Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Creole Red Beans & Rice

Creole Red Beans and Rice
Red Beans & Rice*

1 lb dry kidney beans
1 lb. ham or a really flavorful smoked sausage
1 tblsn butter (if needed)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt/Pepper, to taste

~ Place dry beans in a large bowl or plastic container; cover with 3 times as much water as beans and leave to soak overnight.

~ In a skillet, brown the ham or sausage; remove to large pot.  Reserve meat drippings – if there are none (or not much), melt butter in skillet

~ Sauté onion, bell pepper, celery & garlic in drippings until tender; add to meat in pot

~ Take a little water and deglaze the skillet; add to pot

~ Drain beans; add to pot; cover beans with water, filling to approx 2 inches over top of beans

~ Bring beans to boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer; cook for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and have made a rich gravy.  If beans seem to be drying out a little, add a little water.  Gravy should be nice and rich – not thin and watery – you want a stew consistency, not a soup

~ Serve over fluffy white rice with French bread and butter.

*Crock pot not recommended for cooking beans; great for reheating and serving, though.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


June 27th, 2015 I was doing a ghost tour in the French Quarter and brought my group to the building that used be O’Flaherty’s Irish Pub at 508 Toulouse St., now a restaurant known as Creole Cookery.  As we stood across the street and I was telling my story, a woman in my group grew faint from the heat and collapsed into a doorway.  Naturally, we all rushed to offer her our assistance.  She came to fairly quickly and people offered her water.  I asked if there was anything I could do, her friend said they wanted a cab.  So, I started calling for a cab (got busy signals but kept trying) and watching the traffic on Toulouse Street to see if I could hail a taxi.

As we were dealing with this, the barker from Creole Cookery (whose name is Solomon) came across the street toward us with a pleasant smile and started trying to hand out menus and invite us all to come over to eat. I told him “Solomon, right now we’re dealing with a bit of an emergency.”  He continued to try to give a sales pitch to my group.  I came over and said “Solomon, this is not an appropriate time to be handing out menus, we are dealing with a bit of a crisis.”  Well, he went away and shortly afterward a young woman came over with menus, smiling, and started trying to hand them out.  I told her the same thing, in a stern voice.  She said she had a right to hand out menus and that I shouldn’t speak to her that way.  I said “We’re dealing with an issue now, you need to go.”

Mind you, I have a woman sitting in a doorway with a group around her, I have others trying me help me hail a cab while I’m waiting for a cab company to answer the phone and here is Creole Cookery trying to make a sale without offering any assistance – just a sales pitch.  Eventually A. J., the owner of the joint, comes over and rudely tells me that they can AND WILL offer menus to these people.  I said “Look, we’re in the middle of a health issue here – this is not an appropriate time.”  His response was “Bring her over into the air conditioning and you all can have a drink until she feels better." He said this despite the fact that she was sitting in an open shop doorway and the air conditioning was blasting out from the shop where we were.

One of my guests said “Really?”

THEN --- A.J. (who was still trying to force menus into my guests' hands) said “Keep us in mind for breakfast. We’re open for breakfast.”  No one in my group accepted a menu and pretty much everyone was offended that Creole Cookery saw this as an opportunity to make a sale.  Eventually a taxicab came along, the woman’s friend helped her to the cab and they went back to their hotel.  I finished my story and quickly moved along. 

I just want everyone to know about this – here the people of Creole Cookery had an opportunity to say “Let me help you get a cab” – or to come over with a bottle of water – or offer to call an ambulance or…ANYTHING!  Instead of offering assistance they tried to shove menus into the hands of a group of people who were concerned for this woman and said “Come and have dinner here!  Come have a drink here!  Come have breakfast here!”  That tells you the kind of place Creole Cookery is.  As for me, I will choose another route and tell a different ghost story and I will not stop in front of Creole Cookery ever again.

Tell everyone you know.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Bloody Mary

People are often amazed to find that the Bloody Mary cocktail – so popular at New Orleans brunches, lunches, teas, dinners, midnight snacks, parades, kindergarten graduations and funeral services – was not developed here and is not a New Orleans drink.  The origins of the Bloody Mary can be traced to a Parisian bartender (and notorious name dropper) by the name of Fernand Petiot.  He made many claims to have originated the drink, however in the two stories between which he most often vacillated famous names, such as Ernest Hemingway and the “Toastmaster General” George Jessel, found their way into the mix.

Fernand Petiot
George Jessel
In one version of his story, Petiot claimed to have created the drink in the Roaring 20’s at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris where Ernest Hemingway hung out.  A couple of customers from Chicago said the drink reminded them of a waitress back home named Bloody Mary and the drink was so christened. Later, his story changed when he brought George Jessel into the picture.  In 1925 Petiot moved to the United States and he served libations at the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel from 1934 to 1966.  In 1964 he told The New Yorker “I initiated the Bloody Mary of today…George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over.”  In this version, Jessel’s drink was nothing more than equal parts tomato juice and vodka.  Petiot claimed to have taken it further by adding salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.  According to Petiot, “We serve a hundred to a hundred and fifty Bloody Marys a day here in the King Cole Room and in the other restaurants and the banquet rooms.”

Whether the drink was created in Paris or New York, it made its way to New Orleans where it slipped right in with its jazzy Creole sass and, certainly, oysters manage to slip down very easily when chased with a Bloody Mary.  Here is my favorite recipe for the mix; it comes from Emeril Lagasse and, while you will notice it contains no cayenne or Tabasco sauce, the Worcestershire sauce gives it just the right kick.

1 lg can tomato juice*
1 cup beef bouillon
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp celery seed
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. lime juice
5 oz. Worcestershire sauce

Mix well; chill.  Makes 32 oz. (Double the recipe for a gallon.) Best when made a day or two in advance.  For cocktail, mix 4 parts mix to 1 part vodka.

* I’ve also tried V8 but it doesn’t make enough difference in flavor to warrant substituting it.