Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

Follow by Email

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dining Out New Orleans: A quick bite at Cafe Pontalba

We were in the Quarter a few days ago and only had a cup of coffee and one of tea before heading down there.  It wasn't quite time for lunch, so we stopped in to one of favorite spots Cafe Pontalba.

A duo of Bloody Marys hit the spot!

We shared an order of Poached Eggs with Hollandaise served over crab cakes.  One of the eggs was cooked longer than the others and was a definite medium well with a very soft yolk instead of nice and runny, but it was delicious all the same.  The Creole Potatoes served on the sides were seasoned with a lot of heat which was fine with me. 

Dining Out New Orleans: Akira Sushi Hibachi

We recently dined at Akira Sushi Hibachi in Metairie, LA.  Please follow this link to their website for lots of pictures, menu and more.

I am a sushi nibbler.  I will try bites of what the others order.  That being said, I began my meal with the clear broth soup.  Mushrooms, noodles, green onions in a fish broth base.  $1.75

And I followed up with the jumbo shrimp and vegetable tempura.  $8.75

Other selections for the table included:

One of my favorites is Tuna Tataki $11.50

California Roll $4.50

Fried Fish Roll: (No rice) Snow crab, masago, avocado, cream cheese inside, wrapped in white fish, then fried whole roll, served with eel sauce, spicy mayo $13.95

Rocky Roll:  Shrimp Tempura, asparagus, crab meat and masago, topped with BBQ scallop and green onion, served with eel sauce and spicy mayo $13.95

Dining Out: New Orleans. Russell's Short Stop Po'Boys

Monday I was treated to lunch by two dear friends.  They wisely chose Russell's Short Stop Po'Boys located at 119 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie, LA. 

The sandwiches come in small, regular and king sizes.

I chose the shrimp po'boy fully dressed with extra pickles.  Dressed means you want lettuce, tomatoes, mayo.  The bread was tender and very chewy.  The shrimp were nicely seasoned.  Mine was a regular $9.25.

Dining Companion #1 ordered the spicy hot link sausage.  She chose a small and it was dressed as well.  $3.25.

Dining Companion #2 decided that the roast beef was the way to go.  She was very pleased.  Regular sized $6.90.

The fries were shoestring style.  We ordered a large order to share.  $1.70.

The menu includes a wide variety of po'boys served hot or cold with numerous cheese choices.  Chicken and Andouille gumbo is available every day.  Seafood gumbo available only on Fridays.

The parking lot was full when we arrived around 12:45 and there was a long line.  It moved quickly however and we were eating within 10 minutes of arriving.  Customers get in line, make their way to the window, place their order and then wait until their food order arrives in the window.  You then carry your order to the cashier, pay and then find a seat. 

When we left, the line was still forming and the parking lot remained full.  That is always a good sign!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dining Out: New Orleans. Frank's Restaurant

This afternoon we had a lovely lunch in the French Quarter at Frank's Italian Restaurant.  The downstairs is noisy, crowded and fun.  There is upstairs dining available and also tables on a balcony overlooking Decatur Street.  Located near the French Market, we've walked past this restaurant literally dozens of times.  But today was our first visit.  It won't be our last.

We started by sharing a bowl of seafood gumbo.  Very dark, spicy gumbo loaded with shrimp, oysters and crab meat and added bonus with the addition of a very large crab claw.  Freshly sliced French bread was also served alongside.  Cup $6.95 - Bowl $9.95

I chose (with the server's advice) the Shrimp Gagliano.  My dish had 8 jumbo shrimp served over angel hair pasta with Gagliano Sauce.  The sauce is butter, wine, shrimp stock, green onions, garlic and Creole spices.  $22.95   I could barely eat half of this serving.  I look forward to my leftovers.

Harold chose the Snapper Jack Gagliano.  A large piece of grilled red snapper topped with jumbo shrimp, lump crab meat and crawfish with the same sauce as described above.  $29.95

Lovely presentation of the food along with friendly and prompt service made this a very enjoyable dining experience.  I cannot wait to attempt my version at home.

A Christmas Story Dinner 2014: Roasted Duck and other Chinese Specialties

No Christmas Story meal would be complete without Chinese food.  Our local Chinese restaurant was open on Christmas Day so I purchased the wonton soup, egg rolls and vegetable fried rice from them.

I knew I could trust Ina Garten for a recipe for roasted duck.  Ducks are very fatty and using her method of boiling the duck for a bit first and then roasting.  Here's my adapted version of Ina's recipe.

1 6 - 7 lb. duck (I purchased a duck from http://www.mapleleaffarms.com/)
kosher salt

Bring a large Dutch oven full of water to a boil.  Season water with kosher salt.  Rinse duck.  Very carefully prick duck skin without piercing meat. This will allow the fat to render out of the duck.  Place duck in boiling water.  Reduce heat to a firm simmer and let duck cook for 45 minutes.

Remove duck from broth and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Allow duck to air dry for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 - 500 degrees.  Make sure your oven is very clean before this step!

Spray a baking sheet or roasting pan with non stick spray.  Place duck onto baking sheet and let cook for 30 minutes.  The high heat will make the skin very crisp while completing the cooking.

The duck I purchased came with an pouch of orange sauce which I heated to boiling in a small saucepan.  I removed the duck from the oven at the end of the 30 minutes of roasting, brushed it with the orange glaze and returned it to the hot oven (heat turned OFF) for 5 additional minutes.

Let the duck rest for 10 minutes and then carve for serving.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nathan's Soup Supreme

My son Nathan cooked this delicious soup for us yesterday.  It's a crockpot friendly soup and was great for a cool, rainy afternoon in New Orleans.  

1/2 lb. ground chuck
1/2 lb. Italian sausage (mild or hot, your choice)
1 t. chopped garlic
1 small green pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. dried Italian seasoning
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes
3 (14 oz.) cans tomato sauce (with Italian seasoning)
1 (15 oz.) can shoepeg corn
1 (15 oz.) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz. uncooked small shell pasta (cooked separately and added at the end)
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes:  finely minced parsley, shredded or grated Parmesan

Over medium high heat, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef and sausage. Drain off grease and add to crock pot. Put all of the remaining ingredients (except for the cooked pasta) into the crock pot. Cook on low 6 - 8 hours or high 3 - 4 hours.   

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  Add to crock pot when ready to serve. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and top with minced parsley and/or Parmesan.

Serve with crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Story Dinner 2014: Side Dishes Purple Cabbage and Creamy Mashed Potatoes

As our side dishes for one part of our Christmas Story meal, I copied Ralphie's Mother and cooked red cabbage and mashed potatoes to go along with the meatloaf.  

Let's start with the cabbage.  To me, red or purple cabbage is more flavorful than green cabbage.  I added some diced Christmas ham to the pot and it really added to the flavor.

1 lb. purple cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
1/4 cup diced ham

In a medium sized saucepan, add cabbage and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook for 15 - 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add ham and cover and let cabbage continue to simmer until tender.  Taste and add salt to your liking.

Next up:  Creamy Mashed Potatoes

This made just enough for four adults.  Adjust amounts accordingly if you have more diners.

5 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 T. butter
2 T. heavy whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, add potatoes and water to cover.  Add 1 t. salt.  Bring to a boil and lower heat slightly.  Let potatoes cook until tender.

Drain potatoes and put back into saucepan.  Using a potato masher, mash potatoes.  I like to leave a few lump just to prove to everyone that I'm not using instant!

Add butter and cream and stir until combined with the potatoes.  Taste and add salt to your liking.  Add additional cream or butter if potatoes are dry.

A Christmas Story Dinner 2014: Triple Dog Dare You Dogs!

This year's Christmas meal was based on some of the iconic moments of the film.  We started with Triple Dog Dare You Dogs.  

1 small package of Little Smokies
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Over low heat, in a medium saucepan, put the sausages and add enough BBQ sauce to cover.  Stirring occasionally, let the sauce come to a gentle simmer and the sausages heat through.  Place three on a fork to get the Triple Dog effect!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Story Dinner 2014 - Table Setting Ideas

This year's meal is based on the movie The Christmas Story.  I've had such fun planning this meal.  I hope you  enjoy the pictures!

Of course, you can't think of the movie without remembering "It's a Major Award" leg lamp!  I found this miniature version (20 inches high) at Kohl's.  The crate and straw are from Michael's.  A few minutes with a black magic marker and "F-R-A-G-I-L-E" is done!

Fiestaware Christmas plates, salad plates, bowls and mugs are perfect for the dinnerware especially when matched up with the coordinating silverware.

In case you forget and use some language you shouldn't, a few bars of Lifebuoy Soap are at the ready!

I couldn't forget to invite one of the Bumpuses' hound dogs!  He brought along some Ovaltine as his hostess gift!

 I promise I was very careful with my new Red Ryder BB gun.  I didn't shoot my eye out!

And for dessert....two kinds of FFFFuuuudge!  Milk Chocolate and Peppermint Semi-Sweet.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hot Sausage Jambalaya Dip in Papa Noël Pirogue

I had so much fun making this dip for our Christmas gathering.  First of all for those who aren't familiar with the term Papa Noël, that is the Cajun Santa Claus!   Papa Noël comes in a pirogue instead of a sleigh.  A pirogue is a small boat associated particularly with the Cajuns of the South Louisiana marshes.  I decided to use a hollowed out loaf of French bread to resemble a pirogue to hold the dip. 

1 large loaf of French bread, carefully hollowed out leaving 1/4" all around.  Reserve bread that is removed.
1 box Zatarian's Jambalaya with Cheese prepared according to package directions
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 t. chopped garlic
1 8 - oz block of cream cheese, softened and cubed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 - 1 t. hot sauce (optional)
thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

While the jambalaya mix is cooking, brown the sausage, onions and peppers in a large skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. When the sausage is browned and the vegetables are softened, 5 - 7 minutes, add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

When the jambalaya is cooked, remove from heat and add the sausage/vegetables and stir to combine.  Next, add the two cheese and stir until cheese has melted.

Add hot sauce if using.

Carefully spoon the mixture into the hollowed out loaf of bread.  Wrap in foil and let warm in oven for 10 - 15 minutes.  Garnish with green onions before serving.

Serve with either tortilla chips or the reserved bread cubes.

Lolly's Ambrosia

A MUST on almost every Southern Christmas table is the simplicity of Ambrosia.  Just as there are hundreds of recipes for gumbo and chicken and dressing, it seems each family has their own favorite recipe for ambrosia.  I prefer the orange/pineapple version.  Log on to any website and you can find literally dozens of recipes.  By adding cherries, grapefruit, whipped cream, marshmallows doesn't make it wrong, it just makes it YOURS.

Here's Lolly's Version

2 naval oranges, peeled*
2 tangerines, peeled
2 Halos (or Cuties), peeled
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried dates
1 T. powdered sugar
1/2 shredded coconut

*Peel with a knife so all white is removed and then slice into sections

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Family Christmas 2014 Table Setting

With some family members ill with the flu bug and others living out of state, we're having our Family Christmas on a smaller scale and a few days off kilter with the calendar, but I cannot wait!  Here's the pictures of our casual family Christmas table.  

Homer Laughlin Fiestaware this year presented their dinner sized plates to match the salad plates, mugs and bowls from a few years ago.  I decided on an ivory table cloth and napkins from Kohl's and black chargers from Hobby Lobby.   The plaid glasses are Hobby Lobby finds and as always the vintage Indiana Colony King's Crown goblets are perfect.

The flatware is also from Homer Laughlin's Fiestaware and matches the dinnerware.

The red pitcher?  Fiestware of course!

The sippy cups for the little girls are Dollar General buys.

Wooden Christmas tree from Hobby Lobby.  Fiestaware salt and pepper shakers.

Bacon and Cheddar Grits Quiche

If you only try one recipe I posted this year, THIS IS THE ONE. A crust made of cheesy grits, with a layer of cheese on top of them THEN topped with an egg mixture that is more like a creamy custard. Did I mention there is also BACON??

Leftovers warmed beautifully the next day on a pizza stone on a low temp oven. If you're looking for a breakfast or brunch item that is sure to impress and can be made through Step 3 the day before, look no further.  

I can't say enough wonderful things about this wonderful recipe. 

6 thick bacon slices
2 1/4 cups milk
2 T. butter
1/2 cup uncooked stone ground grits
2 t. kosher salt, divided
1 t. black pepper, divided
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sliced green onions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon, drain and crumble. Transfer 2 t. bacon drippings a saucepan.

2.  Bring drippings, milk and butter to a boil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in grits, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Cook, whisking constantly for 15 minutes or until very thick. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup cheese, let stand 10 minutes. Stir in 1 egg. Spread in a 9 inch springform pan which is lightly coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until set and browned. Spring remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese over warm grits, spreading to edges. Let stand 15 minutes.


4.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Combine half and half, cream, onions, remaining 5 eggs, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Pour over grits. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Place pan on a foil lined baking sheet.

5. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly browned and just set.  (NOTE:  I cooked mine 1 hour and 20 minutes.)  Let stand 20 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around edges of quiche.  Carefully remove sides of pan.

Garnish with chopped chives if desired.  

From Southern Living December 2014

Brunch Bloody Marys

Another beverage option for our Christmas Brunch was a Bloody Mary Fixings Station.  I used my own canned Bloody Mary Mix, recipe found here.  I poured the mix into the blender, added some fresh lime juice, a teaspoon of horseradish and 1/2 t. of celery salt.  Then after blending for about 30 seconds poured into a pretty pitcher.  Vodka was added to each individual serving.  Of course, feel free to use your own favorite Bloody Mary Mix.

Extra add ons included pickled okra, celery sticks, lime wedges, green olives and pickled green beans.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pepper Jelly Danish

Another fun way to use some of my homemade red and green pepper jelly!  The recipe for those are found by following these two links:  http://fleurdelolly.blogspot.com/2012/07/red-pepper-jelly.html and  http://fleurdelolly.blogspot.com/2012/07/green-pepper-jelly.html .

You can easily use store bought as well.

4 - 8 oz. cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup red or green pepper jelly
1 T. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Unroll one can of crescent roll dough on a lightly floured surface.  Divide into two pieces, separating at center perforation.  Press each piece into a 7 inch square, pressing perforations to seal.

Bring corners of each dough square to center, partially overlapping each.  Gently press corners into centers using thumb, making a small indentation.  Repeat procedure with remaining cans of crescent rolls.  Transfer to lightly greased baking sheets.

Stir together cream cheese and egg.  Stir together pepper jelly and honey.  Spoon 2 T. cream cream mixture into center of each dough circle.  Top with 2 t. pepper jelly mixture.

Bake for 16 - 18 minutes or until golden brown.

From Southern Living December 2008

Smoked Salmon Terrine

A terrine is another one of those food items which can either be the vessel in which a food is prepared, but also the name of the dish, i.e., tagine.  Many pâtés are made in a terrine.  I made up this recipe as I went along by an idea in my mind, several cookbooks and taste testing along the way.  If you enjoy smoked salmon, this is an easy, yet elegant, item for a holiday brunch.

You can either use a terrine such as this one like I have or a loaf pan.  

1 pound very thinly sliced smoked salmon

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. heavy cream
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
salt to taste
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed, cut into chunks
1 t. fresh dill

Combine all ingredients (EXCEPT THE SALMON!!!) in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.  You may need more lemon or dill.

Coat the inside of the loaf pan or terrine with softened butter.  Line the pan with plastic wrap.

Gently separate the salmon and line the bottom of the pan, overlapping as needed.  Spread a few spoonfuls of the cheese mixture on top of the salmon, then sprinkle additional dill over cheese.

Repeat layers of salmon, cheese and dill, ending with a layer of salmon.  Gently fold the plastic wrap over the salmon and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, very gently lift up the edges of the plastic wrap to remove the terrine from the pan.  Turn upside down onto serving plate and remove plastic wrap.  Place additional fresh dill on top.  

I served mine with small serving bowls of capers, lemon slices, finely diced red onion and coarse ground mustard.

Another option is to toast sliced bagels and place salmon and toppings on top of each bite!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pomegranate Mimosas

Mimosas are generally made with orange juice and champagne or other bubbly wine. For our pre-Christmas Brunch, I decided to use pomegranate juice and topped it with André Blush Champagne.

Two ingredients! Pour juice into glass and top with an ounce or two of bubbly.  Enjoy!

Citrus Ginger Spritzer

This is a great festive holiday cocktail. I served it as one of the drink choices at a before Christmas brunch. Prep time was only about 10 minutes which is a huge plus when you're busy in the kitchen with cooking and other last minute details. If you want a non-alcoholic drink, simply leave out the vodka and increase the juice and ginger ale. It's a beautiful color, isn't it? It was the guests' favorite. The addition of the lemon slice and rosemary sprig add so much to the drink. Please don't omit them!

5 cups orange juice
2 cups chilled ginger ale
1 1/2 cups vodka
1/2 cup grenadine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Stir together all ingredients in a pitcher. Serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slice and rosemary sprig.