Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Break: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

I am off to Tucson tomorrow, and I haven't even blogged about my New Orleans trip yet! UGH! So I will offer less by way of narrative, but a tasty tour of our awesome eats in the Crescent City with some brief comments and many pictures that I hope you will enjoy...


Napoleon House: Seafood Gumbo (excellent!), Muffaletta (the first stop on my self-declared Muffaletta Tour of NOLA was sub-standard and disappointing), and a Pimm’s Cup (the house cocktail--like grown-up lemonade with a cucumber garnish, very refreshing!)

Café du Monde: Beignets and Café au Lait (doesn't get much betta!)


Omelette with Cream Cheese, Red Peppers, and Scallions (that my dear friend and hostess, June, made for me! YUM!)

Tammany Yacht Club’s Marina Café (Slidell): Green Salad with Homemade Creole Mustard Dressing (I will be replicating this dressing at home), Fried Shrimp and Fries with Thai Chili Mayo (24 big, fresh, crispy shrimp--wow!--that I made better by requesting the chili mayo from a different entree), and Sweet Tea

Chartres House (pronounced by locals as "Chowda House"): Corn and Crab Bisque (the ubiquitous soup of New Orleans that I dearly love)

Bread Pudding with Brandy-Soaked Raisins and Tipsy Sauce (that June made--so good!)


La Madeleine (Mandeville): Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad (yummy), Croque Monsieur (also yummy), and Tomato-Basil Soup (the house specialty, but needed a packet of sugar to counteract the acidity, IMHO)

O’Henry’s Food & Spirits*: Half-Pound Burger on Texas Toast with Swiss Cheese, Sauteed Mushrooms, and their famously creamy "Monica Sauce" and Fries (I couldn't eat seafood multiple times every day!)

*We ate our dinner at O'Henry's before taking the streetcar down to Tulane to see former Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, do a reading of his wonderful and often hysterically-funny poems. So fun!!

Camellia Grill: Grilled Pecan Pie with Bluebell Vanilla Ice Cream (there are no words)


Camellia Café (Slidell): Muffaletta (SUPERB! I daresay, better than Central Grocery--perhaps because it's toasted) and Shrimp and Squash Casserole (I am going to have to try and replicate this--kind of like Thanksgiving stuffing but spicier and with shrimp and squash involved, DELISH)

Gazebo Café: Margarita (frozen--perfect!)

Paneed Pork Cheeks with Goat Cheese, Arugula & Beet Rosti (no pic, because we gobbled it up too fast--this was TO DIE FOR!)

Housemade Andouille with Grits, Baby Limas, Goat Cheese & Crushed Herbs (ditto)

Roasted Pork Shoulder Stuffed with Herbs, Wedged Potatoes, and Fried Spinach

Bacon Pralines (from their house boucherie around the corner--sinful!)

*This was my one "special" dinner, and I cannot say enough about this incredible restaurant! After dinner, I struck up a conversation with friendly house manager and fellow Chowhounder, Preston Trahan, and he procured for me an autographed menu from chef, Stephen Stryjewski, whose signature was prefaced with "Eat more pork!" (Tee hee...am I a foodie nerd, or what?) If you are able, RUN do not walk to Cochon, but I advise you to avoid ordering an entree and just get three or four small plates so that you get to sample more of their amazing fare!

Café du Monde: Frozen Café au Lait (a thousand times better than Starbucks' frappucinos!)


Surrey Café:

Lafitte Omelette with Brie and Avocado and a Lump Crabmeat Sauce, Hash Browns, and a Housemade Sesame Bagel (funky little joint, great food)

Kenny’s Seafood (Slidell):

Boiled Crawfish, Shrimp, Corn, Garlic Heads, Potatoes, Onions, Celery, Green Peppers and Spices (big family throwdown at June's sister's house--FUN!!!)

Irish Cupcakes (my contribution to the party and in honor of St. Pat's--recipe follows)


Olive Garden (I know, I know! But it was June's sweet mother's choice, and she invited us to join her. What are you gonna do?): Salad & Breadsticks, Chicken and Gnocchi Soup (a new soup offering--pretty good), and Lasagna Fritta (really good--decadent!)

Dry Dock* (Algiers--not to be confused with the bar of the same name in Plattsburgh): Muffaletta (decent, but not a contender) and Sweet Potato Fries

*This is where we grabbed a bite near the ferry dock in Algiers right before we played the "hardest trivia game in New Orleans" at a little dive/English pub called the Crown and Anchor. There was truth in advertising, as the trivia was TOUGH! So we lost, but we sure had fun on my last night in New Orleans.

Irish Cupcakes
(Source: Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Bailey's Frosting:
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Bailey's (or you may substitute milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin, beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar. Ice and decorate the cupcakes.

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day or two.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Wow that looks SO good! I like your blog!