Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Celebrating the Grand Opening of New Orleans' Green Goddess Restaurant

NOTE: Greetings from sunny New Orleans! To celebrate its May 24, 24, 24 event, sent Mr. Luz and I down here to enjoy the riches of Chef Chris DeBarr's brand new NOLA restaurant, the Green Goddess. This write up highlights the dinner menu, but the Green Goddess also serves amazing lunch and brunch menus, which are overseen by the highly-regarded Chef/Co-Owner Paul Artigues. The Green Goddess is in Exchange Alley, between Royal and Chartres and on the Canal St. side of the LA Supreme Courthouse. Please stop by, we promise you'll love it.

Our journey begins with a Pimm's Cup cocktail at the Napoleon House, as Mr. Luz and I sit and sip, preparing for the amazing dishes that await us at the Green Goddess. The Napoleon House is quintessential New Orleans. The paint that peels off the thick stucco walls has probably been there for decades, and the orange light bulbs in the overhead fixtures burn like the hot, hot tropical nights that are to come as Louisiana moves towards summer. The patrons move slowly, and gaze out the windows onto the street for long periods of time--they observe the landscape, and they are the landscape. Mr. Luz and I breathe it all in--we've been suffocating, and this--right here--is our lifeblood.

We talk about Chef Chris DeBarr, who was named New Orleans Best New Chef in 2006, the draw of his food, and his new restaurant, the Green Goddess. Chef DeBarr has emailed me at 4 a.m. in the past few weeks to update me on the Grand Opening of the Green Goddess, and to describe the amazing products he managed to procure for his endeavor. Waking up to pages and pages of Chris's writing detailing the amazing ingredients discussed below was like beginning the day with a book of poetry. There's something about the early morning light and the late-night musings of a passionate chef that just feels right in my world. As we finish our drinks, Mr. Luz and I also reflect on the urban bohemian utopia that is New Orleans, and how Chef DeBarr at times embodies the wild, lyrical tolerance-nay, celebration of diversity, that is this city.

We leave the Napoleon House, and took the short walk to Exchange Alley. The Green Goddess is in an intimate alley that gets full sun approximately 2 hours of the day, and is a breezy, shady oasis otherwise.

After reaching the Green Goddess, we had the pleasure of talking with Miz Marrus, designer of the Green Goddess's gorgeous sign (absolutely essential to any N'awlins establishment). She told hilarious stories about iterations the image went through--at one point Chef DeBarr requested imagery from Greek and Roman mythology, the Statue of Liberty, and a Mardi Gras Indian all at once--to get to the wild, powerful image we have today. You can find more details here.We peek into the intimate, bronze-gilded dining area, and say hi to Chef DeBarr. Then, like any good and unobtrusive dinner guest, I start taking pictures of things. Scott greets us, and takes our drink order. At his previous restaurant, Chef DeBarr preferred to dispatch with the waitstaff and serve the food himself, which means you always have an expert describing your dishes and answering your questions. Keeping with that theme, Chef DeBarr staffs the Green Goddess with cooks and chefs that are as comfortable serving tables in the the front of the house as they are trained to create the dishes in the back of the house. Scott served us at our table, but also helped prep and cook our dishes. Needless to say, the enthusiasm and pride among the front of the house staff was palpable, and we loved discussing the dishes with their creators as we were experiencing them.

Mr. Luz started with the Brazilian Samba and I ordered the Island Sea Breeze from the Green Goddess "Juicy Cocktail" menu. The Brazilian Samba features cashew fruit juice, sparkling apple juice, white tea, and agave with frozen young coconut juice floating on top, and the Island Sea Breeze has Ting (Jamaican grapefruit soda), hibiscus, acai juice, and lime juice. The drinks were complex, refreshing, and perfect for a sunny New Orleans late afternoon. Like any perfect creation, you can taste all of the elements independent from one another, and you also get an entirely different experience as all of the flavors harmonize into one.

We begin the Tasting Menu with the Niigata Bruschetta with edamame and mint tapenade with Japanese crazy wintry malted chiles on olive bread, paired with Chef DeBarr's Salty Banana Mango Lassi with basil seed drink "fault line" and curry sugar rim. If the Green Goddess were a microcosm of the utopian bohemia that is New Orleans, this dish would best represent the diversity that makes New Orleans so exciting. As Chef DeBarr tells the story, the tapenade is made of chiles that grow in the mountains of Japan. The chiles are packed in snow to mellow and sweeten their spicy elements, and then fermented in rice malt from the Niigata region of Japan for three years. The result is a salty, umami chile that Chef DeBarr mixes with fresh edamame and mint from his garden before spreading on thin, soft slices of bread. The dish is simultaneously sweet, earthy, and light on the palate. Chef DeBarr pairs the Niigata bruschetta with his dynamite Mango Banana Lassi (an appetizer in itself ) for a fantastically bright and decadadent first course.
The second course is a Pacific fiddlehead fern, fennel and absinthe bisque. Chef DeBarr roasts the nutty fiddlehead ferns with exotic Bengali seasonings, before cooking them a second time in the bisque. The aromatic ingredients nestle in the fiddleheads in a perfectly engineered dish.
Love. That bohemian theme is present in every element of Chef DeBarr's third course--the roasted golden beet carpaccio “ravioli” stuffed with truffled chèvre, finished with pomegranate molasses, Sardinian Saba, and avocado oil. This dish is all consuming, and almost bittersweet. Chef DeBarr roasts the sweet golden beets and slices them thin, with the tangy goat cheese between two slices. The pomegranate molasses is tart, and absolutely takes control of the roof of your mouth while the other elements dance on the front and sides of your tongue. The pink Himalayan salt that finishes the dish keeps it savory, and gives the subtle beets the kick they need to stand up to the more powerful elements.
The beet "ravioli" is paired with Chef DeBarr's Huckleberry Snowball, a "juicy cocktail" made of crushed ice sinking in Tazo Brambleberry Tea, Hansen’s Dragonfruit Sparkler, and an earthy huckleberry granita. The dark fruit flavors sink deeper into the shaved ice as you sip, and immediately, you are in love.
As we finish our Snowball, a brass band leads a second line of dancing, stomping folks past Exchange Alley and we pause to take in the joy that is strolling past us to the music of brass and drum.
Our fourth course could represent the Spirituality that strums beneath the NOLA way of life. Chef DeBarr's dish of lightly roasted asparagus, morels, petite green peas and shallot “Jam” with a juicy red wine reduction and fluffy red quinoa was the crescendo of the evening. The sauces sunk into the fluffy, earthy morels, and the caramelized shallots offered an intense sweetness to the bright spring flavors and the deep acidity of the red wine reduction. Mr. Luz tasted the Catholic incense of his alter boy days in the floral quinoa, and frankly, we were both emotional as we enjoyed the thoughtful purity of the dish in the peaceful New Orleans evening.
Music is the final urban bohemian element present in Chef DeBarr's Green Goddess tasting menu. His lychee ginger mint "cocktail" with lime absolutely sings. Mr. Luz described the ginger in this cocktail as analogous to hops in a good beer--it was aromatic, and exciting. The mint and lychee added subtle sweet and tangy flavors, and the candy mint danced across your tongue and left your mouth cool and fresh. Like the second line that graced our tasting menu earlier in the night, this "cocktail" alternately bounces and drifts across your palate, and is not to be missed.
Chef DeBarr finished the evening with his Mt. Hood Medicine Man salad, with shaved fennel, candied yuzu peel, hazelnuts and wild foraged spring greens with blood orange vinaigrette and avocado oil. This dish is perfectly lagniappe (meaning "a little something extra" in N'awlins-speak). Every bite is different, and the shaved fennel in particular changes whether you eat it with a bite of some of the bitter greens, the citrus-y yuzu peel, or the sweeter hazelnuts. The greens are foraged by hand on Oregon's Mt. Hood by a man named Running Squirrel. The greens truly taste wild, with a myriad of hidden flavors highlighted by Chef DeBarr's preparation, and they are fleeting in that they will only be harvested for a short time. In sum, Chef DeBarr's salad is a fresh, fleeting masterpiece in an otherwise stale culinary world where famous chefs haven't changed their menu since 2000 (sorry, Emeril).
The tasting menu ended with a toasted hazelnut tuile and blood orange sorbet with pine bud syrup, and a Louisiana strawberry crème brulee topped with caramelized balsamic syrup. The desserts progressed from citrus-y and bright to creamy and deep. (Maybe we also tasted Chef DeBarr's bread pudding with chocolate hazelnut--decadent!--and his Saturn Calling dessert made with sticky black rice pudding, coconut milk, mango and amaretto with tapioca pearls, which I highly recommend!)

Chef DeBarr's Green Goddess restaurant takes a purposefully and almost prayerfully distilled approach to melding fresh ingredients with exotic whimsy. In that way, he takes the traditional N'awlins approach to cooking, where roux-making is almost spiritual, and makes it his own. It is eclectic and original, in the most warm, approachable, and thoughtful way. Mr. Luz and I felt privileged to be able to attend a tasting dinner at the Green Goddess, and to enjoy the celebration of music, love, diversity, spirituality, and above all--rare and complex ingredients prepared with reverence--that the Green Goddess has to offer.

Other highlights from Chef DeBarr's dinner menu at the Green Goddess:

South Indian Savory Ivory Lentil Pancake (aka: utthappam) with petite green peas,
mustard seeds, kalonji, and spiced tomatoes with tamarind chutney & fiery dal. This dish tastes like an inside out samosa, fluffy and fun, and the tamarind paste puckers your palate in a good way!
Second favorite dish of the night: “Spooky” Blue Corn Crèpes with huitlacoche, (a
rare Aztec corn fungus) mushrooms & brandy ragout, finished with porcini salt and butter.

Holy Lord.

The huitlacoche can best be described as a sort of "noble rot" that gives the corn a meaty flavor and texture. The porcini salt and butter hits you in the face all at once and with every bite, and lends a truffled element to the dish.

Our final entrée was the Bison Bacon Meatloaf with asparagus roasted with serrano ham and twice baked potato and spicy steak sauce. My favorite part of this dish is the twice baked potato. The potatoes are whipped with yogurt instead of sour cream and then baked with manchego cheese. Scott told us that "you can't get the potatoes creamy enough for Chef Debarr-you could whisk butter, cream, and yogurt into them for hours and they're still not creamy enough." Awesome.

Pear, Goat Cheese Strudel Recipe: The Daring Bakers Are At It Again!

How did it get to be the end of May already?!! I want this summer to be as long and sunny as possible--winter in D.C. almost did me in after 3 years in NOLA. Luckily, Liza Jane and I have decided that this is "The Summer of No Sleep," and we intend to enjoy every balmy, humid hour of every day from now until August. We shall have rockin' tans, and lots of mosquito bites.

All of this is to say that it's the 27th, so it's time to reveal the May Daring Bakers' Challenge.

This month's challenge was a rustic Strudel recipe. I'm not much of a baker, so I joined the Daring Bakers to learn. Sure, I braise, fry, smoke with confidence, but give me a recipe with exact measurements and I die a little inside.

And in the case of this strudel recipe, I fudge it, and use some "E.Lee Tips and Tricks" that go horribly wrong, and I end up throwing my second batch of dough on the floor before deciding to stick to the recipe on the third batch.

Luckily, following the recipe actually worked. Go figure. The real challenge to this recipe is the stretching. According to one Daring Baker, you should "be able to read a love letter through the dough" once it's properly stretched. Yikes! I opted to simply ensure that you could see my middle finger raised at batches #1 and #2 through my stretched batch #3, and it seemed to work out well enough.
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Once it was stretched, I filled my strudel dough with sliced super-ripe pears, dried cranberries, goat cheese and almonds, and then I topped it with a muscato-honey drizzle with nutmeg and fresh flowers. It was goaty, and super sweet, and pretty tasty. And so I say, take THAT jerkface strudel dough!

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes

**I substituted the Apple filling for a Pear, Goat Cheese filling, using the Kaffeehaus recipe as a guidepost***
2 Tbs. Golden Rum
3 Tbs. Dried Cranberries
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups ground Honey-flavored Cookies (not low-fat)
1/2 cup Almond Slivers
2 lbs. peeled ripe Pears
Strudel Dough (recipe below)
5 Tbs. Butter, melted
4 oz. Goat Cheese
2 cups Muscato wine
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbs. Honey

1. Mix the rum and cranberries in a bowl. Mix the nutmeg and sugar in another bowl.

2. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands. Sprinkle the buttered dough with the cookie crumbs. Spread the almonds about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-wide strip. Mix the pears with the cranberry-rum mixture, and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the almonds. Dot with teaspoonfuls of the goat cheese.

3. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

4. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. While the strudel is baking, bring the muscato to a slow boil over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Add the nutmeg and honey, and boil until the liquid has reduced to 3/4 cup. When the strudel is done baking, cool for at least 30 minutes before drizzling with the honey glaze and slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough

1 1/3 cups Unbleached Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
7 Tbs. Water, plus more if needed
2 Tbs. Vegetable Oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 tsp. Cider Vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches. Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

- Before pulling and stretching the dough, remove your jewelry from hands and wrists, and wear short-sleeves;
- To make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;
- Few small holes in the dough is not a problem as the dough will be rolled, making (most of) the holes invisible.

Crab Boil Potato Salad Recipe: Summer Sides

I'm not sure how it happened, but this Memorial Day weekend I was able to take a break from cooking and enjoy some spicy, smoky love from other peoples' kitchens. (Thanks Jeffbignerd and Liza Jane!)

Which was nice, because I think I burned myself out this week. (Cooked till 1:30 am to stock a friend's fridge w/"reheatables" on top of the usual hours spent grilling, entertaining, and cooking for the week. Noooo more simmering! Noooo!!)

In return for Jeffbignerd and Liza Jane's generosity, I did offer some of my favorite Summer Sides.

To me a good summer side can be served cold or room temperature, nicely complements the rich and spicy grilled flavors of the season, and it may be a "classic" but it has some unexpected flavors, too. This potato salad falls into that category. I use spicy crab boil to add some earthy, spicy flavors to the potatoes as they cook, and then toss everything with the usual potato salad staples. Serve it with steak or burgers, and enjoy!

Crab-Boil Potato Salad:

10 medium Red Skin Potatoes
1 package Crab Boil dry (not liquid) seasoning
2 cups chopped boiled Egg
2 cups sliced Green Onion
1 cup diced Celery
1/2 cup diced Red Onion
1 cup Mayonnaise, divided
2 Tbs. Creole Mustard
Cayenne Pepper, Salt, Pepper
1. Peirce the skins of the potatoes on 4 sides with a fork or a sharp knife. Add the potatoes and the crab boil packet to a large pot, add a large pinch of salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil until the potatoes are soft. (Approx. 15 minutes). I like my potatoes super-starchy, so I boil them until I can crush them easily with a fork and then refrigerate the potatoes to firm them up for mixing later.

2. Drain and cool the potatoes. Chop the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and add to a large mixing bowl. (I peel some of the red skins off of the cooked cubes if they are loose, until I have the desired skin-to-potato ratio for my potato salad). Cut open the mesh bag holding the crab boil spices, and add 3 Tbs. of the loose spices to the potatoes.

3. Add everything but the mayonnaise, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the mixing bowl with the potatoes and the crab boil spices. Add the mayonnaise, 1/4 cup at a time and stir. Keep adding 1/4 cup mayo until the potatoes reach your desired creaminess. (I prefer my potato salad to be a little drier and starchy, instead of pretty and glossy, but that's up to you. If you want starchy, crush some of the potatoes as you stir...mmmmcrushed potatoes soaked in mayo.....) add salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and

Spicy Slow-Cooker Roast Beef Sandwiches

I guess this post is going to be in a different format, because Blogger is driving me C-R-A-Z-Y and my butt hurts too much to sit on the couch much longer tonight. Yeah, my sciatic nerve is pinched. As in, my muscles and the discs in my vertebrae are conspiring against my awesomeness and are actually crushing the huge nerve that runs through my butt, lower back, and leg. I am a cranky blogger.

That's not even true. I am a painful blogger, with so much good news it's insane. I can't post about any of it right now, but I can say that I get on a plane on Friday, and my final destination is alll about the food. I also have awesome dinner plans for Thursday that involve a little bit of D.C. and a little bit of NOLA. And soon, I'm going to be famous! That's also not even true. But there's lots of good news.

Your good news for the day? Slow-cooked browned meat in spicy broth. This recipe comes straight from Mama, and pretty rich, spicy, and cheesy. It's also very easy--like every good Midwestern meal, most of it is prepared for you in advance and the rest just cooks in its own juices till you can't stand it anymore.

Spicy Slow-Cooker Roast Beef:
2 lb. Beef Sirloin Roast
2 Tbs. Cooking Oil
Salt, Pepper
1 Packet Italian Dressing Mix
1 small jar Sliced Hot Banana Peppers
1 16 oz. can Beef Broth
5 cloves Garlic, crushed
Crushed red pepper
Provolone or another softer white cheese (pepperjack if you're brave)
Hoagie rolls

1. Rinse the beef and pat dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat and brown the beef.

2. Add the beef and the next 4 ingredients to a slow cooker, adding 1 Tbs. of the banana pepper juice. Cook on high for 9 hours.

3. Shred the beef and return to the cooker. Add red pepper to taste, and cook on low until the meat is fork tender (2-3 hours).

4. Serve on sliced hoagie rolls, and top with cheese. Enjoy!

Pickin' Crabs: Summertime is Finally Here

Last weekend was sunny and breezy, so Mr. Luz and I packed some friends into the car and drove out to Annapolis, Maryland to "pick some crabs."

Now, I'm from Missouri, and we just fry our seafood there, since it's probably taken at least 3 weeks to get to us and seen the inside of way too many freezers along the way.

So until I came to D.C., I'd never picked apart some poor, unsuspecting Maryland crab and snarfed it down with an extra helping of spicy, thymey Old Bay seasoning. Once you add in a bucket of coronas, and a dude with a guitar covering Jimmy Buffet, I've officially hit Zen.

These photos are from Mike's Crabhouse, which has been outside Annapolis, MD for 45 years. It's off a little inlet of the Chesapeake Bay, and when you sit on their huge deck overlooking the water, the rest of the world just melts away.
Something about Mike's brings me back to the vacations I spent with my family at the lake. We'd spend all day hanging out in our cutoff shorts in the sunshine or jumping off the deck of our rented pontoon boat to paddle around the lake. Everything was laid back, but it still felt like we were celebrating something special. In a way, we were just celebrating Summer.

If you're in the D.C. area, you should really head out to Annapolis and grab a picnic table and a dozen large crabs. (At Mike's, the waitresses will just sit down next to you and give you the speediest crab-shredding tutorial you'll ever see, so don't be sheepish if you've never done it before. Crab pickin' is work, and it's worth it.)

If you're somewhere else, take an evening this weekend to eat on an outdoor patio, or fill your cooler with some cold beer and grill. Do something, anything, to celebrate the return of the Summer months, and forget about everything else for a bit as you enjoy some sweet, easy flip-flop livin.'
Before, a dozen large Maryland CrabsAfter, pure carnage

Syrah-Braised Lamb with Garlic Gremolata

Wow. This post is making me hungry--which is probably due to the fact that I cooked this 2 1/2 weeks ago and am only now posting because I have been in Blogger Exile. (No internet at home, and working through my lunch hour at the office. Blurgh.)

This recipe is perfect if you haven't cooked alot of lamb before--it's braised, so you can achieve that complex flavor and tenderness that you'd expect at a great restaurant fairly easily at home. And if you're not too sure how your famiglia will take to lamb, the gremolata really perks it up and adds a garlicy, acidic balance to an otherwise super-earthy, rich dish, so it's an easy "crowd-pleaser."

While we're trying new things, please pair this with a sundried-tomato risotto, even if you've never made risotto before. While risotto takes some patience/stirring, it's an easy "wine glass in hand" stir that's difficult to botch. I swear, you can make risotto after draining 3 wine glasses, and it'll still be stellar. (I've probably kept some smaller wine producers in CA afloat in these trying economic times, simply due to my risotto-making. Think of the little guy!)

Food and Wine's Syrah-Braised Lamb w/Garlic Gremolata and Sundried-Tomato Risotto:

For the Lamb: (From, adjusted to serve 4--original recipe serves 8)

1 Tbs. ground Cumin
1 1/2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 2-3 lb. boneless Lamb Shoulder Roast (tied, if you prefer for presentations' sake)
3/4 bottle Syrah wine
2 cups Chicken Stock
6 sprigs Thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the cumin, 1 Tbs. oil, and a generous dash of salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the lamb.

Heat the remaining 1/2 Tbs. olive oil in a dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium high heat. Add the lamb shoulder and brown it well.

Remove the lamb to a large plate, and pour off and discard any excess oil from the dutch oven. Return the lamb to the dutch oven, add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a boil over the stove.

Cover and transfer the dish to the oven. Braise the lamb for 1.5 to 2 hours, turning the meat occasionally (don't forget, that cooking dish is HOT) until tender.

Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and tent with foil. Discard the thyme sprigs, and boil the braising liquid until reduced to 2 cups.


Follow the basic recipe on but add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 1/2 cup sliced baby portabella mushrooms when you saute the onion, and add 1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes (packed in the vacuum seal bags, not oil) with the wine. Substitute 1/2 cup feta cheese for the parmesan cheese.


1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
3 Tbs. grated lemon peel
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped rosemary or thyme

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Overall Presentation:

Spoon the risotto onto a plate, top with braised lamb, and serve with a generous portion of gremolata. Enjoy!

St. Joe's Blueberry Mojito Recipe

St. Joe's is a dark, skinny little New Orleans bar with an "approachably gothic" decor inside and a patio bathed in the red light of 20 large Chinese lanterns out back. The inside is a tight fit, which makes for for intimate conversation and lots of physical contact, while the open patio is a subdued, chill place to catch up with friends. In addition to offering some fantastic N'awlins ambiance, St. Joe's (grammar? St. Joe's'? It's unavoidable, ya'll) specialty cocktail is my absolute favorite--a limey, crisp blueberry mojito.

Maybe the temperature finally stalled out somewhere above 55 degrees in D.C. and I've already made these 3 times. If you make them, you'll understand.

From St. Joe's Bar Blueberry Mojitos

10 mint leaves
10 blueberries (I thaw frozen ones, because they are a little sweeter)
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. chilled club soda
1 oz. chilled Sprite
1 1/2 oz. gold rum

(Directions altered to avoid you having to strain mint leaves out of your teeth for days)

In a cocktail glass, muddle blueberries, simple syrup, and mint. I use the handle of a wooden spoon, and try to do it 1 minute longer than I have the patience for. Also, I'm from the Midwest and we end sentences with prepositions.

Fill the glass with ice.

Pour the lime juice, club soda, sprite, and rum into the glass, pouring the liquid over the back of a spoon to avoid disturbing as much mint as possible. Swirl the glass to mix, and enjoy!

Holy Duckfat French Fries! Chris DeBarr's Back in Action

Joyous, joyous day! One of the most celebrated "new school" chefs in New Orleans, Chris DeBarr is coming back from his 10-month hiatus by opening his own restaurant! This is fantastic news for New Orleans.

Since Chef DeBarr left the tiny, tiny kitchen of the Delachaise last July, I have mourned the loss of his duck fat french fries and their fiery satay dipping sauce.

Sometimes, when I'm at the Harris Teeter cheese island, I dream that Chris is there, guiding me to the creamy, stinky, nutty, and tangy cheeses that packed our cheese plates on so many balmy evenings in NOLA. I miss having the brilliant, jovial chef deliver his thoughtful dishes to the table in his check pants and his clogs, daring us to guess the spices in his chestnut flour pasta & smoked goose dish. (It's not anise! Instead, it's the slighty licorice caraway seed. From Chef DeBarr himself "I based that dish on something I read about in the Alto Adige region of Italy, involving goose speck, called oca, which I immediately lusted after.")

But, ladies and gents, I no longer have to hallucinate his presence at the grocery store--he has returned and this time its his kitchen and his alone. That means that he's free to pack the walk-in coolers with whatever crazy fowls and foragers that he comes across at the market, and nobody can tell him that they won't sell. It also means that he doesn't have to stock Diet Coke if he doesn't want to, and, be warned--he doesn't want to.

Chef Chis DeBarr's new restaurant is on Exchange Alley in the French Quarter (Between Royal and Conti, on the Uptown side of the LA Supreme Ct. Building), and he's naming it the "Green Goddess." The name alludes to many things: the famous absinthe drink that is inextricably tied to bohemian NOLA (get it at the Pirate Bar in NOLA, or Wisdom in D.C.), our heightened awareness of our collective environmental footprint, and a celebration of the vegetables and herbs that awaken our palate and nourish our bodies. Chris' restaurant will resonate all of these concepts, but he also wants to play tribute to New Orleans native Warren LeRuth, who developed the recipe for the cucumber-hued Green Goddess salad dressing that taught Chris that "food could be exotic, even capable of turning a boring lettuce salad into something a little bit fantastic."

One feature of the Green Goddess will be its unique beverage service. No safe-haven Diet Coke here. Instead, order a "Brazilian Samba", with cashew fruit juice, sparkling pear juice, white tea, agave nectar, and ice cubes of young coconut juice. Or try a can of Ting, a Jamaican grapefruit soda that blows our cherry-coke crap out of the water.

And don't expect the food to be upstaged by the drinks--that's not Chef DeBarr's style. His blog suggests that he has many, many secrets in store for his diners, including a modern method of preparing dishes tableside (perfect for nomadic, gregarious Chef DeBarr) that won't remind you of the 80-year-old tuxedo clad server setting your bananas foster on fire beside a dingy booth at Morton's. Right now, I'm most excited about the gourmet bison and bacon meatloaf with roasted asparagus wrapped in serrano ham--that and the "whoopass lunch sandwich" he plans to make from cold slices of the same.

UPDATE: Though I included linked to Chef DeBarr's livejournal, I didn't give you the webaddress outright. For more info about the Green Goddess, and to follow along as the restaurant moves towards its Grand Opening, check out or visit, which should be up and running

Every Vote Counts!

Hey all, please please please take a second to vote in my little survey. Even if you are a first time reader, go ahead and weigh in.

Because guess what? If you don't, I'll sit right down right now and post about my myriad of health problems of late, and yoga poses, and yoga instructors, and hell maybe even my new yoga ball and the health benefits of drinking coconut water, and trying to keep my calcium up so I don't cramp, and then you'll reeeeeeeeeeeeeally regret not voting.

Also, I google-imaged "bacon" and "yoga," together and came up with the picture on the left. I guess it just goes to show ya' that yoga can't cure

Quick and Easy Mushroom Ravioli w/Summer Herb Broth

The lovely folks over at Foodbuzz offered me the chance to try out Buitoni’s new Riserva line of pastas. I lurve free food, especially free cheesy carb-laden food, so I accepted. Pasta is a quick, easy “go to” in our house, though I rarely think to skip the dried pasta aisle at the grocery store to pick up some prepared ravioli in the refrigerator cases. I think Foodbuzz and Buitoni have changed that.

I had the opportunity to try Buitoni’s Wild Mushroom Agnolotti, which are marketed as being “filled with 100% natural ingredients,” including crimini and portabella mushrooms. Trust me, I’d tell you if they’d committed any of the Cardinal Sins of mushroom-foods. You know that I’m talking about: there’s the telltale plastic taste that comes from improper mushroom selection (always happens to my wild rice stuffing), or the bland pastiness from overcooking the mushrooms. Nope and nope. These agnolottis have amazing mushroom flavor, and just the right touch of flavorful grana padano and parmesan cheeses. I could eat them all day.

I cooked and served these in an herby, earthy chicken broth, which is my favorite way to eat ravioli. When you cut into the pasta, the broth sort of infuses the filling, which sometimes spills out into the broth….sigh. Maybe I’ll go make some more right now. WAIT, FOCUS! Ok. I’m okay.

Long story short, buy these suckers up if you can find them. They’re always sold out at my grocery store (so buy some for me!) Here’s my favorite way to eat them:

Wild Mushroom Agnolotti in a Simple Summer Herb Broth

1 cup chopped Onion
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
3/4 cup Pinot Noir or another earthy, light red wine
5 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1/2 cup minced Basil, divided
3 Tbs. chopped Dill
2 cups Grape Tomatoes, halved
2 cups fresh Spinach
2 packages Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan or a pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, and add the red wine. Stir, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon until they are incorporated into the liquid. Simmer for 3 minutes, and add the chicken broth, all but 2 Tbs. of the basil, and the dill. Bring back to a vigorous simmer, add the ravioli and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring gently. Add the tomatoes and spinach, simmer for 2 minutes, and remove from the heat. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. of basil, and serve in a deep bowl with some crusty bread for