Broccoli Casserole

I remember as a kid having a casserole with nearly every supper. While they’ve fallen out of fashion, I still have fond memories of all the things my mom could do with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Here is a recipe for a side dish that is sized for a small family – double everything if you’re feeding a crowd!

Broccoli Casserole

1 box frozen chopped broccoli or 1 head of fresh, cut into florets
1 small onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup (for more broccoli umph, use cream of broccoli soup)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
Crushed Ritz crackers, for topping

Steam fresh broccoli for 5 minutes (frozen doesn’t need this step). Thaw ad drain well if frozen. Sauté onion in a little olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Combine soup, egg and cheese in a large bowl and mix well. Add in broccoli and onion and stir well. Pour into a quart casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed cracker crumbs on top and dot top with butter. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, until golden and bubbly.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

For breakfast this morning I made some sweet potato pancakes. They were sweet enough to need only a splash of maple syrup and they went really well with some salty, smokey bacon.

To get the sweet potato mash, Michelle fills a crock pot with rinsed sweet potatoes and puts them on low overnight (6 to 8 hours). Don’t pierce them or anything or you’ll get a mess in the bottom of your crock pot! The next day, use a spoon to take the peel off. After mashing them, she stores them in 2 cup servings in zip top bags in the freezer. Perfect for making a side dish for dinner or adding into crescent roll or biscuit dough or, like here, in pancakes.

I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I used a combination of Greek yogurt and milk. You could also use sour cream in place of the Greek yogurt. If you have buttermilk, use 1 1/2 cup in place of the milk and Greek yogurt/sour cream.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 1/4 cups mashed sweet potato
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Place sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt, milk and egg in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and add to the mixture. Whisk to combine.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until mixed. Do not overmix and, for best results, let the batter stand while you heat griddle and preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a griddle over medium heat. Add batter by 1/4-cup measures. Cook until the first side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until browned on second side and pancakes are puffed, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set in the warm oven and repeat until all pancakes are cooked, adding more butter to the griddle as necessary. Serve immediately with a little maple syrup.

Dining Out for Life 2017

Every year, AIDS service organizations join with restaurants for Dining Out for Life. The restaurants donate a portion of the day’s proceeds so diners get a great meal and the organizations get financial support. Crescent Care (formerly NO/AIDS Task Force) is my local beneficiary and I whole heartedly support their mission, so I make an effort to take in as many meals as I can for the event.

For lunch, I went to Cafe at the Square (reviewed here in 2010) with my friend Ryan and we interviewed Seth Bloom, a candidate for New Orleans City Council for possible endorsement by the Forum for Equality. I had the Fried Green Tomato BLT and the sandwich was just as good as I remembered – thick bacon slices, tangy green tomatoes and spicy arugula on a ciabatta bun.

For dinner, I went with my friends Charlotte and Thomas to the New Feelings Cafe and Bar (previously reviewed here in 2011) in the Marigny. We had been excited to learn that Chef Scott Maki had recently won Chopped and wanted to see how the menu and space had changed since we had last been there.

The space is light and airy, with lots of quirky and nostalgic artwork on the walls. The menu had a lot of the things that made them such a great place before plus a number of new items. They still have the beautiful courtyard but, we opted for air conditioning, so we ate inside.

We started with cocktails. Charlotte went for the one with mezcal and enjoyed it enough to order a second. I really liked the coconut rum in my Hemingway.

For appetizers, we had the mushroom sopapilla with black beans and avocado – nice combo of flavors and also the smoked trout dip (pictured) with house made kettle chips. Very tasty, especially with a couple shakes of hot sauce.


I had the fried chicken sandwich. Piled high with chicken, crisp dill pickle slices, lettuce and tomato and their special sauce, it was an explosion of flavor.

Charlotte went for the curry spiced fish with yams and a lovely peanut sauce. She thought it was very tasty, even the kale.

Thomas had Shrimp and Grits – the grits were made extra decadent with gouda cheese. It was so gooda, I wanted to steal another bite but Thomas was keeping a close eye on me. The BBQ shrimp were also very good with a deep, rich sauce.

Dessert was the Vietnamese coffee flan and chocolate hand pie. Delicate flavor on the flan and the pie was reminiscent of the Hubig pies. Served hot, it was very delicious.

Attentive and friendly waitstaff. Creative chef. Romantic courtyard. Lots of feels for the New Feelings Cafe. Worth going to, even without the excuse of your dollars doing good.

 

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

This is a quick recipe for buttermilk pancakes that is as easy as using a box mix and it includes Michelle’s favorite add in – blueberries. This recipe makes 6 to 8 pancakes, perfect for a meal for two. I started by using the powdered, dry buttermilk to make a cup of buttermilk for the recipe. To make sure it had that tang you get from real buttermilk, I added a little sour cream.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoon sour cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup blueberries (use fresh or thawed frozen berries)
2 additional tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Warm a pancake griddle over medium low heat while preparing the batter. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F, to have a place to stash cooked pancakes while cooking the next batch.

Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sour cream and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and gently stir until all the streaks of flour are incorporated. The batter will still be lumpy.

Brush a little bit of the additional melted butter on pancake griddle in the area where you will put batter. Using a ladle, pour out about 1/4 cup of batter over the butter. Sprinkle on a small handful of blueberries. Cook until the edges of the pancake are set, the top bubbles begin to break and the underside is golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side until it is golden brown.

Serve pancakes immediately or place them in the prepared oven. Using more melted butter, prepare the griddle for the next set of pancakes. Continue until all the batter is used up.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I may have figured out a way to improve chocolate chip cookies. Just add bacon! Salty, fatty bacon combines with dark chocolate morsels to make for a cookie that is decadently addictive. This recipe makes half the usual recipe of cookies, mainly because I was making smaller batches for my experiments but also because you need to eat these all up faster than non-baconated cookies.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped fine
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until everything is incorporated. Stir in the bacon, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop by large tablespoons the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. They will spread, so put them 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Personal Size Potato and Rosemary Frittata

I had a hankering for a frittata for breakfast but all the recipes I have call for 8 to 12 eggs. Great when having people over for brunch but, as I’m home alone, that wasn’t going to work. The recipe I came up with serves two typical appetites for breakfast or 1 very hungry person. If that one person can show some restraint, it will make both breakfast and lunch.

Personal Size Potato Rosemary Frittata

1 medium potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer)
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped (should give you about 1 teaspoon)
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel the potato and place in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil and keep it there for 10 minutes. Remove potato and slice.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion slices. Cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until they are lightly caramelized. Sprinkle on the rosemary for the final two minutes of cooking.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt and pepper. Stir in the potatoes and the onions and rosemary. Make sure everything is coated in egg.

Heat the skillet the onion was in and then pour in the egg mixture. Bringing the pan up to heat is an important step or the bottom of the frittata will stick to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to allow the base to set. Run a knife along the edge to loosen. Transfer to the oven and let finish cooking, about 10 minutes. The top will be golden brown.

Transfer to a plate and either eat hot or at room temperature. It also makes for a terrific sandwich filling once cold. I put it between toasted slices of white bread but it is even better between slices of focaccia (recipes here, here and here).

Turkey and the Wolf

I went to lunch today at Turkey and the Wolf with Charlotte and Thomas. This is a quirky sandwich place that also serves creative cocktails. It is on Jackson Avenue between Tchoupitoulas and Magazine. Now that the street construction in that area is completed, it is easier to find and to park nearby.

Charlotte and I both had drinks with our meal. The names alone were fun. I went for the Put On Your Socks and Leave. It was a refreshing a mix of honeysuckle vodka, hibiscus tea, lemon and mint. Her No Shirt, No Shoebox, No Service was a mix of mezcal, basil syrup, pineapple and lime. If you’re at all a mezcal fan, you’ll really enjoy this drink.

Mine was the red one

We started with the deviled eggs. They came with a piece of bacon on top and a drizzle of hot sauce. The yolk mixture was a bit too smooth  for my preference but the flavor was good.

For lunch, both Thomas and I went for the meatloaf sandwich – it came with gravy mayo, pepper jelly and melted american cheese on Texas toast. Very big and very messy but also very good. There were a lot of flavors competing with the meat loaf but it was very satisfying. I really liked the pickles that were on it.

Charlotte had the ham. It came with cranberry and cheddar on a roll. It looked good, especially on the Hercules plate they served it on. She really seemed to enjoy eating it, too.

I was tempted by the ice cream sundae that was carried past for someone else. They have soft serve vanilla ice cream with a choice of coverings. We got it with a chocolate shell and tater sticks. Salty and chocolatey plus smooth vanilla ice cream was an All-American hit.

The place was quite busy at lunch and it can get rather loud. They only have a few tables, although there are more tables outdoors (but only one umbrella). Be advised that the sandwiches are pricey – mine was $12.50. It was all good and the staff were friendly and unobtrusive, so I thought it worth it (and worth another visit).