{Guest Post Tuesday} Two Cajun restaurants off the beaten path in New Orleans

New Orleans is a food city, no doubt about it. if you’re going to New Orleans for the first time, people will tell you to go to the same restaurants. You’ll hear about the mythical crispy yet doughy beignets at Café du Monde near the riverbank. People will tell you about the oysters at Deanie’s in the French Quarter or fresh and cheap po boys at Johnny’s in the same area. While these are great places to dine, there are dozens of other worthy Louisiana restaurants without the same iconic status. Good Cajun food in particular can be found just about anywhere in the city at any price point, offering savory seafoody-and-boudin-sausagy goodness in so many forms that you’ll have to order multiple dishes just to appreciate the diversity of the cooking style.

There are two restaurants that I’d like to recommend tourists visiting New Orleans. They’re off the beaten path of the French Quarter, but they’re nothing more than a brief walk from the most touristy hotspots. If you’re planning a trip soon, you’d do well to give these places a try. If you’re a New Orleans native (I’m not but I’ve visited several times) let me know what your take is on these places.

The Praline Connection

This place is a Cajun comfort food paradise. The Praline Connection is just north of the main French Quarter area on Frenchman street, and it’s a popular eatery among locals. As the menus proudly explain, the restaurant was originally started as a food delivery service to homes where both parents worked too much to have time to cook dinner. The food was so good that they moved to a permanent location, and the business has been bustling ever since. Tourists might be initially turned off by the restaurant’s bland exterior and somewhat rundown interior, but don’t let appearances fool you. The Cajun and soul food cooked at this restaurant cook rival any other. The servers are about the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and they can confidently explain everything on the menu, down to the slightest detail.

As for the food itself, I heartily recommend the sausage jambalaya, the meatloaf, and the crawfish etouffee. You can taste the care in every bite of food, from the perfectly cooked cabbage to the scrumptious bread pudding meant for only the most diehard sweet lovers. Oh, and they also have ribs (that’s right, ribs in New Orleans) that will make you reconsider those found at a traditional barbeque. You can save a lot of money by ordering combo platters meant to be shared between several people, and sample a little bit of everything in the process!

Atchafalaya

This gem of a restaurant is a ways south of the French Quarter, but it’s definitely worth a long walk or a short taxi ride. Named after a river in New Orleans a bit west of the Mississippi, Atchafalaya puts a contemporary twist on some favorites of Cajun and New Orleans soul food. The ambiance of the restaurant is a combination between upscale dining and casual dining, which makes sense because the eating area looks like the dining room of an old colonial house.

For lunch you can swing by and get a mouth watering steak sandwich with bleu cheese or a to-die-for duck confit po boy, the meat of which is cooked in a savory brown sauce that you’ll sop up every last drop of. Dinner fare is equally pleasing (but more expensive), including their famous shrimp and grits, crawfish and duck pasta, and boudin-stuffed quail. For people looking for brunch fare, you can’t go wrong with Atchafalaya’s crab omelet or their duck hash! The food is served in smallish portions, which you’ll understand once you’ve tasted the rich and delicious dishes.

What hidden food gems do you frequent when you’re in New Orleans?

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katherynrivas87@gmail.com.

Banana Bread Biscotti

It’s National Banana Bread Day!

If you are a banana bread lover then you will LOVE these biscotti. Enjoy alone or dip in your favorite coffee, either way they are delicious!

Biscotti, translated means, “twice baked.” They are cookies that are normally baked in a log shape and then sliced while fresh out of the oven, and baked again until they are nice and crunchy. They are a wonderful treat while sipping coffee or hot Chai tea, as they soften up when dipped.

Ingredients

1 1/2 very ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons splenda
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup (5.6 oz) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch square pan with foil and spray with non-stick baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, mash the banana and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, followed by the brown sugar, splenda, vanilla, and oil.

In a second bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly stir flour mixture into banana mixture to make a very thick batter. Stir in the oats and almonds. Pour into the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake on center rack for 32-35 minutes or until top appears brown. Let cool for about an hour or until completely cool. Remove from pan by lifting foil.

Transfer cake to a cutting board and with a large serrated knife; make 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices crosswise and slightly on the diagonal. Lay the cut pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 250ºF for about an hour, checking, and turning every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool & crisp. Biscotti may not be completely crisp when you take it out, but it should crisp as it cools. If not, just put it back in the oven for another 10-20 minutes.

Roasted Beet Hummus

This month’s cooking group challenge: BEETS!

One thing we LOVE to snack on is hummus so I decided to give our beloved hummus a BRIGHT Makeover!

You will need

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water

3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)

1/4 cup tahini

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups of roasted beets

Sweet smoked paprika

Directions

Place chickpeas and purée them in a food processor with garlic, tahini, and olive oil to make it smooth. Add a little water at a time to thin out, and salt to taste.

Add roasted beets, lemon juice, and a pinch of sweet smoked paprika. Purée until smooth.

Serve this gorgeous spread together with warm pita, sliced baguette, or thinly sliced fresh veggies for dipping.

Happy Mardi Gras!

That’s right, it’s Carnival time down in New Orleans!

Mardi Gras season reefer’s to the events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lent season, which started on Ash Wednesday.

In honor of today FAT TUESDAY Foodista is featuring my Veggie Muffuletta Melt

Lent begins tomorrow ORDER my Cookbook Cajunlicious All Things Cajun for delicious seafood throughout Lent!

Like this Shrimp Salad