Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Food Lover's Paradise: New Orleans (Final Post #3) and Recipe Spotlight: Shrimp Etouffe

Saturday in New Orleans was an unforgettable day. My girl friends and I spent the day touring around the French Quarter, had lunch at Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square, and had dessert at Cafe du Monde. As if that wasn't good enough, on Saturday night we went to NOLA, Emeril's restaurant in the Quarter, as a special treat for Sandy's bachelorette party. She was thrilled to learn that we had chosen NOLA and had assembled a group of 12 girls to dine out on some of the best food in New Orleans. Needless to say, it was an special day with fabulous women and amazing food!

Saturday Lunch

I had crawfish etouffee for lunch at Cafe Pontalba in the Quarter. Etouffee is a rich stew made with the "trinity" (green peppers, onions and garlic) and loaded with crawfish or shrimp. Crawfish is a New Orleans specialty, and to me the little mudbugs taste of a delightful mix between shrimp and crab. Shrimp is of course easier to find nationwide. Check out my shrimp etoufee recipe at the end of this blog!

At Cafe Pontalba we sat at a table that was practically outside. I think that the restaurant's food is delicious but a bit overpriced. However, the location on Jackson Square and open-air breeze cannot be beat! Here I am pictured with Lindsey and Jen, both friends of Sandy's through pharmacy school (who are now friends of mine) who were in town for the weekend.

After lunch we had the best dessert EVER- beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde! Beignets are fried doughnuts smothered in powdered sugar. Cafe au lait is Colombian coffee with milk, and together with the beignets it was the perfect snack and pick-me-up!

As you can see these are not regular doughnuts! The insides are chewy and light, and the powdered sugar on top is the perfect sweet addition to the yummy treat. And it's only $1.82 for three!

Saturday Dinner

For dinner all the ladies went to NOLA, Emeril's restaurant in the French Quarter. We had an amazing experience with good wine, great food and tons of laughter. The wait staff did an exceptional job of taking care of us, and even took a few pictures with our group!

I had the Garlic Crusted Texas Redfish, and it goes down as one of the best things I've ever eaten in New Orleans. It was cooked in the wood burning oven with brabant potatoes, crimini mushrooms, bacon and beurre rouge sauce, and it literally melted in my mouth The garlic crust gave it a deep, intense flavor that stuck with me all night long! :)

Sandy had the Shrimp & Grits- sautéed gulf shrimp, grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and red chili-Abita butter. Shrimp and grits are a famous Southern dish served anytime of day. Emeril's version had sweet and succulent shrimp atop grits so creamy they almost could have been butter whipped potatoes. The grits gave the dish an excellent Southern flair! 

The bride-to-be and I in front of NOLA's famous open-air kitchen. I personally love kitchens that are open to the restaurant because it gives diners the opportunity to interact with chefs and appreciate the amount of time and work it takes to produce a fabulous meal. The energy pours through the restaurant and really enhances the dining experience!

Sunday Dessert

As a special treat on Sunday we went to Sucre, a dessert bar across the street from my old apartment, where we enjoyed amazing Italian gelato. Gelato is similar to ice cream but is made without eggs and with less air, providing a denser and more flavorful treat.

Sucre is well known for their beautiful individual desserts. These treats (almost) look too yummy to eat!

Sandy and I in front of the delectable homemade chocolate bar. Their gift boxes are a perfect takeaway treat for the flight home!

New Orleans Recipe Spotlight

Now it's time for a little bit of New Orleans goodness in your kitchen! I made this recipe for shrimp etouffee after getting back from my trip and was impressed with it's depth of flavor and ease. It's pretty close to a trip to the Big Easy!

Shrimp Etouffee
Creamy stew with fluffy rice and tasty shrimp is New Orleans comfort in a bowl! 
Serves 4

4 tblsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 (8 oz.) bottles clam juice or clam sauce
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 c. hot cooked white rice

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic to pan; cook 8 minutes or until very tender and onion begins to brown, stirring frequently. Place onion mixture in a bowl.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in pan. Stir in flour to make roux and cook 6 minutes or until flour turns a deep rust color, stirring constantly. Stir in Cajun seasoning, thyme and clam juice and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in back in onion mixture, and add tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes or until thick. Add green onions, salt and shrimp and cook for 6 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring occasionally.

Serve over hot cooked rice with your favorite hot sauce and crusty bread.

I hope you enjoyed your trip to New Orleans in the past three posts!


  1. I loved re-living this past weekend through the eyes of my stomach! ;-) So many delicious meals, no wonder I gained 3 lbs!

  2. i love you sarah! and i love your blog...even though i dont have enough experience to make your recipes. you should come home more often so you can teach me! :) love you!