Home Cooking in New Orleans

Let’s face facts: If you ate at restaurants every day in New Orleans, you’d be fat, greasy and dead. To combat the indescribably large number of calories consumed every time we left our apartment, we resorted to lots of home cooking.

Instead of ringing the dinner triangle, Rachel knew it was time to eat when I’d yell “get the camera.” Often, the best meals were missed because the desire to masticate beat the discipline to document. Even so, a few meals did have their “souls stolen.”

New Orleans-style BBQ Shrimp is not cooked on a barbecue, nor is the sauce by any means what you would call BBQ sauce.

Every single person you meet from Texas will painfully tell you this.

The Italian-Creoles at Pascal’s Manale instead invented barbeque sprimp’s delicious “Worcestershire-spiked” butter base that has been reinterpreted all over town. (I made Emeril’s version. Bam!) This dish is serious fun to make: more alchemy than cooking. The second best part is sopping up all that butter sauce with the New Orleans Leidenheimer po’boy bread. Hallelujah!

Jambalaya is a Creole dish and close cousin of Spanish “paella” invented in New Orleans’ very own French Quarter.

Not sure if you can tell from the photo above, but jambalaya’s main ingredients are Andouille sausage, the holy trinity (celery, onions and peppers), tomatoes and rice. Most places serve it to you in 3 ice cream scoops on a plate, but I prefer a much more saucy, almost chili-like version at home. I could say it wasn’t delicious, but then I’d be a jamba-laya. (get it?!?)

Red Beans n’ Rice? It must be Monday in New Orleans.

In NOLA, folks make Red Beans ‘n Rice on Mondays because you have the bone from the weekend’s roast and since Monday is traditionally laundry day, you need a dish that sits on the stove for hours unattended. The strawberry daiquiris and having to use a chair as a table (see above) probably break the tradition a little.

Plain old French Toast sounds like a “rice cake” to your average New Orleanian.

They would kindly add, “where’s the rum-infused maple syrup, pecans, bananas and cinnamon?” New Orleans-style French toast goes above and beyond typical Americana fare with “pain perdu.” Let me tell you folks, it’s good.

We jumped from French & Creole cooking back to California cuisine to avoid early onset diabetes.

I don’t know how I found time to whip up leek and potato soup, a chopped salad and a beet salad but apparently, I did.

Rachel and I love this roasted tomato soup:

You basically burn the hell out of 20 tomatoes in the oven and then remove their scolded black skins and steal the sweet, condensed tomato juice inside. Add a lot of fresh chopped oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, blend it all together and you’re on your way to heaven!

People eat so much seafood here.

When you order fish at New Orleans restaurants, there’s a dollop of crab meat on top of it. And a shrimp on top of the crab. And a crawfish on the shrimp. And an oyster on the crawfish. Bam!

My mom used to eat with us once a week in Los Angeles, and I always made Alaskan salmon so that she had at least one healthy meal a week. I love Alaskan salmon but it isn’t always in season, and it’s expensive as hell. Tilapia on the other hand is healthy,  inexpensive, and delish. Also shown above: black bean quinoa salad. There are so many vegetables in that thing, you end up making about 40 lbs. of it.  Even so, it was all gone pretty quick.

Many times we told New Orleanians that we were from California and they would start drooling and telling us how much they like fish tacos.

I never really thought too much about fish tacos, but eventually it was planted in my little brain that I needed to make fish tacos or hop the next flight to San Diego.

Chicken Piccata is one of those dishes I make all the time.

It’s so freakin’ good. Lemony. Capery. Chickeny. I miss you, Chicken Piccata.

We definitely got into tapas in New Orleans.

What better way to slow down the impending effects of alcohol than with a few light snacks?

Shown above includes homemade guacamole, Ezekiel tortillas toasted into chips, kalamata olives, pickled garlic, and insanely addictive triple-creme brie cheese that we’ve developed an $8/week habit for.

Here’s me after I burned my hand on a hot pan and stabbed my other hand with a knife.

I’m trying to eat Alaskan salmon.

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