Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sweet basil orange iced tea

You can keep telling me it's spring, but the sun's screaming that it's summer time. And when it's summer in New Orleans, you have got to stay hydrated. All the festing, drinking, and dancing can take it out of you, so here's a simple refreshing recipe for a delicious iced tea brewed with fresh Thai basil and topped with a fresh orange slice. Trust me, the basil make it naturally sweet itself, but if you must, feel free to sweeten with a touch of honey. 

After a long day at French Quarter Fest, an iced tea was necessary!

Sweet basil orange iced tea (serves 2)
2-3 tbs Thai basil leaves, fresh
orange slice
2 cups water, boiled
1 cup ice 
honey, to taste (optional)

1. Seep basil leaves in fresh off the stove boiling water for 3-5 minutes. 
2. Pour into half a cup of ice.
3. Top and garnish with a squeeze of orange slice 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spanish Inspiration from Try the World

I don't know where I saw it first, but I clicked an ad for Try the World Food Box to receive a gourmet subscription to a curated box of local food goodies from around the world. The box I received was from Spain, where my brother just spent his spring break. He recalled having tomato jam  served on bread, which I was most excited to try. I was also looking forward to using paprika in everything, like they do in Hungary! To be honest, the box was a bit disappointing. There were a lot of neat things, but most of them required some sort of assembly. I was also a bit weirded out by the canned mussels, but wished the box included some jamon ibierco.

Last night for dinner, I sauteed the mussels with garlic to make a base for a paprika cherry tomato spaghetti sauce. I served it over a bed of baby peashoots and sprinkled it with parmesan for some Spanish Italian action.

For breakfast this morning, I slathered the tomato jam on flax seed bread and topped it with an omelet for an elegant tartine paired with local Louisiana blueberries. As expected, the tomato spread is definitely my favorite part of the box. It's like a fresh light marinara in a jar!

And finally for dinner I made my classic ratatouille, a recipe I derived from my French host parents in Lac d'Annecy. I used squash that I picked up this past weekend at the Crescent City farmer's market and flavored it with olive oil, herbes de Provence, paprika, and persillade, a mix of dried garlic, onion, parsley, shallot and salt from Mont-Saint-Michel and the French box. I served it with brown rice steamed with the canned mussels.

So tell me this, box, who brought who around the world?

canned mussels

spaghetti with mussels in a paprika cherry tomato sauce

local squash

local blueberries, ratatouille + mussels in brown rice

Saturday, April 30, 2016


sweet potatoes and fresh greens on flax seed bread

I'm starting a movement. It's nothing new, it's just to help everyone rethink a meal. You can eat wholesomely satisfying delicious food that just happens to be earth friendly and vegetarian. Being with a vegan, I've learned to be more creative with traditional recipes while trying to balance all the food groups. Give it whirl; meat doesn't have to be part of every meal! I promise you'll feel lighter and livelier after a few days. I personally try to practice being vegetarian on every new moon and full moon and at least for one meal a day. Challenge yourself, feel better, live more colorfully :) 

Apple slices, cinnamon sprinkle, and peanut butter scoops

brown rice and quinoa with lima beans and broccoli

Mango freeze at Jazz Fest

Cherry tomato and basil spaghettini

Boiled vegetables from Tulane's Crawfest

4/20 celebration

Herb spiced tumeric popcorn

Friday, April 8, 2016

Staycation in New Orleans : Balise & Compère Lapin

This was the first time I've had a weekday off in New Orleans since I first started working! It was such a nice break because it reminded me of how it used to be when I had so many sunny afternoons to spend as a student. My stayation landed on French Quarter Fest weekend, so more things were happening in the Quarter than usual. The musicians, bands, street performances, poets, Jackson Square artists, vendors, and visitors just seemed to multiply! Stages and markets are set up in various locations all around the French Quarter, and many restaurants are serving festival food specials ranging from barbecue shrimp stuffed po-boys to crawfish in lobster sauce. Though you already know I'm all about festival feasting, this photolog I'm going to share with you some finer dining experiences I had this long weekend. 

One Warehouse District go-to for me is Balise. It's modern Louisiana fare for the gastronomically adventurous. The first time I went, they just recently started serving brunch, and I had the most juicy hot sausage lambwich that was topped with a runny egg in a soft brioche bun. It's not easily forgettable, so I went back and had the fried smoked oysters with a side of fried smoked cauliflower. Definitely one of my favorite brunch spots in New Orleans. 

Now the real highlight this weekend, however, was my lunch at Compère Lapin. It's located in the Old No. 77 Hotel off Lafayette and I honestly can't stop thinking about it. It's a New Orleans Creole Caribbean cuisine that is exquisite, creative, and hearty. Chef Nina Compton showcases her St. Lucian roots, adding a New Orleans + Southern flair with the sophistication of French culinary pedigree. Her chive buttermilk biscuit was served with small logs of bacon butter and salted honey butter, which I ended up combining on my warm flaky biscuit. I also tried a very flavorful curried goat stew with homemade sweet potato gnocchi and topped with cashews and cliantro. It was reminiscent of Hong Kong style curry beef brisket. My tastebuds still get excited just simply thinking about it. I can't wait to go back. 

640 Carondelet Street
New Orleans

Compère Lapin
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans

Power breakfast! Barley quinoa avocado bowl spiced with Slap Ya Mama

When your cauliflower game on fleek, Balise

Fried oysters with a shaved broccoli + brussels sprouts salad, Balise

Best hot sausage lambwich on the softest brioche bun, Balise

Mr. Jack Daniels courtesy of local artist Simon

Chive buttermilk biscuits with bacon butter + salted honey butter
- AMEN!, Compere Lapin

Chef Nina's signature curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi, Compere Lapin

Miss Luna admiring Reggie's Art from Jackson Square!
Thank you so much for the beautiful New Orleans jazz + architecture print! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Feasting at festivals

It's spring time in NOLA and that means festivals on festivals on festivals! After Mardi Gras, it's pretty much non-stop festivals until Halloween. What that means is plenty of outdoor fun, live music, and of course, food. This past weekend was a successful one because I went to two food focused festivals: Louisiana SPCA's Brunch Fest and FoodFest: America's Hometown Eats.

We started at the Brunch Fest in City Park that was a fund raiser and adoption promotion for the SPCA. There were many doggies out and about as well as way too many people in a tight space setup. Though we got there only a few hours in, the lines were unbelievably long and many vendors were already out of food. Man was I disappointed! All I got after a 20+ minute wait was a got a Bloody Mary and fruit parfait from The Cheesy Cajun for $12.

Needless to say, we quickly left and headed to the French Quarter for FoodFest. Though it's advertised as hosting America's Hometown Eats, vendors were primarily from all around Louisiana and Memphis. Not that I'm complaining, because we got some bomb food from every booth we tried (plus less than 2 minutes wait for any of them)!

  • Gus's Fried Chicken, Memphis - $2 for a wing, $3 for a thigh, but man do they know how to do their chicken fried! It's extra crispy, paired great with their slaw, and even better topped with Louisiana hot sauce. 
  • Central BBQ, Memphis - great ribs with the most seasoned BBQ chips you'll ever taste and even greater service. My friend bought a t-shirt, but they didn't have her size, so one of the owners offered to mail her one for free! 
  • Sheraton, NOLA - they had all their gumbo trophies laid out on the counter for everyone to say, and I must say their gumbo was very rich, flavorful, and got more tasty with each bite. I also ordered a delicious glazed redfish topped with a crab/peashoot salad for $8 (best value, hands down). 
Festival season is definitely my favorite season of the year. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Soup or stew?

It's finally spring! There has been gorgeous days with endless sunshine balanced with dreadful rainy ones that are unseasonably chilly. For days where I happily stay indoors with Luna, I enjoy one of my homemade soups (that always turn out more like a stew) while watching lightning storms. 

I have two stewy soup recipes to share with y'all. The first one is actually a special case of red beans leftovers remade with lots of local veggies, such as okra and kale. The second is my rendition of cabbage soup. I used my tomato sauce as a base, so it's a little reminiscent of Chinese style borscht soup. And though I didn't make it to the parades this year to catch my own cabbage, I think I made up for it by serving with homemade flax Irish soda bread. 

Soups/stews are easy because once you prepare everything, you just toss it all together in a pot and let it do its own thing while you can do yours. I'm all about the low maintenance cooking. I hope you enjoy these hearty recipes to get you through until the rain clouds part and the sun shines brightly again! 

Red beans okra kale stew (serves 4)
1 cup cooked red beans (feel free to use a can of Blue Runner beans)
4 oz chicken, sliced into chunks 
4 oz chicken sausage, sliced uinto chunks 
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cup okra, chopped
1/2 cup kitchen vegetable scraps, chopped (I used carrots, celery, tomato, and onion) 
1 cup vegetable / chicken broth 
2 oz canola oil
1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama

1. In a saucepan, sautee chicken and sausage in canola oil until browned. 
2. Add the vegetable scraps and kale.
3. Once everything is sizzling, add the okra, red beans, and broth. 
4. Bring to a low boil and allow to simmer for at least thirty minutes to an hour. Add Slap Ya Mama.
5. If stew is too thick, add more water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat once desired consistency is reached. 

Creole cabbage soup (serves 4-6)
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 red potatoes, chopped 
1 cup tomato sauce 
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp Slap Ya Mama

1. In a pot, allow butter to melt. Brown garlic. 
2. Toss in cabbage and mix thoroughly.
3. Once sizzling, stir in tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Bring to a low boil.
4. Add carrots, potatoes, and bay leaves. 
5. Allow soup to simmer for at least 2 hours. Mix once every 20-30 minutes. 
6. If soup is too thick, add more water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat once desired consistency is reached. 
7. Serve with a side of Irish soda bread!