Not-to-be-Missed Mexican Food Along a Mississippi Highway | southernbeets

Horchata & Tamales in Mississippi

There’s a whole hot tamale culture in Mississippi.  In fact, Anthony Bourdain ate some tamales when he visited the Delta region earlier this year on his show Parts Unknown, and CNN did a little story on tamales in the Delta online at Eatocracy.com.   One day when I was venturing around at local fruit stands, I drove by a little Mexican restaurant just off Highway 49 near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  To my surprise, I had some of the best Mexican food that I’ve had in a long time.

 

Not-to-be-Missed Mexican Food Along a Mississippi Highway | southernbeets

Not-to-be-Missed Mexican Food Along a Mississippi Highway | southernbeets

To start, the chips and salsa were awesome.  They used flour tortillas instead of corn, making for a thick and lightly crunchy chip (I prefer this over corn chips), and the salsa was homemade.  I also ordered a glass of horchata, which is a rice milk drink flavored with spices and vanilla, and one of my favorite summertime drinks (but hard to find down here).  The horchata here was thick and full of flavor, and I keep wondering why mixing it with iced coffee hasn’t become a thing yet.

As usual, I ordered way too much food.  After the chips, I had a pork tamale and seafood ceviche.   The cornmeal of the tamale was moist, the meat juicy, and the sauce spicy.  The ceviche, which is fresh raw seafood cured in lemon or lime juice, was awesome.  It had fresh tomatoes and avocado, and was a lighter alternative to the traditional Mexican dishes.

I ended up taking home half of my meal (plus a piece of amazing chocolate cake that was baked in house) and enjoyed it the next night for dinner.  The tamale was even better the next night after soaking up some of the sauce.

Amazing Mexican Food Along a Mississippi Highway

Not-to-be-Missed Mexican Food Along a Mississippi Highway

Do you have any favorite places for Mexican eats in the South?  Comment below, or send me a tweet @southernbeets.  Happy eating!

Advertisements

Will Run for Crawfish: The Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Last weekend I spent the morning running along Lake Ponchartrain as part of the Louisiana Blue Crab Run.  This fun run was held in Kenner, Louisiana (a few miles north of the New Orleans international airport), and it was the coordinators’ third year putting on the event.  The mission of the event is to bring awareness to the Louisiana wetlands.

The event entry included all-you-can-eat crawfish, which was the primary draw for me.  That, and having a chance to run in a new venue.  The group was small (under 100 participants), and it had apparently decreased since last year’s run across the lake on the north shore.  There were a couple of big runs in New Orleans the same day, which may have drawn some runners away from this event.  The coordinators expected a lot more people, which meant there was no shortage of crawfish!  I ate about 5 pounds myself, and they were delicious.  As far as race runs go, this one was noncompetitive and relaxed.  There were no timing chips, and some people started late due to an early official start (I was one of them).  They did have awards for top runners, as well as last place.  The course was hot (in the 80’s, and it didn’t start until mid-morning) and shade-free, which was tough on this lady from the rainy city.  But overall, the awesome crawfish and relaxing time spent in the waterfront park made the run worth it.  In future years, I’d probably go for a run on my own earlier in the morning, but pay to come enjoy the crawfish boil for lunch.

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Louisiana Blue Crab Run in Kenner, LA| southernbeets

Lunch provided at the Louisiana Blue Crab Run

Have you ran in any super fun races lately?  Or had a run with something delicious to eat afterwards?  I’m always looking for recommendations!

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Chicken and Bell Pepper Panang Curry

I love curry dishes, and it’s usually what I order when I’m out for Thai food (pumpkin red curry is my fave!).  I found myself craving vegetables swimming in spicy coconut sauce, so I started browsing online for a recipe until I found one.  When I finally did, I couldn’t believe how simple it was (it’s more than boiling water, but really, it’s easy!).  It’s my new 20-minute weeknight dinner.  It only requires a few ingredients, and I can keep a stock of some of them in my pantry and refrigerator.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Keep curry paste and coconut milk on hand.

I got my recipe for Thai curry from Rachel Cooks Thai, and I used a recipe for Panang Curry with Beef as a general guideline for meat and veggie curry dishes.  As for ingredients, you can buy curry paste and coconut milk at most Asian markets.  There’s different types of curry pastes:  green, yellow, panang, and massaman are a few.  They come in resealable plastic containers and are stored in the refrigerator after opening.  I also use an onion, a pound of protein (shrimp, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or beef for stir-fry), and some vegetables (a few bell peppers or a couple of heads of broccoli, or a couple of small eggplants).  If you’re able to find some Thai basil or lime leaves, that’s a bonus!

Here’s my basic curry recipe:

  • 1 can (13.5-15 oz.) coconut milk (if you use low-fat, it will turn out watery)
  • 2-3 Tbls. curry paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into strips (rather than chopping or dicing)
  • 1 lb. cubed meat or peeled shrimp
  • 3-4 cups vegetables, cubed or cut into strips
  • 4-6 large kaffir lime or Thai basil leaves, sliced thin
  1. Add curry paste to a pan heated up to med-high.  Scoop the cream (the thick stuff at the top of the can) of the coconut milk into a pan and stir until well combined.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until onion begins to soften.
  3. If using meat, add meat and cook until outside is browned (inside will still be pink).
  4. Add vegetables and stir well, so curry paste coats the outside.  Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.
  5. Add remaining coconut milk and leaves (optional) and bring to a boil.  If you’re using shrimp, add them now and cook through until they curl and are no longer translucent (adding them at the end keeps them from being overcooked).
  6. Serve once coconut milk is heated and meat/shrimp are cooked through.

Serve with cooked rice, roasted sweet or golden potatoes, or your favorite noodles.  I’ve used zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) in place of rice and they were delicious because the zoodles absorb the coconut milk and curry flavors.

Below, I used a pound of shrimp, a large peeled eggplant, a large handful of baby arugula, and green curry paste.

My Quick and Easy Thai Curry Recipe | southernbeets

Shrimp and Eggplant Green Curry

If you give this a try, let me know how it turns out!  And do you have a favorite Thai or curry recipe?  I’d love to try it!  Comment below, or send me a tweet (@southernbeets).

Easter on Bourbon Street

New Orleans knows how to celebrate, so this year I spent Easter weekend in The Big Easy.  I ran in the Crescent City Classic, one of the country’s largest 10k races that is held the Saturday before Easter every year.  The race was a beautiful tour by foot through the French Quarter and City Park, but it was also a great way to work up an appetite for Easter brunch.

There are three parades through the French Quarter on Easter Sunday, so I started my day with the Historic French Quarter Easter Parade.  The parade started at Antoine’s (and from what I’ve read, it used to start at Arnaud’s) and was made up of women dressed in their Easter finest, which includes those fabulous hats.   Rather than use floats, the women traveled in the back of convertibles and carriages drawn by mules.  While they made their way to church at Saint Louis Cathedral, I made my way to brunch.

Easter on Bourbon Street| southernbeets

Dressed in their Easter Best in the Historic French Quarter Easter Day Parade

Easter Parade in the French Quarter

Easter Parade in the French Quarter

There are a few places in the French Quarter for a classy creole Easter Sunday jazz brunch (reservations are always recommended).  I chose Arnaud’s because I love the food and service, and because it’s along the parade route of the second parade of the day.  I started out with a mimosa made with fresh orange juice, then savored oysters, filet, and my favorite dessert in the world, Strawberries Arnaud.  As with all of their jazz brunches, there was a jazz trio taking requests around the dining room.  And on this day, the Easter Bunny was handing out sweet treats to everyone.

Easter in the French Quarter

Easter Brunch at Arnaud’s

Arnaud’s also has a Mardi Gras museum upstairs that’s free to enter (just as the hostess).  On the way to the collection of ball gowns, you’ll see a collection of Easter hats from past historic parades to your right.

After brunch, I walked outside to Bourbon Street just in time to catch the Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade.  It’s full of floats, entertaining acts, and plenty of bead throws.  And like the official Mardi Gras parades, this is a family-friendly event, so only hands were being raised for beads (tourist tip: flashing is frowned upon by the locals and grounds for arrest despite what you’ve seen on tv!).

Easter in the French Quarter

The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade

Easter in the French Quarter

The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade

There was also a Gay Easter Parade in the afternoon on Easter Sunday that I heard is fantastic, but I was ready for an Easter nap by that time.  Overall, I thought New Orleans was a great place to celebrate the holiday weekend.  You can get more information here to plan next year’s Easter adventure.

Crawfish, Soft-Shell Crab, and Strawberry Beer

‘Tis the season for tasty crustaceans and strawberry beer.  Every gathering is an opportunity for a crawfish boil, and seafood companies are selling these boiled guys by the bag.  Soft-shell (i.e. recently molted) blue crabs are plentiful and served-up fried.  And Abita Strawberry is everywhere and tastes just like Spring.

I went to Southside Cafe in Slidell, Louisiana and tasted my first soft-shell crab, which was paired with a frosty mug of Abita Strawberry.  The crab was delicious.  I’m usually not into fried food, but the breading was seasoned and crunchy and perfect.

The next day I needed more, so I went to Harbor Seafood and Oyster Bar in Kenner, Louisiana (by the airport).  This was crustacean heaven, with platters of boiled crawfish and shrimp and all the pairings you could want (I went for the hushpuppies).  There are baskets to dispose of your shells, and rolls of paper towels so you can dig right in.  I shared a pound of crawfish, a platter of soft-shell crab and hushpuppies, and a dozen oysters.  That, plus two frosty mugs of Abita Strawberry, came to under $40 and it was all delicious.  I first checked to make sure they gave us the right bill (and it was), then concluded this must be the best deal for seafood in the city.

soft-shell crab at Southside Cafe | southernbeets

soft-shell crab at Southside Cafe

boiled crawfish at Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar | southernbeets

boiled crawfish at Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar