American Red Cross Hurricane Relief

If you’re interested in making a contribution to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Relief, here is a link to where you can do it. The donations supply hundreds of thousands of victims that were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina with critical necessities.

American Red Cross Contribution Form

Other avenues of donation for Hurricane Katrina Relief:

America’s Second Harvest Donation Form
Salvation Army Online Donation Form

Louisiana Emergency Info:

Louisiana Emergency Information
Parish Alerts

News Stories:

News report of the damage in New Orleans

Katrina, the New Header, and Comments repaired

Good Luck to all of the folks trying to get out of Katrina’s path, I’ll be thinking about you. She sure shaped up into a nasty one.

My brother Brad from Think Reef and Top Tank designed this great new header for me, I hope you like it as much as I do. Thanks a million Brad!

Also, I’ve finally fixed my comments section, sorry for any frustration any of you have had trying to comment, they’re up and running now. I always look forward to your comments.

Muffuletta Bread Recipe

From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)
From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

Odds are, if you live outside of the city of New Orleans, you’re not going to find an authentic Muffuletta Bread, with the exception of mail order. That’s a dilemma, because without the right bread, it’s just not a Muffuletta. It needs to be a round Italian style loaf that is about 10″ across and has sesame seeds on the top. Good luck finding it! So do what I do, make your own! I based this recipe on the one from Terry Thompson’s wonderful book Cajun-Creole Cooking, with a few changes. This is actually a very easy bread recipe. The object is a nice crisp crust and a light center, you don’t want a real chewy, hearty bread for this sandwich. Well, you might, but I don’t; who am I to speak for you. Anyway, here is my version:

Muffuletta Bread Recipe

1 Cup Warm Water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Bread Flour
1 1/2 tsp Iodized Salt
2 Tbsp Lard or Vegetable Shortening
Sesame Seeds
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Egg Wash:
1 Egg
2 Tbsp Cold Water

Combine the water, yeast and sugar in the workbowl of a stand mixer, stir well and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until good and foamy. Meanwhile, combine the flours, salt, and lard in a bowl and work in the fat with your hands until broken up into very small pieces. When the yeast is foamy, fit the mixer with a dough hook attachment and gradually add the flour on low speed until its all incorporated. Scrape the sides down between additions. When the dough comes together, turn it onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary.. Alternatively, you can let the machine do the work, but for me, bread is a touch thing. Coat a large bowl with the Olive Oil, then put the dough in, turning once to coat both sides. Cover loosely with a clean dry towel, or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape into a flat round about 9 inches across (it will expand to about 10″.) Place the dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds, about 2-3 Tbsp should do it, then press them lightly into the dough. Loosely cover the loaf and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. When the dough has risen, remove the cover, gently brush with the egg wash then gently place into a preheated 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F for an additional 25 minutes or until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Makes 1 Muffuletta Loaf.

The Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
The Olive Salad Recipe
Central Grocery Muffuletta

To see the rest of my Muffuletta pics, click here.

Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

This is my version of the Olive Salad for the NOLA Cuisine classic sandwich, The Muffuletta! My friend Tom and I always make at least one stop at the Central Grocery on Decatur during a visit to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. You can grab a Muffuletta Sandwich at CG, a beer in a Go-Cup from the liquor store down the street, then sit up on the Riverwalk to watch the barges roll by on the Mississippi; or just flop out in the street like a common Hobo, depending on how hungry you are.
Back to the recipe, I would make this at a few days ahead, it improves with age. Use good quality olives, Hey, good quality everything, right! I’m fortunate enough to have a great Italian market, about a mile from my house called Ventimiglia’s. I also make my own Roasted Red Peppers, I find the jarred variety mushy, plus they’re super easy to make; recipe follows. This Olive Salad Recipe makes enough for one Muffuletta and a few Bruschetta (recipe follows):

Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black) Pitted
1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Pepperoncini)
1 Tbsp. Capers
3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano (When I have it in my garden) or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Roasted red peppers (Recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste (salt may not be necessary)

Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. Cover with:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 1 – 1 1/2 Cups

Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for about one week.

Roasted Red Peppers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Place 2 Red bell Peppers (remove the blasted sticker!) on a baking sheet, place in the oven. In 15-20 minutes flip it over. Leave it in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, this makes the skin come off more easily. Uncover and remove all of the skin, stem and seeds, careful they’re hot! Refrigerate. Great in a number of dishes, Paella, Jambalaya, Sauteed Chorizo or Andouille, Olive salad, you name it.

Olive Salad Bruschetta

Slice a Baguette into 3/4 inch thick slices on the bias, Pop them under the Broiler until they’re golden brown. Break a Garlic clove in half and rub it onto the slices. Top with generous heaps of Olive Salad with plenty of oil & liquid. Serve immediately.

Related Posts:

Central Grocery Muffuletta
My Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe
My Muffuletta Bread Recipe
Chargrilled Pizza with Olive Salad

Here is a pic of my Muffuletta:

From Nola Cuisine

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole and Cajun Recipes which links to all of the recipes featured here!

Fil&#233 Powder

If you’ve ever wondered how Fil&#233 (FEE-lay) Powder is made, or would like to make it yourself, check out THIS LINK! Fil&#233 powder is a NOLA Cuisine Staple, which is made from the ground, young and tender leaves of the Sassafras tree (Sassafras root is the original flavoring of root beer). The Choctaw Indians, native in Louisiana, introduced the use of Fil&#233 to thicken Gumbos and soups. Here is what the 1901 Picayune’s Creole Cookbook had to say on the subject:

First, it will be necessary to explain here, for the benefit of many, that “Fil&#233” is a powder manufactured by the remaining tribe of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana, from the young and tender leaves of the Sassafras. The Indian squaws gather the leaves and spread them out on a stone mortar to dry. When thoroughly dried, they pound the m into a fine powder, pass them through a hair sieve, and then bring the “Fil&#233” to New Orleans to sell, coming twice a week to the French Market, from the old reservation set aside for their home on Bayou Lacombe, near Mandeville, Louisiana. The Indians used Sassafras leaves and the Sassafras for many medicinal purposes, and still set bunches of the dried roots in the French Market for use in tea and tonics. The Creoles, quick to discover and apply, found the possibilities of the powdered Sassafras leaves or “Fil&#233,” and originated the well-known dish “Gumbo Fil&#233.”

One thing to remember about using Fil&#233 in a Gumbo is to never boil it. It becomes stringy and unpleasant. When I use Fil&#233 in a Gumbo, I always add it at the table to be stirred in by the guest. It has a wonderful woodsy, earthy type of flavor.

**Update – 3/26/2005** I recently found a good sized Sassafras tree in a park near my house which I harvested some leaves from. I will post soon (here is the post), with pics of my homemade Fil&#233 powder here in Michigan.

Thanks to Doug, here in Muskegon, Michigan for the email. He says his yard is loaded with Sassafras trees. I’m going to look into getting one for the yard for next spring.

Also, check out my friend Carolyn’s post Sassafras & Fil&#233 at 18thC Cuisine!

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya Recipe

Jambalaya is as synonymous with NOLA Cuisine as Gumbo! There are vicious debates about whether the dish is of French or Spanish origin. The word itself is from the French & Spanish word for Ham, Jambon. The a la is French, and the ya is said to be an African word for “Rice”. Personally, I can’t see how someone could dispute the dishes similarity to the Spanish Paella, but hey, my opinion is like everyone else’s: Worthless. Here is what we do know about Jambalaya: It’s delicious! So everyone quick arguing and get cooking! (Although I love that people in Louisiana argue about food!) Here is my recipe:

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya Recipe

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Andouille Sausage, Diced
1/2 Cup Onion, Diced
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
2 Tbsp. Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Tomatoes, Diced
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 Cup Enriched Long grain Rice
1 3/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Hot Sauce
1 Cup Boneless Chicken Thigh, Diced
(Seasoning Mix: 1/2 tsp Cayenne, 3/4 tsp White Pepper, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage, 3 Bay Leaves)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter, saute the Andouille until slightly browned. Add 1/2 of the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery) saute until tender. Add the Tomato and cook for about one minute, then add the Tomato Sauce, cook 1 minute more. Add the Rice, cook 1 minute. Add the Stock, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, Garlic, Seasoning Mix, Bay Leaves, the other half of the Trinity, and Raw Chicken. Stir well and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, but still has a little bite. Top with chopped Parsley, and sliced Green Onions. Put on some Zydeco and enjoy!

Yield: 2-3 servings

**NOTE** You could substitute shrimp or other seafood for the chicken, and seafood stock for the chicken stock. You could also substitute ham, tasso, kielbasa, chorizo, etc, etc… for the Andouille. This dish is great for using up leftovers, its origins are all about stretching ingredients. As long as you keep the liquid/rice ratio you can use whatever you choose.