I call myself a foodie, sneer at junk food, avoid fast food and pretty much loathe restaurant chains. I don’t mind if you call me a food snob. I deserve it.
Gimme authentic! Gimme homemade! Down with overly-processed, pre-packaged, over-salted, sugar-laden foodstuffs!
It’s different when it is another country’s junk food.
At a meeting in Aberdeen, something came over me. I saw these Scottish treats as “snack food” instead of junk food. My colleague brought the fudge and the tea cakes as a gift, and so of course I tasted them – – and they rocked! And the super-salty crisps provided the perfect pairing to the sweet treats.
Like I said: I’m a hypocrite! Of the first degree. And I’m not even sorry.
We had a lotta leftover steak recently, because we tried this recipe from the Food Network’s show, The Kitchen. It involves huge porterhouse steaks, a cast iron skillet, and a unique method. Our foodie-senses were intrigued when we saw this, and we just had to make it.
It was good, but more work – and more food – than we anticipated. The instructions called for porterhouse steaks that were 2″ – 2 1/2″ thick, so of course I went for the thickest (wouldn’t you?). The butcher thought I was crazy. Turns out, he was right! And in looking at the picture above from the Food Network, there’s no way that’s a 2″ steak or bigger.
I gave up the idea of getting photos mid-recipe because it was a bit overwhelming; just suffice it to say that we had steak for days. Steak salad, steak quesadillas, steak burritos, steak tostadas and steak sandwiches. (Did I say it was a lotta steak?)
Well, Gentle Reader, in this Steak Week Odyssey, the steak sandwich was the best. Sautéed onions and jalapeños enhanced the flavor of the steak, and we dressed the sandwiches with ripe red tomato, fresh mint from our herb garden, and shreds of crisp raw cabbage, serving them on onion rolls. Double-Yum!Creating this Steak Sandwich for 2 recipe more than made up for the somewhat disappointing experience of the original steak dinner.
Steak Sandwiches for Two
3/4 lb. of leftover steak, cut in very thin slices
1 medium onion, sliced (I used part red and part yellow)
2 fresh jalapeños, sliced (leaving in the ribs and seeds for the heat unless that doesn’t work for you)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 ripe tomato, sliced
1/4 cup shredded raw cabbage
1 tbsp fresh mint, sliced in ribbons
salt and pepper to taste
2 onion rolls
optional condiments of your choice – I used stone ground mustard
In a medium skillet, sauté the sliced onions and jalapeños in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the steak briefly to warm it without overcooking it; the microwave is fine for this. Try 1-2 minutes on half power. Assemble the sandwiches on warm onion rolls or other buns of your choice by starting with the steak on the bottom, adding freshly ground pepper, then the sautéed onions and jalapeños, then the tomatoes, cabbage and mint.
This sandwich was delightfully easy, with a very sophisticated taste. The crunch of the fresh cabbage and brightness of the mint were the perfect compliment to the juicy earthiness of the onions and steak. Pair it with potato salad and a quick black bean salad for an easy weeknight meal whenever you’re wondering what to do with leftover steak from the weekend’s barbecuing. Here’s a recipe for the black bean salad.
I shared our recipe for the spicy-tangy-easy 3-1-1 Balsamic Honey Dijon salad dressingyesterday and one of you told me privately that you’ll be making it in the next few days. Yay! (I love this validation.)
We had some dressing left over and here’s what we did with it today.
I gathered some random root vegetables that were left over from holiday meals, some toasted pecans, and about a half cup of chopped bell pepper that didn’t get used in last night’s Lobster and Shrimp Pasta Carbonara (another story!). The root vegetables were fennel, a radish, a bit of cauliflower, 1½ carrots and a clove of garlic. I knew these crunchy superstars would be great when paired with the tangy dressing – and I desperately needed a healthy, high-fiber salad to go with our creamy and decadent Lobster and Shrimp Pasta Carbonara.
I didn’t jot down the ingredients exactly, but here’s the gist of the salad. It rocked! It was a perfect compliment to the very rich main course.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper.
While this was a throw-down salad to use what we already had, it could star in its own show by accompanying a protein like grilled or seared scallops, grilled chicken breast (drizzle more dressing over the chicken!), grilled shrimp, or even grilled tofu for a vegan meal.
This new post from the Center of the Plate| D’Artagnan Blog with cookbook recommendations says “There’s something for every interest here.” They’re right! Give it a quick read at the link below – you may want to pop out to your local bookstore to pick up a last-minute cookbook gift. Glover Gardens friends and family, feel free to read this as a hint. 😀“There’s nothing like a good cookbook for those who love spending time in the kitchen. For them a cookbook is more than a list of ingredients and instructions, it’s a travel guide to new it’s a travel guide to new worlds of flavor.”
I think corn is a magic vegetable. It is good on its own, unadulterated and on its humble cob: grilled, boiled, or just fresh off the stalk. It is a marvelous added ingredient that brings both flavor and texture to muffins or savory breads, main courses like meat loaf, or hearty soups, chowders or risotto. It can star in a variety of salads or adorn a gourmet pizza. Highlighting its flexibility, there are dozens of ways to showcase corn with all types of international flavors, from Italian to Peruvian to Southwestern to Scandinavian to African and more.
We eat a lot of corn here at Glover Gardens. It is my go-to quick vegetable when the main course requires intensive effort. I often cut it off the cob and pair it with peppers and tomatoes and give it a quick, hot sauté. I also like to use my antique corn scraper to get the most of the creamy “corn milk”, which both thickens and provides a richness to a corn-based dish.
Do you have a corn scraper? Here’s what mine looks like.
This scraper was handed down from my grandmother to my Dad, and then to me when he decided to buy a new one. I treasure it! It is an antique but still very much in use, the best kind of inheritance. I think of my grandmother (“Mama”) and my Dad every time I use this wonderful tool.
Here’s a photo of a new corn scraper in action, from a company that sells them, Lem Products (see the link below).
The picture above is very much a styled image; the real thing in action looks very, very messy. See all my denuded corn cobs below? And how creamy and juicy the output is? And how the corn is all over the countertop? I was documenting the family creamed corn recipe while I was making it for Thanksgiving, and got corn bits everywhere from my enthusiastic corn-scraping, including on the computer and the camera. I’m still finding little bits on the keyboard (this makes me smile.)
So, if you like corn and don’t have a corn scraper, you need one! This handy little tool retails from various places for about $10 – $15, which makes for a great stocking stuffer for a cook or a foodie. If you do have one, do you use it often? I’d like to know…
This post is in response to a request from a high school friend of my son’s. They’ve kept in touch since starting college in the fall of 2016. She said:
Hi! It’s been a while since we’ve talked – I hope you’re doing well. I’m planning a trip for 2 to New Orleans on December 18-21st and I was wondering if, by chance, you might know of any good things to do in NOLA around that time of year.
Thanks in advance!
And I said: “Oh yeah! I will be happy to send you tips. Thanks for asking; I am so flattered! You are an excellent photographer and beautiful model, so I hope you will consider letting me post some of your experiences in my blog.” (She agreed.)
New Orleans Tips for Mallory
And so, my dear, here is my New Orleans travel advice for you and your companion. It’s probably a bit more than you expected, but I’ve been carrying around this list in my head for a long, long time; I was only 18 when I first visited the Crescent City. And by the way, don’t worry that you’re missing out by being under 21 – NOLA is one of the great all-age cities of the world. You will have a wonderful time.
Packing and Pre-Trip Mindset
Be ready for weather that could be anywhere from 30° – 70° (or even higher), but will definitely be damp; take clothing that can be layered on and off, like scarves, vests and light jackets.
Comfortable walking shoes are a must! And be sure to pack band-aids in case of walking-induced blisters (I speak from experience).
In fact, unless you’re planning to go somewhere that requires fancy clothes, don’t bother with them – New Orleans is about the food, the music and the people-watching, and you won’t see many fashion mavens.
An umbrella or raincoat with a hood is your friend. That’s me below at Jazz Fest in the spring of 2010, but believe me, the rains can strike at a moment’s notice in the Big Easy in any season.
Bring an extra memory card and battery for your camera or be sure to carry your phone charger with you, because you will take way more pictures than you than you imagine and will need the extra memory and power.
Get lots of sleep the night before you go, because NOLA is a 24/7 wonder and you won’t want to sleep much while you’re there (the best time to go to Cafe du Monde is in the middle of the night).
Get in a New Orleans frame of mind early by boning up on its history. If you have time (although I know you have finals just before this trip), go to the library or download a book about New Orleans. It is so fun to walk around in a city when you know a bit about its past and the physical structures that you’re seeing. NOLA has a fascinating and diverse heritage, probably the most varied of all American cities, which adds to the enjoyment of your visit. (I’m reading a book right now called The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, which is far too long to absorb before your trip, but if you’re interested, you can borrow it next summer when you have time.)
Or jump-start that New Orleans feeling by reading a quick novel or watching a movie set in the Crescent City. I have always liked Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, which isn’t about New Orleans, but the city is definitely a character (in my humble opinion) and a sense of place is a recurring theme. Amazon will let you download The Moviegoer for free right nowwith a 30-day trial of Audible. I think you will find this book interesting and thought-provoking, even beyond its connection to New Orleans and travels.
Take a look through The Storyteller blog to see the real New Orleans through the lens and mind of a photographer. I think you will be inspired, given your interest in photography.
If you’re driving to NOLA, park your car when you get there and leave it. It’s a pain to park and much more fun to use other forms of transportation. Parking is also very expensive, because it is at a premium.
Walk as much as you can; much of the magic of New Orleans lies in its dynamic street life.
When you’re not walking, ride the streetcar as much as you can.
Uber is quick and easy, but the cab drivers have the best stories.
Stuff to Do
Amble through Jackson Square and strike up conversations with the artists. There is usually music to enjoy, too.
Go to the French Market and shop, shop, shop. It is seedy, tacky, touristy and full of imports like $7 sunglasses, while also offering cool local art, jewelry and other handmade items at reasonable prices. There are local foodstuffs, and some funky junk. I usually pick up a stocking stuffer or two while I’m at the market. Sometimes there’s live music, and on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market. Green space, trees and tiny parks can be found in the 6 blocks of shopping, too.
Or plan a whole day in the Arts District and take in a museum or three after the galleries. The National World War II Museum is over there (an immersion experience; you’ll have to pick just part of it if you want to fit it into an afternoon), and so are the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. All are worth the trip!
There are many other museums scattered across NOLA that you should consider, like the Jazz Museum in the Old Mint, which frequently has performances, and, lucky you, is staging one during your trip (there will be clarinets!). There’s a sculpture garden over by City Park, and, while not a museum, I’ve always wanted to stroll through the cemetery there, too.
If you want the holiday festival experience with rides and an amazing array of holiday lights, take the streetcar out to City Park and go to Celebration in the Oaks(even this kind of big-production, glitzy festival is different and special in NOLA, because of its unique ‘carnival’ food, jazzy music and enchanting, ancient oak trees).
Explore the River Walk and riverfront, checking out the public art, Crescent Park and the fascinating hustle and bustle of NOLA’s river commerce.
If you’re curious about Bourbon Street, take a walk from where it intersects Canal Street all the way to Frenchmen Street, in the late afternoon before it gets too rambunctious. It is very entertaining during the day, and not scary. (You can probably tell that I don’t care for Bourbon Street at night.)
Take the ferry over to Algiers and check out the shops in Algiers Point or walk along the riverfront, or just do a round trip. The views from the ferry alone are worth the $2 trip. Be sure to check the schedule for the last ferry so you don’t get stuck there, because they don’t run at night.
Get on out to the Garden District to see a different side of the city, first printing out this itinerary and map for the self-guided walking tour. This is a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and to work off the beignets, muffulettas and poorboys you’re going to be eating!
Get off the beaten path and be open to unique adventures…talk to locals some more and find out what they’re excited about doing in the Crescent City in December.
One more thing on the Stuff to Do List: don’t be in a hurry. Take your time; be deliberate. Look, listen, smell, taste and touch. New Orleans has a myriad of unexpected sights, sounds and people that can only be discovered – or appreciated – if you are truly in the moment. In my humble opinion, that’s the best thing about it.
Food and Drink
Go to Café du Monde if you must (it’s an icon, has great beignets, and you can visit on the day you go to the French Market because it is close by), but also try tiny little coffee houses you stumble across and take time to chat with the proprietors and other customers. They’ll give you the best tips about where to go and what to do.
Be a foodie-on-a-budget by going to a great restaurant at lunch; my favorite is Bayona (click here for my gushing testimonial).
Wine glasses are crystal, as it should be
Flan – yum!
Another foodie-on-a-budget trick is to eat at the bar at popular restaurants, ordering a stellar appetizer to share and then moving on to another stop; you don’t have to have reservations and can still experience stellar cuisine.
Have a po-boy sandwich somewhere – you’ll never have a better one than in New Orleans. Go for an oyster po-boy, or mix of fried oysters and shrimp (you’ll be having a meat-stuffed muffuletta later, so stick with the seafood on the po-boy). With creamy remoulade or tartar sauce spread liberally on freshly baked french bread, a pile of cold, shredded iceberg lettuce and thinly sliced tomatoes and hot, crunchy seafood stuffed so full it falls out, the po-boy in New Orleans will rock your world. Trust me on this. I haven’t been there, but the Storyteller blogger in New Orleans highly recommends Cafe Reconcile in Central City in this post. It’s a non-profit that helps at-risk youth turn their lives around, and I will definitely be going there on my next trip.
In addition to the po-boy, you must have a muffuletta. They’re large, so you can split one with your travel companion. I daren’t court controversy by naming a place with the “best” muffuletta because there are huge disagreements over the amount of meat / hot versus cold / size of the bread and how / whether it is toasted, etc. You’ll have to check with the locals and report back on your findings for the benefit of Glover Gardens readers. Here’s a muffuletta picture and recipe from Emerils.com to whet your appetite.
Another food must: have a cup of gumbo somewhere. I don’t always do this any more because I make a pretty mean gumbo myself, quite often (have you had it?), but you shouldn’t miss the chance to have gumbo in NOLA if you haven’t had that pleasure. You could order it at the bar of one of the foodie places you visit, and can be sure that they’ll bring you some crusty french bread for sopping.
And, since you asked, most people wouldn’t call this a must-eat in the Big Easy, but the Grill-Meister and I had a wonderful and memorable lunch at the New Orleans Pizza Kitchen when we ordered their extremely tasty and memorable Jambalaya Pizza.
My usual go-to for jazz is any place on Frenchmen Street, but since you’re under 21, most of the clubs there are off-limits, including my favorite, The Spotted Cat. However, here’s a link to some great recommendations where you can get in. I’ve been to almost all of the places listed, and you really can’t go wrong. Let me know where you go and what you think.
Preservation Hall is an experience unto itself and worth standing in line.
You’ll encounter small bands of musicians or solo artists camped on street corner after street corner – who are just as likely to be self-taught geniuses as they are to have had formal instruction. The music can be folksy or sophisticated, but either way, it is captivating, and you’ll want to be sure to have some dollars ready for tipping. If you feel called to dance, do it!
Be ready to seize the moment and literally “follow the music” at any time, because you might get lucky and see a second line parade. If you do, be sure to join in and become part of the party.
The Grill-Meister and I were awestruck a couple of years ago when we happened on a 2nd line parade that was a wedding party and all of the guests following a brass band in their traditional white uniforms and dancing Mardi Gras “Indians” in elaborate costumes as they made their way from the church to the reception at a hotel a few blocks away. The street was blocked off and there were several tables covered with champagne in plastic glasses (I had one; I’m not sorry). The whole experience was a microcosm of how “living out loud” seems to be commonplace in NOLA. It was magic – the mood, the people, the music. Wow.
Well Mallory, That’s About All…’Til Next Time, or ‘Til We Hear Your Tips
Most of these tips apply at any time of the year, and NOLA is the kind of place that is funat any time of the year. I’m looking forward to hearing about your discoveries during your December journey and posting them here.
Anyone Have Anything to Add?
And finally, here’s a request for all of you out there who love or live in NOLA: what are your suggestions for having a great time there in December, or any time? We’d love to know.
The Grill-Meister gave me a great gift for my birthday this year: a certificate for a cooking class date night in which we would learn how to make fresh pasta.
Cooking class for a date night? Really??? Heck, yeah!!!
I’ve been looking forward to this event for six weeks, and it finally arrived this past Wednesday when we sauntered in to the Well Done Cooking Class in Houston, ready to be schooled in pasta.
I’ve never been to a cooking class before, although I was an occasional informal sous chef for a very talented and quite eccentric semi-retired chef when I was a teen (but I digress, that’s definitely a long story for another time). And I’ve never made fresh pasta, either, unless you count one time when I watched, fascinated, as another chef friend did some quick things with his hands and then, voila! – pasta. I didn’t catch anything beyond “make a well with the flour…”
So – this cooking class date night was a welcome new experience that exceeded my expectations and was a terrific birthday gift for a foodie with a gap in her skills. We were too busy cooking to take many photos, but check this out – in three hours, we:
made fresh pasta dough and then put it the refrigerator to rest and chill
made fresh sweet potato gnocchi with a brown butter and sage sauce (photo below)
retrieved our pasta and made three different dishes
ravioli with a squash, ricotta, smoked bacon and basil filling
tortellini with the same filling (who knew that tortellini was just one more twist of the pasta after making the ravioli shape???)
fettuccini carbonara with Italian sausage
Wow! I never realized it was this easy – or quick – to make homemade fresh pasta. As I said earlier, it was definitely a gap in my foodie education.
In addition to learning how to make the pasta dough, it was fun using the pasta roller and the gnocchi board (I never heard of a gnocchi board, but it is now on my Christmas list). The best part of all this is that the Grill-Meister is now all fired up about making fresh pasta, and I suspect he will emerge as the Fresh Pasta Lead here at Glover Gardens. He is already the Pizza Dough Lead and, of course, is out in front when it’s time to grill anything.
You can expect to see some Glover Gardens pasta recipes here soon, once we have it all figured out.
That’s how I would characterize the outdoor food court at Waverly Mall in Edinburgh. Perched on the mall’s street-level “roof” above several floors of stores, the “Eats” area has a magnificent view of old-town Edinburgh. It feels like an upscale food truck park and bears no resemblance to the dismal dining areas you’ll find in most malls with their routine collection of fast-food chains. Hipsters and tourists alike soak up the local color and atmosphere here at a collection of umbrella-topped tables with comfy chairs.
Lively vendors in small booths present a range of options, from coastal fare such as freshly-shucked oysters, lobster and fish ‘n chips paired with to hearty land-based selections like venison hot dogs, grilled portobellos and giant burgers. Drinks booths provide locally brewed craft beers, surprisingly inexpensive (and good) champagne and a variety of coffees and flavored teas in addition to the standard soft drinks. You can mix and match your sips and bites from the different booths to create the perfect casual al fresco meal.
So that’s what we did. Our group of four was captivated by one of the burgers from Butcher Boy, the aptly-titled purveyor of grilled-onsite meats. The burger was called the Butcher Bad Boy. It was, indeed, a Baaaaad Boy. See for yourself from their description:
Candied bacon, cheddar cheese, sandwiched between two handmade patties, fried onions, and more cheese!!!!
Well, wouldn’t you? We did. The Butcher Bad Boy was a good burger, indeed. All four of us chose it, without consultation. It wasn’t necessary – we instinctively knew that this was the burger for us.
But back to that mixing and matching thing…we had a smoked salmon appetizer from one booth, our Bad Boy burgers from another, and our drinks from still another.
Burgers consumed, we turned to the view. The sun came out for a few minutes in cold and misty Edinburgh. Awesome blue sky!
The buildings were highlighted by the golden evening sunlight.
Foodie-worthy, hipster-appropriate, and with gorgeous views, too: I can highly recommend the Waverly Mall food court in Edinburgh.
Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook
~ with thanks to my colleagues for their marvelous company, their input on this post and their pictures ~
The seventh post in a series about the New Orleans Jazz Festival covering food (restaurants and recipes), fun, music and travel tips.
In the run-up to our Jazz Fest trip in early May, we are building anticipation by looking back at past good times in New Orleans and sharing our travel tips.
Today, we discuss a rather serious situation: The Foodie’s Dilemma.
How to Enjoy Festival Food and Yet Save Room to Experience NOLA’s Restaurants?
The issue at hand is: the festival food is so wonderful, so food-truck-trashy-tasty good, so “mama’s been making it for years just like this” authentic, that any self-respecting foodie simply has to eat it. And yet, as a proud foodie, you want to save room for the dinners at the myriad of super-fine restaurants New Orleans has to offer, like Bayona, which was profiled in an earlier post. It’s a difficult thing. I’ve been to Jazz Fest five times and still don’t have the formula right for solving the Foodies’ Dilemma. The best advice I have is to do a lot of walking and make room for more! Since there are nine different food locations all around the festival offering over 250 menu items, you can do a lot of your walking just trying to make up your mind! The other strategy we deploy is to skip breakfast, make a reservation for an early lunch at a foodie’s choice restaurant, then head out to the festival and start the serious snacking in mid-afternoon.
How to Choose from All the Mouthwatering Goodness?
And that’s the second part of the Foodie’s Dilemma: once you’ve realized you’re just going to be stuffed the whole time, and not really as ashamed about the gluttony as your Mama taught you to be – how do you pick between all of mouth-watering goodness provided by the 70+ vendors? With the memory-laden lure of your old favorites, how can even a foodie branch out and try something new? I’ve never had the Crab & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms that Prejean’s restaurant brings to Jazz Fest, but how could I pass up the Crawfish Monica or Crawfish Strudel that I always have? In the crawfish department alone, there were 18 different selections featuring this delicious little crustacean in 2016. So many options, so little time! The Foodie’s Dilemma is actually a Foodie’s Delight.
Festival Food Photos
So today, for your culinary daydreaming pleasure, here’s a look at some of the delectable festival food, just random pics I’ve snapped during a few of our Jazz Fest journeys. Some of the food was mine; some was in the hands of strangers. People are always really nice about letting me photograph their food.
People are always nice at Jazz Fest, period. It’s like a great big family reunion, but, instead of genes and upbringing, the thing you have in common is a love of music and food.
Catfish Almandine, Potato Salad and Creole Stuffed Crab
Fried Crawfish and Greek Salad with Gyro Sandwich
Have these photos piqued your interest? The resources below include a link to the food section on the Jazz Fest web site. There’s a lot more there to see and salivate over.
Crawfish Monica Recipe from Emeril’s Test Kitchen
Did you know that the amount of rotini pasta used to make the Crawfish Monica sold at the festival in a single year is 6 tons??? That stuff is hurt-yourself good. So here’s a Crawfish Monica recipe via GoNOLA, with a video from chef Chris Wilson, the director of culinary operations at Emeril Lagasse’s test kitchen.
Food list on the official New Orleans Jazz Fest site
Yay! A new article in Zagat’s online Buzz section waxes poetic about the dining options in our little town here in Southeast Texas:
At first glance, Tomball may seem yet another Houston suburb filled with chain stores and sprawling neighborhoods. But look closer, and the charm of small-town living is evident, particularly in Old Town Tomball. Spend a day perusing antique shops and boutiques, then explore a surprisingly diverse culinary landscape, which includes these hot spots — for quick bites to leisurely fine dining.