Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cafe Abyssinia, New Orleans

Since I moved to New Orleans, the restaurant I find myself frequenting the most is Cafe Abyssina. Yes, of all the places in NOLA, my go-to is an Ethiopian restaurant. At this point it’s my comfort food away from home. 

Cafe Abyssinia is located on Magazine Street, where they have a cozy outdoor patio perfect for gatherings and wine nights (another plus -- they're BYOB!). They're also very flexible and can accommodate large parties. They helped me host a 20+ person event once, and the bill came down to less than $20/person and there were plenty of leftovers. This food is meant to be shared, so bring friends! 

What's not comforting about Ethiopian food? There's hearty stews, carby injera*, and lots of flavor. Here are some of my favorite dishes to order: 
  • Doro wot - a spicy chicken stew seasoned with berbere spice and served with a hard boiled egg
  • Lamb tibs - lamb meat sauteed with onions, garlic, and pepper 
  • Doro tibs with spinach - cubed chicken sauteed with spinach and onions
  • Fish goulash - white fish in a tomato based stew 
  • Kitfo - lean beef sauteed with Ethiopian butter and mittmitta spice 
  • Shiro - ground lentil and chickpea stew with berbere spice
  • Yamisr wot - red lentils and onions in a spicy sauce 
And if you don't know what to order, ask the sole waiter. He's not too talkative, but he's young, handsome, friendly, and will recognize your face the next time you come back. 

* Injera is a fermented flat bread made with teff, which you essentially use as an utensil to eat with. Teff is a type of small grain commonly found in Ethiopia and is high in protein, fiber, and many minerals, such as calcium.

Cafe Abyssinia 
3511 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Red Beans and Rice (with Manchu Fried Chicken)

As you know, I have completely embraced New Orleans culture and cuisine since I moved down here half a year ago. And since then, I have eaten red beans and rice on a weekly basis. It's such a simple, hearty, and filling meal, and it makes Mondays way more bearable.

Because I am a nutritionist, I couldn't help but make a healthier version of red beans and rice. Instead of the boiled ham and smoked pork sausage, I opted for a way leaner chicken and green onion sausage. And you know what? Like my quinoa shrimp mirliton, the flavor is all still there. So do yourself a favor and have some red beans and rice next Monday (which happens to be LUNDI GRAS!).

Red Beans and Rice (serves 4-6)
1/2 lb red kidney beans, soaked 8-12 hours
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup green bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 tbs canola oil
6 oz Cajun chicken sausage
6 cups water 
1 bay leaf
2 tsp Cajun spice (I used Slap Ya Mama - hot)
2 cups brown rice, steamed

1. In a large pan or pot, brown chicken sausage in canola oil
2. Once browned, remove chicken sausage from the pan and sautee the onions, bell pepper, and celery in the drippings
3. Add the beans, water, sausage, and spice into the pot. Simmer on low-medium heat for 2 hours or until it becomes a creamy consistency 
4. Mush beans against the side of the pot
5. Serve with steamed brown rice

And honestly, nothing goes better with some good red beans and rice than fried chicken. So today I drove out to North Claiborne and Esplanade to Manchu Food Shop to pick up some wings. And really, those wings were good and definitely well worth heading up to Treme for. To be honest, they remind me a lot of Hong Kong McWing's. It's the peppery seasoning that it's fried in. I must've rolled in there at 3pm, and the front was packed with cars. 8 wings with fried rice for $5. What. Also, it was the fastest food service I have ever received in New Orleans. Just saying.

Manchu Food Store
1413 North Claiborne Avenue
New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

King Cake Festival, New Orleans

Last week I went to the second annual King Cake Festival in Champion's Square (I haven't been able to write about it until now because I'm still recovering from King Cake overdose.). It was the perfect event to bring Dave and Janice because it was such a New Orleans event to attend. An entire festival dedicated to a local food, complete with live music right down the steps from the Superdome.

At the King Cake Festival, we bought 10 tickets to sample the goods. My overall favorite? Haydel's, for sure. Randazzo's had too much icing, Cartozzo's was just sprinkles... Haydel's was a perfectly soft yet flaky cinnamon interior topped with a sweet glaze. Other bakeries had many creative flavors and interpretations. There were quite a few doughnut options and savory choices including a muffaletta king cake, a maple bacon glazed, and even a king cake burger. For a healthier choice that's still just as delicious but only a third of the usual calories, Girls Gone Vegan Bakery has one made with brown rice and almond flour with a cashew icing.

Oh, and what's that baby you found hidden in the King Cake? That’s the plastic baby Jesus found embedded in every cake. It is, afterall, eaten on the Festival of Kings, in celebration of when the three maji visited Jesus. And whoever is lucky enough to get the baby Jesus, well you’re responsible for bringing in the next King Cake. It really gets everyone into the Mardi Gras spirit!