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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!