Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Taste of the Big Easy

Joyous, decadent, and outrageously fun are just a few words that describe one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. On our cross-country road trip last year, my dad scheduled a stop in what is also one of his most beloved spots in the South. With a decidedly French flavor, a Starbucks-grade prevalence of oyster bars, and the soulful sound of jazz music floating down the streets, I was in heaven.

For me, what truly distinguishes New Orleans is its food. From my first experience with grits at Brennan's to the Creole-inspired dishes at the Court of Two Sisters, my dad took me on a culinary adventure that I'll never forget. A stop on this journey was Café du Monde. Living up to its name, the café mills with visitors from all over the world who have come for its famous coffee and beignets. Resembling powdery, white pillows, beignets dusted with sugar and dunked in the café's special blend of chicory coffee are not to be missed when visiting New Orleans. It's hard to tell who is the favorite in this partnership: the sweet beignets or the rich, satisfying coffee.

To savor the taste of New Orleans at home, brew a pot of Carla Emery's chicory coffee and dip in your favorite pastry for an afternoon, or in true Big Easy fashion, midnight snack.

Chicory Coffee To brew chicory coffee, first boil a pot of water. Then drop in a spoonful of ground chicory, stir, let steep a few minutes, and there you are. Chicory is stronger than coffee, so use less. Serve plain or with honey and cream. You can make more chicory coffee out of the same grounds.

For dipping:

Honey-Applesauce Cookies Cream together 11⁄2 c. honey and 1 c. shortening. Add 2 beaten eggs and beat mixture until smooth. Add 2 t. soda to 2 c. applesauce. Sift in 2 t. cinnamon, 1 t. nutmeg, 1 t. salt, and 31⁄2 c. flour. Stir in 2 c. quick-cooking oats (or rolled wheat), 2 c. raisins, and 1 c. walnuts. Drop on cookie sheet with a spoon. Bake at 325˚F for 10 minutes.

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