Showing posts from February, 2010

The Perfect Steak

For many years (42 this week) I have tried to prepare the perfect steak in my kitchen.  This year I got serious about it and decided to experiment with seasonings, cooking times and methods.  The following procedure is the result of my quest. Vegetarians beware!  This recipe is not for you. 

The Perfect Steak

First, go to a butcher you trust.  For me it's Ralph's in Baton Rouge or LeBlanc's Food Store since we moved to Zachary.  Ask to have beef filets cut to your specifications.  I always ask for a 6 oz. filet mignon that is 1 1/4 inch thick for each person.  Don't accept the ones sitting on the meat counter.  Ask for center cuts that are  similar in size and shape. Most butchers are happy to do this for you.  They like people who know a good cut!  Filet mignon is expensive, but so delicious! We don't eat it very often, so what they heck?  It's definitely a special occasion meal.

The steak is seared on the stovetop and finished in the oven. Preheat …

Paradise Found at Victorian Inn

A recent “Weekday Rambling” found John and me in Lafitte, Louisiana which is a small fishing village about thirty minutes south of the New Orleans French Quarter. We chose the Victoria Inn and Restaurant for our stay.

The area is rich in folk stories and history. The town was named for the famed Robin Hood style pirate Jean Lafitte and his band of cronies who roamed and settled the area in the early 1800’s. It borders the Jean Lafitte National Park ( and  Bayou Segnette State Park( “Water, water everywhere” is certainly the area theme.
The Victoria Inn’s owners originally built it as a residence, but decided to expand to a bed and breakfast and restaurant when they recognized the site was such a favored destination for vacationers (especially fishermen). The West Indies style  building and beautifully landscaped grounds stand in juxtaposition to the “working” village of Lafitte. At the rear of the property is a gorgeous view…

Lobster Thermidor and Valentine Cocktails

Valentine Day turned out to be dreary in terms of the weather. Since moving out of the hubub of the city, we are less likely to drive in on rainy days.  We luckily,  however, were invited to Gretchen and Jeremy's house to enjoy Lobster Thermidor.  What a nice treat!  Gretchen and Jeremy are cooking through Julia Child's recipes and we were wondering if they could top the Christmas  Boeuf Bourguignon. They did, indeed! 

Lobster Thermidor was created in 1894 by Marie's, a Paris restaurant near the theatre Comédie Française, to honour the opening of the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou, according to Wikipedia.  The play had to do with the overthrow of Robespierre and the end of the Reign of Terror.  The recipe was a huge success, but the play was a flop, if Wikipedia can be believed.  There are many variations of the dish, but key are chopped lobster meat, cheeses, cream, egg yolks, dry mustard and sherry or cognac. The dry mustard and alcohol give it the distinctive taste,…

Middle School Mardi Gras

My daughter, Gretchen, is a French teacher in a middle school.  Her 6th grade students celebrate Mardi Gras with a fete to mark the day.  Of course it is not the actual day, since that is a school holiday in Louisiana, but the last day before the four day weekend common in the state.  For those of you who don't know, Mardi Gras is a very big deal down here in the deep south.  Mardi Gras has been celebrated in New Orleans since the late 1600's, and Louisiana does it best, in my opinion. The French Settlers along the Mississippi River were the first revelers.
Mardi Gras is actually a religious holiday, but it has melded into one big party for many people.  The season begins on the Epiphany (January 6th-12th Night) each year and culminates on Fat Tuesday.  The rich French heritage in Louisiana lends to the authenticity of having a Mardi Gras fete in a middle school classroom.
The lesson plan went like this:  Each student completed a "Bellringer" exercise as the class as…

My Official Welcome to Zachary

About a month ago I was having coffee with my dear friend, Sue, and we were discussing the fact that my husband and I were moving to Zachary.  I had lived in Baton Rouge for most of my life and Zachary is not that far away, but it is a million miles away in terms of us knowing our way around.  I knew only 4 people in Zachary and two of those were relatives.  My question to Sue was: "How do you get to meet people in Zachary?"  That question hung in the air for a few minutes and was then forgotten.
Sue, however, did not forget.  She got busy calling a Zachary friend of hers and arranged for us to meet over lunch.  The date and place were set.  Upon my arrival at the restaurant I was in for a huge surprise.  We lunched at the Bennett House just a little east of town and there were eighteen ladies at the table.  It seems that Sue's friend, Terry, called her friends and invited them to meet me.  Another surprise was that I knew of or had mutual acquaintances with four of those…

If it rains...may as well cook

Another rainy day in Zachary.  We are still unpacking and organizing, but I decided to make the house smell good by cooking one of my favorite recipes.  Cooking is a stay at home activity and I am not going to be out Rambling in such weather.  I have been able to locate my favorite recipe notebook from our moving boxes, so decided to prepare a Meat Pie for supper. 
This is not an original recipe.  I adapted it from the River Road Recipes cookbook that was published by the Junior League of Baton Rouge in 1959.  There are no short cuts in this concoction, but I included a few of my own with some ingredients I had on hand.  Since the oven was on I decided to bake some Louisiana sweet potatoes.  My husband found these on his last shopping expedition to Fresh Pickins Market when he ventured into Baton Rouge last weekend.  Rounding out the menu was some steamed broccoli.  I am including my Meat Pie recipe. 

Dot's Meat Pie (from Meat Pie A La Lu)

1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 cups ch…

Tea Time with Jackie

My niece, Jackie, invited me to tea.  It must be said that Jackie has always been a favorite of mine.  She is my sister's daughter and is close in age to my first born, so lots of good times were shared through the years as the children grew.  The day of the party was rainy and cold and Gretchen, Carla and I braved the weather to travel to Jackie's Denham Springs home.  It was worth the trouble of the journey.  Even though Christmas was recent history, Jackie left up her decorations for us to enjoy and these were very impressive.  The tree was trimmed in white and silver in keeping with the theme she also chose for her entire home. 

The table was exquisitely set for us.  We were in for a real treat as we poured coffee and tea for ourselves.  Our place cards were hand written and china, flatware and centerpiece were carefully selected to coordinate.

Then came the food!  Jackie had prepared so many delicious goodies that we couldn't believe our appetites.  Of course each bak…

Finally Home

Our move to Zachary, Louisiana is complete.  We were happy to see the Pod leave our driveway.  Our move took us almost two years.  We began in 2007 with an idea to downsize and possibly move out of state.  Three realtors and four price reductions later we sold our house and  bought a lovely new house that suits our needs perfectly.  Audubon Lakes is now our home.

The process of moving is exhausting.  We had movers and lots of helpers, but there was still a lot of hauling of boxes, unpacking boxes, moving furniture to the best spots and in some cases changing our minds and moving the furniture again.  I discovered many muscles that I forgot that I had.  My back and legs have not yet recovered.  My poor husband and son-in-law also suffered from aches and pains. 
This probably sounds like a miserable experience, but the outcome is wonderful.  We are in a lovely subdivision in a sleepy small town and live near one of our children and her husband.  Nice to have good neighbors!  Look forwar…