Saturday, May 23, 2009

New Website!!!

The Catholic Foodie has officially moved to a new server.

The address?

Come visit us!

Of course, this location will remain up. So, you can still see all the older posts. But, I am also moving all of the older posts to the new location, one bit at a time.

Come see us over at The Catholic Foodie™... Where food meets faith!™

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5 Favorite Cookbooks

As I have said before, I love cookbooks. And I have many "favorites."

If a cookbook is nothing more than a collection of recipes, I am usually not very impressed. I have many such cookbooks. Some of them remain on my shelf untouched. Others I look through from time to time because they really do contain wonderful recipes. But what I really want is a good story. Or, better, a bunch of good stories.

The cookbooks below are on my "favorites" list because they tell great stories. They also contain great recipes. I realize that four of the five are Louisiana-specific. I admit it... I love our culture here. It is very rich. And the food in South Louisiana is unbeatable.

Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. I have many more favorites. But these are the ones I share with you today.

1. Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans

The Gulf Coast took a beating from Katrina. She devastated entire cities / towns, while damaging others beyond belief. The damage she inflicted on New Orleans scattered its people across the nation. Many New Orleanians had no home to return to. They had lost everything.

Shortly after the storm, the Times-Picayune began to reprint recipes from its archives to help exiles experience a bit of home.

Louisiana readers from all over the country started to submit their own recipes too. Some submitted them from memory (they had lost everything in the storm). Others submitted from their saved recipes.

Cooking is a way of life in South Louisiana, and to cook those old familiar dishes while in exile was a way to connect to home.

This cookbook contains those recipes. It tells a wonderful story.

2. Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True

Abita beer. I love it!

Amber, Turbodog, Mardi Gras Bock, Jockamo, Purple Haze, the new Abbey Ale, and the Andygator... and many more! It's great that it's local. The brewery is right down the street from me. And its beer is available in over 40 states.

This book came about through a "supper club" of sorts. Famous chefs from across Louisiana (or outside of Louisiana, but having a strong connection to our culture) prepared meals that paired well with various Abita beers. In many cases the chefs actually prepared the meals using the beers as ingredients.

With the help of one of my favorite food authors, Marcelle, Bienvenue, this book took shape and was finally published in October 2008. It is a beautiful book too. It would make a great coffetable book.

I am currently preparing a review of this cookbook.

3. Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run

Talk about a story!

Alton Brown followed the Mississippi River from its mouth to its source... on a motorcycle!

With a small crew in tow, he stopped at some of the best hole-in-the-walls to dine. All the restaurants were family-owned.

This book is really a companion to the Food Network series by the same name. It is a fun book. The story will "wow" you. And the presentation is so creative. I haven't seen anything like it. A hard cardboard cover. Colorful. And the pages are peppered with Alton's hand-written field notes.

This book gives you a peek into soul of Alton Brown. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

You can listen to my more detailed comments on this cookbook in episode 2 of the Catholic Foodie. I also wrote a blog post on it.

4. Louisiana Real and Rustic

Real & Rustic is a classic. I can't tell you how many times I have used this book. Lots and lots, though. Splattered and smelly, the pages bear battle scars from my frequent excursions in the kitchen.

You can find all of the traditional Louisiana recipes here. This is not "fancy" food. Not expensive. This is down-home cooking done right.

I make his Pepper-Stuffed Turkey every Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I follow that up a few days later with his Turkey-Bone Gumbo. These are family favorites.

This is a great book. A must-have in any Louisiana kitchen.

5. Who's Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux? (Book 1): A Cajun / Creole Family Album Cookbook

What can I say about Marcelle? Other than the fact that she is my favorite food author? How about this... She either authored or co-authored 3 other books on this list!

Just look at the title. Can you imagine a better title for the Louisiana-born-and-raised Catholic Foodie? I can't!

Not only is this book filled with down-home Louisiana recipes, but it tells a great story of Marcelle's growing up in South Louisiana. She's a phenomenal chef. And she includes family recipes as well as some of her own creations.

Family. There's lots of family in these pages. And she clearly presents the connection between food and family... and food and faith.

In my humble opinion, every Catholic foodie should have this book in his or her kitchen.

Don't have it? Get it!

I submit these 5 cookbooks as some of my favorites. Check them out. They may become some of your favorites too.

What are your favorite cookbooks? Let me know!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Sensational Sensation Salad

I love cookbooks.

I never really follow a recipe exactly, but I find so much inspiration and good ideas in cookbooks that I just can't get enough of them.

A publisher recently sent me a cookbook to review. I am not finished reading it (and practicing with it!), but so far I am very much impressed. I want to share one recipe with you today. I love this recipe!

Sensation Salad. Ever heard of it?

I always thought that the Sensation Salad was a standard all over. But, apparently, I was wrong. In reading Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, I came to know that the Sensation Salad originated at the old Bob & Jake's Restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA. Now, this was a while back. I grew up in Baton Rouge and I don't remember Bob & Jake's. It must have closed before, or soon after, I was born (almost 40 years ago!). Thankfully, other restaurants adopted the salad, and it is still served in Baton Rouge today.

Now, I have been eating "Sensation Salad" all my life. Well, at least a variation of it. Cooking up a Storm taught me the original recipe, and I discovered that mine was somewhat lacking.

My usual recipe consists of lots of garlic (4 or 5 cloves, crushed), lots of lemon juice (half or whole lemon, depending), and kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Oh, and about half a cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil (affectionately known as EVOO in our house - thanks Rachel Ray!). I got this recipe from Char... who got it from her mother (thank you Mama Tee!). We use romaine lettuce, and we often top it with grated Romano cheese. A bit tart and delicious, with a garlicky bite!

The original Sensation Salad includes all of these ingredients plus a few more: red wine vinegar and fresh chopped parsley. Adding red wine vinegar (3 tablespoons) necessitates a reduction in lemon juice. But, it adds a wonderful flavor, and color, to the dressing.

Keep an eye out for the official review. I should post it in the next couple of weeks. Also, you can listen in as Char and I make this dressing on episode 18 of the Catholic Foodie.

Do you have a favorite salad? What is it?

**Photo credit: Graham Ballantyne**

Friday, May 15, 2009

Disqus Test Post

This is a test to see if the new Disqus commenting system is working properly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pizza is Heavenly!

"Psalm of the day: You ought to make pizza at home. You ought to have a broad, flat baking stone in your oven and a peel with which to move the pie about, and you ought to use them both often, for reasons of thrift and deliciousness. No stone? No peel? These are available online if you don’t have a restaurant-supply or housewares store nearby. The combination shouldn’t run more than $50. Use the things five times over the year, and they’ll pay for themselves in what you’ll save by not calling Ray’s or Tony’s or the Albanian joint for a large. You might make bread on the stone as well, or use it to revive day-old bagels." - From Sam Sifton's New York Times Magazine's article.

Like pizza? I'm waiting on mine to come out of the oven now!

That pic above? Oh, that was an incredible pizza we ordered from Pizza Man of Covington for my daughter's 7th birthday. It's called the Pizza Palace, and it is topped with homemade Italian sausage, pepperoni, blanched green peppers, meatballs and onions. And... it ROCKS the house!!!

Pizza Man is known not only for incredible pizza, but also for the myriad of pizza boxes that decorate his walls.

Do you have a favorite dive or hole-in-the-wall pizza place near you?

What Am I Craving Right Now?


I know, I know. I wrote (and spoke) all about this in parts 1 & 2 of episode 7: That's Amore! and That's More Amore! But I am just craving that wonderfully delicious work of art known as PIZZA!

So, I stopped by the grocery and picked up a few essentials. I am going to make my dough right now. And when it's ready in a few hours... BAM! I'm making pizza!!!

If you are interested, here is the recipe I use for my dough.

If you want more recipes for pizza, check out Foodista:
Pizza on Foodista

Also check out Michael Ruhlman on Pizza. And then there's that article by Sam Sifton in the New York Times Magazine. Oh yeah, these articles will get your mouth a'waterin'!

I hope you're hungry!

Do you make pizza at home? What is your favorite pizza recipe or pizza place?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Culinary Catastrophe

It happened again.

Another culinary catastrophe.

Great idea. Great recipe. Great intentions. But not enough time to do it justice. And then there was the accident.

Here's what happened....

My friend Lorraine over at The Copywriters' Kitchen posted an excellent recipe for Chicken Teriyaki. After reading her post, I couldn't stop thinking about that dish. I HAD to make it last night.

Of course, making this particular dish would necessitate a trip to the grocery. No problem. I could stop by on my way home after school. The recipe was simple enough and I should have plenty of time to get it on and have it ready for dinner.

Well, you know me... I can't follow a recipe verbatim. I always change things up. And for this recipe I planned to prepare it in a crock pot. See, we had the final Mass last night for the kids' PSR (Parish School of Religion - sometimes known as CCD). I figured I could get everything in the pot and let it cook for about 4 hours, so that it would be ready once we got home around 8.

I am terrible with time. No sense of it at all. So, the grocery took longer than I thought. Getting everything in the crock pot took longer than I thought. And I didn't have time to put the rice on before leaving for church. We use brown rice, so it takes a good 45 minutes to cook.

As I sat in Mass, a fear began to gnaw at me: it's not going to be ready. It's not going to be ready and everybody is starving... and Char will be upset because we will have another late night. I felt the darkness closing in.

But then... a ray of hope! I had an idea. I would go home, transfer the Chicken Teriyaki to an All-Clad pot and rev up the stove. Surely it will be done by the time the rice is ready. And another ray of hope - Mass ended 45 minutes earlier than I thought it would. Perfect! The day is saved, I thought.

But the day wasn't saved.

We got home. I put the rice on. I revved up the stove. Put the All-Clad pot in the sink so that it would be easier to pour the contents of the crock pot into it. I began the transfer. Everything went well until I went to set the crock pot down on the edge of the sink. I guess I set it down too hard. It cracked into about 5 pieces! I felt so disappointed... awful.

I checked and I didn't see any crock pot particles in the food, so I put it on the stove. And, voila! In 45 minutes we were ready to eat! And it was delicious!

Now, I was upset about the crock pot. I had pulled it out of the pantry a few days earlier, and I was planning to use it frequently over the next few weeks.

Not any more. Bummer.

And guess what else... There were crock pot fragments in the food. I chomped down on a goodly-sized piece. Checked the pot again. Sure enough, I found more pieces. Now I was angry. I am sure there were tiny pieces, or flakes, that we ate. I am not happy about that. More disappointment.

Lorraine, it tasted great! I love the recipe and I will make it again. But next time I will follow your recipe to a T.

If you have been reading, or listening to, The Catholic Foodie for while, you may remember that I posted a culinary catastrophe before. I called it The Spud Dud. You may want to check that one out too. It shows how terrible I can be in the kitchen.

Do you have a culinary catastrophe story you would like to share? Leave a comment here.