Years ago, I visited a friend on Christmas Eve night since I was not returning to my family gathering in Virginia over the holidays. My friend served “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.” How interesting, I mused, to serve a simple soup on this special occasion. Since that dinner, I have eaten gumbo at other Christmas Eve night celebrations. And I have learned that gumbo holds a very reverend traditional place in Cajun and Creole families on Christmas Eve. I am attempting to reproduce my friend’s gumbo — a deep colored, flavorful soup with chicken and sausage. It was, by far, one of the best gumbos that I have ever eaten.
Bread Pudding is the quintessential New Orleans dessert. Every restaurant in the city has some sort of variation. Here’s an twist to this southern dessert. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie spices along with pecans really dress up classical bread pudding. And it appears like a cake when baked in a spring form pan. I served the dessert with bourbon sauce. Delicious. With Louisiana sweet potatoes available in the fall, this is a good time to make this variation.
Here’s a different sort of soup recipe; it is very tasty — “Italian Wedding Soup.” I was excited to find a recipe which includes fresh dill — now have a good use for the herb which grows in my garden. Although the soup is often served at weddings (and June is a popular wedding month) the title actually refers to the “marriage” of the flavors in the soup — not the actual wedding. But please serve this soup any time of the year — the hearty soup is also very healthy and satisfying. . Continue reading
Here’s a traditional Louisiana-style recipe for “White Beans and Smoked Ham.” Although the recipe, “Red Beans & Rice,” is commonly associated with Louisiana cuisine, white beans are served in the South, too. This dish is often found as part of “plate dinners” or on cafeteria lines. White beans are mild flavored — and combined with some seasonings the beans are quite tasty. Dried beans have many health benefits — they are high in fiber (the kind that lowers cholesterol and controls blood sugar) and protein — so I’m trying to eat them more frequently. And a pound of beans makes a large batch — enough for several meals. Continue reading
I happened to mention to a friend that I was looking for recipes which use fresh Louisiana strawberries for my blog. She replied by saying that she has a great recipe which she makes every Easter using local strawberries. Bonnie shared her family tradition and recipe for “Miniature Strawberry Cheesecakes”. It’s a delightful recipe. Surely everyone will love to eat it!
Here’s a recipe that combines crawfish with seasonings and diced eggplant. The stuffing is piled back into eggplant shells and baked. For eggplant lovers, this is a great dish. If you don’t have crawfish available, then substitute shrimp. This is one if my favorite seafood dishes which I’m naming, “Crawfish-Stuffed Eggplant Pirogues.” It can be served either as a main dish or side dish, just double the crawfish for a main dish.
Spring is crawfish season in Louisiana. I have several scrumptious crawfish recipes to share this year. “Cajun Fried Crawfish Tails” is not the most common way to serve this mudbug but it is a delicious dish. The fried crawfish are small, crispy and they “pop” with spicy Cajun seasonings. They remind me of fried popcorn shrimp. The “secret ingredient” in my recipe is Tabasco Sauce. It adds just the right touch of “hot” to this dish. Serve the fried crawfish as an appetizer or as part of a salad or at any special occasion where you want something really different to share.
This year, in celebration of Mardi Gras, I am making cupcakes with colorful cream cheese icing for an event where everyone is expected to bring a dessert. Mardi Gras has been celebrated since the early beginnings of New Orleans and was originally a Catholic holiday of indulging in a rich meal before the beginning of Lent. Over time Mardi Gras has extended well beyond the Catholic religion and “Fat Tuesday.” Lots of revelry and fun for everyone. So my cupcakes are “in the spirit” of the Mardi Gras season.
When I think of Mardi Gras, I think of New Orleans and recall all of our adventures to the city during carnival season. New Orleans has a distinct and rich cuisine; we’ve eaten at many restaurants over the years during these times. Blackened redfish, made famous by Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme, is one of the memorable dishes of this city. With carnival season and Mardi Gras arriving soon, here’s my “blackened recipe,” a version using chicken rather than redfish.
Sour Grapes. Guess who is not going to the Super Bowl Championship game this year? The New Orleans Saints football team and fans. This includes our family who managed to watch over 50% of the Saint’s games this fall including several exciting wins. To commemorate the loss, I am posting two “sour grapes” recipes this week. In case you might like to try making them yourself on “Super Bowl Sunday,” I’m posting recipes for “Sour Grape Cocktails” and “Sour Grapes” today.