A great little cajun’ ditty by
above – “to be with my sweet Adalida, I’d swim the Pontchartrain!” George Strait
* Lesson 3: Blackening spice is a key ingredient in many cajun’ recipies. It contains several spices but the predominant taste is from the mixture of peppers. The peppers include white, black, and red (cayenne) pepper – more red if you like it hot! Additionally add paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, and oregano. The spice blend will have a rust color but will turn black on the entrée you add it to once cooked. Generally you would want to apply the mixture to a thin piece of fish or well pounded chicken so that you can cook at a higher temperature (less time) with the high heat giving the spice blend a crusty texture without overcooking the meat.
* Lesson 4: What is the difference between Cajun’ and Creole. I read once the difference is “nothing and everything!” Cajun’ is a slurred name for the French Canadians (Acadians) that moved to
from the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Creole is derived from a Spanish term and tends to mean “native to the colony” so it represents the melting pot of cultures that developed along the Gulf Coast including French, Spanish, Native American, African American, the West Indies, Central, and South America. Hence, Creole cuisine is a wonderful blend of the French, Spanish, African, and Native American cuisines. For example, the spices and the “holy trinity” are derivatives of European cuisine, the seafood was local, and many vegetables such as okra were brought to the New World from Louisiana Africa. Cajuns’ tend to live in the county while Creole culture is more cosmopolitan. Btw, I watched “Interview with A Vampire” last night; Le Stat samples some great Creole ladies in that movie!
* Lesson 5: Differences between Etouffe, Gumbo, and Jambalaya
Gumbo has a thick soup/chowder consistency from its base or roux (flour & butter) and is then flavored with stock (w/mire poix), vegetables (usually including okra), and any available meat. Jambalaya is simply a flavored or “dirty rice” and again using whatever meat is available (sausage, seafood, etc) and perhaps a light stock. Etouffe means smothered and is basically a stew usually including seafood (shrimp or crawfish) and served over rice. The more popular Creole style Etouffe adds tomatoes giving it the distinctive red color.
* Lesson 6: Let’s Cook – An easy Shrimp n’ Grits (serves 4 to 6)
For the Grits: 8 cups of water, 3 cups of stone ground grits, 1 stick unsalted butter, salt & pepper to taste
For the Sauce: 2 tbs vegetable oil, 1½ # andouille sausage, 1 cup diced bacon, 1½ # (21/25 ct) shrimp (pdv, peeled/deveinied), ½ cup chopped/peeled tomatoes, ¼ cup each of finely sliced scallions and green peppers, 4 tsp minced garlic, 4 tsp Cajun-style blackening spice (see above), 1 cup salt free chicken stock, 4 tbs butter, salt & pepper to taste
For Grits: Bring water to rolling boil and turn down heat, gently wisk in grits. Keep grits at a simmer. Add salt, pepper, and butter when grits are completely immersed but before thick. Keep on simmer until grits are thick and keep on low heat until shrimp and sauce ready to serve.
For Sauce: Heat oil on high in sauté pan on stove top burner. Once oil is sizzling, add bacon and sausage and cook until brown and caramelized. Reduce heat to medium and add shrimp, tomatoes, scallions, peppers, and garlic. Once ingredients blended completely stir in Cajun blackening spices. Next, pour in chicken stock and cook for 1 minute. Add butter and melt into mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Serve Shrimp over grits and put a Beausoleil CD on!
Note: I have to admit this recipe actually comes from a
cookbook but it is good. Btw, Charleston, SC Low-Country is probably my other favorite cuisine, though very similar to Creole. I’ll put out some Gullah cuisine at a later date. Carolina
I hope I don’t offend anyone here but I can’t help leaving before telling a cajun’ joke, so here goes:
- Boudreaux was lying on his death bed. The doctor had already told him that he surely wouldn't live another week. Suddenly, and much to Boudreaux's glee, a wonderful aroma hit Boudreaux like a Gulf Coast Hurricane. He knew that the smell meant one thing - his wife had jes’ made her uh pot of gumbo. Boudreaux wanted a bowl sooo bad, but he was no longer able to walk, so he crawlt’ himself out of bed and into the kitchen. Just as Boudreaux was reaching for the pot, his wife barked out, "Boudreaux! Shame on you! You know ‘dat gumbo is going to be for the funeral." Ayee!
And let me give a shout out to my favorite restaurant of all time. If you are ever on the
go to Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant, you’ll never forget it – especially if you meet the owner, Bobby. Mississippi Gulf Coast
And Happy Mardi Gras!