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July/August 2014

SUMMER SEAFOOD


Summer is for seafood as far as I’m concerned. And what makes it better is catching it yourself. I’ve made several trips to Marsh Island, where Vermilion Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, in the past few weeks and they have all been fruitful. My buddy Pat and I always leave just when the sun is peeking out of the eastern sky.


The ritual is always the same—stop to get bait, ice, and a big, warm sausage biscuit at the convenience store before heading out to Cypremort Point to launch his Boston Whaler in which we have stowed our crab traps, cast nets, two ice chests (one to chill our water and soft drinks, and one for our catch) and a small tote bag with our sandwiches and chips. Oh, happy day!


On a good day, we usually have a few dozen crabs and several pounds of shrimp by mid-morning. We eat our lunch in the shade of the scraggly oaks and discuss the possibilities for dinner. By mid-summer, we’ve gone through our seafood repertoire (shrimp stew, boiled crabs, crab cakes and seafood salad) and try to be a little creative. This year, our friend Johnny has been supplying us with sweet corn, which we’ve paired with our shrimp.


SHRIMP AND CORN SALAD

  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 lemon (squeezed – you should have about 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
  • 3 pounds medium-size shrimp (peeled but leave the tail on)
  • 1/2 cup minced red onions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (frozen can be substituted)
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise (about
  • Hot sauce
  • Toasted French bread slices

Combine the salt and cayenne in a pot of water (about 1/2 gallon) and bring to a boil. Squeeze one of the lemons over the water, then drop in the rinds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are bright pink and the tails have curled, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Remove the tails. You can leave the tails whole, or cut each in two or three pieces.


*If using frozen corn, put it into a colander and run hot tap water to defrost.


Drain well.


Combine the shrimp, corn, onions, celery and dill in a large salad bowl.


Combine the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with the mayonnaise and whisk to blend.


Add the mayonnaise to the shrimp mixture and toss gently to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and chill for at least one hour.


When serving, pass the hot sauce at the table with the toasted French bread slices.


This was a favorite of my father’s. He cleaned the crab shells so he could stuff them with the crabmeat mixture. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can put the crabmeat mixture in small ramekins or other baking dishes.


DEVILED CRABS

Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
  • 5 cups soft breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and cayenne

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Combine the eggs, onions, lemon juice and crabmeat in a bowl. Add 1 cup of the melted butter, about 4 cups of the breadcrumbs and the parsley. Toss gently to mix well. Season with salt and cayenne.


Spoon the mixture into cleaned crab shells or baking dishes. Sprinkle each with equal amounts of breadcrumbs.


Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. To brown the tops, put under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve hot.


If you want something cool, this salad will fit the bill.


ORZO SEAFOOD SALAD

Makes about 8 servings

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Creole mustard
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

Salad:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (about 4 ears)
  • 1 cup lump crabmeat or 1 cup chopped boiled shrimp
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced red onions
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1⁄2 cup hearts of palm, cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Combine the dressing ingredients in jar and shake vigorously to blend. Cook the orzo in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.


Add the corn and cook about 2 minutes more or until the pasta is still firm to the bite. Drain and place in large bowl.


Add half the dressing and toss to coat. Cool a bit, then add the remaining ingredients and the rest of the dressing and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.


These are fun to serve at a casual gathering. Pass these around or put them on a buffet table with tartar sauce.


MINI SHRIMP KABOBS

Makes about 3 dozen
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or green onions (green parts only)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 pounds medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the shrimp, in a shallow dish.


Thread the shrimp on six-inch bamboo skewers and place in the marinade.


Refrigerate for two to three hours, turning the skewers several times to coat the shrimp evenly.


Remove the shrimp from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Put the shrimp on a lightly greased rack of a broiler pan. Broil about six inches from the heat for three to four minutes on each side, basting once or twice. Serve hot or cold.


CREOLE TARTAR SAUCE

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine the egg, garlic, lemon juice, parsley and green onions in a food processor and pulse several times to blend.


With the motor running, pour the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Add the cayenne, mustard and salt and pulse to blend.


Put into an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour before using.


Best if used within 24 hours due to the raw egg.



May/June 2014

CRABS FROM VERMILION BAY


FOR May June 2014


By Marcelle Bienvenu


It’s time to head out to catch some crabs on Marsh Island, an uninhibited low-lying marshy island between Vermilion Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Just in case you aren’t familiar with this beautiful place, it’s bordered on the south by the Gulf and is separated from mainland Louisiana by East Cote Blanche Bay to the east, West Cote Blanche Bay to its north, Vermilion Bay to its northwest, and Southwest Pass to the west.


I’m waiting for a call from my fishing buddy Pat Caffery who gets antsy this time of year to put his Boston Whaler, the Lucky Baby, into the water.  When we meet at the boat landing at Cypremort Point, I can count of Pat to have a couple of crab nets, two cast nets and a bag of chicken necks.  His ice chest is usually filled with tuna fish sandwiches and deviled eggs, cold drinks and lots of ice.


After donning out life jackets, we head out of the canal into the open water of Vermilion Bay. Ah, it’s good to be on the salt! There is usually a good breeze making for a little choppy water, but that doesn’t bother us at all


Once in the marsh, we head to one of the dams on the island and hope are early enough to get a place to put out our baited crab nets while we take turns casting nets for shrimp. I spot an alligator nosing around the edge of a shell beach. Herons and gulls swoop down on the water catching their breakfast.


Oops! I see the line pull tart on one of the nets. Wow! Six large crabs in one trap. Our luck holds, and in a matter of a couple of hours, we have over three dozen crabs and about 2 pounds of still-jumping shrimp. Enough for supper. But what will it be? A crab and shrimp stew. Or should we make shrimp cocktails and follow up with crab patties with tartar sauce?  We discuss the possibilities while we take a break under a shrub oak and eat lunch. If we netted a few more shrimp, we could also make a small batch of shrimp beignets!


CRAB AND SHRIMP STEW

  • Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 dozen crabs, scalded
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (heads and shells reserved)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped bell peppers
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Cooked rice for serving

Pull the back off the crabs, clean out the dead man fingers, lungs and center of the crabs.  If there is any fat in the crabs, scoop it out with your fingers and put in a small bowl.  Crack the claws, but do not remove the shells.  Break the crab bodies in half.  Set aside. 


Peel and devein the shrimp.  Put the heads and shells in a large pot with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 hour. 


            Meanwhile, c


ombine the oil and flour in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Stirring slowly and constantly, make a dark brown roux.  Add the onions, bell peppers and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the bay leaves. 


Strain the shrimp stock.  You should have 4 to 5 cups of stock.  Add enough water to make 6 cups.  Add to the roux mixture and stir to blend. Season with salt and cayenne.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. 


Add the reserved crab bodies (and any reserved crab fat) and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the lump crabmeat and shrimp.  Cook for 10 minutes longer.  Remove from the heat and add the parsley.  Serve hot with rice in bowls. 


SHRIMP AND EGGPLANT BEIGNETS


Makes about 2 dozen


  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups solid vegetable shortening

Seasoning mix (combination of 1/8 each of salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder)


            Season the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne.  Heat the two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, 2 to 3 minutes. 


Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink.  Remove and set aside to cool.


            Combine the eggs, milk, baking powder, and the remaining one teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a mixing bowl.  Add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, beating until the batter is smooth.  Add the eggplant and shrimp mixture and fold to mix.


            Heat the shortening in a deep pot or deep fryer to 360 degrees.  Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil.  When the beignets pop to the surface, roll them around in the oil to brown them evenly.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and serve immediately with tartar sauce.


Here is a quick recipe for boiled shrimp AND homemade tartar sauce.


BOILED SHRIMP

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 large lemon, quartered
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1/4 cup cayenne
  • 3 pounds shrimps (leave peelings and heads on)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup cool water

Put the water, lemon, onion and cayenne in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil for five minutes.  Add the shrimp and bring the water back to boil.  Boil for three minutes.  Remove from heat and add the salt and the cool water.  Cover and let stand for three to five minutes.  Time will vary according to the size of the shrimp.  Drain.  Cool for a few minutes before serving. 


CREOLE TARTAR SAUCE

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
  •  1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  •  1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Put the egg, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and green onions in a food processor. Pulse several times to puree. With the processor running, pour in the oil through the food tube in a steady stream. The mixture will thicken. Add the cayenne, mustard and salt, Pulse to blend. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.


Because this is made with raw eggs, it’s best to use the mixture within 24 hours. 



March / April 2014

Blue Plate Specials

by Marcelle Bienvenu


Diners, corner cafes, and Mom and Pop neighborhood bars and restaurants that serve down-home meals, otherwise known as “blue plate specials” may not be as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around. Thank goodness! These institutions usually go the extra mile for their specials, giving large servings and using local ingredients. When I hear the term “blue plate specials” I conjure up such meals as meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, or smothered chicken with lots of gravy atop a mound of white rice, or better yet, stewed okra and tomatoes accompanied by browned round steak and onions!


When I was growing up in St. Martinville, there was a café called Hebert’s and you could tell the day of the week by the menu for the day. The specials were noted on a large chalkboard at the entrance to the establishment. On Monday, it was usually red or white beans served with rice and a link of fresh pork sausage. Tuesday’s lunch was chicken-fried steak accompanied by either macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes (and never made from dehydrated flakes in a box). Fried chicken, potato salad, and peas and carrots was Wednesday’s offering. On Thursday it was meatballs and spaghetti or chicken stew. Friday’s special was always my favorite—fried catfish served with shrimp stew over rice, and cole slaw. Hot French bread and lots of butter was always handy, and Mrs. Hebert made some of the best pies—lemon, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut, and blackberry—I had ever tasted.


Alas, Hebert’s is gone and now I find myself finding about such places by word of mouth, but sometimes I make my own blue plate specials once or twice a month. My husband LOVES these meals but sometimes I have to rein him in because of the richness of these dishes. Remember, moderation in everything!


ROUND STEAK AND ONIONS

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds top round steak, about 1/4 inch thick
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth water, or more as needed
  • 4 medium-size yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped * optional
  • 4 to 5 cups cooked long-grain white rice

Cut the steak into 3-inch squares. Combine the flour, salt and cayenne in a small bowl and blend. Lightly flour each piece of the roux steak. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown, cooking on each side for 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the beef broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned particles.


Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions and bell peppers. Season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted and golden. Add the remaining 1/2 cup water if the mixture has become dry. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat is tender and the onions are very soft. Serve over the rice.


BEST EVER MEATLOAF

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup

Combine the meat, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, mustard, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. With your hands, mix until well blended. (Remove one-fourth of the mixture and seal in a plastic storage bag. I’ll tell you how to get another meal with this.)


Add the eggs to the larger mixture and blend well. Press the mixture firmly into a loaf and refrigerate for one hour.


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the meat loaf in a roasting pan and spread the ketchup all over the top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Serve with peas and cheesy mashed potatoes.


SPAGHETTI WITH BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Makes 4 servings

The reserved mixture from above can be stored in a airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days or frozen for 2 weeks.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • The reserved meatloaf mixture
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatloaf mixture and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until well browned and most of the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes.


Add the red wine and let reduce until almost dry, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the milk, tomatoes, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 13 to 15 minutes. Add the parsley and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.


Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce. When serving, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.


CHICKEN AUX GROS OIGNONS

Makes 6 to 8 servings

It’s best to use a roasting chicken for this as young fryers will cook too quickly and become stringy.

  • 1 roasting chicken, about 5 pounds, cut into serving pieces
  • Salt and cayenne
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn (optional)
  • 1 cup young peas (optional)
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the chicken generously with salt and cayenne. Lightly dust the chicken with flour. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the chicken. Cook, stirring often, until browned evenly. about 10 minutes Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned particles. Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir for about 15 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned particles. The onions should be soft and golden.


Add the water and stir to mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered for one hour, or until the chicken is tender. Stir occasionally. If you wish to add the corn, peas and/or mushrooms, add them now and cook for about 15 minutes, or until all is heated through. Adjust seasonings. Add the parsley and serve immediately over rice.


Save room for dessert.


LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Pie shell


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.


In a medium-size, heavy saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, and salt and mix till well blended. Gradually add the boiling water, stirring constantly and cook over medium heat till the mixture thickens, stirring. Add the lemon rind and juice and stir.


In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks till foamy, add a small amount of the hot lemon mixture to them, stirring constantly, and then pour the egg mixture into the lemon mixture in the saucepan, stirring. Add the butter and continue cooking, stirring, till the mixture is very thick. Pour into the baked pie shell.


In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer till thickened. Gradually add the 6 tablespoons sugar and beat till stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, cover the pie with the meringue, being careful to seal the edges. With a spoon, make a few peaks in the meringue. Bake just till the top has browned slightly, about 10 minutes. Cool before serving.





February / March 2014

Carnival Season

By Marcelle Bienvenu


Everyone in south Louisiana is up in arms during this long Carnival season. This winter’s cold weather blasts have sent our little delectable crawfish deep into the mud to keep warm. Plus it’s much too cold for the crawfishermen to get out on the ponds to pick up their nets! What a calamity! But have no fear, the weather in Louisiana changes in the blink of an eye. According to the weathermen, we will have days of balmy 65-degree weather in between the cold weather.


I’m just as anxious as the next person to have my first taste of crawfish, whether it be at a crawfish boil or an etouffee, and a myriad dishes made with our freshwater crustaceans. While I’m waiting for the warm weather to slide in, I’ve made my list of dishes I hope to prepare when I get my hands on fresh Louisiana crawfish tails.


CRAWFISH CORNBREAD


Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos
  • 1 cup cream-style corn
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 370 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan.


Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.


Remove from the oven and let sit for several minutes before cutting into squares to serve.


CRAWFISH FRITTERS


Makes about 2 dozen

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • ½ pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups solid vegetable shortening for frying

Seasoning mix (combination of 1/8 each of salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder)


Season the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne. Heat the two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, 2 or 3 minutes.


Add the onions and cook stirring, until soft, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring, until they throw off some of their liquid, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.


In medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, baking powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, beating until the batter is smooth. Add the eggplant and crawfish mixture, and fold to mix.


Heat about 4 fingers of the shortening in a deep pot or electric fryer to 360˚F. Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil. When the beignets pop to the surface, roll them around in the oil to brown them evenly. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and serve immediately with the remoulade sauce for dipping.


Remoulade sauce


Makes about 2 cups

  • ¼ cup Creole mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 cups vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients except the oil in an electric blender or food processor. Cover and blend at low speed for 30 seconds. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil in a steady stream. Sauce will thicken. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


* Since the mayonnaise is made with a raw egg, it’s best to use within 24 hours


CRAWFISH STUFFED BELL PEPPERS


Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails plus
  • 2 cups crawfish puree
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Cooked long-grain rice


Heat the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to throw off a little liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne. Remove from the heat. Add the green onions and parsley.


Combine the mixture with 3 to 4 cups cooked rice.


For the stuffed peppers:


Cut red and/or green bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Put the peppers in a shallow baking pan with about ¼ inch water or chicken broth and bake in a 350-degree oven until the peppers are slightly soft. Drain off the liquid in the pan. Spoon the crawfish/rice mixture into the peppers, sprinkle with bread crumbs and return to the oven. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.


* You can also bind the crawfish mixture (without the rice) with bread crumbs and use it to stuff flounder.


KING CAKES

I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to King Cakes, which means I like the old-fashion kind that was made with rich, buttery brioche dough topped with the purple, green and gold colored sugar toppings. But this year I’ve made a list of some of the newer flavors to try this year. For example, on cajungrocer.com I spotted the Cajun Kringle king cake that features praline filling topped with caramel icing and pecans. Wow! There is also one with chocolate and cream cheese filling. OMG!


I also spotted one recently that was labeled “bananas Foster” and I brought that home and ate it all by myself.


If you really want to do something over the top – do as my sister does. When there are pieces of leftover king cake, she stores them in airtight containers in the freezer, then when she has enough to measure about 4 cups (cut into small cubes), she makes a king cake bread pudding! Use your favorite bread pudding recipe and simply substitute the bread with the king cake.





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