Itâ€™s also time for our deliciously sweet freshwater crustaceans to be in season. The crawfish farmers are forecasting a good year and you can order them from us so get your equipment (boiling pot and butane burner) out of storage and prepare for a backyard feast. Or simply order our boiled crawfish and delivered right at your door!
If and when you can get your hands on peeled tails, the options for preparing these are endless. Of course, there is always crawfish etouffee, bisque and stew, but if you like spring rolls, hereâ€™s a recipe you might want to try.
CRAWFISH SPRING ROLLS WITH ROOT VEGETABLES
- Makes about 10 servings
- 1 cup finely chopped shredded green cabbage
- 1 carrot, thinly cut into matchstick strips
- Â¼ cup matchstick strips celery root
- Â½ cup matchstick strips red bell pepper
- Â½ cup matchstick strips yellow bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons very thinly sliced scallion
- Â¼ cup olive oil
- Â½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- Â½ teaspoon minced lime zest
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Â¼ teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Â½ teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- Salt to taste
- White pepper to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon (about 5 to 6 dashes) Tabasco sauce
- 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
- Egg roll or spring roll wrappers
- Egg wash
- Vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
SautÃ© the cabbage, carrots, celery root, bell peppers and scallions in the olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just wilted. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, lime zest, garlic, cilantro, soy, vinegar, coriander, salt, pepper, Tabasco and crawfish tails. Toss to mix well. Roll about one tablespoon of the mixture in each mixture, sealing the edges with egg wash. (The rolls can be stored in the freezer at this point.) Fry in hot oil until golden brown.
Or you could make a crawfish pie to serve for a Sunday night supper along with a tossed green salad. Easy and so good.CRAWFISH PIE
- Makes 6 servings
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
- 1 pound crawfish tails
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 (9-inch) pie crust
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery, and cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add the crawfish tails and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the pan. Stir for about two to three minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Add the green onions and parsley and stir to mix. Remove from the heat and cool for about 30 minutes.
Pour the crawfish mixture into the pie crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the edges of the pie crust are golden. Cool for several minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.
FLEISCHMANN’S YEAST KING CAKE
Just in case you havenâ€™t noticed, Mardi Gras is March 8 and that means a very long Carnival season, which officially begins on Twelfth Night, January 6.
While most people are looking forward to a little rest and relaxation following the Christmas holidays, those of us who live in the South, especially in south Louisiana, are digging in for the Carnival season.
You need to order your King cakes NOW. There are so many flavors to choose from these days—chocolate, blueberry, Bavarian crÃ¨me, apple, cinnamon—itâ€™s difficult to select just one, so I end up ordering several. They are great to serve for breakfast with cafÃ© au lait and they are certainly ideal for a snack, but you need to have several on hand for all those King cake parties during the Carnival season. (When I was younger, there was only one flavor—buttery brioche and that was fine with me.)
Should you want to make your own just for fun you may want to try this recipe. Kids love trying their hand at baking and this king cake is fairly simple.
FLEISCHMANN’S YEAST KING CAKE
- 4 Â¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Â½ teaspoons salt
- 2 packages Fleischmannâ€™s Rapid Rise Yeast
- Â¾ cup milk
- Â½ cup water
- Â½ cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 eggs
- Â¼ cup melted butter
- Powdered sugar glaze (recipe follows)
- Colored sugars (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, combine 1 Â½ cups flour, Â¼ cup sugar, salt and undissolved yeast. Heat the milk, water and butter until very warm, about 120 to 130 degrees. Add to the dry ingredients and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer. Add the eggs and Â½ cup of the flour. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour (2 Â¾ cups) to make a stiff batter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Punch the dough down. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each to 28×4 inches. Brush with the melted butter then sprinkle evenly with the remaining Â¾ cup sugar and the cinnamon. Beginning at the long end, roll each up tightly as for jellyroll. Pinch the seams to form long ropes. Braid, then form into an oval. Pinch the ends together to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees or until lightly golden. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire race. Brush with the powdered sugar glaze and sprinkle with the colored sugars.
POWDERED SUGAR GLAZE
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- Â½ cup sugar with 8 drops of blue and 16 drops of red food coloring
Whisk until smooth.
- Â½ cup sugar with 8 drops of green food coloring in a sealed jar or plastic bag
- Â½ cup sugar with 8 drops of yellow food coloring
MIX FOOD COLORING BEFORE ADDING THE SUGAR.
If youâ€™re hosting a parade-watching party, I suggest that you put your order in now to get your boudin, and while youâ€™re at it, order a turducken to use to make a gumbo. I did this during the holidays when I had some turducken leftover and my guests went wild! Oh, and donâ€™t forget to order French bread!
Well, you also should stock up also on some of our stuffed breads filled with crab meat, crawfish or shrimp! They are great to offer for appetizers, lunch or dinner anytime!
And Iâ€™ll tell you what else you MUST serve at your Carnival party (or for any party), are the crab burgers, crab cakes or crawfish cakes we have in stock. Dab them with tartar sauce or cocktail sauce â€“ WOW!
When autumn arrives and just about every male I know is heading to the hunting camp, I think of my father. He was an avid hunter, fisherman AND a great cook. He loved nothing better than cooking over a wood fire at THE camp. His repertoire included duck and sausage gumbo, goose and oyster gumbo, and a bouillabaisse that he made with whatever fish—bream, sac-a-lait, redfish or speckled trout—he snagged on his line.
I hope youâ€™ll indulge me and allow me to share this story with you. Perhaps it will inspire you to make your very own bouillabaisse.
I well remember the ritual that went with making his bouillabaisse. My mother would set his ingredients—chopped onions, chopped bell peppers, tomatoes—on a folding table besides his fire pit.
With a cold beer never far from his reach, he would assemble the ingredients in his beloved black iron pot. Then he covered the pot, made sure the fire was just so, grabbed for another cold beer, then tell us the story about bouillabaisse. The tale never varied, but we knew better than to tell him we had heard it many times before.
According to Papa, the first bouillabaisse was made in Marseilles, France and it was concocted with their local ingredients of racasse (a small fish), crabs and potatoes. And it was purported to be the creation by two fishermen, who were disputing as they sat in their boat as to the proper way of cooking fish. One succeeded in making a dish that would have gladdened the heart of any French bon vivant, but the other failed. The successful one enthusiastically offered to teach his friend, and as the latter was following the directions implicitly and the finishing touches were being added to the dish, the teacher seeing that the important and crucial moment had come, cried out, brining down his hand emphatically, â€œet quant ca commence a bouiller, baisse. (And when it begins to boil, lower the flame.) Hence the name â€œbouillabaisseâ€ was given to the dish from that moment.
In later years when I became involved in the food business, I was intrigued how the dish developed in south Louisiana. It seems that when the first Frenchmen came to Louisiana they brought a great love for bouillabaisse to a place that had none of the ingredients necessary for making it. There was no racasse, no eels or lobsters. But the Frenchmen found that they could get crabs from Lake Pontchartrain, and oysters, shrimp, red snapper and pompano from the Gulf of Mexico. They could still make a fish and shellfish stew even if they had to use different raw ingredients.
So here is Papaâ€™s version. When he was at the camp at Cypremort Point on Vermilion Bay, he used saltwater fish as well as a handful of fresh shrimp and some lump crabmeat he picked from the crabs he caught at the end of the pier.
He often made a rouille, a garlic flavored mayonnaise to spoon into the bouillabaisse. In Provence, the rouille (meaning rust which refers to the color of the mixture), is really a paste made with garlic, saffron, mayonnaise, sweet paprika and pepper.PAPAâ€™S BOUILLABAISSE
- Makes 8 servings
- 2 Â½ pounds fish fillets, like snapper, redfish, or speckled trout
- Salt and cayenne
- 3 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
- 2 cups coarsely chopped green bell peppers
- 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stick butter
- 2 (1-pound) cans whole tomatoes, mashed with their can juices
- 1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 8 slices French bread, toasted
Rouille (recipe follows)
Season the fillets generously with salt and cayenne.
Combine the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic in a bowl and season with salt and cayenne.
Heat the butter in a deep, heavy pot over medium heat. Put two to three fillets of fish in the bottom of the pot in the butter. Then add one-third of the vegetable mixture, then one-third of the tomatoes. Continue making the layers until all the ingredients are used. Put the shrimp, crabmeat and bay leaves over the final layer. Pour in the wine, cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for one hour (do not remove the lid).
To serve, put a slice of French bread in the bottom of a soup bowl, then ladle the soup over it and pass the rouille.ROUILLE
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Â¾ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend.
Now, for an authentic bouillabaisse, itâ€™s best to go to Provence, France where it all began. I snitched this recipe from 1996 issue of SAVEUR Magazine. The writer of the article had indeed travel to the port of Sanary-sur-Mer, right down the coast from Marseille. But again, I had to â€œmake-doâ€ with our local seafood.
According to Lucien Vitiello, who supplied the recipe to the magazine, itâ€™s not what fish you use, but how many kinds that counts. A good fish stock is important as well. That recipe follows after the bouillabaisse.PROVENCE BOUILLABAISSE
- 1 baguette, about 24 inches long, cut into Â½-inch thick slices
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled (2 left whole, 5 crushed)
- Â½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Â¼ cup fennel tops or coarsely chopped fennel bulbs
- 2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 1 Â½ pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 5 to 6 pounds cleaned assorted fish, like red snapper, grouper, monkfish, stripped bass, and speckled trout
- 8 small blue point crabs (optional)
- 16 large shrimp
- 2 Â½ quarts warm fish stock
- 1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- Â½ cup Pernod
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rouille (Use the recipe from above)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Rub with whole garlic while still warm. Set aside.
Pour half of the oil into a 10 to 12 quart pot. Add the onions, crushed garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and fennel. Add the potatoes, then the tomatoes. Add the fish, then the shrimp.
Pour in the stock and the remaining oil. Add the saffron and Pernod, season with salt and pepper and place over high heat. The ingredients will cook as bouillabaisse comes to a boil. After five minutes, start checking and transfer the seafood as it cooks, then the potatoes, to a platter. This can take up to 25 minutes.
Strain the soup and for the first course, spread the rouille on the toast, place three pieces in each warm soup bowl. For the second course, serve a platter of fish and potatoes at room temperature. Moisten with additional soup and add a dollop of rouille if you wish.
Now for that fish stock.FISH STOCK
- Makes 2 Â½ quarts
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Â¼ cup chopped leeks (white parts only)
- 1 chopped fennel bulb
- 1 chopped rib celery
- 2 medium-size carrots, chopped
- Chopped zest of half an orange
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 coarsely chopped tomatoes
- 4 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 black peppercorns
- 6 pounds fish carcasses with heads, broken
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 4 quarts water
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, fennel, celery, carrots and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the fish carcasses, the white wine and the water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, skimming off foam as it rises.
Allow the stock to cool, then strain through a fine strainer, return to the pot and reduce by about half over medium-high heat for 30 minutes. Use immediately for freeze.
Fall is also the season for one of my favorite foods—-sweet potatoes, or yams as we call them in south Louisiana.
When I was in elementary school, my mother always had a warm, baked potato waiting for me for my after-school treat. Slathered with butter and drizzled with Steenâ€™s cane syrup, those potatoes were the high light of my day. I ate so many sweet potatoes as a youngster, my father nicknamed me patate douce (sweet potato).
My love for them continues to this day.
Just so youâ€™ll know, Louisiana yams have high energy value, and are rich in vitamin A and vitamin C. That pretty orange color of the potato is beta-carotene, which is also an antioxident that can offer protection against certain cancers. And despite their sweet taste, a 3 1/2 ounce sweet potato has only 141 calories, and contains very little fat and NO CHOLESTEROL! They’re easy on the pocketbook, and can be baked, boiled, or fried, and can be used in an endless variety of foods from soup to nuts.
So here we go, here is a recipe for sweet potato pudding that is a great side dish to serve with pork, chicken and beef dishes.SWEET POTATO PUDDING
- 2 (16-ounce) cans Bruceâ€™s yams in heavy syrup, drained
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, coconut, milk and vanilla. Pour into a 8×8-inch buttered baking dish.
Combine the brown sugar, pecans, flour, butter and salt until well mixed. Spoon the mixture over the sweet potatoes. Bake for one hour. Serve warm.