Sunday, July 25, 2010

Foodbuzz 24 x 24: Tastes of South Louisiana

When Foodbuzz issued their latest 24, 24, 24 challenge, I just knew I had to take part. This time, instead of providing a $250 stipend to challenge participants, they are donating $250 in the name of each participant to The Greater New Orleans Foundation.

As a native of South Louisiana, I've been feeling frustrated and helpless ever since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 men and leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Participating in this special Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event to help the area made me feel like I was doing something.

For my part in the challenge, I held a dinner party showcasing some of the dishes I'd grown up with in South Louisiana. Some of them, of course, rely heavily on Gulf seafood, while other dishes show what else the area has to offer and how the Cajun folk put it to good use.

The menu for the night included:
  • Crawfish Boulettes and Pork Boudin Balls with Creole Mustard Dip
  • Barbecued Shrimp / French bread
  • New Orleans Italian Salad
  • Field Peas with rice
  • Fresh Louisiana Turkey Sausage
  • Crab Stuffed Mirliton
  • Tarte รก la Bouillie (Cajun Custard Pie)
I started everyone off with a combination of crawfish and pork boulettes. "Boulette" is a French word for "little ball" and is also used by us Cajuns as a term for "meatball". While boulettes are sometimes deep-fried, I opted to bake them instead. I served them with a simple Creole Mustard Dip.

Crawfish Boulettes

1 lb peeled crawfish tails
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c green onion, chopped
1/4 c parsley, minced
1 1/2 c cooked white rice, refrigerated overnight
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp Cajun/Creole seasoning (divided)
black pepper (to taste)
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 c bread crumbs
1 c finely ground corn flour
1 egg
1 tbsp water
olive oil spray
  1. Place crawfish, onion, celery and garlic into a food processor bowl.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped, but do not puree.
  3. Place mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in green onions, parsley, rice, and mayo.
  4. Season with 1 Tbsp of the Cajun/Creole seasoning, the pepper and the hot sauce.
  5. Form mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  7. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, corn flour, and the remaining tbsp of Cajun/Creole seasoning.
  8. Beat the egg with the water in a small bowl.
  9. Dip each ball in the egg, and then into the breading mixture.
  10. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours before baking.
  11. When ready to bake, spray tops of boulettes with olive oil spray.
  12. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, turning boulettes over about halfway through cooking time.
  13. Turn on broiler and broil until golden brown (approx 1- 2 min).
  14. Turn boulettes over and repeat broiling.
  15. Serve with Creole Mustard Sauce

Pork Boudin Balls

1 lb pork boudin
2 eggs (one for binding and one for coating)
1 c bread crumbs
1 c finely ground corn flour
1 tbsp water olive oil spray
  1. Remove boudin from casing and place in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add 1 egg to bowl and mix.
  3. Form mixture into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, corn flour, and the remaining tbsp of Cajun/Creole seasoning.
  6. Beat the remaining egg with the water in a small bowl.
  7. Dip each ball in the egg, and then into the breading mixture.
  8. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours before baking.
  9. When ready to bake, spray tops of balls with olive oil spray.
  10. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, turning balls over about halfway through cooking time.
  11. Turn on broiler and broil until golden brown (approx 1- 2 min).
  12. Turn boudin balls over and repeat broiling.
  13. Serve with Creole Mustard Sauce.

Creole Mustard Dip

1 c light sour cream
3 tbsp Zatarain's Creole mustard
2 tbsp Louisiana brand cocktail sauce
hot sauce, salt, pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to serve alongside crawfish boulettes and/or boudin balls.

I set up our dinner table with these cute fleur-de-lis napkins and placemats that Mom sent me. She knows how much I love fleurs de lis and that I take every opportunity to show off my Louisiana heritage by flashing the FdL. (Thanks, Mom!) I did, however, pull the napkins at the last minute, swapping them out for buffet napkins, which were much better suited to the buttery barbecued shrimp.

Speaking of barbecued shrimp...

Barbecued shrimp are rarely known outside of New Orleans and South Louisiana. The shrimp aren't barbecued at all -- they're baked. The dish originated at Pascal's Manale in New Orleans. For our Foodbuzz dinner, I used some huge 16-20 shrimp that were caught and frozen just prior to the oil spill. You can use headless shrimp in this dish, but you'll get the best flavor from shrimp with their heads on. The recipe I used last night is not my usual one, this one has quite a bit more butter than I usually use, still it has WAY less butter than the original version.

Barbecued Shrimp

2.5 lb shrimp, shell on and (preferably) with heads
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 rib celery, cut into chunks
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c parsley
1 lb unsalted butter
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp rosemary
2 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
3/4 cup Worcestershire
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1 bottle of your favorite beer
French bread
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Rinse shrimp thoroughly, drain in a colander, then set onto a sheet pan lined with a bed of paper towels. Refrigerate.
  3. Place first four ingredients in a food processor and process until finely minced.
  4. Place 1 tbsp of the butter into a medium-sized microwaveable bowl and add the minced vegetables.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 min or until vegetables are softened and onion is translucent.
  6. Remove plastic wrap from bowl and discard.
  7. Add the remaining butter to the bowl, along with the thyme, rosemary, and Cajun/Creole seasoning.
  8. Microwave on high until butter is melted.
  9. Stir in the Worcestershire, and lemon juice, then pour in the beer.
  10. Remove shrimp from paper toweling and place into one or more deep baking pans. (There should be enough room for the shrimp to be submerged in the butter mixture.)
  11. Bake 350°until shells turn pink. (My huge shrimp took about 30 mins.)
  12. Serve shrimp and broth in bowls with plenty of French bread on the side for sopping up the sauce!
After cleaning up from the barbecued shrimp aftermath, I served the salad and the rest of the dinner. I was hoping to serve a chadron (thistle) salad, like my Cajun grandparents did, but I could not find a young thistle in the dry California scrub near our house. All I saw were huge, tough-looking plants. Next in mind was the New Orleans Style Italian salad so prevalent on the restaurant menus in South Louisiana. The salad makes use of olive salad, a quintessential ingredient in the muffaletta sandwich. While the salad is usually plated in individual portions and topped with two criss-crossed anchovy filets, I made one large salad.

New Orleans Style Italian Salad

6 c lettuce (any variety), torn into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato, wedged
1 1/2 c olive salad, drained
5 - 6 anchovy filets
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c water
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (I used Penzey's brand Italian Seasoning)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
  1. Place lettuce into a serving bowl.
  2. Arrange tomatoes around edge of salad, and then place the olive salad in the center.
  3. Lay the anchovy filets atop salad.
  4. To make the dressing, place olive oil, water, vinegar and Italian seasonings into mason jar. Cap and shake to blend.
  5. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour dressing onto salad.
  7. Top salad with grated cheese.
  8. Toss and serve salad tableside.
When I was a kid, I had no idea that people in other parts of the country had never eaten field peas. Dad and my grandfathers grew field peas in their gardens and I'd spent many an afternoon with my mom and grandma shelling the flavorful peas. A dish of field peas over extra long grain rice was not uncommon, but always seemed like a special treat. This was the first time my guests had ever eaten the peas, and they were a real big hit.
You can find my recipe for field peas here.

A traditional accompaniment to field peas is fresh sausage of some kind, so I served some turkey sausage from Comeaux's in Breaux Bridge, LA.

As a side dish/vegetable, I made Crab-Stuffed Mirliton. Mirliton (mee-lee-tawn or mare-lee-tawn) is a vining squash that was brought to Southern Louisiana by the Canary Islanders (known as Los Islenos) who settled in the area after Spain took control of Louisiana from the French. My grandfathers grew these small squashes (also known as vegetable pears or chayote) and my mom served them cooked with shrimp or crab.

Crab-Stuffed Mirliton

2 tsp olive oil
4 mirlitons, sliced lengthwise
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c onions, chopped
1 c red bell pepper, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1/2 c green onions, chopped
1/4 c parsley, chopped
1 lb crabmeat, picked over for shells
salt, pepper and Creole seasoning to taste
1-1/2 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Boil mirlitons in til fork tender. (Can be done 1 day in advance).
  3. Remove mirlitons and let cool
  4. Using a spoon, remove the large seeds and scoop out flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch around.
  5. Chop flesh and set shells cut sides down on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  6. Saute the garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, green onions, and parsley in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are softened and aromatic.
  7. Add mirliton flesh and cook until most of the moisture is evaporated.
  8. Remove from heat and fold in crab.
  9. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.
  10. Season mirliton shells with Creole seasoing.
  11. Stuff mirliton shells with crab mixture.
  12. Place mirlitons on a baking sheet and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  13. Bake until golden brown and heated through.
For dessert, I made a tarte a la bouillie, which is a Cajun custard pie with a sweet dough. Unfortunately, the pie didn't turn out quite right because I forgot to include the cornstarch. OOPS! So, my dessert was a big flop. If my grandmere could have seen it, she'd have been so embarrassed! Here is the recipe, including the ingredient that I'd left out. ;P

Tarte a la Bouillie (Cajun Custard Pie)

2 c milk
1 c cream
1 egg
1/2 c sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
9 inch pie shell or homemade pie dough in a 9 inch pie pan

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Scald milk and cream on low heat until skin forms on the surface. Do not boil.
  3. Whisk egg, sugar and cornstarch in a mixing bowl and continue whisking until sugar is dissolved and mixture is combined.
  4. Ladle a cup of milk mixture into egg mixture whisking briskly without stopping.
  5. Whisk egg mixture into milk mixture until thickened.
  6. Stir in vanilla and lemon and cook until custard has a very thick consistency.
  7. Cool filling before pouring into uncooked pie crust.
  8. Bake approximately 40 min or until custard is set.
In addition to the menu, we enjoyed Abita beer, martinis, and wines (EOS rose', EOS Chardonnay, and Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay) from our friends, Scott and Amoreena. Our friend Mark contributed his hot pepper vinegar, which was a terrific compliment to our meal.

Despite my dessert flop, we all had a wonderful time enjoying each other's company and talking about Southern Louisiana food culture.

It wasn't just all fun, of course. We talked about the oil spill and how sad it makes us all feel, but I don't think anyone in attendance feels as heartbroken as I do for my home and for my people.

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for picking me for this challenge and for donating to GNoF in my honor.

18 red beans:

Sarah said...

This looks heavenly! A recipe with a pound of butter + shrimp has got to be delicious! I'm so glad you did this!

misti said...

How fun! Glad you could bring awareness and a taste of LA to the "foreigners" ;)

misti said...

P.S. You had the best menu ever. Love mirletons. We say "Mah-la-tawns"

Anonymous said...

This was a fantastic dinner. Everything was delicious - esp. the field peas which I'd never had before. Thank you so much for inviting me & my son - we loved everything, dessert included.


sandieslittletreasures said...

Everything looked wonderful! What a fantastic dinner and wonderful display! I could taste the food thru the pic :) See you've been quite busy! Keep up the wonderful work and keeping our taste buds watering!

Maranda said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog. I just found you over on Life is Still Sweet.

I have to say, your menu for your party sounds delicious! My husband grew up in a small town in Texas called Angelton and he loves the cajun and Southern Louisiana type foods. I look forward to reading more and getting more recipes from your blog!

I think I might have to start with those barbecue shrimp though...

Make a Roux said...

Thanks, Sarah! Yeahyouright! A pound of butter once in a couple years never hurt anyone. Right? ;P Thanks again for the lovely nod on your blog!

Make a Roux said...

misti, thanks for the compliment! I tried to think of some of the dishes I missed the most that were also not very well known in other places!

Heh. I love the different pronunciations of "mirliton". My dad jokingly calls them "mirLINGtons". LOL!

Make a Roux said...

Thanks to you and the boy for coming. As always, we enjoyed the company! And the hot pepper vinegar. ;P

Make a Roux said...

Hey Sandy! Yup, I've been a little busy for the cause. Thanks for the compliments. I'm sure you cook all this stuff and other dishes more often than I can, as you are back home where all the wonderful ingredients are. BTW, just cooked the last of the Camellia beans you gave me for Christmas. YUM! :)

Make a Roux said...

Hi Maranda! Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I've heard of Angelton, TX. Not far from Galveston, right?

I hope you'll enjoy my recipes. Please feel free to leave feedback if you try any of them.

Barbecue shrimp would be a pretty good start!

sosaysmorvant said...

Now you cookin' Sista!

This meal didn't have much Southern Cal flare.....100% Louisiana!!! Everything looked super. I assume you worked very hard in the kitchen with a spread like dat!

For those that like the flavor of BBQ sauce, we use Sweet Baby Ray's sauce in our BBQ shrimp (keeping the rest of the recipe almost the same). It is one of my favorite ways to eat shrimp!

Make a Roux said...

That's right, Kerry! No California-fied cuisine here. ;) Sometimes you just have to have a true Louisiana meal!

Thanks for the tip on the shrimp. Never tried BBQ sauce in them, but that sure does sound good!


Marguerite said...

Omg, you really outdid yourself on this one, cher!! Everything looks fabulous and I only wish that I could have been at that table! And love the fleur de lis set! Cheers!

Geggie said...

Ah...I love Pascal's Manale and I love BBQ shrimp. I remember ordering it for the first time there when I was about 10 and being a little freaked by the giant shrimp heads. I got over it quickly once I started eating the delish dish. That sauce with bread to sop it up it heavenly!!

Amoreena said...

That was an AMAZING dinner! Every bite made me feel like I was down south. Thanks for including us!

Keri said...

Wow. I never doubted your kitchen skills, but you got the arteeeest touch in table setting too? This dinner looks fabulous, beautifully executed and something I've never seen a recipe for . Outstanding, my friend. Come over and enter to win the $40.00.. love, keri

Keri said...

Excellence! You really know your stuff, my friend. What a fabulous dinner menu and table.

I'm not worthy !!!!!


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