The Beauty of a Stuffed Baked Potato 

There isn’t a lot of written history on the stuffed baked potato, so I’m pretty sure I invented it. And as usual with me, economy was the true mother of invention. There I was, many years ago when Wendy’s and I were young, pondering that the fast-foot burger chain made famous by Dave Thomas offered…

It’s Crawfish Season Down South

Like Peter Pan’s Neverland that’s not on any map, crawfish season isn’t exactly on any calendar. Crawfish don’t happen by a scheduled month, hour or minute, but, a bit like the oldtime Cajun people they’ve come to embody, they show up only when they are good and ready. And then, like right now, it’s crawfish…

The Lenten ‘Sacrifice’ of Seafood

Each year on Ash Wednesday, across New Orleans and the rest of south Louisiana, Catholics (which culturally means everybody, no matter where they go to church, or don’t) start replacing the meat in their diets with seafood. Happily, across New Orleans and the rest of South Louisiana, all the seafood is Catholic too. We’re just…

Red Velvet Cake: A Southern Legend

Red velvet cake is definitely a Southern creation, arguably even a Texas creation – unless you are one of those New Yorkers who associate it with the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, or a Canadian who thinks the recipe comes from Eaton’s department store. We call the latter two kinds of people benighted souls. Seriously now. Doesn’t red…

Cooking for a Cause

Like a surprising number of Americans, Jane Woellhof remembers going to school in a setting quite unlike the ones most kids think of (or see on television) today. Her school was one building with one room, with several grades learning side by side and, at least every once in a while, no other students at…

The Art (and Fun) of Charcuterie

For the longest time, we Americans served, ate and talked about “cold cuts,” most often laying a slice of this or that across bread to make a sandwich. This was, among other things, the American working man’s and the American school kid’s lunch throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Little did we know we were starting…

Foodie Treats for The Biggest Game

There’s a collection of dishes that seem to be mandatory at a watch party for the Super Bowl – a pro football game that has developed a way of adding to our waistlines every bit as much as it adds to our excitement. Yet there’s absolutely no reason you have to limit your Super Bowl…

Chocolate Crepes for Your Valentine

As a chef, and really as a person, winter is an interesting time, a time when the need for comfort magnifies. For me the winter is when I slow a bit, recharge, refocus and spend time cooped up in my warm home reacquainting with my family.  As I have watched this process play out each…

Spanokopita Squared

Spanokopita, the savory pie one authority praised as the ultimate Greek “soul food,” might be the first word I ever tried to understand when arriving in Greece coming up on half a century ago.  Surely I heard a few other words, enough to climb off the overnight ferry from Italy, find a late dinner of…

Return of the Bread Bowl

Only a few months back, a national bread-centric chain called Panera introduced a “hot new trend” – yet another version of soup served in a bowl of hollowed-out bread. It was a “hot new trend” because Panera, along with many food journalists, told us it was.  Which is great – since soup served in a…

The Exotic Flavors of Smoked & Dried Chiles

The smoking and drying of meats and other perishable foods reaches back beyond written history across the Americas, so much so that when French explorers sailed into the pre-colonial Caribbean, they found locals preserving food with smoke on grates called “boucains.” Thus, in French, these obviously wild, semi-naked practitioners became “boucainiers.” When that got translated…

SOUPS FROM HOLIDAY BIRDS

In a holiday season that traditionally begins with turkey and ends with goose, it should come as no surprise that this time of year is for the birds. And that includes roasted chickens, Cornish hens and even tiny, delicate quail. Many of those larger birds produce leftovers, of course. So it’s our job as intrepid…