Its Mardi Gras 2009, RVers!!
While Mardi Gras or Carnival celebrations take place all over the world our very own New Orleans comes to mind when you hear those two words. The traditional colors of green, purple and gold were selected by “King Rex” in 1892 and symbolize faith (purple), justice (green) and power (gold). Parades are a public and very energetic celebration where a fast-footed celebrant might just score some “throws” or trinkets tossed from passing floats. The most-prized throws are coconut throws from the Krewe of Zulu float. The Krewe of Zulu actually represents the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club and if you are fortunate enough to be in NO during Mardi Gras you can purchase tickets to ride with them in the parade. There are dozens of other krewes as well – all unique and interesting in their own right.
After all that fun you are bound to be hungry. Do not miss one of my favorite (and quite famous) sandwich stops – Central Grocery in the French Quarter – said to have originated the muffaletta (muf-ah-let-ah). What’s a muffaletta, you ask? A thick and flavorful sandwich on an Italian round stuffed with meats and cheese and topped with signature olive salad. The muffaletta can be found as a warmed sandwich but purists call that a crime – room temperature is the way to go. I agree.
Not in NO? Never fear, you can make a muffaletta at home – the ingredients are available all across the country. Here’s the recipe:
1 10" round Italian loaf
Capicola or Ham (don't use honey or sweet ham)
Mortadella or Bologna
Olive salad (see recipe below)
Extra virgin olive oil for the bread (best if it comes from the olive salad)
Slice the loaf of bread so you have a top and bottom. Tear out a bit of the soft bread from the bottom so you can “nest” the ingredients. Brush the insides of both bread halves with olive oil. Layer the meat then cheese and top with a generous amount of olive salad.
Typically muffalettas are cut into quarters and will feed 2 hungry folks.
While there are dozens of olive salad recipes, this combo is the one the RV Cooking Show Krewe loves the most…
2/3 c pitted green olives stuffed with pimento (a 10 oz jar, drained but not rinsed, works great) - coarsely chopped
2/3 c pitted black or kalamata olives - coarsely chopped
1/4 cup jarred giardiniera (mixed Italian pickled vegetables) – coarsely chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
1 anchovy fillet, mashed
1 T capers - rinsed
1/3 c fresh parsley – finely chopped
1 t fresh oregano - chopped
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight or at least 12 hours. This mix will keep for a long time…but I bet it won’t stick around more than a day or two!
You can also purchase olive salad in many groceries (found near the olives and pickles).
PS - There are a few campgrounds in the city. Check out these real-life RVer New Orleans RV Park Reviews.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Its Mardi Gras 2009, RVers!!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Whether you are a veteran camper or somewhat of a newbie chances are you’ve discovered ways to save money on your camping/RV trips. Winning a week of free camping (in a fantastic resort) would sure bump up the cash-saving quotient…talk about the ultimate money-saving strategy! RV Cooking Show sponsor Best Parks in America recently sent out this challenge to RVers:
How do you save money when RVing? Send us (Best Parks in America) your favorite RV money-saving tips by clicking here no later than Thursday, March 26, 2009. We’ll post your suggestions on the Best Parks in America website and we’ll reward the top three suggestions with a week of free camping at any Best Parks in America resort. Be sure to note "money-saving RV tips" at the beginning of your comment.
The way I see it, you are already on the computer…ponder this money-saving RV tip contest, come up with an idea or two and click here to enter…it sure can’t hurt – you might even win! And do me a favor, when you get to the part that asks “how you found us” click on referral so they know you are an RV Cooking Show blog reader.
Good luck and let me know if you take the cake!!
PS – I must tell you, these are not your run of the mill campgrounds…they really rate so it’s an especially good idea to give it a go.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
How much better can the news get?? According to researchers, (bless their chocolate hearts!), dark chocolate helps lower your blood pressure and can help reduce your LDL cholesterol (the Lousy kind) by up to 10%. Oh, and this miracle sweet treat is also noted for its anti-depressant and endorphin-producing properties.
Dark chocolate is defined as 65% cacao or greater…sorry milk and white chocolate lovers. Apparently the higher the cacao percent the greater the health benefits. And, as you might imagine, all good things in moderation.
As I travel around the country I’m always on the lookout for great chocolates and especially when I’m in cities. One of my favorites is Fog City News in San Francisco. They boast one of the largest chocolate selections in the country and their staff is highly trained to help you with your chocolate choice.
Small boutique chocolatiers may offer tours or tastings at their places of business where you’ll get to see how things are made and talk with the chocolate experts.
If you’re on your own, when considering a chocolate bar take a moment to review the ingredients. Leave any bar that has fillers like high-fructose corn syrup, anything hydrogenized or artificial flavors behind.
$7+ for a chocolate bar is a far throw from my childhood favorite of a large Hershey’s bar *with almonds* stored in the freezer but that’s what a lot of bars are going for these days. Here are a few choices that I think are pretty terrific and won’t break the bank (and one that will):
Scharffen Berger 68% Dark, any of Dagoba Organic’s Single Origin Darks, Lindt Excellence 70% (available at most grocery stores for just a couple bucks), Chocolove Darks, and Trader Joe’s Single Origin Darks.
Bumping up a notch on the price point and down on the percentage of cacao, Vosges produces some really different combo bars that people simply rave about. For example, Mo's Bacon Bar: applewood smoked bacon + alderwood smoked salt + deep milk chocolate, 41% cacao or Black Pearl: ginger + wasabi + black sesame seeds + dark chocolate, 55% cacao.
If you are serious about tasting chocolate (maybe even hosting a chocolate tasting party) check out this “how-to-taste chocolate” website. There’s more to it than taking a bite, chewing and swallowing.
Here’s a very extensive chocolate bar review and information website – the Chocolate Bar Database. They have all sorts of information on hundreds of chocolate bars and chocolatiers. Gee, I wonder if they are hiring?? :>
Make every day “Valentine’s-like”. Eat dark chocolate…your heart and your head will thank you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!! Love ya!
Watch the latest RV Cooking Show - Romantic Jekyll Island Retreat and Champagne Shrimp
PS – Make your own “sinful” hot fudge…watch this Valentine’s Day episode – RV Cooking Show’s Romantic RV Escapes and Sinful Hot Fudge.
Let me know how it turns out…
Sunday, February 1, 2009
If you’re a regular RV Cooking Show viewer you may have noticed that I love Trader Joe’s products. When I travel that’s one of the markets I seek out. Fortunately for me, there are 3 TJs where I’ll be spending a good portion of the winter. However, sometimes that is not the case.
Just the other day I picked up one of my favorite TJ salad mixes – herb mix –and have been enjoying it all week long. That’s when it hit me…I can make this salad mix on my own – anywhere I am…and so can you. Bonus if you have a local farmer’s market with lettuce sellers...don’t miss that opportunity!
Here’s the quickie herb salad mix recipe:
3 cups baby green salad mix (greens of your choice – could be green and/or red romaines, butterleaf, oak leaf, frissee – if you like spicy add some baby arugula, too)
FYI – You can almost always buy pre-mixed bags or clamshells of mixed baby salad greens in the grocery crisper. If you want to customize your blend you might enjoy this website all about salad greens.
2 tablespoons each fresh roughly chopped herbs including dill, parsley, cilantro (add other herbs if you like, leave some herbs out if you don’t like)
Mix the greens and herbs and voila! a delicious herb salad. You can toss this with roasted chicken, steamed, chilled shrimp, diced avocados, crunchy cucumbers…you name it. Dress with your favorite dressing – I’ve found it pairs well with all types of dressings – and enjoy!
This amount of salad mix should yield approximately 6 large side salads/medium size meal salads.