The Curious Case of Couscous

For all the world, the couscous we’ve learned to love from North Africa ought to be a grain. It’s possible that some of its biggest fans think it is. But it’s not. Couscous (some people spell it “cous cous,” but not yours truly) is a pasta, which of course makes it sound less healthy than…

SPRING CLEANING FOR YOUR FRIDGE

A fun (and useful) game we play in the kitchen every day is unofficially called “connect the dots,” an effort to see the unrelated foods we have in the refrigerator when we have “nothing to cook” – then creating a satisfying meal from those things. In fact, doing so against all odds is a major…

Easter Meals from Around the World

In both the Eastern and Western Christian traditions, there are many traditional foods of Easter – their flavors made all the more memorable by the central importance of this holiday. Still, there’s no absolute commandment that you have to stick with any of these traditional dishes. Falling year after year near the Jewish Passover, Easter…

The Joy of Lentils

I grew up loving all beans – in New Orleans, with its red beans and rice tradition every Monday, how could I not? And when I got old enough to start reading about and thinking about food, I uncovered history that explained a lot. The red beans I adored were part of a long tradition…

Necessity Is the Mother of Salad

Though less dramatic than “How to Cook a Wolf,” the iconic 1942 book that helped Americans deal with wartime shortages (and launched the remarkable food writing career of M.F.K. Fisher), “How to Invent a Salad” recently became a fascinating quest nonetheless. No, I don’t mean “Make a Salad” – anybody can make a salad. I…

Meatless Monday and More!

Thanks to the popularity of the unofficial movement called Meatless Mondays, more and more diners are embracing the chance to try foods that in the past only a card-carrying vegetarian could love. Meatless Mondays were born without rules or regulations, and participation is certainly never mandatory. If a 48-ounce porterhouse is your idea of a…

Is Chocolate The Official Gift of St Valentine’s Day?

Everybody knows what romantic couples do to celebrate the day of St. Valentine, right? They go to an elegant, expensive restaurant for dinner. It’s the wisdom of the ages. Still, there is a counter wisdom, one helped along by the sheer number of couples clogging tables for one big night and the toll that reality…

MEXICO ON THE INSIDE

It would unwise for anyone to defame or dismiss the so-called Tex-Mex style of cooking in front of its millions of advocates, defenders, practitioners and passionate fans. Even the snobbiest culinary scholars should see in its intense gravies and undeniable multi-cultural goodness the same things that happen when French and German foods get together along…

Global Foods Trends for 2018

Food trends, like beauty, are apparently in the eye of the beholder. At least that’s the impression you get from scanning a dozen or so of those year-end trend pieces looking ahead to the foods of 2018. Reading such things can be fun, of course, filled with predictions that may or may not make it…

Spiced-Up Sides

“Now John, let me tell one ya one damn ‘ting,” the late great Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme told me many years ago, “the chef’s job is to make food that ain’t borin’.” I could tell he felt that statement was self-evident and self-explanatory, but he wanted to make double-sure I understood anyway. “If you take…

Cajun Christmas

Yes, gazing at the photo that accompanies this column makes me nostalgic – especially at a season of year given over to exactly such emotions. And that’s why we’re offering our first annual Cajun Family Christmas cooking class on Thursday Dec. 14. Being only human, the first thing I notice in the photo is the…

When Pumpkin goes Beyond Pies & Lattes

You might not think of pumpkin at this time of year with anything but “pumpkin spice,” – or served in any form other than a latte or a pie. But we’ve been hard at work on a few recipes that will not only excite your taste buds but give a fresh flavor profile to your…