Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux by Marcelle Bienvenu

I’m a collector of Creole & Cajun cookbooks, and I’ve been looking for a resonably priced copy of Marcelle Bienvenu’s
Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux?
for sometime. There are some used copies out there, but good lord, they’re going for a pretty penny.

Good news! The book is back in print by Acadian House, repackaged into a nice hardcover, with all of the great photographs, recipes and memoirs contained in the original 1991 version, and going for $22.95.

I’m a person who wants more than just recipes when I buy a cookbook. Anyone can throw together some recipes in a book. I like some background, some history, in my cookbooks. I want to be taken away. Marcelle Bienvenu’s book doesn’t just give recipes, it tells a story, broken down into seasons, and the recipes, like the photographs, seem to capture a moment in time, which contributes to the story. Not to say that her recipes aren’t wonderful as well, because they are, I just appreciate the story behind them as much as the recipes. I really love the story of her first experience as a child, eating Soft-Shell crabs at a waterfront restaurant with her father. Being a new father, those kind of stories really put a smile on my face, and make me dream about sharing these kinds of moments with my little Anna. Good books evoke these kinds of emotions.

When I was reading this book last night, I experienced South Louisiana, and felt like part of the family. That is what good books do, and that is why this book is still in demand.

Marcelle Bienvenu is also the author of Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine, and Cajun Cooking For Beginners, as well as co-authoring 4 of Emeril Lagasse’s books, including the best one, in my humble opinion: Louisiana Real & Rustic.
In addition, she also put together the Picayune’s Creole Cookbook (which I’ve referenced so many times on this site) and provided the side notes, which keep all of the fun historical recipe measurements and techniques in focus for the modern cook. Here is a link to her column at the Times-Picayune!

She also contributed to another of my absolute favorites, the Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which is out of print, and one of the best used books you can buy on Louisiana cooking.

…Needless to say, I’m a fan of her work, especially my new purchase. Highly recommended!

New Orleans Style Bordelaise Sauce Recipe

For my wife’s first home cooked meal since coming home from the hospital with our little Anna (new pic added). I made Grilled Marinated Pork Chops with New Orleans Style Bordelaise sauce, green onion mashed potatoes, and asparagus. Just good old home cooking. It really hit the spot for both of us since we spent the last five days eating inedible hospital food and a lot of take out.

New Orleans Style Bordelaise is very different than the classic french wine sauce; actually it bears absolutely no resemblance and it has as many variations as there are cooks in New Orleans. Probably the best use for this sauce is tossed into pasta, preferably spaghetti, but I like it very much over a grilled Ribeye or any grilled meat. I made sure to also pour some over the asparagus. The recipe:

New Orleans Style Bordelaise Sauce Recipe

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
1 Sprig of Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 Spritz of fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick of Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add the oil to a heated saute pan. Add the garlic, Thyme, and Bay leaf. Saute the garlic until it just starts to slightly brown then add the lemon juice, and the cold butter, incorporating by shaking the pan back and forth until melted. When the butter is totally melted strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, then add back to the pan. Add the parsley and season to taste with Kosher salt and pepper.

Makes around 1/3 of a cup.

For the Pork:

I marinated the pork in garlic, Rosemary, lemon juice, a little creole mustard, extra virgin olive oil, and red pepper flakes for about 2 hours. I grilled it to a little over medium.

For the Asparagus:

First blanch the asparagus until al dente, then shock in an ice bath. Remove from the water and set aside until just ready to eat.
To serve heat 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil & 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter in a saute pan. Add a crushed clove of garlic to the pan with the asparagus. Heat through and season well with salt & pepper.

For the Green Onion Mashed Potatoes

Peel and boil 3 Russet Potatoes, drain and mash with a potato masher. In a mixing bowl add the potatoes, 2 Tbsp Green Onions, 4 Tbsp Unsalted butter and enough cream or half & half to make them nice and creamy. Season well with salt and pepper.

Love at first Sight

I don’t often go off topic on this blog, but I’m definately going to make an exception for the birth of my beautiful baby girl today at 8:01 a.m. Anna Elizabeth Leyten was born weighing 6 lbs. 5 oz., and 19 1/2 inches long.

They say that you never know true love until you see your child for the first time, and today I experienced true love at first sight. Here is a pic of her right after birth:

Here is a pic of the proud parents, Dr. Danno, and Sheelah:

Just wanted to get these pics up for friends and family, time to get back to my family at the
hospital.

Here is my flickr photo set with all of the pics from the hospital:

Anna Elizabeth – First Days

Homemade Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Here is the latest batch of Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream, made from the Creole Cream Cheese which I made the other day. It’s texture is like velvet, and the flavor like frozen cheesecake, I can’t get enough. I made a quick strawberry sauce to accompany this (recipe follows), though it goes just fine all alone. The recipes:

Homemade Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream Recipe

1 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Large Egg Yolks
2/3 Cup Creole Cream Cheese
1/3 Cup good quality Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche

Combine the Cream, Milk, Sugar, and Vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the mixture just starts to boil, remove from the heat. Put the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl, then temper the yolks with a little of the milk mixture. Combine the two mixtures. then return them to the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook the custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, 2-4 minutes, DO NOT BOIL. Strain into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least a few hours (you want it very cold before it enters the ice cream machine). Meanwhile, combine the Creole Cream Cheese and Sour Cream then put them through a fine mesh sieve, mashing them through with the back of a wooden spoon. When the custard is cold, fold in the Creole Cream Cheese and Sour Cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve as is or freeze overnight for a firmer ice cream.

Makes 1 Quart (You’ll wish you had doubled it! My Creole Cream Cheese Recipe makes enough for a double batch of Ice Cream.)

Strawberry Dessert Sauce Recipe

1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, chopped
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3 Tbsp Grand Marnier

Add the ingredients to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries break down slightly, and the sauce reduces a bit. Chill.

I also added some additional chopped fresh strawberries to the cooled sauce for more texture.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which features links to all of the recipes on this site.

Creole Cream Cheese Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

I made a fresh batch of Creole Cream Cheese yesterday that I finished today. I just ate what you see in the picture, sprinkled heavily with sugar, and I can tell you honestly, you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t try this recipe. This is the easiest cheese in the world to make, and you will learn more on its versatility, when I post further with recipes for Creole Cream Cheese Cheescake, and Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream (a.k.a Frozen Creole Cream Cheese, my fave, which I will make in the next few days.

By the way, what I used for a cheese mold this time was an inexpensive silicone muffin tin, which I punched drainage holes into with a hole puncher, traditionally used for paper (but not here on Nola Cuisine).

The way I have presented Creole Cream Cheese here is at its simplest, the way it was meant to be served; sweetened with fresh fruit and cream as a breakfast treat. Give it a shot, it is extremely cheap and easy to make.

I wrote an extensive post on this subject with the recipe just over a year ago, which I am including below because:

a.) I didn’t have this wonderful camera to show the fruits (no pun intended) of my labor a year ago, and a picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words.

b.) I worked hard reasearching this post, so it bears repeating, at least for my sake (or your sake if you plan on making this recipe.)

Here is the post and recipe from July 29, 2005, about a month before Hurricane She Who Shall Not Be Named reared her ugly head on the wonderful city of New Orleans. I hope you enjoy and learn as much from this post as I did researching and making the dish:

Creole Cream Cheese used to be widely available in New Orleans, over time however it became harder to find, and never outside of Louisiana. It’s a soft cheese eaten as a breakfast treat, sprinkled with sugar, covered with cream or half & half, and usually fresh fruit. This is what “>The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook of 1901 had to say about the subject:

Cream Cheese is always made from clabbered milk. The ‘Cream Cheese Woman’ is still as common a sight on our New Orleans streets as the Cala Woman was in the days gone by. She carries a covered basket in which are a number of small perforated tins in which the Cheeses are. In her other hand she carries a can of fresh Cream. She sells her wares to her regular customers, for the old Creoles who do not make their own Cream Cheese are very particular as to whom they buy from, and when once a good careful, clean woman gets a ‘customer’ she keeps her during her period of business, coming every fast day and Friday with her Cheese and Cream, for this is a great fast-day breakfast and luncheon dish.

The “Cream Cheese Woman” has long ago gone the way of the “Cala Woman”, but fortunately for me, I enjoy making it myself. It’s a fairly long but very simple process; combined, about 10 minutes of actual work. Rennet is a coagulating enzyme which comes from a young animal’s stomach, but there are also vegetable varieties. It comes in liquid or tablet form, I use the liquid animal variety. Although I had a hard time finding it in my area, you may find it in tablet form in the baking aisle at your grocer. If not, do what I did and order it from Cheese Supply(dot)com. The shipping is a little steep for just a small item, so I ordered some Manchego, Cheesecloth, and a few other items to pad the bill. The recipe:

Creole Cream Cheese Recipe

2 Quarts Skim Milk
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
8 drops Liquid Rennet or 2 tablets
Cheesecloth

Combine the skim and buttermilk in a good sized saucepan. Over medium heat bring the mixture to 110 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Pour the heated mixture into a large, non-metal bowl. Add the rennet, stir and cover with cheesecloth. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. After a few hours there should be chunks (Curds) and liquid (Whey), try to keep Miss Muffet at bay. Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, then spoon the curds into the colander, try to keep them intact. Let this drain for 1 hour or until it is one solid piece. Discard the Whey, or make Ricotta, which is made from cooked Whey. I haven’t tried it yet, but next time I will. Place gently into a bowl and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve with sugar, half & half, and fresh fruit.

*New* I have another recipe for Creole Cream Cheese that says you cannot use Homogenized milk. I’ll have to locate some to see if there is any difference in the finished product. The same recipe states you can substitute reconstituted dry skim milk. Another variation in this recipe is the use of Plain Yogurt as the culture, in place of the buttermilk. I will post when I try this.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It’s an index with links to all of the recipes featured on this site. Also check out my new sister site to Nola Cuisine called American Gourmand!

Fried Catfish Recipe

My version of good old Southern Fried Catfish & Hushpuppies really hit the spot tonight! Sometimes, the only thing that will cool your craving is a whole plate of fried food, tonight was one of those nights.
I used a medium grind corn meal, and I wish I hadn’t. The only downfall of the whole meal. Those large grains just don’t seem to get cooked through enough during the short frying time.

Wondra flour (gold medal brand) is what is known as an instant flour, used for thickening sauces and gravies. It’s wonderful for frying because it absorbs so much liquid and makes the finished product ultra crispy.

The recipes:

Fried Catfish Recipe with Hushpuppies and Creole Tartar Sauce

For the Catfish:

Fried Catfish Recipe

2 Catfish Fillets, cut into fingers
1 Cup Corn Meal
1/4 Cup Wondra Flour
3 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
Peanut Oil or Lard for frying

Heat 2 inches of Peanut Oil or Lard to 360 degrees in a Cast Iron dutch oven.
Season the Catfish fingers liberally with salt and pepper.
Combine the corn meal, Wondra, and Creole seasoning in a shallow dish. Dredge the catfish in the mixture until well coated. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.
When the oil is to temperature, fry the catfish fingers in batches until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with lemon wedges, hushpuppies and Creole Tartar Sauce

**Be sure not to over crowd the pan, or you will have greasy, soggy catfish.

For the Hushpuppies:

Hushpuppies Recipe

1 Cup Corn Meal
1 Cup All Purpose FLour
2 Tbsp Green Onions, finely sliced
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 pinch Cayenne
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Buttermilk

Combine all of the ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Form into balls and fry in 360 degree oil as described above for the Catfish.

For the Creole Tartar Sauce:

Creole Tartar Sauce Recipe

1 Egg
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tsp Garlic, chopped
1/4 Cup Dill Pickle, chopped
1 Tbsp Creole Mustard
2 tsp Horseradish
2 tsp Parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp Green Onions, chopped
2 tsp Hot Sauce
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Oil
Kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in the workbowl of a food processor. Mix on high for 1 minute, then slowly drizzle in the oil until all is incorporated and the mixture is thick like Mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt.

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes!