Monday, July 25, 2011

#8 The Way that You're a Lookin', You Got Me Cookin' and I ain't Talkin' 'bout Etoufee'

Ryan's Liner Notes:  Sorry to be all-pouty here but this post while very fun to write created a lot of disappointment for me.  On an impulse I had written a post a few weeks earlier about making pizza and gave some directions on how to make a Margharita pizza.  That gave me a thought to write an occasional food post and keep it to very simple quick things anyone could do at home.  Kind of like taking Giada and repackaging her into a Target box.  Well, I guess I'm not as hot as her either.

I did a second post about Superbowl food that got 1 comment but I still hadn't put a whole lot of effort in so I wrote that off.

But once I got the idea of food posts I was really angling toward Mardi Gras.  Creole cuisine is probably my favorite and I have spent some time living and working near that part of the country so I was sure I could come up with something interesting.  I worked really hard on putting together information about creole/cajun cuisine, the subtle but distinct differences between some of the most popular dishes, some facts about Mardi Gras including King Cakes, and put together a really good Shrimp 'n Grits recipe.

However, I got ZERO comments and from a hits standpoint it was a bit of a dud as well.  I guess everyone was parting and didn't have time to read :(

I don't think anyone even read down to the funny Cajun' joke at the bottom!  Jesus Ryan do you want some cheese to go with that WHINE?!

Oh well, maybe the second time will be the charm, so here goes.

The Way that You're a Lookin', You Got Me Cookin' and I ain't Talkin' 'bout Etoufee'

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 Charleston, SC 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!


France said...

No comment on the original one? :(
Maybe everyone was busy gathering ingredients for recipes!

Now I'm hungry for a nice jambalaya. I never understood the appeal of grits though.

Ryan Beaumont said...

That's because you have never eaten my grits! Really they are just like a quinoa or cous cous but drowned in butter with salt 'n peppa!