Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Traveling tip: Pecan Waffles

 In motels, I have developed a dislike for the the waffle irons that many motels feature in their breakfast rooms. The waffles they produce lack whole grains and the fake maple syrup is main line sugar...literally. I have been determined to make them at least a wee bit healthier or, at the very least, taste better. My solution is to travel with a small bag of chopped pecans. When no one is looking, I pour the waffle goop into the iron and add a half cup of the chopped pecans. I end up with a pecan waffle that tastes a heck of a lot better and has a better nutritional profile. Instead of the supplied fake syrup, I improvise as best I can with fruit cocktail, fresh fruit, even biscuit gravy....anything but the syrup. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Buster and John's Red Beans and Rice


David Rosengarden once observed that when ask an aficionado of red beans and rice for their true favorite version of this widely loved New Orleans staple, they will likely go into a stage whisper and tell you, after securing a promise of secrecy, that Popeye’s makes the best red beans and rice on the planet. With that in mind, I have been trying recipe after recipe trying to find the holy grail of red beans and rice. I think I have found it. If there are recipes better than this one: Bring ‘Em On!

This recipe is adapted from Jane and Michael Stern’s book, Road Food. The inspiration for their recipe came from Buster Holmes restaurant in New Orleans and John Thorne’s pamphlet, Rice and Beans: The Itinerary of a Recipe. I have made a few minor changes to suit my tastes.


  • 1-14 oz package of dried red beans, washed and picked through
  • 3 cups of Sauterne wine. If you have trouble finding Sauterne, try a sweet wine such as Madeira. I also have used apple juice successfully.
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into disks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup minced scallion, reserve green tops
  • 1/8 teaspoon, Crystal hot sauce (I never use Tabasco)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups, rice
  • 4 ½ cups, water
  • 2 cloves, garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Creole seasoning to taste


  • Soak beans overnight in wine and enough water to cover.
  • Pour off liquid and put beans in a 6-quart stockpot with 2 quarts of water.
  • Add ham hock, sausage, garlic, onions, scallion, and seasonings, stir gently, and bring to simmer gradually.
  • Partially cover and simmer gently for three hours, adding a half-and-half mixture of water and wine as needed to keep the beans soupy.
  • After 2 ½ hours, mash some of the softened beans to thicken gravy. I use an immersion blender, but a potato masher will work.
  • Serve over cooked rice. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Great low cal dressing: Pineapple Miso Dressing

A friend of mine hates bottled dressings and I can not say I blame him. Further, the low calorie dressings are either too sweet or have a chalky after-taste. I found this recipe in the Hawaii Diet Cookbook, a cookbook I highly recommend.

Note: when you make this dressing, be prepared for two bottles worth. It makes a lot so I usually freeze half the final product.  Also, use a blender because this quantity sometimes overflows in my food processor.


Pineapple juice (unsweetened) - 2 cups
White miso, 1/2 cup
Maui or Vidalia onion - 1 medium, chopped
Ginger - 2 tablespoons, peeled and minced
Soy sauce - 1/4 cup
Balsamic vinegar - 1 tablespoon
White pepper - to taste

28 calories per portion which translates to about 2.6 tablespoons.

Personal note: I add some no salt Cajun seasoning (Emeril's recipe minus salt). A pinch or two.

Place in blender and blend thoroughly, then blend again to avoid any chunks.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

O'Steen's Makes the Best Fried Shrimp On the Planet......

I have eaten at O'Steen's a jillion times and still marvel at the perfection of the fried shrimp. They are consistently exemplary every single time. The side dishes and specials all are definitive and dead ringer perfect. And then...........the real secret..........if you can get past the fried shrimp, try the fried chicken is to die for.

Another sure fire sign of excellence: many of the staff have been there for 25 years or more. They are as good as the food: friendly, intelligent, efficient, and proud of the food they serve. 

I do not exaggerate about O'Steens. This is the creme de la creme of its genre.

I coaxed this recipe from someone who would know how they prepare their shrimp:

O'Steen's Fried Shrimp
(Serves 2)

3/4 measure of mix of fine cracker meal
1/4 measure of regular flour
1-2 eggs
Whole milk - 1/2 to 3/4 cup
1.5 pounds of large, domestic shrimp.

Bring the shrimp to room temperature. Rinse and peel. I leave the tails on when I can. 

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg(s). Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to batter consistently, not too thick, not too thin. Add small amount of milk if needed.
Dredge the shrimp in the batter gently shaking off excess.
Slide each shrimp into the hot oil to avoid splattering. Do not overcrowd the shrimp. If cooking a lot of shrimp, be prepared to cook in small batches. 
The shrimp should bubble vigorously when hitting the oil. Flash fry until the shrimp reaches a light brown color. It will cook rapidly. Do not overcook.
Remove and place on a platter with paper towels or a paper bag. Immediately, salt and pepper. Cajun seasoning can be added though O'Steen's does not.
Serve immediately.