When the April 2013 issue of Saveur magazine arrived in my mail, I noticed the feature article was on "New Orleans". I tucked the magazine away so I could slip it out as a treat at the end of the day. I was curious to see how Saveur was going to tackle the endless supply of culinary chatter that fills this city with waves of immigrant stories, multiple redefining tragedies, and layers of multi-ethnic cuisines.
Before stashing the magazine for later, I flipped through the pages to the article and quickly glanced at the photographs of the highlighted dishes. I whistled quietly to myself and thought, "Oh boy, this is going to be a good article that I want to read slowly from beginning to end."
|My morning sunrise|
I had a hard time delving into the writing because my eyes couldn't resist roving again over the excellent photography . Many of the dishes highlighted were dishes I grew up eating, cooked by Rose, with my brothers and I sitting around the kitchen table in my grandparent's house.
My grandfather took one hour off at midday each day from his patients at his small doctor's office right up the road. He was a WWII vet who settled quietly as a small town southern doctor, making "calls" with his black leather medical case, in a little backwoods cajun town buried deep within the crawfish and boudin eating region of Louisiana.
As my eyes roamed from one recipe to another, I was pleased that Saveur focused on the tried and true traditional cajun and creole dishes that I grew up eating. I worked my way one dish at a time through this excellent article written by southerner Lolis Eric Elie. By the end of the article, I couldn't resist moving into the kitchen to recreate for myself some of these favorite dishes highlighted in the magazine.
A few articles ago here on 'thyme', I could be found buried in the kitchen slowly stirring together a delicious creamy pan of spicy crawfish étouffée for our Sunday supper. The next weekend, I came home from the market with a bulging bag of crawfish and we had our own petite crawfish boil indulgence with spicy corn-on-the-cob and soft hot potatoes.
For Mother's Day weekend, I decided I would virtually travel to the famed Brennan's restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans. I've never been to the family run restaurant in real life, but realized I could still indulge in their menu right in my own home. For my selection, I had one dish in mind that stood out from all the rest...
After having difficulty moving my eyes off of the gorgeous photo of the Eggs Hussarde in the magazine, I swished a few pages over to read the recipe and scribbled down the ingredients.
From the photo of that perfectly prepped fried oyster po-boy sandwich to those mouth watering Oysters Rockefeller, and the gorgeous shot of the gumbo ya-ya, the article nailed the range of cajun and creole dishes of not only New Orleans, but of Louisiana and of my youth.
|Heirloom tomatoes from the weekend market|
After reading about the author of the article, Lolis Eric Elie, I learned that he was raised in New Orleans, left the city as a young adult for years, and then returned ready to revisit those tried and true classics. I sensed a kindred spirit there and in my own kitchen I journeyed along with him.
Eggs Hussarde, as the article describes it "one-ups Benedict with the addition of red wine sauce laden with ham and mushrooms."
Yes. Yes it does.
Scribbled list in hand, market basket in tow, I was off to the farmer's market, ready to gather the supplies for this sumptuous Mother's Day indulgence.
Back in the kitchen, Patrick was on hand by my side, fretting that I was tackling my own Mother's Day dish. My eyes, however, were mesmerized by that marigold hued hollandaise sauce wrapped around the delicately poached egg on Saveur's page 52. As long as someone was washing the dishes, I was happy to have garlic, smoked ham, and diced onions to chop, dice, and occupy my time.
So we chopped the garlic and scallions. We chopped the onions, ham, and mushrooms. As they sautéed in the olive oil, the seducing aromas spread throughout the house.
But, it was when the rich beef stock, bold red wine, tangy Worcestershire, and clippings of fresh thyme were added, that the aromas became uniquely defined.
It took the two of us, indeed, to master the rich creamy hollandaise sauce. I knew enough to make sure that back up eggs were on hand, as the first attempt separated and had to be tossed.
With a few modifications to the Hollandaise recipe (less butter than the recipe required), the second whisking came out smooth and velvety. I would love to know what variety of eggs were used for the magazine photograph. Their sauce is so deeply golden hued compared to mine, which came out paler but, nonetheless, tasted delicious.
One by one, we dropped the eggs into the fast boiling water only to scoop them out tenderly minutes later. Assembling the dish involved layering richly flavored ingredients - whole grain English muffins lightly toasted, thick sliced Canadian bacon, a spoon of the richly flavored red wine sauce, the delicate poached egg, and a generous pouring of the rich Hollandaise to finish off the dish.
Eggs Hussarde is certainly not a "light" breakfast dish. It makes for an elegant brunch option when desiring something rich and savory.
I sliced those beautiful heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled them generously with parmesan cheese and broiled them in the oven until crispy on top.
With bellies full of this decadent brunch, a plateful of fruit and wine was all that was nibbled on throughout the rest of the day.
A virtual journey from the pages of a magazine, to a famed New Orlean's restaurant to a plate of sumptuousness enjoyed right at my dining room table. Bravo, Saveur. You made this southern mother happy.
|A Sunday swim to show off some Mama pride|