Archive for the ‘Warms My Heart’ Category

Mother’s Restaurant New Orleans

Posted 19 Apr 2011 — by S.E.
Category Warms My Heart

It’s the middle of April, the bulbs in my garden are blooming and for some reason I am craving a taste of real Louisiana gumbo (don’t ask why). Ever since learning to make gumbo from a group of culinary friends from Louisiana back in the early 1990’s I have experienced periodic cycles of intense interest in this dish and tonight my mind and memory wander to the most recent gumbo event in my life: a steaming cup at Mother’s restaurant in New Orleans.

Mother’s Kitchen Counter

In 1994 Chef John Folse took me to Mother’s restaurant for the very first time. I was visiting John up in Baton Rouge for a week and he decided it was time for a quick run to New Orleans for a meal. We sped down the highway from Baton Rouge to the city in his big bad-ass BMW 5 series talking about food the entire way (his license plate reads “ICOOK4U”). He described Mothers with a religious style of reverence and it wasn’t long before I realized that he was taking me there to introduce me to the food and to fulfill his own craving for gumbo (John is a gumbo addict too). Since then I have craved Mothers from time to time and always make a trip there when in New Orleans. Some folks claim the food was better prior to Hurricane Katrina and others say Mother’s quality is as good as ever.

Fancy Dining Room

Established in 1938, the sign out front reads “Mother’s world’s best baked ham”. Who the hell eats ham when visiting mothers (they sell 175,000 pounds of ham and beef each year)? It’s funny how things evolve. Anyway, I arrive at Mother’s and, as usual, there’s a line out the door and it’s raining. The line moves quickly and I am inside within 5 minutes. The interior of Mother’s is decorated with all sorts of ephemera like old photos of guests from the 1950’s. Lots of pictures of soldiers and military veterans line the walls along with intermittent photos of celebrities and sports figures, many eating at a table in the restaurant. Tables are Formica topped and the chairs are metal with vinyl padding. The restaurant is not fancy nor is the food.

Condiments and Coke

Customers cue up along a metal counter adjacent to the kitchen and place their order at a cash register at the end of the line. While waiting, you can watch menu items being prepared right in front of you and I am sure cuing the line along the kitchen counter was intentional as a way of increasing sales. Once the order is placed, you take your ticket and sit down and wait. It takes about ten minutes to receive your food. My server was an older gentleman with a classic New Orleans drawl and heart of hospitality. He was fantastic and provided a real sense of the city in his service. My order: Shrimp PoBoy, cup of gumbo and a scoop of potato salad. Craving satisfied.


Seafood Gumbo: The real deal with a nice dark roux, rich fresh seafood flavor and sausage punch


Shrimp PoBoy: Fresh shrimp, shredded lettuce, mayo


Mother’s Restaurant

401 Poydras

New Orleans, LA 70130

504) 523-9656

MIT Food + Agriculture Collaborative: Local Haddock Brandade Tart with MSC Certified Red Crab

Posted 01 Apr 2011 — by S.E.
Category Uncategorized, Warms My Heart


Haddock Brandade Tart with Red Crab, Pea Sprouts, Lemon Rind, Salmon Roe, and Pickled Red Onion Brunoise

I had the pleasure of demonstrating this item at the MIT Food + Agriculture Collaborative today. As a professional chef, my concern for food integrity and sustainability is deeply rooted as is the case with most chefs worth their salt. Of the many food issues associated with sustainability, sustainable seafood is my passion and I had sustainable seafood in mind when I created this item (a riff on an item orignally created by Charlie Trotter).

The recovery of haddock due to expanded use of the Eliminator net, a net that reduces by-catch when harvesting haddock off shore, is an amazing story. Fisherman and net designers in association with the Rhode Island Sea Grant Institute figured out that haddock, while being caught, tend to swim up toward the surface while codfish in similar circumstances swim down. The Eliminator is a net with not bottom and a tightly designed top. Haddock get caught in the top, cod and flounder escape through the bottom. The numbers are staggering. Cod by-catch is reduced by 81% and flounder by-catch by 95%. What a success story; one that chefs and others need to celebrate. Now professional chefs have a much more sustainable source of haddock in the Gulf of Maine than ever and cod stocks are actually recovering.  

Let’s also celebrate the sustainable fishery that Red Crab has become in the northeast as certified by the Marine Stewardship council (MSC). The folks at the Atlantic Red Crab company spent the time and resources to properly certify though the MSC their sustainable approach to harvesting red crab, a species that can live up to 15 years at depths of up to 2000 feet. Slow growing deep water species like red crab require and deserve careful handling and harevsting and MSC has validated that this is the case (at least for now).

The recipe below, supplemented by line-caught Norwegian salt cod, is a celebration of sustainable seafood done right! The recipe follows:


Local Haddock Brandade Tart with MSC Certified Red Crab and Leek Emulsion

 Ingredients: Brandade

1          Cup     Salt Cod (line caught, Norwegian)

6          Ea        A.P. Potato (PEI, Organic, peeled, cooked*)

2          Ea        Eggs

¼         Cup     Shallots (roasted whole, pureed)

¼         Cup     EV Olive Oil

Ingredients: Haddock Puree

1          Lb        Haddock, Gulf of Maine (MSC Certified)

2          Ea        Eggs

¼         Cup     Heavy Cream (steeped in Red Crab shells, strained)

1          Cup     Red Crab (MSC Certified, cooked)

¼         Cup     Dill, Fresh Chopped

Salt & Pepper

 *Cut 3 whole potatoes into 1/8 inch slices and reserve to line the tart. Use trim pieces in brandade.

Method: Brandade

Soak the salt cod for 24 hours, changing the water every 4-6 hours. Place the salt cod in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Simmer for 10 minutes until fish is tender. Lightly simmer fish, don’t boil. While warm, place the cod in a small mixer fitted with a paddle and slowly beat it on medium speed until it starts to fluff. Add the warm A.P. Potato bit by bit until fully incorporated. Add eggs, shallots, olive oil. The mixture should be light and fluffy while holding together when scooped. If mixture is too thin, add a bit more potato. Add roasted shallots. Drizzle in the olive oil and mix until smooth.

Method: Haddock Puree

Cut the haddock into 2 inch chunks and chill. Place the haddock into a food processor and pulse, add the eggs, heavy cream and puree until smooth. Keep chilled.

Tart Dough:

1          C         All Purpose Flour

½         C         Whole Wheat Flour

1          t           Kosher Salt

1          C         Butter, cold, diced

1/3       C         Water

Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until fine in texture. Add the ice water and mix until combined. Form dough into a ball and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for one hour.

For the Tart:

Dust a ½ sheet pan with oil and flour and line pan with 1/8 inch of tart dough. Place an even layer of sliced cooked potatoes on the tart dough. Fill in gaps in potatoes with a small amount of haddock puree. Top the potatoes with a ½ inch layer of brandade. Add a layer of haddock puree. Seal with a layer of dough, glaze with egg yolk and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. Cool, slice and serve.

Oil & Flour a 1/2 Sheet Pan (cookie sheet)

Line Pan with Whole Wheat Dough



Add a layer of sliced cooked potatoes

Fill in teh gaps between the potatoes with Crab and Haddock puree. Smooth it out with a spatula.

Spread a 1/2 inch layer of brandade onto the potatoes, be sure it is even.

Add the final layer of red crab and haddock puree. Be sure to spread it evenly.

Add the final layer of dough.

Oven ready tart. This is a rustic dish, it doesn’t haev to be perfect. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, cool and serve.

East L.A. Culinary Students Get Celebrity Chef Advice

Posted 27 Feb 2010 — by S.E.
Category Warms My Heart

Chef Sam Choy with Belle Gardens Culinary Student

Debbie Silveira isn’t your average culinary arts instructor. She is one of the hardest working and committed teachers I have known. Debbie is a culinary arts instructor and co-chair of the family & consumer sciences department at Belle Gardens High School in Montebello California just east of down town LA. For the past five years I’ve had the pleasure of working with Debbie and a team of talented chefs and administrators as a volunteer advisor to the district. In a community where things aren’t always easy and a state where funding for public education is in crisis, Debbie hasn’t faltered in her commitment to students. After meeting her students, I can see why. They are all heart and are deserving of the best support we can give. They come from hardworking families, often have limited resources, and clearly make the connection between education and a better life. Perhaps this is why Debbie convinced chef Jeff Mora, Corporate Chef and Owner of Metropolitan Culinary Services to jump in and help her prepare the Belle Gardens culinary team for the 2010 state ProStart competition in Sacramento (March 6-7). The stakes for Debbie’s students are high; ProStart winners receive lucrative scholarships making the pathway to college all that more feasible. Be advised, her students are up to the task.

Since December the team has been working after school, on weekends and during winter break to perfect their skills in preparation for the big event. Following ProStart guidelines, they composed a three course menu choosing an Asian inspired theme.

Good Buddies Sam Choy and Paul Prudhomme

During one of their recent practice sessions Hawaiian Chef Sam Choy turned up with Jeff Mora to provide the team with some advice and inspiration. Sam Choy is a restaurateur, television personality and talented chef who most recently created all the first class and business class menus for American Airlines flights between Tokyo and Honolulu. I first met Sam in New Orleans last September at K-Paul’s Louisiana kitchen. My first impression was one of great admiration not only for his professional background but also for his wonderful personality and great heart. Sam is the kind of guy who radiates positive energy. When he enters a room, he makes it better. When he cooks, there’s nothing better. Jeff texted me the day Sam was on his way to Belle Gardens. His note brought a smile to my face and didn’t surprise me at all, that’s the kind of guy Sam is. Convincing Sam to visit Belle Gardens is just the kind of thing Jeff would do for Debbie and her students. Plus, who could provide better guidance on an Asian inspired menu than Sam Choy.  I love the level of authenticity to all this. Debbie, Jeff and Sam work with these students because it’s the right thing to do.  They do this work under the radar with no expectation of anything in return other than the success of the students. These kids are going to succeed regardless of how they do at the ProStart competition in Sacramento because they have a whole community pulling for them while they work their butts off and pull for themselves.  I can’t wait to see what happens in Sacramento.