September is almost over so naturally our thoughts are moving towards Holiday Baking!

wpid-20150704_163736.jpgNew Orleans Turtle Cookies

An old fashioned Cookie Swap was always on the agenda at my house immediately following Thanksgiving!   I couldn’t wait  to decorate my home for Christmas and send out invitations to friends and neighbors.

The invitation explained that each guest was asked to bake a double batch of their favorite cookies  along with the recipe printed on index cards.  Their cookies would be placed on a platter on the Dining Room table with the recipes close by.  That way, guests could take the container they came with and walk around the table to sample each cookie and take a few to place into their container.  They could also take a copy of the recipe.  It was a way of trying something new and getting some great recipes! Continue reading

A tale of two Doughnuts…..

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Sometimes a quick 5 minute donut is just right.  And then there is the “special occasion”  that calls for the N’Orleans Beignet.

When I was a little girl, sometimes on a Friday or Saturday night Daddy would pile us kids into the car around 11:00 P.M. and we would head out to the French Quarter.  Of course we kids were in our pajamas with bare feet and we knew we were not getting out of the car.  It really didn’t matter, we were just thrilled to see the sights, sounds and smells of the Quarter!  Daddy would pull around to the back side of Café Du Monde and we got to order beignets and chocolate milk with curb service.  Soon after placing our order, the waiter would return and hook our tray of goodies onto Daddy’s window and we would shriek with delight as he passed out plates of these soft little pillows of goodness.  “Be careful not to spill too much powdered sugar on the seats!”  he would warn.  But if you have ever eaten beignets you know that was just not possible.  Not only was the back seat dusted with confectioner’s sugar, more often than not there were also spills from the cartons of chocolate milk.   Continue reading

Homemade Pasta, anyone??? A true labor of love from the Italian Nona you wish you had!!

wpid-20150212_114540.jpgNests of freshly made  Fettuccine Pasta

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“Straw and Hay”  Spinach and Egg Pasta

Once you have eaten freshly made pasta you can never go back!  The delicate pasta practically melts in your mouth and does not leave you with a  feeling of heaviness. It does, however, leave you feeling “Heavenly”.

The process is a bit time-consuming but I find it to be a very relaxing and comforting pastime that evokes such pleasant memories of my days working at Ristorante Pastore.  In  Italy it is customary for the “Nona” of the family to make  Pasta on a daily basis to feed her family.  The recipe for basic pasta in my cookbook comes from Nona Maria Pastore that I learned to make while cooking at our family’s restaurant, Ristorante Pastore.  It was truly one of New Orleans’ finest Northern Italian restaurants.  Pastore’s Pasta recipes start on page 90.  Their famous sauces start on page 86.

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It’s Crawfish Season, y’all….. REASON TO CELEBRATE!

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I had the pleasure of teaching this yummy appetizer in my Cooking Class  last night at The New Orleans Cooking Experience.  It was such a big hit that I wanted to share it with you here!

Gumbo ClassNOCE

CRAWFISH PIE or

Individual Turnovers

Chiqui Collier

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Chef Paul’s Seafood Magic (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound cooked Louisiana crawfish tail meat, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Two 9-inch pie crusts, buttered or puff pastry sheets

Heat oven to 375°F. Continue reading

Birthday Dinners…a time for families to gather.

Today (August 18, 2014) was my oldest son’s birthday.  His sweet wife asked me to help her make his favorite dinner.  She is new to cooking and really wanted to make his birthday dinner special.  Since she is the mother to a fourteen month old and a five week old, I offered to do the shopping as well.  So what is his favorite dinner?  Breaded Veal Cutlets, Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce, and Garlic Bread.  I added a salad and of course a dessert.  My son is not fond of cake so I decided to make some Strawberry Tarts with a Cheesecake-like filling.

His oldest daughter, Vanessa helped!

My Sous Chef Vanessa

My Sous Chef Vanessa

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Breaded Veal Cutlets

Breaded Veal Cutlets

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Strawberry Tarts

Strawberry Tarts

The Breaded Veal is on page 67 but I used Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs instead of Saltine Crackers.  Uncle Paolo’s Basic Tomato (Marinara) Sauce is on page 86.  This recipe makes a lot of sauce but don’t let that stop you!  It freezes beautifully.  Salad is on page 132 Pompeian Salad.  Garlic Bread page 38.

And for the Strawberry Tarts:

Start with a sheet of defrosted puff pastry that you have sitting on a sheet of parchment paper.  (This makes it easy to transfer to a sheet pan for baking.)  First brush the sheet with an egg wash=1 whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.  Using a very sharp paring knife, divide the sheet of pastry into 8 equal squares.  Using the very tip of the knife, make two slits in the pastry in the shape of an L….DO NOT CUT IT ALL THE WAY AROUND THE SQUARE.  It is important that the opposite corners of the L cut are still attached.  Now place you fore finger on the inside corner of the L and lift the cut strip and fit it to the inside of the opposite corner, gently pressing it down.  Now repeat with the other strip that is on the opposite corner.  Repeat this method on all 8 squares.

Puff pastry square with cuts to make sides of tart.

Puff pastry square with cuts to make sides of tart.

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Pastry "docked" and sides pressed with the back of a fork.

You have now doubled the edges of the squares to make the sides of the tarts. Pastry is “docked” and sides pressed with the back of a fork. Brush again with egg wash before baking.

Baked til golden brown.  Run tip of sharp around inside edge.

Baked until  golden brown and crispy at 400* Preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes. Run tip of a sharp knife 1/4″ deep around inside edge while still warm.

Press down center to make a little tart shell.

Press down center to make a little tart shell while the pastry is still warm.  Cool completely.

Fill with sweetened cream cheese.

Fill with sweetened cream cheese: 16 oz. cream cheese softened to room temp. sweetened to taste with confectioner’s sugar and a little vanilla extract.  Blend well with a couple of tablespoons of milk to soften slightly.

Add sliced fresh berries; brush with melted and cooled apple jelly.  Drizzle with a conf. Sugar drizzle.

Add sliced fresh berries; brush with melted and cooled apple jelly. Drizzle with a confectioner’s sugar drizzle.

It is best served within two hours of assembly.  Keep chilled.

Happy Birthday, Jason……until next time…Bon Appetit,  Chiqui

The Christmas decorations have been packed away and stored in the attic. New Year’s Eve and SuperBowl parties are all in the past and for most people life will quiet down and get back to normal. But here in New Orleans we are gearing up for the BIG ONE!!

MARDI GRAS that is!  Parades, beads, revelry and “Laissez les bon temp rouler!!  (Let the good times roll!)  But to many folks in Louisiana it means it is time for the appearance of the King Cake!

SDC10582 SDC10581 SDC10583King Cakes from a recent baking class!

There is NOTHING more seductive than the aroma of a yeast dough baking in the oven, unless it is one filled with cinnamon and sugar!

January means the arrival of King Cake season in New Orleans and South Louisiana.  And I love it when I get to teach others how to make one of their own.  They are amazed at how easy it is but more importantly, how delicious they come out!

In a recent class I taught the students a rich, sweet, no-knead dough that we used to make 5 different items.  With a double recipe of the dough we made King Cakes, Cinnamon Rolls, Caramel Pecan Rolls, A Nutella Twist, and finally some fabulous Parker House Rolls.

wpid-20150129_144708.jpgwpid-20150129_151120.jpgwpid-20150129_151127.jpgNutella Twist

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Looking for Low Fat, Low Carb, Low Calorie for the New Year????

Think ASIAN…..I recently was asked to teach a healthy meal that had all of these requirements.  I chose these recipes because they really filled all those requests…..but most importantly, they are bursting with great flavor.

Considering the fact that South Louisiana has been experiencing a very cold and rainy month of January, I decided to start with a personal favorite of mine: Continue reading