Monday, December 31, 2012

Recipe | Tujague's Brisket

Tujague's beef brisket with creole sauce

Opened in 1856, Tujague's Restaurant is the 2nd oldest restaurant in New Orleans. A longtime menu staple is its beef brisket with creole sauce. You can sample the brisket at the French Quarter Festival, too. Here is their recipe: 

  • 4 to 6 lbs. choice brisket, preferably the butt end
  • 1 large onion, cut into eight pieces
  • 1 medium turnip, cut into chunks
  • Leafy tops of 1 bunch celery
  • Stems of 1 bunch parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 2 cloves (not essential, but it makes the kitchen smell good)
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup Creole mustard
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (or ketchup)
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
1. Bring two gallons of water to a boil in a large stockpot.

2. Trim all huge slabs of fat from the brisket, but don't be too severe about this. Cut it if necessary into two or three pieces to fit your pot. (It's okay if it sticks out a little bit.) Put it into the water (no need to wait for it to boil). Add all the other ingredients. Cover the pot.

3. When the pot comes to a boil, lower it to the lowest possible temperature. Simmer for four to six hours, or whatever it takes for the brisket to pull apart when clutched with tongs. Skim off the scum that may rise to the surface.

4. Remove the brisket and set aside. Strain out the vegetables and discard, but save the beef stock for other uses--notably vegetable soup. The stock can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week, or it can be frozen almost indefinitely.

5. Slice the brisket it or serve it in large cubes, but cut against the grain with a sharp, non-serrated knife. The meat will be falling apart and easy to eat. Serve with boiled cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.

6. To make the sauce, blend the three sauce ingredients. Serve cool.

Serves 8.

Tujague's Restaurant is located at 823 Decatur Street, New Orleans. Reservations are recommended - 504.525.8676.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Brunch | Ralph's on the Park

I love eating out in New Orleans this time of year. Restaurants are decorated and diners are celebrating. There's definitely a festive feel in the air.

Today I joined some friends at Ralph's on the Park for Sunday Brunch. We started with cocktails ... Sazeracs and such.  None of us chose the prix fixe brunch menu. Instead, we all ordered appetizers and entrees. 

I started with the cane glazed shrimp fried with corn meal tempura batter and served with a pickled peppers, jalapeño and lime crème fraîche. The combination of textures and flavors worked perfectly. 

Cane glazed shrimp

Other appetizers included the blue crab beignets with pepper jelly cream.

Blue crab beignets

Pickled beet salad with baby arugula, red onion, and creamy feta cheese. 

Pickled beet salad

For my entree, I ordered the eggs Sardou with browned buttered artichoke hearts, creamed spinach, poached eggs, tomato hollandaise, topped with lump crab meat. 

Eggs Sardou
Other entrees included steak and eggs: a blackened bistro steak served with brabant potatoes, wild mushrooms and topped with a brandy butter sauce.

Steak & eggs

And, the fried chicken liver omelet with roasted corn grits, mixed mushrooms, and a chicken reduction sauce. 

Fried chicken liver omelet

A good time was had by all! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Saint & A Killer Walk into a Bar

Historically, bar food in the French Quarter consisted of burgers, nachos, and cheese fries. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But two relatively new spots have, ahem, raised the bar.

Saint Lawrence NOLA

Saint Lawrence NOLA,  named for the patron saint of cooks,  is owned by Brendan Blouin and Jeff James. It is located at 219 N. Peters, between Iberville and Bienville Streets. St. Lawrence's web site claims their mission is to "... humbly present a seasonal approach to elevated, epicurean bar fare."

I walked over there for lunch yesterday. The menu is surprisingly sophisticated: Roasted Beets, orange, shaved fennel, goat cheese, arugula, & Steens cane vinaigrette; Crispy confit wings, pepper jelly glaze & goat cheese dressing; Reuben Spring Rolls - corned beef, chowchow, Gruyere & 1000 Island; Turducken Burger - trinity of birds, green apple remoulade, duck cracklins & dirty rice; Fried Chicken - apple cider brine, mashed potatoes, & chicken demi gravy ; Pork Chop - Duroc Pork, apple butter, braised greens & crispy onion; and  Lamb Stew with shoestring potatoes & Bearnaise. This is only a sample of the menu items offered. Not like any bar menu I've ever seen.

Alas, I was in the mood for the burger: Two Run Farm grass-fed beef on a brioche bun served with hand-cut fries. The brioche bun was just firm enough so as not to fall apart - a big plus in my book. And the fries were thin and perfectly fried. It was delicious.

Two Run Farm burger

Saint Lawrence Nola on Urbanspoon

Killer PoBoys

Killer PoBoys  is located in a small space at the back of Erin Rose, a bar at 811 Conti Street, between Bourbon and Dauphine Streets. Killer PoBoys is owned by Cam Boudreaux and April Bellow.  It is a tiny operation, but they are serving terrific food. The limited po-boy menu offers: Roasted seasonal vegetables with red bean puree chimichurri; Coriander lime gulf shrimp with marinated radish carrot, cucumber, herbs & a special sauce; the "Dark & Stormy" with NOLA Rum braised pork, lime slawgarlic aioli; the Moroccan spiced lamb sausage with tzatziki sauce, sumac carrots & torn mint; and the Guinness & garlic braised beef with horseradish aioli & pickled onions. All are served on perfectly delicious french bread from Duong Phong Oriental Bakery in New Orleans East, and range in price from $8 to $12.

Today I enjoyed the Moroccan spiced lamb sausage po-boy. I have to say, Vietnamese french bread, made with rice flour, is far superior to other local french bread. One: it doesn't fall apart. Two: it is crispy but doesn't tear up the roof of your mouth.

Moroccan spiced lamb sausage po-boy

Next time, I'll try either the "Dark & Stormy" pork or the Guinness & garlic braised beef. And I'll likely get it to go -- smoking is allowed in the bar which is only a few feet away.  (By the way, Killer PoBoys is cash only).

Killer Poboys (Erin Rose Bar) on Urbanspoon


Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday Supper at Lüke

In 2007, Chef John Besh opened his 3rd restaurant, named after his 3rd son, at 333 St. Charles Avenue. Lüke is a brasserie in the Franco-German style, typical of New Orleans neighborhood restaurants of years gone by. 

The Executive Chef at Lüke is Chef Matt Regan who worked at the Victoria Inn in Lafitte for seven years. In Lafitte, Chef Regan learned about our local seafood, “whether from the softshell crab factory right down the road or finding the best picked crabmeat at Higgins Seafood.” Prior to taking the reins at Lüke, Chef Regan worked at other Besh restaurants including American Sector and Besh Steak.

One Sunday a month, Lüke hosts its “Sunday Supper,” a 4-course feast served family style for $45 per person. I’ve been to Sunday Supper twice, and both times it was delicious. On my most recent visit, I was the invited guest of the Besh Group.

The menu:

1st course:

Plateaus of P&J oysters both raw and baked with persillade crust.

Alaskan King crab thermidor.

Confit chicken gizzards, spicy local greens, & yard eggs. (Sorry, no picture).

Jambon persillé, ham terrine in rich parsley aspic, country bread and mustards.

2nd course:

Covey Rise Farms winter squash and shrimp bisque.

3rd course:

La Louisianne Coq au Vin: local roosters slow-cooked in red wine, bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions with roasted root vegetables, buttered handmade noodles.

4th course:

Baba au Rhum: rich brioche cake soaked in spiced rum and local citrus syrup.

The food is served family style to diners seated at long tables.

We had a wonderful time breaking bread with new friends.

Lüke is a CBD gem, always buzzing. Lüke’s Happy Hour features discounted raw oysters as well as cocktails. Recently New Orleans Magazine voted it Raw Bar of the Year for 2012.

Some of my menu favorites are: anything from the seafood bar, the Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with garlic & thyme with house-made fries, the Lüke burger with Allan Benton’s bacon, caramelized onions, tomatoes, Emmenthaler Swisscheese with house-made fries, and the Flamenkuche –a thin Alsacien onion tarte, with bacon & Emmenthaler cheese.

Lüke is located at 333 St. Charles Avenue. It is open daily from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m., for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The phone number is 504. 378.2840

Lüke on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Toups' Meatery

My friends Bob and Greg were in town from San Francisco for their yearly visit recently. Each time they visit, we go to a restaurant they've never been to. This year I recommended Toups' Meatery in Mid-City. What a good decision!

We started with the meatery board for the table. The board is filled with house-made: charcuterie, boudin balls, sausage, pickled vegetables, mustards, and ...

Toups' Meatery Board
 their kick-ass, habit-forming cracklins!

Toups' Cracklins

The entrees were fantastic. Bob and Butch got the double cut pork chop served with dirty rice and cane syrup gastrique. This "chop" was tender, juicy and FULL of flavor.

Double cut pork chop with dirty rice
On the recommendation of our waiter, Larry Nguyen (also the general manager), I got the confit chicken thighs with white beans, mustard greens, and gizzard gravy. Talk about good!
Confit chicken thighs with white beans, mustard greens & gizzard gravy

Greg went with an appetizer combo as his entree. He started with the mixed green salad with tempura gouda and pecans. Nice combination.  

Mixed green salad, herbed vinaigrette, tempura Gouda, pecans
Next, he chose the meatballs with ginger-lemongrass BBQ sauce and sprinkled with gruyere. Very, very tasty.

Meatballs with ginger-lemongrass BBQ sauce, & gruyere

Kathy ordered the tri tip steak served with creamed potatoes, oyster mushrooms,  and sauce bordelaise - it was divine!

Tri tip steak, creamed potatoes, oyster mushrooms,  & sauce bordelaise
Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the mussels in a white wine chili broth served with grilled bread, but Vicki raved about them.
Chef Isaac Toups was born and raised in Rayne, Louisiana, and  "made his entry into food as a cook at Emeril’s Delmonico and spent the following decade within Emeril’s Restaurant Group." His wife and business partner, Amanda, has an extensive background in wine and wine education. And, general manager, Larry Nguyen, is a native New Orleanian who "has worked in every aspect of the restaurant industry for over 15 years." 

The dining room is comfortable, the service friendly & attentive, and the food fantastic. I can't wait to go back! Put Toups' Meatery on your "Don't Miss" list.

Toups' Meatery is located at 845 N. Carrollton Avenue (a stone's throw from City Park). Their hours are Lunch: 11-2:30 Dinner: 5-9 Tues — Sat and Fri & Sat Open till 10pm. Reservations for dinner are recommended: 504.252.4999.

Toups' Meatery on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 19, 2012

Exceptional Dining | Restaurant August

My friend Toma was in town from Juneau, AK last week. She had never been to chef John Besh's flagship restaurant Restaurant August. It was time to remedy that. I made the reservation and gave the chef a heads up that I was bringing a friend for her first meal there.

Kathy and Toma arrived just before me and were already seated when I arrived. Obligatory Sazeracs graced the table. August offers a prix fixe, 3-course lunch menu for $20.12. We all took advantage of this terrific deal.

The team that waited on us was engaging, knowledgable and fun. We placed our order and tore into the hot, fresh-baked french bread slathered with soft, room temperature butter. 

First out was an amuse bouche of thinly sliced bresaola - Italian air-cured beef topped with finely chopped apples and other goodies. I was so busy admiring it that I didn't hear the entire description as it was placed in front of me. I also didn't take a picture of it. It was sumptuous.

Next out were our appetizers. Toma and I got the velouté of acorn squash and apple with Gulf shrimp. The soup was rich and velvety ... it was divine.

Kathy ordered the pate of local pork (the Besh Group raises its own pigs in Lacombe) with house made pickles and marmalades with toasted brioche. It's a big serving so we all got to have a taste. C'est si bon!

While we were totally engrossed in our appetizer course, the waiter brought out a plate of sashimi grade fish topped with cucumbers and mandarin oranges. Light, fresh, crisp, and sweet flavors. 

We devoured every morsel of the food in front of us! Once those dishes were cleared, the chef sent out his version of alligator sauce picante. Small pieces of tender alligator with chopped tomatoes and thinly sliced fresh assorted hot peppers. The peppers had just a slight crunch and just the right amount of heat. Wow! Folks, this is not your mama's sauce picante!

At this point we were 4 courses into the meal, and hadn't gotten to our "entree" yet. As entrees, Kathy and Toma ordered the Manchac softshell crab “BLT” with garlicky bread pudding topped with  tomato and bacon vinaigrette. Lightly battered, perfectly fried buster softshell crab - does it get any better than that? I don't think so. Luscious and decadent.

For my entree, I got the grilled Two Run Farms beef sausage with salsa verde, purple hull peas, peppers and grilled mustard greens. The sausage was tender with a bit of crunch to the exterior. Nice contrast of textures and flavors in the peas, peppers, and grilled mustard greens. 

Now for dessert. We ordered coffee - perfectly brewed coffee & chicory. Then the very talented pastry chef, Kelly Fields, sent out a pre-dessert - her version of PB&J: a small cube of cake topped with chopped peanuts with a taste of house-made peanut butter and muscadine sorbet. Delicious!

Finally, it was time for the official dessert course. Kathy & I ordered the creme fraiche panna cotta with muscadine consomme and hazelnut cake. Perfection!

Toma got the crispy herb gougeres apple compote and warm gouda for dessert. She loved it. I didn't get a picture. Don't hate - at this point I was struggling to sit up.

I'd like to thank chef Michael Gulotta and pasty chef Kelly Fields for the lagniappe that made the experience all the more exceptional for the three of us. Without a doubt, this was one of the best meals I have ever had!

Restaurant August on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans"

New Orleanian Suzanne Pfefferle was always fascinated with Vietnam and dreamed of visiting the country. In 2010, that dream came true when she traveled to Vietnam with two former Mt. Carmel classmates for a three week adventure.

Once there, Suzanne immersed herself in the culture and cuisine. She took cooking classes in Saigon; ate from the street food vendors; and rather than stay in hotels, she stayed in family-owned guest houses where she dined with the Vietnamese families.  Suzanne said she became a pho fanatic, eating the local staple twice a day.

Suzanne also spent time on the coast of South Vietnam, where she sampled fresh seafood from large, open markets.  To the north, in the Central Highlands, she enjoyed food with a French influence in Da'Lat, known as the mini-Paris of Vietnam. 

Upon her return to New Orleans, Suzanne began compiling research to write a travel article about her adventure. On a whim, she contacted local chef John Besh by e-mail and requested an interview. Within a day or two, chef Besh's team responded and agreed to a meeting with Suzanne.  That meeting changed Suzanne's life. Chef Besh and his colleague, chef Brain Landry of Borgne, have close ties to the local Vietnamese community. They took Suzanne out to New Orleans East where they introduced her to Vietnamese farmers, restaurant owners, fisherman, and Fr. Vien The Nguyen, pastor of Mary Queen of Vietnam church.

By chance one day, Suzanne ran into longtime WYES cameraman Lenny Delbert in her Lakeview neighborhood. She mentioned the article on Vietnam she was writing, and Lenny encouraged her to collaborate with him to make a television show on the subject. Peggy Scott Laborde also encouraged Suzanne to produce her very first production for WYES. And, the rest, as they say, is history.

Suzanne interviews on camera chefs John Besh, Brian Landry and Dominique Macquet; host of Louisiana Eats, Poppy Tooker; and food writers Ian McNulty, Rene Louapre, and Peter Thriffiley, and others.  Tune in on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 7 p.m.on WYES for "Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans." 

An avid traveler, Pfefferle has also visited India, Jamaica, and Egypt. Cuba is her next stop.

Pfefferle attended Loyola University as a Communications major and graduated from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in Liberal Arts, with a concentration on English and art. After graduation, she worked in the Promotion Department of Pelican Publishing Company.  

* All photos provided by WYES & reprinted with their permission.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Celebrating Family | Restaurant des Familles

Frank J. Ehret, Jr. - 95 years young!

August 6, 2012 was my dad’s 95th birthday! To celebrate, my brother, sister and brother-in-law, and I took him to dinner at Restaurant des Familles in Crown Point, LA.  This restaurant is personally connected to my family for several reasons: 1) the original owner, Pat Creppell Morrow, is a long-time family friend, 2) it’s close to my family’s Marrero “compound,” and 3) my dad’s lifetime battle to preserve the wetlands that now encompass the Jean Lafitte National & Historical Park is partly responsible for the restaurant’s existence along the banks of Bayou des Familles.

This was my first visit to the restaurant since the new owners took over in 2009. The dining room is the same – floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bayou. It’s a lovely setting.
The food was better than ever.  I had the softshell crab Foster (originally named in honor of Pat Morrow’s late dad, Foster Creppell). The large crab was perfectly fried and topped with sautéed artichoke hearts and mushrooms. It was delicious. Other entrees included the  ½ shrimp, ½ oyster platter which was over-flowing with golden fried shrimp and oysters. The rib-eye came with a loaded baked potato that was a huge hit. All entrees came with a green salad topped with house-made dressing. The servings are huge and the prices very reasonable.
Softshell crab Foster

Loaded baked potato

Tom Fitzmorris recently had his Eat Club here and had good things to report. And the Times-Picayune wrote about it here.

Restaurant des Familles is located at 7163 Barataria Boulevard, Crown Point, LA. It is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; there’s a Sunday champagne brunch from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. The phone number is 504.689.7834.

Restaurant des Familles on Urbanspoon


SoBou is the newest addition to the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants led by Ti Martin and Executive Chef Tory McPhail.  The chef de cuisine is Juan Carlos Gonzales, a native of Puerto Rico. “SoBou” apparently is an abbreviation for “South of Bourbon” – never mind that its location on Chartres Street is east of Bourbon Street. I guess in a directionally challenged city where you have to head east to go to the west bank, it just doesn’t matter. Plus, "EaBou" simply doesn’t work.
SoBou front dining room
SoBou back dining room
I had a chance to have lunch with a friend at SoBou recently. The menu is divided into sections including “Snacky Things,” “Soups & Salads,” “Small Bites,” “Not So Small Bites,” “Sides,” and “Sweets.”  And Monday – Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. “Two Bit Cocktails,” which include vodka or gin martini, pink gin, commander’s palace cha cha, pink elephants on parade are available with the purchase of an entrée. That’s right, 25 cent cocktails! Three’s the limit though – “because that’s enough.”

We chose to participate in the lunch COOLinary menu - $20 for two courses. I had the cochon de lait gumbo with a scoop of potato salad as my 1st course. The gumbo is thick and rich with a bit of a smoky barbecue flavor. While that may sound odd – it was delicious. For her 1st course, my friend chose the crispy oyster taco with compressed pineapple ceviche, mirliton & Cajun ghost pepper caviar. Even though the oysters weren’t exactly “crispy” because of the sauce – they were damn good! I’d go back just for the oyster tacos.
SoBou crispy oyster taco

SoBou cochon du lait gumbo with potato salad
As entrees with both ordered the SoBou burger – a 4 ounce patty on a small brioche bun topped with sautéed onions and pepper jack cheese. The burger had a good flavor but was difficult to eat – the onions on top of the cheese made for a slippery mess.
SoBou burger with pickled okra

My friend had 75 cents worth of pink elephants on parade, crafted by bar chef, Abigail Gullo. Let’s just say, she was seeing pink elephants when we left. :)
Pink elephant on parade
SoBou, located in the W Hotel French Quarter at 310 Rue Chartres, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week. For more information call 504.552.4095.

SoBou (W Hotel) on Urbanspoon