Fat Hen Grocery

In advance of speaking to the Tulane School of Social Work students about organizing, I went out to lunch with one of the instructors. Lisa is also a non-profit consultant and funder who I met through the Unified Non-profits of Greater New Orleans.

As we needed something near campus, we decided on the Fat Hen Grocery. Sitting outside, I could smell the wood smoke for their barbecue and it made me very happy to breathe it in. Right on St. Charles Avenue, you can find it by the fat yellow hen by the front door.

fat hen

I ordered the Little Piggy, a sandwich made with pulled pork shoulder on a toasted bun. The meat was juicy and delicious with a lovely smokiness.

little piggy

There was a collection of sauces to go with it from the Shane-made original to vinegar to Mustard-Q to go with, all in a little cardboard carrying case. I’ll need to go back to try some of the others.


Lisa ordered the smoked chicken salad with some of their award winning bbq chicken. Despite it being a salad, it was rather tasty with avocado, fried onion rings, corn and asparagus among the romaine leaves.

chicken salad

They serve breakfast all day and quite a selection of hamburgers. The wait staff was well informed and friendly. Definitely worth another visit.


Shrimp and Grits Redux

I’ve written about this before (Cheesy Grits and Shrimp), but the meal is so good and easy, I’m going to write about it again. This is a thirty minute meal and can be as spicy as you want it.

shrimp grits

Shrimp and Grits

1.5 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons Cajun/Creole seasoning
6 slices bacon, chopped roughly
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
hot sauce to taste

Cheese grits (recipe below)

Toss shrimp with seasoning and set aside. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned and crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Add the shrimp to the skillet with the garlic and sauté just until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Immediately add the lemon juice and stir. Add hot sauce, if desired. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Cheese Grits

4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grits – can be quick cooking but don’t use instant!
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Bring water and salt to boil over high heat. Slowly stir grits in water; reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness. Stir in butter and, once it is melted, stir in cheese. Continue to heat until cheese is completely melted. Taste for seasoning. Serve immediately or keep warm over the lowest heat setting.


Pour a couple spoonfuls of grits into a bowl or rimmed plate. Place a heaping spoonful of the shrimp mixture over the grits. Garnish with the bacon bits.

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken

I love the flavors of rosemary and lemon. I brought over a gallon bag of rosemary cut from the bush in my front garden to my parents an used Meyer lemons from my Dad’s tree for our first grilled meal of the Memorial Day Weekend.

Rosemary Lemon Grilled Chicken

4 chicken breasts, with rib meat or 4 leg quarters

½ cup fresh rosemary

½ cup lemon juice (about two large lemons) plus zest

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Add rosemary, lemon juice and zest, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Process until rosemary leaves are chopped and the ingredients are well mixed.

Place chicken in a resealable bag, add marinade and seal bag.  Rub the chicken with the marinade to make sure it covering all the chicken.  Place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least two hours and as long as twenty four hours. Turn the chicken occasionally and massage the marinade all over the chicken.

chicken on grill

Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. Remove chicken from the marinade. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, about ten minutes per side. Baste the cooked chicken with some of the marinade.

finished chicken

Reduce the rest of the marinade in a skillet over low heat. Add ¼ cup Limoncello after the marinade has thickened and put the sauce over the chicken when serving.

Strawberry-Watermelon Sorbet

On my drive back to New Orleans from Lafayette, I stopped at a roadside stand and picked up a flat of strawberries. Louisiana’s strawberries are wonderful and I’m always sad to see the end of fresh, local berries.

strawberry flat

I decided to start using them up by making Strawberry-Watermelon Sorbet. I watched John Besh’s New Orleans the other day and saw him making this for dessert. It is a super easy recipe and is like eating summer!


blender straw

1 pint strawberries, hulled

1 cup diced, seeded watermelon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

About 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. In a blender, purée strawberries, watermelon, lemon juice and sugar until smooth. Taste to make sure the purée has the correct amount of sugar. Add more sugar or fruit if necessary.

2. Transfer to the canister of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep the sorbet in the freezer until ready to use.


Such beautiful color!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I bought the smallest bag of carrots I could find in the grocery store for a stew I was making and still had plenty left over. I had enough to make a carrot cake. As what I like best about carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting, I decided to make cupcakes so I could get lots of frosting per bite.


If you want to kick it up a notch, replace 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract with 2 teaspoons of Praline Liquor.

Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and pecans.

Pour into pans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on racks and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Add all ingredients, except nuts, into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy. Stir in the nuts. Spread frosting on top of each cupcake.

Chocolate Pistachio Bark

Ever have one of those days where you’re just craving chocolate and are tempted to just open a bag of semi-sweet morsels and dig in? Well, I’ve got a bark recipe that will go a long way to satisfying even the most massive craving plus do a number on your salt craving as well.


This recipe can be made with bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate. I prefer bittersweet. I’ve also made it with pecans and my mom likes it with slivered almonds. Just make sure that whatever nut you use, you roast them to bring out their nutty goodness.


Bittersweet Chocolate Pistachio Bark

melted chocolate1 lb of bittersweet chocolate, chopped

½ cup unsalted roasted pistachios

2 to 3 pinches of grey salt




Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the bittersweet chocolate until two-thirds melted. Remove from the heat. Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted.


Spread the warm chocolate on the parchment paper to a rough 13 inch rectangle. Scatter the pistachios evenly over the melted chocolate, gently tap the cookie sheet on the work surface to flatten the chocolate and allow the topping to sink in slightly. Sprinkle on the salt.


Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, just until firm. Cut or break the bark into 2 inch pieces and serve.

Old School Root Beer Glazed Baked Ham

I’m a big fan of Tom Fitzmorris’ Root Beer Glazed Baked Ham. The glaze is fantastic and the cooking method makes the perfect crust on the outside.


However, I was in Rouse’s grocery store the other day and saw they now have an Abita Root Beer Glaze in a bottle. So, I bought it, a New Orleans Chisesi ham and invited a couple of guinea pigs…I mean friends over to see if the glaze was a decent alternative to the two day process of glaze making and baking.


I scored the meat and squirted on the glaze and then patted on a mix of brown sugar and dry mustard. I cooked the ham at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes a pound until it registered 160 on a meat thermometer.


What came out was tender and delicious with a lovely crust and beautiful color.


Dinner was great but I’m now really looking forward to the ham sandwiches!

Mini Soft Pretzels

I had an urge for homemade pretzels yesterday but knew it was a long process with two long rises on the dough. I started it around noon today and finally ate my first pretzel at 4:30. If you want to make larger pretzels, don’t divide the dough and roll them out to at least 20″.

These are nice and chewy. Best served hot from the oven, they are also delicious warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds the next day.

Mini Soft Pretzels

bread flour1-1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey

1-1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

4-1/2 to 5 cups bread flour

3 tablespoons baking soda

3 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons coarse salt

Stir the water and honey together in a heat proof measuring cup, microwave for 1 minute or until the water is about 105-degrees. Add yeast, whisk together and allow to proof for 5 minutes.

Place the salt and flour and in bowl of standing mixer equipped with dough hook. With the mixer on low, slowly add the honey/water/yeast mixture. Increase the speed slightly and mix the dough for 10 minutes, adding an additional ½ cup of flour if dough is too sticky.

Put dough on a lightly floured counter and form into a smooth ball. Coat a large mixing bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow rise at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours (depending upon room temperature) until it has doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough. Re-cover and allow to continue to rise for another hour until it has doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half and place one half in a bag in the refrigerator for later use (can also be frozen at this stage). Cut the remaining dough into 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6” rope, let them rest while you roll the remaining, then roll them out to about 12 to 18”. This extra relaxation time will make them easier to finish rolling. Shape each rope into a pretzel by holding each end, cross them, twist and press down with a drop of water. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add 6 cups water into a 12-inch skillet. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil over high heat.

skillet boil

Using a spider gently place around 4 pretzels into the boiling water, top-side down for 30 seconds. Using tongs, carefully flip over and boil the second side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels, drain briefly on wire rack, then place back onto the prepared baking sheet.

Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with coarse salt and bake for 7 minutes. Rotate the sheet before baking for another 7 minutes, until the pretzels are well-browned.

Let the pretzels from cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and enjoy!

finished pretzels

Venezia Restaurant

Walking into Venezia’s one expects red checked tablecloths and wicker basket Chianti bottles with candle wax dripping down the sides. This is old school Italian food (they’ve been around since 1957) in MidCity. If you’re looking for unpretentious and casual Italian for reasonable prices, look no further.


I went there last night after a board meeting with some friends from the Forum For Equality. I had had an eventful day of testifying up in Baton Rouge on a public employment bill that, ultimately, was defeated. You can read all about it on the Forum’s blog: Committee Hearing on House Bill 85

cannoliOn the recommendation from Susan, I ordered the Cannelloni.


It was delicious, with the tight rolls of pasta filled with tender ground veal. The red and white sauces were scrumptious. I used some of the cheese bread to sop up the remainder.


John also ordered the Cannelloni and he seemed to enjoy his as much as I enjoyed mine.


Mickie had the lasagna which was also good – many layers of cheesy goodness to be had there but the amount of sauce was a little overwhelming.

Susan had the Chicken Marsala, which had a good flavor but came with canned mushrooms, so it was a bit of a disappointment. I think I can do better at home.

All in all, a pretty decent place to go back in time for the sort of food that sticks to your ribs without sticking it to your wallet.