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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Stout Beef Roast

Mara at What's for Dinner? graciously invited me over as a dinner guest yesterday. Well... as an internet dinner guest. She published one of my articles as a guest post. I am posting it here as well (with a few minor modifications).


So I had a sirloin roast in my fridge... For two days.

I had no idea what to do with it, but I had a hankering for beer. Good beer. So I went to the grocery. Browsing in the (upscale) beer section, I saw it: Murphy's Stout. No, not to drink. This brew was for the roast!

To be honest, I did buy beer to drink too. Abita Abbey Ale, Abita Turbodog, and a Lobster Lovers Beer. What? Too much? I don't think so! You gotta have something to sip on in the kitchen!

So I poured myself a cold one (or two!) and I got to work.

This is what I needed, and this is what I did:


  • 1 4 lbs. Beef Roast, at room temperature

  • 2 to 3 tbsp Salt and freshly ground pepper, or to taste

  • ⅛ to ¼ tsp Ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 2 pint Beer (Stout), at room temperature

  • 2 to 3 Russet Potatoes, cubed

  • 3 or 4 Carrots, diced

  • 7 to 9 cloves Garlic, sliced thickly

  • 3 medium to large Onions, sliced length-wise

  • 3 to 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

  • 1 Lemon, juice of

1. Make numerous small slits in both sides of the roast (space them evenly). Stuff the slits with the sliced garlic. I slice the garlic into small, thick pieces so that they will fit into the slits.

2. Liberally season the roast with coarse ground sea salt and black pepper. Rub it in well.

3. In a hot dutch oven or large pot, pour enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom. Brown both sides of the roast for several minutes. Then, transfer to crockpot.

4. Add a bit of water to the hot dutch oven or pot. With a strong spatula or large spoon, scrape the bottom to loosen up the debris. Add water and debris to the crockpot. Then add Worcestershire Sauce.

5. Pour 2 pints of Stout (I use Murphy's Stout... not too expensive. About $1.50/can.) to the crockpot. At this point, the roast should be covered with liquid.

6. Add the onions, potatoes, carrots to the crockpot. You could also put some on the bottom the crockpot before you put the roast in.

7. Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for 3 or 4 hours.

8. Turn crockpot down to low and let cook for several hours (5 or more?).

9. Add the juice of one lemon and extra salt & cayenne to taste.

10. Serve with rice.

NOTE: Just made this the other day. I cooked it on high for about 3 to 4 hours, then turned it to low and cooked it for about 8 more hours! Delicious and fall-off-the-fork tender.

(Serves 10)

Wendesday Reader for May 6

Here are a few posts I starred today in my Google Reader:

What have you read today?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Salsa de Mayo

Embedded Recipe Image (Unsupported on IE 7 and earlier)
Salsa de Mayo

A basic salsa based on Chili's famous salsa.


  1. 2 14.5 cans tomatoes & green chilies
  2. 2 14.5 cans whole tomatoes (plus the juice!)
  3. 3 to 5 jalapeno peppers, seeded (reserve seeds)
  4. 1/2 cup onion (white or yellow)
  5. 4 to 5 cloves of garlic (more if desired)
  6. 2 teaspoons cumin
  7. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon honey
  8. Salt to taste


  1. In a food processor blend onions, garlic, and jalapenos for just a bit. You don't want to process them too much. Just until they are "chopped."
  2. Add all the cans of tomatoes with the salt, honey, and cumin.
  3. Process until well-blended (do not puree!)
  4. Add reserved jalapeno seeds TO TASTE! Not too many... they are hot!
  5. Salt to taste.
  6. Chill for an hour or two (if desired - this is not absolutely necessary, but it does allow the flavors to come together).
Search, share, and cook your recipes on Mac OS X with SousChef!

We use a large Cuisinart to make this salsa.
• Everything is to taste! Sometimes we add more cumin, sometimes more salt, sometimes more garlic. Don't be afraid to experiment.
• We love to serve this with blue corn chips.

Photo Credit: Ratterrell

Be a Catholic Company Reviewer

Are you a blogger? A podcaster?

Do you like to review books and/or DVDs?

Then you will be happy to know that the Catholic Company is looking for reviewers!

How does it work? They give you a handful of books or DVDs to choose from. Pick one. They ship it to you free of charge. You review it and post the review to your blog, or discuss it on your podcast. Then, repeat the process. It's that simple.

You do have to apply to become a reviewer, but it is a simple process. Chris at the Catholic Company responded to my request within 30 minutes.

Go ahead. Go to the reviewer page. Give it a shot.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Catholic New Media Awards 2009

Nominations for the 2009 CNMA are now open.

The Catholic New Media Awards is the successor to the Catholic Blog Awards and will highlight other areas of Catholic New Media including Catholic Podcasts.

The nomination period for this year's awards began on May 1, 2009. Voting is to begin on June 1, 2009.

In order to nominate, you will have to create an account. But, believe me, it is painless. And, besides, then you'll get to nominate your favorite blogs and podcasts!

Here are the categories for this year's awards:

People's Choice Blog
Best Blog by a Cleric
Best Blog by a Religious
Best Blog by a Man
Best Blog by a Woman
Best Group Blog
Best Written Blog
Most Spiritual Blog
Most Informative Blog
Funniest Blog
Most Entertaining Blog
Best New Blog

People's Choice Podcast
Best Podcast by a Cleric
Best Podcast by a Religious
Best Podcast by a Man
Best Podcast by a Woman
Best Group Podcast
Most Informative Podcast
Best Produced Podcast
Most Spiritual Podcast
Best New Podcast
Funniest Podcast
Most Entertaining Podcast
Best Video Podcast

Web 2.0
Best Catholic News Website
Best Social Networking Site
Best Overall Catholic Website

If you have no idea which blogs or podcasts you would nominate, then I humbly suggest you consider where you are hearing about these awards (like... here!).

Seriously, if you do enjoy The Catholic Foodie blog and podcast, I would ask you to consider nominating it for an award.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Abita Beer ROCKS!

Ever heard of Abita Beer? I certainly hope so!

We have reviewed both the Abbey Ale and the Strawberry Harvest Lager in previous shows.

In this episode, I take you to the Abita brewery to meet Mr. David Blossman, the President of Abita Brewing Company.

Abita Brewing Company started in 1986 just north of New Orleans in Abita Springs, LA. It was the first, and today is the largest, craft brewer in the Southeast.

Abita strives to craft quality beers, using only the finest ingredients and the "pure artesian water of Abita Springs." That's right... artesian water. Very cool.

Abita brews 7 flagship, or year-round, beers: Amber, Light, Golden, Jockamo, Purple Haze, Restoration, and Turbodog.

There are 5 seasonal beers: Bock, Red Ale, Wheat, Fall Fest, and Christmas Ale.

Two harvest brews: Strawberry and Pecan.

Two "big beers:" the Andygator and Abbey Ale.

And a Select label, which changes every few months.

Want to find out if Abita Beer is available in your neighborhood? Check out the Abita Beer locator.

Recently, Abita published a cookbook: Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana. I hope to review this cookbook for you soon.

Also on the menu today... Abita Turbodog! Imagine that... I spend some time talking with David Blossman and I just have to have a beer when I get home! Listen as I review this excellent beer.

Leave feedback at or call the listener feedback line at 985-635-4974.

You can download episode 17 here or listen to it below:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fast and Foodie on Food2

Are you up for some new foodie fare?

Then check this out.

The owner of Food Network, Scripps Networks, launched Food2 on Friday, May 1. Food2 is a foodie fiesta, featuring video, recipes & tips, challenges, and its own blog.

Food2 is highly interactive. It's a foodie website that really incorporates social media. It's more than just a recipe site. It's a conversation about all things foodie. And, with full Facebook and Twitter integration, it allows you to take the conversation beyond the borders of Food2.

There are over 1000 videos on Food2, all about food and drink and cooking. They are fun, entertaining, useful... and portable! You can share them with friends or embed them on your own website.

Do you need new recipes? Tips on how to prepare a certain dish? Or do you have recipes and tips to share? You can do it all on Food2.

One of the cool things I like about Food2 is the challenges. The Great Food Shoot Out is a challenge that will begin in a couple of weeks. They want to see your food photography and, in exchange, you could win prizes... and a little glory. And, hey, I like prizes and glory!

Make sure you check out Food2!

You can find them
at Food2
and on Twitter
and on Facebook

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Catholic Foodie Readers on TV Cooking vs. Real Cooking

Last week I posted this article on The Catholic Foodie page on Facebook: TV Cooking vs. Real Cooking. The article generated some good discussion, so I figured I would share it here.

These are the thoughts of those who commented on the Facebook page:

Christie Martin:
On television, the audience sits politely on chairs, in mine the audience of children, husband, and friends are involved in the act, tasting, kibbutzing, and peeking. I guess the dog might be like the camera: always watching, in the way a little, and hoping for a dramatic spill!

Daniel Burns:
The foodnetwork kitchens always have the most wonderful bowls, plates, glasses, etc. We don't. A foodnetwork kitchen is always clean. Our's isn't. A Foodnetwork kitchen always has all their ingredients pre-prepared. Our's doesn't. And have you noticed that in a foodnetwork "trinity" or mir poi everything is precisely the same size and exactly cubical...heck, you would have thought Picasso did the chopping.

The Catholic Foodie:
Yes, Danny. My kitchen is nothing like FoodNetwork. Definitely not as clean. Not as posh. The chef isn't as good (me), and THERE IS NO SOUS CHEF. The most tedious part of cooking is the prep. Now, thankfully, I love cooking, so it is not much of a burden to me... unless I am in a hurry.

Karin Coll:
Oh, it may not be as fancy or well stocked but I can put out meals that make my family happy....and ironically, not many come from yes, there is a big difference! We have kids that have to like what they are eating...just a little bit! And about the divine in meals... Amen, amen I say. Jesus was always at the table. I find it interesting that families that eat together have better lasting relationships...there was some study years ago about this...we eat dinner together about 5 out of 7 days. I always sit with the kids when dad is not in town! community is in all we do!

Daniel Burns:
The foodnetwork is pretty awesome. It is virtually all we watch. I wonder if some study has been done to see if and how it has revolutionized cooking in the standard American home.

Christi and I are lucky in that we both come from families that are very proud of our culinary tradition (both of us are some mixture of Acadian and Italian), but the Foodnetwork has exposed us to other ethnic cuisines that we may have otherwise been either ignorant of or only tried in a resturant.

Roy Petitfils:
Thanks for sharing that Jeff. I'd never heard of him. I read Andrew Knowlton and Michael Ruhlman's blogs, but I like Bittman and Bittens. As to the point of his blot.

I tend to agree-to an extent. Actually, in the early days of the network they filmed episodes with plenty of imperfections. Bobby Flay messed up as did Mario Batali. That's all gone now, and so seems to be Batali. Emeril was probably one of the worst with the prep stuff on his live show. A team of people making his food come together. I always wonder how good it really tastes.

That being said, most of them have actually spent years in commercial Kitchens slugging it out. Nowadays there's a bunch of pretty newcomers whose ears are still wet from culinary school wanting the celeb status that has found the Flays, Emerils and Batali's.

Have you read any of Michael Ruhlman's books? "The Soul of a Chef", "The Making of a Chef" and "The Reach of a Chef"? The making of a chef was my favorite since I really did want to go to culinary school. One of my life's only regrets. He spends a year at the CIA and chronicles his journey. Great read, by a great writer. "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain is rather profane, but interesting. Again, a good writer.

So, what about you? How does your kitchen measure up to Food Network?

Are You Like Me?

I love to cook. Some people garden to "get away from it all" and relax. For me, it's the kitchen, not the garden. The kitchen is a magical place where my troubles recede and the joy of cooking and living takes center stage. If it was up to me, I would spend the majority of the day in the kitchen. But I know that most people are not like me.

I like to take my time cooking. I tend to take the scenic route. Sometimes that unnerves my family. The kids are impatient and Char would like to eat early. I'm a night owl and I like to eat late. Try as I might, I can't seem to speed things up.

When I bake bread, I knead by hand. When I cook a gumbo, I chop the onions, bell peppers, and celery with care and attention. And, of course, the roux takes a good 35 minutes.

No one taught me how to cook. I taught myself with practice. When I was in the seminary in Mexico, I was put in charge of a cooking team that rotated weekends with three other teams: the Italians, the French, and the Mexicans. Why? Because I was from Louisiana and, surely, I must have been a culinary sophisticate. True, I excelled in the kitchen, and I often joined in on the other weekends... just because. And I learned.

Everything about the kitchen fascinates me. The tools and gadgets, the pots and pans, the cutting boards and wooden salad bowl, my wooden spoons... and my mortar and pestle. I have a particular love for my mortar and pestle. Wood. Darkened by olive oil and years of beating garlic.

And then there are the smells. The feel of the food in my hands. I become an alchemist in the kitchen, striving to make the magic with simple ingredients. Eating is secondary. Lagniappe. A bonus.

What about eating? The dinner table is another matter for another post. But, after cooking, eating is not that important. Meals with the family and seeing them enjoy my creation... that is the fulfillment, the culmination of the process.

Yes, I love to cook.

How about you?

[This post was inspired by a post on The Copywriters' Kitchen. Check out Lorraine's post - 10 Good Reasons to Start Cooking From Scratch.]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Social Media: Are You Part of the Conversation?

I am a social media evangelist. Yes, I have caught the bug. And I believe that every Catholic should catch it too.


Because it's all about community.

The Church, the Body of Christ, is the community to which we are all called. In Matthew 28, Jesus gave the Great Commission to the apostles: Go, and preach the gospel to all the world....

We do not all have to be theologians to spread the gospel! The Church is calling all Catholics to engage society by means of modern communication. Not necessarily by directly evangelizing or catechizing, but by living their faith and being actively involved in society, which is increasingly being shaped by social media. We are all called to "indirect evangelization."

As followers of Jesus, our very presence can benefit society and spread the gospel. Blessed Mother Teresa called this the "ministry of presence." And St. Francis of Assisi once told his friars, "Preach the gospel everywhere you go. And, when necessary, use words."

Take Fr. Roderick's Daily Breakfast as an example. "It's breakfast with a priest." But Fr. Roderick doesn't limit himself to talking about the Catholic Faith. He also talks about technology, health, movies and TV, and more. His show appeals to a wide audience, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And many listeners who haven't been to church in a long time are touched by his casual discussion of life... and faith. Some have even returned to the sacraments.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plurk, Blogger, WordPress, Seesmic, iTunes/podcasts... What do they have in common?


Social media are revolutionizing our experience of community. Are you part of the conversation?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Love to Cook? Got a Mac? You need SousChef!

More than just a way to organize recipes, SousChef actually helps you cook. This handy Mac app, developed by Acacia Tree Software, can do it all: organize and search, share via email and blog post, import from just about anywhere, and read your recipes to you while you cook. It will even make a grocery list for you!

SousChef is a community app. Unlike other recipe apps that help you organize your own recipes in isolation, SousChef plugs you into a larger community. You can search not only your recipes, but also those of thousands of other SousChef users. How is this possible? SousChef provides access to a database called the "cloud." At the time of this post, there are 55,799 recipes on the cloud, all accessible by you. True, there is always Recipezaar and Foodista (and I love them both!). But, as you will see, SousChef takes using recipes a bit further. SousChef actually helps you cook those recipes.

One of the coolest features of SousChef is what they call the 10-foot mode. With the 10-foot mode, you can actually bring your laptop into the kitchen. Now, I am very cautious with my electronics. Well, okay, I am more than a bit cautious. I don't want my laptop too close to the stove or to the counter where I am mixing ingredients. I think 10 feet is a safe distance.

So how does the 10-foot mode work? In 10-foot mode SousChef goes full-screen with a black background and white text. Large white text, easily visible from 10 feet away. The app will walk you step-by-step through the recipe. It can scroll through automatically, or you can set it to respond to voice commands or use an Apple remote. And if that's not cool enough, you can also have the app read the recipe to you! That's right. SousChef can read. [By the way, you can now use your iPhone or iTouch as an Apple remote!]

SousChef not only allows you to catalog your own recipes, but it also gives you access to thousands of recipes by other users via the "cloud." You can search the cloud in many different ways: by recipe title or by different ingredients. Let's say you want to cook chicken tonight, but you can't decide how you would like to prepare it. Simply type "chicken" in the ingredient field and the cloud provides a list of all the recipes containing chicken. To narrow down your search, you can list several ingredients, like whatever you happen to have in your fridge today, and the cloud will tell you which recipes you can make. It will even search for common substitutions.

You can "favorite" the recipes you like. Whether you want to track your most recently imported recipes, or the ones you have already cooked, you can create folders to store your recipes. I have a Cajun / Creole folder, and folders for Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean and Thai. I also have a folder for family recipes. But what about those "secret" family recipes? I can tell SousChef not to publish those to the cloud. I've gotta keep my secrets!

Not only can you search the recipes of other SousChef users, but you can import your own too. That notebook you keep in your pantry, the one with all the recipes you have collected over the years... you can put all of those in SousChef. Now, the ones that you don't already have in digital format will have to be entered manually. But, SousChef makes that process rather painless. You can also import recipes you have on your Mac or those you find online. Simply copy the text and SousChef does the rest.

Isn't it nice to be able to share your recipes with others? With SousChef, in addition to the cloud, you can share recipes with friends and family via email. You can also post it to your blog, as I have done with my grape leaves / cabbage rolls recipe.

SousChef is compatible with Macs running Tiger 10.4.9 or higher. It is distributed as a universal binary. An internet connection is necessary to take advantage of all the features. Cost is $30. A license can be purchased within the application once you have downloaded the demo.

From start to finish, SousChef is designed to make you a fabulous cook!

Bon appetit!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Catholic Sushi

My son loves sushi. It really is his favorite food. And yes, this is the son who started eating raw oysters at the age of three. He is something else!

Christopher wanted to write a post for The Catholic Foodie. Of course, sushi was the first topic that popped into his head. He suggested we call it "Catholic Sushi." So, this short post is from Christopher. He wrote it, I typed it. Enjoy!

Hello, my name is Christopher Young. And I will be telling you about my favorite food, sushi! Sushi is very tasty. I made tuna sushi before. My favorite type is salmon. It's just... well, good! For those of you who like sushi, good for you. Those who don't, I feel sorry. I hope you liked what I have said. And until next time, Bone Appitite!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Summer Steaks

Beef Ribeye on Foodista
Do certain smells ever bring you back to your childhood? Sometimes that happens to me.

As a matter of fact, that happened to me Saturday evening. I fired up the grill, and I seasoned four thick steaks with kosher salt, coarse-ground black pepper, a dash of cayenne, oregano, rosemary, basil, and crushed red pepper. Yum.

When steaks hit the grill, I was a kid again, riding my bike all over the neighborhood. I used to love riding my bike. I rode every day after school (and all day in the summer). I knew every crack and crevice in the sidewalks and streets of my neighborhood. As a matter of fact, I owned the roads in my neighborhood, or, at least if felt like I did. But at dusk I would set my sights on home. It wasn't the dark that drove me home, it was hunger.

Friday night was steak night at our house. Before I even hit the driveway, I could smell it: meat on the grill. It wasn't one of those fancy grills you see today... stainless steel with propane. No, this was charcoal. I still remember the charcoal lighter. It was an electric ring shoved down into the coals. When it got hot, it would glow a dangerous bright red.

Sausage went on the grill first. I remember stabbing sausage slices with toothpicks and dipping them in yellow mustard as I watched the steak cook. It was the perfect appetizer.

After the sausage came the rib-eyes. Dad made a marinade/basting sauce out of Lea & Perrins Worchestershire Sauce and butter. It smelled tangy and thick. Dad always cooked the rib-eyes well-done. I wouldn't grow to appreciate steaks medium-rare until I was old enough to buy and grill them myself.

Now, while dad was outside grilling, mom was inside washing iceberg lettuce and cutting and prepping potatoes. Iceberg lettuce salads with Wishbone Italian Dressing always accompanied the steaks, as did Sandy Fries. The fries were named after my mother, Sandy. In my mind those fries were magical. I don't know who started calling them Sandy Fries, but I know that the name stuck and they were a household favorite.

Mom would peel the potatoes and cut them up just like you would for regular french fries. She would rinse them with water and then let them sit in a colander. When everything else was almost done, she would season the potatoes with salt and pepper, shaking them around and repeating until all were seasoned. Then she would add a scoop of flour and shake, shake, shake until all the potatoes were coated. She would continue to shake until all the loose flour was out of the colander. Then she fried them in hot oil (back then she used Crisco) until they were golden brown. You talk about good, yeah!

And all those thoughts came to me because I put steaks on the grill. The smell and sizzle did it. True, it was a Saturday, not a Friday. But the afternoon was perfect. Not hot like June. Not hot and sticky like July. The sun was bright, but the air was cool. Perfect grilling weather.

The rib-eyes were great, by the way. That's not coming just from me. Char and the kids said so. Best steaks I had ever grilled, they said.

So, when was the last time you grilled steaks? How did you grill them? Medium-rare?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Funny Blog Stats

As a podcaster and blogger, I like to check my stats to see how I am doing. You know, how many people visiting the site, how many podcast downloads, etc. Well, there is one aspect of stat-checking that always makes me laugh: Google's list of the top 20 search queries in which my site comes up.

Here's a baker's dozen of those top search queries for The Catholic Foodie (the list is in no particular order):

1. green onion pancake
2. the listener episode 6
3. marhaba habibi
4. kings episode 6
5. alton brown catholic
6. pleasure p if you were my
7. orthodox easter music
8. lebanese songs 2009
9. maronite liturgy
10. didi habiby
11. make up libanese
12. beautiful sunday line dance
13. arabic girlfriend

If you have been reading / listening for a while, you'll know why I think this list is so funny. So much of this stuff appears nowhere in my show or on the site. Go figure.

I don't know which is the funniest... "alton brown catholic" or "beautiful sunday line dancing"?

The only ones that would pertain to this site are "marhaba habibi," "alton brown," "orthodox easter," "lebanese," and perhaps "arabic." I have no idea where the rest of it came from.

Okay, I think I've decided. "alton brown catholic" is my favorite.

Which one is your favorite?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oysters in the Raw?

I love oysters. I'm supposed to as a Louisiana Boy! I used to shuck them when I worked as a bartender in a seafood restaurant in Baton Rouge. Monday nights: .25 oysters on the half shell. Those were busy nights down here!

Oysters are considered to be an aphrodisiac. And I believe it! My wife and I spent two weeks on Margarita Island, Venezuela for our honeymoon. Beautiful place. I remember eating a couple dozen oysters with her one afternoon. Nine months later we had our first child!

In addition to raw oysters, we also like them fried. Oyster po-boys are right up there with shrimp po-boys in my book. Love 'em. And, seafood gumbo would not be complete without oysters.

Our first child, our son, was introduced to raw oysters at the age of three. We were at Morton's in Madisonville, LA. We ordered oysters on the half shell. When he saw them, he was adamant... he wanted one! I have pictures. I was very impressed with him.

Do you eat oysters? What is your favorite way to eat them?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter, L'Angelus and Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager

Holy Thursday dinner, Easter vigil, Easter Sunday, stuffed artichokes, Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager, and feedback... all on the menu today at The Catholic Foodie™, where food meets faith!™

We also have a song from an excellent Louisiana Cajun band, L'Angelus. Please check out their link below. If you are looking for a fun, lively, exciting, foot-stompin' band, then L'Angelus is the one for you! And they're Catholic too! Check 'em out!

Ponchatoula, Louisiana is known for its strawberries, and Ponchatoula strawberries are sold in supermarkets and fruit stands across South Louisiana and beyond. They are also found in Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. A light, crisp lager, it is perfect for the warm summer days here in Louisiana. It is a very drinkable beer. Not heavy. Nice tingle from the carbonation. Best cold. As a matter of fact, when Char first tasted it she said it would be a perfect beer to accompany boiled crawfish. I couldn't argue with that!

When you pop the cap, there is a distinct scent of strawberries. Real strawberries. As a matter of fact, we bought half a flat of strawberries a week ago and, if I were blindfolded, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between those strawberries and the beer. Yes, it smells that good!

It's not a strong beer. 4.2% ABV (alcohol by volume). Not too sweet either. Not heady. And the head recedes rather rapidly. Not much lacing around the glass. As I mentioned earlier, it is a very drinkable beer. If you don't like fruit beers, I wouldn't shy away from tasting this one. The scent is there, and you can taste the strawberries, but the taste is not overwhelming. It is understated, which is good.

If you click on the link below and visit Abita's website, you will find a store locator. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a store near you that sells this beer. Try it out and let me know what you think!

If you are interested, you can find another Abita Beer we reviewed in episode 8: Abbey Ale.

Many thanks to Bonita for leaving us this recipe in the SQPN forums: Bobby Flay's recipe for shrimp & grits. Thank you, Bonita!

Here are a couple of links to recipes for shrimp-stuffed artichokes:
Emeril's baby shrimp-stuffed artichokes
What Did You Eat?

Also, be sure to check out The Copywriters' Kitchen!

Leave feedback at or call the listener feedback line at 985-635-4974.

You can download episode 16 here or listen to it below:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Few Quick Foodie Reads

Here are a few foodie blog things I am currently reading...

What are you reading?

10 Food Blogs I Read Daily

There are so many excellent food blogs in the blogosphere. I follow lots of them. Today I want to share 10 Food Blogs that I subscribe to in my Google Reader. They are listed in no particular order. You may want to check them out:

1. Copywriters' Kitchen

2. The Wicked Noodle

3. Greek Food Recipes & Reflections

4. Enjoy the Delicious

5. Foodie in Disguise

6. Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen

7. Catholic Cuisine

8. My Kitchen Addiction

9. My Life as a Foodie

10. The Amateur Gourmet

These are just a few of the food blogs that I read. I will share more with you in a few days. Until then... What food blogs do you recommend?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday Lamb, Fam and Vino

Greetings, folks! And Happy Easter!

We attended a beautiful and prayerful Easter Vigil Mass at our parish Saturday night. Then, we woke up early Sunday morning to the sound of excited kids filled with anticipation to see what the Easter Bunny had left them. It always makes me happy to see my kids so happy. Once the excitement of the Easter Bunny began to wane (and after a bit of overindulgence in Easter candy), we packed up and headed to Baton Rouge to spend Easter with Char's parents.

The kids hunted Easter eggs (filled with candy... and money!). Afterwards, they swam for a couple of hours, while the parents and grandparents chatted outside on the deck. Though the forecast predicted severe thunderstorms and sustained tornadoes, the afternoon was warm and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky.

Being Lebanese, our Easter dinner had a Lebanese motif. Not surprising, huh? It was absolutely delicious. Lamb, tabouleh, lamb-stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh nayee, stuffed artichokes (not really Lebanese, but delicious nonetheless), and grilled sausage. All of this was accompanied by wine. Lots of wine. The dinner was followed by a coconut cake baked by my lovely wife, Char. And then there was the houka. And the cigars. And more wine. It was a great day.

I am sure that we will talk more about our Easter dinner on episode 16, which I will record in just a day or two.

What do you eat for Easter? Let me know and I will share it on episode 16! You can email me at Or, if you are feeling creative, you can record an mp3 file, or just call the feedback line at 985-635-4974.

By the way, if you like the show and want to help spread the word, please consider leaving a comment on iTunes. You can also Digg The Catholic Foodie... or simply let your friends and family know about it. You may want to join The Catholic Foodie on Facebook. And if you are on Twitter, you can tweet this site.

Until next time... Bon appetit!

Roast Leg Of Lamb on Foodista

Simple seasoning yields phenomenal lamb!

Tabouli (tabouleh)

Lamb-stuffed grape leaves

Kibbeh Nayee

Mint from my mother-in-law's garden

Me... enjoying the day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why "The Catholic Foodie?"

Lots of exciting things are happening here at The Catholic Foodie! Most of these things are in the works, so I can't reveal much now. But I can say that the mission of The Catholic Foodie is growing very quickly, and it is becoming much bigger than I initially anticipated.

Thank you for listening to the show, reading the blog, and spreading the word!

So what is The Catholic Foodie all about?

The Catholic Foodie... "where food meets faith!" produces fun and entertaining media that foster growth in faith and community. The goal? To strengthen families and to encourage a stronger sense of community through social networking.

The mission of The Catholic Foodie is based on the what Fr. Oscar Lukefahr, C.M. calls "the sacramental principle," which in its basic form "states that created things are good and are signs of God's presence and grace." As Fr. Lukefahr mentions, the sacramental principle is distinctly Catholic and is the basis for all we do as Catholics. God became man in Jesus, and the Incarnation changed everything.

Of course, at The Catholic Foodie, the created thing we focus on is food. Yes, food can be a sign of God's presence and grace! And food fosters community because we often eat food with others. Not only do families eat together, but many business deals are made over a shared meal as well.

So, how has the Incarnation changed everything?

In the Incarnation, Jesus:
- did not shun the body but, rather, emptied Himself and "was born in the likeness of men."
- called Himself the Bread of Life and commanded us to eat His Body and drink His Blood.
- tended to our bodies by healing the sick, raising the dead, and multiplying the loaves and fishes to satisfy our bodily hunger.
- instituted the sacraments, which work their spiritual effects by means of the body.
- revealed Himself to the disciples in "the breaking of the bread."
- reassured the apostles that He had indeed risen from the dead by cooking fish on the seashore and sharing a meal with them.
- enjoyed faith and fellowship with Joseph and Mary for years around the family table.

What about the growth of The Catholic Foodie?

All I can say right now is that The Catholic Foodie is becoming much more than a blog and a podcast (but something that incorporates the blog and podcast). As soon as I am able to do so, I will share more details with you. Until then, please consider sending me your answer to the following questions:

What do you see as the mission of The Catholic Foodie? Is it something different than I mentioned above?

What do you enjoy about The Catholic Foodie?

What could we do to make the blog and podcast better?

Please leave your comments here on the blog or email me directly at If you would like to leave voice feedback, please call 985-635-4974.

Until I hear from you... Bon appetit!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mastic Shrimp Saganaki (Γαρίδες Σαγανάκι με Μαστίχα)

Wow! This looks incredible! I don't know how I can come across mastic resin... perhaps I can come up with a creative substitute.

Anything with shrimp is wonderful. Throw Greek into the mix, and it makes me want to shout, "Opa!"

(Posted with permission of Sam Sotiropoulos, the Greek Gourmand)


via Greek Food Recipes and Reflections by Sam Sotiropoulos on 4/7/09

This is one of my Greek food signature dishes. I created this recipe for my wife and it is now her favourite shrimp dish. For those of you who are unfamiliar with mastic resin, have a look at my previous post about this extraordinary spice.

My Mastic Shrimps served over of a bed of rice - Click to Enlarge Image

Here in North America, the term saganaki often refers to a Greek fried cheese that is set alight to resounding shouts of "Opa!" In truth, the word saganaki refers to a single-serving frying pan with two handles. In Greece, a saganaki can be a fried cheese, or it can be a shrimp saganaki and/or a mussels saganaki, both of which are usually tomato sauce based dishes and typically include Feta cheese. If this is confusing, no worries, it's all Greek food to me too!

Shrimps in the pan and ready for turning - Click to Enlarge Image

This particular version of my dish does not include the Feta cheese as it is meant to be a fast-friendly recipe. Easter is just around the corner and many Greeks observe the Lenten fast during this period which means dairy is a no-no. If you are not fasting, feel free to add the Feta cheese as mentioned below. You can also halve the quantities of ingredients as listed for a single serving portion. In addition, if you happen to have some good olive bread on hand, it makes for an excellent complement which allows you to mop up every last bit of this unbelievably tasty sauce.


20 - 24 large raw shrimp, shelled with tails on
2 cups strained tomato puree/sauce
2 medium sized onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons masticha liqueur
½ teaspoon mastic resin crystals
½ cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

  1. Sauté diced onions in olive oil over a medium heat until soft and translucent (3 - 5 minutes).
  2. Add garlic to the pan and stir it in well for about 30 seconds. Then, add the tomato puree/sauce to the pan, along with the diced roasted red pepper and a half cup of water, then the salt and pepper to taste and stir it well to mix. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat only slightly and allow the sauce to simmer well for 8 minutes; do not cover the pan.
  4. Add the masticha liqueur along with the mastic resin crystals to the sauce and stir well to incorporate. Continue to simmer the sauce for another 2 minutes, stirring the sauce a couple more times.
  5. Quickly add the shrimp to the pan and make sure to give the pan a couple shakes to settle the shrimp well into the sauce. Cook for two minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs or a fork, quickly turn all the shrimp over and cook for another minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat for serving.
I often serve this recipe over a bed of rice and garnished with some sesame seeds. as depicted in the photo above. It is equally good with pasta, especially spaghetti or linguini noodles. Or, you can simply eat it on its own with some olive bread as already mentioned. Also, if you are not able to find the mastic liqueur, simply add another teaspoon of the mastic resin to the sauce when cooking. Lastly, a cup of crumbled Feta cheese can optionally be added to the pan just before you remove it from the heat for serving.

If you are interested in obtaining high-quality pure mastic resin or any other mastic products, drop me an email: greekgourmand[at]

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appétit),

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand™
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


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