Fern Street All-Most Vegan Challenge

1st. Roasted Summer Squash Soup w/Chives, Truffle Oil

2nd. Tomato "Nigiri," al dente Brown Rice, Quartered Cucumber, Tomato Salad, Basil Blossom, Cane Vinegar, Amazing Pesto

3rd. Alabama Red "PeaCake," Sambal Crema w/Corn Dusted Okra Chips, Pea Echo

4th. Acadiana Honey Peach Compote w/ Room Temp Pineapple Local Hubig's Turnover

Picture N/A

Being a part of a community means one should engage the others they happen to meet in everyday life, at the end of a conversation, could be a friendship.  The Riverbend section of New Orleans is a good community, conveniently located near the HollyGrove Market and Farm.  The Hollygrove Market offers local sourced produce, neatly packed in a box each week on Tuesdays and Saturdays for a mere $25.  An understanding that farmer's and produce are the real stars behind the current American food insurgence, makes it easier to cook great food. Photos courtesy Wild Magnolia Photography.

Eat well, Cheers!

Burgers, Tater Tots, Oysters

It takes a birthday sometimes to realize the heritage of something, and last week America had a birthday.  As a cook, my feelings of admiration are best expressed through food, and a communal sense of enjoyment.  Cooking for America on her birthday is no easy task, especially in the city where Paul Revere and history meet to form the foundation of our nation, Boston.  For the menu it was simple, oysters, burgers, tots, tunes, family, and friends.

Burgers.  Having eaten hamburgers since the age zero, my burger palate has tasted quite a few hamburgers in the development of "my" hamburger.  It is a simple recipe of ground meat, salt, pepper, and patience.  Hamburger proteins are like coils of a phone line, and when you work them or manipulate the meat it stretches these protein molecules out to form bonds with one another.  When the proteins form bonds, the texture of the hamburger is more like a meatball or meatloaf than a hamburger.

Burger Method.  When buying meat, my preference is to have as much fat as possible in the chuck, and a little ground sirloin for meat-tastic flavor.  Handle the meat gently, forming patties, do not squeeze, just form.  Season generously with kosher salt and crack pepper.  Using extremely high heat at first, get a good sear or char on the outside, flip and continue cooking over high heat.  With both sides seared on high heat, depending on patty thickness, mine are rare in the middle.  Move to the low heat side of the grill, and cook until the internal desired temperature, with cheese or without.  Toast buns in the oven, serve with the appropriate condiments, and make sure to have amazing pickles.  The zing of the pickle, cuts through the fat and cheese of the meat, playing a symphony of America's culinary traditions on the palate.

Tater Tots.  Buy them from the store.  Cook according to the instruction on the package.  Serve with ketchup and hamburgers.

Oysters.  Buy a sack of oyster, keeping in mind that oysters harbor the terroir of the sea, and will taste uniquely different from different water spaces.  Crank the grill on high, and let roll for thirty minutes, until extremely hot.  Make the butter.  Combine room temperature butter with fresh thyme, asiago cheese, lemon zest, splash of white wine, and some sea salt.  Eat one of the oysters raw, to gauge the salinity and factor it in to the seasoning of the butter.  Place the oysters on the grill, and cook until they open.  As they open, pull them from the fire with a set of tongs, between the lips.  Pull the top shell away and let rest off the grill.  Top the oyster with butter, and put back on the flame.  Be careful, as the oyster shell shrapnel can be loud and abrasive, it't hot.  Be careful.  Once the butter is bubbling, in a minute or two, remove and serve with forks.

The Potato

Everybody likes a potato, or at least, most people like a potato in some form or fashion.  Whether it be baked potatoes, French fries, Mr. Potato Head, mashed potatoes or brabant potatoes, it is a friendly food.  And the best way to cook the best potatoes, is to use, the best potatoes.  Not talking variety preference or heirloom, but just a basic potato grown in the backyard.  Plant a potato, and a potato will grow.

Potatoes are tubers.  A tuber is where the plant stores its energy, which is why it's rich in carbohydrates and natural sugars.  It is not a root, as the root acts as the messenger, delivering energy to the plant.  Moving forward with the potato, we can break them into categories of mealy or waxy with the difference being water content.  The potato just below is a waxy potato, and further below, mealy potatoes.  When cooking the two, just remember waxy cooks best in water, and mealy cooks best with dry heat.

New Potatoes
- Potatoes
- Herbs
- Salt
- Butter

Heat the oven to 350F.  Place the herbs on the bottom of a tin foil sheet.  Lay the potatoes on top, and cover with another aluminum sheet, crimping the edges.  Cook until a knife pulls away easily from the largest potato, around 45 minutes or so.  When all potatoes are cook and still whole, press the tops of them gently to pop the skin.  Season with butter, salt, and herbs.  Pairs amazingly well with a roast chicken, salad, white Burgundy, and some tunes.