Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Early) Thirsty Thursday: Sno Balls-- Louisiana’s favorite (non-alcoholic) frozen treat.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be somewhere in Mississippi or Alabama, on my way to VAY-CAY-SHUN in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  And since I’ll probably be too busy playing in the surf, snorkeling, or chowing down seafood to blog, I figured I’d just go ahead & post this a little early.  You don’t mind, do you?  Thanks.  Youze the bestest.

 

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While in Louisiana last week, I found myself in sweltering 95-degree heat in dire need of something to cool me down.

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And in when you’re in Louisiana, that means one thing: SNO BALL.

 

What, you were thinking the Other Sno-Ball?

Well…those are good too.  But we’ll be talking about the shaved ice kind today.

If you’re like me (aka, NOT born-n-raised in Louisiana), you grew up with similar but inferior frozen treats—AKA the Sno-Cone.  Shaved ice served in a drippy little paper cone and available in three flavors: Blue, Green, or Red.  Typically available only at the State Fair or your hometown festival, along side funnel cakes & bad nachos.

 

My husband even asked me, “why don’t they just call it a Sno-Cone?”

And the best answer I could come up with was, “…because they don’t come in cones?”

 

And the variety of flavors available in these stands (typically open at least 9 months of the year) scattered across Louisiana blows your average everyday State Fair Sno Cone out of the water.

There are easily 100+ plus sno ball stands in the New Orleans metro area, and everybody has their own favorite.  Typically, it’s the one that’s closest to your house, or the one you grew up with.  For me, it was Sno Wizard, which was just a few blocks away from my house on Magazine Street.  They had a fantastic pink lemonade flavor & their smalls were served in a mini Chinese-takeout type box. 

(Seriously…how flippin’ cute is that???)

 

But here I was, dying of dehydration in METAIRIE—not in my old stomping grounds, and I’d never gotten a sno ball in Metairie.  So I had to enlist the help of a seasoned NOLA veteran—my friend Nanette.  I told her my location & she directed me to SnoBall Hut on Veterans near Lakeside.  Her recommendation?  “The Wedding Cake, always.  With sugar free syrup and sweetened condensed milk. I know it defeats the purpose of sugar free, but I love it.”

Good enough for me!

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The laundry list of available flavors was quite tempting…snoball2

…but no.  No.  I had a recommendation, and was determined to try it out!  One small Sugar Free Wedding Cake with condensed milk, please!

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Crisp, clean & pure, just like a pretty wedding cake—I sorta wanted to find a pretty flower to add as decoration.  And thank heaven for that condensed milk.  The sugar-free “wedding cake” syrup (very almond-y) had twinge of that “fake-ish” aftertaste, but the richness of the condensed milk totally balances it out, & it really is like a fancy wedding cake with tons of buttercream icing.  YUM.  But kinda rich; I could barely finish it.  Probably should have gotten the kid’s size.

Nanette’s other favorites: Bubby’s Sno Ball stand at Fleur de Lis & Harrison.  Still—wedding cake flavor.  Also: Hansen’s Sno Bliz on Tchoupitoulas.  Try the Satsuma flavor.  And be sure to ask about the Satsuma Path to Enlightenment.”

 

I felt compelled to ask my other friends what stands they recommend, so here’s a couple other recommendations, too!

K-Rod: “Dreamsicle at the Casey’s on West Esplanade & Clearview, or Honeydew at Sno Shak on Jefferson Highway.”

Primo: Plum Street Uptown. Usually Cherry.”

 

I think the next time I’m down that way, I need to venture over to Scuba Steve’s on the Westbank.  As if the name isn’t cool enough, with flavors like “Dinosaur Egg” (mango & blueberry) and “Toxic Waste” (bubblegum & sour apple), it sounds my kind of place.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Orleans Stuffed Artichoke

Much like brussels sprouts, artichokes are not something that get bought frequently in this house.  Don’t get me wrong, I love veggies—but we tend to stockpile the ones that are a bit more universal.  You know, carrots, celery, onions, bell pepper, etc. AKA—Veggies I Can Use In Nearly Anything.     Not things that require a recipe search on Pinterest.

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(Hi, my name is Artie, and I’m SPECIAL.)

But when I saw these prickly perennials (huzzah for alliteration!) on sale last week for 99 cents, I figured, “what the heck.”

When I worked at Martin’s in New Orleans, we stocked our to-go case with pre-cooked stuffed artichokes.  As a Missourian I had never been exposed to stuffed artichokes, but as a New Orleans newb, I couldn’t seem to get away from them.  My coworker & good friend Kathy inducted me into the world of choked ‘chokes and there was no turning back.

On their own, artichokes have all sorts of health benefits: antioxidants, fiber, aid in digestion, reduce bad cholesterol, and they’re great for your liver.

And if you cram ‘em full of bread crumbs, garlic, & Parmesan cheese, they are positively INSANE.  Great for a party or family gathering….basically anywhere there will be other people to assist you demolishing it, lest you eat the whole thing yourself (NOT recommended).

Note: This recipe comes from Kathy’s grandma, and has not been significantly altered or healthed-up.  There are a few other lower-fat versions out there that I might try sometime, but for this go-round, I wanted 100% genuine New Orleans.

 

Ingredients:

1 medium artichoke (choose one that is not too compact or tight)

1 cup bread crumbs (we used seasoned, since it’s what we had on hand)
5 large cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
3/8 C Wesson oil
1/8 C Olive oil

 

Directions:

Cut the stem off to make the base flat. Cut off about ½ in of the top, and then snip the remaining leaves to remove “stickers”. Open the leaves by pushing the artichoke on the counter upside down. Rinse artichoke well. Drain and set aside.

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Mix the remaining ingredients together well. The mixture should resemble Graham Cracker crust consistency: it can be flattened with the bowl of a spoon and the mixture sticks together.

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Place a large spoonful of mixture in the center of the artichoke. Starting in the center of the artichoke, stuff each leaf. Use small spoon to scoop mixture, and push mixture into opening between leaves with your fingers.

 

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When all leaves are full, add a thin slice of lemon to the top center. Cut another slice into quarters and arrange them on the 4 quadrants of the artichoke. (Note: we didn’t have a lemon on-hand, so I just spritzed with a bit of lemon juice.

Select a pot in which the artichoke will fit tightly, and also has a tight fitting cover. Place about ¼ inch water in the pot along with a few drops of olive oil. Add the artichoke (right side up). Bring the water to a boil, then turn down heat, cover and simmer one hour or until leaves come out easily and taste tender. Watch that the water does not all boil off. Add more water if needed.

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Remove artichoke from water and allow to cool. Cover and freeze when cool, or refrigerate until serving time. Frozen artichokes may be re-heated in the microwave.

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So, if you’re an artichoke newb, perhaps you’re wondering “how do I EAT this highly delectable looking concoction you’ve created, Bobbi?”  Lucky for you, there’s this thing called the internet.  I’m pretty sure you can Google “how to wipe my tukkus” and get a YouTube tutorial. 

But seriously…if you don’t know how, check out the tutorial, lest you end up with a mouth full of undigestable fibrous roughage….like my poor husband did.  But fear not, he’s now properly trained—and thank goodness, so I don’t have to try to eat this whole thing myself!  YUM!

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NutriFacts: (makes 12 servings, about 3-4 petals per serving)

Calories 153.2

  Total Fat 11.4 g

  Saturated Fat 2.6 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 7.3 g

  Cholesterol 5.0 mg

  Sodium 302.5 mg

  Potassium 74.3 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 8.6 g

  Dietary Fiber 1.1 g

  Sugars 0.6 g

  Protein 4.4 g

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crawchos!!! (aka Crawfish Nachos)

This is an invention of my cousin Primo’s, that he dreamed up back in the day when we were still roommates in Lafayette.  Of course, back then, it was just an idea, a loose concept.  But since that time, Primo’s had a chance to perfect it into a pretty tasty dish.  And while I was down in Louisiana for work last week, he was cool enough to teach me his recipe.  This makes a pretty big batch, so it’s great for a party, and a great way to use up leftover crawfish tails after a boil!

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Ingredients: (this has been slightly health-i-fied from the original)

32 oz block of Velveeta (2%), cubed

8 oz fat free cream cheese, cubed

14 oz can sweet corn, drained

2 tbsp jalapeno slices, diced

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning

10 oz can of Mexican Rotel, drained

4-6 oz light beer (I’ll recommend Abita Light to keep it Cajun)

1 lb crawfish tails (preferably leftover from a crawfish boil so they have some good spice)

1 tbsp dry Crab Boil seasoning

Tortilla chips

Sliced green onions or cilantro (optional—we didn’t have them, but I think it would make a nice garnish & add another pop of flavor)

 

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat the corn over medium-low heat & season with the Cajun seasoning.  Stir occasionally.  This is to pull some of the moisture out of the corn, to give it a crunchier texture.  After about 5 minutes, add the jalapenos & continue to stir.

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P.S.  Now’s a good time to have one of these:

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(My favorite time of year—Strawberry Lager season!)

And of course, what’s an episode of FeauxCajun Kitchen without some canine sous chefs?

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(“Furreals Dad…just ONE piece of cream cheese.  But don’t try stickin’ that heartworm pill in there again. I’m on to your schemes.”)

In a large pot, combine Velveeta, cream cheese, rotel, crab boil seasoning, and beer over medium heat. 

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Stir periodically until smooth & creamy, then add crawfish & corn mixture.

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Continue to cook until crawfish are heated through, stirring frequently to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch.

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Arrange your chips on a plate and then pour the crawfish cheese sauce over the chips.

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Proceed to chow down!!!

 

Nutrifacts (makes 12 servings):

Calories 370.2

  Total Fat 13.7 g

  Saturated Fat 6.3 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 2.9 g

  Cholesterol 88.0 mg

  Sodium 1,869.9 mg

  Potassium 359.8 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 34.0 g

  Dietary Fiber 2.4 g

  Sugars 8.1 g

  Protein 26.7 g

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Restaurant Review: Cowbell in NOLA

 

I had a bit of time to kill when I flew into New Orleans for work this past week, so my friend Kathy (yes, the awesome artist Kathy, who is now also an instructor at my old alma Mater, University of New Orleans) recommended Cowbell, not far from her house in Old Jefferson.  As I walked up, I noticed that Cowbell is situated inside of what looks to be a former service station, and thought, “yup, this is my kinda place.”

There’s plenty of outside seating, but since the weather was a little iffy, I pulled up a stool at the diner-style bar inside.

SO many things on their menu looked UH-MAZ-ING, but I was a lady on a mission.  Kathy had recommended the Natural Beef Burger with their Zinfandel, Bacon and Onion Compote.

In the meantime, I ordered a glass of their oh-so-delicious sangria, checked out the scenery, and read a bit of David Sedaris.

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With light fixtures made from antique cans and industrial-sized whisks, waiters in Pantera t-shirts, waitresses in floral aprons,  golden oldies on the radio, and of course, a small tribute to Christopher Walken on the wall, this place is a refreshing, eclectic mix of kitsch and kewt.

My burger arrived, quiet & unassuming, accompanied by a sea of sea-salted fries that beckoned to me. 

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Everything about this basket screamed “fresh”.  It wasn’t so hard to imagine that the tomatoes and lettuce had been in someone’s garden that morning.  Did I mention it’s served on a potato roll?  ‘Cuz you know me—I like as many potatoes in my meal as possible.

I added a smidge of ketchup & mustard and proceeded to chow down.  And the next thing I knew that burger was GONE.  I tried to take my time, savor each mouth-watering bite…but it was near impossible.  The bacon & onion compote was THE perfect complement to the char of the burger.

And the fries..my soul, the FRIIIIIIIIES.  Crisp & fresh with a perfect pop of sea salt.  It was a HUUUUUUUGE pile o’ fries, and I somehow finished them.  Probably with the help of the delicious spicy garlic aioli and housemade ketchup that were strategically located right in front of my seat.

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(You need more Cowbell…and more garlic aioli.)

So…quite obviously, if you find yourself in New Orleans & in need of the best burger of yo’ LIFE… you need to take a leisurely drive down to the end of River Road (where it turns into Leake Avenue) & turn onto Oak Street.  Or you can also get there from Carrollton (again…turn onto Oak Street).

Go. NOW. Ya hear???

MORE COWBELL!