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The Plant: Whimsical name, seriously good food

Advocate photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- The Plant restaurant in Plaquemine offers a whole new take on shrimp and grits.

First, a confession: We’re kind of partial to businesses with a hint of cleverness in their names. Not having been to The Library bar off LSU’s campus, we still can’t help but enjoy the wry joke as students tell others of their evening plans. So, if you’re opening a place in Plaquemine, virtually in the shadow of… Continue reading →

At home in a revived historic hotel, Covington’s Oxlot 9 is making a case for road trip dining

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ -- Chef Jeffrey Hansell works in his open kitchen at Oxlot 9, a Covington restaurant for Southern cuisine.

The streets of Covington were predictably quiet as we approached the Southern Hotel on a recent weeknight. Less expected was the bustle we found inside the hotel. Small groups of people seemed to be on self-guided tours, inspecting art in the lodge-like lobby, roaming a courtyard the size of a pocket park… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Christmas crepes are not as complicated as you think

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Have Chicken and Spinach Crepes ready ahead of time when expecting company for the holidays.

With time this close to Christmas, get a meal or two in the freezer, especially if you’re having company over the holidays. A crepe entrée looks “gourmet,” but the filling can be anything you like or a combination of foods you have on hand. Crepes look a lot more complicated than they are. Crepes are simply thin… Continue reading →

Eat your Vegetables: Make a tasty bean salad for the holidays

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Let the colorful and tasty Bountiful Bean Salad be your healthful dish during the holidays.

This is a healthful and colorful salad to have in the refrigerator during the holidays. It’s a mix of garbanzo beans, black olives, nuts, green onions, roasted red peppers, garlic and parsley marinated in seasoned oil and vinegar. This can be eaten by itself or served over a small bed of chopped greens if you prefer.… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Recipes handed down for generations change with times

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Use a slow cooker to prepare Eggplant Parmesan.

A new year is always time to re-evaluate or reinvent something. Why not start with recipes. Much like our clothes, if we haven’t used them in so many years, perhaps it’s time to toss them. However, you may want to rethink ways of cooking them. I am a cookbook hoarder. Several are from my mother and my… Continue reading →

Several markets shift schedules for winter

While the Red Stick Farmers Market held on Saturday mornings in downtown Baton Rouge will continue to operate on its regular schedule, other market locations have changes in their schedules, a spokeswoman said. Dec. 18 is the last Thursday market until Jan. 15, spokeswoman Darlene Adams Rowland said. That market is held from 8 a.m. to noon… Continue reading →

Bites of History: Christmas sweets have a long history around the world

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles  --  The no-bake Nanaimo Bar is common on Canadian Christmas cookie platters and is inextricably tied to the City of Nanaimo.

Let’s all climb on board Santa’s sleigh and take a trip back in time to learn the origins of some of those sweets we love scarfing down this time of year. One of the oldest Christmas cakes is the much maligned, calorie-dense fruitcake, which fueled the Roman army, as well as the armies of Europe during… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Cut yourself some slack during holiday cooking

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Have slow-cooked Pork and Bean Stew ready when you come in from holiday shopping.

I understand the stress of holiday meal planning. From shopping for just the right gift to planning the big meal itself, it isn’t an easy time, even if it is joyful. Holiday dinners don’t cook themselves, as we know. Sometimes, the lead cook is so tired, she or he is hardly able to enjoy the festivities.… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: This is the season for mirlitons

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Serve a few Shrimp-Stuffed Mirlitons for dinner and freeze the rest for use later.

Ask about a chayote and few in Louisiana know what you’re talking about, but ask about a mirliton and you’re probably going to hear about a good recipe. The French refer to the fruit as christophene or christophine. The green, gourdlike fruit, with its many names, is about the size and shape of a pear;… Continue reading →

Relaxed elegance and cooking perfection leave diners smiling at The Grill

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The Cajun egg rolls were plump, crispy rolls of wonton-wrapped boudin served over a deliciously spicy peach chili sauce.

It’s the time of year for entertaining and decadent meals, and there’s a new place in Baton Rouge to celebrate. The Grill, on Perkins Road near its intersection with Highland, offers a luxe atmosphere, thoughtful service and, most importantly, delicious food. The dining area was well appointed and softly lit, giving our lunch an… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Give the gift of cookbooks

Photo provided  --  Book jacket of Southern Living's 'Christmas All Through the South.'

Don’t panic — yet — if you haven’t decided on gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. If one (or more) of those names on that list belongs to an enthusiastic home cook or someone who likes to read cookbooks, you’re in luck. A wide variety of outstanding cookbooks and coffee table books featuring recipes are available this… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Dec. 11, 2014

Galatoire’s Bistro, 3535 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, will hold a New Year’s Eve celebration featuring a five-course Nicholas Feuillate Champage dinner. The celebration in the main dining room will begin at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31.… Continue reading →

‘Boilermaker Chili’ takes cook-off contest

Photo provided  --  Alexis Starr, environmental scientist with the Enforcement Division of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, shows off her Boilmaker Chili and her award for winning first place in the 2014 DEQ Chili Cook-off Contest.

Alexis Starr, an environmental scientist with the Enforcement Division of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, took first place in the recent DEQ Chili Cook-Off Contest with her “Boilermaker Chili.” “The secret to my success is Mom,” Starr said. “She sends me all sorts of fun ingredients and recipes. And my chili is still not even close… Continue reading →

Men Can Cook: Competition benefits Young Leaders Academy

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Cooking competition judge Quintina Ricks walks with sample dishes of food as cooks, from left, Herbert Harry, Uland Price and Kevin Albert stand behind their dishes.

More than two dozen men — mostly amateur cooks — vied for prizes and bragging rights at the second annual Men are Cooking Night benefiting The Young Leaders Academy of Baton Rouge Inc. An eclectic mix of favorite dishes from shrimp and crawfish étouffée and boiled turkey necks to chicken fettuccine and a sausage-stuffed pork loin roast… Continue reading →

Holiday Traditions: South Louisiana family pulls out all stops when holidays roll around

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Dr. David G. Fourrier's barbecued prime rib is ready when the ends are well done, rare in the center, and medium in between, providing a 'piece of meat for every taste.'

In fall, Louisiana roads lead to homes where family and friends gather in kitchens filled with aromas of caramelized onions, smoked meats and hints of rosemary and thyme. Holiday occasions often are filled with shared memories and shared recipes. Dr. David Gerard “Jerry” Fourrier and his wife, Nancy, entertain guests with distinctive south Louisiana meals. Many… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Roasted veggies are a holiday hit

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  For a flavorful side dish, try Rosemary Roasted Vegetables  --  Brussels sprouts, green beans and green onions.

Baton Rouge has some mighty fine home cooks, and I’m always reminded of that when I share a meal with members of my dinner club. I recently was among the lucky guests at the home of Paul and Barbara Hoffman, who hosted a dinner that was top-notch from beginning to end. The menu was mainly made up… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Pralines & Apples

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Have an abundance of pecans and apples? Make Praline Apple Pie.

I had pecans and apples, so I tested a recipe for Praline Apple Pie. After all, you can hardly go wrong with this combination. I’m not sure if I carefully measured the apples after I peeled and cut them, but my filling was a little skimpy. Generally, three medium apples will yield 2¾ cups of sliced apples.… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Holidays great time to consider slow cookers

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS  --  Take time to relax and enjoy a cup of slow-cooked Hot Chocolate.

Whether you are relaxing at home after last week’s big meal or looking ahead to holiday shopping, time to put your feet up is definitely in order. Cooks take the brunt of holiday tiredness. Take time to heal before heading out into the busy days ahead. If you will be doing your shopping online, put on the… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Potato salad’s secret is in the (cooked) sauce

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Eat Your Veg, Mrs. Dobbins' Potato Salad

Miss Dobbins’ Potato Salad was a big hit when Kitty Hessburg brought it as part of the lunch to an icon art workshop she was attending. When I called Hessburg to find out about the recipe and where it came from, she said it was included in her mother’s little cookbook. Her mother was the… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Dec. 4, 2014

Home-cooked chili on Friday night and a pulled pork lunch on Saturday are among the food-related items that will be available at the Clinton United Methodist Church’s annual Christmas Bazaar this weekend. The doors will open at 5 p.m. Friday. In addition to the chili, homemade… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Books, hotline for bakers say holidays

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  Enjoy a serving of warm Pear-Cranberry-Pecan Crumble on a cold day.

HHH “Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats” by Joy Wilson Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $30; 272-page hardcover The holiday baking season is definitely upon us. My first sign is always the avalanche of cookbooks about baking that begin landing on… Continue reading →

What a Crock: Slow-cooked Cornish hens perfect for small groups

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS  --  Not expecting a crowd for Thanksgiving? Serve Apple-Pecan Cornish Hens.

Perhaps you stock up on Cornish hens when they go on sale. I do, and it has saved me many times over when I needed a dinner idea. Thanksgiving is no exception. In many households, including ours at times, a turkey is simply too much for a small gathering. Cornish hens are exceptionally easy, but especially… Continue reading →

Make sweet potato latkes better with quick boiling water bath

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Smoky Sweet Potato Latkes are delicious and crispy and perfect accompanied by unsweetened applesauce and plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

During college, I took a class on global populations and food (affectionately known as “pops and crops”). I’m sure it was a fine class, but really only one lesson has stuck with me in the 25 years since. Professor Tremblay was adamant that if we ever were stuck on a deserted island and could take only one… Continue reading →

Saints dinners set the table for team unity

Associated Press photo by Duane Burleson -- Saints quarterback Drew Brees (center) said weekly dinners with his offensive line, including tackle Zach Strief (left) and guard Jahri Evans, help build camaraderie that can make a difference on the field.

It has all the makings of a classic guys’ night out — the tight-knit group of colleagues who faithfully set aside time during a high-pressure work week to share a meal and relax together off the clock. And so what if their gatherings tend to turn heads and ignite a giddy buzz across the evening’s dining… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: The day after Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal too

Advocate file photo  --  A New Orleans favorite, Turkey Poulet, uses leftover Thanksgiving  turkey and ham, plus bacon. A cheesy sauce and onions go atop the meat.

As you sit there savoring the slices of tender, juicy turkey on Thanksgiving Day, is there an idea in your mind how good some of that will be on a sandwich on Friday? Most of us look forward to Thanksgiving leftovers, so much so that if you are lucky enough to be invited to someone’s home… Continue reading →

What's Happening, Nov. 27 2014

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS  --  Not expecting a crowd for Thanksgiving? Serve Apple-Pecan Cornish Hens.

Galatoire’s Restaurant, 209 Royal St., New Orleans, plans to ring in the new year with a five-course Nicholas Feuillatte Champagne dinner. Located on Galatoire’s second floor with a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street, the New Year’s Eve Champagne dinner will be $175 per person, exclusive of… Continue reading →

What's Left?

Photo provided by Half Baked Harvest  --  For a tasty sandwich using Thanksgiviing leftovers, make Mashed Potato Waffle, Crispy Turkey, Smashed Avocado, Cranberry and Brie Melts.

The best part of Thanksgiving dinner may be dishes created with the leftovers. At least, that’s what the bloggers with the step-by-step cooking app SideChef say. They’ve come up with some inventive ideas to turn their day-old leftovers into tasty sandwiches. A suggestion from Half Baked Harvest combines cranberry and turkey… Continue reading →

Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro hits the mark from start to finish

Photo by Tim Arnold -- The fig cobbler with brandy sauce at Jolie's Louisiana Bistro was outstanding.

Sometimes eating out is about sustenance, and sometimes it’s the night’s main event. Our party enjoyed the latter recently at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro in Lafayette. Elegant yet relaxed, we enjoyed good food and good conversation with charming service. The doors of the spacious dining area open up to the view of a beautiful dark… Continue reading →

The next course at Arnaud’s? A new one.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--The sister and brother team of Katy and Archie Casbarian run Arnaud's Restaurant together and are beginning to put their own stamp on the menu.

The black drum Mitchell was arrayed at a jaunty angle, its bright, light-tasting sauce was a reduction of bouillabaisse broth and it rested over a cool, crunchy tangle of mirliton slaw. It was nothing revolutionary, but it did feel contemporary and since it was served at Arnaud’s Restaurant, the dish was definitely a signal.… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: How do you like your apples?

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Enjoy the new crop of apples by using the simple recipe for Baked Apple Halves.

The new crop of apples is arriving at stores, so this is a good time to enjoy the best of the season. After you have enjoyed eating a few apples out of hand, then try baking some for dessert. I tried two recipes. For the Baked Apple Halves recipe, the apples are cut in half and cored,… Continue reading →

Holiday dish with room for dessert

Photo provided by Wyman's of Maine  --  Wild Blueberry, Butter Squash and Quinoa Salad offers a healthful option for a holiday side dish.

Looking for ideas for your Thanksgiving menu? Here are three ideas — Garlic Rosemary Turkey for a flavorful main dish; a quinoa salad featuring blueberries and butternut squash as a side, and for dessert, the ultimate seasonal treat, sweet potato pie flavored with bourbon. The turkey is flavored with only five simple ingredients, but the garlic, herbs… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Slow cookers can help ease space constraints

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --  Use a slow cooker to make Squash Stuffing Casserole to free oven space on Thanksgiving.

It’s the annual dance-around-the-oven-space ritual. Kitchens are roomier than ever these days, and builders have learned a thing or two from the input of cooks about holiday cooking needs. That doesn’t necessarily hold true if you, like us, have what some workers at home improvement stores have referred to as one of those “old-fashioned” houses. Lovingly… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Ina Garten gets ahead of cooking

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  For a special dinner, serve Asparagus & Prosciutto Bundles. The recipe is in Ina Garten's 'Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.'

Hint to holiday shoppers: Fans of Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa cookbooks are surely hoping to receive a copy of Garten’s “Make It Ahead” book for Christmas or Hanukkah. They definitely won’t be disappointed with the gift. Garten, author of eight bestselling cookbooks, tackles stress-free entertaining by preparing dishes ahead of time. Some of her latest… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Nov. 20, 2014

Virginia College, 9501 Cortana Place, Baton Rouge, will host a free Fall Fest for the community and former, current and prospective students from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday. Activities will include a holiday craft-making area for children, refreshments and giveaways. Attendees will… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Opt for fresh greens this year

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Opt for fresh green beans for Thanksgiving and serve Green Beans With Almonds and Bacon.

Forget the creamy green bean casserole this year and opt for fresh green beans topped with sliced almonds. This is a good holiday dish because you can prepare the beans the day before and heat them in the oven when ready to serve. This is an old recipe that resurfaced recently. I think the original used a… Continue reading →

Victory is sweet (and savory); area cooks shine in Thanksgiving recipe contest

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  For an easy holiday appetizer, serve Cranberry Pear Relish with crackers and cream cheese.

If the winning dishes in The Advocate’s Thanksgiving Recipe Contest sponsored by Calandro’s Supermarket are any indication, Thanksgiving Day menus in south Louisiana reflect both the area’s culinary heritage and the cooks’ creativity. It wasn’t easy selecting the contest’s winners, the judges said as they tasted, critiqued and lobbied for their favorites among the dozen finalists in… Continue reading →

Roux & Brew brings dining perfection to newly remodeled space

Photo by RANDY BERGERON -- Tender and juicy, the ribeye was further enhanced by a topping of grilled shrimp.

Diners in Ponchatoula and beyond have welcomed back some familiar faces to the local restaurant scene. Randy and Kayla Tomeny, who operated C’est Bon Restaurant in the quaint city’s downtown from 1996 to 2006, have returned to the same Railroad Avenue spot with a new, remodeled eatery with a new name, Roux & Brew Seafood & Steakhouse.… Continue reading →

‘Cocktails in the Garden’ raises funds for Botanic Garden

Photo provided by Galatoires Bistro  --  The Bela Lugosi cocktail from Galatoire's Bistro, Baton Rouge, will be poured at the 'Cocktails in the Garden' event.

Celebrate the golden age of Hollywood Friday night and help raise funds for the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden. “Cocktails in the Garden” is a new nonprofit, fundraising event for the Botanic Gardens, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge. The event will feature beverages created by local mixologists, samples of some of Baton Rouge’s best… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Sweet potato pies are the taste of the South

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Try this lower-fat version of Sweet Potato Pie. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.

Sweet potato pies have graced Southern holiday tables for years, but many of our Northern friends have never heard of them. We’re blessed with some of the sweetest and best sweet potatoes grown right here in Louisiana. According to information on the LSU AgCenter’s website, this year’s crop is predicted to be excellent as far as… Continue reading →

Turning turkey into a healthy salad

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- It is easy to turn leftover Thanksgiving turkey into a dinner-worthy salad that will have everyone craving more greens.

When I was a child, my grandmother used to roast up two enormous turkeys at the holidays. And, of course, that was on top of all the usual gravies and sauces, sides and pies. For days after, the entire family would eat Grandma’s famous “blue plate special,” which was our euphemism for leftovers. Fast-forward to today, and… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Good food and good friends make good memories

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Try Slow-Cooked Spoon Bread, Julie Kay's version of an old friend's recipe.

It was 40 years ago when we moved to Baton Rouge as a young couple just starting out. It wasn’t long before we realized how important food was to the culture here. We connected with other young couples who also hailed from parts near and far, and we began a monthly dinner group. The memories flooded… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Nov. 13, 2014

LSU’s Biological Engineering Student Organization is holding its 33rd annual Thanksgiving sweet potato and rice sale fund-raiser from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Nov. 21 and Nov. 24-25 at the John M. Parker Coliseum parking lot at Highland Road and South Stadium Drive.… Continue reading →

Bites of History: The origin of bourbon’s name remains a mystery

Photo by Cynthia L. Nobles  --  Bourbon-Glazed Ham

Break out the bourbon! The holidays are near, and a respectable portion of imbibing Southerners look forward to bourbon’s smoky, oaky wallop in their cold-season cocktails. Cooks, too, know bourbon adds depth to savory winter dishes as well as to decadently elegant baked goods. A lthough the distinctive taste and aroma of bourbon are… Continue reading →