamy crab-type soup is always my favorite, as some of you know I have a great crab soup recipe on this blog, you have to go back through the archives a little. Josh brought out the soup and I was presented with an empty bowl that had a mound of lump crab meat in the middle. The soup portion was in a small pitcher which he proceeded to pour around the crabmeat. He also had a bottle of sherry vinegar which he started to pour until I stopped him and told him I would do the honors. This soup was incredibly creamy and flavorful. The lump crab meat was sweet and fresh tasting, and when I did add a dash of the sherry vinegar it really complimented the soup. I knew it would, but I like to do stuff like that myself.

For my entrée I decided on one of my other favorites, the Shrimp and Grits. I absolutely love grits, all my life I have enjoyed them. Also you can't beat shrimp, so the two of them together is pure magic. These were creamy cheese grits, with the sauteéd shrimp and slices of andouille sausage, layered over the grits and topped with a savory brown tasso sauce. The portion was huge and the best I have eaten. As some of you know Shrimp and Grits is a Low Country cuisine favorite and recipes vary as much as recipes for gumbo. The key is to season the grits properly, some places put nothing in the grits and I hear people all the time say, "they taste like wallpaper paste". This happens when you don't season them with salt, pepper, and butter. Also don't forget when making them, you can substitute half of the water for cream or milk.

The Shrimp and Grits were served with a huge chunk of their grilled cheddar cornbread. Let me tell you about this cornbread. I normally hate sweet cornbread, I say it's bread, not cake. But brothers and sisters listen to me... this stuff was awesome. A sweet flavor, with bits of cheddar cheese running through it, a nice brown crust on the outside. Moist and flavorful, this was the perfect compliment to the dish. The food was tasty and well prepared. Everyone was friendly, and Josh did a nice job serving me.

I was offered a dessert from the incredible-looking dessert tray, but I had no room for anything. They looked amazing though, a Key Lime Pie, a five decker chocolate cake, 5 different cheesecakes, it was beautiful. I payed my very reasonable bill and told Josh what an awesome meal I'd had. I recommend this restaurant very highly, they have a diverse menu and everything I had was great. I apologize for the blue tint to the pictures, it must be my crappy phone camera. I tried adjusting the color of them in Photoshop, but it made the food look even weirder.

Check out The Noisy Oyster when in Charleston, or you can CLICK HERE and look over their menu online. Tell them RouxBDoo sent you!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Dreamland Barbecue

Hello friends, I am sorry about the length of time between posts, but my work has me away from home most of the time. I do not realistically have internet access on the ship, I could but it's VERY expensive. So I am preparing 3, maybe 4 posts while I am home. These posts will curve slightly away from the Cajun and Creole subject, (just a tiny bit) but as you might see they are about as close as you can get to it. After all they are Southern Foods, and what's more Southern than barbecue? So, here we go!

I love barbecue, I love all kinds of it, especially pork. And I love all kinds of pork, they's pulled pork, chopped pork, sliced pork, pork-kabobs, pork creole, pork gumbo. pan fried pork, deep fried pork, stir-fried pork, pineapple pork, lemon pork, coconut pork, pepper pork, pork soup, pork stew, pork salad, pork and potatoes, pork burger, pork sandwich, and little bitty stingin' pork... and big ol' fat pork. pork that flew in sideways, and sometimes pork even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Don't you Forrest? You get the idea.

While cavorting with my colleagues in Mobile Alabama, we decided to have barbecue one day. We were in Jason's automobile and using some sort of mapping device, we punched in the appropriate "Barbecue" keyword and off we went to one of Mobile's oldest and most venerable establishments... Dreamland Barbecue.

My friend Mangesh, being from India, had had little exposure to barbecue. Upon arriving he noticed smoke emitting from the building. After expressing his concern, I assured him that was a GOOD sign. Yes, you could smell the wood smoke all around the outside of the building. We quickly ran inside to avoid further exposure to the searing heat of the Alabama sun. Mangesh is used to the oppressive heat, being from India, but Myself being a pale, fat, white guy, and Jason a mere wisp of a Pennsylvanian boy, were at the sun's mercy.

We settled in and looked over the menu. Our server Tonique, gave us all the scoop on what was good and even brought us a tiny sample of their wonderful smoked sausage. She also brought us a plate-full of small cups of BBQ sauce and a stack of good ol' plain white bread. No pretension, I like this place already. The menu was also posted on a lighted sign in several locations around the room. The place was full of people ranging from businessmen, families, to working men. It had a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere.

I ordered the half slab of ribs, as did Mangesh, and Jason opted for the pulled pork sammich. I love ribs as a matter of record, I would normally order a full slab, but I am trying to cut back on portions. The half rack, I was told, is about 6 ribs and should be enough with the sides. I ordered the beans and slaw, as did Mangesh, and finished my order off with an iced tea... yes, you guessed it, as did Mangesh. The Iced Tea was great, and Tonique kept those glasses full. Somewhere along the line, someone got potato salad. I just noticed this in the picture.

Jason seemed to enjoy his sandwich, which always makes me happy when Jason enjoys food. He doesn't eat much more than cereal on the ship and I worry about him. It's a "fatherly" thing I guess, since he and Mangesh both are young enough to be my sons. Mangesh laughingly refers to me as his American Father. All that aside, that sandwich did look mighty good. Lovely white, smoked, pork meat piled high on the bun with cole slaw. It was a nice, soft, Red-Neck whitebread bun too! Not one of those Nurf Foorball looking, "Olde World" natural-tough, grain buns, with more tasteless grain sprinkled onto it, like you get in some "up-scale" delis. Everything was right with this sandwich.

We looked like total tourists because I was trying to shoot pictures for this blog. I was trying using my Crap Phone camera, while Jason and Mangesh were snapping away with their superior iPhones or whatever. The interior is cool and dark. The open wood pit was illuminating the room with the fire, as well as giving everything a slight "smoky" atmosphere. We shot some pics of our lovely and patient waitress Tonique, as well as pictures of the Pit-Master Sandy. Sandy is a large, strapping gentleman who has a hot, but important job of maintaining the fire and all the meat cooking on it. A lot rides on his shoulders... get it? Pork Shoul... oh well forget it.

The General Manager, Margo told me a little about Dreamland and its humble beginnings. How John "Big Daddy" Bishop opened the small eatery in Tuscaloosa, AL in 1958, and his legacy has kept that hickory fired taste, sopped up with white bread, ever since. There are Dreamland restaurants in many locations now in several states, but Alabama is home to this family run business. After talking to a few folks, we strolled into the sunlight, and began shrieking like the pale kids in the Twilight movies at the searing sun, all except Mangesh... remember he's from India.

How was the food? In a word, delicious. The ribs were tasty, I like mine a little more "fall off the bone" but the perfectly charred meat came off clean from the bone and had a wonderful smoke center to its flavor. The beans were very good as was the slaw. The sauce is not very sweet, as I am used to it, but it compliments the meats very well. Jason liked his sandwich, as did Mangesh. Mangesh did mention several positive things about his meal but as usual I couldn't make out much of what he was saying with that accent of his, it's like being on the phone with Microsoft Customer Service. All in all, we had a great meal and I recommend when you are passing through or visiting the lovely city of Mobile, you stop in for some great food. You can check on their other locations if you CLICK HERE. The website will not only give you locations, but the history, and how to order some of their items.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Mudbugs in Mobile

I have been craving crawfish lately. Now, I have fried crawfish tails at my favorite Boiling Pot in Mobile, but I was wanting some fresh boiled crawfish, dripping with seasoned boil water, pleading for me to release them from their spiny armour and devour them. It was nearing, or even past, the end of crawfish season and I was yet to have some. I had seen this place in Mobile on the drive to the seaport from the airport, and wanted to stop and eat but they only do carry-out.

The place is Mudbugs, and the have wonderful BIG crawfish that are boiled to perfection. The heavenly aroma oozed from the plastic bag-full of tasty, red crustaceans, starving me as they filled my head with visions of mounds of the vermillion varmits. OK, I wax poetically about these things, but they are oh-so good.

Mudbugs has all types of fish and seafood that you can get fresh, fried, steamed or boiled. They also have other foods like smoked sausage, boudin, tasso, andouille, as well as alligator meat and frog legs, to name a few. They're speciality though, is exemplified in their unique moniker, unappetizing to some of faint culinary heart, but to true lovers of crawfish, Mudbugs says it all.

Crawfish, as those of you who've had them will tell you, are a bit messy, but I find them easier to deal with than shelling shrimp. I am always tempted to crack into the little claws and try and dig the little bit of the claw meat out, but you're wasting your time, go for the tail, for the most part it's fairly easy.

For those of you who haven't had the honor, first you crack the back half off of the crawfish at the spot where the tail meets the body shell, or carapace. Sometimes the tail comes away with a set of legs. Peel this ring off, along with the legs, and pinch the base of the tail to loosen the piece of meat from the shell. This will slide right out ready for eatin'.

There will be a small amount of crawfish fat, (or "butter" as the NOLA folks call it) attached to the tail, this is a tasty extra you don't want to wipe off. You can also push your pinky finger into the carapace and scrape out more of this "butter". My friend Ralph Fountain taught me this little trick to extract it as opposed to all this "suckin' heads" business. These, by the way, are actions employed my true crawfish-anados. Diggin' for the "butter" is not usually for the squeamish first-timers. You might also want to slide the "vein" out of the tail meat, as you would a shrimp. BTW... it's not a vein.

What do you dip them in? Well, you don't have to dip them in anything. I like them plain, most times, and sometimes I will employ a little red cocktail sauce. You might actually want to dip them in drawn or clarified butter, but I think that's just overkill. Just enjoy the sweet flavor of the morsels of tail meat without covering it up with strong flavors like horseradish or worcestershire sauce, ingredients usually found in cocktail sauce.

Can you use crawfish tails in other dishes, well yes you can. The aforementioned fried crawfish is a wonderful treat. You dip the peeled crawfish tails in a wash of milk and egg, then into some corn flour that's been fortified with a little cajun spice mix, and fry in a deep fryer or skillet full of 365º oil.

You can also make a nice crawfish étouffée or put some into a seafood gumbo. Hank Williams sang about Crawfish Pie which are a delicacy in Cajun country. There are many things you can put these crawfish in after shelling them, and you can even buy already-shelled crawfish tails for recipes. This makes it even easier to cook with. Mudbugs sell those shelled crawfish tails by the pound.

I thought I would publish a crawfish beignet recipe with this column. These are wonderful and easy to make. This recipe came from Creole Delicacies/Cookin' Cajun in New Orleans on St. Anne's. Lisette and the girls would make these occaisionally and I talked them out of the recipe. Make these up with a batch of remoulade sauce and sit back and enjoy.

If you are traveling in the Gulf Coast area, remember most all crawfish are farm raised and are fine for consumption. For now most seafood in the region is OK, but let's pray they can clean the BP oil mess up before it destroys the oyster beds or shrimping areas. Alright, that's another story, let's wrap this up.

As you can see by my Crawfish Puppet Theater, I love crawfish. Ever since the first time I had them, I've had this obsession about them. Try them, if you haven't yet, and you might catch the fever as I did. If you can't get to Mudbugs, you can order crawfish on-line and they will be flown, alive, to your home. A crawfish boil is easy to put on, but it takes 3 to 4 pounds to make up enough for the average eater. I've heard 10 lbs of whole crawfish yields 1 lb of meat, but it's worth it.

Mudbugs is located at the loop 408 at Dauphin Island Parkway in Mobile Alabama, they have a super friendly staff, and great fresh seafood. They are closed on Mondays, and have no indoor dining facilities, but the nice lady did offer to let me sit on a bench in the store and eat them off of a tray, but I thought better of it. Get over to see them soon, and tell'em RouxBDoo sent you.

Crawfish Beignets

2 cups plain flour
2 tbs baking powder
2 tbs cajun seasoning
¼ cup minced bell pepper
1 tbs minced garlic
4 green onions thinly sliced
3 tbs fresh minced parsley
1 tsp hot sauce
1 ½ cup seafood or chicken stock
1 lb Crawfish tails

Mix dry ingredients evenly. Add remaining ingredients, except for stock and hot sauce. Mix well and add hot sauce ans then the stock, but just enough stock to form a loose sticky dough. Let stand for 15 mins.

Preheat fryer to 350º Spoon in batter, or use a portion scoop, and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, serve with remoulade sauce. These go well with a nice cold beer.