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Taco Chops Cantina in Baton Rouge offers mainly tacos...will it work?

Advocate photo by GEORGE MORRIS -- Slaw and beans accompany a fish taco and buffalo chicken taco.

Baton Rouge seems to be big and Tex-Mexy enough to support at least one taco truck. What about a taco restaurant? Looks like we’re going to find out. There is more to the Taco Chops Cantina menu than tacos, but not by a whole lot. Its owners, who grew up in Mexico, are betting the ranch… Continue reading →

N.O.'s Shaya mines chef’s roots, blending crossroads cuisine with family ties

Advocate staff photo by Ian McNulty - Chef Alon Shaya opened the Uptown restaurant Shaya with the Besh Restaurant Group.

As an Israeli restaurant, the newly-opened Shaya doesn’t have much precedent in New Orleans. But it does have plenty of familiar touchstones. Meals start with pita bread, hot from the wood-fired oven in the dining room. And the menu offers falafel, lamb kebabs and hummus (in four varieties) before any potentially new vocabulary comes your… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Trip to farmers market inspires Shrimp Scampi

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Serve Simple Shrimp Scampi over toasted French bread slices.

A trip to the local farmers market is all I need to make me want to get cooking. I recently came home with Louisiana Gulf shrimp, mustard greens, beautiful carrots, turnips, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and pork chops. I like shrimp simply prepared with just garlic, a hint of wine and lemon. That way if you have… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Stewed tomatoes, spices revive tried and true recipe

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Serve slow-cooked Stewed Tomato Soup with a sandwich or salad.

February is a good month in my book to experiment with soup. You don’t necessarily have to discount the old-timers in your experiment. While there are new and exciting ways to make soup these days, sometimes the best choice is an old tried-and-true that just needs some reviving. Take tomato soup, for example. Many of us grew… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Roasted Brussels sprouts a Moss family favorite

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  For an easy side dish, try Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Courtney McCullough Moss, who as a child grew up as my neighbor, is now a mother of three. I like it when young parents tell me about a great recipe they’ve tried or about something their family likes. Recently, Courtney mentioned how much her children, McCullough, 5, and Charlotte, 3, like vegetables. “If they see Brussels sprouts… Continue reading →

A joyous Jewish occasion of feasting, Purim also remembers intolerance

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Families often give platters of sweets and fruit to friends or people in need during the Jewish holiday of Purim. A typical platter contains, clockwise from top, Pecan Squares, Travados (Jerusalem Cinnamon Nut Cookies), Outrageous Brownies and Hamantaschen, the traditioinal Purim cookie.

Beginning at sundown on March 4, Jews around the world will celebrate Purim, a holiday often compared with Mardi Gras for its feasting, drinking and masquerading. The roots of Purim, as related in the Biblical Book of Esther, go back to ancient Persia, where the Jews were prosperous and prominent. King Ahasuerus, believed by scholars to… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Everyday meals for the family

Lorraine Wallace believes it’s important that families sit down together for supper. But as a home cook she knows getting supper on the table is easier said than done, the wife of “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace writes in her third cookbook, “Mr. & Mrs. Sunday’s Suppers.” While an empty-nester now, she says she spent years… Continue reading →

Off the Menu: Restaurants touting Lenten seafood specials

Many south Louisiana restaurants are offering seafood specials during the Lenten season, including Ruffino’s Restaurant, 18811 Highland Road, Baton Rouge; Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar locations; and Zea Rotisserie & Grill locations. Ruffino Executive Chef Peter Sclafani, a third-generation chef from New Orleans, said he has planned dishes drawn from his cookbook, “Seasons of Louisiana,” as well as… Continue reading →

Belgian endive gets help from CHEESE

Associated Press photo by Matthew Mead -- Belgian Endive Gratin

Fresh-faced, yet utterly jet-lagged. That’s how I arrived in France for the first time. And that’s how I was introduced to Belgian endive. Madame Gabillet was hosting me for my college semester abroad, and she welcomed me right off the plane into her chilly, dark home. Dinner was waiting, so we sat right down and rather silently… Continue reading →

Restaurant review: Spice Bistro has lots of potential

Advocate staff photo by Beth Colvin -- The smothered chicken ($13) came with a choice of two sides. We recommend the jambalaya for one of them.

Normally, I’m a big fan of a limited menu. A restaurant that tries to be all things to all people usually ends up being nothing to anyone, and a reasonably small menu often means that everything on there is done well. Spice Bistro and Bar’s Southern-fried menu has one more thing going for it. It’s full… Continue reading →

At new N.O. restaurant Trenasse, flavors of the hunting camp get a contemporary shine

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Cypress tables, an oyster bar and a marsh scene mural add character to the new restaurant inside the InterContinental Hotel.

An impressive-looking dish can pause the conversation when it arrives. The oyster log at Trenasse, however, looked like it could stop traffic. A lacquered slab of cypress nearly as long as our four-top table, the log was like a diorama of three dozen oysters ($59). Some sizzled with garlic butter, some were prepared… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Mild difference: Cauliflower lets other flavors pop

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Peppers add some zip to slow-cooked Jalapeno Cauliflower and Cheese.

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. It’s one of those veggies mild in taste and has great potential for soaking up flavors from other ingredients. It does require some liquid to do well in the slow-cooking process, and chicken or vegetable broth is an excellent way to provide both the liquid and flavor potential. Add a few… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Not quite ‘hands off,’ but still easy

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  Thick-Cut Pork Chops With Warm Apple-Cabbage Slaw, prepared and cooked on a sheet pan, goes together quickly.

HH “Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight From the Oven” by Molly Gilbert Workman Publishing, $15.95 296-page paperback When a cookbook author claims to have an easy preparation, easy cooking method that requires only one pan, I’m definitely interested. That’s what author and cooking instructor Molly… Continue reading →

The Year of the Goat: Hear drums and gongs? It’s the Chinese New Year

AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Craig Lee  --  Dumplings, such as Shanghai Dumplings from a banquet at Yank Sing restaurant in San Francisco, are traditionally served on Chinese New Year.

Happy 4712th Chinese year! Thursday, Feb. 19, marks the start of Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. The most festive of all Chinese holidays, the new year celebration begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and will last for about two weeks. Thursday welcomes in the beginning of the Year… Continue reading →

Eat your vegetables: Sautéing onions just right adds to soup’s flavor

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  French Onion Soup

Most adults like a good bowl of onion soup for lunch or dinner. If you have never made a homemade version, try this one. There’s nothing to making it if you don’t mind cutting up a couple of large onions. I use a mandolin to cut the onions into fine rings. If you… Continue reading →

Fluffy Delight: Chocolate Angel Food perfect for birthdays

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  Everyone will like creamy Chocolate Angel Food (Cake or Dessert).

If your birthday is in February and you live in south Louisiana, there is a good chance your birthday cake will be a king cake. This simple Chocolate Angel Food (Cake or Dessert) is the one I prepared for my granddaughter who has a February birthday, but she didn’t want another king cake. The Chocolate Angel Food… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Feb. 19, 2015

Southeastern Louisiana University’s Chefs Evening will provide a “taste of the Northshore” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 8 at the new Student Union Ballroom in Hammond. The annual event, which features food from local restaurants, silent auctions, wine tasting,… Continue reading →

Tuning in for Lenten

Photo provided by StarKist  --  For a colorful Lenten meal, prepare Tuna Stuffed Peppers.

When the fun of Carnival season ended at midnight Tuesday, many Christians in south Louisiana began the observance of the solemn Lenten season of penance and abstinence. Lent, a 40-day period of penance and prayer between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, is traditionally a time when Catholics and… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Cobble together a sweet treat

Advocate file photo  --  Celebrate Valentine's Day or Presidents' Day with Easy Cherry Cobbler.

As a child, I rated February rather dull when it came to holidays and sweet treats. While this month now means plenty of king cakes and parades, when I was a youngster, my family’s Carnival season usually began and ended on Mardi Gras day. That left Valentine’s Day and George Washington’s birthday. Those minor observances did… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Start before dinner to be ready for dessert

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Treat your Valentine to Strawberries and Chocolate Creme.

We look for the “pretty” factor when it comes to Valentine’s Day table settings, dinners and the dessert. Certainly, there are tasty dishes that aren’t pretty, but it’s nice when all the elements come together. There is definitely dessert — preferably one that doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare — at the end of my… Continue reading →

9 Dragon Noodle House an easily overlooked gem

Advocate photo by LESLIE D. ROSE -- The duck sauce enhances the flavor of the spring rolls at 9 Dragon Noodle House.

As shopping center restaurants go, you never know if you’re stumbling upon your next favorite place or your next biggest regret. Luckily for us, 9 Dragon Noodle House is the gem of Highland Plaza. Located on Highland Road next to Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, the small, storefront-style restaurant could easily fly under anyone’s radar, but they’d be… Continue reading →

Share your love with a sweet treat from the heart

Photo provided by McCormick  --  For an easy-to-make Valentine's Day treat, make Fudgy Raspberry Mug Brownie for two in the microwave.

Share a little love on St. Valentine’s Day with a homemade treat or a special alcoholic drink. If the budget doesn’t allow for expensive Valentine’s Day gifts for your significant other, treat your sweetie to a sweet from the heart. The chocoholic in your life will love Chocolate Valentine Brownies topped with chocolate ganache and… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Spice up your Valentine ... in the kitchen

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  Almond Cream Tart makes the perfect ending to a special Valentine's Day meal.

In place of the traditional steak and baked potato this Valentine’s Day, let’s have Kathy’s Southwest Crab Cakes. These simple-to-prepare crab cakes can be made up in the morning and waiting in the refrigerator to heat when it’s time for dinner. Serve them with a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice and salsa. (If… Continue reading →

What’s Happening for Feb. 12, 2015

The Red Stick Farmers Market will hold an expanded farmers market from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday, Feb. 12, at its location behind Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge. Shoppers will be able to find honey and locally grown produce, including root vegetables,… Continue reading →

Lafayette’s Café V worth the indulgence

Advocate photo by PATRICIA GANNON -- Cafe V's steak & frites offers a pyramid presentation of argula, tenderloin and delicate shoestring potatoes.

Café Vermilionville is like any old friend: When you drop by after a long absence, catching up is such a pleasure. Owned by Ken and Andrea Veron, the Old South, white tablecloth ambience is reminiscent of Galatoire’s or Antoine’s, so don’t go if you’re in a rush. There’s a small, quiet bar for that pre-meal glass of… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Stew meat a tasty, versatile ingredient

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Use stew meat for slow-cooked Salsa Beef Over Rice.

There is more to stew meat than just a beef stew. Use it to make a tasty vegetable soup or, in this case, a lovely salsa and black bean dish. Reinvent the leftovers and have another dish entirely. Freezing the main part of any meal is a good way of ensuring another good meal down the road,… Continue reading →

King Cake Creativity: S. Louisiana’s favorite Carnival confection is just the starting point for chefs

Photo provided by Dickie Brennan & Co.  --  The dessert menu at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse in New Orleans includes Pastry Chef Karen Anderson's King Cake Whoopie Pie. The pastry is made with a cinnamon cream cheese mousse sandwiched between two fluffy almond cakes served with crème anglaise and candied citrus zest.

Forget about watching your carbs and calories during the first two months of the year. It’s almost impossible to resist a slice or two or three of sugary, yeasty king cake during carnival season. It doesn’t help that south Louisiana bakers entice customers with new king cake flavors and products each year. King cake mania isn’t… Continue reading →

‘Baby’ tradition goes back to Kings’ Day

Photo provided by The Link Restaurant Group  --  Mardi Gras king cakes made by Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of The Link Restaurant Group in New Orleans contain a little pink pig in place of the traditional plastic 'baby.'

Mardi Gras king cakes often have a little pink plastic “baby” placed inside them. Traditionally, whoever finds the baby in his or her slice of cake must provide the king cake for the next party. The custom of Mardi Gras king cakes is believed to have begun in connection with the celebration of Kings’ Day, the… Continue reading →

Home cooks love French cooking

Advocate photo by Cheramie Sonnier  --  Raspberry Coconut Bars are easy to make, and portable.

HH “The Little French Bakery Cookbook: Sweet & Savory Recipes and Tales from a Pastry Chef and Her Cooking School” by Susan Holding Skyhorse Publishing, $24.95 268-page hardcover Based on the cookbooks that have crossed my desk in recent weeks, I predict that French cooking is the… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Baked apples provide perfect pinch of sweet

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  For an easy-to-make dessert, try Baked Apples.

Baked apples just may be that little something sweet you want after dinner. My version of baked apples is good because the apples aren’t overly spiced. You have the good apple taste but with the crunchiness of pecans in the center. Time for baking can vary depending on the size and variety of the apples and also… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Feb. 5, 2015

The Londoner Grill, 4215 South Sherwood Forest Boulevard, Baton Rouge, will hold a beer dinner featuring brews from Parish Brewing Co., of Broussard, at 7 p.m. March 2. Cost is $55 per person. For reservations, call (225) 292-9291. The five-course menu will include crawfish cakes… Continue reading →

Off the Menu: N.O. Raising Cane’s takes Super Service Challenge

A New Orleans-based Raising Cane’s restaurant was a big winner during the Super Bowl weekend. On Friday, Super Service Challenge ambassador and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Challenge founder Dave Lindsey announced the restaurant was the grand prize-winner of the Super Service Challenge, a nationwide initiative that inspires groups of people to join together to… Continue reading →

No need to go it alone: Group works to connect families living with severe allergies to develop a community where everyone understands

Advocate staff photo by KYLE PEVETO --Social worker and therapist Carolyn Ellender, left, takes a raffle ticket from Haley Pittenger and Kadence White at the food allergy conference the girls planned to bring together those living with severe allergies.

A severe food allergy makes life a little harder for 11-year-old Haley Pittenger. She can’t eat the same foods as kids in the school lunchroom or trick-or-treat for candy at Halloween. And she’s usually the only girl carrying a life-saving shot of epinephrine everywhere she goes. Most of her classmates know about her dangerous peanut… Continue reading →

What the health?: New app lists inspection reports of La. eateries

ORG XMIT: BAT1501201514090416

Thanks to mobile devices, it’s incredibly easy to find a place to eat, and fairly simple to learn what people think about it. Peeking inside the kitchen door? That’s another story. Not any more. “What the Health,” a free mobile app that links to health inspection reports of all Louisiana restaurants, went online Jan. 10. Created… Continue reading →

Toddler food often has too much salt, sugar, CDC study says

Kathy Burnett prepares a snack for her daughters Claudia, center, and Sabina right, after their gymnastics class Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Chicago. Burnett says she tries to feed her girls healthy, natural foods rather than commercial packaged products. A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many packaged foods and snacks marketed for toddlers contain too much salt and sugar and could potentially contribute to childhood obesity and high blood pressure. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

CHICAGO (AP) — Many packaged meals and snacks for toddlers contain worrisome amounts of salt and sugar, potentially creating an early taste for foods that may contribute to obesity and other health risks, according to a new government study. About seven in 10 toddler dinners studied contained too much salt, and most cereal bars, breakfast pastries and… Continue reading →

Downtown Baton Rouge's Aztecas stays a step above typical Tex-Mex

Advocate photo by Jill Arnold -- The shrimp El Paso featured eight jumbo shrimp stuffed with fresh jalapeno, wrapped in bacon and charbroiled.

The pulse of downtown Baton Rouge seems to beat faster each time we visit. A new park here, a new grocery store there and a large building going up right where The Advocate once stood. It’s probably a good thing the Aztecas restaurant wasn’t right across the street when we worked there, because the food is… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Bean Healthy

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Warm up with White Bean Soup With Pasta on a cold day.

We hear something every day about the importance of beans in our diet. Thank goodness, most Louisianans have grown up liking red beans and white beans. They’re full of healthy nutrients and fiber our bodies need, and the best news is that they’re cheap. In fact, dried beans, which I’m using in this recipe, may be one of… Continue reading →

Food Bowl for Super Bowl Sunday

Associated Press photo by MATTHEW MEAD -- The New England Super Seven Dip is made with barbecued pulled pork topped with skillet sauteed apples and butter.

Honestly, most football fans in south Louisiana probably will be more interested in what’s on the buffet than who wins the Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you are a fan of the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots — or are more interested in the Super Bowl’s television commercials — it’s a good bet you… Continue reading →

What a Crock!: Memories of 'beanie weenie night'

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND  --  For an economical and tasty dish, try Slow-Cooked Beans.

My husband I and joke about our early years together when the budget was especially tight and a night out meant a hamburger at the local college fast food establishment. We remember and commemorate those days every so often with what we call “beanie weenie night.” The menu, of course, is canned pork and beans with a… Continue reading →

Eat Your Vegetables: Get on Kale bandwagon

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad combines two popular, good-for-you vegetables.

Have you gotten on the “kale” bandwagon? It is not just the ornamental, thick frilly leaves you see dividing the foods in the refrigerated sections in the grocery cases. There are new varieties, sizes and green mixes that are popular now. Raw kale in salads is all the rage. Personally, I like the “baby” varieties… Continue reading →

Side Dish: Christina always had a good word, good food

Staff Photo by Arthur D. Lauck   -- This is a 2006 Advocate file photo of Christina Bannister owner of Christina's Restaurant in downtown Baton Rouge.

Thursdays are fried chicken day at the popular Christina’s Restaurant near the Baton Rouge governmental complex. I know this because a friend always wants to meet there for lunch then. But, we get more than just good fried chicken at the little St. Charles Street eatery. It’s a good bet we’ll learn some interesting story about… Continue reading →

What’s Happening, Jan. 29, 2015

The grand opening of the first Schlotzsky’s Cafe in Baton Rouge kicks off at 10 a.m. Thursday at 5565 Essen Lane, Suite A. The restaurant includes a co-branding deal with Cinnabon. To celebrate the opening, there will be a day of events, including a prize… Continue reading →

Red beans and rice: A take on the classic Louisiana dish from Food Network’s Melissa D’Arabian

This Jan. 12, 2015 photo shows red beans and rice in Concord, N.H. This is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

When I was growing up, beans and rice were an end-of-month staple. As money got tight, my mom would whip up a beans and rice casserole, a healthy, budget-friendly choice that stretched our pantry a bit longer. Not that we necessarily appreciated it. “It’s a complete protein!” Mom would proudly announce as my sister and I groaned.… Continue reading →

Gourmet Galley: Try these recipes with deer or duck meat for something tasty and a little different

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Gourmet Galley, deer sausage with sauted peppers for sandwiches,  and elk wrapped in bacon

Fortunately for me I’ve always had hunters and fishermen in my family, so I’m used to having wild game and fish available. Now, my grandsons, James Poché, 14, and Thomas Rimes, 12, are avid hunters. Each of them bagged a deer recently so I have a nice little stash of smoked deer sausage for gumbo or… Continue reading →