"New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin."
- Mark Twain
During the last week of June I flew to Chicago to sit shiva with my bereaved cousin Lenny, whose mother (my Auntie) recently passed away (see beautiful photo at bottom). My brother flew from Boston to meet me. We visited my beloved Uncle Jack, adored cousins Anita and Brad, and even had the chance to FaceTime with my younger cousin Emily. Have said it before, saying it again, I love my people.
One afternoon, my cousins invited us to their new home, where they indulged us with a lovely lunch of a wide variety of delicious cold salads, pretzel rolls (a favorite), onion rolls, and the best pickles. A refreshing treat, as the weather that week was an impressive 99 ºF, 100% humidity, and the weather report stated it felt like 107. (I won't argue.) The visit itself was under sad circumstances, but seeing my Chicago family again was wonderful. Only regret was the BF could not join me, as he was holding down the fort at home.
Upon returning, I craved cold salad meals. While we don't have the humidity at our northern California home, we do get some heat, and as the temperatures rose into the mid-90s I found myself craving a favorite summer dinner from Susan Spicer, owner/chef of Bayona and Mondo restaurants in New Orleans. This particular recipe isn't a restaurant staple; it's from her cookbook Crescent City Cooking, and is a meal she makes for family at home.
Everything about the salad is a winner, but the show's star is the delicious dressing. Easy to make, and it's great on everything, i.e., works as a veggie dip, or drizzled over falafels or steak. All the toppings can be served cold including the chicken and corn. I made a few substitutions and add-ons for the salad toppings, but the dressing is perfect as is. Didn't change a thing.
Adapted from: Susan Spicer with Paula Disbrowe, Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes From Susan Spicer's New Orleans
Number of servings: 4
Directions - Roasting Poblano
NOTES: Feel free to add other ingredients like red bell peppers, celery, cotija or feta cheese, or pickled jalapenos. For a more substantial meal, serve some corn bread or jalapeno corn bread.
PS: One year ago...
Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Abe on their wedding day.
Marionberries have a short season. July to be precise. The plump, Oregon-borne morsels are the cabernet of blackberries, with a tart-yet-sweet flavor that's somewhere between raspberries and blackberries.
NPR states, "The marionberry, a cross between Chehalem and Olallie blackberries, was bred at Oregon State University as part of a berry-developing partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that dates back to the early 1900s. It's named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, where most of the field trials took place."
[Ed. note: To be clear, this has nothing to do with the late-D.C.-Mayor Marion S. Barry, who in 1990 was caught in an FBI sting smoking crack. Man, this blog suddenly got dark, didn't it? All apologies, we now return you to your regular programming.]
The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I chose marionberries as an homage to my home state. Feel free to use raspberries, blackberries or even boysenberries. I have been lucky enough to find fresh marionberries, but have used frozen too and it's delicious.
An incredibly moist, unassuming everyday cake that is perfect for breakfast, tea or a light dessert. Works well with ice cream or softly whipped cream, but it needs no accoutrement Well, maybe a cup of coffee!
Adapted from: Bon Appetit, March 2015 and Orangette
Number of servings: 8
"Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti."
- Sophia Loren
The BF and I don't have pasta very often. When we do it's usually a celebration of some kind. [Ed. note: Why oh why can't it be a day ending in "y?"] Last time I made this dish was for my dear honorary niece and her BF, who were moving out of the state for a job opportunity.
Don't know about you, but every time I eat spaghetti I think of Louis Prima singing "Angelina" or "Just a Gigolo," or that scene from Lady and the Tramp wafts across my brain. Not sure what the BF is seeing when he looks across at me eating my bowl of spaghetti [Ed. note: It's not David Lee Roth's version of "Just A Gigolo," I'll tell you what"], but my noggin is loudly vibrating with various songs and images.
This pesto is not your traditional pesto. It's made with smoked almonds and arugula. Smoked almonds, folks. They bring this pesto to a whole other level.
Bonus: make this a vegan option and simply don't add the cheese.
Summer in your mouth.
PS: in case you missed them, one year ago:
Adapted from: Feasting at Home
Number of servings: 4
NOTE: The pesto will taste salty and slightly bitter on its own, but don’t worry. Once it mixes with the bucatini, the pasta will soak up some of the salt and it will all balance out.
"Chocolate doesn't ask silly questions, chocolate understands."
You don't see too many chocolate desserts in the summer. Usually it's all about summer fruit pies, tarts, crostatas, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, sorbets. Nothing against them, all delicious, but my soul still craves chocolate. So this is an attempt at the best of both worlds. Even the BF loves it and he's not exactly fond of mixing fruit with cake. [Ed. note: As The Offspring once eloquently opined, gotta keep 'em separated. (I'm just kidding, this is really good.)]
The best part of this dessert is that it's the best hack of the summer.
I make every single meal for my clients and family from scratch. Every day. But once in awhile, especially in the summer heat, it's nice to make things a little easier for the BF and me. Here you can be versatile, feel free to use your favorite boxed brownie mix (Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies "Extra Thick and Fudgy" was used here) or a time-tested from-scratch recipe. You can make homemade whipped cream or Cool Whip, I won't tell. Like another berry better than strawberries? Go for it.
For years, I had prepared this dessert with homemade brownies and fresh whipped cream. Then one night a friend came over for an impromptu dinner. I was short on time, knew the guest couldn't eat dairy, and hates coconut milk. So out came the boxed brownie mix (no butter) and Cool Whip (no cream), and it was awesome. She loved it.
It also held up better in the warm weather than homemade and did not wilt or weep in the fridge. The BF and I had leftovers for a few days and there wasn't a single crumb left.
Hope you enjoy this one over a very Happy Fourth of July! Not only is it our nation's birthday, but it's also our rescue lab Marlowe's fifth. [Ed. note: She doesn't look a day over four.]
And as a final note, it is also a year since I started this blog, the one-year blogaversary, and I want to sincerely thank you for reading. Feel free to reach out to me here, or on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (links above).
Flashback to blog #1: www.moveablefeast.me/blog/crispy-salmon-with-strawberry-salsa
Number of Servings: 4-6
Born on the Fourth of July. Happy Fifth Birthday Marlowe!
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.