I had the best intentions of sharing these photos from my trip to Louisiana right after I arrived home in March. But you know life sometimes alters the best laid plans and to be honest I’m still finding my rhythm with this space after being away from it in a scattered sort of a way. I poured all of my creative energy into the book last year and it left little to be shared in this space because my desire was to make the book a reflection of the best of my work at this time in my life. I am pretty damn proud of what I, and a team of great people, created but we’ll talk a lot more about all of that soon. For now let’s travel back in time to when I fell in love with Louisiana.
The wispy moss gracefully dangling from the trees, the smell; fresh and damp, the fire engine red platters towering with crawfish and the mayonnaise with TABASCO for dipping, the slender older gentleman who smiled with his eyes and forced me out of my seat and my comfort to get up and dance – I’m so glad he did, and the passion and history laced throughout the long life of TABASCO. I went on this trip with preconceived notions of this product coming from a seemingly large corporation what I found was a pride that has been passed through the generations in the same way the original recipe has. With its prolonged aging in wood barrels, the particulars with the type of pepper grown and the fact that the CEO tastes the mash (mix of aged mashed pepper and salt) from every barrel, every morning, you can understand why this product has thrived for generations and why this family is a passionate and interesting bunch.
I realize that a vegetable platter with such a simple dip as this is an odd way to mark such a bountiful and southern experience but like I mentioned in the last post; if it gets made again and again I feel a certain bit of duty to come and tell you about, no matter how delayed I am.
This dip was born out of a request to bring a “crudite platter” to a dinner party. At first I balked at its simplicity, wanting to contribute more than just vegetables but then I slowly wandered through the market looking for lesser known vegetable tray fixings and came up with something that made me *gasp* at the beauty and be reminded that food, on its own, with little or no manipulation from me is enough. More than enough.
*My trip to Louisiana and this post were sponsored by TABASCO. As always, the words and recipes are mine.
Spicy Garlic Dip for Fresh Vegetables
1 cup (8 ounces) creme fraiche or sour cream
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 teaspoons Green Jalapeno TABASCO
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, mint, tarragon and dill)
salt and pepper
Combine the creme fraiche, garlic, TABASCO, and fresh herbs in a small bowl. Season to taste.
Use whatever is in season. So many vegetables, when thinly sliced, can be eaten raw and taste sweet, fresh and bright. Beets add an unmistakable color as do radishes. Fennel is sweet and fun to dip its floppy tendrils into the spicy dip. I love endive; bitter and crisp as well as pea shoots which taste faintly of sweet peas, a bit grassy and also fun to manage its vibrant leaves into the creamy bath.