Posts Tagged ‘Stephanie Carter’

Recipe: Watermelon Rum Punch

September 20, 2010

Stephanie Jane Carter

The blue, dented pick-up truck that parks in the shade of the oak trees on Carollton Avenue is the kind of vehicle that makes me smile.  With a hand-painted sign announcing its wares, watermelons filled the bed of the truck this week.  While the weather has started to give us a break, it is still hot in New Orleans and watermelons are still the answer for a couple more weeks.  Here is a cocktail to celebrate the end of summer.

photo by Stephanie Jane Carter

Watermelon Rum Punch

Makes one cocktail

1 cup red seedless watermelon, cubed

2 ounces white rum

1 tablespoon agave nectar

juice of 1 and a half limes (about 3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon chopped mint

crushed ice

Chile Lime Salt (optional)

Combine the cubed watermelon, rum, agave nectar, and lime juice in a blender (or in a bowl if using an emmersion blender).  Puree until the mixture is smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Set aside.  If desired, coat the lip of a glass with the chile lime salt by rubbing the lip with a damp towel and dipping the lip into the salt.  Fill the glass with ice.  Add watermelon mixture and chopped mint.  Stir well.


Tethered Knives and the Joys of Menu-Collecting

August 6, 2010

photo courtesy of One Flew South

by Stephanie Jane Carter

After settling on the Cole Porter: Day as the perfect layover libation, I grasped the menu for One Flew South and asked, “May I keep it?”  A few things happened in between and then the manager was suggesting to that the bartender show me his knife, which turned out to be tethered to the bar by a rope that I only imagined people would use if they weren’t kidding around.

One Flew South is a restaurant in the Atlanta Airport that is worth a long layover, and I used my dining time to expand the menu collection at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans.  Formally known as the Menu Project, it is quickly becoming recognized as the only large-scale collection like this.  The collection comprises menus from all over the American South (the Chinese delivery place down the street, the menus you collected on your honeymoon to Charleston in the 1950s, the restaurants in the Atlanta Airport, famous and not famous restaurants, restaurants that still exist and those that do not, and…).  Additionally, the collection comprises those restaurants outside of the American South that purport to be Southern.  For example, visiting Rochester, New York, I found a Louisiana-inspired menu that had to substitute available ingredients for those commonly used in common Louisiana dishes such as gumbo.  A “gumbo” of clams and Chorizo over “Southwestern rice” is one example.   The Southern Food and Beverage Museum encourages  everyone (yes, you)  to collect menus for the project.

The Menu Project preserves ephemeral items that reflect trends in food, beverage, culture, language, and many other topics.  A World War II era menu from Galatoire’s Restaurant in New Orleans reminds us of rationing during that era – the menu reminds guests that they may only have one pat of butter for their entire meal.  If you’ve been to this restaurant, you will most likely find this rule inconceivable.  One pat of butter at Galatoire’s?  Chills… Another particularly old Galatoire’s menu betrays secrets, but not too many,  of a society that met there.  The menu was obviously created especially for what it clearly states as “secret sessions.”  There are enigmatic rules, such as “Particularly short men should open a window.”  Language on these older menus was much more formal than newer ones.

Newer menus reveal a trend toward using  nouns like parsley and rosemary  as verbs  (they are NOT) .  For example, “parsleyed potatoes” and “rosemaried lamb.”  How does one rosemary a lamb?  We can also see that the trend never extended to certain herbs – thymed soup just never happened.  In addition to more relaxed language, the menus demonstrate a changing aesthetic, advances in technology, shifts in populations, and so many other important topics.

Besides that, participating in the Menu Project can be fun.  Usually people are excited to share their restaurant’s menu once they know about the Menu Project.  Sometimes, they will display the kind of enthusiasm I encountered at One Flew South, eagerly sharing  details about the restaurant, the little things that no one else knows, and the things they are particularly proud of.  SO, the tethered knife… To have a restaurant in an airport in a terminal (read passed security) is a bit if a trial.  The knives have to be checked and recorded.  Once security clears them for use in the restaurant, they must remain tethered at all times.  A HUGE fine is incurred if a knife is found not to be tethered.  This means that chefs can’t bring their own knives in with them each day.  When cutting, chefs cannot move beyond the radius of the tethered knife.  The bartender who showed me his knife can only cut lemons and limes in that one spot.  And for this bit of knowledge, I raise my Cole Porter:Day to the Menu Project.


Stephanie Jane Carter is a writer and editor at SoFAB.  To learn more about the Menu Project, visit the website,

Recipe: Avocado Vichyssoise

August 6, 2010
Avocado Vichyssoise

Avocado Vichyssoise

by Stephanie Jane Carter

“But in summer, when the soup seemed to be too hot, we asked for milk for which to cool it.  Many years later, it was this inspiration to make the soup which I have named Creme Vichyssoise.” (Louis Diat 1885-1957)

When the French-born chef, Louis Diat, was the chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York, he remembered a pureed potato soup served to him by his mother in his hometown, a village near Vichy in France.  Served hot, he often asked for milk to cool the soup.  From this concept, Diat created one of our most well-known soups, cold and refreshing Vichyssoise.

In this version, we have added another item that says summer to us, the avocado.  We find the flavor refreshing and surprising and we hope you do too.

Avocado Vichyssoise

Serves 6

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and thinly sliced*

1/8 cup unsalted butter

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

6 cups water

1 bouquet garni (2-3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme, 1 bay leaf)

Salt, to taste

3 medium avocados, peeled and pitted

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup Creme Fraiche

1/4 cup chopped chives

1.  Sweat the leeks in the butter and a pinch of salt.  Allow them to soften without developing color.

2.  Add the potatoes and the water and another sprinkling of salt.

3.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.

4.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

5.  Remove the bouquet garni and puree the soup.

6.  Let soup chill thoroughly.

7.  Add the avocados to the soup and puree until smooth.

8.  Just before serving, add the lime juice and stir to incorporate.

9.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.

*Normally, with a vichyssoise, one would only use the white parts of the leeks so that the soup could remain white.  However, this is not necessary in this version since the end product is green due to the addition of the avocados.

Programming Update: SoFAB Adds Teen Events

March 17, 2010

by Stephanie Jane Carter

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum’s healthy culinary classes for kids have been enormously successful over the last few years and many of you are familiar with them.  In September of 2009, we expanded our youth programming to include events for teenagers as well.  These events has spent the last few months expanding its youth programming.  The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) Culinary Events for Teens have the goals of informing students interested in the food industry of important concepts in the food genre, investigating the chef profession, and guiding them in the exploration different culinary professions.

This Saturday, March 20 from 2:15-4:00 pm, GW Fins’ Executive Chef and Co-Owner Tenney Flynn will be giving a group of aspiring chefs some key culinary industry insight.  As part of their training at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Chef Flynn has been enlisted to provide this group of 18 students with an insiders’ preview into the industry.  As he shares some of his real-life experiences from more than 25 years in the restaurant industry with them, Chef Flynn will also be teaching the students how to prepare one of GW Fins’ most popular appetizers, Blue Crab Potstickers with a Creamy Pea Shoot Butter.  They will be given the opportunity to assist Chef Flynn in making these delicious morsels.  Following this instructional class, each of the students will be able to sample this dish that they helped create.

“The restaurant industry has a certain glossy appeal to it, and I wanted to provide these aspiring chefs with a real-life look at the industry that I have grown up in,” states Chef Flynn. “In addition, I want to provide these kids with some important tips they will actually be able to use, should they choose to pursue this field,” concludes Flynn.  Chef Flynn is sure to provide some invaluable information to these would-be chefs, including sharing some tricks of the trade, such as how to remember recipes using ratios.

During this school year, the teenagers that have attended the events have learned about food chemistry, the effects of appearance on the taste of a dish, food history and the invention of Cajun and Creole Cuisine.  They have also volunteered at Second Harvest.

We hope that our teen programming continues to grow.  If your teenager is interested in attending the event with Chef Tenney Flynn this weekend, please contact Stephanie Carter at Stephanie AT southernfood DOT org for details, a registration form, and to reserve a space in this limited class.

Book Review: Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True

February 1, 2010

Reviewed by Stephanie Jane Carter

While much of the nation is breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are over, there are no signs of the holidays stopping for several more months in Louisiana.  The Saints play their first Super Bowl on February 7 and the “Who Dat Nation” has been twinkling black and gold.  Along with this event, Mardi Gras parades are already rolling.  Football and Mardi Gras make most of us thirsty for some Abita Beer.  However, Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True ($34/Hardcover/184pp/9780615238647) is a cookbook that will make us hungry for it too.

Cooking Louisiana True features over 80 photographs by Jackson Hill, who currently has a photography exhibit at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  Marcelle Bienvenu, cookbook author and food writer for the Times Picayune, tested the recipes.  The result is a book that looks as good as the food in it tastes.

The book opens with a history of Abita Beer and of beer in New Orleans, nodding toward other renowned breweries like Jax, Falstaff, and Dixie.  It offers helpful information such as how to enjoy beer, how to make it, and how to serve it.  Perhaps the most fun part of this section is the beer flavor wheel and the color and bitterness comparison chart.  It demonstrates what a lot of Americans have only begun to appreciate, that beer can be tasted and enjoyed much the same way wine is.  Is the beer hoppy?  Is it dry-hop, kettle-hop, or hop oil you are tasting?  Is it sulfidic?  What kind of sulfidic?  Shrimp-like or burnt rubber?

The recipes in Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True were contributed by a variety of people, mostly professional chefs.  The Turbodog Ice Cream is balanced in flavor and velvet in texture.  Even though it is a beer ice cream recipe in a beer cookbook, the flavor is not aggressive in the beer flavor, offering strong hints of vanilla as well.  Abita Beer-Battered Tempura Soft Shell Crabs offer a great opportunity to bridge food and beverage.  There is hardly anything as satisfying as a cold beer and fried seafood.  The book offers some surprising recipes, like New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Shortcakes with Abita Amber Cream.   Also featured are the obligatory (and delightful) beer recipes, beer bread and mussels.

Ultimately, this is a great cookbook for anyone who loves Abita Beer, or well, good food.


The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has a limited number of autographed copies of Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True. Click here to visit the museum store…