Tuesday, January 06, 2015

First you do the cooking post

2014 was the worst year.  Let's try not to have another one of those.

We're only five days into 2015 and already there's a lot of stuff to deal with. I've got some bullshit I'd like to jump in with on Scalise-a-thon with but I'm holding back just a bit longer with that. In the meantime, be sure and see Lamar's latest. He focuses on some of the points those rallying to Scalise's cause have raised regarding the topic of his talk (no, it wasn't about the Stelly plan) and the group to which it was addressed (no, it wasn't just some neighborhood association.)

But before we get into that, I want to try something first.  This probably won't work, but I want to do something to exorcise the bad taste of 2014. Superstition dictates that we adhere to certain culinary traditions in order to engender better fortune in the New Year. So maybe the thing to do to kick off January on the Yellow Blog is for me to figure an excuse to put some food pictures up here.

I am an old person now so I've seen New Year's Eve in New Orleans in many different settings; from the living room to the bar room, from the suburbs to the city... and with varied intensities of ordinance going off; from sparklers to fireworks,  from snap-pops to gunshots. I've seen New Years arrive in crowded restaurants, on quiet porches, and in lonely depressing back offices.

You can squeeze yourself in amongst the crowds along the riverfront on the east bank, or you can get a little more elbow room (and a prettier view) from the levee on the west bank.  You can count the New Year in with a few friends in the yard or with a crowd of strangers on Bourbon Street. This crowd was ringing in 2006 just a few short months after Katrina.

Bourbon Street New Year's Eve

One New Year's Eve back during the long ago before time, I had just finished a late shift and was transiting down Bourbon just as midnight was arriving.  As I moved from block to block, different crowds were counting down along with a series of not-exactly synchronous clocks.  This meant that I got to see the new year arrive at Conti Street, and then again at St. Louis, and then a third time at Toulouse.  I'm not sure if I'm owed a few extra years back from the universe because of this.  I am no longer participating in Daylight Savings Time just in case.

In recent years, we've discovered that, if we take a short walk from home, the neutral ground on St. Charles Avenue near Felicity Street is a perfectly cromulent spot from which to view the downtown fireworks and sip champagne from the bottle if that's what you're into.  The advantage of staying close to home, is it gives you time to cook your black eyed peas that evening.  You probably know how this works, but here are some photos anyway.

Some friends drove in from Alabama for a post-Christmas visit.  They brought us gifts including this hog jowl, which is a good place to start.


Here it is rendering out the fat.  Yes, it smells like bacon.

Pig jowl

This is just onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, and parsley.  Yes, of course, when you add it to the jowl fat it smells like candy pie.

Vegetables in jowl renderings

Then, after that cooks down, this happens.

Peas in pot 

And then it gets covered in water.  Let's see, what else is in there? There's the jowl bits added back along with some additional ham seasoning. It's basically a big pig meat soup.  Then there's thyme and marjoram, salt and pepper, some cayenne... things that you have in your home right now, probably!

Peas ready to cook

Just bring it to a boil and then simmer it for one to two hours until it thickens up... you know how to do this, I know. That's not the point. The point is, look!

Black eyed peas and mustard greens

Oh yeah, I made greens too.  You know how to do that as well, I'm sure.

Oh hey,  you know what to do with leftover oysters, though?  After Varg's New Year's Day party there were a few sacks of those still laying around too. Might as well post what happened to those, while we're at it.  I was given a ziploc bag full.

Bag of oysters

Here is what happened with that.

This is a whole clove of chopped garlic.


This is a bunch of chopped parsely.


This is a fennel bulb.  I chopped that up too.


Here we have a quick "blonde" roux made with 3/4 stick of butter and.. about yay much.. flour.

White roux

Here are all those chopped vegetables sauteeing in the roux.

Sautéed vegetables in white roux

Meanwhile, as all that is happening, here is a cup of some moderately priced savingnon blanc.

Palissade savingon blanc

And here is about 3/4 cup of heavy cream.


And that's a bunch of spinach.


In this pot is what all that looks like after the liquids have come to a simmer and the oysters and spinach added to poach with the lid on for a little while.

Poached oysters and spinach

And here is all that stuff combined with the vegetables in the roux base.  (Add salt and pepper and cayenne.)

Oyster sauce

Here is some pasta cut into novelty shapes.

Bow tie pasta

And that's what all that is.

Oyster pasta

And that's how we're starting 2015 (pretty much a week late, I guess, but no matter.) Now for the bad news.....

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