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Another year, another great class with the indomitable Chef Michael Devedts!

Parkway

Great lunch today of Po’ Boys at the epic Parkway Bakery & Tavern in the Bayou St. John/City Park neighborhood.

We had a nice variety of fried pickles, all manner of po’ boys, and a desert of fantastic bread pudding (thanks to our new friend Mark Herman).

Now Playing: “When You Get Back” – Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Posted from Ventura, California, United States.

I still feel New Orleans in me with a weight similar to a very full belly, a heavy presence that leaves me wondering if it might be embedded in my belly forever. At no other point in my life have 10 days gone by so quickly. Never before have I felt so fulfilled from an amount of work that felt so small, in context. There is a part of me that is New Orleans, an itch I can’t ignore, but can’t yet scratch. I find myself wishing I’d brought more home. The voodoo doll from the French Quarter, cajun seasoning and sliced garlic from the cooking school (the vanilla bean extract was confiscated at the airport), bottle-cap framed ouija board from Dr. Bob’s, the “past cards” I’ll be sending away to parents and grandparents, the 3 CDs I acquired from musicians that inspired us all, the magnets on my fridge, the mud on the bottom of my suitcase, the crumpled up boarding pass in the front pocket of my backpack… I can put all these things in a pile in the living room but I can’t bring New Orleans home with me, at least not physically. I mean it honestly, though, when I say it’s a part of me forever.

New Orleans made me want to be a better musician. It made me want to forget the stupid little day-to-day things and focus on the important stuff. It made the “hard work” at home seem insignificant. I wanted to stay for a year and keep working, keep asking the locals to tell me their stories, keep learning about the history. I wanted to contribute. I learned things about gardening that I convinced myself I would re-create at home. I learned more about a history of a town with more stories than I could probably ever hear in one lifetime.

 

I did things I never thought I’d be able to do in less time than I would have ever imagined, like, for instance, when I was able to identify tree species by day 2, or hack through 100 meters of blackberry in an hour and a half. I got a taste of what strength really looks and feels like, and it was gone too fast. Does anyone know of any place around Ventura County where you can chop wood or hack at something with a machete, for recreation? Does anyone have anything invasive they need help tearing down? You have my number.

 

Appetizer!

Posted from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

One of my favorite dishes to make on special occasions is crab stuffed mushrooms, so I thought maybe we could re-create it here in New Orleans Cooking School. The Crescent City Farmers Market didn’t have mushrooms quite big enough for stuffing, so we improvised, which turned out to be a lot more fun than sticking to the normal recipe. We picked from what was available and ended up with something totally different! Michael had some Louisiana blue crab claw meat already available for us, so all that was left was mixing together some extra ingredients.

We pulled “heart of the ox” tomatoes and sweet bell peppers to scoop out and make serving boats, added a lemon spiced pesto, shitake mushrooms for extra meatiness, onions, cajun seasoning, lemon, and topped it with bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese. We pressed the bottoms of the boats into some extra cajun seasoning and, per request, experimented with a little paline oil drizzle. The stuffed vegetables baked at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until the veggies were nice and tender with gooey cheese on top.

Because we had gooey fingers, we avoided using our phones, but were lucky enough to have Kev on the job! We re-payed him with a stuffed red bell pepper. Bon apetit!

                                            

How Yesterday Made Today…

Posted from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

As the stories of our beautiful dishes and recipes continue to expand online, we are invited to acknowledge how we brought farm to table for today’s Cooking School. It’s called the Crescent City Farmer’s Market, and it’s where Michael takes our NOLA crew each and every year right before our class gets together and cooks, in order to buy fresh, local food for a budget of $20 per dish – to feed 17 people. Michael’s greatest emphasis – aside from taking advantage of his position in order to discuss history and culture – is that we can feed the masses honest, healthy meals on a reasonable budget, and the cooking school provides an outlet for that.

On our walk over to the market, Michael shared a lot about the rich history and current state of the New Orleans lifestyle. “Local” to New Orleans means a 250 mile radius. The point of the Farmer’s Market was originally to bring the central business district back to the French quarter. Michael spoke a lot about the economic climate, the complicated nature of taxes and law changes, property ownership, etc. For instance, traditionally there are two floors to each building – the store on the first, and the residents on the second. Taxing and maintenance issues are moving businesses out of the city, however, and it is consequently becoming more residential. There seemed to be an obvious connection between the significance of the farmer’s market in relation to placement, business, and bringing that sense of welcoming and personality back to the home streets of the French Quarter and the American District.

Our trip to the market was fast, busy and exciting. We were encouraged to ask each vendor for their stories and origins, and after about 20 minutes of running around, blindly and frantically meal planning, we were ushered past the last few booths and on our way back to the cooking school. Memorable moments included a surprise from the cinnamon roll saleslady – a full time water quality professional! Exposure to an informative walk through of interesting cultural histories was a treat in itself, and the avocado popsicles weren’t bad either. In fact, they were kind of life changing.

Follow these links to learn about some of the ingredients for our recipes, and their origins!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmzshpxyyVU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt5NsDdfuwQ

– Aryana and Lauren 🙂

Creole Vinaigrette Salad – Brought to you by John and Hayden (… and Sean)

Posted from Austin, Texas, United States.

Today started out really great, because we went to The New Orleans School of Cooking. The day before (3/18/17) we went grocery shopping for today (3/19/17) and we split up into 4 teams of three. There was a soup team, salad team, entree team and a dessert team. I was part of the salad team, the day before I bought cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, cucumber, and Arugula plants. The first thing that John did was that he cut up the cabbage, while I cut up the carrots and cucumbers. After that we finished up the carrots and we cut the tomatoes in half I also cut up the Strawberries. We were waiting for a little Sean, John and I took the flowers off the stems and then we also took the leaves off and put them into the salad. The spinach that I had gotten had come pre cut so we just put the spinach into the salad. Then our teacher who’s name was Michael helped (as in just made it). He put Creole muster in, Pecan oil, vinegar, salt and pepper into a bowl and just whisked all up. After the salad was tossed and the dressing was put in, John, Sean and I planted the salad and put the Arugula flowers on the salads to make them look good.

When we were just starting

Dan is helping us cut up everything

Look at all of the work that Dan did

The finished salad

Carrot and Corinader Soup

Posted from Austin, Texas, United States.

We visited the New Orleans School of Cooking where Micheal taught us about buying local foods on a tight budget. Our group, Juliana, Alexis and Aryana, decided to create a soup. After speaking to the local farmers market vendors, we discovered the recipe for carrot and coriander soup. It was a simple and affordable (under $20) meal that turned out to be quite delicious.

Our recipe called for common ingredients like carrots, coriander, vegetable broth, potatoes and onion. After chopping the vegetables; we sauteed the onions with some garlic, added the chopped potatoes to soften them, added the vegetable broth along with the carrots and coriander. We also added salt, pepper, paprika, and Cajun seasoning for taste. We allowed for the pot to boil until carrots were soft before using an emulsifier to puree the mix. We then let it simmer for 20 minutes before serving with a touch of coriander on top.

 

It was a messy process that left us feeling satisfied and proud of our creation. We are all grateful for Micheal and the School of Cooking and the experience they have provided us. It left us all with more appreciation for the food and culture of New Orleans.

 

To make this on your own follow this link that will walk you through step by step on how to make this delicious meal! https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/7003/carrot-and-coriander-soup

New Orleans Cooking School: Jambalaya For Everyone

Posted from Austin, Texas, United States.

Today we got to visit the oh so wonderful New Orleans School Of Cooking where we were guided by Micheal DeVdts to organize 5 different meals for our class. All of the ingredients were purchased at the CBD farmers market from local vendors. Our team Daniella, Devyn, and I were in charge of cooking the main dish. We chose (with recommendation) to whip up some jambalaya!

 

None of us have ever made jambalaya before, so we just kind of winged it. Here’s how to wing it our way. You’ll need:

  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 2 lbs white jumbo shrimp
  • 1 lb andouille sausage
  • any kind of vegetable or meat stock
  • Joes Stuff (Cajun seasoning)
  • 5oz minced garlic
  • dried garlic
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 6 red potatoes
  • parsely

Begin by dicing the peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. Then cube the red potatoes. Heat up some vegetable oil in a deep pot, while setting water to boil in an adjacent pot. Add the stock (or bullion) to the boiling water. Set the red potatoes in the boiling water. At the same time, add in the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic. Let saute for around 15-20 minutes, then dump a cup of Joe’s Stuff seasoning.

Chop chop!

By now the potatoes should be almost done. Add the boiling water and potatoes to the deep pot of vegetables. Let simmer while you set up a frying pan. In the pan, add the 1 lb or andoullie sausage and sauté until cooked through. In this particular dish, we had to set aside the meat because we had a few vegetarians in the class. Once in a rolling boil, add in 4 cups of rice into the deep pot and cover with a lid. Let the rice cook in the pot for 15 minutes or so. In the mean time, de-vain the shrimp.

Once done, take the pot off the heat and set aside. Quickly add in the sausage and then the uncooked shrimp and cover with the lid. The steam from the rice will cook the shrimp. While everything is setting, dice up more celery, parsley, and onion.  Add these to the top of the dish, then re cover with the lid. Taste a small sample to add more seasoning if you wish. When you’re ready, get a big serving spoon and stir everything all up. Tadah! You’ve just made yourself some Cajun noms!

Daniella stirring that bad boy!

Our attempt was succesful, and everybody loved the dish. Not bad for our first time!