Pan Seared Fish with Green Gazpacho Sauce

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If, like me, you’ve spent the lazy days of summer being just a tad overindulgent, perhaps you’ve had one too many lobster rolls, say three in one week, and you’ve been strutting around with reckless abandon thinking all that weed pulling would keep off the summer pounds, you may be feeling the need, also like me, to practice a little dietary restraint.

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Evidence of overindulgence duly noted. I was in Rhode Island. Can you blame me?

It’s times like these that bring me around to some sort of grilled fish and vegetable situation. A perfect recipe for the end of summer bounty of delicious and fresh produce. It’s my version of late summer redemption.

Any firm white fish will do, even Lake Superior Whitefish, if you hail from the “mitten” like I do. I used Rockfish since it was on sale at Whole Foods. I couldn’t find the recommended Mahi Mahi from the original recipe, and even considered substituting shrimp, which now come to think of it, would have been lovely. No matter, the sauce, and the tomatoes if it’s August, are the star. What a refreshingly simple and tasty way to balance out those lobster rolls. And that Blueberry Coffee Cake (ahem).

Pan Seared Rockfish with Green Gazpacho Sauce

(serves 4)  Adapted from Bon Appétit, September 2009

For the Gazpacho

  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 serrano chiles (or one jalapeño), seeded and chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. champagne vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until mixture is finely chopped. Stir, taste and if needed, add more vinegar and salt.  Set aside.

For the fish

  • 2 lbs. firm white fish (such as rockfish, halibut or mahi mahi), cut into four filets
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • a handful farmers market cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • lemon

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high flame and add the olive oil.  Start with one tablespoon and add more if necessary.  Dry the fish and season on both sides with the cumin, salt and pepper (I usually season the second side once the fish is in the pan).

Sear for 4-5 minutes (or less depending on the thickness of your filets) on each side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Divide the Gazpacho among 4 plates, top with the seared fish and the halved tomatoes.  Add a squeeze of lemon and serve with crusty bread, unless you’re redeeming yourself.  In which case, serve as is.

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At least those lobster rolls came with a view of Block Island Sound. Totally worth it.

 

 

 

Posted in low-carb, Main dishes, Seafood, travels, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Salad Pizza

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When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

And what I mean by that non-sequitur is when your father hands you a bag of greens from his organic garden, make salad pizza. The lemon thing just sounds a little more charming. There are no lemons at all in this recipe actually. Where am I going with this? Sigh. Never mind.

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Here’s the key to salad pizza (which certain restaurants-I’m not naming names because I still love them-don’t get), in my humble opinion. First you make regular pizza, something simple, like a margarita. Or if you’re not feeling tomatoes, let there be cheese. There must at least be cheese, a lot of cheese, please. Maybe even four cheeses. Without that cheese base, what you will have is bread and lettuce. And you will be hungry in about ten minutes (I’m talkin’ to you, Ann Arbor pizza restaurant of otherwise praiseworthy repute!)

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Anyways, before this turns into a rant, let me just state, for those who are otherwise unenthusiastic about consuming their greens, that salad with pizza under it is a really fantastic way to eat salad.  And pizza with salad on top ain’t bad either.

Makes an average jelly roll pan sized pizza.

Also, I should warn you to start the dough two hours earlier, to allow for rising, or make it the night before.  Or, even, purchase dough. But why do that?  Pizza dough is SO EASY!

  • 1 pizza dough (recipe follows)
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato
  • 8 0z. fresh mozzarella (I used this)
  • 4 oz. white cheddar
  • 2 oz. Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • a few thinly sliced onions (optional)
  • a few leaves fresh basil
  • a couple of handfuls of washed greens (baby lettuce, kale, etc.)
  • a couple of tablespoons of vinaigrette (or just vinegar and olive oil)

For the dough (This is Jim Leahy’s recipe, courtesy of Jenny)

In a large bowl, mix 3 & 3/4 cups flour (you can use all white, all wheat or half each), 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, and one package dry active yeast.  Mix well.

Add 1 & 1/3 cups warm water and mix it all up with your hands.  It may seem like it’s too sticky and not coming together but persist.  It will.  Just knead a couple of times, until it’s a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rise, in a warm spot, for 2 hours.  Divide the dough in half to form two balls.  You can freeze the other, in an oiled freezer bag, for future use.

For the pizza

Preheat oven to 475°. Place rack on the top level.

Spread the dough with your fingers in a very well oiled jelly roll pan (use at least 2 Tbsp. olive oil, maybe more).  Keep pushing until the dough gets thinner and thinner and reaches the outer edges of the pan.  Patch up any holes that form with your fingers. This way you will get a thin, crisp crust.

Slice the tomatoes thinly, then chop into pieces, and spread it out over the dough.  If using onion, spread that now too.  Top with slices or torn pieces of the mozzarella, and grate the cheddar and Pecorino over the top of the mozzarella.  Go ahead and use as much as you want, of course.

Bake in the hot oven for 13-15 minutes.  Check at 13 to make sure toppings aren’t burning.  The cheese should be bubbling at this point.  I took mine out a minute too early and the crust was not as crispy as I wanted, so at least do the 13 minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Using a spatula, carefully make sure that the pizza is completely unstuck by turning the pan and running the spatula under the pizza until no bits remain stuck.  Slide onto a large cutting board.  Add the torn basil and crushed red pepper if you’re like me and like it spicy.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, toss your salad greens with the vinaigrette* (start with one tablespoon and taste, adding more if necessary).

Slice the pizza and top each slice with some salad.

*You can find a decent vinaigrette here (I really should do a post on various vinaigrettes).

Need more salad pizza inspiration?

  • Make it a BLT or a BLAT by adding crumbled bacon to the pizza and sliced avocado to the greens.
  • Make it Caesar-style with Caesar dressing and anchovies.
  • Make it Lyonnaise style with a poached egg on the greens.  Or even a fried egg. Eat with a knife and fork. Also, goat cheese!
  • Make it Greek by swapping the lettuce with thinly sliced cucumbers and the cheddar with feta.  Add Kalamata olives. I tried it last summer and it was spectacular.

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Posted in appetizers, Main dishes, pizza, salads, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Sautéed Chicken with Morels and Rice Crémeux

 

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This picture is weird because I’ve been Instagramming a lot lately (find me at lizainannarbor) and playing with apps.  Sorry for any confusion. Moving on…

This little ‘ole French recipe is 100% Off. The. Hook.  And I mean that in the urban slang kind of a way. You know, like, “better than good.” Closely related to Off. The. Chain.

It comes from a book that I finally own after having hijacked it from the library for a good six months. I just kept renewing…and they let me, until one day they didn’t. The book is The Bonne Femme Cookbook by the talented Wini Moranville and there’s a lot of bang for your buck there. There are oodles of recipes and stories from her many sojourns in France, which make for pleasant bedtime reading (but I’m a weirdo who reads cookbooks in bed so who am I to say?), but no photos. I don’t miss them because everything I have tried, from her Basque Chicken to her simple Fondue, has been amazing.

This springy, earthy recipe is my hands down favorite. And the rice is pretty much an easier version of risotto, without all the stirring and constant adding of broth.  I don’t know if Tom Colicchio would approve (risotto seems to always get people kicked off Top Chef) but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find yourself making it again and again. Need I wax on any further? Mais non.

Sautéed Chicken with Morels and Rice Crémeux

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 tbsp butter, divided
  • morel mushrooms (as many as you can get your hands on)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves, divided
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tarragon and chives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, gruyère or white cheddar cheese

For the rice (do this first)

In a medium saucepan, sauté a 1/2 cup or so of chopped onion in a tbsp of butter. Add 1 minced garlic clove and sauté for another minute. Do not allow  the garlic to burn. Add the rice and continue sautéing for another couple of minutes.  Stir so that each grain gets coated and a little toasty. Add 2 1/4 cups chicken broth (replace some with water in a pinch, or even water with Better Than Bouillon).  Season with pepper, stir and bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. Start checking consistency after 20 minutes. It should still be only slightly watery. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then mix in the Parmesan or any other cheese of your choice.

For the chicken

Pound out the chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness under plastic using a meat mallet or a cast iron skillet. Cut each in half. Season with salt and pepper.

In a Ziploc bag, add flour, season with salt and pepper and add mushrooms. Cut any larger mushrooms in half. Shake to coat.

In a large skillet (I love this one, I swear it makes my food taste better), heat 1 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once, about 5 minutes per side (they will finish in the sauce if they are still a little pink inside at this point). Do this in batches if your pan is not large enough.  Remove to plate and sprinkle with herbs. Cover with foil.

Turn heat to medium and add another tbsp of butter along with 1 tbsp olive oil to the same skillet. Shake the excess flour from each mushroom and cook, turning as needed, until they are brown and soft. This takes 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the chicken.

If needed, add a little more olive oil to the skillet. Over medium heat, sauté the shallot for about a minute. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Deglaze the pan with chicken broth and wine. Turn up the heat and whisk, loosening any brown bits. Bring to a boil and reduce to about a 1/2 cup. Whisk in the remaining 2 tbsp butter and the cream. Add the chicken and mushrooms back to pan, cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 more minutes.

Serve with the rice and something green, such as roasted asparagus or steamed green beans.

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Posted in Main dishes | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Green Chile Breakfast Casserole

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Should you find yourself in Santa Fe anytime soon, and please do, you and yours will not be at all disappointed to feast on the simple and hearty fare called Green Chile Breakfast Casserole.  Of course, you would have to have a kitchen. Rent an adobe house or condo.  They’ve got ‘em in spades, with blue doors.

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They’ve also got courtyards that invite you to stay awhile.

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Don’t mind if I do.

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And there’s art, even on mailboxes.

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Inviting parks with fountains and crisp, early morning blue skies,

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A couple of cathedrals…

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You know, the usual.

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And there are pesky, annoying mountain views, constantly reminding you that you’re no longer in the mitten.

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And if those aren’t enough to entice you…

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…maybe the giant horse head will.

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But Santa Fe, for me, was all about the food, especially the ubiquitous chile (um, oh, and the margarita).

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Red chiles abound but the green ones, they are strictly of the New Mexican diet (according to cowboy John Wayne, who incidentally hales from my mitten state and just so happened to ride his horse all the way from the Great Lakes to the Land of Enchantment, but that’s another story. His to tell. Go ride a horse with him.)

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Can’t decide between red or green?  They’ve got that covered too.  Ask for “Christmas.” Adorable.

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Truth be told, I knew the following recipe would fit our New Mexican vibe well when I toted it along, but I make it fairly often at home, especially when there are overnight guests to feed. Regular grocery store canned green chiles work quite well but when in New Mexico, it’s all about the hatch chile.  If you can find them, use them.

Green Chile Breakfast Casserole

This recipe was first presented to me by a friend who was in charge of a girls’ weekend breakfast up north, many years ago.  I have no idea where she got it, but it has stuck with me.  Putting it here will ensure I don’t ever lose it. It serves 6-8 and is just as good the next day.

Warning:  Start this the night before.

  • 5-6 flour tortillas
  • 2 small cans diced green chiles, drained
  • 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. salt

Spray, butter or coat a 9 x 13 pan with olive oil.  Put half of the tortillas on the bottom of the pan.  Try not to overlap but you can tear them to fit.  Spoon one can of the green chiles evenly over the tortillas and layer half the cheese.  Repeat with a second layer of tortillas, chiles and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and milk.  Pour over the layered tortillas, chiles and cheese.  Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350°, uncover and bake for 45 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole or whatever else strikes that fancy of yours.

Posted in breakfast, travels, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Chicken and Mushrooms with a Dijon-Mascarpone Sauce

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Chicken Dijon is one of the dishes I’ve been making since I first started cooking over 20 years ago when I moved, on a whim, to Colorado with a high school friend. My previous forays into the culinary had yielded dubious, perhaps inedible, results, knowing then so very little (such as how to boil an egg! I still have to look that up every time). Luckily, my roomie had worked catering and knew a thing or two that I picked up along the way. Even though our post-grad economic situation forced us to clip coupons and get creative, we had a great time.  I most often used my Better Homes and Gardens Basics cookbook, or (funny now in light of recent health news regarding diets and fat) the Betty Crocker Low-Fat Cookbook (both are now relegated to the dusty depths of my closet, but I just can’t seem to do away with them). We made many delicious meals during those months, (and used a lot of sun-dried tomatoes) but alas, we both landed pretty quickly back in Michigan. Chicken Dijon was the one recipe that came back with me. Later, I segued into Rachael Ray’s easier version, which seemed to satisfy my Frenchie mustard cravings for a few years.

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And now this. Faced with an almost full tub of leftover Mascarpone cheese, I figured I could give my usual version a couple of tweaks and end up with something much more elegant. I added shallots and mushrooms and finished the sauce with the Mascarpone, which lent the dish a sumptuous texture and a decidedly even more Frenchie taste, without using heavy cream. Total win! Serve with roasted asparagus because, well, it’s Spring!

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 1 cup (or so) cremini mushrooms
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (or fresh thyme)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp. Mascarpone cheese
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. First, cut your chicken breasts in half, cover in plastic wrap and pound them out a little to help them cook evenly.  Dry them well, sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence and the salt and pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken.

2. Clean and slice your mushrooms. (Jacques Pepin says you can run them under water as long as you use them right away-no more wiping with a wet towel. Merci Jacques!)  Heat a  tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium flame.  Add the chopped shallot and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned.  Add a little more olive oil if they seem dry. Season with a little salt and pepper and remove to a plate.

3.  Add an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter to the pan. Over a medium high flame brown the chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until almost cooked through.  It’s best to use a stainless steel pan in order to get a really nicely browned breast but non-stick will work as well. Remove the chicken from the pan.

4. Turn the flame up to high and add the chicken broth, scraping the brown bits (you may not have much if you used a non-stick pan).  Turn the flame to low and whisk in the mustard. Simmer for a couple of minutes.  Whisk in the Marcarpone cheese, then add the chicken (with its juices) and the mushrooms back to the pan.

5. Turn the flame to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Serve over couscous or rice with something green on the side. Et voilà.

And here is a weird and overly sunny, but necessary, aerial view of the dish.

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Posted in Main dishes | 12 Comments

Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Pomegranate Glaze, Cheesy Grits and Chard-Brussels Sprouts Hash

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Although this is not an Irish meal, this is a gratuitous St. Patrick’s Day Irish picture.

Tonight, Shepherd’s Pie is happening, fittingly, but last night, this happened. It would be remiss of me to keep it a secret. I did, however, use Irish Cheddar in the grits-does that count?

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It started as a clean-out-the-fridge ingredient use-up type meal.  Frozen pork tenderloins, an easy rub, an already open bag of cornmeal, last week’s Brussels sprouts…some Bourbon (yes, Bourbon). It ended as one of the best home-cooked meals we’ve enjoyed in a while (or at least a week due to the inordinate and uncomfortable amount of eating out of late).  This is often the case that my favorite meals result when I have to open the pantry and say “hmmm?”

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Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Pomegranate Glaze, Cheesy Grits and Chard-Brussels Sprouts Hash

Slightly adapted from Chow.com, Food Network and Dinner: A Love Story (for the Bourbon glaze and the hash)

For the Pork

  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the glaze

  • 1/4 cup Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder (or fresh grated ginger!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the grits

  • two cups whole milk
  • two cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal (I used finely ground)
  • 4 oz. white cheddar, grated
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • several grinds fresh black pepper

For the hash

  • 4 strips bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 package Brussels sprouts (about two cups but whatever you have), trimmed of outer leaves and sliced thinly
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed, dried and chopped
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) balsamic vinegar (aged, if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon or so dried currants
  • 1 tablespoon or so toasted pine nuts
  • salt and pepper

Since this meal has so many steps allow me to offer a timing suggestion. First prepare the pork and the rub. While the pork is resting at room temperature, slice the veggies for the hash.  Get the grits started, then put pork in oven. Prepare the glaze and keep on a low simmer until meal is finished.  Once the pork comes out of the oven and is resting, finish your grits and make the hash. Now, for the pork…

Preheat oven to 450°. Trim the pork of fat and the silver membrane.  Dry with paper towels.  Mix the rub spices in a small bowl.  Drizzle the olive oil over the pork, and with your hands rub the spices to completely cover both of the tenderloins.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Place pork in a roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes, then flip.  Roast for another 8-10 minutes or until the pork reaches 160°.  Cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, start the grits by heating the milk, water and salt in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium-high flame.  Keep a close eye since boiling milk can be a huge mess.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and slowly whisk in the cornmeal until incorporated. Turn heat to low and cover, stirring every few minutes with the whisk.  After about 20 minutes, add the butter, cheese and pepper.  Whisk until smooth and serve.

To prepare the glaze, place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir.  Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick. Serve over the sliced pork.

The hash is best with the bacon, which I didn’t have this time so I’m saying it’s optional.  However, if you have bacon, by all means use it.  It is, not surprisingly, better with bacon. Heat olive oil over medium flame and add the bacon (or skip this step and jump right to the onion).  Sauté until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain and add the onion.  Sauté the onion about 5 minutes or until soft and add the chopped chard and shaved Brussels sprouts.  Sauté until wilted and lower the heat.  Add the balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, currants and reserved bacon.  Season with salt and pepper and keep on low heat until ready to serve.

At this point, slice your pork and make sure all components are heated properly.  Serve immediately and enjoy! It’s worth it. 100_2423

Posted in Main dishes | 14 Comments

Happy Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is a big day in Michigan schools. Laissez commencer the Michigan Merit Exam! Er, not quite what you were expecting? I’ll be cooped up for five hours proctoring this big old test with a room full of juniors. We’re not allowed to read anything at all besides the manual so I’m already planning my daydreams in advance. I’ll be in New Orleans, thank you very much, reliving every moment of my New Years trip to the boyfriend’s home state.

Why don’t you come along with me?

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We’ve been there so much that we don’t do too much of the tourist thing, unless it’s checking out an iconic restaurant, of which there are many.  We finally made it to Commander’s Palace for New Year’s Eve lunch.  Let’s just say this place lives up to the hype. And it’s true-they have .25 cent martinis.

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We spend most of our time trying to live like locals mainly because the boyfriend was once a local himself.  We met in this great city a few years ago.

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So we wander around a lot, by car and on foot. I take pictures. At least I try to.

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We eat breakfast.  Our favorite breakfast joint had closed in our absence.  But we discovered a little Caribbean-feeling gem where I for one enjoyed an enormous banana pancake.

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We coffee and relax at our favorite uptown spot.

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Did I mention we avoid the French Quarter like the plague?  We now prefer the Warehouse District.  Oh the snobbery of the upscale tourists we’ve become. And there’s hipster restaurants.image

And speaking of hipster restaurants, we stumble upon new favorites. Behold the creole burrito.

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This funky spot is on Magazine Street.  This particular trip seemed to be, for me at least, all about Magazine Street.

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For the boyfriend, no trip is complete without a dozen of these beauties. In this case, a half dozen, since we were in one of those upscale places in the Warehouse District.

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So while New Orleans will be reveling in Mardi Gras fun, I’ll be stuck in a classroom. But at least I have my misty watercolored memories.

And my leftover Gumbo.

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Posted in travels | Tagged , , | 9 Comments