In 1918, a colorful, French wine salesman named Arnaud Cazenave opened the grand New Orleans restaurant that bears his name with a commitment to serving quality Creole cuisine. Arnaud believed, quite simply, that the pursuit of the pleasures of the table is as worthy as anything else one chooses to pursue in life. Here you will find the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum. Germaine was the daughter of Arnaud Cazenave. Wells reportedly reigned as queen of over twenty-two Mardi Gras balls from 1937 to 1968, more than any other women in the history of Carnival. Here is a wonderful dish that is perfect for this time of year. With New Orleans going thru one of their worst winter storms, I know many gumbos, soups & bisque were made and eaten.
1-1/2 pounds fresh, head-on Shrimp
2 large Tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
½ cup unsalted Butter
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 Leeks, white parts only, well washed and finely chopped
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
2 Shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, very finely chopped
½ teaspoon fresh Thyme Leaves
4 tablespoons Tomato Puree
¼ cup Brandy
1 cup long grain Rice
Kosher or Sea Salt and Ground White Pepper
1 long, fireplace Match
Rinse the shrimp well, then peel them, and devein if necessary (if the vein is large and dark.) Save all the head and shells for the stock and refrigerate the shrimp bodies until needed.
Make the shrimp stock: Place the shrimp heads and shells in a large pot and cover with 2-1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently until reduced to about 2 quarts chicken or other flavorful fish stock.
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 quart of the stock with the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. While the stock is simmering, melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and sauté the onions, leeks and celery until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the tomato puree and cook, stirring often, until slightly browned. Do not let the tomato paste scorch.
Add the brandy and stir to deglaze for just a moment, and then ignite the brandy with a long match. When the flames die down, add the reserved shrimp, rice, tomato broth, and the remaining 1 quart of shrimp stock. Stir well and simmer the soup uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the rice is tender.
In batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender, returning the pureed bisque to a large, clean pan. Simmer gently over very low heat for 20 minutes more, then strain through a fine sieve, and serve in cream soup bowls (with handles, or in large shallow bowls).