Friday, February 5, 2016

Willa Jean, New Orleans

Willa Jean's King Cake

It's Mardi Gras season! And with that comes endless amounts of King Cake! With so many bakeries in town making such a variety of flavors, no doubt that newcomer Willa Jean would have their own very unique twist.

I went to the new bakery /restaurant by John Besh last weekend for an early brunch (it gets too crowded on the weekends at actual brunch time) and saw their decadent King Cake in the window. Not only is it covered with salted caramel, it's filled with bananas and marscapone and topped off with gold flakes -- fit for any royalty. The slice they brought to the table was gargantuan, but justified when I saw I was charged $10 for it. It was a touch too sweet for my taste, and King Cake purists would simply brush it off as not King Cake, but it was nice and flaky and very filled. Not a King Cake I would go for year after year, but I must say that I'm glad I tried it!

As for their regular menu, Willa Jean has a list of biscuit entrees that are worth trying. Since their opening week, they have most definitely refined their recipe to a wonderfully golden brown, flaky, buttery biscuit. Have it with the fried chicken or as a breakfast sandwich! For sure a crowd pleaser.
I like bringing guests who are in town here when we have to get an early breakfast. The seating is ample and the ceilings are high. They also serve fancy coffee that would please any New Yorker and have a temptingly mouthwatering bakery selection.

Chicken biscuit

Eggs in purgatory 

Willa Jean
611 O'Keefe Ave.
New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yes, I make my own cat food.

Meet Luna, my lil' mama. She came into my life a few months ago and has unquestionably changed it for the better. As a dietitian, I morally cannot be feeding myself whole nutritious foods as my beautiful Siamese cat is stuck eating cat food or what I like to call, cereal. Think about it this way. You like cereal with milk, right? But what if you had to eat it every meal for your entire life? Yes, you'll be getting the majority of your nutrients and duh, it tastes great, but in the long run, all that sugar could cause a lot of problems chronic problems to your body. Excessive carbohydrate intake means a lot of the sugars become stored as fat and a potential for developing diabetes. It works the same way for our feline friends. 

Cats biologically do not have a strong thirst. They tend to get a majority of fluids from eating fresh killed prey, which is comprised of 70-75% water. Dry food is... dry. It has only about 5-10% water content. By feeding cats only cereal, they have a higher chance of developing kidney and bladder issues. Though your cats may seem to be drinking an adequate amount of water, that amount still does not necessarily compensate for the lack of fluid in the dry food. 

Now, making cat food I understand is not for everybody. I confess that I'm a crazy cat lady and spend a couple hours a month chopping up chicken and turkey for my little lady. If your cat at home is eating predominantly cereal, I'd recommend transitioning to canned wet foods several times of week. Canned food has ~75% water content and is much higher in protein than cereal! 

Also, cats should mostly be eating chicken/ turkey/ rabbit. It's most similar to what they would be catching if they were outdoor cats (small rodents, birds). I give Luna sardine with bones (canned in water) about 2-3 times a week with her raw poultry meal. This gives her healthy fats and calcium. Don't choose salmon or tuna too frequently, for those fish tend to be higher in mercury. Think if your cats were doing their own hunting. Would they be catching wild salmon or deep sea tuna?  

So, what do I feed my cat? I feed her raw meat. Cats requires a high protein diet and get their calcium from eating bones. There's a limited if null need for carbohydrates, but I throw some whole grains in there due to conflicting articles that I've researched. I also make sure she has access to plenty of fresh water! When I first started making cat food, I was neurotic and weighed everything out to the gram. But my cat is not a body builder, so now I estimate the portions (like I do with my own diet) to form a balanced meal for her. 

This is not based entirely on scientific research. I'm no veterinarian. I just love my cat and want to give her the longest healthiest life I can. Let me know what you think! 

HOMEMADE RAW CAT FOOD (lasts 10-12 days, 2 ~2-3 oz servings / day)
- 2 lb chicken thigh / turkey, ground or sliced thinly (depending on your cat's willingness to eat raw meat, I started with ground and transitioned slowly to small chunks) 
- 4 oz chicken liver
- 3 oz chicken gizzard / heart
- 4 oz sweet potato / brown rice with broccoli / spinach 
- 3 oz omega 3 oil blend (for a healthy coat) 
- 3 tsp calcium supplement (cats eat their prey whole with bones, that's how they naturally get their calcium!) 

1. Mix together
2. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmer 

The goal is to eventually transition her to eating whole chicken wings several nights a week with sardines so I can wean her off the calcium supplement. It's a work in progress! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cafe Amelie, New Orleans

There are a countless number of brunch places in New Orleans, but when there's someone special visiting you in town, I recommend bringing them to Cafe Amelie. Nestled on the upper reaches of Royal Street, this intimate cafe offers NOLA essentials using local ingredients with a modern Southern touch. In addition to the tasty meal I had here, the most drawing feature of Cafe Amelie is easily the enchanting courtyard that more than doubles the seating. Given that I went with my grandma in December, it was still very green, lush, and filled with happy patrons.

I ordered a few plates for us to share so that she could get a taste of the local flavor. We started with a chicken and andouille sausage gumbo, which though we had more than four times during the course of her visit, the one at Cafe Amelie remains her favorite. We also had a deliciously creamy shrimp and grits made with sweet corn and andouille maque choux (AKA smothered corn / Cajun succotash). The weakest link also happened to be a non-NOLA essential, which was a figs and goat cheese on bread. The goat cheese was a bit bland and the bread was the same as the bread basket offered to the table. I wish I ordered the oysters, mozzarella fireballs, or one their sizely sandwiches instead! Even so, we thoroughly enjoyed our meals, especially since we had it with hot Earl Grey and chocolate mint teas.

TL;DR: Wonderful brunch place with a delightful courtyard. Definitely make a reservation and request for courtyard seating.

Cafe Amelie
912 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA

Friday, January 1, 2016

La Provence + Case of the leftovers: duck biscuit with honey hot suace

My fridge is stocked to the brim with leftovers. My grandmother visited me in New Orleans and of course I brought her to try all the good stuff! We got Christmas dinner at Tujague's, had brunch at Cafe Amelie, ate the best chargrilled oysters in the city at Apolline, slurped on 50 cent oysters for happy hour in the French Quarter, devoured the chicken biscuit at Willa Jean's, and wine and dined at Emeril's Delmonico.

Because I booked a swamp tour for us at Honey Island, we trekked to John Besh's La Provence for a pre-swamp brunch. We were honestly still satisfied from our breakfast at Willa Jean's, but still powered through with a 3 - course lunch at his French countryside + New Orleans restaurant. My grandma had a very special stuffed quail gumbo and seared Gulf pompano, while I enjoyed too much of the chicken live pate, herb dinner tolls, and seared duck breast. But alas, we were not physically able to finish our entrees (plus we had to get to our tour on time), so I was fortunate enough to bring home leftover duck breast. We luckily got to walk some of it off among the pigsties and herb gardens behind the restaurant!

Now this is where I got creative. I could have simply reheated the duck and sweet potato cake and called it a day, but I have this problem where I can't eat the same thing two days in a row. So I  re-seared the duck and served it with Parish Farms' fresh arugula, drizzled with honey and Crystal hot sauce, sandwiched between a leftover Biscuit from The Arcade Restaurant in Memphis. Yes, I'm that resourceful and that much of a leftover hoarder. But hey! I try not to waste any food if I can help it.

So, happy new year and may everyone's new years resolutions be to eat merry and waste less! :)


Duck biscuit with Crystal honey
2-3 generous slices of duck breast
1 warm biscuit 
1/3 cup arugula (Fresh from Parish Farms)
1 tsp honey (I got some of that swamp honey from Honey Island) 
1/4 tsp Louisiana style hot sauce (I used Crystal; Tabasco would be similar) 

1. Sear duck breast until warm
2. Drizzle honey and hot sauce onto biscuit
3. Top with arugula
4. Sandwich in the duck 


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Walking in Memphis, Tennessee

When you have less than 24 hours in Memphis, where do you have to hit up? That's what I had to figure out for my birthday weekend when Henok and I went on a road trip to the Blues City aka Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll aka the BBQ Capital of the World. In addition to getting some bomb barbecue, I of course had to take a stroll down Beale Street and pay my respects at Graceland. We did some delightful things like see the cats in art exhibit at the Brooks Museum and watch the sunrise over Peabody. And of course no road trip to Memphis is completed without a spontaneous birthday bash at the Grizzlies game followed by a laid back time at BB King's. 

Here's a glimpse into the two meals I had in the city:

The Bar-B-Q Shop 
Talk about lick off the bone ribs. The Bar-B-Q Shop is known for their famous and award winning Dancing Pigs sauce and dry seasonings in which their meat is tenderly prepared with. I got 1/2 and 1/2 dry rub and wet (there was also a glazed option), and I must say I preferred dipping the dry rubbed ribs in their barbecue sauce. Served with baked beans, coleslaw, and Texas toast, it was definitely 100% finger licking good. Even better in a sandwich the next day! (I didn't actually finish the entire rack myself.) 

1782 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN

The Arcade Restaurant
The Arcade Restaurant is the oldest spot in Memphis (so old school there are ash trays in each bathroom stall) and sits on the corner of South Main Street. It used to be right near a bustling railroad station and known as the busiest intersection of the city. However, gone are the days of the railroad and Elvis being a regular and in with the small empty town feel. The 50's diner vibe however, brightens you up, as will their sweet potato pancakes. The country ham was thin cut, smoked, and salted and the pair of biscuits light and fluffy. Though it may be purely a tourist destination nowadays, the nostalgia feels nice and who doesn't want an Elvis special (a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich)? 

540 S Main Street
Memphis, TN



FedEx Forum

Beale Street

Country ham breakfast, sweet potato pancakes 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Honey lemon ginger emergen-tea elixir

for fighting off colds and soothing your insides 

Having a side of Belle Chasse navel orange slices with my elixir made with local honey

Now that I'm working in a hospital, I know I'm being exposed to a lot more germs. It's inevitable. But if you keep yourself healthy and in tiptop shape, you don't have to be worried about seeing so many patients on the daily. One way I keep my immune system strong is with my lemon honey elixir. It's no secret; you can get it at most cafes and bakeries in Hong Kong. But in celebration of the Winter Solstice, the seasonal version of this wonderful drink is made with ginger to warm your body. 

Honey lemon ginger emergen-tea elixir (2 servings)
6 - 8 slices of ginger
2 tbs honey
2 cups water
juice from half a lemon

1. Boil 1 cup of water with ginger slices. Set aside to cool off.
2. In  a large glass, mix honey with water and lemon.
3. Once ginger water is slightly cooled off, mix in with the honey lemon mixture.

✓ Vitamin C