Last night we ate at our apartment after Sarah, Evan, and Van went fishing with Jason Brady and his family. It seemed like a perfect time to cook up some purple hull peas I had bought at the farmers market. I went to the grocery store to get some salt pork and tasso, but I probably could have found those at the farmers market, too.
You can’t have peas, tasso, and collards without some cornbread to sop up all of the juices, but none of us was in the mood to bake cornbread in our understocked apartment kitchen. Fortunately we had some leftover corn muffins that had been served with our chicken fried steak at Strawn’s for lunch. The muffins were sweet (Yankee cornbread in Louisiana!?) but they would have to do.
I cooked the meal while the fisher persons were out on the lake.
Purple Hull Peas, Tasso and Collards
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 8 ounces salt pork, cut into a large dice
- enough water to cover the salt pork in a small saucepan
- 32 ounces chicken stock
- 1 quart shelled purple hull peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
- 14 1/2 ounces canned, diced tomatoes (fresh tomatoes would be great, but I forgot to buy them at the farmers market)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- 8 ounces Cajun-style tasso ham, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 large bunch fresh collard greens, washed, trimmed, and cut into a coarse chiffonade
- Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste (optional)
- In a large, covered pot heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, cover, and sweat until the onions are soft and translucent. Transfer to a bowl.
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the salt pork. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes to remove any excess salt.. Drain and transfer to the large pot over medium heat. Stir frequently to allow light browning.
- Return the onions to the pot. Add chicken stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the peas, bell pepper, and garlic. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Return to a boil and then adjust the heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered for 1 hour or until the peas are soft.
- Stir in the tasso and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Add the collard greens and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the greens are thoroughly cooked but not limp. Adjust the seasoning. Be sure to use hot sauce if you like it.
- Serve in large soup bowls.
Today we went to the Farmers Market at the Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport near the banks of the Red River. We arrived at 7 AM, but there was already a long line of customers waiting to buy fresh corn from the Bailey Farms trailer filled with sacks from the fields of the Mennonite colony in Arkansas. The crowds were otherwise fairly light, but within a short time, the plaza was filled with folks of all descriptions, and the vendors were busy selling their wares. Unscene Shreveport is an ongoing project of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, who are trying to revitalize the riverfront while bringing new ideas about art and food to the community. The executive director, Pam Atchison, met with Sarah and Evan, along with local chef, Jason Brady, to plan events of the day and to talk about the cooking challenge.
Amateur cooks were encouraged to participate in a free cook-off using a “secret” ingredient from the farmers market. The entrants drew their assignments from a big basket – either tomatoes or squash. It was interesting to see how many were puzzled about what to do with tomatoes, which were in abundance – ripe or green, big or small, heirloom or otherwise. There were lots of choices for squash as well.
On Monday evening, contestants were to return with eight helpings of their dish. Sarah, Evan, and Jason would be the judges and also cook a meal from market selections. Then there would be a sort of covered-dish supper with all the entrants invited to sample their competitors’ offerings. Extra points for using more ingredients from the market. As we wandered around the plaza we saw the bounty of the Ark-La-Tex (the region where the three states come together with Shreveport as the unofficial capital) There were berries of all kinds, fresh watermelons, authentic Louisiana pralines by Dardie, fried pies, fresh and pickled quail eggs, hen’s eggs, meat of several varieties, cookies, cupcakes, bread, goat cheese, and on an on.
I’m looking forward to Monday.
This is my first post from the Shreveport Unscene. The project is a year-long event designed to advance music, the arts, and food in the Shreveport area. Sarah and Evan are doing a two week residency with the goal of promoting the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in restaurant menus and, along the way, in the family menus of the community. They will be cooking with products from the local farmers market and challenging local chefs to do the same.
Shreveport has a rich food tradition with many Southern and Louisiana specialties. But like much of the South, its food is heavy on deep frying – chicken fried steak, Southern fried chicken, fried catfish and hush puppies, not to mention Natchitoches meat pies, corn dogs, fried pickles, and even deep-fried ice cream. Bucking that tradition will be a challenge.
On our day of arrival, Sarah and Evan went to the farmers market, which is held twice a week. The market is much larger on the weekend, so during the week the choices were limited, but they found fresh pork chops, onions, garlic, new potatoes, sweet yellow peppers, corn from a Mennonite colony in nearby Arkansas, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh cream.
They augmented these products with prosciutto from the gift basket in their room and red onions, cilantro, vegetable oil, and balsamic vinegar from the nearby grocery store. Then they cooked our evening meal from all of this bounty, sort of as a trial run. Sometimes it’s ok to be a guinea pig.
Farmers market pork chops and garlic about to be browned
Browning the pork chops before finishing them in the oven
New potatoes, sweet yellow peppers, and onions
Fresh corn dry roasting in a hot sauté pan
New potatoes, sweet yellow peppers, and onions fork tender
Pan-roasted corn with yogurt, queso fresco and Old Bay seasoning ready for the oven
Potatoes, peppers, and onions topped with herb mixture and prosciutto
Cilantro, red onion, and balsamic vinegar topping for pork chops and potatoes
Pork chops hot from the oven
Mexican-style corn ready to be served
A finished plate for everyone
Herbed Pork Chops
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 large pork chops
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled but whole
- 1/2 large onion, chopped coarsely
- salt and pepper
- 1 red onion, diced finely
- 1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
- balsamic vinegar
- In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat, Add the pork chops, garlic, and onions. Brown the pork chops on both sides. Then transfer to an oven-proof dish and place in the oven preheated to 375. Roast for 20 minutes or until done to your liking. Adjust the seasoning.
- In the meantime, combine the red onion, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- When ready to serve the pork chops, top each with a large tablespoonful of the herb mixture
New Potatoes, Onions, and Sweet Peppers with Pancetta
- 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
- 1/2 large white onion, chopped coarsely
- 4 sweet yellow peppers cut crosswise into 2-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 of reserved herb mix (see recipe ab0ve)
- 3 ounces prosciutto, sliced into thin ribbons
- Add the potatoes, onion, and peppers to a large saute pan over medium high heat with the oil.
- Stirring frequently, cook the vegetables until they are soft. Remove from the heat. Serve topped with half the herb mixture and the prosciutto.
Mexican-Style Corn with Yogurt and Queso Fresco
- 6 ears fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
- 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
- 1 pound Mexican queso fresco, crumbled
- Old Bay seasoning (note: one of us is very sensitive to spicy food, so that was the choice of seasoning. Ground chiles or chili powder would also be very good.)
- Over high heat, dry roast the corn, two or three ears at a time, until they are lightly charred.
- Transfer to an oven-proof pan or dish. Spread the roasted corn with yogurt and then sprinkle with queso fresco and seasoning.
- Place in the oven preheated to 375 for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve immediately.
When I was considering this post, I thought, “Who doesn’t know how to make a breakfast burrito? More than that, who doesn’t have his or her own favorite?” While all of that is probably true, I decided to write this post anyway.
Part of the reason is that I just made some breakfast burritos for my wife, who started out before dawn to drive more than 14 hours and more than half way through Texas to visit her sister in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and then to pick up our grandson from the airport to take him to Shreveport, Louisiana, where his parents will be involved in a two-week-long food and cooking demonstration. I will join them and plan to send posts about the events, including my daughter’s demonstration on how to butcher a whole hog! You read that right, and I plan to document the event for posterity.
The second reason for the post is that whenever I visit San Francisco, I always make breakfast burritos for Evan and Sarah as they rush out the door to the restaurant. After the birth of their new son, they have both gone on diets, so I have been told that there will be no more breakfast burritos. So I thought I needed to share with somebody.
Garden spinach herb wrap-size flour tortillas
Clockwise: cherry tomatoes, red onion, crimini mushrooms, sharp Cheddar cheese
Breakfast sausage browning in vegetable oil
Stir in the frozen hash brown potatoes
Add two fresh eggs to the scramble
Finished burrito filling
Toast the tortillas on a hot skillet or comal until lightly toasted on both sides
Put the filling in the middle of the tortilla
Fold over the two sides before rolling from one end
Serve while still hot
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil + more as needed
- ¼ pound breakfast sausage
- 2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
- 3 crimini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- ¼ cup diced green chiles
- ¼ cup salsa
- Cholula hot sauce, to taste (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 2 extra-large flour tortillas (10½ inch wrap size) I used garden spinach herb flavor, but you can choose any flavor)
- Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until the pink color is lost, breaking it up as it cooks.
- Stir in the frozen hash browns, adding more oil if needed. Stir frequently until the potatoes begin to crisp.
- Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until they give up their liquid and the mixture is nearly dry. Then add the red onion and tomatoes. Sauté until the onions and tomatoes are softened.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the eggs, mixing them in thoroughly. When the eggs have nearly set up, stir in the green chiles and salsa. If you want more spiciness, adjust the seasoning with hot sauce, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low as you prepare the tortillas.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet or comal over a high flame. When the surface is hot, place one of the tortillas on the skillet and bake for 15 seconds or until it is lightly browned. Turn and bake the other side until lightly browned and the tortilla is softened. Do not cook too long, or the tortilla will become stiff. Set the first tortilla aside and then bake the second.
- Place half of the sausage and egg mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Fold over opposing edges, and then roll up from one end. Serve immediately or wrap in foil so it can be taken on the road. If you are going to eat them at home, you can cover them with red or green chile sauce.