Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

Bananas Foster Bread PuddingSuper Mardi Gras

The Super Bowl is this weekend, and if you read last week’s post you already know that I am indifferent. But there is something else coming up that I find I am excited about…Mardi Gras is Tuesday.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, Y’all!

I have never experienced a New Orleans Mardi Gras in person, and I am of split mind as to whether I would want to. It’s possible that I am just too old, and missed the opportunity when I was in my twenties. I would definitely do it for the food and cocktails, and I have no problem with people wanting to throw jewelry at me, but I do draw the line at flashing people to make it happen. Plus, that barely-controlled chaos vibe doesn’t appeal to me. (Unless it’s a stampede for beignets…that I can get behind.)

Making “theme dinners” mid-week can be challenging, so I’m combining Super Bowl with Mardi Gras to cover all bases. The hardest part is picking what to make. I love Cajun and Creole food. (Jambalaya, Gumbo, Crawfish, Muffaletta…yum!) But, I have to make something everyone will eat. If there is okra in it, my husband will have lawyers on the phone. Too spicy, and the kids won’t touch it—unless it has sausage, maybe. So I’m still brainstorming that one…

Anything sweet is eaten without complaint, so I will be making this dessert, a favorite of my sister’s. It calls for day-old French bread. I have made it with croissants as well—just that much more decadent. You could even do it with banana bread if you really like bananas (but expect it to be pretty rich). Feel free to nix the banana liqueur; you’ve gotta have the rum, though. You could even serve it buffet style for your Super Bowl crowd.

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network
Yields 10 to 12 servings Read more…

Spiced Lamb Sliders with Harissa Mayonnaise and Cucumber

Spiced Lamb Sliders Super Bowl, Schmooper Bowl

I sat down to write a post about Super Bowl food, but find myself less than excited about the entire thing. I’m not sure if it’s because I have no real interest in the two teams playing, or if it’s because I see the potential for mass hysteria on the roadways. Or maybe I’m just kinda cranky…it’s been known to happen.

It’s weird, really. I have always been a football fan. Some might say a rabid football fan. (Go Ducks!) But for some reason, this year I don’t care all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I will watch the game, and I may even invite a few folks over to join us. But my excitement will be more for the commercials and food than any thing else.

However, if there is something to be excited about it’s these sliders—they are the bomb! (Just ask my kids, who couldn’t stop eating them—even with the Harissa Mayo.) They are the perfect finger food, and therefore they are perfect for your Super Bowl spread…with our without the game.

Spiced Lamb Sliders with Harissa Mayonnaise and Cucumber
Adapted from Market Math Cookbook by Food & Wine Magazine
Yields 12 sliders Read more…

News From the Fancy Food Show & Quick Pickled Apples

ApplesFood Circus
The Fancy Food Show happened over the weekend. It’s one of my favorite things about January. Same goes for my kids—because at no other time during the year do I bring that much salt water taffy and random samples home.

It’s not just the taffy. I like to bring them interesting stuff to try. I unfortunately wasn’t able to get any of the “bug” products (crickets, cricket flour, chocolate covered bugs, Bugitos…you get the idea) ‘cause it would have been kinda fun to see their reactions. For the record, anything made out of bugs, chocolate covered or otherwise, is a no-go for me. Not saying they don’t taste good, or that they are bad for you but, no thank you. Just like my father’s philosophy on tomatoes, I will sell them but I don’t have to eat them.

I was not able to bring home any samples of the 100 or so purveyors of jerky either. But know this—jerky is a big thing. There was jerky everywhere, and in many forms: beef jerky, chicken jerky, salmon jerky even bacon jerky with Sriracha. (Which by the way was so good.) If you can dry it, season it, and use it as protein, chances are it was being shown at the Fancy Food Show. Also, if your company could possibly get away with putting Sriracha on whatever you were selling? You did…Sriracha everywhere.

The bone broth trend is still going strong. I was able to sample a really tasty chicken bone broth (they have a variety of broths to choose from) that comes as a K-Cup for your Keurig. Just make sure you are awake enough to realize what you’re brewing in the morning ‘cause that could be an unfortunate surprise…

Kale was in abundant supply once again. Even in frozen detox bar form with other greens. this is one of the items I wish I was able to give the kids. Just tell ‘em it’s melon-flavored and see how it goes…

Though I am not usually a fan of nut milks, I tried a Macadamia Nut milk that was fantastic especially in the latte that they gave me.

Staying with the nut theme for a moment, coconut anything was a big trend. The Coconut water thing has seemed to wane a bit but I did really enjoy a lemon coconut drink called Lemoncocco that was great, Not too sweet ad not too lemony it was really refreshing. Look for this to hit our shelves soon. Coconut as a replacement for sugar was big also.

And then there were the pickles. Pickled veggies and fruits were beyond popular and not just the obvious ones. I had some pickled fennel and some Brussels sprouts that were very tasty. For those who like their cocktails “dirty”, straight up pickle brine was available for mixing.

The highlight of the day was the tasting “flight” I did of Balsamic Vinegar. Phenomenal. Aged 6 years on up to 100 years. (Yes, you read that right.) If you ever have the chance to sample a 100 year old balsamic, please do. Your mouth will thank you.

At this point, my colleagues and I are sifting thru our materials and discussing the possibilities for our shelves, based on the products we all agreed were great. Be on the lookout in the store and on Facebook for any of the new items we saw at the show. They should be appearing soon.

Quick Pickled Apples
Adapted from Food 52  Read more…

Classic Beer Bread

Beer BreadBrewin’ Bread

I made chili over the weekend—mainly because I had what I needed on hand and I didn’t want to go to the store, and also because it was cold and rainy and a bowl of hot chili sounded satisfying.

Normally, a batch of chili would require corn bread, and I did make my favorite version. (See Sarah’s Sweet Cornbread Cake.) But, I also made something I haven’t had in decades: beer bread.

I was inspired by the smell of the beer that I added to the chili pot. Something about the hop-y aroma of the suds reminded me of the beer bread that I had once (yes, once) as a kid. So, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I searched for a recipe to make it.

The recipe I found couldn’t be more simple, and the resulting bread was tasty. It was also good the next morning as toast. If there had been anymore, I suspect that it would have made a great sandwich, too.

Because of what I had on hand, I used a Pale Ale for my beer bread, which definitely resulted in a stronger beer flavor. If you are looking for a milder taste, I would recommend using a lighter beer like a Corona or Budweiser—especially if you plan to add in some shredded cheddar and/or jalapenos. Crumbled bacon would be good too. You could really get creative with this—just in time for the Superbowl…

Classic Beer Bread
From King Arthur Flour
Yields one 9″ x 5″ loaf Read more…