Good News, Updates and Red Beans & Rice



So much has happened in the past few months and today I am finally getting the chance to sit down and blog about it. I don’t even know where to start. First and foremost, I am so grateful to God, my family and all of my mentors who have supported me and pushed me to excel. I followed my passion and my passion followed me. When I look back, I think my love for food began at my parents house. Growing up, our house was the place to stay and eat for any artist, intellectual, political activist or anyone eccentric. Our house was always full of people. I remember Uncle Guido from Grenada who could cure anything with nutmeg and some herbs, Aunt Fannie who was always in and out of Cuba and smelled of gardenias, Uncle Mobe from Germany who loved to come into town and build things in our house and so many more who played chess, cooked their native food and slept on our couch. This is where my passion was born with the many flavors of my family and extended family.

Sorry, everything is coming full scale like a movie and I am having flashbacks to where it all began. Sometimes you don’t realize where you have been until that moment happens when everything falls into place and you step back and say damn…..now it all makes sense. So to get to the good news. Suzanne Pferfele, author and filmmaker of Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans found me on twitter and asked me to co-produce a PBS documentary for WYES New Orleans called Latin American Cuisine in New Orleans along with videographer and co-producer Lenny Delbert. I was thrilled at the opportunity and honored by the invitation. For the past few months we have filmed, interviewed, ate until we passed out, traveled all around the city and sat down to film some of the most inspiring stories that we believe will capture the history and passion of Latin American Cuisine in New Orleans. Our documentary is scheduled to air in November 2014. We are more than thrilled!!!

Next exciting news, I have been invited to participate in the Latin Food Festival in San Diego, California this September. 7,000 will be in attendance and I am to prepare food for 2,000 people. Yikes!!! Thank God my sisters are flying in to help me. Chef Adolfo Garcia, my mentor thinks I’m nuts but hey it’s a good networking opportunity. Then in November, I am scheduled to participate at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge and a book signing at the local Barnes & Noble. There will be at least 10,000 people in attendance. I am going to be a busy busy bee.

My final exciting news……drumroll…….I am saving that one for my next post….but ohhhh my babbbyyyy in my New Orleans accent. It’s huge! All I have to say is Ray Charles blessed me from his grave and I will make you and my mama proud!

Red Beans & Ricely Yours


(I included some images of behind the scenes photos of our PBS Documentary and some recipes that Kid Chef Eliana came up with for the film)

Zella’s Red Beans & Rice Recipe

– 1lb of New Orleans Camellia Dry Red Kidney Beans

– 3 chopped links of andouille sausage

– 2 chopped links of smoked sausage

– 1 finely chopped Spanish large yellow onion

– 2 celery stalks chopped finely

– 1 green bell pepper finely chopped

– 1 clove of garlic

– 3 cups of water

– 1 half stick of salted butter

– 1 tbs. of Paul Prudhomme Seasoning Salt and Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning

– 1 tbs. of Zatarain’s dried parsley flakes

– 2 bay leaves

– 3 cups of cooked long grain rice


Finely chop your onion, bell pepper and celery stalks. Set aside. Chop your sausages into bite size pieces. In a saute pan on medium low heat, saute your chopped onion, bell pepper and celery in butter. Season with Creole seasoning. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add your sausages and saute until the sausages are caramelized. Reduce your heat if need be. Cook for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

In a large stock pot. Add your dry red kidney beans and cover with water. Add your bay leaves and bring the beans to a boil at medium heat. Add your sausage and onion mixture. Cover your beans and let them boil for at least 40 minutes. Checking periodically and stirring to make sure the beans don’t stick to the pan. Re-season the beans as need be. Chop 1 clove of garlic and add to the pot. When the red beans are completely soft take a large wooden spoon and begin to press the red beans in the pot. This will give the red beans it’s thick and creamy consistency. I would press the wooden spoon on the beans maybe six times. Continue to boil for another hour on medium-low heat. I cook my red beans for at least 2 1/2 hours at a low-medium heat. When I don’t eat all of my red beans, I freeze them for another day. I could eat red beans and rice everyday. The velvety, buttery, smoked flavor makes me so happy 🙂 Serve your red beans with cooked long grain white rice or your favorite rice.

Le Bon Temps Rouler!








I love Gumbo Z’Herbes!!


I first had Gumbo Z’Herbes at the famous Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans made by the culinary legend Leah Chase. I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Chase when I curated an exhibit about her life, faith, family and career for the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Mrs. Chase is now 91 years old and she is still a force to reckon with. If you are ever in New Orleans you must go to the Treme and try this mouthwatering Creole gumbo that is served on Holy Thursday before Good Friday. But of course you have to go to Mass first to confess all of your sins before Lent season! 😉

Now this is a very hearty gumbo filled with yummy greens. The recipe calls for 9 different greens to celebrate the 9 different churches visited during Jesus’ walk when he was crucified. Also, as many greens go in the gumbo so does the meat. Most Creoles use chaurice (creole sausage) and other pork meats to flavor the gumbo but for this recipe I substituted pork with smoked turkey tails. I love pork! But today I wanted something a little bit nicer to my waistline. I also put some Latino Who Dat Nation in the gumbo by adding culantro (stronger cilantro herb) and Navy beans based on my love for Cuban Caldo Gallego……Tomaaa!!!!


1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of mustard greens
1bunch of turnip greens
1 bunch of culantro
1 bunch of kale
2 cups of chopped cabbage
1 bunch of Swiss chard
Top leafs of beets
6 stalks of green onions
2 lbs of smoked turkey tails
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced bell pepper
1 finely diced celery stalk
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup of flour
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 cans of Navy beans (rinse canned liquid from the beans and drain)
Gumbo File for thickening


In a stock pot cover your smoked turkey tails with enough water to cover until tender. Boil on a medium low heat until tender. Once they are tender reserve the liquid and remove the turkey tails from the pot. Chop into small pieces and remove any bones. Put the chopped smoked turkey tails back into the pot.

Wash, drain and finely chop all greens and green onions. Add the greens to the pot and boil at a medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Make a roux. Finely mince your onion, bell pepper and celery. Sauté in a small pan with a stick of salted butter until translucent. Add bouillon cube and fresh ground black pepper. Add flour and stir to make a blond roux. Add the roux to the gumbo and stir well. Add Navy beans and your bouillon cube. Cook for another 20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguettes and Gumbo File to thicken. Le Bon Temps Rouler a lo Latino!