photo by Patsy R. Brumfield

How to make a Mardi Gras King Cake (John Besh recipe)

What better way to say/eat Mardi Gras than with a home-baked king cake, that delicate pastry with the purple, gold and green sprinkled icing. Some folks fill it with a sweet cream cheese or fruit or boudin, but this one’s the traditional king cake from New Orleans’ favorite chef (well, mine) John Besh.

If you want the praline-topped, banana-stuffed, gold-flecked king cake from Besh Chef Lisa White, here’s that recipe. Warning – it’s not for king cake wimps.

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how to make buttercrunch candy (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield, Southfacin' Cook)

How to make chocolate-dipped buttercrunch candy (recipe)

I don’t claim to be original, especially when it comes to candy. My grandmother, the willful and beautiful Rosalie Dial, made divinity and fudge, but that’s about it.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

Recently on NPR, I heard this recipe by Andrea Gunst and had to try it. Here’s the original recipe. I’ve added a little salt, which Andrea didn’t. I wrapped the candy in small plastic bags and put it in pretty holiday tins for gifts. Here are two NPR segments about the candy:

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2014/12/10/buttercrunch-ham-recipes

//embed.wbur.org/player/hereandnow/2012/12/17/gunst-holiday-gifts

Advice from NPR: You can double the recipe, but if you want to make more you shouldn’t try to multiply the recipe by three or four — simply keep doubling the recipe. One cookie sheet makes one batch. Continue reading

How to make jardiniere (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/Southfacin' Cook)

How to make giardiniera (pickled vegetables) – recipe

When I was a kid, our neighbor, Wilbur Pickett, made hot sauce on an open fire on the vacant elementary school-yard between our McComb, Miss., houses.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I didn’t think too much about why until years later when I made my first batch of garlicky dill pickles from garden cucumbers – and stunk up my house without the possibility of parole.

Luckily, I’d acquired a small, bottle-gas burner for football tailgating. From then on, I cooked my pickling juice out on the porch to avoid the penetrating aroma. It’s mighty good in the jar, but it’s a bit something to take into your nose when it’s steaming hot. It also infuses itself into drywall (just my opinion – not a scientific fact).

Now I know why Wilbur’s wife, Gladys, sent him to the school yard for his vinegary concoction.

This recipe for giardiniera mimics those fancy, expensive pickled veggies in the grocery but is easy to make at home. It makes a pretty gift for friends, too. Try it.

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praline from Southern Candymakers (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

#newinNOLA tip – praline is pronounced “prawleen”

Happy National Praline Day! Have you tried one of these delicious sugary treats yet? There are plenty of storebought options in the French Quarter, especially near the French Market. If you ask nicely, most will give you a sample.

#newinNOLA tip – we say “prawleen” not “prayleen” in New Orleans.

More praline tips:

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fresh crabs for sale at Westwego Shrimp Lot (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

How to make West Indies crab meat salad (recipe)

My brother-in-law, Tommy Ratchford of Pensacola, isn’t much of a cook, but he knows a thing or two about seafood. Hearken to his “Southfacin’ Cook” recipe for perfect boiled shrimp.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

His “West Indies Salad” is a delicious, light, crisp, tart combo of vinegar-sweetened onions, brine and juicy lump crab meat. Can’t get much tastier than that!

It’s gorgeous on toasted French bread slices and even prettier in a stemmed cocktail glass as a true salad or a buffet specialty.

Easy, delicious. A great change of pace with summertime fare, too. Enjoy any time of the year, so long as the crab meat is fresh.

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creole tomatoes at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Photos from Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans

The French Market held its 28th annual Creole Tomato Festival last weekend in New Orleans. We tried the famous tomatoes, watched a Creole tomato-eating contest and ate some yummy tomato dishes.

Check out our food photos here.

Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Oyster Festival 2013 in New Orleans (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New Orleans)

New Orleans Oyster Festival 2014 (schedule, tips, map)

The 2014 New Orleans Oyster Festival is this weekend (May 31 and June 1). The food is the same both days, but the music is different.

Want to see the oyster shucking contest? That’s Saturday at noon. Interested in the oyster eating contest? That’s Sunday at 11:45 a.m.

We’re tagging along with a Meetup group going Sunday at 11 a.m. Join us 🙂

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The fest is at Woldenberg Park, which is next to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (map). We like this festival because it is free admission and there’s parking around the French Quarter. When we take a car, we usually park in the garage above Saks Fifth Avenue. Tip – if you get in before 9 a.m. at most garages, parking is $10 for the entire day.

You can also take a bus or streetcar and not fool with parking at all. It takes a little longer than driving, but it’s cheaper than parking and you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

We went to the fest last year and had a really good time. See our pix.

Tips we learned about the New Orleans Oyster Festival:

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how to make crawfish chowder (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

How to make crawfish chowder (recipe)

Have leftover crawfish from a boil? Try this easy recipe for crawfish chowder. We Southerners smugly think “chowder” (or “chow-dah”) is something Yankees invented and shouldn’t be trotted out in kitchens south of the Mason-Dixon line. Fear not, intrepid cooks. Chowder is just a milky stew of goodness, no matter where it comes from.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

This recipe comes to me from a colleague when I worked at my alma mater, the University of Mississippi. I gotta tell you, it’s so good that you’d serve it to Prince Charles and Prince Harry, if they were lucky enough to be in your dining room.

Add a crusty loaf of French bread or steamy cornbread and butter for soaking up the juice, and you’ll be dancing! I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten from this recipe, which has become a favorite with my friends. Now, it’s yours!

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photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook

How to cook liver and onions

Liver smothered in onions? So, 99% of you just went, “She’s cooking what?”

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I am among the 1% of people who love liver and onions atop rice. Likely, it was presented to me by my grandmother, the beautiful and willful Rosalie Dial, who wasn’t one to forgive a turned-up nose at dinnertime. Likely, I ate it, agreed it was good, and the rest is history.

It’s not something I think about often, but this weekend, it came to mind. I make a batch and freeze everything but the rice for another dinner.

It’s also an emotional meal for me because my dearly departed mother, Betty, made me weekly batches while I was pregnant with my two kids and needed boosts of iron to fortify my system (and theirs). When I eat liver and onions, I think of all three of them. Sappy, but true.

And so, for you folks whose grandmothers and moms made this and never showed you how, here it is. For you folks who’ve got the curiosity to try it, the recipe couldn’t be simpler. Go for it!

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how to make white chili (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

How to make white chili

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

I like chili, period. But white chili is a special treat with the tang of cilantro, yogurt and a slice of lime. It’s perfect for a wintertime crowd, especially as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

Make a big ole pot with a skillet of cornbread, or hot pita bread, and you’ve got a tummy-warming delight.

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