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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

TURDUCKEN TIME!!!

If you haven’t ordered your turducken, then you had better get to it! Your holiday table won’t be complete without one or two! I also highly recommend the qua–duc-ant (quail/duck/pheasant). AND if you have any leftover (which you probably won’t), it can be used to make a gumbo. The combination of the quail, duck and pheasant makes an incredible gumbo – simply use your chicken and sausage gumbo recipe and add chunks of the qua-duc-ant! Better order two or three to stash in your freezer for the upcoming holidays. Also the qua-duc-ant can be sliced to make a magnificent poorboy slathered with Creole mustard.

HOLIDAY DESSERTS – SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
By Marcelle Bienvenu

Mama loved to end her meal with something sweet, whether it was a simple sugar cookie or a couple of chocolate Kisses. Papa, on the other hand, could gorge himself on an entire box of Heavenly Hash. Sister Edna likes cakes. She will bake one at the drop of a hat and snack on it all day. Brother Henri Clay adores sweets. He never seems to get enough cakes, pies, cookies, candies, ice cream, or whatever sweet concoction anyone comes up with, and for holidays, he relishes in all the desserts. Baby Brother Bruce favors lemon pie and homemade ice cream.

I, thank goodness, rarely crave sweets. When I do, a couple of Oreos, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a small Butterfinger will do the trick.

When it comes to holiday feasts, we really blow it out. Henri says to bring it all on, so there is always a great variety.

For years, our Aunt Eva, who was not a terribly good cook but a terrific baker, supplied a four-layered coconut cake that was outstanding for the Thanksgiving feast. Aunt Claudia, the family pie-maker, produced the best-ever apple pie and a pecan pie that was stupendous. Aunt Taye was the candy-maker and her divinity fudge was unsurpassable.

But Aunt Eva has passed on, and we haven’t tasted any of Aunt Claudia’s pies or Aunt Taye’s candies in years, so it’s my generation’s turn to walk in their shoes.



SWEET POTATO PIE
Makes 1 pie to serve 8

This sweet potato pie is usually my offering for the holidays. I ate so many sweet potatoes as a child, I was nicknamed “Patate Douce.”
  • 3 medium-size sweet potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • Flaky Pie Crust (recipe follows), unbaked
  • Whipped cream
In a medium-size saucepan of boiling water, cook the sweet potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, let cool, then peel and mash. You should have about 3 cups.

the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace and salt. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes and add the evaporated milk. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and bake on the bottom rack of the oven until the center is firm, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove and serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.



CRANBERRY CRUMB TART
Makes 1 tart to serve 10

This cranberry tart is also from my repertoire of holiday desserts. I never did like cranberry sauce, but for the past several years, I’ve experimented with fresh cranberries and like the flavor and texture in a dessert such as this one.
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups to 3 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed, drained and picked over (about two 12-ounce bags)
  • Prebaked Tart Shell (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour and 1 ¾ cups of the sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Continue cutting until the mixture forms nickel-size clumps that crumb easily.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the remaining ¾ cup sugar (or more if you want it sweeter) with the salt. Add the cranberries and toss to coat well.

Spoon the cranberries into the prebaked tart shell, mounding them slightly in the center. Using your fingers, lightly squeeze pieces of the crumb topping and drop them gently over the berries. Do not press the topping into the fruit.

Bake until the toping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Unmold the tart and place on a serving platter. Serve at room temperature.



PREBAKED TART SHELL
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Place the flour in a medium-size bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in ¼ cup cold water. Sprinkle over the flour mixture, tossing the mixture until the dough begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and form it into a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large round, 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Trim to a 13-inch circle. Dust the dough lightly with flour and fold into quarters. Place it with the point in the center, in a 9 ½ to 10-inch tart pan, about one inch deep, with a removable bottom. Open up the pastry and fit it into the pan, folding in the excess to reinforce the sides. Press the pastry against the fluted sides of the pan and trim off any excess dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the pastry with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the pastry is almost dry 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, prick the bottom and sides all over with a fork, and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.



OLD-FASHIONED APPLE PIE
Makes 1 pie to serve 8

I’m not sure how Aunt Claudia made her apple pies, but this one comes mighty close to what I remember.

Pastry:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Filling:
  • 3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch slices
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup heavy cream
To make the crust, place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the shortening and butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the machine running, add enough of the ice water through the feed tube for the dough to gather into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

To make the filling, toss the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cream together.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Divide the dough in half. Roll out one piece to an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough, leaving the edge untrimmed.

Spoon the apple filling into the pie shell. Roll out the remaining dough into another 11-inch circle. Carefully place over the top of the pie. Trim and crimp the edges. Any excess dough can be used for decorating the top of the pie if you wish.

Cut four steam vents in the top of the pie.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 40 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.



FLAKY PIE CRUST
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
In a mediums-size bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add three tablespoons water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition. Add one more tablespoon of water, if needed, so that the dough holds together. Gather into a bowl and flatten slightly.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and fit it against the bottom and sides without stretching. Trim to ½ inch of the edge, fold the extra dough under and crimp decoratively.


MAY/JUNE 2013

HERBS – A BOUQUET OF IDEAS

My first encounter with fresh herbs was years ago when my Tante Belle showed me her crop of peppermint that grew profusely under the faucet that protruded from her screen porch. During the summer months when it was almost too hot too move, she would make a huge pitcher of homemade lemonade.

As far as I was concerned it was extra special, made so by the addition of fresh mint sprigs that were stirred in right before serving. I also remember her hacking out a big chunk of ice from the big block that was wrapped in a sack and stored in her old-time ice box. Then with her trusty red-handled ice pick, she would splinter the ice into smaller pieces which were then wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. That’s when I would step in, and with a hammer pound the ice into finely crushed crystals which was added to the lemonade. Armed with a tray loaded with the lemonade and big tall glasses, we would head out to a great old swing hanging from a massive oak tree in her back yard to sit until the cool of the evening set in. I’ll never forget the scent and taste of that mint in the lemonade.

Another herb I grew accustomed to was parsley.

Tante Bell’s sister Tante May was fond of fresh parsley and always had a plot of it near the door to her kitchen. Nary a pot of gumbo or soup, or a plate of food, went unadorned by a few sprigs of the bright green herb. She often put a few leaves in her mouth while she cooked, saying it rejuvenated her taste buds.

Lemon verbena was a favorite of Aunt Grace, who had several shrubs growing near her old cistern. Most of her crop was hung to dry in her potting shed, then was crushed and put into small muslin bags to stash in her linen closet. However, I do remember her stuffing a handful or two into the cavity of a roasting hen. Ah, the fragrance was delightful.

Through the years I have come to love many fresh herbs and the foods they enhance. During the summer I enjoy slivers of fresh basil leaves sprinkled on slices of Creole tomatoes. Practically all year round, I love to add several sprigs of rosemary to a pot of pork or veal. Cilantro (also known as coriander or Chinese parsley) goes well with tomatoes too, and I also like to add some leaves to green salads or to sprinkle some on baked fish.

There’s so many things to do with herbs; remember a chef telling me that herbs can change a dish from a $1.00 dish to a $10.00 dish. These days, many supermarkets carry a fairly good assortment so you have no excuse for not trying some out. And many herbs can be easily grown in pots on a sunny window sill. Right now, during the warmer months, is an ideal time to do some experimenting. Team them with fresh garden vegetables, or use them when grilling meats and fowl. Toss fresh thyme leaves in olive oil and pour over steaks, pork chops or sausage before grilling. Come on, there are really no hard and fast rules about what goes with what. That’s the fun of it.


This tangy and refreshing Middle Eastern cracked wheat salad makes a light summer meal or served with grilled chicken or kabobs.

TABBOULEH

Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 1/4 bulgur
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Romaine leaves, cleaned and patted dry
Rinse the bulgur and place in a bowl covered by one inch of water. Allow to soak for one hour.

In a hot, ungreased skillet, carefully toast the coriander and allspice. Then remove and cool. Grind with a pestle and mortar or in a small food processor. Set aside.

Sprinkle the tomatoes and cucumbers with salt and allow to drain in a colander. Set aside for about 15 minutes.

When the bulgur has absorbed the water, drain in a colander, then squeeze out any remaining moisture with your hands to prevent sogginess. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic, onions, parsley, mint, crush pepper, and the coriander and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil and toss to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange the tabbouleh on the Romaine leaves to serve.


This herb-flavored butter is great to spread on corn-on-the-cob, or tossed with fresh green beans that have been blanched in boiling water for several minutes, or tossed with pasta.

BASIL-GARLIC BUTTER
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon white wine
  • 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Combine all of the ingredients and stir to mix well. Can be refrigerated or served at room temperature.


If you’re successful with growing mint, it can sometimes get out of hand, but there are many things to do with mint. This mint sauce can be drizzled on lamb chops or grilled chicken breasts, or cooked carrots.

SUMMER MINT SAUCE

Makes 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the water and the mint leaves. Remove from the heat and let stand for at least one.

If you wish, you can strain the syrup, but I rather like the mint leaves in the sauce. It makes it more intense. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

Order some of our frozen tails on our website and plan to celebrate that it’s summertime and the living is easy!

This is a sinfully good and easy way to prepare lobster tails. Defrost the lobsters, then split the shell lengthwise (use kitchen shears) and gently remove the meat. (Allow one tail per person.) On low heat, melt enough butter in which to submerge the lobster tail. Here’s where you can get creative – add a little mashed fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, a pinch or two of hot sauce, maybe a pinch or two of fresh dill, salt and freshly ground black pepper. On low heat, allow the lobster tails to poach in the mixture – it shouldn’t take longer than 8 to 10 minutes – depending on the size of the lobster tails. Serve the warm, buttery lobster tails on a bed of linguini tossed with garlic and good olive oil, or simply serve them with toasted French bread and thick slices of tomatoes garnished with fresh basil leaves.


MARCH/APRIL 2013

CRAWFISH SEASON


I’m just back from four days in Santa Clara, California attending an international travel promotion show. It was spectacular—complete with areas devoted to zip lines, mountain climbing, a segway course AND a pool in which to bounce around zipped inside huge clear beach balls!


But the Louisiana entourage was THE hit at the culinary stage. I was part of the group with the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and we cooked a plethora of what else, but crawfish-based dishes. Every time it was announced that we were cooking crawfish, attendees began lining up to taste our sumptuous dishes. On the “menu” was crawfish etouffee, crawfish stuffed bell peppers, crawfish and eggplant fritters with remoulade sauce, crawfish salad in avocado halves, and my personal favorite—crawfish fettuccini.


You had better get your stash of fresh, live crawfish, boiled crawfish, peeled crawfish tails and crawfish puree so you can duplicate our dishes at YOUR house. Don’t forget the French bread!


This can be mixed with rice to make a crawfish jambalaya. I also mixed it with rice and used it as a stuffing for red and green bell peppers.


CRAWFISH STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

  • Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails plus 2 cups crawfish puree
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Cooked long-grain rice:


Heat the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to throw off a little liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the water and flour mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne. Remove from the heat. Add the green onions and parsley.


Combine the mixture with 3 to 4 cups cooked rice.


For the stuffed peppers:
Cut red and/or green bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Put the peppers in a shallow baking pan with about ¼ inch water or chicken broth and bake in a 350-degree oven until the peppers are slightly soft. Drain off the liquid in the pan. Spoon the crawfish/rice mixture into the peppers, sprinkle with bread crumbs and return to the oven. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve warm.



CRAWFISH FRITTERS

  • Makes about 2 dozen
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • ½ pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups solid vegetable shortening for frying

Seasoning mix (combination of 1/8 each of salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder)


Season the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne. Heat the two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, 2 or 3 minutes.


Add the onions and cook stirring, until soft, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring, until they throw off some of their liquid, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.


In medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, baking powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, beating until the batter is smooth. Add the eggplant and crawfish mixture, and fold to mix.


Heat about 4 fingers of the shortening in a deep pot or electric fryer to 360°F. Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil. When the beignets pop to the surface, roll them around in the oil to brown them evenly. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and serve immediately with the remoulade sauce for dipping.


Remoulade sauce

  • Makes about 2 ½ cups
  • ¼ cup Creole mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

Put all the ingredients except the oil in an electric blender or food processor. Cover and blend at low speed for 30 seconds. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil in a steady stream. Sauce will thicken. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. * Since the mayonnaise is made with a raw egg, it’s best to use within 24 hours.



    CRAWFISH IN SPICY CREOLE MUSTARD

    • Makes 8 to 10 appetizer portions
    • 1/4 cup Creole mustard
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • 1/4 cup rice or red wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
    • 1 tablespoon ketchup
    • 1/8 teaspoon (about 6 dashes) Tabasco sauce
    • Zest from 1/2 lemon, finely chopped
    • 1 pinch chopped parsley, plus 1 tablespoon chopped in reserve
    • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions, plus 2 tablespoons chopped in reserve
    • Cracked black pepper to taste
    • 1 ½ pounds peel crawfish tails, rinsed

    Combine all of the ingredients (except for the 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions) in a mixing bowl and whisk until all is well blended. Refrigerate for 24 hours. It may be stored for up to one week. When ready to use, whisk again. To serve, toss the rinsed crawfish tails in some of the sauce, according to your personal taste. Add the reserved parsley and green onions. This is excellent served atop assorted mixed salad greens, or in tomato or avocado halves.



Whenever I have a crowd over for a crawfish supper, this is THE ONE. It’s very rich, creamy and oh, so delicious.


SHRIMP AND CRAWFISH FETTUCCINI

  • 3 sticks butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound Gruyere or Fontina cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • Salt and cayenne
  • 1 pound fettuccini, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy, large Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until they are wilted and lightly golden.


Add the flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring often, for two to three minutes. Add the parsley, shrimp and crawfish. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.


Add the half-and-half, cheese, jalapeno peppers and garlic. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture thickens, about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.


Arrange the fettuccini in a three-quart casserole and pour the seafood mixture evenly over it. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.


FEBRUARY/MARCH 2013

By Marcelle Bienvenu


I don’t want to see a King Cake until next Carnival season. I’ve had so many (cream-cheese filled, cinnamon, blueberry, strawberry, and even lemon curd) that even the Carnival colors of gold, green and purple have lost their luster.


I believe I am primed for the season of Lent, although before I know it we’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day, which will certainly entail more eating.


Crawfish season is NOW and I’m ready for anything cooked with our Louisiana freshwater crustaceans. And in fact, something just caught my eye on this website – crawfish jelly! I’m ordering some pronto and can’t wait to figure out what to spread it on – toast, biscuits, chunks of cheese???


In the meantime, my taste buds are waiting to be tickled with some of my favorite crawfish dishes. Remember – buy ONLY Louisiana crawfish!


SHRIMP AND CRAWFISH FETTUCCINI

  • Makes about 12 servings
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • Salt and cayenne
  • 1 pound fettuccini, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy, large Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until they are wilted and lightly golden.


Add the flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring often, for two to three minutes. Add the parsley, shrimp and crawfish. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.


Add the half-and-half, cheese, jalapeno peppers and garlic. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture thickens, about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.


Arrange the fettuccini in a three-quart casserole and pour the seafood mixture evenly over it. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.



CRAWFISH STEW-FAY

  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes or until they or wilted.


Add the crawfish tails and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for three to four minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the green onions and parsley. Serve hot over steamed rice.


CRAWFISH JAMBALAYA

  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 1 (10 1/2-ounce) can beef consommé
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 small fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 2 1/2 cups long-grain uncooked rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Combine all of the ingredients in an eight- to ten-cup rice cooker. Do not add water. Turn on cook cycle. When the cycle is over, keep on the warm cycle for at least 30 minutes. Do not attempt to cook this in a smaller rice cooker.


If these recipes do not satiate your hunger, then by all means stock up with our mini crawfish cakes, crawfish pies and crawfish balls. They’re great for nibbling or to serve as appetizers before your next dinner party.



ST. PATRICK’S DAY


As you can imagine there aren’t many Irishmen to be found around Acadiana. Oh, there are a few O’Briens and O’Malleys who probably ventured forth from New Orleans somewhere along the way, but there are certainly far more Broussards, Oliviers, and Thibodeauxs in these parts. But no matter, you will probably find a band or two of those who have proclaimed themselves Irish, at least for the day, swilling green beer at the local pubs.


I remember the nuns (Sisters of Mercy) pinning green paper shamrocks to the collars of our Catholic school uniforms when I was in grade school. After all, the foundress of the order of Sisters of Mercy was Catherine McAuley from Dublin, Ireland. But it wasn’t until I worked for the Brennan clan at Commander’s Palace in the 1970s did I witness firsthand how to truly celebrate St. Paddy’s Day.


Festivities began in the morning and lasted well into the night. There was green beer, Irish stew and side dishes of cabbage and potatoes. Parades wound through the streets of Uptown, Downtown and of course in the Irish Channel.


But, like a lot of others, I can be Irish for a day and have yet another excuse to party, and right smack dab in the middle of Lent, can you believe.

Forage in your closets for anything green. I turned up some green linen napkins, a couple of green serving platters and did a little research and now I’m ready for a dinner party of six guests, one of whom claims to have some Irish blood running through his veins.


If green beer doesn’t strike your fancy, serve champagne with a platter of Irish smoked salmon, garnished with watercress sprigs and serve with Irish soda bread. Pot pies filled with corned beef and cabbage accompanied by a warm salad of green beans, cucumbers and potatoes followed by lemon mousse and what else but Irish coffee should get us in the spirit. Oh, and don’t forget to wear green. I’ve even coaxed a couple of nieces into making me lots of paper shamrocks which will be wonderful scattered on the white tablecloth.



CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE POT PIES

  • Makes 6 servings
  • 14 ounces shredded cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons Creole mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 8 ounces very thinly sliced cooked corn beef, cut into strips
  • 2 pounds purchased puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cold water for glaze

Cook the cabbage in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until tender. Drain well. Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for three minutes, blending well. Whisk in the milk. Cook until mixture is smooth and very thick, whisking constantly. Gradually mix in the Gruyere. Add the mustard, nutmeg, dill, salt and cayenne. Stir in the corned beef and cabbage. Cool. Divide the filling among six 1-cup ramekins. Cut the puff pastry in half. Roll one piece out on a lightly floured surface to 3/8 inch thickness. Refrigerate the second piece. Cut our three rounds, about 2 ¼ inches larger in diameter than the ramekins. Reserve the scraps. Brush one side of the round pastry with glaze. Arrange the glazed side down on top of the ramekin, pressing firmly against the sides of the ramekin and pushing up slightly at the rim. Do not press down on the rim. Press the pastry to sides of the ramekin with the tines of a fork to seal. Trim the pastry overhang to 3/4 inch. Repeat with remaining two pastry rounds. Roll out the second piece of puff pastry and repeat the process. Brush the top and sides of the pastry with the glaze. Lightly score the top of the pastry without cutting through the pastry. Gather the scraps and roll out to about 3/8 inch thick. Cur out twelve 2-inch shamrocks. Brush with glaze and arrange on baking sheet glaze side up. Place the pies on the baking sheet.


Refrigerate the shamrocks and the pies for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake in the center of the oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pies to plates and arrange one shamrock on each pie and one on each plate.



WARM SALAD OF GREEN BEANS, CUCUMBERS AND POTATOES

  • Makes 6 servings
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 ¼ pounds new, small potatoes
  • 6 ounces breakfast bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions or leeks
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Cut the cucumbers crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Cook the beans in boiling salted water until slightly tender. Drain well. Boil the potatoes, unskinned, until tender.

Fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp and drain on paper towels. Discard all but ¼ cup of the drippings in the skillet. Add the green onions or leeks to the skillet and stir for two to three minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard and heat through. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and vegetable oil. Mix in the salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes and quarter. Mound the potatoes in a large deep salad bowl. Pour about 1/3 of the dressing over the potatoes. Set the skillet with the dressing over low heat. Add the beans and stir until heated through, about one minute. Arrange the beans around the potatoes. Add the cucumbers to the skillet and warm slightly. Arrange the cucumbers around the beans. Pour the remaining dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with the bacon and serve warm.



If my memory serves me correctly, I think this is the Irish coffee recipe from Commander’s Palace.


IRISH COFFEE

  • Makes 1 serving
  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey
  • 1 ½ teaspoon simple syrup
  • 6 ounces strong hot black coffee
  • Heavy cream

Put the whiskey and syrup in a mug or Irish coffee cup. Stir. Pour in the coffee and top with cream.


Now, where is my green dress!


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