The Morning Call Coffee Stand

Recently, I joined my boyfriend on a trip to New Orleans City Park’s Morning Call Coffee Stand, where he had to observe the patrons for a school project, regarding something about people interacting with space. (I should probably know exactly what he was doing, but I don’t.)

The Morning Call has a very basic menu. They are known for their coffee and beignets, but the menu is augmented by a few other drinks and some local fare (read: alligator sausage and jambalaya).

Because of it’s location in City Park, and the fact that we went on a gorgeous, clear 80 degree day, it was busy. It wasn’t packed, but with people constantly coming in to order to-go orders, and almost as many waiters and there were patrons, it was a little hectic.

There were a few other things that made it feel hectic, and a bit of a haphazard operation—though clearly the tactics work, as it’s been in business since 1870! Waitstaff did not seem to have assigned table, like most cafes, you just took a seat and whoever noticed you first took your order. Also, because it’s cash only, there seemed to be cash flying around all over the place. The line for take out snaked through the main café, and it was more of a clump than a line. The menu at the tables is a plain print-out, stuck inside the napkin box. You sprinkle your own powdered sugar on the beignets, which causes a mess, for sure.

If the pace were slower, if people stood in straight lines, if the waitstaff was assigned to specific areas, it would feel just like a café in Vienna. The dark furniture, tiled floor, large windows, high ceilings, classical interior, and extensive outdoor seating all feel “Old World.” The water, too, is served in half-size glasses as the Viennese are wont to do.

I had Café au Lait and beignets, BF had an iced coffee and beignets. A serving of beignets is three pillow-y squares, slightly warm, heaped on a saucer. The Café au Lait was fine—I’m not coffee connoisseur, so my only comment on it is that it was definitely cream and not the skim milk I’m used to.

We went back for a second observation, this time at 10:30 at night. It was much quieter, just a few other patrons, most sitting outside. A few were inside watching the football game on TV.

Overall, I think we had a good experience and because we went twice, we got a good feel for how different the atmosphere can be. I don’t expect to go back often, but it’s good to know there are beignets and coffee available at all hours if you’re at City Park!

On Moving On, and Eating Up: Summer 2015

Nothing makes me feel like a Jersey girl than not being in New Jersey. When I’m at my parents’ house in north Jersey where I grew up, I will deny any claims that I’m a Jersey girl. I don’t go down the shore, I don’t know which exit I get off to go home, I hadn’t ever pumped gas until I was 21…but when I’m elsewhere, I get excited when I see other Jersey license plates, I miss swimming in the Atlantic, I’m snobby about bagels, I’m confused by people who don’t know what pork roll is.

I’ve moved again, further south than ever before, to attend grad school in New Orleans. The calendar tells me its September, and classes have begun, but it still hits at least 85 every day, more often 90. Fall is no where in sight. Doing fieldwork outside for class means sweating buckets, or getting poured on. I’ve never seen so much lightning, nor had it be so hot but have the sun set so early.


I took a break from this blog for a while, but I hope to get back into it slowly, starting with a simple goal of one recipe a month. I never understood bloggers who just quit posting without reason, but the truth is blogging is a lot more work than it may seem. Even though I haven’t posted in months, I’ve been cooking, and eating. Today, I want to share a quick round-up of my summer food-ventures.

I made these White Cupcakes for the Fourth of July, to much acclaim. I topped them with vanilla buttercream and fresh blackberries.

My mom and I had a fantastic meal at the recently-opened Ox Cart Ale House in St. Paul, Minnesota while on vacation a few weeks later. We started off with cheese curds, of course–my first ever. Perfectly deep fried, they were served with a wonderfully balanced spicy honey sauce. For the main course, I had a house made chicken and apricot sausage, which I could barely finish, and she had a delicious lambburger. We both had local brews, mine a summer ale and hers a cider.

I’ve realized recently that I love honey paired with savory dishes. I knew I liked it in some applications, like these goat cheese and arugula Flammkuchen drizzled with honey, based on a dish I had several times while living in Linz, Austria. But looking back over the past few months, there have been several sweet/savory honey combinations that have (ugh, not to sound cliche), inspired me.

Like the biscuit at Alabama Biscuit Company in Birmingham, topped with whipped goat cheese, toasted pecans, and honey. What a breakfast.

Or redfish beignets, drizzled with a light honey sauce and garnished with fresh green onions, like the Royal House Oyster Bar served at the Louisiana Seafood Festival, where I also had crawfish egg rolls. My first crawfish! Since I’m not a huge fan of shrimp and wasn’t sure how I would like crawfish, I went for an application that was relatively mild. I thought Goodfellas Seafood and PoBoys‘s riff on the egg roll was great.

My other exploits into local cuisine have included trying raw oysters (my second time, I still believe they taste like nothing), and a catfish poboy. I’ve had libations from Abita and NOLA Brewing, frozen drinks of various types, and barbecue with New Orleans-style sauce. Honestly, I don’t know if the NOLA East sauce is a true regional thing or one invented by McClure’s BBQ, who describe the sauce as–would you believe it, exactly what my palate is into right now–sweet and spicy.

Other culinary projects recently have included several iterations of these sweet potato burgers, this falafel (great flavor, but not structurally sound), these gooey Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies, and this surprisingly sweet Buttery Beer Bread, made with NOLA Brewing’s Brown Ale.

…though it took me some time to get around to writing about everything I wanted to share, I feel good about it.

I’ll be back soon, if grad school doesn’t consume my life.

Peppermint Patty Brownie Cupcakes

Rich chocolate brownie cupcakes stuffed with peppermint patties! 
mint brownie cupcakes01

In the summer, I usually want to be nowhere near the kitchen. I still love to cook and eat, but in a house without air conditioning, having the oven on just makes the whole place far too hot. Sometimes its unavoidable, but most of the time I stay away from it and make use of the grill and the freezer for all my treats (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C).

However, the draw of the oven and fresh cookies and cakes sometimes makes it impossible to stay away for too long (“unavoidable”). While it hasn’t yet gone above 90, it is starting to feel more and more like summer here. Despite that, a few weekends ago I just wanted to bake something.

So, out came the Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook, which has many recipes I’ve bookmarked and few that I’ve actually tried (these being the exception). Martha’s got a plethora of cupcake ideas, from variations on the standard chocolate to the more unusual (blackberry cornmeal cupcakes, anyone?). All of the photographs are gorgeous, and the recipes are easy to follow. For the most part, Martha’s recipes need no tweaking, either.

The tweaks I made to this recipe came from accidentally purchasing unsweetened baking chocolate rather than semisweet or bittersweet. If you have semisweet or bittersweet on hand, simply use 1 cup granulated sugar instead, or taste as you cook.

mint brownie cupcakes02

Peppermint Patty Brownie Cupcakes

makes 12

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes


  • 8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 12 mini peppermint patties, such as York, unwrapped


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat. Whisk in granulated sugar and salt until mixture is smooth, then add the eggs, stirring to combine. Carefully add in flour and cocoa powder, mixing until just combined.

Scoop about one heaping tablespoon of batter into each cup. Place one peppermint patty on top, then cover with about another 2 tablespoons batter.

Bake until a cake tester inserted halfway comes out mostly clean, about 25 minutes. Rotate the tins halfway through if your oven tends to cook unevenly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm for a gooey mess, or at room temperature.

4-Ingredient Banana Pancakes {Paleo, GF}

You won’t believe how tasty these easy paleo/gluten-free banana pancakes are!

paleo banana pancakes01a

About two or two and a half years ago, I remember seeing a crazy number of paleo pancake recipes floating around the Internet. One of my roommates at the time was experimenting with her eating habits (following different food plans, trying to cut out certain things to eat healthier). I have a specific memory of being in the kitchen shortly after returning from one break where we had all gone home for a few days and Roommate saying something like, “My sister and I tried those paleo banana pancakes and, oh my god, they were so good!”

Despite her high praise, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t ever tried them until earlier this year. I like trying out all the latest food trends, especially if they are ones I get to cook up in my own kitchen, but somehow it took me a long time to get to paleo banana pancakes.

I’m not eating paleo, and don’t really ever intend to. But I have a weakness for bread and other baked goods involving lots of flour and sugar and butter, so it’s always nice to find a healthy alternative that doesn’t involve special ingredients.

The ingredient list for this couldn’t be any easier: I used four ingredients, but I’ve seen two ingredient versions using just bananas and eggs. The almond butter and cinnamon add extra flavor, which balances they bananas, though to be perfectly honest, these taste a whole lot less like bananas than you might expect.

My non-paleo self likes to top these with nutella or some other chocolate nut butter. I don’t think I will ever get over the banana/chocolate/nut combination.

4-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

from Civilized Caveman Cooking


  • 3 medium bananas, the riper the better
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond butter


Blend ingredients together until smooth – or, if you don’t want to clean your blend, mash everything as well as you can. Spoon or pour batter onto a a greased medium-heat griddle  to make 3-4 inch pancakes. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, then flip, and cook for about another 2 minutes per side until cooked through. Serve immediately.

West Virginia Ramp Dinner

Remember how back in October, shortly after relocating to the mountains of West Virginia, I wrote this post on the striking similarities between the Austrian and Appalachian cultures? And maybe you remember how in that post I mentioned a fascination with ramps, or Bärlauch? Well, ramp season is here.

In fact, I’m actually a little late. Ramp season has been here for a few weeks and is coming to a close. There are fewer and fewer cars on the side of the road with handwritten signs advertising fresh ramps for sale. My town’s ramp festival has passed. No one has mentioned digging ramps to me in a few days.

Fresh ramps are one of the signs that spring is truly here and the long, harsh winter is over. That might be why everyone gets excited. Or because of their flavor, something between an onion and garlic. Or maybe because since they grow wild throughout the state, they cost nothing to procure and cook up.

Whatever the reason, West Virginians sure love their ramps.

Some friends and I felt the need to partake of the tradition, and headed out to pick ramps. I had done so in Austria, biking through the countryside with my roommate to find the perfect spot. Our West Virginia ramp-picking trip was much less of an ordeal: a friend’s boss has ramps growing wild on her property. We each picked our fair share of ramps and made plans to have our own ramp dinner (a local tradition).


ramp dinner01

Ramp and lemon risotto, roasted potatoes with ramps, feta-stuffed ramp and corn muffins, and ramp pesto.

Between the three of us, we churned out four different dishes, with different levels of rampyness. The most pungent was probably the pesto, which we made without any sort of recipe. We just combined coarsely chopped ramps (bulb, stem, and leaf) with olive oil, parmesan cheese, walnuts, and a little fresh basil, then blended like crazy, adding more of this or that to taste.

The potatoes were similarly done without a recipe, simply halving or quartering new potatoes and roasting them with olive oil, coarsely chopped ramp greens, salt, and pepper until fork tender. They had the least amount of ramp flavor, but had we wanted to we could’ve easily ramped up the flavor (see what I did there?) with more ramps.

The ramp and lemon risotto recipe came from The Kitchn. The lemon flavor was almost more prominent than the ramp flavor, but the ramps were definitely there. We followed the recipe pretty closely, simply substituting arborio rice for the carnaroli rice called for in the recipe. We used a sauvignon blanc as our wine, since that’s what Google told me to use when I tried to figure out what the best type of wine to use in cooking risotto was.

Lastly: the feta-stuffed ramp and corn muffins. This was not a combination I would’ve thought of on my own. I probably wouldn’t have even thought to put ramps into muffins on my own. I’m much more a fan of sweet muffins than savory. But once my friend showed me this recipe, it sounded intriguing. Feta cheese, ramps, cornmeal, all in one? And it was a success. I even got to practice my German with this recipe, since that’s the language it was originally published in. (But for others, there is a translator in the sidebar.)

In the end, we were all stuffed and slightly concerned about the way our breath smelled. We deemed our dinner a success, if not totally authentic in terms of our interpretation. We also decided that we had probably had enough ramps to last us a year…which is good, since I don’t think you can get them out of season.

Focaccia {Daring Kitchen}

For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch.

Hi. I’m still here.

You know how John Lennon says “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”? That’s sort of how I feel now. I told myself almost two years ago when I started blogging that I wouldn’t become one of those people who posted only sporadically.

(Brittany Murphy in Clueless, anyone?)

Being an active blogger takes so much time. Oops.

I’m still cooking, but taking photos and writing the blog post seems to be harder now than it was before. I’ve also done very few Daring Kitchen challenges, just in general. Focaccia has been on my list of things to bake for ages, so when I saw what the challenge for this month was, I figured I could work it into my weekend schedule. When I made this loaf of focaccia yesterday, it had been a long time since I had baked any bread. It felt good.

And the bread tasted good, too. Great, in fact. It’s amazing what you can make with just yeast, water, flour, and a little honey. Those four utterly basic ingredients go from being three very bland things (and one very tasty thing) to one fantastic loaf of bread–comforting, filling, and delicious.

I guess there’s a reason bread is called the staff of life.



from Simply Scratch


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T olive oil + more for coating the pan and drizzling
  • Toppings: dried or fresh herbs such as rosemary or basil, cherry tomatoes, coarse or flaked sea salt…


In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar. Let rest for about five minutes to allow the yeast to activate–the mixture should be foamy. Add flours, salt, and 2 T olive oil, and stir to combine. Knead by hand or with a dough hook for about five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for one to two hours, or until doubled in size.

After the first rise, punch down and press onto a large lightly oiled cookie sheet. Cover and let rise 30 to 40 minutes. Alternately, after the rise first put the dough in the fridge for baking later.

Preheat oven to 450°F.

After the second rise, sprinkle with herbs. I did half dried rosemary and half fresh basil with quartered cherry tomatoes. Using your fingertips, dimple the top of the loaf. Drizzle with about two more tablespoons of olive oil, and the sea salt (if using). Turn the oven down to 375°F , and bake until golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool five minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.