Chef Ryan

Cajun Chef Ryan

Feeling & sharing a world of cooking ~ more than your average Cajun


Tahini Dressing and Memory Lane

June 26th, 2017 · Comments Off on Tahini Dressing and Memory Lane

I received an inquiry email from Shawn Holahan who was at Tulane University, New Orleans in the 1970’s and remembers dining at Nature’s Way Salad Shop, which at the time was located on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans. He did some searching online for their original Tahini Dressing recipe and found a blog post of mine that mentioned some work I did at Nature’s Way. His inquiry and email thread are copied below for everyone to enjoy and as a formal record of food and restaurant history in New Orleans.

If you want to follow the email thread in chronological order, start from the bottom.

Hello Shawn,

You are welcome, and thanks for the approval for the blog post!

The address on Magazine street where Nature’s Way was located is now known as Taqueria Corona. I cannot remember when Nature’s Way closed, but it was sometime in the late 1980’s, and according to this “About” page the taco restaurant started sometime in 1988. So it would seem that Nature’s Way was most likely running until around late 1987 to early 1988. Not sure if the owners did anything else, I do remember hearing that they were looking to retire, so I’m guessing that they decided to hang up their hats and get out of the restaurant business. Nature’s Way may have closed up sooner than 1987, as I do remember the location was vacant for sometime before Taqueria Corona started up.


Ryan Boudreaux

From: Shawn Holahan
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2017 12:37 PM
To: Ryan Boudreaux
Subject: Re: New Message From Boudreaux Family Farms – Get In Touch


Wow! What a response!! Thank you very very much! I’ll be trying your tahini dressing recipe, and certainly will report back successful tweaks, if any.

That steamed vegetable plate was simply nirvana to me back then. I’d get an extra helping of tahini dressing – and depending on who was taking the order, I’d be charged extra. I googled Nature’s Way restaurant in hopes of finding the tahini recipe and wound up with your blog post. You brought me back in time with your perfect description.

Do you know whether the owners remained in the food biz?

And you absolutely have my permission to post my inquiry with my name on your blog (and yes, with the email address removed).

Thank you very much for taking the time for such a detailed response. You love food – I can tell. I’m a foodie at heart too – I mean, how can I not be after a life in NOLA?


On Jun 26, 2017, at 10:52 AM, Ryan Boudreaux wrote:

Hello Shawn,

So great to hear from you and that you were a patron of Nature’s Way on Magazine Street in New Orleans back in the 1970’s. My family would frequent the shop on occasion when we were Uptown, (we lived on the Westbank in Algiers), I remember the wonderful smoothies, my favorite was the banana or strawberry, I loved the place then, and was so happy when I got to work there in the 1980’s.

I worked at Nature’s Way during night shifts only for a brief period of time in 1983 and possibly in 1984. Most of the prepared recipes were made by the owners/managers during the day shift, so I did not get many opportunities to prepare the dressings and such. Only if we got busy and ran out of something, and if I had the chance I’d whip up a small batch of whatever it was to get us through that shift, there were only two of us working the shop for the mid-afternoon to dinner hours. Unfortunately, they held all of their recipes close to the vest, and while I may have made the tahini dressing recipe once or twice I never recorded any of the preparations for my own use. I do however remember how all the smoothies were made. They also ran cheese enchiladas as a special and that is easy to replicate.

If I remember correctly the tahini dressing was a combination of the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, tamari, water, a bit of sesame oil and a touch of salt.

I’d try starting with this base recipe and see where it takes you:

Tahini Dressing
Recipe type: Dressing
Cuisine: Whole Foods
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1¼ cups
Easy to make this dressing is perfect on fresh lettuce, spinach, or steamed vegetables
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process till it reaches a smooth consistency. Add more water to thin the dressing if you prefer a thinner texture. It will thicken as it sits, so you can add water to thin as needed, and it will keep for a week or so refrigerated.


While I worked there the steamed vegetable plate over brown rice was fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, with options for the white cheddar cheese and turmeric on top after the vegetables were steamed. Not sure if the recipe had evolved over the years, but during my short time there it was just those three vegetables on the plate.

Please let me know how the recipe comes out for you, I’d be curious if you tweek it a bit. Off the top of my head the ingredients I would adjust are the tamari and lemon juice. Maybe make a batch with more tamari and less lemon juice, depends on the flavor profile you are after. The physiology of taste is an amazing thing, and how a particular flavor or taste can bring back a specific memory.

Hope this helps!

I am going to post this Q&A on the Cajun Chef Ryan blog so I have a record of it, just your name if that is ok with you.

Bon appetite!

Ryan Boudreaux

—–Original Message—–
From: Shawn Holahan
Sent: Saturday, June 24, 2017 12:35 PM
To: Ryan Boudreaux
Subject: New Message From Boudreaux Family Farms – Get In Touch

Chef Ryan – My inquiry comes from a trip down memory lane, or rather down Magazine St. and Nature’s Way Salad Shop during my Tulane years in the 70s. I saw a blog post of yours describing perfectly the steamed vegetable, brown rice, white cheddar , tahini plate. That was my “go to” meal on those infrequent occasions that I had a few extra dollars. Here’s my question (just when was I going to get to the question?!?): Any chance you remember the tahini dressing recipe? Loved that dressing and can’t replicate it. Also were the only vegetables in the dish broccoli, carrots and cauliflower? THANK YOU!!

Comments Off on Tahini Dressing and Memory LaneTags: Dressings · Heritage · History

Vinaigrette Dressing

April 18th, 2017 · Comments Off on Vinaigrette Dressing

This dressing was made often in the pantry station of the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, LA. And was one of the dressings offered on salads as well for on buffet service. Our Smoked seafood salad was made with this dressing as well.

Vinaigrette Dressing
Recipe type: Dressing
Cuisine: Any
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3+ cups
  • 2 oz Olive oil
  • 1¾ cups Salad oil (Sterling)
  • 3 oz Red wine vinegar
  • 7 oz Pimentos
  • ¾ each Red onions, chopped medium
  • ½ Tbsp Oregano, fresh chopped
  • ½ Tbsp Basil, fresh chopped
  • 1½ Tbsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 each Hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • To Taste Salt and white pepper
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with the whip attachment.
  2. Store in air tight container

The dressing was served on many salads including the Hearts Salad

Hearts Salad

Hearts Salad


Comments Off on Vinaigrette DressingTags: Dressings

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread Experience

April 15th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Old-world methods provides a lesson in taste and nutrition

It all started about a month or so ago on a Saturday morning in February. We were relaxing; I was scanning the channels after watching the local weather and found a segment of New Scan Cook on the local PBS station WUNC, this was a refreshing change from all the food competition shows that pummel the airwaves these days! The segment happened to be on the topic of apples, making apple desserts, apple drinks, apple cider, and sourdough bread from apple peels. I found this method of making bread to be quite interesting, so I searched for the New Scan Cook website and after some more digging I found the recipe for making the apple peel sourdough starter, and then the sourdough bread recipe.

It is fascinating to me that prior to the advent of standardized yeast production the only way to obtain yeast and bacteria for rising your dough was through those naturally occurring in the out-of-doors.  Apples in the orchard provided a unique and special vessel in which to harness latent yeast and other beneficial bacteria for fermenting your bread. And this method is not always the perfect way to bake bread, it goes against all the bread baking and pastry lessons I’ve learned over the years, all the while using perfectly weighted and measured ingredients. Bread as a science can be quite an exacting undertaking, and getting your yeast from the peelings of two organic apples is not the most exacting measure of an ingredient.

One note about the old-world ovens:  Originally these types of breads were baked in wood-fired ovens at very high temperatures, so the only way to approximate this in the typical home kitchen is to put in a pizza stone to the rack in your oven as you are pre-heating it to a high temperature of 520° F. Once the dough pans are on the stone you turn the heat down to 320° F.

I was ready to take the challenge, and what a better way to get back to the roots of old-world baking than starting with these Scandinavian recipes and doing a bit of trial and error.

Getting started

So at the grocery we picked up several organic Granny Smith Apples and I peeled two of them down and in the glass measuring container I added 1½ cups cool filtered water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and then stirred that around until the sugar dissolved. Then I added in 1¾ cups of whole wheat flour and stirred well. Then I covered it with a loose fitting lid and let this sit on the kitchen prep table for four days. I took a peek at the starter every day, hoping to see some activity. After one day it has a slight sour aroma, but not much activity. Into the second day I could see a little activity, but the aroma was building up more than the previous day. By the third day I could more activity as the volume of the starter was growing somewhat but not too much.  On the fourth day it was showing signs of bubbling and taking on a frothy appearance, the aroma was enough to get the ball rolling.

Making up the dough

At this point I cook 1 cup of the starter from the container and add it to another glass measure. Then I added in 1 ½ cups of water, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (recipe calls for rapeseed oil) and stirred this around until the starter mixture just about dissolved into the liquid.

Then in a large bowl I added 4 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon sea salt, and stirred this well. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry and kneaded by hand and then added about another ¼ cup of water, and kneaded until the dough ball was well rounded and took on a nice smooth texture.

Next I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand in a draft free location in the kitchen overnight.

The next morning the dough had more than doubled in size!

I cut the dough into two pieces and punched it down again and then into two greased bread pans.

I allowed the dough to rise again, but this time in a dough proof box I made using our new Excalibur Dehydrator set to 110° F and let them rise for about 2 ½ hours.

This is where I made a mistake. I should have just kept the dough in one piece and put it into one dough pan, or let the two pans rise over a longer period of time. I will test both in my next batch.  Always looking for perfection!

So, I preheated the oven to 520° F along with a cooking stone, then put the two bread pans on the stone and turned the heat to 320° F. The original recipes calls for 45 minutes, but I found these two smaller loaves were done in about 25 minutes.

Once out of the oven, I allowed them to cool in the bread pans for about 10 minutes, then I removed them and kept them on the wire cooking rack until cooled to room temperature.

I cut the first piece while still piping hot, the flavor profile is quite a joy, not like any other sourdough I have tasted, rich in subtle flavors, a tiny hint of apple, and a unique sourness that harkens to the days of yore!

Aside from the unique flavor and taste this bread gets from the naturally occurring yeasts and beneficial bacteria, I would imagine that it also has nutritional qualities that go beyond the typical yeast raised breads that most of us are familiar with today.

Next time I may try using locally sourced honey in place of the granulated sugar to add in another element of local, localvore, and fresh that harkens to a simpler time.

Remember, the only ingredients in this bread recipe are apple peel, water, whole wheat flour, rapeseed oil, sugar, and salt.  Michael Pollan in his book ‘In Defense of Food’ said that as a rule, “avoid products that have five or more ingredients, especially if you’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce them”.  I’m thinking that the six main ingredients in this bread recipe would make the Pollan cut!


A few images of the starter and bread!

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter


Natural apple yeast doing it's thing!

Natural apple yeast doing it’s thing!


Rising and shaping the dough

Rising and shaping the dough


Dough in the pans rising in dehydrator

Dough in the pans rising in dehydrator


Apple Risen Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Apple Risen Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

→ 1 CommentTags: Baking · Bread · Recipes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

October 28th, 2015 · Comments Off on Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Our yield this year was not that great, but the organic, homegrown Yukon Gold potatoes that we did harvest have that same amazing and creamy rich flavor and texture that we love so much! Paired with our homegrown organic garlic, the combination of organic and fresh ingredients from our yard cannot be beat!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Fresh homegrown organic Yukon Gold Potatoes and fresh homegrown organic garlic make the difference in this popular mashed potato preparation!
  • 2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, skin removed
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • ½ cup garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Garlic salt (Lawry's)
  • ½ tsp White pepper
  • 1 cup Sour cream, light, tempered
  • ½ cup Cream cheese softened
  • 2 tsp Sea salt
  1. Peel potatoes to yield about 2 lbs. then cut into 1" pieces.
  2. Rinse and cover potatoes with cool water in a medium sauce pan and add the 2 tsp sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook until soft or about 25 minutes. Drain well.
  3. While potatoes are draining melt the butter in the pan over medium-low heat and sauté the garlic. Season the garlic butter with the garlic salt and white pepper. Continue to cook and stir often for about 3 minutes. Do not brown the garlic; you are just looking to release some of the garlic flavor. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add the drained potatoes to the garlic butter and stir well to coat the potatoes. Mash the potatoes quickly but leave some chunks.
  5. Fold in the sour cream and the cream cheese.
  6. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Comments Off on Garlic Mashed PotatoesTags: Recipes

Cooking with Local Honey at the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market

August 10th, 2015 · Comments Off on Cooking with Local Honey at the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market

Nothing beats using local honey in your recipes that call for it, especially when you get to prepare a variety of treats on the spot, and seeing the smiles on peoples faces as they enjoy your tasty preparations!

And that’s what we did this Saturday at the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market, it was Honey Bee Day and all our recipes included honey as an ingredient, with five recipes prepared on site at the market including Honey Mustard, Chocolate Honey Sauce, Sesame Honey Cucumber Salad, Honey Fruit Compote, and Honey Balsamic Chicken. The honey we incorporated into our recipes was provided by Baxter’s Bees, we used light, medium, and dark honey, and I have to say it’s some of the best honey we have tasted, I’ve taken several teaspoons since Saturday morning, it’s addicting!

We want to thank Baxter’s Bees for providing the wonderful cornbread as part of the tastings for the Honey-Fruit Compote and the Honey Chocolate Sauce!

Zebulon Farm Fresh Market

Zebulon Farm Fresh Market

Many folks asked for the recipes of the honey preparations we made this Saturday, so I have them linked to the original recipes below along with a PDF printable version for each. The printable PDF versions are the ones that I modified a bit and made at the market.

Golden Nugget Dip (Honey Mustard Sauce)  – Golden Nugget Dip Printable PDF

Honey Chocolate Sauce – Honey Chocolate Sauce Printable PDF

Sesame Honey Cucumber Salad – Sesame Honey Cucumber Salad Printable PDF

Honey Spiced Fruit Compote – Honey Spiced Fruit Compote Printable PDF

Chicken Breast with Honey-Balsamic Glaze – Chicken Breast with Honey-Balsamic Glaze Printable PDF



Related Posts with Thumbnails

Comments Off on Cooking with Local Honey at the Zebulon Farm Fresh MarketTags: Honey · Ingredients · Recipes