The famous chef rediscovers the warmth of his homeland, inspiring recipes at Café Reconcile | Where NOLA eats


Celebrity chef Marcela Valladolid recently stopped for less than 24 hours in New Orleans, but the city left a lasting impression as it reminded her of Mexico, her homeland.

Valladolid and Fitz and Tantrums lead singer Noelle Scaggs recently traveled to New Orleans as part of Capital One’s “Purpose Project, The Series,” web videos on the topic of how travel can. deepen our understanding of different cultures.

The series aims to celebrate the common denominators of each culture, said Valladolid, who added that New Orleans shares much of the same colorful, vibrant and flavorful culture as Mexico.

“They took me to the perfect place to have a microcosm of what it means to be in New Orleans,” she said of her visit to Café Reconcile, the non-profit restaurant. lucrative located at 1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in Central City, which offers vocational training to at-risk youth. Watch part of his visit here.

“It brought me back to Mexico,” she said. “For example, I was hungry and hadn’t had breakfast, so I respectfully asked to remove something from the hotline. The first thing I saw was cornbread with little spots of jalapeños.

“It was like totally tasting the flavors I grew up with,” she said. She shares a recipe the visit inspired below.

The warmth of the people was another similarity, said the host of the Food Network show, “Mexican Made Easy.”

“There are very few places I travel outside of Mexico where people just make you feel like they’re hugging you with their presence,” she said. “The people are so warm and inviting and they treat you like family. Conversations immediately become very personal.

“It’s the same in Mexico,” she said. “It’s like that feeling of welcome, of welcome to my country. Obviously it varies from region to region, but, for the most part, it’s just the way our people are.”

The young people who work at Café Reconcile itself reminded her of her own aspirations as a young woman.

“They want to be representatives of their culture,” she said. “I wanted to be a representative of my culture.

The New Orleans episode, hosted by Scaggs, included a fishing trip at the Bourgeois Fishing Charter and a kitchen with restaurateur Dickie Brennan. Other stops included: Scotch House and Pythian Market by Willie Mae, as well as The Green Project and Music Box Village. (Watch the New Orleans episode of the series above.)

Here are the recipes that the visit to Café Reconcile inspired to share in Valladolid: “There are little pieces of jalapeños to add smoke and heat.

Cornbread and cream rajas

Makes 12

For the cornbread

5 eggs

14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup of fresh corn kernels, scraped off 3 cobs

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7 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/4 tablespoon kosher salt

3 egg whites, beaten into soft peaks

For the cream rajas

3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 white onion, thinly sliced

2 ears of fresh corn kernels

6 charred Poblano peppers, peeled, hulled, seeded, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Mexican cream or sour cream

1/2 cup grated Oaxaca cheese or mozzarella

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 12 muffin cups.

In a food processor, combine the cornbread ingredients, except the egg whites. Process until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl. Stir in the beaten egg whites using a rubber spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut an X at the top of each hot cornbread muffin.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Sauté the onion for about five minutes. Add corn, cook for another three minutes. Add the poblano pepper strips to the pan and cook for another five minutes. Add the heavy cream and the Mexican cream. Cook for about eight minutes, or until bubbling. Stir in cheese until well melted; salt and pepper.

Top each cornbread with cream rajas and serve immediately.

Correction: Capital One’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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