Monday, February 27, 2012

Cochon Butcher

A friend of mine owed me a meal so I had her take me to Butcher. More than a butcher shop, Butcher is part of the Donald Link restaurant group. Browse their counter for house cured meats and sausages, order exotic meat like rabbit, venison or a whole pig or sit down at one of their tables for a sandwich or bar food.

I went for the Cochon au lait po-boy. The sandwich wasn't one of those horrendously oversized po-boys but, rather, a decent size for a single individual to eat. The meat was tender and the mushroom gravy were delicious. I would have preferred less cheese on top but, as it kept the meat from falling out, it ended up being a good match. The house made potato chips were pretty tasteless, though.

My dining companion had the tomato pesto sandwich which she almost enjoyed as much as the BLT she had gotten the last time. We split the pancetta mac and cheese (good but not a lot for $6) and I also got a pretzel. Good strong mustard came with it and it reminded me a lot of German pretzels from Oktober Fests. Both of us were kicking ourselves for skipping over the bacon praline--I guess I'll just have to go back.

The one real issue is how cramped the place is. There are not that many tables and they were all full when we showed up at 1:30pm. We ordered our meal to go and it still took 30 minutes for the order to come up. Not ideal when there were four people behind the counter.

I certainly enjoyed my meal and want to try a few of the other items on the menu but I will probably call ahead to pick up my order. I'll also probably stick to Rare Cuts for my butcher needs--$16/lb for bacon is a little out of my price range!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pork Shoulder

My father went hunting for deer this January and came back with a wild pig. I took the shoulder and I did a paint on it of mustard and herbs and then cooked it low and slow in my Weber kettle grill for three hours.

As wild pig has a little stronger taste than domesticated pork, the paint added a good flavor. I also basted with leftover apple cider that had a little apple cider vinegar added to it.

The barbarians who came for dinner must have thought it was edible.

Old South Louisiana Paint:

1/2 cup Creole mustard
1/4 cup minced parsley leaves
2 T cup dried rosemary leaves, crushed

Mix all together and spread on meat in a thin coat. Refrigerate any remainder in an airtight container.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pimm's Cup

Carnival season in New Orleans lasts from Twelfth Night (January 6) to Fat Tuesday. Today was Mardi Gras and it was quite warm, so I took the opportunity to work on my Pimm's Cup. I really like the version served at Napoleon House in the French Quarter but wanted to have a version that I could recreate at home. After a few attempts of trying to strike a balance between sweet and sharp, I think I've come up with a delicious version

Pimm's Cup - Recipe Revised 10/21/2012

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces lemonade (I used Tropicana)
1 tsp grated cucumber
Ginger Ale
Cucumber spear

Remove the seeds and grate one cucumber. Mix together Pimm’s and lemonade in a 12 oz glass. Top off with Ginger Ale and ice. Stir. Garnish with cucumber spear.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

High Hat Cafe

I joined a fellow board member from the LGBT Community Center to continue my eating journey down Freret Street. We went to High Hat Cafe. Right across from the Sojourner Truth Academy, it delivers on the promise of casual dining with locally sourced food.

I started with a Satsuma Lemonade and was convinced by the waitress to come back later to give their Satsuma mojitos a try.

My lunch was the fried chicken plate that came with pimento mac & cheese and a bowl of greens. The coating on the chicken was cornmeal and it delivered a nice crunch. The chicken itself was juicy and tender. I really enjoyed the mac & cheese and tried to get my dining companion to eat my greens. A pescetarian, she tasted the hamhock that the greens were cooked in and wouldn't take more than that single bite. She enjoyed the BBQ shrimp and a side of the stone ground grits, which she raved about. We finished the meal with the chocolate chess pie. The crust was flaky and the filling delicious, making the pie itself the perfect Southern ending for the meal.

We very much enjoyed our lunch and I'm looking forward to returning to try the catfish and their full bar.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hot Mulled Apple Cider

When the Mardi Gras season is chilly and damp, I make a crock pot full of hot apple cider, mulled with spices and citrus zest. My crock pots holds three quarts so I usually buy a quart and a half of unfiltered apple juice and then make up the remainder with the cheapest apple juice I can buy. Make sure you're buying 100% apple juice and not a blend.

Per one quart of apple juice:
One stick of cinnamon
Twenty whole black peppercorns
Three whole cloves
Two tablespoons honey (or brown sugar)

In addition to these four ingredients, use the zest from half a lemon, lime, or lemon-sized orange for each quart of apple juice.

Toast the cinnamon, peppercorns and cloves in a saucepan. It will only take a couple of minutes for them to release the oils. Pour in apple juice and the sweetener to dissolve. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Pour through a strainer into the crock pot and simmer for 1 hour. Turn low and it will be good all day.

To adultify—add a half ounce of blood orange liquor or limoncello to the mug. Stir with a cinnamon stick.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pizza Tonight!

I love pizza and I always keep the ingredients for it on hand for those nights when I have a craving. My personal favorite is pepperoni, mushroom, artichoke hearts. I use frozen artichoke hearts rather than canned, as they don't taste quite so citrusy from the anti-browning agents. While you can buy ready to go pizza dough from the grocery store and even some pizza parlors, for this quick pizza I use a tube of pizza dough.

Skillet Pizza
1 tube pizza dough
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp dried sweet basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 small can button mushroom, sliced
1/2 package of pepperoni slices
6 or so artichoke halves, chopped
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a 12 inch cast iron into the oven during the preheat.

Heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan. Add in the seasonings and heat over a small flame. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Take the pizza dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 12 inches round.

Pull the skillet out of the oven and drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom to coat. Lightly sprinkle in some corn meal.

Place the pizza crust into the skillet and build up the edges. Brush with a little more olive oil and bake for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and put on sauce, meat, veggies. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Put on cheese and slide back into the oven for about 5 minutes more--pizza is done with cheese is golden and bubbly.

Let pizza stand for 3 to 5 minutes to keep from burning the roof of your mouth with that first bite. Cut and serve with a nice, full bodied red wine.