New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

Think of New Orleans and immediately you think of Mardi Gras and Food. You can talk about those two topics for a long time, but when I connect those two dots, it simply points to Red Beans and Rice.

Of all the food and cuisines that identify New Orleans, nothing epitomizes the Crescent City culinary culture like Red Beans and Rice. Once and always a Monday tradition, it’s in every home and you shouldn’t be surprised to see it on any restaurant menu in New Orleans or South Louisiana, from fine dining establishments to a neighborhood poboy restaurant. Owing to the Caribbean influences in the diverse local culinary culture, it’s the quintessential Mardi Gras food, a crowd pleaser and basic comfort food. You’ve heard all the folk lore – Mondays are washdays, leftover bone from Sunday’s ham and on and on. I don’t care how it happened, Red Beans and Rice are so good that they earned a revered spot on the weekly food plan for an entire region. Like most Louisiana staples, like Gumbo, Jambalaya and Crawfish Étouffée, everyone has their favorite recipe, most handed down from parents or grandparents. Red Beans and Rice is no different. Honestly, I doubt I’ve ever had a bad dish of RB&B and I hate to let the secret out of the bag – the best recipes are simple and naturally no-angst. Continue reading “New Orleans Red Beans and Rice”

Do You Soak Your Beans Before Cooking?

I do, but full disclosure: the reason I soak my beans is because my Mom (The Mother Unit) told me I should.

Let’s face it, the reason we do a lot of things in the kitchen is because one of our mentors told us to do it that way, or we are just copying the way they did it. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it does tend to limit our thinking. The way we cook beans is not immune to that: Should you soak your beans? When do you add salt? Why aren’t my beans getting soft? Guess what.  Like with most things, there is no right or wrong way. Continue reading “Do You Soak Your Beans Before Cooking?”

Double Shot Butternut Squash

A perfect side dish for fall and winter needs to be rich, hearty and comforting when you eat it.  Butternut Squash meets those criteria in a delicious way.

Not only is it versatile enough to use in soups, casseroles, sauces and more, including roasted like we have here, it’s also nutritious. Butternut Squash is of the winter squash variety, as opposed to its cousins, summer squash, so it has a hard skin like acorn squash, spaghetti squash and other winter varieties. Harvest time for butternut squash is summer through fall, but they store very well so most groceries have them year-round.  Their flavors get richer and sweeter when ripe, so if it’s not ripe it’s meat can be tough, bland and tasteless and be very difficult to cook. A ripe one will be creamy and sweet when prepared properly. Unless you’re growing them, it can be quite a challenge to figure out if they are ripe and ready to go. If you’re interested in learning more about butternut squash and how to tell when they are ripe, here’s a little lagniappe for you.  Let’s get this show on the road with this simple, no-angst recipe that will make you famous. Continue reading “Double Shot Butternut Squash”