Thursday, July 19, 2012

Retro Summer - the Old Posts: Favorite Food Post - The Way You're Lookin' You Got Me Cookin'

I always say if at first you don't succeed try, try again!  This will be my 3rd time posting this post. It's my favorite food post and yet the first two times I posted it (back in March, 2011 and again during the summer of 2011) nobody ever commented.  I think it's because I violated that less is more standard I wrote about the other day.  People saw how long this post was and the fact that their probably wasn't any sex and they just gave up.  

Too bad, further down I have a great Cajun' joke, a good recipe for shrimp and grits, and a link to my favorite restaurant of all time.  But you have to read to the end.

Maybe this time somebody will at least tell me I don't know what the hell I'm talkin' about!

So somebody please, please comment - or I will likely be posting this again some time next summer when I take next year's break!   :)

Retro Summer (Favorite Food Post) - The Way You're Lookin' You Got Me Cookin'
Originally Posted March 7, 2011

Ayeee!  It Mardi Gras tomorrow!  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

A great little cajun’ ditty by George Strait above – “to be with my sweet Adalida, I’d swim the Pontchartrain!”

So speaking about Etoufee, with it being Mardi Gras tomorrow and since I can’t show you my tits  for beads out here in the blogosphere, I’ll just share some cajun’ culinary wisdom with you.  Actually, could I set up an HNT then you could pay me in beads through PayPal?  OK, so the Beaumont blood runs deep southern; in fact I picked this name because it sounded so Southern!  Oh you thought that was actually my real name, oops – forget I said that.  Anyway, I have cooked many a Cajun/creole meal so I have a lot to offer! In fact over the years I believe I have developed a specialty for Southern poor folk food.  Funny how poor folk food finds its way into haute cuisine J

*         Lesson 1:  almost all cajun’ and creole cuisine is based off of a stock flavored by either a Mire Poix (diced onions, carrots, celery) from French cuisine or a derivative and what folks on the Bayou call “The Holy Trinity” which is chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery in a 1:2:3 ratio.  The stock would additionally be flavored with any meat or seafood available and then added to rice, vegetables, etc. to create a gumbo or other dish such as red beans and rice.

*         Lesson 2:  Every good Mardi Gras party needs a King Cake.  A King Cake is decorated with the Mardi Gras colors of the festival of Epiphany (gold, purple, and green).  These colors represent the colors of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which were the gifts the 3 Wise Men gave Jesus (@ Epiphany). Of course Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the celebration before the beginning of lent which begins on Ash Wednesday.  This is one final blow-out for Catholics to drink, party, screw, etc just before giving everything up over lent J  A token should be placed in every King Cake symbolizing the Baby Jesus.  Whoever gets the Baby Jesus in their slice is supposed to host the next Mardi Gras party according to lore!  FYI, if anyone wants to see me making a King Cake send me an e-mail and I will give you my AM pass-key, I have it in my private photos (sorry, that was shameful) J

            To make a King Cake take several tubes of Cinnamon roll dough and roll it out as thinly.  Then braid the tubes together (see picture).  Let the dough proof and then bake.  Spread a normal white icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle gold, purple, and green glitter over alternating sections of the cake/braid.

*         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 Louisiana 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 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 CharlestonSC cookbook but it is good.  Btw, Carolina Low-Country is probably my other favorite cuisine, though very similar to Creole.  I’ll put out some Gullah cuisine at a later date.

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 Mississippi Gulf Coast go to Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant, you’ll never forget it – especially if you meet the owner, Bobby.

And Happy Mardi Gras!


Gertie said...

Mary Mahoney's looks very yummy, now you have a comment proving Third Time's a Charm!

Same sassy girl said...

Mary Mahoney's looks incredible! You may take me there anytime. :)