Getting to Know the Ebullient Epicurean

 

1) My favorite item to cook?

It’s a tie between seafood lasagna and gumbo. While both items are time consuming they are well worth it. I usually prepare seafood lasagna in the autumn, while gumbo I prepare every Christmas, Easter (or crawfish bisque), and at least once or twice during the summer months. The seafood lasagna utilizes a creamy béchamel sauce, spinach, ricotta mixture, as well as shrimp, scallops, mild fish, and crab meat.

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2) My favorite item to bake?

I absolutely love the smell of croissant bread pudding baking. It takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Quebec. When baking croissant bread pudding I always buy enough fresh croissants so that I can toast and butter one while the pudding is baking. What can I say? I love croissants!

chocolatebreadpudding

 
3) My least favorite item to cook?

Although I like, I can’t say that I love, chitterlings, tripe, or any intestinal item, I will eat it them in a red tomato gravy. With that being said, I don’t ever want to clean them in my kitchen or cook them. 

 
4) An accoutrement or sauce I hate?

I absolutely detest mayonnaise, “salad dressing”, and aioli. I dislike the texture, the smell, the consistency, etc. So what do I eat on sandwiches? I like to dress the bread with mashed avocado, softened salted butter,spicy mustard, or honey. Now I will prepare cold salads with mayonnaise, and of course it has to be Hellman’s or Blue-plate mayonnaise, but if I can substitute greek yogurt for mayonnaise I do. For example, when making chicken salad or tuna salad I use greek yogurt. But when making potato salad mayonnaise is a must. 

chicken salad

My “Famous” Chicken Salad made with Fat Free Greek Yogurt

 
5) My favorite meal?

The meal that makes me feel “at home” and brings me comfort is a simple one: rice, gravy, baked macaroni pie, and chicken “foot”. The chicken “foot” (yes, I know that the plural is feet) is smothered in gravy and can actually be substituted using turkey necks. I LOVE gravy so this meal is actually just an excuse to eat gravy… the secret’s out! And yes, I know that there isn’t a vegetable with this meal. I used to make it with corn, which is a starch and not a vegetable, but I already have a starch in the baked macaroni pie.
6) My favorite sauce or accoutrement?

My favorite sauce is my homemade hot pepper sauce. It has bright citrus flavors with spicy heat. It’s perfect on stews, pizza, anything fried, butter rice, beans, etc. Barbecue sauce of any kind, especially my tamarind barbecue sauce, is a close runner up.

habaneros
7) My favorite dessert?

A coconut cake soaked in coconut milk with layer of guava. This cake is rather nostalgic for me. I had this cake made for birthdays, my debutante ball, and other special events. Now, I have no idea where I can purchase it now or if bakeries outside of the caribbean even make soaked cakes. You see, the bakery that made this for me turned out to be a drug cover…SMH LOL I just want the cake. 
8) My favorite kitchen gadget?

My favorite  kitchen gadget is the immersion stick. You mean I can blend in the pot? There’s no need to messily scoop soup, beans, etc from the pot into the blender and then back into the pot. And I can blend while the liquid is still hot! Yes, yes, and yes!

 
9) My least favorite kitchen gadget?

My least favorite kitchen appliance is the oven. It makes the whole house hot lol And you know what? I can make and “bake” almost any item on the stove top utilizing a cast iron pot. Thank God someone invented the self cleaning oven because without that I’m unsure if I would ever use it.

 

10) My favorite holiday side dish?

I could eat oyster cornbread dressing and spicy pomegranate cranberry relish every Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and every Sunday of every month. The oyster dressing is pretty classic, but I throw in sausage too. The cranberry sauce is homemade and “spiced up” with jalapeño pepper, pomegranate seeds, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and maraschino cherries. 

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce with a twist. The “twist” pictured includes mandarin oranges, crushed pineapples, and maraschino cherries.

 
11) Food item that’s overrated?

In my opinion caviar is overrated… and it’s not because I don’t like it. Sure, it’s a nice addition to Japanese rolls and deviled eggs, but I wouldn’t miss caviar if it wasn’t included. Need a salty addition? Add coarse salt lol Sometimes I add smoked salmon to my deviled eggs.

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12) My favorite celebrity cook/chef?

Actually, I don’t have a favorite celebrity chef. I love Ina Garten in all of her pretentious simplicity, but she’d not my favorite chef. My favorite “chefs”… hell, they were actually magicians were my surrogate grandmother Louise C. White, my God mother Idella Brannick, and my great grandmother Carmen Brown. These woman made pain water taste like heaven! While they all had different cooking styles, they cooked in a manner that I strive to daily. Everything, I mean everything was scratch-made and delicious. My favorite item that Louise C. White (affectionately called “Mother White”) made was her crawfish bisque and stuffed soft-shell crab. My God mother, Idella Brannick, made the best collard greens and corn bread. My great grandmother, Carmen Brown, made the best chicken french and coconut macaroons. 
13) My favorite “cuisine”?

French food! What’s not to love about cooking with fresh herbs, cream, and butter. What’s better than a deliciously prepared coquilles saint-jaques? Nothing! Moles Marinières? I could eat this every day. Crispy duck breast? Please and thank you!

Ingredients for Mussels for Two

4 lbs of mussels, butter, red onion, fennel, roma tomatoes, garlic, white wine

 

14) Cities with the best food scenes?

I’m biased and haven’t traveled much on the west coast of the United States or east of France, but I’d have to say that there are three cities with amazing food scenes: New Orleans, Port of Spain, and Akron (OH). The only city that may seem odd is Akron, home of Goodyear tires. Akron makes the list because my mother was raised in the city so every trip home she’d take me to Swenson’s, Wally Waffle, Difeo’s Chicken, Mary Coyle ice cream, Strickland’s, etc.

 

15) Favorite meal time?

I love an al fresco lunch. I don’t prefer to eat dinner or breakfast outside, and admittedly, I often skip breakfast. My favorite meal is lunch and I enjoy eating lunch outside. I often eat my heaviest meal at lunchtime when I’m not working. A lunch enjoyed outside followed by an afternoon nap is amazing!
16) Favorite beverage?

My favorite drink is a cool glass of dry red wine. Now, I’m well aware that dry reds should generally be served at room temperature, but I am not a wine sommelier and I like what I like. Sometimes I enjoy a nice pinot noire with cranberry juice or a glass of merlot with coke, which is called a kalimotxo.

sangria

 

17) An item I’d like to learn how to cook?

It’s not that I want to learn how to cook beef, pork, fish, but I want to learn how to butcher a whole pig or cow and properly filet a fish. I am a proponent of using all parts of an animal when cooking to maximize flavor.

 

18) Favorite street food?

While some love hot dogs, my favorite street food is chana doubles. They’re easy to eat, satisfy hunger, and they’re delicious with mango chutney!

Doubles

These are the ultimate Trini street food! Doubles are fried bread topped with curried chana and an array of toppings such as mango chutney as shown here. Making doubles is time consuming so you are welcome to make the dough, chutney, and chana a day ahead.

 

19) Go-to midnight “snack”?

After a late night out I love to come home to either a homemade ice cream sandwich or fried fish sandwich with lots of mustard and hot sauce on white bread. I usually make a batch of chocolate chip pecan or oatmeal raisin cookies every other week. I set about 6-8 aside stuff them with homemade ice cream and freeze in plastic wrap. For fried fish sandwiches, I usually go to my favorite late night spot. 
20) Favorite people to cook for?

I truly enjoy cooking for small children and the elderly…They’re honest and critical!

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