Katrina Anniversary

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There is a lot of press on this topic today, Hurricane Katrina’s 2nd Anniversary; President Bush making his BS appearance, murder on the rise in New Orleans, questions of should New Orleans rebuild? (Hell Yes!) If you would like more information on where New Orleans is today, two years later visit Hurricane Katrina News.

While remembering all of the loss, and the struggles to regain what was, I would like to focus my post here on Nola Cuisine on what IS in New Orleans for tourists to enjoy. My wife and I shared a wonderful visit in mid June, blistering hot of course, but we had an absolutely fantastic time, and I would like to express the fact that you are not walking into a war zone if you visit New Orleans now, despite what CNN may tell you! In fact, in the major tourist areas, the French Quarter, Garden District, we noticed little difference from our Pre-Katrina trips. Not to say that you will not see the effects of Katrina, but the lifeblood of the city is as vibrant as ever, and they will be happy as hell to see you! Make the trip, fall in love again, or just rekindle the romance with New Orleans, she never disappoints. Here are just 18 reasons why you should go fall in love with New Orleans:

Jackson Square in all of its glory!

Rosegate a home in the Garden district, former home of Anne Rice. What a beautiful place…New Orleans that is.

Gorgeous balconies in the French Quarter.

Cities of the Dead, the fascinating above ground cemeteries of New Orleans. This picture was taken in Lafayette Cemetery, just across the wall from Commander’s Palace.

Live Oak lined roads, remnants of Plantations that once were.

Lunch or cocktails at Napoleon House.

Breakfast at Camellia Grill!

An amazing view of Bon Sejour a.k.a Oak Alley Plantation.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. My favorite exhibit is the Jellyfish, they are hypnotic!

A Ferdi Special at Mother’s Restaurant (with Zapp’s Chips no less!) (My post forthcoming)

Live Oaks with Spanish Moss. (Photo taken at Evergreen Plantation, Edgard Louisiana.)

The “Big House” at Evergreen Plantation, Edgard Louisiana.

Twenty One totally intact slave cabins at Evergreen Plantation, a haunting sight and a feeling that you will never forget. The chills are up my spine just viewing the photos. You will stand in the midst of those cabins, beneath the “silence” of those live oaks, buzzing with bugs, and feel something as thick as mud, that you probably do not want to feel. You will leave a different person. Never since my childhood trip to Gettysburg have I “felt” history as I did here.

Dinner at Commander’s Palace, my lord they blow me away every time! My favorite place to eat on earth.

Tee-Eva’s Pralines & Pies on Magazine Street!

Oysters on the half shell or an Oyster Loaf on Pan Bread at Cassamento’s! (not open during summer months.)

A Muffuletta at Central Grocery. (My post forthcoming)

Breakfast at the Coffee Pot Restaurant in the French Quarter (714 St. Peter St). (My post forthcoming)

Beignets & Cafe Au Lait at Cafe Du Monde! (My post forthcoming)

I have many more posts to share from our trip and will share them as soon as possible! Actually, I can’t wait to get back to explore more, it drives me crazy to look at the pics because it makes me miss the place so much, just imagine how the displaced folks who call New Orleans their home must feel.

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Spanish Paella Recipe

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Something I have been wanting to do on this site is explore the roots of some of the Louisiana dishes that are now so well known. I love to explore the evolution of cooking styles, regional cuisines, and regional dishes, in this case Jambalaya.

It is hard to deny that Jambalaya has roots in the Spanish Paella, which was probably introduced sometime during the four decades in which Spain held possession of Louisiana during the late Eighteenth century.

The key to making this Paella is good quality short grain rice, real Saffron, and good homemade chicken stock. I also used Spanish Chorizo which is a cured pork sausage made with garlic and paprika. I have a really good Spanish Chorizo recipe which I will share here in the very near future.

Here is the recipe:

Spanish Paella Recipe

Chicken Pieces, I used about 2 lbs of drumettes, seasoned liberally with salt & black pepper
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Green Pepper, diced
1/2 Large Spanish Onion, diced
1/2 lb good Spanish Chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 Roasted Red Peppers, diced (homemade are best; see below)
1 healthy pinch Saffron threads, the real stuff no substitutes
1 1/2 Cups Valencia Rice or Arborio Rice
1/4 Cup White Wine
2 1/4 Cups Rich Chicken Stock
A few turns of Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Parsley

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a Paella pan or large cast-iron skillet as I used, over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until almost smoking, brown the seasoned chicken on all sides until golden brown. Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, bell pepper, and Chorizo. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and saffron, cook for 8 minutes more, stirring often.

Add the rice and stir in. Cook the mixture until the rice is pearly opaque and has absorbed some of the liquid that has collected from the vegetables. Add the white wine and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, season it to taste with salt and black pepper, arrange the chicken pieces around the pan, submerging. Bring to a boil then place in the preheated oven, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes. When the rice is still a bit crunchy, remove the pan from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let stand for about 10-15 minutes to finish cooking.

Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4.

For the Homemade Roasted Red Peppers:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Wipe your Red Peppers with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Place in a pan and put into the oven for about 45 minutes, turn once. Remove from the oven to a new dish, cover with plastic wrap for about 15 minutes, this will help the skin pull away from the flesh.

Remove all of the skin and seeds. Cool.

My resource for Spanish Cuisine has always been the books of Penelope Casas, in particular, The Foods and Wines of Spain by Peneolpe Casas.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes, which links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

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