Cooks Exchange

It’s that time of year again: Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and Valentines Day. Some of the best feasting times of the year

Can you believe Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day are less than a month away? Super Bowl LII is just around the corner on Feb. 4.

What are your plans for these activities? I know Mardi Gras and Super Bowl both call for big pots of gumbo or chili. Grilling along the parade route or grilling in the backyard are fun for both events. Remember, Saturday kicks off the Carnival parades on the Coast. The Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade rolls at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by Krewe Unique Mardi Gras Parade, also in Ocean Springs. The Krewe of Legacy Mardi Gras Parade also rolls at 1 p.m. 5 miles north of Interstate 10 in Pass Christian. Lizana Mardi Gras Parade is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

One friend, who has been sick with the flu for weeks, said the weather, Mardi Gras and Super Bowl were perfect for soups, but that all she could eat for weeks was soup. In other words, no soup for her parties.

Super Bowl soup

With the Super Bowl being in Minnesota, I naturally think of the wonderful wild, red and black rice that state produces. I like any kind of rice, but did appreciate the flavor and texture of Minnesota’s rice. It makes great soups, one that I make is less than 200 calories per serving and is full of flavor.

Grilled burgers or sliders are perfect for holding in one hand and catching beads with the other. A burger with grilled mushrooms and onions and a topping of Swiss or bleu cheese can be a go-to entrée for either a parade or Super Bowl.

Bradenton, Florida, reader Mary Beth Greenleaf shares a delicious and money-saving savory cheese spread that also would be good in front of the TV or on the parade route.

“I’d like to offer you a delicious (money saving) recipe for a savory cheese spread,” said Greenleaf. “This recipe came from a church cookbook from somewhere up North, and they called it Boursin Spread.

“The real Boursin costs about $5 for a 5-ounce cup. This costs a lot less and makes a lot more. It makes a great appetizer or hostess gift,” said Greenleaf, who always shares good recipes.

Rouses’ Winemaker Dinner

Rouses Markets are taking a step beyond cooking classes into a five-course dinner paired with California wines by William Hill Estate Winery. The winemaker dinner will be 6:30-9 p.m. Feb. 1 in the cellar at the Rouses Market, 4500 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans. Winemaker Mark Williams will be showcasing the wines, signing bottles and pictures.

The first two courses are right down my alley, scallops and crawfish pie. The dinner could stop right there, but it doesn’t. There is more to come with a roasted root vegetable gratin, duck ragout and a decadent chocolate dessert. Cost is $55 per person, and reservations may be made online at

Here is the complete menu for the five courses:

Course 1: Pan Seared Scallop on a bed of baby lettuce, fried prosciutto, toasted pine nuts and scallions tossed in a Louisiana Citrus Vinaigrette.

Paired with: Chardonnay North Coast.

Course 2: Louisiana Crawfish Pie made with Louisiana crawfish tails, buttered corn and seasoned tasso stuffed inside a flaky puffed pastry crust.

Paired with: Chardonnay Napa Valley.

Course 3: Roasted Root Vegetable Gratin with Toasted Mushroom Jus and Shaved Pecorino.

Paired with: Bench Red Blend Napa Valley.

Course 4: Ragout of Duck with Parmesan Polenta. A thick stew of duck breast, stewed tomatoes and carrots served over creamy Rosemary Parmesan Polenta.

Paired with: Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

Course 5: Chocolate Bonfire. A spiced dark chocolate mousse encased in logs of chocolate meringue cooled with berry and fruit coulis

Paired with: Pinot Noir North Coast

Can’t beat beets or can you?

A former coworker says she loves pickled beets and could eat the whole big jar of them in one sitting.

She shies away from fresh beets or beets in a can and says they smell musty, like things that have been sitting in a trunk for a few decades.

She would like readers to help in finding beet recipes that would change her mind about fresh or canned beets. Some of her friends are even talking and posting about adding beets to their menus.

“What am I missing?” she says.

Readers, please share some of your favorite beet recipes and tell us whether you use fresh or canned beets.

2018 Food Trends?

Readers and Coast chefs, what are your picks for the food trends of the new year? Will kale take a back seat, or will it stay front and center? Tell me what you think.

The Specialty Food Association is betting on plant-based foods, upcycled food and Filipino cuisine as the top trends.

Upcycled foods are foods that may normally be thrown away that are made into other edible foods. This cuts down on food waste, such as pressed juice made from imperfect fruits or snack bars made from spent grain from the beer-making process. The snack bars are on the market now.

I hate to see food wasted, perhaps I am a product of my grandmother who wasted very little food. Her leftovers became planned overs. Too much leftover mashed potatoes became potato pancakes the next day. Overly ripe bananas became bread or cake.

My daughter, granddaughter and I ate at a Coast buffet last week, and I couldn’t quit thinking about all the food that was going into the garbage when we have homeless folks that go hungry.

It has been my experience that patrons take more food than they can ever eat at buffets.

What are your thoughts? Chefs, I would like your input. Email or message me. I am on Facebook, too.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.


1 stick butter

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon marjoram leaves

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Soften butter and cheese. Cream until smooth. Add herbs. Mix well. Refrigerate.

Variation: Roll chilled cheese into log shape and roll in 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Submitted by Mary Beth Greenleaf


2 quarts low sodium chicken broth

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 teaspoon bouillon granules

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup flour

1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup dry white wine or broth

3 cups cooked wild rice

2 cups cubed chicken (I deboned a rotisserie chicken)

Combine broth, mushrooms, celery, shredded carrots, onion, parsley, garlic powder and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 3 minutes.

Melt butter in 5-quart Dutch oven or stockpot. Stir in flour. Whisk in broth. Boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in cream of chicken soup and wine. Add rice and chicken. Heat through. Serves 14 at 190 calories per serving.

Original recipe from Taste of Home magazine that I tweaked.