Napoleon House: A Taste of History

Napoleon House, a New Orleans cafe and bar, has walls that have seen it all in its 200 years of existence in this French Quarter location. During a perfect day of walking through the beautiful French Market, my famished parents and I finally stopped to eat at this New Orleans landmark practically unchanged by time.

Walking down Chartres Street, I almost passed this old building which you might think is some kind of abandoned building at first glance, however it was in fact Napoleon House. Through the corner entrance, we headed into the bar area where patrons were crowded waiting for their tables. We gladly took a seat at the bar while waiting for our table, and quickly ordered an Abita Amber, Old Fashioned, and an Iced Tea. As we refreshed at the beautiful old mahogany bar, I took a good look at this establishment that almost housed Napoleon Bonaparte.

Between the years of 1812 and 1815, New Orleans Mayor Nicholas Girod occupied this location until 1821 when Girod offered his home to Napoleon temporarily while he was in exile. Napoleon did not take this kind offer but Girod's residence became known as the Napoleon House. Since 1914, the Impastato Family has owned and operated this bar and restaurant. One of the most famous in America, Napoleon House bar is known for the sounds of Napoleon's favorite classical music as well as the tasty Pimm's Cup, a delightful beverage of a British Gin based liquor, lemonade, a splash of lemon-lime soda with a cucumber garnish. The broken down exposed walls are decorated with paintings, newspaper clippings and just about anything that relates to who-you guessed it-Napoleon! Even a sculpted head of Napoleon sits behind the bar watching over you sipping your Pimm's Cup. You can just imagine the heartache, battles, brawls, sin, and celebration that happened inside these walls.

The menu of this famed establishment is casual, classic New Orleans cuisine all the way-Cajun-Creole with a touch of Italian. I guess the Impastato's had something to do with that. You can start your meal with an Antipasto Platter, Bruschetta or a Panini, or try the Boudin Sausage with a Louisiana Satsuma Creole Mustard. I opted for the Boudin, a Cajun-French sausage made with pork, rice and Cajun spices. The satsuma Creole mustard provided a nice sweet contrast to the spicy sausage. For a main course, New Orleans standards took the stage with comforting dishes like Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Seafood Gumbo and the Po'boy Sandwich. Other surprising entrees included a BBQ Pork Sandwich with Zapp's chips, a Ratatouille Calzone, a Veal Parmigiana Sandwich and Grilled Steak Fish on an Onion Roll.

The highlight of all sa
ndwiches on the menu is the Specialty Italian Muffuletta, a stick-to-your-rib satisfying sandwich of ham, Genoa salami, pastrami, Swiss cheese, provolone cheese and house made Italian Olive Salad all on top of a giant plate size round seeded roll. Our choice was certainly the Muffuletta! The Muffuletta was served hot with the cheese oozing out of the center cut into four quarters and more than enough food for three people. The salty Italian meats are exaggerated by the saltiness of the crunchy Italian Olive Salad. For dessert, an array of Italian desserts are on the menu including Spumoni (Neapolitan style ice cream-yes Napoleon strikes again), Lemon Ice, and Cannolis with vanilla and chocolate filling topped with pistachios.

Transporting you in time from the moment you enter, this restaurant and bar defines old New Orleans culture. It is the kind of place where you want to get comfortable, banter with those you are with and those you just met, and stay a while.

Go to Napoleon House, try a Pimm's Cup and Muffuletta, and experience dining in a historical landmark.


Clancy's: A Hidden Gem of New Orleans

Clancy's was the next restaurant on my list of places that I have not yet been to in New Orleans. Over the years, I have heard many wonderful things about Clancy's as well as the fact that the location is challenging to find because it is tucked away deep in a beautiful uptown New Orleans neighborhood. Century old shotgun houses with ceiling to floor windows and shutters lined the narrow, pothole-filled uptown street leading to the corner location of Clancy's Restaurant. In the early 80s, Clancy's owners updated what was then an old corner bar/po-boy shop into the lovely, clean bistro-like restaurant that it is today.

As we entered the restaurant, the rain began to pour-thunder, lightning, lights flickering-a typical New Orleans deluge following a hot, humid day but that didn't stop the devoted Clancy's patrons. It is necessary to have a reservation since this establishment is quite small and always full. Without a reservation, waiting at the charming bar in the front of the restaurant for a few cocktails is always an option too.

Clancy's main dining room has a clean freshness with white walls, white tablecloths, and a mirror covering much of the back wall reflecting the candlelit dining room. The waitstaff is formal, attentive and knowledgeable. With our cocktails served and warm bread on the table, we were ready to order.

Our meal began with oysters two ways. Oysters baked with boudin sausage and Oysters Rockefeller, baked oysters topped with a spinach, herb, cheese and butter mixture-delicious! Next came the Turtle soup with extra sherry. Thinner than I expected with a strong tomato flavor, the soup was lighter than many turtle soups I have sampled but still a tasty and comforting dish.

For our entrees, we took advantage of Clancy's in-house smoker, one of the few non BBQ restaurants to have this feature. My dad ordered the smoked duck, and my mom and I partook in the house specialty, Clancy's smoked softshell crab. My dad's entree featured moist succulent slices of duck breast laid alongside the smokey large bone-in duck leg served with buttery noodles and asparagus. The softshell crab, smoked and lightly fried, was juicy and tender. A smoky crab flavor was complimented by a semi-sweet lemon butter balsamic glaze drizzled on top along with pieces of delicate lump crab meat. This entree came with roasted potatoes, thin spears of asparagus topped with a large slice of yellow squash and lemon wedges.

After cleaning our plates, there was little room for dessert which I regret. Next time I must order the fried oysters topped with brie and for dessert, the legendary lemon icebox pie. Our divine meal ended just as the rain did-perfect timing to walk back to the car. Surprisingly no flooding. The only flooding for us was a flood of satisfaction from Clancy's exceptional Creole cuisine.

New Orleans is filled with little culinary treasures like Clancy's. If visiting, get away from the touristy areas of New Orleans, find Clancy's and dine with the locals.

Go to Clancy's and indulge in the charm of this neighborhood Creole bistro.


Scones For Thought

By Guest Writer Emmy M.
Tip: Please read with British accent

There is nothing like staying inside and baking when the winds start to kick up, the leaves begin to change, and fall announces it is officially here. My recent venture has been baking . . .scones! Maybe not the most exciting thing in the world, but I absolutely adore a good scone. Crumbly, savory, yet oh- so- sweet. (After writing that sentence I literally stopped to take a bite of a scone.) And the best part is you can throw whatever goodies you want into them. Cranberries, raisins, blueberries, chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, I think you get the gist. Anything and everything! The other day I found myself with some time on my hands on a rainy, cool, fall October day here in Chicago, with all the fixings in my kitchen for baking as well as some dried cranberries and oranges. Light bulb! Since cranberry orange anything is my favorite thing in the world I decided to take a stab at cranberry orange scones. Not being someone who is able to simply makeup their own baking recipe, I opted to refer to someone who knows what they are doing. So, I pulled up Foodnetwork.com, typed in Cranberry Orange Scones, skimmed the first recipe that came up, and printed it out.

Despite having everything for my fun baking adventure already in my home, I still had to make a trip to the grocery for some other items to last me the week. Once I got home, I discovered that I first needed to clean out the fridge, before putting away my groceries (roommates!), then the trash, and overflowing recycling bin had to be dealt with, followed by unloading the dishwasher, then reloading the dishwasher, and some cleaning. After all of those mindless chores were done I could finally focus on making my scones. So I grab all of my necessary ingredients, the electric mixer, and start following directions. After combining all of the dry ingredients I came to, “add cold butter,” then proceeded to check how much butter the recipe called for and then read, “ ¾ pound cold butter,” and had a mini heart attack. Then I reread the recipe and realized it was an Ina Garten recipe, that’s right the Barefoot Contessa. So, needless to say it was a way more involved recipe then what I was initially looking for, and it quickly became clear there was going to be no corner cutting. Since I had already started the recipe, I came to conclusion that I had to see this through to the end. Oh, and if you are wondering how much ¾ pound of butter is, it is 3 sticks. So, I soldiered on, only used 2 ½ sticks of butter, and despite some issues like the dough adhering itself to the mixers and overflowing out of the mixing bowl, I eventually ended with some amazing scones!

Even though this recipe was more involved then I had expected, I will say even the most stressful moments like when the dough was overflowing out of the mixing bowl really became a moment of hilarity and I just had to laugh at myself. But honestly that is what it is all about. When you get into the kitchen, just because you have a recipe in front of you does not mean things will go as planned, and that is most definitely the fun part.

So, long story not so short, the scones came out great. Bottom-line, this recipe produces scones with perfect texture and taste utterly brilliant. Like I stated earlier if you are not into the whole cranberry orange thing, throw in whatever ingredients are your favorite. Oh, and a little tip, while the recipe calls for you to roll out the dough flat and then use a cookie cutter to cut the individual scones, I found it easier to just roll the dough into one large log and simply cut about 1 inch think slices. Since this particular recipe yields about 20 scones or more (all depending on how large you make them) rolling the dough into a log really came in handy. It allowed me to bake up half of my dough and simply wrap up the remaining log of dough, and put it in the freezer to use at a later date. I am also including another scone recipe that is a little quicker and simpler recipe but still yields a good product, perhaps a little more biscuit like scone. The great fun thing about scones is that they are a great on the go breakfast item, a great pastry to go along with your coffee, an easy snack, or a delectable nighttime dessert. Also, with the holiday season quickly approaching doing baskets of baked goods is a fabulous way to spread holiday cheer and show others that you really took out time for them this year to make them a special treat. So in a sea of cookies and muffins dare to be different and scone it!

Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Cook Time:
50 min Yield: 
6 to 12 scones

2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling berries
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut in chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk or cream
1 egg
1 pint fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix thoroughly. Cut in butter using 2 forks or a pastry blender. The butter pieces should be coated with flour and resemble crumbs.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk and egg together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate, do no overwork the dough.

Roll blueberries in flour to coat, this will help prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the scone when baked. Fold the blueberries into batter, being careful not to bruise. Drop large tablespoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Cool before applying orange glaze.

Orange Glaze:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 oranges, juiced and zested

To prepare Orange Glaze: combine butter, sugar, orange zest, and juice over a double boiler. Cook until butter and sugar are melted and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and beat until smooth and slightly cool. Drizzle or brush on top of scones and let glaze get hazy and hardened.

Cranberry Orange Scones
Copyright, 2006, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved
Cook Time:
20 min Yield: 
14 to 16 scones

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.


Whatever Floats Your Peppers

It was just your average weekday night wondering what to make for dinner. My inspiration came from large beautiful orange bell peppers that my husband brought home from the produce stand. He bought numerous fruits and vegetables, but these orange peppers were perfect and abundant. I considered what to make that would utilize these peppers when my husband suggested stuffed peppers. Perfect! Stuffed peppers it is! But what should I stuff them with-I had no protein like sausage, ground beef or chicken defrosted, so what could I do? Then I eyed up the bag of Trader Joe's mini meatballs realizing how quick and easy I was about to make a usually elaborate dish of stuffed peppers. I chose to add lots of vegetables and only a small amount of diced meatballs to make this meal more figure friendly. My vegetables included frozen artichokes and spinach. If your local supermarket carries frozen artichokes, then definitely buy the frozen instead of canned artichokes. The true flavor of an artichoke is preserved in the frozen variety. I also decided to make my own tomato sauce for this recipe which is quite simple and beats a store bought jarred Ragu or Prego any day. This is what I came up with.

Lizzy M. Stuffed Peppers

2 Orange, Red or Yellow Bell Peppers (1 pepper per person-say that 10 times!)
6 oz. Frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, roughly chopped
4-6 oz. Frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6 Mini frozen meatballs or 4 large frozen meatballs chopped
1/2 Large yellow onion diced
1 Garlic cloves grated or minced
4 Tomato slices
2 Provolone cheese slices
1/2 Shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp Italian Seasoning

Lizzy M.'s Tomato Sauce

Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing
Dash Crushed red pepper
1/2 Large yellow onion diced
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Garlic cloves grated or minced
1/4 Cup Dry red wine
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 8-oz can of crushed tomato (usually comes in 16 oz cans-use half or all depending upon how much sauce you want)

Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Start by preparing the tomato sauce allowing for plenty of time for the flavors to marry. On medium to high heat, drizzle a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil and add a dash of crushed red pepper to give the sauce a hint of heat in the background. Add the chopped onions to the heated saucepan and stir to coat the onions thoroughly in the olive oil. Salt and pepper the onions. Then add 1 tablespoon of both oregano and Italian seasoning as well as 1 tsp of thyme and mix. Cover the saucepan while the onions cook for about 3 minutes. With a microplane grate 2 garlic cloves over the saucepan or just mince the garlic and transfer to the saucepan. Mix well and let the garlic cook for just a minute before adding the tomato paste. Again mix the paste well into the pan and cook for a minute. Add the dry red wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar at this point. Stir as ingredients incorporate and lastly add the crushed tomatoes. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Prepare the peppers by carefully cutting a circle around the stem of the pepper then pull out the stem. Use a melon baller or spoon to scrape out the remaining membranes and seeds on the inside of the pepper. Lightly drizzle the peppers with extra virgin olive oil on the inside and out and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Place the peppers in a deep casserole dish ready to be stuffed.

To prepare the stuffing for the peppers, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to a hot saute pan. Add chopped onions, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Next add the chopped meatballs, cook for 3-5 minutes before adding the artichokes and spinach. Mix well, cook for another 2 minutes then finally add the grated or minced garlic. Stir the mixture as it cooks another minute. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper here if needed.

Time to stuff some peppers! Add a spoonful of tomato sauce to the bottom of each pepper and a few spoonfuls to the bottom of the casserole dish. Cut the 2 slices of provolone cheese into 4 quarters. Place 2 quarters of the provolone in the pepper. Fill the peppers halfway with the meatball and vegetable mixture. Next place a tomato slice, a quarter of the provolone and a pinch of shredded cheese in each pepper. Finally, spoon the remaining meatball and vegetable mixture into each pepper before topping with another tomato slice and the remainder of both the provolone and shredded cheeses.
Cover your casserole dish with either a lid or aluminum foil. To prevent the cheese from sticking to the lid or foil, spray it with non stick cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes.
I served this stuffed pepper with thin whole wheat spaghetti tossed with the remaining tomato sauce and fresh basil and oregano. A fresh salad or spaghetti squash would go beautifully as well; or serve the pepper solo with fresh hot garlic bread.

This recipe can be changed in a multitude of ways. Stuff your pepper with whatever you have on hand. Get rid of the meatballs and add some eggplant and mushrooms for a vegetarian meal. Ground sausage, ground beef, veal, turkey or chicken would all work just as well in this recipe. Have fun with the ingredients you have, and don't be afraid to use them in different ways.

Happy cooking! Stuff some peppers!

Galatoire's: A New Orleans Classic

During a weekend trip to my hometown New Orleans for a cousin's wedding, my parents and I decided to hit the town to eat at a few restaurants that I had never been to in my 22 years of being a New Orleans native. The first on the list was Galatoire's. My parents and most New Orleanians I know have attended this fine old establishment at least once if not many times. Somehow, I never got to Galatoire's. That all changed last Thursday when my parents picked me up from the Louis Armstrong International Airport and brought me straight to the French Quarter to make our 9:15 reservation. The Quarter was hopping with people in town for the LSU-Florida game, parents' weekend at one of the local universities, and the usual local crowd. We made our way down Bourbon Street passing the bars, clubs, and loud music to Galatoire's, which was on Bourbon Street long before the street became known for its debauchery.

Jean Galatoire from the little town of Paradies, France came to New Orleans and founded Galatoire's in 1905. The Galatoire family has preserved their simple, classic family style recipes, and traditions of flawless service and ambiance since the very beginning, keeping Galatoire's practically unchanged over the years. Reservations were never taken at Galatoire's often causing a line of hopeful well-dressed diners to trail down Bourbon Street with the longest of waits on Fridays. Now, Galatoire's does accept reservations for the upstairs dining room but first come-first serve remains the policy for the legendary main floor dining room. We did have a reservation for the second floor, however upon arriving, the Maitre'd offered us a main floor table if we waited just a few minutes. We gladly accepted.

Entering Galatoire's, you go back in time and imagine a hundred years ago men in their suits and hats and women in elaborate dresses dining in this black and white tiled dining room. The Maitre'd asked if there was a particular waiter we preferred but since we are not regulars, we were happy to have any of the wonderful tuxedo clad waiters. In many of the classic New Orleans restaurants like Galatoire's, Antoine's or Commander's Palace, you will find career wait staff that have been with the establishment for many years, and diners that specifically request a waiter they have known for quite some time.

We were seated in the middle of the main dining room, which was quite full for a Thursday evening after 9 pm. Our waiter, Lance, greeted us immediately for our cocktail order, and soon after brought us two loaves of steaming fresh baked french bread with butter. We familiarized ourselves with the extensive menu, and instantly decided to order the Galatoire's Grande Goute, a combination of their very best appetizers. The Grande Goute consisted of Shrimp Remoulade, Crabmeat Maison, Shrimp Maison, and Oysters en Brochette.

The Shrimp Remoulade, mildly spicy and succulent, is prepared with a tomato based sauce with creole mustard, celery, onion, horseradish, and hot paprika. The Jumbo shrimp are boiled first then chilled, and tossed in the Remoulade served over ribbons of iceberg lettuce. Crabmeat Maison and Shrimp Maison, creamy with a mild tang, are made by combining fresh jumbo lump crabmeat or jumbo shrimp, capers, and scallions with a Maison sauce of egg yolks, red wine vinegar, Creole mustard, lemon juice and vegetable oil served over ribbons of iceberg lettuce. The final item on the plate, maybe my favorite bite of the evening, was the Oysters en Brochette, oysters fried to perfection then wrapped in thick slices of smokey crisp bacon-simple and divine.

After our first course came the salad, Galatoire's Godchoux Salad, a delightful mix of iceberg lettuce, jumbo shrimp, jumbo lump crabmeat, chopped tomato and boiled egg tossed in a light creole mustard vinaigrette dressing then topped with salty anchovy fillets. For the entree, my father ordered the seafood gumbo, my mother the grilled trout topped with crabmeat, and for me the red fish special topped with crabmeat and mushrooms all with a side of steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

My father's seafood gumbo was prepared with a well seasoned dark roux with the fresh taste of the sea from the oysters, crab and shrimp. The trout, my mother's dish, was grilled simply in a delicate butter sauce then topped with jumbo lump crabmeat. My redfish entree, juicy and precisely cooked, was lightly sauteed in a lemony butter sauce with jumbo lump crabmeat and sauteed mushrooms piled on top the fish. The entire dish was drizzled with even more sauce, lemon slices, and fresh parsley and scallions. Each bite was scrumptious and buttery although light and delicate leaving me with utter satisfaction. The large steamed asparagus spears were tender still with a slight bite. The hollandaise, thank goodness it was on the side, was so rich and delicious I was tempted to dunk my asparagus in the hollandaise again and again.

Our meal, although seemingly quite heavy, left me feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed. My memorable Galatoire's experience had as much to do with the classic French Creole cuisine as it did the historic dining atmosphere. Even after living in New Orleans most of my life, there are still so many experiences I have not yet had. Now I can check Galatoire's off my list but there is more. I will continue to return to my beloved hometown to frequent both my favorite places and all the others that I have not yet tried. If you have never been to New Orleans, then please do yourself a favor and go.

Go to Galatoire's and be a part of the romance that is old New Orleans.
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