Friday, October 31, 2008

Fresh Tacos

Just Tacos, Totally Tacos, 100% Tacos, and now Fresh Tacos. The first two were at the old toy store on Enterprise Blvd. The last two at the Exxon station at the corner of Enterprise Blvd and Board. The only difference with this last incarnation is that the original owners are gone and some of the cooks have taken it over. I wish them all the luck. To me the original owners were not prepared for the long haul. Below is taco meat aka Spicy Ground Beef. Good flavor and the tortilla are heated fresh on the griddle. You can get a smear of beans and lettuce and tomato added if you want

This is Mexican Potatoes which evidently contains sausage as well. Previously it did not. However this may be left over from breakfast.

My favorite is Chicharrones. Pig skin braised in tomatillo sauce. I will be back just for that.

The big surprise was the tamales. A Mexican style with a moist masa coating for a change over fairly spicy shredded meat interior. These are the best in town at this point.

Their hours are 6 AM to 2 PM Monday to Saturday. A minor inconvenience which becomes a major inconvenience for me is that they no longer take the money. You have to go to the cash register in the main store to pay for the food. This will require a little more planning on my part rather than an impromptu feast

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lamb Stew Agro Dolce

Stews are not very picture worthy but extremely worthy in all other categories. This one is sweet and tangy, delicous with meat that literally melts in you mouth. I took about a lb and half of lamb leg and cut into bite sized pieces. Into the crock pot with chicken broth, tomato paste, vinegar, and little sugar. 6 hours later voila. I have eaten it with pasta and mashed potatoes. I think it would go good with rice or one of my favorite tricks over biscuits. I love my crock pot but I need to experiment more with my new pressure cooker.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Grits Weekend

Here is the start. A cup of grits, salt and 4 cups of liquid. Water in this case. Plug in the crock pot and 12 hours later my perfect grits. Thick, stiff and full of flavor

The finished product after 12 hours of slow cooking. I put it on about 8 PM and unplug it about 8 AM leaving in the insert in the cooker. This keeps it warm for several hours I do more of a brunch than breakfast.

I do cafe au lait while I read my paper.

After paper, Internet and crossword I do my meal. This one is Burger's ham steak with red eye gravy, eggs sunny side up, frozen biscuits (Pillsbury) and grits with butter. Mind you I only do this on the weekend and usually on one day especially if it is a full bore like this one

I take the insert out of the cooker and let the grits cool off to room temperature. I then make a grit souffle with what ever I have around. This one is grits, eggs, Mexican cheese, chipotle paste, nuoc cham, and Usingers smoked pork butt.

It goes into a loaf pan and into the tabletop oven. This one because it made so much had to cook for an hour. A lot of times it is half and cooks in thirty minutes

The final product. GB&D Golden Brown and Delicious. I ate half for my supper and the other half pan fried for breakfast.

The bottom half of the grits I put in the frig in the crock and the next morning cut into cubes. I then seasoned them and tossed in flour. Then they go into a deep fat fryer until you guessed it GB&D

These I treat like Brabant potatoes. I had bought a skirt steak in the discount meat bin. Put it in a no salt mesquite wet marinade overnight and grilled in my table top appliance. Nuked some carrots in butter and voila Sunday supper

That is how I use up 4 cups of stone ground grits. Sometimes I don't do it all in the weekend but spread it out but for photo continuity I did it over two days. Most times I do grits with two breakfast items, the souffle with less grits and finally the brabant grits with a dinner.

Alfreda's Kitchen Review

Alfreda’s Kitchen
1845 Gerstner Memorial Blvd
Lake Charles, LA
Monday - Friday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM $8
This venue is located in the little cafe attached to Jones Grocery on Hwy 14. This has been the spawning ground for two fine soul food restaurants in town, The Lunch Box and Lagniappe (not the magazine). The entrance has a bright blue fire door. I pass it coming home from work hoping to see the "blue door" open again. The interior little changed from former occupants it offers booth seating. Again a place that does mainly a take away business. It is convenient for me with my amputation to eat there but to tell you the truth even if I had both legs I would eat in. Places like this give me a homey feeling especially if the food is good
My first lunch there was smothered liver and onions over rice. The liver was so tender I could cut it with the plastic fork they gave me and the gravy was deep and rich in both color and flavor. The greens were smoky and tender even though they had more stems than I have seen in other places. The sweet potatoes were bland not having soaked up the cinnamon spiced syrup they floated in. A square of sweet cornbread (my favorite) and nice piece of German Chocolate sheet cake completed the meal, thoroughly delicious. I had high hopes
The next meal here was Garfish Stew. A huge garfish steak at least an inch thick cooked to total succulence. I grew up on gar and to tell you the truth this is the best gar I have had in 35 years, as good as my momma's. And that is saying a lot. The greens beans were good. The chicken, sausage, and okra I got as a side was a little thin but it was usually sold as main course with rice. It contained lots of protein with some okra in a spicy tomato based sauce, quite tasty. The gar was tender, white, and moist with fresh fish taste. If you have never had gar I really can not explain it. Gar is the reason I like fish with flavor with Cobia and Char being my favorite.
Last time round was smothered pork chops. To tell you truth this is my bellwether for places like this. If they can do a chop right then they can do anything. Again the meat was plastic fork tender which goes beyond fork tender. I virtually could not spear it with the fork, as it would break up. That same dark rich gravy with lots of flavor and the meat was pretty good also. They both lay over some rice cooked the way it should be. Again I went with greens and sweet potatoes. The greens were great as usual and the sweet potatoes improved over the last time. Tender with sweet syrup that flavored the inside of the chunks this time. Again the sweet cornbread to sop up the greens liquor. A satisfying meal containing some backbone to it. I heartily and enthusiastically recommend this plate lunch place. I think they will be doing some short order stuff in the future. If so I will report it to you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ritcha's Dinette

Friday's night dinner proved much better than lunch. I meet a couple I know and who love Indian food at this Friday and Saturday night only Indian place. Two of my group who also love Indian were indisposed so could not join us. Again there is nothing fancy about this place. The food is home style Indian served plate lunch style. However it is good. Last night was chicken curry with basmati rice. Spicy chickpeas and potatoes with bell pepper. There was also a potato and pea samosa, papadams, and naan. Now that they having doing it for awhile they have gotten better. They switched naan and the new one is wonderful. The curry was made with bone-in meat which always adds lots of flavor. This curry was heavy on the turmeric but not excessively so and at just the spice level I love. My companions and me scarfed it down then stayed another hour having great conversation. Try this place if you like Indian except do not do it tonight as there is a McNeese game and traffic will be horrific

Friday, October 24, 2008

Alfreda's Kitchen

After a long wait this morning to get my blood work done and just about as much time grocery shopping (Krogers on McNeese) because I did not know where everything is there. I usually shop at Krogers on Hwy 14 but it has seriously gone downhill. I now know why. The good manager who made shopping Hwy 14 a pleasure is at McNeese. I digress. It was after 1 PM before I was finished. I wanted something fast and good and not by my hand. So Alfreda's is virtually just around the corner from me and I have had good meals there. This one was not so good. They had seafood gumbo on the board but it turned out to be a rouxless kitchen sink gumbo (crab bodies, wing parts, chicken necks and sausage) served like rice and gravy. Not my favorite way and I do not care to mix seafood with sausage. So I took it for what it was. The flavor was not to bad. The sausage was not so aggressively spiced that it took over. There was lots of bones which I do love sucking and the crab half. The whipped potato potato salad was outstanding, the cornbread so rich it just crumbled and really nice flavored cake. I think it was spice but it had a strong Steens or molasses backnote that caught my taste buds. I did not see the usual cook there and will have to check on it in the future to see if the standards will be kept up

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Having the desire to eat raw oysters I ate lunch at the one place I was sure had raw oysters. I started off with a shrimp and crab gumbo. Very tasty with a thin dark rouxed broth. The only drawback is they use "cardboard" or "fake" rice ie Uncle Ben's here. I suffered though it. I will have to remember next time rice on the side and then resort to crackers.

I got a 1/2 dozen raw. They were a bit on the small side but quite juicy and salty which is what I love about the bivalve. The horseradish sauce was lost on me. That is for people that do not like the taste of oysters but want people to think they love raw ones. The lagniappe of the two boiled shrimp was a nice thought.

I got an Old Fashion Hamburger. I love sauteed onions on a burger. The patty was a pre-fab but decent. The bun fell apart. Not the best but not the worst. The fries (peppered fries) were fried just the way I like. Crispy on the outside and potatoey on the inside. The black pepper coating add a little oomph. I generally steer away from fries cause most places do them badly

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rouge et Blanc Food

Pujo St Cafe "Pickled Shrimp"

La Truffe Sauvage "Smoked Salmon" on a crostini with cream cheese, onion and capers

Chinese King "Tong Cho Chicken"
Louis DeAngelo "Tiramisu"
Brickhouse Catering "Stuffed Duck Breast" with sour apple dressing
Mistake should have been deleted
Vista Grill "Crisp Red Snapper" with fettuccine and focaccia with garlic butter

Country Club "Pork Roulet " with black bean, garlic, and relish stuffing
Cookey's Caterers "Crab Cake with cream chili sauce
Outback Steakhouse "Seared Ahi Tuna and Steak"
Fausto of Iowa "Macque Choux"
Desserts @ L'Auberge "Merlot Gelato"

Blue Duck Cafe "Creole Chili"
Gray Plantation "Seared Salmon and Pot Sticker"
Kinlock Plantation "Shrimp seared in Pecan Oil"
Snake River Grill "Sausage stuffed bacon wrapped oven roasted Dates"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

PF Chang's

Wednesday I had to go into Baton Rouge for a food show. I took the opportunity to go to this upscale chain Chinese restaurant. I have heard good things about it over the years. From these interior shoots you can see it is quite spectacular.

This is their condiment tray. The server asked that interminable question you usually get asked at an upscale chain. Is this your first time? Then they impart the mysteries of how and what to order. In the ramekins are chili paste, soy based dipping sauce, Chinese mustard. You are suppose to put the chile paste and mustard in the dipping sauce to accommodate your taste. As this was my first time and of course I am assumed to be ignorant the server asked how spicy I like things and mixed it for me. Duh. In the cruet in the back row are chile oil, soy sauce, and a sugared vinegar solution. I got the explanation of each use as if I had never eaten Chinese in my life. These proved useful during the meal as I like to experiment with different flavors and levels of heat. Barring the lecture this was a great addition to the table.
This was a egg drop soup that I did not order that got dropped at my table. I took the opportunity to photograph it. It smelled wonderful and seemed to contain more vegetables and stuff than most egg drop soups I have encountered.
This is what I had ordered . Hot and Sour soup. According to the menu it contained chicken whereas most I have encountered contain pork. The other ingredients were pretty standard tofu, bamboo shoots and wood ear mushrooms. The specified that white pepper and vinegar provide the hot and sour. The texture was of a gelatinous nature and the dark soy gave it a deep rich flavor. The balance here was perfect and needed no adjustment.

This was the Salt and Pepper Calamari. Menu said tossed with scallions, kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Wrong. I love this dish and get it an any Chinese restaurant that offers it. This is the most Americanized version I ever had. Without the condiment tray it would have been like any other calamari I've had. They had made rings and then cut them to make strips. They were very tender. They provide the salt and pepper on the side along with a warm mild chile dipping sauce with a ketchup base. The salt/pepper was welcome but I did not care for that dipping sauce. The dipping sauce on the condiment tray was good. I eventually doused the strips with the salt/pepper, chile oil and vinegar to achieve a flavor that made it more like I was use to

For my entree I got the Chengdu Spiced Lamb. Marinated lamb strip wok caramelized then tossed with cumin, onions, mint and tomatoes. This was wonderful. Tender strips of lamb with a rich flavor and medium spice. I ate about half then doused it with the vinegar which added a different dimension. I then had a balance of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour which I seek after in any oriental dish.

This came with steamed white rice which I prefer to fried rice
For dessert I got one of their Mini Desserts. This one is Tiramisu. It was delicous and just enough for 4 or 5 bites which is plenty for me. I just want a little sweet to top the meal off
If you have a chance to go to one of these establishment take it especially if like oriental food. Here is the website

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pork Liver Pate

I found a somewhat unusual recipe for a liver pate. I as usual adapted for my own use. The follow are the ingredients. First of hog lard from the pig I bought. Then chopped onions, f0llowed by the hog liver. Some fig wine I had in the frig and last the unusual component blue cheese.

After sauteing the onions and liver they went into the food processor. Pan was deglazed with the fig wine and reduced then put in the processor. Then the blue cheese went in. This was taking the place of the heavy cream that normally goes in.

They all went for a spin and voila. A mousse like product that has a very distinctive taste. I actually like the combo of blue cheese and liver. So far I have only eaten on toast and such. However I think I am going to make a liver mousse tostado with refried beans. I will let you know how that turns out