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Creole Shakshuka

Creole Shakshuka

Creole Shakshuka

It’s pretty hot in south Louisiana and sometimes a salad for supper doesn’t cut it. But I wanted something fresh and lively. I don’t do breakfast except for coffee. Occasionally I’ll have what amounts to brunch on the weekends, but I love eggs and thought of this dish for dinner. Tunisian in origin, shakshuka is a tomato and bell pepper sauce that has eggs poached in it. While nice on it’s own, I wanted to make it more substantial. So I added some fabulous smoked deer sausage from Kartchner’s and creolized the seasonings. If you haven’t been to Kartchner’s in Krotz Springs, it’s so worth a trip! The boudin is amazing. And the cracklin’s are the best; I refer to them as paleo pig candy. 🙂

Eggs, tomatoes and herbs

Eggs, tomatoes and herbs

If there is a more versatile ingredient than an egg, I don’t know what it is. Eggs can be hard boiled, scrambled, fried, poached, and shirred. If you separate the yolks and whip the whites, eggs are magically transformed into soufflĂ©s and meringues. A wonder of nutritional goodness, eggs have regained their place in the hall of fame of good real foods. And compared to other nutrient-dense ingredients, eggs are cheap. I’d like to think that paleo peeps are a strong reason that eggs are once again recognized for their contribution to health. And one of our goals is to have more grassfed and pastured options in our kitchens. If you don’t have yard birds of your own, or can’t make it to the farmers market, don’t despair, the good news is free-range eggs may become more available. And make this egg recipe! It’s delicious.

To accompany the shakshuka, I thought creamy avocados and bright, fresh citrus would be welcome. So I’ve paired the egg dish with a grapefruit and avocado salad.

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

New music this week … dance, dine and enjoy!!

Creole Shakshuka
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Creole Shakshuka
Creole Shakshuka: quick and easy for weeknight supper, or the star of your next brunch. Paleo, gluten free, low carb and delicious.
Creole Shakshuka
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Creole Shakshuka: quick and easy for weeknight supper, or the star of your next brunch. Paleo, gluten free, low carb and delicious.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 25minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet, add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a plate and reserve.
  2. Add olive oil to now empty skillet and add onion. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and celery and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and roasted peppers. Season to taste. Bring to a rapid simmer and lower heat to medium low. Return sausage to skillet and combine.
  3. Crack eggs into the tomato sauce, leaving a bit of room around each eggs. Cover and simmer until egg whites are set and yolks are desired consistency, about 5 minutes for runny yolks. Garnish with parsley and green onions.
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Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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Grapefruit Avocado Salad
Juicy pink grapefruit and luscious avocado with a refreshing citrus dressing combine into a perfect summer salad.
Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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Juicy pink grapefruit and luscious avocado with a refreshing citrus dressing combine into a perfect summer salad.
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
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Instructions
  1. Make dressing: combine lime juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Distribute baby spinach on salad plates. Alternate grapefruit sections and avocado slices on top of spinach. Drizzle with dressing.Grapefruit Avocado Salad
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New Orleans Eggs Sardou Gone Paleo

Eggs Sardou

Eggs Sardou

In The Big Easy brunch is not just a weekend thing. Countless restaurants serve brunch favorites every day. New Orleans Eggs Sardou are a popular mainstay on menus, and it’s great. Invented at Antoine’s in honor of Victorien Sardou, a French playwright who wrote several plays for Sarah Bernhardt and visited New Orleans, Eggs Sardou is a combination of artichokes, creamed spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Antoine’s version is paleo if you can include heavy cream with the spinach, but most versions are not. Brennan’s deep fries the artichoke bottom for example.

I wanted a version that was not over the top—although this recipe is not lacking for richness—but fried artichokes and creamed spinach in addition to the hollandaise seems a little much. There are versions with an English muffin as well, and I wanted some substance with potato. You can use either sweet or white. The vegetables are super simple to prepare and while poached eggs and hollandaise might seem daunting, they really aren’t. I’ve got some super tips to ensure excellent results. And don’t wait for brunch to enjoy this menu! It’s super for supper, too.

Eggs Sardou Ingredients

Eggs Sardou Ingredients

The incomparable J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has a method for making hollandaise that’s foolproof. If you follow his video, you’ll be making this incredible sauce often. It’s delicious on asparagus and salmon for example. Kenji also has a hack for making eggs that look like the emoji: before adding an egg to the pan (whether poaching or frying) drain off the watery portion of the white. It’s disturbing to see all that froth and wonder if there’s any egg left in there.

Poached Eggs Done Wrong

Poached Eggs Done Wrong

If you drain the eggs first, you will not have this problem. Here’s a link for more on poaching eggs: Perfect Poached Eggs.

Strain the eggs before you begin

Strain the eggs before you begin – photo from seriouseats.com

And here’s the video for super easy hollandaise: Foolproof Hollandaise.

To go with the eggs, I thought a new take on the Southern favorite, Ambrosia would be nice. Sweet and juicy without added sugar or marshmallows, this is a great side dish.

Ambrosia

Ambrosia

The music this week is from new artists and not-so-new. Enjoy!!

Eggs Sardou
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New Orleans Eggs Sardou
New Orleans Eggs Sardou isn't just for brunch anymore! Enjoy this delicious dish for supper. And find out that Hollandaise Sauce is fast and easy!
New Orleans Eggs Sardou
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New Orleans Eggs Sardou isn't just for brunch anymore! Enjoy this delicious dish for supper. And find out that Hollandaise Sauce is fast and easy!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 15minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
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Instructions
Vegetables
  1. In a 12-inch skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring frequently until tender, 5-8 minutes. Do not brown.
  1. Add artichoke hearts and spinach. Stir frequently until artichokes are heated through and spinach is wilted. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Reduce the heat to very low, stirring occasionally.
Hollandaise Sauce
  1. In a jar just wide enough to hold an immersion blender (about 2 cups capacity), add lemon juice, water and a pinch of salt.
  2. Melt one stick of butter until bubbling and froth has subsided (about 220 degrees F). Pour butter into heat proof measuring cup with pouring spout.
  3. Place immersion blender into cup and whip the egg. Slowly pour the hot butter into the cup while the blender is running. It should take about 30 seconds to add it all. Go a bit more slowly a first so as not to curdle the egg. Taste for seasoning and add lemon juice and/or salt to taste. To keep warm, place cup into a pan of hot tap water (do not heat on the stove).
Poached Eggs
  1. Fill a large sauce pan half full of water (the liquid should be at least 3 inches deep). Crack the eggs into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and allow the watery portion of the egg whites to drain.
  2. When the water has reached boiling temperature, reduce the heat so the water is just bubbling lightly. Add 2 tsp salt and the vinegar (this helps the whites to firm up). Hold the strainer just above the water level and tip them gently into the water. After 15-20 seconds, use a slotted spoon to lift each egg gently from the bottom of the pot and turn them over. Cook for 3 1/2-4 minutes for fully cooked whites and slightly runny yolks.
  3. Remove each egg with the slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and drain.
  4. To serve, place a mound of vegetables on the plate, top with egg and drizzle with hollandaise.
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Ambrosia
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Ambrosia
Quick and easy, for a side dish or dessert, Ambrosia is a Southern favorite that's paleo, too!
Ambrosia
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Quick and easy, for a side dish or dessert, Ambrosia is a Southern favorite that's paleo, too!
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
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  1. Combine the fruits. Sprinkle with coconut. Serve!
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Just Ducky Cobb Salad with Paleo Goddess Dressing

A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!

A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!

Now that spring has arrived, salads are a welcome addition to the dinner table. And this one has a fabled history. Cobb Salad was invented at the Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood and dates back to the 1930s. And yes, it was built to resemble the hat-du-jour of Hollywood icons.

Brown Derby circa 1940

Brown Derby circa 1940

One of the notable aspects of the salad is that the ingredients are chopped and not tossed prior to serving. One story goes that the chef cobbled together kitchen leftovers and topped it with the house dressing and a star was born. Generally made with cooked chicken or turkey, I thought it would nice to use duck breast for the poultry component. Duck breast recipes tend to favor a hard sear on the skin side, served rare with a pan sauce. And roasting a whole duck is major undertaking. Many markets carry duck breasts, and this is a unique way of presenting the delectable bird.

Cobb salad ingredients including a change from chicken: duck.

Fresh ingredients for a Cobb Salad featuring duck.

The only cooking required is a quick roast of the duck in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, and hard boiling the eggs for 12. And while iceberg, romaine, cress and chicory were the common greens of the time, you can use whatever you fancy. Add some avocado, blue cheese, tomato, hard-boiled egg and you’re set. Bacon is the last key ingredient, but as a further twist on tradition, I’ve rendered the skin after it’s finished roasting for some fantastic duck cracklin’s!

There are two dressings: one based on the original Brown Derby vinaigrette and my own Paleo Goddess dressing. The original goddess dates back to the same time as the Cobb Salad, and I’ve utilized a new hack I learned from Chef Steps. This is a website of mad geniuses doing great things with cooking techniques.

An awesome way to have a paleo “cream,” it’s just onions roasted in their skins, peeled and purĂ©ed in a blender with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. It doesn’t taste like onions! It’s velvety and smooth and makes a lovely base for the Paleo Goddess dressing. I’ll be using this stuff for lots more recipes; it’s such a great change from usually using coconut milk or cream. Try it. You’ll like it!

Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!

Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!

The finished salad is a medley of terrific flavors: tart/sweet tomatoes, unctuous avocado, bright blue cheese, crispy greens, rich duck and crunchy cracklin’s. The dressings are point and counter point.

So! Onto the show! I love live theatre. For a couple of years I had the pleasure of volunteering many hours to a community theatre group. I did any and everything from creating music backgrounds, to delivering flyers, writing grants and acting! It’s an intoxicating experience. As is attending live theatre. There’s truly no other storytelling that is as immediate and electrifying. If you haven’t been to a play or it’s been a while, do check out your local productions. The talent is often extraordinary, and there’s nothing like seeing a story unfold, live and steps from the stage.

This is one of my favorite movies. Directed by Richard Linklater of School of Rock, Boyhood, and the trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, the film, Me & Orson Welles, is the true tale of a Shakespearian production starring Orson Welles that shook the theatre world at the time.

Me and Orson Welles poster

Me and Orson Welles poster

This is what Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal wrote about the film:

Theater is the most romantic of all the art forms. Why? Because it’s evanescent. Like a fireworks display, a theatrical performance vanishes at the very moment of its consummation. No matter how hard you try, you can’t do a show the same way twice, and once the original production has ended its run, all that’s left are photographs and memories. What could be more romantic than that?

If I could pick just one show to pull out of the memory hole, it would be one of the eight classical plays that Orson Welles directed between 1936 and 1939. Today Mr. Welles’s early theatrical career—before he quit the stage and went to Hollywood to make “Citizen Kane”—is all but unknown save to scholars. But for a brief moment he and John Houseman, his producing partner, were the hottest thing to hit Broadway since the lightbulb. Of all the Welles-Houseman classical revivals, the one best remembered today is the modern-dress version of “Julius Caesar” that opened on Nov. 11, 1937. Not only were the black-shirted characters costumed to suggest that the action took place in Nazi Germany, but Jean Rosenthal lit the show in a manner intended to evoke the Nuremburg rallies. Time magazine put Mr. Welles on its cover, telling of how “Shakespeare’s five-act classic had: 1) been turned into a one-act cyclone, 2) on a bare stage, 3) in modern dress, 4) with modern meaning, 5) gone over with the loudest bang that Shakespeare lovers could recall.”

Like most Welles stage shows, alas, this one left few traces. To be sure, Columbia did record two 78rpm albums of excerpts (which you can hear by going to www.archive.org and searching for “Orson Welles Shakespeare Collection”) that give some idea of what “Julius Caesar” sounded like onstage. But no part of the production was filmed, and nothing else survives but the design sketches and some still photographs taken in 1937.

Enter Richard Linklater, the director of such distinctly un-Wellesian movies as “Dazed and Confused” and “School of Rock,” who last year made a film called “Me and Orson Welles” that was recently released on DVD. Based on a 2003 novel by Robert Kaplow, the movie is a coming-of-age screwball comedy in which Zac Efron, lately of “High School Musical,” plays a stage-struck high-school senior who unexpectedly finds himself playing a bit part in “Julius Caesar.” Don’t snicker: Christian McKay’s Welles impersonation is so accurate as to be spooky, and despite the film’s obligatory (albeit charming) rom-com trappings, I’ve never seen a backstage movie that was truer to the experience of putting on a show.

This is a dinner-and-a-movie menu that I hope you will enjoy as much as I did. I’ve included the songs from the soundtrack to play while you cook and get in the mood for the show.
A new twist on Cobb Salad: the usual players get a new star: duck!
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Just Ducky Cobb Salad
The legendary Brown Derby chopped salad gets a new star: duck!
Just Ducky Cobb Salad
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The legendary Brown Derby chopped salad gets a new star: duck!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
2servings 10minutes 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
2servings 10minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the duck breast in a shallow baking dish, season with salt and pepper and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove duck to a plate to cool.
  2. When duck is cool enough to handle, remove the skin layer from the duck and cut into strips. In a skillet, render the skin until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Assemble the salad on a platter or individual plates, including some of each of the components. Serve with Brown Derby dressing or Paleo Goddess dressing (recipe on recipe page.)
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Paleo goddess dressing: so much more than green!
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Paleo Goddess Dressing
Paleo Goddess dressing is a new take on green goddess. The herbs are there, but the sour cream is replaced with a new pantry staple: roasted onion purée. You've got to try this one!
Paleo Goddess Dressing
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Paleo Goddess dressing is a new take on green goddess. The herbs are there, but the sour cream is replaced with a new pantry staple: roasted onion purée. You've got to try this one!
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 45minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
45minutes
Ingredients
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a shallow baking dish, place the onion and drizzle with olive oil. Roast, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skins and place onions in a blender with lemon juice and olive oil. Purée until very smooth. Add salt to taste and add more oil and/or lemon juice if necessary, Blend again. You want a purée that is the consistency of heavy cream.
  2. Remove the onion purée to a bowl. It's not necessary to clean the blender jar. Add 1/2 cup of onion purée, mayo, herbs, anchovy, vinegar and garlic or shallot to the blender. Purée until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Adjust for acidity by adding oil or vinegar for your taste.
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