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Everything posted by HungryC

  1. I'm partial to rouxs as thickeners, but I'm a cajun, genetically programmed to make roux! Cornstarch is okay for chinese sauces & coatings/sauces, but I dislike the jellied texture that results when it is used in a mostly liquid dish (soups, stews, gumbos, etc). Cornstarch adds nothing to a dish's flavors, while a roux (depending on the depth of browning) adds color, nuttiness, and toasty brown undertones. You can use buerre manie (butter and flour kneaded together) when you want to thicken, but don't want those browned flavors. (Edited: sorry to repeat some of what Paul wrote, I was skimming..)
  2. My Winn Dixie carries it, and I'm sure you can find it at Rouse's as well.
  3. Big Shot is a brand of regionally distributed (in Louisiana) carbonated beverages--it comes in flavors like pineapple, strawberry, creme soda, etc. (Seems to me that Big Shot is made in "snowball" flavors!) The package illustration is a caricature of the "big shot"--a fat-headed man with a fedora, big cigar, in a suit....the exaggerated image of the "big shot" character/position as seen in the Zulu social aid & pleasure club's annual mardi gras parade. It's nearly the cheapest canned stuff you can buy, and you'll occasionally see a Big Shot soda machine outside a convenience store.
  4. Thanks, 'Haw, I knew I could count on you. Pineapple is my favorite flavor; it is the perfect complement to a ham-n-cheese poboy, I think. I eagerly await your findings...
  5. Can anyone out there enlighten me about the history of Big Shot sodas? I've figured out that they're distributed by Winnsboro Beverage Packers, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Beverage (which also distributes LaCroix, Faygo, etc). Would that be Winnsboro as in Louisiana? Currently, Winnsboro Packers seems to be located in Plantation, FL. TIA.
  6. Langenstein's unfilled king cake is pretty good...just a ribbon of cinnamon folded into the braids. Reportedly the Tastee Doughnuts by Transcontinental & West Esplanade makes the old-style McKenzie's king cake--you know, the dry kind that goes stale in a day. Good for dipping in coffee, but now supplanted by the sticky-sugary-borderline-gross confections that are closer to overgrown danish than to the king cake lineage. If you can get your hands on a cinnamon pecan king cake from Cajun Pecan House in Cut Off, it's a treat. More bready, though filled. But the filling complements the taste & texture of the cake, rather than overwhelming it with goo.
  7. Hey B--rugelach dough sounds tasty, but can be fragile in larger sized pieces. A danish-style dough might be a little sturdier. Personally, I'm a fan of brioche all the way. Have you ever tried the "rich man's brioche" recipe in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice cookbook? It is a very delicious, tender bread, and relatively easy to make if you have a stand mixer for the long kneading. It requires a long, cool autolyse. You just can't tell anyone who eats it how much butter it contains!
  8. My vote goes to a freshly dug new potato, so fresh that the skin flakes off. Boil until tender, press w/the back of a spoon, and toss in some salted butter & cracked pepper. A handful of finely chopped fresh parsley puts it over the top.
  9. What, specifically, did you find so "unique" about the plate lunches of Lafayette? A modest establishment serving a daily, composed lunch special is pretty common all over the South, not just in Acadiana. Certainly, you'll find some ingredients in Acadiana (crawfish, shrimp, crab, cajun charcuterie items, alligator, variety cuts of pork, turkey necks & wings) that aren't so common outside the region, but the overall form isn't that odd. Even those ingredients aren't specific to Lafayette, but to a generalized area across a wide swatch of Louisiana south of Alexandria. Throughout south Louisiana (and into the TX, MS, and AL gulf coasts), you will find gas stations/convenience stores, small takeout-only restaurants, sweet-shop/snowball-stands, as well as typical small town cafes serving "home cooking" style plate lunches....generally some sort of protein-based main dish, at least one starch, and a veggie or two. Pot cooking (aka braising) tends to dominate....stews, fricassees, etouffees, gumbos, "smothered" dishes...in short, moist, uncomplicated (but delicious) dishes easily cooked in volume using minimal kitchen equipment. Farther inland, the "meat and three" style plate lunch tends to take over: one main protein item (less dominated by pot cooking and often including baked and roasted items) and three veggie/starch options. Damn, now I'm all hungry--l'll have to go out and get a plate lunch today.
  10. Addressing specifically plate lunches in south Louisiana, you probably noticed that they're often starch-intensive. It is common to see two or three starches in the same meal (most often rice, potatoes, and bread). For example, a typical plate lunch could consist of shrimp stew served over rice, with a side of potato salad as well as a hunk of french bread.
  11. Lots of good stuff along US 90 between NOLA & N.I....I just made this trip yesterday to visit family. If you do the drive on a weekday, go to LeJeune's bakery in Jeanerette (before noon). Been in the same spot since 1884, baking french bread whose only ingredients are flour, water, lard, yeast, and salt, as well as delicious, old fashioned ginger cakes (aka planks). It's on highway 182 (aka "old" highway 90). The old brick building is on the national register, and the whole operation is from the land that time forgot. Yesterday at 10 am, the ancient wooden screen doors, festooned with an artificial christmas wreath, were propped open, a big ol' electric fan was blowing cool air across two rolling racks of ginger planks, and the nice baker w/tattooed neck was snoozing in the back. We had to holler to get him to come out & wait on us....tapered french loaves are $1.25, individual poboy loaves $.45. Go down the road and buy a stick of butter, 'cause you can't let that warm french bread sit in the car without eating some of it. Also in Jeanerette is the Yellow Bowl restaurant; purportedly the oldest place (still open) to serve crawfish etouffee as a menu item. I saw a bunch of the usual places with boiled crawfish, though it's still kinda pricey (more than $4/pound for boiled). Billeaud's, a big boudin joint in Broussard, now has an "annex" called Billeaud's Too in New Iberia. If you're looking for food closer to NOLA, stop in at Spahr's in Des Allemands for their fried catfish...real, wild-caught, local fish, not the dog-food eatin' pond raised junk. The catfish sauce piquante is pretty good, too.
  12. Hey Pierogi, I've done this dozens of times (with gumbo, too), and I have never poisoned anyone. Not to downplay food safety concerns, but the slow heat of the crockpot will reheat the gumbo just fine, given sufficient time to bring it up to the proper temp. My advice: 1)make sure you chill it quickly the night before to ensure that you don't inadvertently incubate a big ol' crop of bacteria and 2)start heating the gumbo (on the high setting) first thing in the AM when you get to work. It can take 2-4 hours for a 6-quart slow cooker to reach a food safe temp; nothing worse than your dish still being cold when everyone is ready to chow down. And if the gumbo reaches a boil, even better; you can turn it down to the low setting. I served seafood gumbo to my extended family at last year's family reunion, made in advance & reheated in a couple of slow cookers. Nobody got sick, and we even froze the leftovers (and nobody got sick from those, either).
  13. Tela's hit it on the head: you need to ask the girls what they want. We live in an incredibly diverse country...you need to know a little about the backgrounds of your charges to target the menu appropriately. Find out if the sorority has any food traditions of its own (some have even published cookbooks). Light and fresh are your watchwords; I work on a college campus, and takeout sushi (including seaweed salad, noodle & squid salads) is one of the most popular options in the food service area; it's right up there with Taco Bell.
  14. In my personal experience, stewed/braised chicken (or chicken in a soup) freezes with less change in texture than roasted chicken. That said, I'd freeze a fresh, cut up chicken without any worry or fears. I routinely buy fresh chicken parts, repackage & freeze. Here in the US, most chicken is shipped frozen, defrosted & sold as "fresh" and then frequently refrozen before cooking by the end user. That said, uncooked, frozen chicken will have a better texture when defrosted & cooked than the frozen cooked, then reheated chicken.
  15. My local supermarket used to carry frozen Manuel's tamales, but I haven't seen them in the freezer case since the storm. I made the mistake of reading the nutritional information printed on the box, and I never could eat another one! They were definitely full of greasy goodness...
  16. It's about a mile from the river to the Superdome, going straight up Poydras past Harrah's, etc. A Gordon Biersch is right across the street from Harrah's; I know, it's a chain, but it has a spacious bar, limited outside seating, as well as some decent chain-style food. In the same general area is Ernst Cafe, upriver on S. Peters just off of Poydras. Bar-style food, low-key, laidback kinda place. Mapquest says it is .89 miles from Ernst to the 'Dome. Lucy's is another bar (701 Tchopitoulas, I believe) within walking distance. If you want an SEC-friendly hangout, meet up at Mike Serio's, 133 St. Charles. Who knows if they'll be open; the hours can be kinda capricious (they wouldn't let me in one Saturday afternoon 1/2 hour before closing time; call first: 504-523-2668). Anyway, the proprietor played football for LSU, the decor runs to purple-and-gold, but the food is typical NOLA sandwich joint, and of course, it serves beer.
  17. You probably have all these places already on your list, but I think all are worthy of a repeat mention: --Casamento's; now that so much in our fair city has irreversibly changed, it's always nice to go to a place that is exactly the same as you remember & still delicious in every way. They still fry in lard, 'nuf said. --Dragos, downtown in the Hilton Riverside. A good option for char-grilled oysters without going out to Fat City to the original joint. --Lil Dizzy's, either on Esplanade or in the Whitney hotel. Straight-ahead creole soul food, tasty fried chicken and gumbo like my grandma used to make. Nothing fancy, canned veggies, but well worth the thousand calories you'll inhale in the form of fried poultry. --Cafe Reconcile; as a non-profit, it always needs your patronage, as it is an immensely worthy cause on Oretha Castle Haley (aka Dryades) on the edge of Central City, just upriver from downtown/CBD. In case you don't know about CR's good works, it is a hospitality & job skills training program for troubled youth. They learn to cook, clean, wait tables, & other basic job skills, all under the umbrella of a neighborhood restaurant. Think fried catfish with homemade tartar sauce, sweet tea, mac & cheese, mustard greens, and such. --Cochon; has a pork-centric menu rooted in south Louisiana. Fun stuff like crawfish meat pies, hogshead cheese, wood-oven roasted fish, housemade sausages, rabbit stew w/dumplings. I really like the ham hock w/greens. Delicious, sugary, southern desserts like butter pecan cake. --Sucre; just got another mention in the NY Times...fancy desserts, high-end pastry, but you should really go there for the chocolates. My favorite is the Meuniere, a chocolate fleur de lis filled w/ a brown-butter, white-chocolate ganache, though the caramels made w/Avery Island salt are also worth eating. Sorry y'all ended up in the Sugar Bowl; don't you think Hawaii will give you a run for the money? Geaux Tigers....
  18. I've seen photos of the Martin bros place on St. Claude, but I don't seem to remember any display advertising with one spelling or the other in the photo. The earlier work I cited quotes "po boy" and "poor boy" spellings in city directories as early as 1931...sounds like a trip to the Jones Hall archives are in order. Mmm, I can smell the dust burning on the microfilm machine's lamp already...and that scent memory reminds me that the New Orleans Public Library's wonderful LA collection has an entire vertical file on "po-boy"....need to go down there and poke around in it, too.
  19. I thought that the term was coined during the 1922 streetcar strike? The 1929 strike was a particularly violent one, but I've read/heard from various independent sources that it was the 1922 strike...frankly, someone needs to do a thorough examination of the topic, 'cause a whole lotta hearsay is being circulated under the guise of history (perpetrated by various parties). September 1922, to be precise.
  20. I don't know his name, but he's been shucking oysters at the Fairgrounds oyster bar (outside, alongside the paddock) since the new building opened some years back. I like the guy b/c he accomodates my pleadings for "small ones" and always throws in a few extra because he feels as though I should get extra since they're so small! The paddock oyster bar is my absolute favorite place to eat oysters in the city, on a nice day.
  21. I think that the missing "R" has been imbued with far too much meaning. Local dialect leaves the final consonant off many words; such clipping doesn't signify much in the way of class or educational level or even (contemporary) ethnicity. Moving into the realm of the completely speculative, I'd wager that the "r" disappears from the spelling because it was rarely voiced in common useage among the hordes of native Romance language speakers of NOLA...consider all the different sounds of rhotic consonants in italian, spanish, french, and english...all still common languages in the streets of NOLA in 1921 when the Martin brothers (french speaking, acadian descendants, natives of Bayou Lafourche) apparently coined the term.
  22. As far as I can tell (and yes, I'm the sort who actually researches such things): --the oyster loaf is/was physically different from the "poboy". A true oyster loaf could be on pan bread (a la Casamento's) or on french bread (like the original College Inn's sandwich), but it has a few distinguishing characteristics....1)some of the bread's soft insides were removed to increase the oyster-holding capacity of the bread; 2)oyster loaves usually feature buttered, toasted bread. With all due respect to Claiborne, he's conflating the muffelatta and the po-boy. The oil/vinegar dressing is far more common to the subs/heroes of the Northeast. A good, fairly early academic work on the poboy/poor boy is by Hennig Cohen, in the journal American Speech from 1950...available on JSTOR, here's the stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0003-1283...%3E2.0.CO%3B2-N The author cites cognate sandwiches in Tampa and Puerto Rico, though known by other names. In addition, he/she cites a 1931 city directory listing for a "Po-Boy Sandwich Shop" which, for me, ends the great poboy/poorboy debate once and for all--it's clear that the "R" fell off of "poor" quite early on. Another good, early work on sandwiches also from American Speech is "The Submarine Sandwich: Lexical Variations in a Cultural Context" which sounds boring but isn't (also available via JSTOR). In Eames & Robboy surveyed telephone directory advertising in 100 American cities for the period 1938-1946, recording the terminology use for sandwiches. Submarine ranks #1, hoagie #2, and (surprise!) poor boy is #3. It ranked ahead of grinder, torpedo, hero, etc. Some of the places where the term cropped up include Houston, Memphis, Mobile, Montgomery, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Sacramento, Peoria, and most surprisingly, Billings, MT. The geographer in me sees ready connections (direct rail links to NOLA) for most of those cities, but Billings has me stumped. At some point, I'm gonna track down that Billings city directory and see if I can figure out a NOLA connection! In Rome last month, I saw signs outside cheap sandwich shops/coffee bars advertising "porto ricos"--clearly a poboy cousin, on a short, tapered, light loaf, made with various cold cuts and dressed with lettuce & tomatoes. I just wish my Italian was good enough to have explored the "puerto rico" connection. Incidentally, I'm teaching a course this spring at Tulane's School of Continuing Studies on "Food & Culture in Louisiana", if anyone's interested (LOUS 303)...Tuesdays from 5:45 to 8:25. We're devoting one entire class session to the poboy. PM me for details, if you're interested.
  23. I wonder about SS, too. I used to work on Earhart, and SS was our standard takeout lunch. Good salads, too (we used to get the chicken/walnut/greens all the time for meetings). It had consistently good food. Did the original ownership sell out or what? I know that it changed hands, the menu changed, and quality went downhill. This would have been '95--'97 or so.
  24. I make the Louisiana version, known as Natchitoches meat pies. Filling is simple: half ground pork, half ground beef, browned w/garlic, salt, red & black pepper, and several bunches of chopped green onions. The cases are a basic baking-powder leavened short crust made w/crisco. They're far more delicious than the modest ingredients would suggest, and equally good baked or fried.
  25. HungryC

    Seven Steak

    Seven-bone steaks are fairly common in meat markets in south Louisiana, and braising is indeed the right cooking method...the ones I see are a little leaner than your typical chuck (the whole roast is rarely seen, rather it is already sliced into steaks 1" or less in thickness). "#7s" are delicious when cooked grillades-style...pound lightly, cut into cubes, salt/pepper, then flour generously. Brown well in bacon grease, remove from pot & toss in a chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped green pepper, and a rib of celery. Cook until the veggies "clean the pot" (ie, the liquid from the veggies cooks out & soaks the fond off the bottom of the pot), then add the browned beef back to the pot, along with 1/2 cup of red wine, two chopped tomatoes, a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper. Add a little more water/beef stock, if needed, depending on the size of your pot/amount of beef, so that the cubes are just shy of completely covered by the liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to lowest heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hr or until fork-tender. Serve over buttered grits. A common cajun dish is smothered #7 steaks, cooked very simply with very browned onions, garlic, bell pepper, and served w/hot cooked rice.
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