Dinner parties in New Orleans, whether well-funded or not, can take on a professional air, as if a good Zagat’s rating hangs in the balance—or at least the approval of one’s service industry peers. With the guidance of our gracious host Adele Hunt, Antigravity assembled a stellar cast to get our kitchen chops up to speed for an always grueling holiday season. Our culinary commandos included Paul Artigues (Green Goddess, Die Rötzz, Guitar Lightnin’), Bernard Pearce (One Man Machine), J. Poggi (aka MC Trachiotomy) and Skwirl (Parasol’s).
Adele’s dining room proved the perfect setting for the evening’s feast, as the acoustics encouraged and amplified the conversation, which only got spicier as the evening wore on. Abortion anecdotes, race relations, Jewish jokes, grudges and confessions escaped our mouths as fast as we stuffed them. Adele had the foresight to outsource dessert—a sweet potato ginger pie from P’s and Q’s—a wise and prudent idea, considering the state of the party at that point, which had taken the turn (Greek absinthe assisted) into loud, nostalgic reminiscing. What follows is the spread, and hopefully the beginning of a long, debaucherous, and gluttonous series.
ADELE’S FANCY DEVILED EGGS
aka ADEviLEd Eggs
This uptown take on a picnic classic was the perfect appetizer to subdue dinner guests who arrived hungry.
- 2 dozen boiled eggs
- 2 cups créme fraîche
- 1 oz smoked salmon
- 1 oz Cajun caviar (from the Louisiana Caviar Co.)
Boil eggs. Slice and remove yolks into separate bowls. Mix the créme fraîche with the egg yolks, add salt to taste. Fill sliced egg halves with the créme fraîche- egg yolk mix. Add thinly sliced strip of smoked salmon over each. Dollop the Louisiana caviar over each egg. If Louisiana caviar isn’t available, you can sub shaved red onion and capers. Finish with paprika and pink Himalayan sea salt.
Skwirl’s borscht was as complex and surprising as her personality, and just as sweet. Surprisingly light for a Slavic rib- sticker of a soup, it’s also a classic “set it and forget it” dish that you can also “heat and eat” the next day.
- 2 pounds peeled, julienned fresh beets
- 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 2 celery stalks, julienned
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- 1 apple, diced
- Muslin Seasoning Bag (Skwirl uses a new lady stocking)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig parsley
- 2 cloves
- 4 whole peppercorns
- 5 cups beef or chicken stock
- 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Sauté the onions in butter for 5 minutes.
Add the beets, carrots and celery and cook until tender. Add the garlic, tomatoes and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the stock and seasoning bag, bring to a boil, toss in the apples, cover and simmer for 1 and 1/4 hours. Add apple cider vinegar to taste. Toss out the seasoning bag and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sour cream, scallions and fresh dill.
QUINOA A LA MITZI
Surprisingly, this gluten-free and vegan (minus the feta) contribution by J. Poggi turned out to be the conscience of the party—which may explain the direction the night took after his early departure (pity the soul who makes Jacques Imos reservations after a dinner party like this).
- 2 cups fresh clean water
- 1 cup quinoa
- 8 oz prepared garbanzo beans
- 2 organic carrots bruniose (1/8” cube)
- 1 medium clove garlic, pressed
- 2 cups raw organic spinach, chopped extra virgin olive oil
- fresh juice of 1/2 lemon crumbled feta
Add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Stir quinoa, cover pot and let quinoa simmer for 10 minutes or until kernels pop open. Add spinach to quinoa (gently fold in) during the last 2 minutes of cooking so that it wilts. In a mixing bowl, combine the garbanzos, carrots, lemon juice and garlic. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. When quinoa is ready, add it to the garbanzo mixture while it is still warm. Let it sit for a few minutes, then sprinkle some feta on top and serve. Additional topping suggestions: diced avocado, chopped scallions, brunoise red bell peppers, red pepper flakes, balsamic vinegar.
ADRIENNE’S ARTICHOKE CASSEROLE
While Editor Dan Fox phoned his contribution in with booze (a $10 bottle of wine and some Christmas beers, such as Southern Tier’s Krampus Helles Lager), AG photographer Adrienne Battistella juggled her camera duties with this hearty casserole.
- 16 oz. Italian bread crumbs
- 8 oz. olive oil
- 8 oz. parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cans (16 oz. each) artichoke hearts, drained
- 4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. Tony’s
- juice of one lemon
Drain artichoke hearts, reserving the water, and mash with a fork. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl with the artichoke mash. Add eggs and olive oil to artichoke water and mix. Add wet mixture to dry. Spread in a shallow casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Check casserole after 30 minutes to make sure middle is baked all the way through. This would also be a good time to sprinkle the parmesan on. Oven times may vary.
PAUL’S SHRIMP MIRLITON DRESSING
As the chef of Green Goddess, Paul Artigues is used to cooking for dozens of people, so what follows is an aluminum tray’s worth of oyster dressing. As the drummer of Die Rötzz, his “alternate” recipe (the one he wrote down late into the evening) is unpublishable, but includes ingredients like “slap slap” and “crush of Dan Stein’s head.” Good luck with that!
- 4 red onions
- 1/2 bunch celery
- lots of garlic
- 2 shallots
- 2 links smoked pork boudin sausage
- 10 boiled mirlitons
- 5 lbs raw shrimp
- bread crumbs
Sauté the onions, celery, garlic, and shallots. Let it stick to the pan a few times and brown the bottom. Add the sausage and pour enough beer in the pan to get up the junk. Add the mirlitons to the goo, mixing it up and letting it get real hot. The mirlitons are kind of wet so you’ll need to add some kind of dark roux (not too dark because you’ll have to use it to thicken, and you don’t want to overpower the wonderful light boudin-mirliton mixture). Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add the raw shrimp at the end with some bread crumbs to tighten it all up. Put the mixture in a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees until the top browns and the shrimp are cooked.
This understated side (prepared by Adele) held its own among the more complicated dishes on the table. Light and salty, these zucchini chips were easy to sneak in before the main course.
- 3 zucchinis
- 1 cup fresh parmesan
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- olive oil
Slice zucchini thinly and coat in olive oil. Toss zucchini in shredded parmesan and panko mix. Layer on baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Tah dah!
BERNARD’S STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN
with pickled onions and garlic, smoked green onion sausage and maple-syrup-fig chutney (ode to Josh Cohen)
Like one of his frenetic, jazz-punk sets as One Man Machine, Bernard’s main meat course was a mind-blowing, never- ending squeal of flavor, sound, and pork products. An enigma wrapped in a riddle ( but really a sausage stuffed in a pork loin), this roast never stopped going. It was quite the gut buster. Says Bernard, “I ain’t scared of no trichinosis… Me, I like my pork just barely done. Right on the brink. You can drizzle your pork with your glaze of choice. The one I did is top secret and y’all can kiss my black ass before I will share my recipe.”
- 1 pork loin, trimmed and cleaned, approx. 12” long, 4-6” in diameter extra virgin olive oil
- smoked green onion sausage 8-12 inches in length
- pickled garlic, pickled cocktail onions
Using a long, thin knife, take the pork loin and make an incision in the center. Gently insert the smoked sausage into the incision. Then work your way from the center of the loin, about 1/2 an inch from the sausage, and make the same type of incision, inserting the root end of the scallions through the incision, pulling them through until the roots are exposed, then trim the roots off and any excess scallion. Working your way out to the outer rim of the loin, continue to stuff the other ingredients in a similiar manner. Once the loin is stuffed, coat it in olive oil, then lightly coat it with salt and pepper.
Braise the loin in an oven-safe, heavy pan that has been oiled with olive oil. Brown the exterior, then put it in the oven at 425 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Remove and let stand for 30 minutes, covered. After the loin has rested, slice into 1/4 inch pieces. If desired, finish the pieces in a pan so that each slice is seared individually.