Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Day In St. Francisville, Louisiana

Melissa, Chris, Mom, and I spent the afternoon in quaint St. Francisville, Louisiana yesterday.  We hopped in the car around 10:30 am and took the quick trip from Zachary and had a lovely afternoon touring two plantations and a great lunch at the Magnolia Cafe.  I have always loved learning about the rich history of the antebellum period in Louisiana, and there are so many beautiful things to see in those houses.  I think Melissa and Chris also really enjoyed the day despite the gloomy weather we experienced.

Smoked Catfish Brandade and Catfish Bacon

Visiting my parents in Louisiana is always a treat for many reasons.  One of the biggest, along with company of course, is the bounty of fresh fish and shellfish that is readily available.  Traveling with a chef is always a great thing too.  My friend Melissa from work and her fiance Chris are here with me in Zachary.  Chris is the chef de cuisine at one of Cambridge's oldest and best restaurants and owns a new catering company called Tasty Plates in Boston.  He and I took over my mom's kitchen last night and put together quite a feast for my family that focused on catfish.  It was an honor and treat to be cooking alongside someone with so much passion and creativity.  Mom even got in on the act helping out by contributing some creative time saving tricks and by baking one of her fantastic pecan pies for dessert.  It was a culinary experience to remember!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Arneis Ensemble Plays Brahms, Haydn, and Bartok

I think I am quickly becoming the Arneis Quartet’s biggest fan. Their concert on Tuesday night was wonderful. The setting was beautiful St. Paul’s Church in Brookline. The warm acoustics are a treat for the performer and even better for an audience member. I had the enviable experience of listening to my new favorite string quartet play a program of Haydn, Bartok, and Brahms.

Dürer at the MFA, Boston

Armed with my new membership card to the MFA here in Boston, I headed over to the museum yesterday to see a couple of things I found on their website. I’m determined to get my $100 worth out of it, and at this rate, I’ll have accomplished my goal by March! My strategy is to keep things fresh by only staying for an hour or two and to hit up a couple different exhibits each time rather than trying to digest the entire museum in one day. They have such a huge collection that I would feel overwhelmed if I tried to see it all in one trip. So far, my series of short visits have left me craving more. Success!

Mayonnaise and Two Variations

Eating cold chicken isn’t everyone’s idea of delicious, but when you have the right sauce to go with it, it can be quite a treat. For lunches this week, I brined and roasted a couple of chicken breasts and thinly sliced up the meat to make sandwiches. I love roasted chicken, as you know from my previous posts, and brining always produces a moist and flavorful result, even if you’re using white meat. I also cook chicken breasts with the skin and bones on because there is always more flavor that way. The meat tends to be dry and bland otherwise for my taste.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pork Loin a la Diable

The traditional French technique of using mustard to coat something is usually referred to as "a la diable" or "of the devil," and refers to mustard's spicy flavor.  Julia Child liked to do chicken this way, usually split and broiled.  It's simple, quick, and produces amazing results.  The mustard really mellows out as it cooks, and leaves a nice tangy earthy flavor on the finish.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baklava at Athan's Bakery

Baklava is one of my all-time favorite sweet treats.  I have loved it ever since I was a kid.  Believe it or not, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine was a very big deal in Baton Rouge where I grew up.  Arzi's Restaurant still has a special place in my heart when it comes to gyros sandwiches and stuffed grape leaves.  My dad is probably right in saying that folks down there love it because of the garlic and the onions which are also so common in Cajun and Creole cooking.  Who wouldn't?  Those are some of the best flavors on the planet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chef Adam's Yummy Beet Salad

If you liked my post on my ideas regarding the classic beet salad, then you're really going to like Chef Adam Ostrofsky's take on beets.  I had this salad at Gordon's Wines in Waltham as part of the Sommelier Smack-Down event that I attended last week.  I asked Chef Adam to share it with you on CQ, and he graciously agreed.  According to him, it's a simple salad to make and I think the work that goes into the mis-en-place is worthwhile when you consider how fabulous the end result is.  I can't wait to serve this at my next dinner party.

Here's Chef Adam's recipe: