Growing up in rural Mississippi, pho wasn't a meal that we had easy access to. Our little town had a few local diners, one Chinese buffet, one Mexican restaurant, and a small handful of fast food chains. I was actually oblivious to the delightfulness of pho until my 20's, when I moved to Jackson, MS. My first experience with homemade pho came only a few summers ago, while visiting my California gal pals in the Bay area. It was a great weekend packed with lots of outdoor adventures and lots of good food!
I recently had a run in with a mean little case of the winter crud. It kicked me out of commission for a bit, but I let my body fight the bug battle while I drifted in and out of snoozeland. During this wild rollercoaster ride between feverish sleep and reality, I dreamed of eating wonderful soup made with rich shiitake mushrooms in a velvety bisque of caramelized onions. So naturally, when I regained enough strength to get back into my kitchen, I made a big batch of bisque!
January 10th is a day that will make me smile for years to come! Last year on this day, my now fiancé and I were gallivanting around New Orleans. He had never visited this favorite city of mine, so I had a grand time showing him the sites and visiting with dear friends. On the last day of the trip, before heading to the airport, we took one last stroll around the French Quarter. As we passed through Jackson Square, where street musicians filled our ears with jazz and the sweet smell of beignets lingered in the air, my darlin' popped the question! It was the perfect day and we celebrated the memory this past weekend with a big ol' pot of etouffée! Cajun etouffée is usually made with just crawfish, but you will find the dish with shrimp being the star of the show as well. Since we were celebrating, I decided to make it with both!
Pork chops are one of those things that can be really hit or miss. I am usually leery of ordering them when I am dining out because I don't want to chance it and end up with a dry piece of something that makes me feel like I am chomping on an old sneaker! That being said, I have had some delicious ones at restaurants as well. One scrumptious one that comes to mind was served at Emeril's Delmonico in my beloved city of New Orleans. My dad makes a mean chop too and he is the one who set the bar high on pork chops for me.
Filets are one of my go to items to prepare for friends and family on special occasions, or even when we aren't celebrating anything other than good company! A few years ago, I lived in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to moving into my loft, my aunt took me around the city on an apartment hunt. After a long day of debating my future dwellings, she surprised me with a visit to this magical place I immediately fell in love with... the Westside Market.
My mom has been a vegetarian since before I was born. My father isn't a vegetarian, but he loves to grow and cook vegetables. I had a good mix of both worlds in my diet growing up and I am very thankful for this because I enjoy cooking vegetarian and meat meals.
I became very intrigued with the process of brining meats after watching a demonstration video from Alton Brown's show, Good Eats. Alton is one of my all time favorite chefs because he is so straight forward. He always gives the 411 on food science and busts a lot of cooking myths along the way. My fiancé took me to see one of Alton's live shows a few years ago, and it was great... if you are a foodie, I recommend going to a show if he comes your way! He is quite the comedian too.
There are two variations of jambalaya, Cajun and Creole. They are both insanely delicious, but the difference between the two comes down to tomatoes. Creole versions incorporate them while Cajun ones do not. The term Creole originally referred to people who were born to the settlers in French colonial Louisiana. French Creole refers to people with European ancestry who were born in the colony, while Louisiana Creole refers to mixed ancestry. Creole food has a mix of cultural influences of New Orleans. Cajun cuisine got its roots from the French Acadian settlers in the swamps and prairies of southwest Louisiana, and their cuisine was more rustic.
Fall is such a great time to experiment with seasonal dishes. It is the time of everything pumpkin! I am not a huge fan of the pumpkin spice flavored coffees (no judgment!), but I love cooking with this yummy fall fruit!
Recently, my dad has been experimenting with tamales and this caught my interest as well. These cute little fellas are so delicious, but I have been scared away from making them before because they all call for a substantial amount of lard. My dad didn't think this was necessary and he was right! We both worked on our versions and found that they can be just as tasty with some alterations. Keep the flavor, cut the fat!