I’ve been meaning to get over to Cowbell for a while but it wasn’t until a good friend had her birthday dinner here that I got around to it. They’re located in the Carrollton area, where Oak Street runs into the levee and are decorated rather eclectically in hip country kitsch.

We started with cocktails. It was a little cold so I had the Chupacabra with cocoa, coffee, tequila and other flavorings. Good but a little to much of the coffee flavor for my taste. The Nutty Irishman was very good and the Fruit Fly was very refreshing with mint and citrus in a sugar rimmed tumbler. I didn’t particularly care for the Pim’s cup – the tonic/soda they used made it too dry and the mint was confusing.

I started with the mac and cheese – terrific flavor with a nice selection of cheeses. While it could have been a little more creamy, it very much is something to order for the table and let everyone have a bite.

We all had the Locally World Famous Cowbell Burger. Mine came with white cheddar and house made pickles. The burger is thick, perfectly seasoned, high quality meat and cooked to order. It is definitely one of the best in the city. The bun is lightly toasted and comes with homemade ketchup and their house agogo sauce (which I didn’t care for – a mix of mayo, sirracha, and honey).

They had very friendly staff from the hostess who plied us with drinks while we waited for the big table to become open to the server who checked in regularly and was quick to explain specials, desserts and menu items. Lots of humor and teasing, which is a sign of people who enjoy their work and want you to enjoy your experience.

Definitely worth the visit and on my list to head back to again when I’m craving a good burger!


Crock Pot Corned Beef

For St. Patrick’s Day, I cooked a corned beef brisket in the crock pot. It was quite delicious and no real work. This is not something that even requires a recipe, although you can add veggies (carrots, onions and potatoes plus cabbage for the last 45 minutes) to the pot to serve with the finished brisket. I, however, primarily eat sandwiches, so I don’t bother.







3.5 lb corned beef brisket (plus pickling spice packet)

Water, to cover
1 cup beer

Place corned beef in a slow cooker, fat side down. Cover with liquid and cook for either 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Beef will be tender when done.

Cool on rack, then cut off fat layer before thinly slicing for serving.

A Drink and a Casserole

As you may remember, my sort of resolution for 2013 was to try and eat a bit better. Toward that end, I purchased brown rice. Of course, I had completely forgotten how much I dislike its gooey, gummy consistency.

I have found I can mitigate a lot of the issue by lightly toasting the rice first and by making casseroles with it.

Tonight, I started with a Paloma and then made a Chicken Mushroom Casserole.


1/4 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 T agave syrup
1 T lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
Salt the rim of a highball or margarita glass.

Place all of the ingredients in a shaker with some ice. Mix well, pour over ice into prepared glass.


Chicken Mushroom Casserole Recipe

1 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

2 1/2 water

2 chicken breasts

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large eggs

1 cup cottage cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a quart saucepan, heat a couple of glugs of olive oil. Add in the dry rice and toast lightly for just a couple of minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Once done, allow to cool slightly before fixing the rest of the casserole.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Rub a 9 X 13 baking dish with a bit of olive oil or butter and set aside.
Cut chicken breasts into pieces and sprinkle with Creole seasoning. In a large cast iron skillet, brown chicken over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same  skillet, melt two tablespoons
of butter. Saute the mushrooms. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute. Remove from heat and put the chicken back in the pan with any drippings.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese and sour cream. Add the cooled rice. Combine the rice mixture with the chicken and mushrooms. Stir until well combined and then turn out into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, place in oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until hot throughout and golden along the edges.


Hummingbird Cake

It may be a failing of my Southern upbringing but I’ve never had Hummingbird Cake. However, when a good friend asked for one for her birthday dinner, I went searching for a recipe to suit.

This old style cake has the flavors of pineapple, banana and pecans, with just a hint of coconut. The recipe I used came from Southern Living and, after I made a couple of changes, resulted in a moist cake that was not overly sweet – sort of a dessert banana bread.

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

from Southern Living


For the cake:

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 large)

1- 8 oz can crushed pineapple (do not drain)

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:

4 oz cream cheese, softened

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a bundt pan; set aside.  In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Next stir in the eggs, mashed bananas, pineapple, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Sprinkle chopped, toasted pecans into the bottom of the bundt pan, spoon the batter over the pecans. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes; remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.

For the glaze, in a bowl combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon milk; mix with a hand mixer until smooth, adding an additional tablespoons of milk if needed. Immediately pour the glaze over the cooled cake, and sprinkle coconut over the top.

Rosemary Chicken Piccata

The rosemary shrub outside my front steps is growing like crazy, so I decided to hack off a bit for dinner tonight.

I started by roasting small red and purple potatoes with a little olive oil, some chopped rosemary and kosher salt. Then, for the main course, I made Rosemary Chicken Piccata.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg
1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons – zest first!)
1/2 cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Pound breast to 1/4-inch thick. 
Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate or pie pan. In a second plate, beat the egg and olive oil. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate and mix in the chopped rosemary. Dredge each chicken breast first in the flour and then coat with the egg and, finally, dip them into the bread crumb mixture.
Heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake while you make the sauce.
For the sauce, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon zest, lemon juice and wine. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Drop in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve a chicken breast on each plate with a spoonful of sauce.

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant

I had a lovely meal and conversation at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant today. The newest of the two Ethiopian places on Magazine Street, it is a bit minimalist in decor, economic in price and authentic in flavor.

We shared the vegetarian sampler with three different lentil preparations (green, red and yellow), carrots and potatoes, beets and greens plus the lamb tibs. The lamb dish included onions and jalapeno’s and was quite spicy but with a portion of red or yellow lentils, it was perfect. The injera bread, which is both plate and serving utensil, wasn’t quite as sour as I remembered from my last visit to an Ethiopian restaurant but still had that unique flavor and consistency.

There was only a single server (after the guy who took our drink order left to drive a taxi) and she let us to carry on our conversation without pressure. It was a bit difficult getting a refill but that’s a small price to pay for being able to monopolize a table on Magazine Street for almost two hours at lunchtime.