Monday, December 15, 2014

Lüke, New Orleans

If you like big, cheap, juicy, meaty oysters, then Louisiana is the place to be. They're not as sweet as West Coast and they're not as briny as the Northeast, but they sure are plump. And for 75 cents a pop? You know I'm there. 

This weekend, Carlo and Rosalyn visited from New York. I of course brought them to Willie Mae's, and then Rosalyn found a place with an oyster happy hour daily from 3-6 pm for 75 cents a half shell. That is an absolute steal. So the three of us obviously got 4 dozen. They were fresh, delicious, and went surprisingly well with saltines. 

333 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eating local in New Orleans: Quinoa Shrimp Mirliton

Last week I taught an afterschool 4th grade nutrition class at the International School in the Garden District. The topic my partner and I chose was eating local foods. We led a discussion on what is a farmers market and why you should shop there for your produce and what seasonal food are down here in Louisiana. We taught them how eating food from your region not only helps support local farmers, but local foods are fresher and taste better. We made a harvest calendar and split the students into groups where they were each assigned a season and to design a meal where they used season ingredients. The kids thought up of summer berry lemon smoothies, fall produce gumbo, veggie pizza, satsuma fruit salad, persimmon blueberry pie… they were incredibly creative. 

So what's mirliton? The New York Times recently published an article on the most Googled Thanksgiving food by state. New York was stuffed artichoke, lol, but Louisiana’s was shrimp mirliton, something I have never heard of in my life. Apparently mirliton is a local squash and is also known as the Latin American chayote. I tried it for the first time at a holiday party I accidentally stumbled upon in my building last week, and it was great. And I needed to make it. 

I first made my own spice packs... yes, I am that Louisiana. You can buy these spice packs at grocery stores, which are basically the holy trinity (celery, bell peppers, onions) pre-cut with shallots, parsley, and garlic. I picked up a couple of mirliton, a bag of Louisiana shrimp, and a Creole tomato from Rouse's. Because I am in a dietetics program, I can't help but make recipes healthier, so instead of bread crumbs, I decided to use quinoa. Not going to lie, my Cajun quinoa shrimp dressing is the best you will ever have. 

Quinoa Shrimp Mirliton (serves 4)
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup green bell pepper, chopped 
1/3 cup onion, chopped 
1 tomato, chopped
1 tbs parsley, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks green onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 cups quinoa, cooked  
1 cup shrimp, deveined and chopped 
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs canola oil
1/2 tsp Cajun spice (Slap Ya Mama, hot) 

1. Boil mirliton in a pot for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out meat. Set aside. 
2. Preheat oven to 350F. 
3. In a large pan, sautee celery, peppers, garlic, green onion, parsley, shallots, garlic, and Cajun spice in canola oil. Once browned, add the tomato and tomato paste.
4. Mix in quinoa and shrimp. Sautee until shrimp is cooked. 
5. Scoop an ample amount of the dressing into the mirliton and bake for 30-35 minutes. 

✓ fiber
✓ vegetables
✓ protein 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Now that I live in Murray Hill, actually recently renamed Rose Hill, I've become a regular at several local restaurants (not that I'm ever in the city). But when I am home, it's almost certain that my family will default to Mishima whenever we don't want to cook dinner or whenever we can't decide what we want to eat. The space is intimate; the restaurant seats no more than twenty or so people. The chef prides himself in using traditional preparation methods and the freshest ingredients, and the waitresses are the friendliest and recognize every face to come in.

We always start with appetizers, so here are a few of my favorites:

  • uni on the half shell
  • crawfish salad roll
  • fried shrimp
  • horse mackerel tataki 
  • avocado salad
  • clam or lobster miso soup
  • mushroom soup

For sashimi and sushi, you can always ask what's fresh or if the chef has any recommendations. Sometimes it's giant clam or striped jack. Others times it can be amberjack or fatty yellowtail. I love their entrees (at lunch and dinner time) because I can always use a miso broiled salmon or grilled yellowtail neck served with brown rice, calm miso soup, and their seasonal sides, salad, and pickled radish. My brother always gets a dragon roll and a shrimp tempura roll, so keep in mind that there are modern Americanized rolls for you to get as well.

... I just pretty much listed their entire menu didn't I? But just a heads up, their menu is constantly changing due to what's available seasonally, so don't go looking for crawfish in the winter or mushroom soup in the summer. Below are some of the many photos I have taken at Mishima. Hope you enjoy the simplicity and freshness of the menu as much as I do!

164 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coca-Cola Braised Collard Greens

Gargantuan collard greens in the produce aisle at Winn Dixie's

When I was in Atlanta with my family back in August, I did the necessary pilgrimages to the Georgia Aquarium and Coca Cola World. At the end of the tour, we were given free bottles of Coke. I've had them in my fridge since then for a rainy day, but I just really don't drink soda. I also hate to see things go to waste, so I had to get creative. Living in the south, I eat a lot of foods that aren't common or regional to.. New York City. But because I'm working on the full immersion, I made a delicious recipe to incorporate all this southern greatness into my life. 

Coca-Cola Braised Collard Greens (serves 4-6)
2 bunches collard greens, ribbed and chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 tbs canola oil
8 oz Coca-Cola
4 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 

1. Sautee the chopped onion with canola oil on high heat. Once browned, mix in collard greens. 
2. Once greens are cooking and bright green, add Coca-Cola, balsamic vinegar, and salt/pepper. 
3. Simmer on low heat for 25-30 min, stirring occasionally (every 5 minutes). Cook until desired tenderness. 

Monday remedy: red beans, alligator sausage pasta,
herb roasted parmesan cauliflower, and collard greens. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Meals From the Heart Cafe, New Orleans

Last week when I was working at Ochsner's cardiac rehab facility, there was a lot of discussion on finding places to eat out that wouldn't take too much of a toll on your blood pressure/ cholesterol/ heart/ body. My preceptor highly recommended Meals From the Heart Cafe in the French Market and especially their crab cake. 

The cafe prides themselves in offering heart healthy fresh foods with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options. I talked to the people behind the counter, and they told me that they are in the works of putting something together with the new VA hospital complex opening on Canal because of their heart healthy menu options.

When I sat down, I was offered a clementine. I ordered a carrot orange ginger juice and I had to try the crab cake passion, which is pure lump crabmeat served with fresh mixed greens, ripe tomatoes and house garlic-lemon Remoulade sauce. It was a delicious post-run lunch and the perfect time of year to walk around the French Market to get a jump start on Christmas shopping. 

So if you ever need a break from all the fried, smothered, and southern food in NOLA, definitely stop by Meals From the Heart for a refreshing and satisfyingly light meal. 

Meals From the Heart Cafe
1100 N. Peters St., #13 / French Market
New Orleans, LA

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alligator Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette

It's official. This is the third time I've posted a variation of this recipe. This is my rainy or cold day go-to lazy done in 15 minutes recipe: alligator sausage broccoli rabe orecchiette. It all started with the original Italian sausage at a New Year's Eve party in Long Island and then a another with lamb sausage from a farm in New England. So now that I'm in New Orleans, I undoubtedly needed to whip up a batch when I found alligator sausage at my local Winn Dixie's. 

This week for my rotations, I have been working at Ochsner cardiac rehab. I had to teach a class of patients about fiber and how to increase fiber in the diet. As y'all know, fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and helps your intestines in maintaining digestive health. One of the main teaching points was the incorporate fiber into every meal and snack, so for a pasta recipe, you can try using whole wheat pasta or including vegetables in the sauce. In this case, I used broccoli rabe (1 cup cooked, 6.6 gm of fiber) and snow peas (1/2 cup cooked, 3.5 gm of fiber). It adds texture, color, and flavor into the dish. 

Alligator Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Orecchiette
6 oz alligator sausage, uncased and cut into half inch pieces
6 oz orecchiette
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
1 cup snow peas (I used frozen) 
5 cloves of garlic, diced
6 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the orecchiette, remember to salt the water. Once it is cooked, drain it and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. In a pan heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic and shallots.
3. Once browned, add the cut sausage. When the sausage is about half cooked, insert the broccoli rabe. Sautee until cooked.
4. Add the pasta and peas to the sausage and broccoli rabe and toss until thoroughly mixed.
5. Add fresh black pepper to taste.

✓ fiber
✓ vegetables
✓ protein 
✓ unsaturated fats 

I'm going to try crawfish sausage next time