What with all of the excitement around the city and around Chez Dietschyblossom recently, I somehow missed this site’s first birthday. It’s pretty amazing how this little blog has grown since then, and I want to thank all of you out there for your inspiration and support. As Peter Murphy once sang, “We love our audience!”

While I’ve been a bit frazzled, I did remember to plan a Mardi Gras meal for our dinner last night, a tribute to one of my favorite cities. Just like he did last year, Mike started us off with a round of Sazeracs, and just like last year I made red beans and rice, though this time around I made a few changes.

I was inspired by Leah Chase’s recipe which was reprinted in a Williams-Sonoma catalog I recently received, but I noted that her method called for a pressure cooker. Since I don’t yet have one of those in my arsenal, I went with our trusty Le Creuset pot instead. I didn’t have a chance to run around and track down some good andouille, so I used some beautiful chorizo we recently got from Tamarack Hollow instead. I sliced that up and got it browning in a bit of olive oil, added one whole onion, chopped, and softened it in the fat. I added a pinch of salt and cayenne, plus a little bit of smoked paprika and stirred them through, then added about two tablespoons of fresh thyme and one bay leaf.

sorta red beans

I had soaked some gorgeous Anasazi beans from Rancho Gordo overnight, so I added those next along with their soaking liquid and two cups of my homemade chicken stock. I lidded up the pot and let the beans cook over low heat for about an hour and a half, until the beans were very tender. I added a bit more salt at this point, as well as a dollop of tomato paste for richness, then mashed some of the beans with a potato masher and stirred everything through.

Dinner:  February 5, 2008

I ladled the beans over some steamed Carolina Gold rice, topped each serving with some sliced scallions, cracked open a couple of Abitas and we drank a toast – to the city of New Orleans, and to the future. It’s going to be an exciting year and I look forward to sharing the ride with you all.

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