When You Have Nothing Nice to Say…

If you are reading this and expecting me to comment on the recent sexual harassment controversy, I am going to disappoint you. I have nothing to add to the discussion, and my normal “find something amusing to say” schtick finds no traction. It is difficult to write about food and cooking in light of current events, but that is my task and I will do my best.

First up, a local restaurant has been named one of the top 25 in the nation. That restaurant is GW Fin’s, and I will have no brook with that award, as it is one of the best restaurants in New Orleans and therefore deserving.

Toups South is another outstanding restaurant. Chef Isaac Toups is now running brunch and happy hour specials. These include an all-day happy hour on Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. during which cocktails are $6 and wines by the glass and small plates are $5 each. A happy “hour” that lasts the entirety of service is a non-sequitur, but I’m not going to argue, because I like Chef Toups and his restaurants and I also like inexpensive drinks/food.

The brunch menu at Toups has also changed, but the hours remain 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Visit the website to learn more.

I know we’ve only had about a day and a half of cool weather, but I’ll be damned if I’m not craving hearty soups and stews. In the last week I’ve stewed beef, chicken and pork, and I’ve made a redfish soup that, but for the fact I didn’t add cream, could have been a chowder.

Because I’m cooking for a family with children, I’ve had to keep things a bit less adventurous than I’d prefer. And please do not tell me that what I need to do is just cook what I like and let the kids eat it or not. Because I am not going to starve the kids, and if they don’t like the spicy fish ball curry soup with coconut I’d love to make, either I or my wife will end up making them something else.

So what I’m doing these days is trying to figure out the best way to add the sort of flavors/spices I enjoy into meals using condiments. Some of these “condiments” are things I buy, such as the “crispy garlic chile” stuff imported from Japan that my friend W.L. turned me onto a few years ago. There’s a yuzu-chile paste that falls into that category, and a host of Chinese soy-chile based sauces as well.

Then there’s the stuff I make, largely based on chile peppers I’ve grown because apparently I can grow the holy heck out of chile peppers and basil and eggplant. Combining those three ingredients with some garlic and roasting the whole mess before putting the result into a blender with some salt, vinegar and more fresh herbs turns out a pretty nice sauce that varies in heat based on the chiles you use. The habaneros I grow are caliente, whereas the little “Cajun Bell” peppers are not quite as hot.

Using that same technique (roasting, steaming, skinning and seeding the peppers before pureeing,) works quite well if you want to make a tomato sauce, though instead of a blender I’d suggest a food mill, at least if you want a tomato sauce and not an emulsion.

I hope the information provided above, including the “recipes” are helpful. If you have questions, particularly about the latter, please shoot me an email or reply below.



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