Baked Crawfish Macaroni and Cheese & a Shrimp Variation

Here is my second crawfish recipe for this spring during the peak of the Louisiana crawfish harvest. I don’t think that I would have considered making macaroni and cheese with crawfish but a local magazine featured this dish. Wow, this baked version is pretty good. Although I was skeptical at first about adding seafood to macaroni and cheese, the flavors blend nicely. The recipe uses penne pasta baked in a creamy cheese sauce and topped with Italian bread crumbs. Yum. Since crawfish tails are so, so expensive, I made several “trial runs” of the recipe using peeled shrimp. These turned out great, too. Here is a shrimp variation.

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Easy Crawfish and Corn Bisque & Shrimp Variation

Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for Louisiana crawfish — “Crawfish and Corn Bisque.” Crawfish season in Louisiana has arrived and it is time to cook up some crawfish recipes. Our local Rouse’s Supermarket serves a very tasty version of “Crawfish and Corn Bisque” on their soup and salad bar. Surprised to find crawfish soup at a grocery store? The Rouse folks are from New Orleans and they do know how to cook. I like to occasionally stop by and pick up a quick noon meal at Rouse’s lunch counter; this time they were serving the soup. I have been contemplating making the bisque myself and decided to concoct make my own recipe by combining ideas from several Louisiana chefs and sources.

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New Orleans Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole is a venerable and classic New Orleans entrée. It combines the “Holy Trinity” of fresh vegetable seasonings with tomatoes, spices and shrimp to make a flavorful and satisfying dish. Although not seen as frequently on restaurant menus as perhaps in past years, the entrée is certainly served in New Orleans’ homes during Lent on Fridays. And most Louisiana chefs have a rendition of this dish somewhere in their files. With Lent here, I am making my Shrimp Creole recipe again. There are two approaches to making this dish — since I couldn’t decide which I like better; I made both variations. And I love tomatoes. This is my type of dish. Serve Shrimp Creole with rice. (And I have included several Mardi Gras 2021 photos at the end of the post.)

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Classic New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding

I am making “Classic New Orleans Bread Pudding” as a sentimental tribute to all the Mardi Gras parades and festivities which have been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sad, but true — hard to social distance with these huge crowds and parades — and they have all been cancelled in the greater New Orleans area. Most restaurants in southern Louisiana offer a variation of Bread Pudding on their dessert menus — I view this as the quintessential New Orleans dessert. My favorite bread pudding recipe comes from well-known Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme, and his Louisiana K-Paul’s restaurant. His recipe hits the spices just right — it is something special. I have adapted Prudhomme’s recipe slightly and am making it in honor of Mardi Gras this year. I will miss the fun and revelry!

 

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Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes

You can’t get more southern than “Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes.” I’m making this very traditional Creole/Cajun dish — “Shrimp Etouffee” — this week and I am serving it with “Fried Green Tomatoes” using the last of the tomatoes that I picked from my summer garden. Usually etouffee is made with crawfish when served in restaurants and found in cookbooks. However, peeled crawfish tails are priced out of my food budget this spring and summer. Shrimp makes a mighty tasty etouffee, too. And for a variation, I am making a “low-fat roux” or a “dry roux” to cut down on the butter/oil in this rich Louisiana dish.

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Crawfish or Chicken Tetrazzini — Your Choice

Peeled crawfish tails blend very nicely with pasta to create some mighty tasty entrees and pasta salads. Springtime is when crawfish are in season, so I thought I’d adapt one of my favorite pasta dishes, “Chicken Tetrazzini,” substituting crawfish tails. Tetrazzini is a chicken or seafood pasta dish with mushrooms in a rich cream and cheese sauce. It is one of the first casserole dishes which I learned to make and is still one of my favorites. The crawfish recipe is a slight adaption to enhance the dish. I included my original chicken tetrazzini recipe and also a crawfish variation. Both are delicious and fitting for a springtime dinner!

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Louisiana-Style Crispy Oven Fried Catfish

When people come to visit us here in Louisiana, they often ask where to go to eat authentic Louisiana seafood. We usually mention Middendorf’s Restaurant which is located about an hour away from here. The seafood restaurant is on the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, the north side, at Pass Manchac. The restaurant has been around since 1934 and is favorite of locals. Their best-known entree is crispy thin-cut fried catfish. I decided to see if I could replicate the dish retaining the flavor but “frying” the catfish in the oven to avoid all the effort involved in deep fat frying. Here’s the restaurant’s catfish. Mine looks a little different but tastes great.

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Savory Andouille King Cake

Mardi Gras is this Tuesday, with parades, revelry, krewes and their balls and king cakes. It wouldn’t be Mardi Gras without king cakes and hundreds of these are sold in the weeks preceding Mardi Gras in Louisiana and the Golf Coast. These desserts are rich pastries baked in an oval shape and decorated with green, purple and burnt orange sugar or icing. Often they are filled with cinnamon sugar, cream cheese, cherries or countless other fillings. This week, our local newspaper featured recipe for a “Boudin King Cake” which is a savory pastry filled with Cajun Boudin sausage. That’s sort of a unique twist on dessert king cakes, I mused. Why not give it a try. And so I made a variation, “Savory Andouille King Cake.”

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Let’s cook: Louisiana Crawfish Bisque

We’ve had a bit of warm weather here in Louisiana and my azalea bushes are bursting into bloom. This reminds me that spring — and Mardi Gras — are on the way. Along with spring comes crawfish season. These crustaceans are plentiful this year, so I’m planning on making a several crawfish dishes. This week I’m attempting to cook Crawfish Bisque. This wonderful, thick soup is prepared in a way that is unique to Louisiana. The crawfish add a distinct favor. The traditional way to make Crawfish Bisque is an all-day process, so I’m adapting the recipe to something that I can manage. The bisque is still tasty and delicious!

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Cajun Hash Browns at Louie’s Cafe — an LSU Tradition

If you are an LSU football fan; this is the year to celebrate. And if you follow college football in general, then you should know that the undefeated LSU football team is top-ranked in the country. We’re going to the national championship playoff game on Monday at the New Orleans’ Superdome. LSU vs. Clemson. To commemorate the successful year of LSU Tiger football, I’m going to make the signature dish of Louie’s Cafe — hash browns. This small diner is located next to LSU’s campus and is a favorite eating place of LSU students  Louie’s hash browns are both unique and delicious. Here we go. This is my copycat attempt.

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