Tag Archives: creole cuisine

Live Louisiana Crawfish from Cajun Grocer

Back when I did my review of Cajun Grocer’s Turducken in November, Charlie asked me if I would like to do a review of their Live Louisiana Crawfish when the season came around. Hmm…live Louisiana crawfish, for free? Let me think about it…..just kidding, of course!

Thanks a million to Charlie and the folks at Cajun Grocer for sending such a generous portion of a superior product, and all I had to do was just write about it, which I do for fun anyway!

I contacted Charlie from Cajun Grocer last week and he asked me when I planned on boiling them and I said Saturday, he suggested shipping them Thursday for Friday and keeping them someplace cool with a bag of ice on them until I was ready to boil on Saturday, this worked out perfectly. The crawfish arrived early Friday morning and I promptly did as he said, hosed them down in the sack, and placed them into a cooler with a bag of ice over them. I peeked around through the purple sack in awe of the size of some of the little devils, as their beady little eyes watched me as well.

From Crawfish Boil

When Saturday rolled around I hosed them down again and placed them back into the cooler, again covered with ice. I invited my brother Brad and his girlfriend Heather over for a boil, the 15 lbs would be more than enough for the four of us, you see, up in Michigan folks don’t crush the 5-8 pounds that can be standard in Louisiana.

From Crawfish Boil

I got my liquid boiling away (my crawfish boil recipe) in the afternoon in a 30 quart Turkey Fryer with a basket insert at the ready. I cut my onions, lemons, garlic, corn, washed the new potatoes and headed out to cut the sack open and sort through the critters to remove any casualties from travel and time, and I was pleased to find that there were very few dead ones, and in fact the majority were extremely feisty.

From Crawfish Boil
From Crawfish Boil

Even more impressive than than how feisty they were, was their size, varying from medium to gargantuan like this one.

From Crawfish Boil

I picked through them one by, sorting them in my 2 1/2 year old daughters wading pool, as she watched in horror. “In my poool!!! in my pool!!”

From Crawfish Boil

After I got them sorted I washed them several times by first hosing them down, then leaving them in the basket and placing it into a large pot, filling it with water, draining, filling with water, draining, until the remaining water was eventually clean, about 3-4 times. Clean and ready for the boil!

From Crawfish Boil

Coming next, the Crawfish Boil Recipe using Cajun Grocer’s Crawfish!

Related Posts:

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe

Preview Pic!

From Crawfish Boil

Be sure to check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes whick links to every recipe featured on Nola Cuisine!

Shrimp Stock Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

Chefs and cookbook authors alike sound like broken records when discussing stocks, “…there is no substitute for a well made stock.” But hey, it’s true. There really is no substitute for a well made stock. But can you use that stuff on the grocery store shelves, (which they have the gall to label “stock”), in a pinch? Of course. I use them from time to time myself when I’m out of the real deal, but the results are never, ever as good as homemade.

Stocks add not only a richness of flavor but also of texture when it comes to Chicken and Beef Stock. When chicken or beef stock are made well, that is, slowly cooked over a low flame for hours, they are gelatinous and rich. So rich in fact that when cooled they are the texture of Jello, let’s see Kitchen Basics or Emeril’s brand hold a candle to that. But they do take a lot of time, which brings me to why I love Shrimp Stock, because it takes no time at all, an hour tops.

I always buy shell on shrimp. Why? For the same reason I buy bone in cuts of meat. Stock. The amount of shrimp you’re using for this recipe will produce enough Shrimp Stock for the shrimp recipes calling for it on this site, plus some extra to freeze for later use. Shrimp stock only needs to cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, once you reach the simmering point.

Shrimp Stock Recipe

The Shells and tails from 2 lb. of Shrimp
1/2 Cup chopped Onion
1/4 Cup chopped Celery
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Lemon sliced
2 Fresh Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1 tsp. Black Peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a dutch oven or a moderate sized stock pot. Cover this with cold water, it should be about 6-8 Cups Cups. Bring almost to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or chinois.

Stock freezes very well. I always break it up into one use batches by putting it into those plastic ziploc containers. Just remember to leave about 1 inch of headroom as it will expand when it freezes.

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

Related Posts:

Beef Stock
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe
Shrimp Creole Recipe

Pan Fried Pomfret with Meuniere Butter

From Nola Cuisine

When we returned home from our recent trip to New Orleans I couldn’t get Galatoire’s out of my head, especially the Pompano with Crabmeat Yvonne, although the whole meal was very memorable. By the way, the Galatoire’s Cookbook is phenomenal, an absolute keeper. Their Meuniere Butter is to die for with crabmeat and especially with crabmeat and Pompano, so I decided to search for some Pompano, which I find only very rarely from one source here in Michigan. He didn’t have it but suggested that I try something similar, Pomfret.

Pomfret, or Butterfish, are in the same family as Pompano, in fact they look like a little Pompano, but you cook them whole; my fish guy suggested Pan Frying, which is what I did, topped with Galatoire’s Style Meuniere Butter (recipe below). A great guy with a great suggestion.

I also served these with Brabant Potatoes, another excellent part of our meal at Galatoire’s.

The Pomfret were super fresh and delicious, although not quite Pompano, lacking the sweetness by a bit, but very similar in flavor and texture, while in shrinky-dink size.

I cut the heads off for the sake of my wife, who like most Americans, is squeamish about making eye contact with her dinner. I personally like to be able to give my dinner a wink if it tastes good, or the unforgivable Stink Eye if I didn’t care for how it tasted, that’s just me.

Here is the recipe:

Pan Fried Pomfret with Galatoire’s Style Meuniere Butter

2 Pomfret per person, heads removed if you have squeamish guests
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil for pan-frying
1 Recipe Galatoire’s Style Meuniere Butter (recipe below)
Lemon Wedges
Chopped Italian Parsley for garnish

Combine the flour, salt, cayenne, and black pepper in a bowl. Dredge the prepared Pomfret in the seasoned flour and set aside for 15-20 minutes.

In a large Cast Iron Skillet add about 1/2 an inch of oil to the pan, heat over medium flame until a sprinkle of flour flares up and starts to brown.

Add the floured Pomfret to the pan, in batches if necessary, so as to not overcrowd the pan. Pan-fry until golden brown on each side and cooked through.

Serve on a platter with lemon wedges, and top with the Meuniere Butter (recipe below), garnish with chopped Italian parsley. The flesh flakes away easily from the bones when eating, just use your fork to gently flake it away.

Galatoire’s Style Meuniere Butter Recipe

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 tsp Kosher Salt (or use Salted Butter and omit the salt)
1 & 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 & 1/2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
Large Sauce Pan (make sure that your pan is large enough, as the sauce will flare up when you add the liquids to the hot butter)

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat, add the salt (if using unsalted butter). Cook the butter, stirring frequently, until the fat is a nice golden brown and the solids just start to brown. Along the way the butter will go through a lot of changes, foaming, etc. When the butter reaches the appropriate color remove from the heat, stand back and very carefully add the juice and vinegar. **WARNING** it will flare up quite violently so make sure you are using a big enough pan! Pour a genourous portion of the Meuniere Butter over the fish, be sure to give it a stir as the dark brown solids contain a lot of the flavor.

Related Posts:

Our Dinner at Galatoire’s
Redfish Courtbouillon
Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies and Creole Tartar Sauce

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

Grillades and Grits

I’ve posted on Grillades & Grits a few times in the past, it’s one of my favorite comfort meals, usually for Sunday dinner, although it’s great for breakfast as well. I didn’t follow a recipe for this meal, but I used the same basic procedures as this recipe, although I used chicken stock in place of the beef stock.

Here are some related posts:

Grillades & Grits Recipe
Grillades with Andouille Cheese Grit Cakes
Osso Bucco with Toasted Orzo “Risotto”

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

Soft-Shell Crabs

I purchased some Soft-Shell Crabs today which I will prepare for dinner tonight, and of course feature as a recipe later tonight or early tomorrow. I only buy soft-shells fresh when they’re in season, I don’t believe in frozen soft-shells personally, it leaves me something to look forward to in the spring.

Soft-Shell Crabs are not a different species of crab as some may believe but simply a Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus, which has molted. Like many other crustaceans, crabs outgrow their shells and grow new ones. The prime soft-shells are called busters, as they have just busted from their shells and are at peak softness. Not long after the crabs have busted from their shells, the new shells will start to form and have more of a leathery texture.

Soft-shells can be fried, sauteed, broiled, grilled, you name it. Later I will share one of my favorite ways to prepare and serve them, I’m really looking forward to it.

Soft-shell crabs should not be cleaned until shortly before you’re ready to cook them as they will spoil faster.

To clean a Soft-Shell Crab cut off the eyes and nose portion of the front of the crab with kitchen shears. Next, lift the corners of the top shell and remove the inedible gills. Lastly, turn the crab over and remove the Apron which is a soft way of saying the genitals. Sorry, but it is what it is…just remove it. :-)

Your soft-shells are now ready to be cooked, and so are mine…until later today.

Update – Here is my recipe for Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Creole Choron Sauce.

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

Bread Pudding Recipe

If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, you can almost follow your nose to the front door by the aroma of bread pudding which wafts across the neighborhood. I always picture a looney tunes character, closing their eyes, nose to the air, flapping their hands and floating along the scent trail to the source. I always think of that when I make this recipe and my kitchen smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Bread Pudding is a combination of two things that I hold dear, great cooking spawned from frugality, and comfort food. What is more comforting than a plate of warm bread pudding covered in spiked and sweet Whiskey sauce?

I based this recipe loosely on the Commander’s Palace recipe from one of my absolute favorite books Commander’s Kitchen by Jamie Shannon and Ti Adelaide Martin, by one of my absolute favorite restaurants. I will also be featuring the Commander’s style Bread Pudding Souffle in the next few days, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best desserts around. Anywhere.

The recipe:

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce Recipe

For the Bread Pudding:

1 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
6 Cups French Bread, cut inot 1 inch cubes (be sure it’s a light bread, meaning not too dense)
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Butter a square cake pan with the butter.

Mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large Mixing bowl whisk the eggs, add the sugar mixture, then whisk in the cream and vanilla extract. Fold in the bread cubes being sure to not break them up too much. The trick to this recipe is to make sure all of the bread soaks up the custard, and that you don’t overcook it.

Place the prepared mixture into the cake pan, cover with foil and place the cake pan into a larger pan, sufficient enough to allow for a water bath which will cover the smaller pan by half way.

Place the pans into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Remove the foil and raise the temperature to 300 degrees for 1 hour more or until the top of the pudding is golden brown.

The finished pudding should be slightly firm, while moist, but not runny.

Serve warm with Whiskey sauce, recipe below.

Makes 4 servings.

Whiskey Sauce Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
a few drop of Vanilla extract
1/3 Cup Bourbon
1/3 Cup Sugar

Mix together the water and cornstarch. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. While boiling slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry, when the sauce is thickened remove from the heat and add the vanilla, bourbon and sugar. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Be sure to visit my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes! It provides a link to all recipes featured on Nola Cuisine.

Natchitoches Meat Pies Recipe

From Nola Cuisine Images – (reedited)

These tasty turnovers, along with the Festival of Lights, are native to Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-uh-dish), Louisiana and are traditionally served on Christmas Eve. They’re usually made bigger, more of a hand pie, but I like them as an Hors d’oeurve for holiday parties. I served these tonight with a Creole Mustard Aioli for dipping. The recipe:

Natchitoches Meat Pies Recipe

For the Filling

2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Pork
1/2 Cup Spanish Onion, finely diced
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1/4 Cup Celery, finely diced
1/2 Cup Green Onions
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Crystal Hot Sauce
Kosher salt, black pepper, and Cayenne to taste.
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
1/8 Cup All Purpose Flour

Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, when hot add the ground meats, cook until browned and cooked through. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and green onions, cook until the vegetables are wilted. Add the garlic, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and seasonings, cook for 2 minutes more. Make a slurry of the stock and flour, add to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

For the dough:

4 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Iodized Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Lard
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk

Combine the dry ingredients in the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, with the speed on low add the lard to the dry ingredients and let the mixer cut it in until the fat is broken up into pea sized pieces. Beat the egg and combine with the milk. Add the wet to the dry with the mixer on low, in a slow steady stream. Mix until the dough just comes together. The key is to not overwork the dough.
Cut the dough in half then roll it out to 1/8 inch thickness on a floured counter. Cut into either the more traditional 5 inch circles or as I did about 3 circles, I used an empty French Market Coffee can.

To assemble and cook:

Place 1 heaping Tablespoon (doubled for the larger size) of the cooled mixture to each circle. With your finger wet the edge with a little water, fold over and crimp with a fork. Set aside on a floured surface until ready to fry.

Heat 4 inches of oil in a dutch oven to 360 degrees. Fry the meat pies in small batches until golden brown on each side.

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

Beignet Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

If you haven’t been to New Orleans you’ve probably never eaten a Beignet, but you’ve probably had something similar. Cafe au Lait and Beignets, is New Orleans for Coffee & Donuts. If you are unfamiliar, Beignet (ben-YAY) is French for Fritter, in New Orleans they’re square and topped with a firestorm of powdered sugar and usually served with a steaming cup of Cafe au Lait. Cafe au Lait is equal parts piping hot milk and good, strong Cafe Noir with Chicory (New Orleans Coffee will be another post).
The most famous place in New Orleans for Beignets and Cafe au Lait is Cafe Du Monde on Decatur on the riverside of Jackson Square, which is legendary, you have to go once. The Beignets and Cafe au Lait are great, but I’m not into tourist traps; even when I’m a tourist. Most locals that I’ve talked with prefer Morning Call Coffee Stand which is no longer in the quarter, but has two locations in Metarie.

Cafe du Monde sells a Beignet batter mix that is widely available, but I made mine from scratch. What else did you expect? :)

Here is the recipe:

From Nola Cuisine

New Orleans Style Beignet Recipe

1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Water (110 degrees F)
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
3 1/2 – 3 3/4 Cups A.P. Flour
1/8 Cup Shortening
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Powdered Sugar in a shaker or sifter

Combine the Yeast, Water, and Sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (You could also make this in a food processor, or the old fashioned way, by hand). Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes, then add the Salt, Egg, and Evaporated Milk. Mix on low speed, then add half of the flour until it starts to come together, then add the shortening. When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated. At this time I always turn the dough onto a floured bench to finish by hand, just like when I make bread; it’s a touch thing. Knead the dough adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth dough. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover and let rise (I made mine last night and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator).
After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick. With a very sharp knife working at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut into 2″ wide strips. Now cut into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Place the Beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place (I place them in a barely warm oven).
When the Beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees. Place 2-3 Beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil). Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain. Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar (because the dough doesn’t contain much sugar, you will want a lot!). Best served with Cafe au Lait. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen.

Related posts:

Calas Recipe

Check out my Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes

From Nola Cuisine

Homemade Tasso Recipe

Tasso (TAH-so) is a smoked seasoning meat used to flavor dishes like Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Red Beans & Rice. Tasso used to be made from the trim after an Acadian Hog Boucherie, thin strips, heavily seasoned, dried, then smoked for hours. These days however, most of the Tasso that is available is a little more fancy, more of a ham than the style of the old days, mine is somewhere in between. I always find it amazing how ingredients and recipes, that basically came from scrap and the poorest times evolve into Gourmet, I love it. Tasso will keep in the freezer and is pretty easy to make, but you have to do a little planning.
A few Tips:
After seasoning it, I recommend keeping it in the fridge, at least 3 days to let it cure, look at how nice and pink the center is.
Take it easy on the Cayenne when making your seasoning blend, start off with a small amount, then add to your taste, the amount here is moderate. It should have some heat, but I don’t like losing control of the heat in a dish I’m cooking because my Tasso was too hot, so I cut it back a little, for the same reason that you don’t salt stocks.
Here is my recipe for Tasso. I used a Boneless Pork Roast cut into about 4-5 inch long, 1/2 to 1 inch thick slices. This is seasoning for about 5 lbs of pork:

Homemade Tasso Recipe

5 lbs Pork cut as described above
Seasoning:

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cayenne or To Taste (see above)
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Fresh Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp White Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the meat, you want a lot on there, call it 1/8 inch, use it all. Place on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate 3 days.

Before smoking put the Tasso on an elevated rack so that air can circulate around it, then put a fan on it for about 2 hours to dry it out. I also don’t use a water pan when smoking Tasso, this is something that I actually want to dry out during the smoking process.

I hot smoked this batch in an inexpensive upright barrel smoker using charcoal as the heat source (heated with a chimney starter, no lighter fluid or matchlight coals please.) I used Pecan chips that were soaked in water for 1 hour for the smoke.
I smoked this a total of about 4 hours, the first 2 hours at about 150-160 degrees F. The second two hours at 180-190 degrees F.
The object is to get as much smoke into the meat, before cooking it all the way through. I brought the internal temperature of the meat to 150 degrees F in the last 2 hours of smoking.
When finished I again put the Tasso in front of a fan for about 1 hour. Refrigerate. When completely cold portion and store the Tasso in vacuum sealed packages. Freeze.

Makes 5 lbs of Tasso

Related Links:

Andouille Sausage Recipe
Chaurice Sausage Recipe
Pickle Meat Recipe
More on Tasso:
Check out these Pics at Egullet of Wayne Jacob’s beautiful Tasso and Andouille, made the old way in LaPlace, Louisiana.