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Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Different Kind of Tradition

This article originally ran Feb. 2017

This year, Mardi Gras is on February 28th. On this day of revelry, food plays a big factor in your celebration. Mardi Gras is the last day before the season of Lent begins, the season of fasting to prepare for Easter.

Mardi Gras is spent on the street watching the Rex parade and the others that follow. Over the hours, most people reach for Fried Chicken. Popeye’s is the choice of my family. There are food vendors that sell all types of foods meant to be eaten with your hands.

Corndogs and sausage on a stick are popular treats. So, I wondered how a corndog would taste made with sausage. Here is the results. However, this is not any type of sausage, it is the Cajun Andouille sausage that is in the center of this treat. Next week, I will tell you more about Andouille.

Andouille Corndogs

1 1/2 cups Yellow Cornmeal
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
2 cups Buttermilk
2 large Eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 pounds Andouille Sausage, cut into 3 or 4 ounce links
1/4 cup Cornstarch
8 (8-inch long) thick wooden Skewers

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, Creole Seasoning, and cayenne. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and canola oil to the cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. The batter will be lumpy.

Heat a deep fryer to 360℉.

Place cornstarch in a shallow pan, and dredge andouille in the cornstarch, rolling to coat. Spear the sausage links with the wooden skewers. Holding the long end of the skewer, dip each sausage into the batter, turning to coat evenly.

Slip the coated corndogs, in batches, into the hot oil and cook, turning, until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with Creole Mustard for dipping.

The only dessert to eat on Mardi Gras is a King Cake, especially since they will not be available again until January 6th. Since I have already written an article on the traditional King Cake, here is a recipe for a French King Cake.

This recipe was given to me by my brother Larry. I am not the only person in my family that enjoys the kitchen. It is a very different type of King Cake. There are not colored sugars or glazes over this cake. It has an almond paste and is topped with powdered sugar. The pastry is also lighter than the traditional King Cake.

Galette des Rois

1/3 cup Almonds
1/3 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Few drops Almond Extract
1/2 cup unsalted Butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
Egg Wash- 1 Egg beaten lightly with 1/4 cup Water

In a food processor, grind almonds. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract and process until blended lightly. Then add butter, flour and baking powder and process to make a smooth paste for about 10 seconds.

Place one sheet of the puff pastry on a cookie sheet. Spread mixture evenly over puff pastry, living 1 inch margin around the perimeter. Paint the perimeter with the egg wash. Place second sheet of pastry on top and carefully seal the edges with a fork, egg wash top of cake. Make sure the pastry is sealed well and that there are no holes or all of the filling will leak out during baking.

At this point, you can bake the cake or freeze and bake later. I think that it is better to get the dough really cold and freeze again before baking. Place frozen King Cake in a preheated 400℉ oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. When cooled, dust with powdered sugar.

If there are any recipes you would like to see featured, email me your suggestions.

A cup of soup warms up a cold day, even in New Orleans

As warm as it gets in New Orleans, one would think that soups are not often served in months that are not cold. Of course that is not true, with Gumbo being the official state food of Louisiana. Chefs in Louisiana have created more soups than just Gumbo.

From Gumbos and Bisques to Turtle Soup and Oyster & Artichoke soup, New Orleans have many different varieties of soup to offer. When the weather gets warmer, the orders for soup does not decline. Because of the flavors of these soups, most feel that a meal without soup is incomplete. Hot or cold weather aside, it’s all about flavor in New Orleans cooking. These soups are definitely full of flavor.

Today, I will share with you two New Orleans soup recipes that are very different from Gumbo. One is the quintessential soup found on menus all around town and the other is a great vegetarian soup.

Oyster & Artichoke soup was invented in the 1960s by Chef Warren Leruth. I had the pleasure of starting my restaurant career at his 5-star restaurant. While I consider my mother as my mentor, I learned a lot watching Chef Warren and his two sons, Larry and Lee. Their ability in front of a stove, in my opinion, are unmatched today. In future articles, you will be hearing more about these great chefs. This soup was originally made without cream and with dry seasonings. Here is my attempt to duplicate this wonderful soup.

6 cups Artichoke Hearts, quartered (Reserve Liquid)
1/2 gallon Chicken Stock
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Hot Sauce
1 cup Onions, diced
1 cup Green Onions, chopped
1/2 tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 tablespoon White Pepper
1 tablespoon Granulated Garlic
2 tablespoons light Brown Sugar
3 sticks (3/4 pound) Butter
3/4 cup Flour
3 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 quart Oysters, chopped

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions until transparent. Add green onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Mix chicken stock and artichoke juice. Add flour to onions and stir with a wire whisk. Cook for two minutes. Add the stock mixture and stir. Add artichokes, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; stir. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, oregano, thyme, salt, white pepper, granulated garlic, and brown sugar, sprinkling all the ingredients over the entire area of the soup to avoid clumping of the seasonings. Cook for 10 minutes oven low heat. Add oysters and cook for 5 minutes and serve.

Roasted Garlic Soup was created by Chef Susan Spicer, who’s Flagship restaurant Bayona, was previously the location of Chef Lee Leruth’s restaurant Torey’s. Her first signature dish is her Cream of Garlic soup. This recipe is vegetarian, not containing any meat products. However, if you wish, you may substitute Chicken stock for the Vegetable stock.

5 cups Garlic Cloves, peeled
8 cups Vegetable Stock, divided
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
1 Carrot, chopped
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Butter
1 cup Heavy Cream

Preheat oven to 350℉.
Place garlic in a 13×9-inch baking pan and cover with two cups of the vegetable stock. Cover pan with aluminum foil and roast in oven for one hour or until tender.
Transfer garlic to a large pot and add the remaining 6 cups of vegetable stock, celery, carrot, salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Gradually add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 6 minutes, or until the roux is ivory in color and starts to give off a nutty aroma.
Purée soup in a food processor or blender and return to the stove. Bring to a simmer. Stir 1 cup of the hot puréed soup into roux until well combined. Pour mixture back into the pot with the rest of the soup and cook 10 minutes. Add cream and simmer 5 minutes, or until hot. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

White Chocolate adds special touch

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. February 14th is my favorite day to cook. Of course, I cook for my wife on nights we eat at home. This is the only meal that my plan starts with dessert.

My wife always chooses our entrée. For dessert, the main ingredient is always White Chocolate. From White Chocolate Bread Pudding to White Chocolate Mousse, I think white chocolate adds a special touch to the end of this romantic meal.

White chocolate is not chocolate in the strict sense as it does not contain non-fat cocoa solids, the primary flavor in the unsweetened chocolate form. During the manufacturing process, the dark-colored solids of the cocoa bean are separated from its fatty content, as with milk, semi-sweet and dark chocolate. But, unlike those other chocolate types, the cocoa solids are not recombined. As a result, this fat, cocoa butter, is the only cacao ingredient in white chocolate.

The first recipe is for the most adventuresome cook, White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce. Bread Pudding is found on menus across New Orleans, from the five star restaurants to the neighborhood cafés. What sets New Orleans bread pudding apart is the use of New Orleans French Bread. Made with local water, this bread is almost impossible to duplicate away from the city. My twist is that I use croissants as the bread component. I find this bread pudding a little less dense.

3 cups Heavy Cream
10 ounces White Chocolate Chips
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
8 Egg Yolks
6 large Croissants, torn into large pieces
White Chocolate Sauce (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 275℉. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream but do not boil. Remove from heat, add the white chocolate chips, and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, beat the milk, sugar, eggs and egg yolks together, and heat until warm. Blend the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Place the croissant pieces into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Pour half of the chocolate mixture over the croissants. Let sit for 30 minutes, and then pour in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Cover with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares and top with White Chocolate Sauce.

White Chocolate Sauce

8 ounces White Chocolate Chips
1/3 cup Heavy Cream

In a double boiler, over barely simmering water, melt chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in the heavy cream. Keep warm. To store, let cool slightly and store in. an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, in a double boiler, melt over barely simmering water and stir until smooth.

For an easier, but no less rich and delicious dessert, here is my recipe for White Chocolate Mousse. It only takes about 15 minutes to put the mousse together and at least an hour in the refrigerator to set. This can be topped with almost any type of berry. I like to use chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate flakes.

8 ounces White Chocolate Chips
2 Egg Yolks
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream, divided
Chocolate Sprinkles

In a large glass bowl, place the white chocolate chips and set aside. Add the egg yolks and sugar to a small bowl and whisk until pale in color. In a saucepan, over low heat, bring 1/4 cup of the heavy cream to a simmer, and slowly add the cream into the yolk and egg mixture to temper. Pour the creamy mixture back into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until it coats the back of it. Pour hot mix thru a strainer over the bowl with the white chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. In another bowl, whip the remaining cup of heavy cream to almost stiff peaks. Fold half the whipped cream into the white chocolate mix to lighten then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into 4 serving cups and refrigerate until set, approximately one hour. Top with chocolate sprinkles.  

Enjoy your Valentine’s dinner!

Many different ways to Étouffée

Étouffée is a dish that no two people make alike. Étouffée, pronounced ay-Too-fay, in French means literally “smothered” or “suffocated”. This dish is most popular in New Orleans and in the Acadiana area in the southwestern part of Louisiana.

The reason that no two people make an Étouffée alike are the many ways it can be made. It can be made with or without a roux, tomatoes, or any type of seafood or poultry. It can be served over rice, pasta or jambalaya. It can be made spicy or mild.

Although Creole and Cajun cuisines are distinct, there are many similarities. In the case of the Creole version of Crawfish Étouffée, it is made with a blond or brown roux with a tomato product added. A blond roux is one that is cooked, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes to remove the raw flavor of the flour and to add a slightly “nutty” taste, while a brown roux is cooked longer (30-35 minutes) in order to deepen the color and flavor.

Here are two different versions of Étouffée. The first one is a Creole non-seafood version. The second one is the dish that is found all across Louisiana. Here is a Chicken and Andouille Étouffée recipe.

1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon Butter
1 cup Onions, chopped
1 cup Celery, chopped
1 cup mixed Red, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers, chopped
1 tablespoon Garlic, minced
3 Bay Leaves
1 pound Andouille Sausage, sliced
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
8 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped
1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Breast, cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher Salt to taste

Heat the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour gradually. Cook until the roux is dark amber in color, whisking constantly remove from heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, and Andouille sausage and sauté until the vegetables are tender and the sausage s brown.
Stir the roux into the vegetables and sausage. Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper and mix well. Cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chicken stock, fresh thyme and chicken.
Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, skimming the surface and stirring occasionally. Season with Kosher salt to taste and discard the bay leaves. Serve over rice, pasta, or jambalaya.

Crawfish étouffée is a cliché Cajun dish. It is found on menus all over the city, including Galatoire’s, one of the older restaurants in the city, Founded in 1905, Galatoire’s is a French Creole restaurant. To have this Cajun dish on their menu shows how popular the dish is.

1 pound Crawfish Tails
Creole Seasoning
4 tablespoons Butter
1 medium Onion, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, minced
1/2 cup Seafood Stock
1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
1 punch fresh Parsley, chopped
Cooked Rice

Coat crawfish with Creole Seasoning. Melt butter and add the onions, garlic and bell pepper, stirring constantly, and cook until wilted. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Add the crawfish and simmer another fifteen to twenty minutes. Add the green onions and parsley and simmer five more minutes. Serve over hot rice.