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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.


A DOWN-HOME COOLER WEATHER SUPPER

Like a lot of us in the Deep South, my husband is wishing for cooler weather. As sad as I am to bid adieu to summertime, I have to admit that cooler weather will be more than welcome after the hot, hot days of August.

A change in the season also means modification in the foods we eat. While I’m not yet ready to close down my outdoor grill, I know that the first cold front will set the tone for heartier dishes, like gumbos and stews, as well as what Papa used to call low-down home-cooked food—pork chops, lima beans, cabbage, and gateau de sirop (syrup cake).

Browse Cajungrocer’s website and make a shopping list for some items you might not be able to find at your local supermarket. For example, order a few cans of Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup. That glorious syrup is a must on biscuits, pain perdu and cornbread, but it’s also the main ingredient in making a favorite Cajun dessert called gateau de sirop (syrup cake.)


Christmas is Coming!

It’s not too early to begin your Christmas wish list. If you don’t already have your seafood boiling rig that can also double as a turkey-frying pot, you MUST get one. Don’t forget the propane gas burner to go with it. It’s simply a must-have for year-round use.

Once you have taken care of yourself, then begin making your gift-giving list.

The Tabasco gumbo bowls are great for, well gumbo, but they are also perfect to use for homemade soups and stews. Get yourself a set of four, and you might also consider giving a set to each of your nearest and dearest friends. If you can afford to be generous, but all means get everybody a Tabasco chef apron – they’re practical and good looking!

Check out of gift section and you’ll be impressed by all the goodies you can get for just about everyone on your long list. Boxes of yummy pralines, bags of breakfast goodies, Cajun seasonings mixes, and even a Cajun meat gift baskets. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.


Football Season is Upon Us

Can it be possible that football season is creeping up on us? You certainly can’t tell by the temperatures, which are hovering in the high 90s down South, but it won’t be long before high school, college and professional football will rule the weekends. Whether you’re planning on tailgating or watching your favorite team on the tube, we have some fixings that can make your gathering top-notch. For example, organize what I call a “grazing menu.” Rather than cooking gumbo, chili or jambalaya, put those on hold until cooler weather sets in, and offer lots of bite-size snack food to sate those appetites. Mini crawfish and shrimp pies can be baked in advance and stored in airtight containers to bring along to serve at room temperature while you party in the parking lot before the game. Or, shove them in the oven at home and serve them hot at home gatherings. We also have Gulf shrimp that can be used for any number of easy finger foods. They can be fried, boiled or threaded on small bamboo skewers to put on the grill. Be sure to have your favorite hot sauce, cocktail sauce and tartar sauce to accompany those shrimp! I’m sure our newest recipes will inspire you.

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