I’ll jump on any excuse to make up a recipe.
So when one of my professors at Northwestern required a “handout” for a presentation I was doing about New Orleans, my mind jumped to the finest of all handouts: free food. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me on this one.
So I did a little research on the culinary traditions of the Big Easy, what I think must be the most singular foodstyle in the country. Gumbo, jambalaya, beignets, etoufee, pralines. Even the names sound foreign. Well, I guess they are. The food of New Orleans is a hectic blend of Spanish, French, Italian, Caribbean and even African influences. But it’s touched just as much by the American South and the history and ingredients the region offers.
Of course, none of that stuff is really good “handout” food. All the typical Creole or Cajun recipes I could think of were a little too messy, to say the least. So I settled on my take on the Muffuletta sandwich, an Italian-American classic that originated in the New Orleans; and “noir truffles,” an invention of my own. Because I was looking at the way New Orleans is portrayed in Noir novels and films, I challenged myself to create a chocolate that reflected the spirit of both the genre and the city. What I came up with was a tobacco and booze-infused dark chocolate truffle; a vice truffle. The tobacco carried through in the truffle’s sharp, earthy aftertaste and nicotine kick. Sound too exotic? Don’t sweat it. Coffee works great too.
– Angela M.
New Orleans Muffuletta Sandwich
– 1 round muffuletta loaf (or, if you’re in Chicago most of the year like me, a ciabatta loaf works fine.)
– 1 recipe Olive Salad (recipe below)
– ¼ lb Genoa Salami
– ¼ lb Ham
– ¼ lb Pastrami
– 1/8 lb Sliced Mozzarella
– 1/8 lb Provolone
Cut the bread in half length-wise. Brush both sides with the oil from olive salad, go a little heavier on the bottom. Layer the deli meats and cheeses on the bottom half of the bread. Top this with the olive salad. Put the lid on and press it down without smashing the bread. Slice into quarters, and enjoy
Muffuletta Olive Salad
– 1 ½ Cups Green Olives, Pitted
– 1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives, Pitted
– 1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Pepperoncini)
– 1 Tbsp. Capers
– 2 Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– ½ Cup Celery, thinly sliced
– 1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
– 1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano or 2 tsp. dried
– 1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
– 3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
– ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Crush each olive on a cutting board with the dull edge of a knife. Combine all ingredients. Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for up to one week.
New Orleans “Noir” Truffles
– 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
– ½ cup heavy cream
– 4 tablespoons honey
– 2 tablespoons loose tobacco (from cigarettes OK)
– ¼ cup brandy
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
– 1 tbsp each of ground cinnamon and paprika, for dusting
Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.
Heat the heavy cream, tobacco, and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate and butter; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of the bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Using two spoons, form ½ tablespoon scoops into cannelles. Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium glass mixing bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly each time.
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator. Dip each truffle in the melted chocolate until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature.