Saturday, January 29, 2011

What's Different at a New Orleans' WalMart

I was doing some shopping last week at the WalMart in the Warehouse District, not too far from my ship, and I began noticing all the great items I wish my WalMarts back home had. So here is a little N'Awlins' shoppin' list that might make you hungry or envious bacause the WalMart where 'yat aint gottem... most likely!

Poor Boy French Bread by Reising Bakery. Traditionally used by many for New Orleans' native sammich the Po' Boy. (Notice their spelling)

King Cake, The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas, through to Mardi Gras day. Unfortunately the baby is in a awkward position. Poor baby, must've wriggled out of the cake on the way to the store.

Community Coffee, next to CDM is the most popular I would guess. Not sure which is the favorite, I suspect this one.

Richard's Andouille Sausage. Pronounced "ree-shards" it is one of the better standard grocery store brands. Can't beat Jacob's in La Place though.

Next is Richard's Boudin. I love boudin and they do a pretty good job with this one!

Creole Cream Cheese an old New Orleans favorite. Only a handful of places make it, Chef John Folse produces this one.

A bag of Zapp's Cajun Craw Tater potato chips. We've covered Zapp's before. They are truly wonderful.

Louisiana Fish Fry Products Brand of Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil. No mixing just dump it into the water and let'er rip.

Here we have a freezer section full of traditional Cajun and Creole meals, froze harder than Chinese Arithmetic. Never tried them, probably never will.

Here we have an assortment of spices and rubs by our favorite spice mixes like Tony Chachere's, Zatarain's, and Chef Paul Prudhomme to name a few.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip around the New Orleans WalMart. I sure wish we had some of these products. BTW, the Gumbo Crabs and Crawfish Tails by Bernard's are imported from China, I do not endorse nor really recommend them. I can occaisionally get the Crawfish Tails at home, so if I want any at the spur of the moment, it is usually these.

Always try and buy US caught Seafood, specifically Louisiana Seafood. OK, ALabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South and North Carolina, and all the other gulf states, I'm sure have great seafood too! Nothing against the Chinese, as you have heard earlier, they have great Arithmetic!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Li'l Dizzy's on Esplanade

It was a beautiful day in New Orleans, the type of day you want to walk around town or go into the French Quarter and enjoy all the sights. I had been to a little restaurant called Li'l Dizzy's before but only for breakfast. When I was there I did enjoy the food, as I remember. I even seem to recall meeting the owner Wayne Baquet, and I always wondered what the food was like the rest of the day. For some reason I hadn't been back... yet.

After I had read their name on a list of someone's favorite gumbos in New Orleans, I decided to find out more about Li'l Dizzy's and see what they're about for lunch. For starters, I found out that they have a buffet on most days. I like this idea. I have always been a fan of buffets since I was a kid. The only problem with buffets is that they are one of two things, they either have a MILLION items on the bar and nothing is good, like it's just emptied out of a can, or they are small and the food is the same as they offer on the menu. With Li'l Dizzy's I found it was the latter. Small buffet, a dozen or so items, and great food. Just like off the menu.

First, let's look at their reviews. I checked them out on several and they got great marks on them especially on their chicken and gumbo. OK, I have been meaning to try out several of the fried chicken places in New Orleans but I haven't gotten around to it. I knew that Dizzy's had good marks on it and luckily they had chicken on the buffet. The chicken coating, (this is how many chickens are compared) was the lighter colored, almost like a Popeye's as opposed to a darker KFC. It also was lighter tasting, pleasant and not at all greasy. The flavor was good, and although it was thoroughly cooked, I will have to say that I like my chicken REALLY, REALLY well done, I did enjoy the piece that I ate.

I thought one of the highlights of the meal was the Creole style White Beans. Seasoned with what looked like bacon and other bits of pork, they were cooked down wonderfully. Reminded me of the white beans my N'Awlins buddy Ralph Fountain used to fix me at his house in Arabi. In addition to the beans, I got some nice red-skinned potatoes with just enough garlic and butter to make me happy. I grabbed a hot sausage off the breakfast end of the buffet to accompany my beans.

They next had a braised pork loin in a spicy au jus, (or debris) right next to some nice savory rice to spoon it over. This plate was getting heavy. I hauled it over to my table next to the window. My waitress brought me some iced tea and some french bread to sop up all the juicy goodnessson my plate. She did this with a smile and a light in her heart. Everyone there seemed happy to work there. I took my time and savored all the food I had gotten, but I had to save room for the next course... GUMMMMBO!

I made my way back over to the bar and using the ladle, swirled the swampy goodness I had observed on my first trip to the steam table. There it was. Reddish crab claws and tiny legs intertwined with several different meats like andouille, ham (or tasso possibly) and some other type of sausage I could not identify, chaurice or chorizo maybe? Maybe not traditional but really good. Then the little shrimp swam up to my ladle and tried their best to jockey up to my bowl. You can see by the picture this gumbo was loaded and nearly perfect.

The flavor was spot on. A nice seafood-ey taste but not overpowering. Not as dark as I make mine, but ideal for this gumbo, somehow. Spice was right on, not too salty or not too hot. As I told Kathy, the lady at the cash register, it was perfect. Possibly the best I'd had in New Orleans, and that's quite a feat. Well, at least you'd think so. With so many of the downtown restaurants serving institutional gumbo, this Li'l Dizzy's gumbo stood out so it's not even fair. I know that many good restaurants downtown, in the Quarter, etc. do make their own, and many are very good. This one is one of the best I've eaten.

I couldn't leave without at least a taste of their bread pudding. Man-oh-man, is it good. The Bourbon sauce or whatever it is sure is awesome. I'm not big on alcohol based sauce or foods, but this one is tasty. I was told it's not alcoholic but like Foster Brooks, it sure does a great imitation. This bread pudding is also some of the best I have had down there. I was truly impressed. I told my delight to Kathy and how much I loved the gumbo. She introduced me to Rosalind, the chef that makes the gumbo, and probably most the rest of the food. Rosalind was a friendly lady who posed for a picture with Kathy, and seemed proud of my compliments on her creation.

I look forward to going back to Li'l Dizzy's someday. If you want to go while in New Orleans, take the Riverfront Trolley up to the end of the French Quarter and get off at the last stop. This is Esplanade, now walk up this interesting, tree-lined, street about seven blocks, cross Rampart, (the top of the Quarter) and go about five to six more streets. On the left you will find Li'l Dizzy's at 1500 Esplanade. Tell them you read about them here at RouxBDoo's Blog.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jon Dee's Christmas Soup and Jambalaya

I am always deeply gratified when my readers and friends actually try my recipes and send me reports and pictures of what they fix. Some of the best food photos have come from these associations. As is the case with the two lovely dishes, which, BTW, come from my friend, hypnotist, and previous contributor Jon Dee of Gatlinburg Tennessee. OK, I don't think he lives there but his AMAZING HYPNOTISM SHOW is there and should not be missed. CLICK HERE for more information.

The first picture is that of a bowl of my Metairie Shrimp and Crab Soup. This recipe was developed in the New Orleans suburb or Metairie, at my friend Doug Ferguson's house. We would go over to Whole Foods, get a second mortgage on our houses, and spend it on seafood for this wonderful soup. I think John called it his $50.00 Crab and Shrimp Christmas soup, implying he made the soup instead of buying toys for his children at Yuletide. The other item is my World Famous (in my little world) Cajun Brown Jambalaya. This make a wonderful compliment to each other,

This is Jon, isn't he cute? And evidently frustrated about something, the grocery bill probably. Really, he's a nice guy, loving husband and father, and a good friend. I just like this picture of him. He's come so far from that apple-cheeked lad in his teens that used to come visit me. We've both come a long way. Jon, I am honored you have, once again, chosen my recipes to celebrate Christmas with. You have good taste, and from the looks of your pictures, your food does too! To get both recipes, along with a dozen more of my best, CLICK HERE and get them all.

Thanks Buddy for sharing, and to all a good night.



Here is a little video clip that I just love. It came from the movie "King Creole" starring Elvis Presley. The move starts out with street venders calling out their wares, and the gumbo man was my favorite. Of course as most of you know, Gumbo is my favorite as well. I was surprised there were no Calas ladies out calling. You might think it's goofy, but I get a smile every time I play it. Enjoy


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

40 Blogs for the Cajun Enthusiast

Friend of our RouxBDoo Blog, Katie Tellefson, has just published an article on her blog entitled “40 Blogs for the Cajun Enthusiast”. I am happy to let you know that our site has been included on that list, and we're in the top slot, not sure if that means we're Number 1 or not. I figured I’d bring it to your attention. Click on the above title and check this great list out for more on Cajun cooking and culture. Thanks so much Katie, we love you and your hard work listing all these sites and blogs.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Louisiana Dried Shrimp

I found out about these little fellows years ago. I was dating a girl in Houma, and when I went down to visit her the first time there in Houma, she ran into a gas station and grabbed a pack. She ate them like you would eat peanuts. I actually developed a taste for them and would pick up a pack from time to time. They are primarily used to make shrimp stocks and add to a gumbo. As for a snack, you REALLY have to like the flavor of shrimp. They are tiny and a bit chewy but after the first few, they're like... jerky, in a way.

These are available all over Louisiana in grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. You can also order them from places like Simply Cajun or from Pure Cajun Products. They also make dried shrimp powder that you can toss right into a pot of boiling water and SHAZAAM... great shrimp stock. This and the dried shrimp pictured are from Rouse's Supermarket. Whether you use them for stock or gumbo, or decide to eat them as a snack, this is TRUE Louisiana.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Ferdi Special Po' Boy

If you've never been to New Orleans you might be asking, or "Ax-ing" as the locals say, "what is a Po' Boy?" Well a Po' Boy is a large sandwich on a foot long piece of French bread. It can contain meats, fried seafoods, grilled sausage, or even french fries with brown gravy on them. Basically it is their name for a sub. One of my favorites is the Ferdi Special. It is a combination of baked ham, roast beef, and beef debris gravy. Now debris gravy is a thick broth containing some of the shredded-up bits of roast beef that fall into the pan while baking and slicing. It keeps the sandwich nice and moist.

The Ferdi special was invented at Mother's Restaurant, on Poydras St., only a few blocks from the French Quarter. We have covered Mother's Restaurant before on this site, you can see it by clicking HERE. To tell you story of the Ferdi, it was actually easier to quote their own words... "Mr. Ferdi, a local merchant and regular Mother’s patron, probably had nothing more than a meaty sandwich in mind when he asked that some ham be added to his roast beef po’ boy (or vice versa, the legend is hazy). But word got out and the combo was soon a hit. Voila! – the Ferdi Special was born."

Ferdi's are available at many restaurants in town, one of my favorites being at NOLA Grocery. Pictured is my one from Mother's that I had on my last trip to town. It was great, really tasty and with loads of meat. The Ferdi Special is definitely one of my favorite types of Po' Boys.


NOLA Restaurants

I was in my favorite town yesterday and thought I'd snap some pictures of some of New Orleans' great eateries. First is the K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. As most of you know Chef Paul Prudhomme is an institution of himself. One of his early credits was Commander's Palace in the Garden District. This restaurant pictured is his wonderful reastaurant on on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.

Next is one of the oldest restaurants in one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans, The Napoleon House. The Chartres Street building is 200 years old and was built by the then-mayor of New Orleans Nicholas Girod. He made an offer to Napoleon to hang out there during his exile. Good food, and be sure to try one of the Pimm's Cup cocktails while you relax in the city's quaintest courtyard.

Our final is Restaurant August. This is Chef John Besh's wonderful restaurant locaed in the Central Business Districton on Tchoupitoulas Street between Poydras and Canal. Chef Besh's August has won tons of awards and acclaim. Located in a beautiful, old, four story, brick building. He opened Restaurant August in 2001. Definitely worth your time when visiting New Orleans.

I love walking in New Orleans, and again I apologize for the picture quality but they are made with my cell phone's camera. All the more reason to go to New Orleans and see them for yourself.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Green Ham??? Sam I am?

Well, you heard about it in the writings of Dr. Seuss, but you probably never thought you'd see one. As it turns out, a green ham is an un-cured ham that still has the skin and fat on it. This is also the ham my mother has been fixing for Christmas for years now. We have always, as far as I can remember, have had what Dad used to call a "fresh ham." Last year the butcher told us the term "green ham" referred to a fresh ham with the skin and fat remaining attached.

Why should you keep the skin on? We've found out the ham stays moist and remains that way even after refrigeration. It really improves the taste too. Most chefs will tell you that meat derives a lot of flavor from the fat. Plus the skin retains the moisture during the lengthy baking process. Mom bakes hers' around 30 minutes per pound. This year she got a 23 pounder!!! Believe me, that's one BIG ASS HAM! Bake it until the bone feels loose enough to shake out of it. She scores the top, (as pictured), salts and peppers it good, and slings it in a 350º oven for a long while. Bring it out and let it sit for about an half hour before slicing it. It will practically fall apart.

Try this type of ham on your next holiday, we sometimes do one of these at Easter too. The flavor is cross between a pork loin and roast beef. Actually it's much better than either one of those meats. I taste's like Christmas to me and our family. One of those family traditions that my 87 year old Mother still handles. I glad she does.


Happy New Year 2011

Whether you are starting out your new year with black-eyed peas and cabbage, or pigs feet and collards, I hope this year find you busy and prosperous. I am traveling today so I won't have any traditional foods except for pork tacos, maybe. I do have something this new year to celebrate, I got an incredible book for Christmas from my niece Kim. It's a book I have been longing for since it came out. It is "My New Orleans" by Chef John Besh.

I have barely looked through it but I know I love it already. Chef Besh, who should have been named the new Iron Chef two years ago, is one of New Orleans' finest and most innovative chefs. A Gulf War veteran and owner of restaurants August, Besh Steak House, Lüke, La Provence, and recently The American Sector, Besh was also named in 1999, one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food and Wine magazine.

So start your year off right and spend some of that Christmas gift money on a wonderful cookbook, by a world class chef. Chef John Besh's "My New Orleans" can be ordered by clicking HERE!