DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Sunday, December 10, 2017. I have a busy day of singing. First at St. Jane’s, then with NPAS at Our Lady Of Lourdes In Slidell. In the latter, we are not part of the liturgy. We’re borrowing the impressive building and inviting the parishioners and anyone else who wants to hear a concert of Christmas hymns and pop songs for a voluntary admission tuppence. I missed the first concert on Friday, when it began at a time and place conflicting with my radio show.

Today’s program sounds terrific, although no credit should come to me. I’m happy that I am surrounded by other tenors who have learned the music better than I did. My only real contribution is “Sleigh Ride,” long my favorite Christmas pop standard, one I can sing at breakneck speed and on the notes.

The last of the snow has vanished. We will remember it almost as happily as we did for a much heavier snowfall back around 1992, not long after we moved across the lake to the Cool Water Ranch.

I haven’t eaten much today, so I join the Marys for dinner at their regular Sunday feed bag, La Carreta.They have been busy all day cleaning up and moving out of ML’s old apartment. It is cold outside, but they eat in the patio of La Carreta anyway so the dog can eat with them. I eat a big bowl of bean soup, which I love here. A lot better the refried beans or most other Mexican soups.


Cornish Hens With Peppercorn Red Wine Sauce

I found this recipe in a folder deep in my file cabinet, written in my hand on radio stationery and dated 1988. I remembered it only vaguely. So I cooked it, and liked it enough to know that a) it’s not an original recipe of mine and b) I wish I had thought of it. It’s very French in style, and turns the chicken-like Cornish hen (which I rather like anyway) into something wonderful. Try to find the demi-glace this thing calls for. You can now buy demi in gourmet food stores and gourmet-to-go places. And if you have a good relationship with a restaurant, they may sell it to you, as well.

Cornish hen Paradis.

  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 small onion, cut in half and pulled apart
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 12 oz. rich duck pate de campagne
  • 6 thick slices smoky bacon
  • 1 tsp. chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. green peppercorns (the marinated kind, not dried)
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
  • 1/2 cup demi-glace
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Heat the butter in a skillet and sauté the onion and the marjoram until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat.

2. Salt and pepper the hens. When the onions are cool enough to handle, line the inside of the Cornish hens’ cavities with single layers of them. Divide the pate into two portions and stuff the hens’ cavities with it. With string, tie the legs closed over the cavity.

3. Wrap the hens with the bacon, holding it in place with toothpick.

4. Heat the butter in a large, ovenproof skillet and sear the hens until the bacon has begun to crisp.

5. Put the skillet into a preheated 375-degree oven. Roast for 35 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and the Cornish hens from the pan. Leave the oven on. Pour off excess fat from the pan, but don’t wipe. Over medium heat, add the shallots and garlic; sauté for about a minute.

5. Add the peppercorns and brandy. (Be careful–the brandy might flame briefly.) Bring the brandy to a boil for about 30 seconds, then add the wine and demi-glace. Bring that to a light boil and reduce for five or six minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Remove toothpicks and strings from the hens. Cut in halves from front to back, and place on plates. Pour the sauce around the hens, and put the plates into the oven for two or three minutes to warm everything back up to temperature. Serve with wild rice.

Serves four.




Bourbon House

Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House looms over one of the two or three busiest corners in the French Quarter. Its participation in the Reveillon has increased this year, with choices of three appetizers and three entrees. The restaurant has a seafood and Cajun focus, allowing for the use of the restaurant’s specialties. Here is one of the best oyster bard in town, for example, and the bar can supply you with more different Bourbons. Always busy.

Four courses, $50.

Smoked Duck Salad
Candied kumquats, cranberries, and spiced pecans
Smoked Oyster Stew
Turtle Sauce Piquant
Tortellini and tasso
Seafood Stuffed Flounder
Green beans amandine
Double Cut Pork Chop
Celeste figs, Creole rice dressing, smothered lima beans
Dry-Aged Oven Roasted Duck
Citrus gastrique, molasses, whipped sweet potatoes, and bourbon braised greens
Bananas Foster Crêpe
Filled with banana custard, Foster sauce, and vanilla gelato

French Quarter: 144 Bourbon. 504-522-0111.

We’ll feature one every day throughout the Reveillon season, which runs in most of the Reveillon restaurants until December 31.The snowflake ratings are for the Reveillon menu, not the restaurant in general. Dishes marked with the snowflake symbol ? are my recommendations.

AlmanacSquare December 13, 2017

Days Until. . .

Christmas 12.
New Year’s Eve: 19.
Eat Club Gala @ Brennan’s: Tonight!.

Edible Dictionary

brunoise, [bruh-NWAHS], French, n.–Savory vegetables, usually used for flavoring sauces or as a garlic, chopped into the tiniest dice possible by hand. Brunoise vegetables are considered better than vegetables chopped in, say, a food processor. The most uniform the dice, the better–particularly in the looks department. Brunoise is a great example of a word which once was used almost exclusively by professional cooks, but is now often mentioned in dish descriptions on restaurant menus. Chefs use to keep such things to themselves, since few diners knew or cared what difference chopping vegetables into small uniform dice made. Now chefs want to tell us everything they do, the more to impress us with their hard work.

Today’s Flavor

It’s National Beef Stew Day, and the weather will be perfect for it. It will be chilly for the next few days, and we’ll need something to warm us up and stick to our ribs. The unique New Orleans twist on beef stew is that it’s served over rice. Why not? Wherever there’s gravy, there ought to be rice.

Beef stew is a close relative to the French dish beef bourguignonne. Other than the inclusion of wine in the recipe, the principal difference between beef stew and beef bourguignonne is about five dollars per serving.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Cubes of good beefsteak
Lightly dusted with flour
Sear ’em, and then take
Red wine with some power
Pour into that hot pan
Whisk, then add onion,
Herbs like marjoram
Stock if you have one
Simmer while you cut
Potatoes and carrots
Turnips, green beans, but
Though it may sound nuts
Boil those separately
Add when beef’s juicy
You’ve now delicately
Made something stewsy!

Gourmet Gazetteer

Grinders is a small farming community in the center of Tennessee, sixty miles southwest of Nashville. It’s in a horseshoe bend of the Duck River, the longest river entirely in Tennessee, and a tributary of the Tennessee River. It therefore contributes to the water that passes New Orleans through the Ohio then the Mississippi. The Duck River is teeming with life, including fifty species of mussels and over 150 species of fish. The nearest restaurant to Grinders (which are sort of like poor boy sandwiches) Fish Camp Restaurant, ten miles upstream in Centerville.

Music To Eat Turkey By

On this date in 1969, Arlo Guthrie released his most famous album, Alice’s Restaurant. The entire LP is taken up with his relating the story of “a Thanksgiving dinner that can’t be beat” in Alice’s place, and what happened afterwards. Very funny, and an iconic recording of the early 1970s.

Annals Of Weather

Today in 1962, a deep cold wave swept over the South. Temperatures in New Orleans were in the low teens. In Florida, almost the entire citrus crop was lost, and many trees died. The shortage of Florida oranges that followed has been repeated a few times since then. Most recent was the complete disappearance of Florida oranges from New Orleans area groceries . That went on from 2005 until about four years ago, when a few have begun to return.

Annals Of Dressing For Dinner

The clip-on tie was introduced on this date in 1928. Imagine: a time when wearing a tie was so important that even if you couldn’t figure out how to tie one, there existed a way for you to sport one anyway. I remember having a few of these when I was a kid, but by the time I was fourteen I wouldn’t have been caught dead with a clip-on. Every man should know how to tie both a four-in-hand tie and a bowtie.

Deft Dining Rule #180:

Men who wear beautiful ties in restaurants register unconsciously in the minds of servers as generous tippers, and so get significantly better food and service. (Read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell for more on this effect.)

The Saints

Today is St. Lucy’s Day, celebrated widely in Europe, especially in Scandinavia and Italy. The eldest daughter in the family wears a crown of holly and burning candles (this is really something to see), and serves a breakfast of hot sweet rolls flavored with saffron and cardamom. Nothing like that around here, of course, although you do hear the opera singers at Cafe Giovanni singing “Santa Lucia.” St. Lucy is the patron saint of writers, so I ask her intercession.

Annals Of Viticulture

Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet was born today in 1838. He created the world’s first successful fungicide, which protected from mold and mildew. His first patients: grapevines for wine production. He later attacked another scourge of the vineyard, the phylloxera root louse, which threatened to destroy the vineyards of Europe (and almost all the rest of the world). Without his discoveries, the wine world would be very different now.

Food Namesakes

Russell Porter, an early Alaska explorer, was born today in 1871. . . In 1974 on this date, Jim “Catfish” Hunter was able to break away from Charles Finley’s baseball A’s and become a free agent, the first time a player had such control of his destiny.

Words To Eat By

“I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o’clock in the morning.”–John Barrymore.

Words To Drink By

Seamen three! what men be ye?
Gotham’s three Wise Men we be.
Whither in your bowl so free?
To rake the moon from out the sea.
The bowl goes trim. The moon doth shine,
And our ballast is old wine.
Thomas Love Peacock, British writer in the 1800s.


Not Much Pie Around New Orleans, Until. . .

The Feasting Season (Halloween to New Year’s) is the pie-lover’s favorites time of year.

Click here for the cartoon.