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Bayou food for you

Joan Dragonfly, Wikimedia Commons

Boil up some crawfish, corn on the cob and potatoes for a real treat.


I have always appreciated Creole and Cajun cooking. Perhaps because my favorite type of food is seafood; especially shellfish. So glad I don’t have any shellfish allergies like many people do.

I used to follow Emeril Lagasse’s shows on television and wanted to make everything he demonstrated. I don’t know if life just got too busy for watching cooking shows, or if I started to lose interest, but over time, I felt like the “BAM” man wasn’t in my field of interest anymore. I think a lot of the recipes eventually became geared more for dinner party hosts who wanted more gourmet, fancier (and thus time-consuming) meals.

Well, I do not entertain, and I live so simply that not many people would ever dream of being impressed by me, my down-home mountain life or what’s cooking in my kitchen. Except for family, and hopefully some of my kitchen pals who follow this column.

Anyway, here are some recipes that fit right in with Louisiana-style cooking, and they are not fancy. Hope you enjoy them.

Shrimp and corn chowder

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup chopped leek (white and light green parts only)

3/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced poblano pepper (about 1 pepper)

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup flour

1 quart hot (at least 140 degrees) vegetable broth

2 cups water

2 cups diced peeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 medium)

2 cups heavy whipping cream

3 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large fresh shrimp

Garnish: sliced fresh chives, hot sauce

1. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek, bell pepper, celery, poblano, garlic, salt, Creole seasoning and black pepper; cook until vegetables begin to soften.

2. Add flour and cook until flour begins to turn golden in color. Increase heat to medium-high. Add hot broth and 2 cups water, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.

3. Add potato and cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add corn and cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and firm, 5 to 10 minutes. (I do not care for squishy shrimp, so the firmness is a must for my tastes.) Garnish with chives and hot sauce, if desired. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts.

Cat’s shrimp andouille chowder

I have shared this recipe before, but in case anyone missed it, or lost it, here it is again.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 to 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3/4 to 1 cup each diced onion, celery and carrot

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup flour

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (at least 1 1/2 cups)

1 pound medium to large raw shrimp, peeled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and coarse (kosher) salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1. In a soup kettle, heat butter over medium heat. Add sausage and saute, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned. Stir in onion, celery, carrots and sweet potato. Saute, covered, until vegetables are tender. Add garlic, lower heat to medium-low.

2. Uncover kettle and stir in flour evenly over vegetables. Stir to thoroughly mix and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir in 1 cup chicken broth until flour is well blended into the liquid. Slowly add remaining chicken broth, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. (If soup is thicker than you like, add a little more broth or water.)

3. Increase heat to medium-high, slowly bringing mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add shrimp and reduce heat to medium. Cover pot and simmer until the shrimp is done.

4. Add cream and remaining ingredients (lime juice, thyme, basil, salt and pepper) and simmer a minute or two.

Creole red beans and rice

1 pound dried red beans

2 large onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

2 pounds smoked sausage (my favorite is andouille)

Hot cooked rice

1. Sort and wash red beans. Combine beans, onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, thyme, basil and cayenne pepper in a Dutch oven; cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce flame; cover and simmer 2 to 3 1/2 hours or until beans are tender and a thick gravy is formed. Add more water, if necessary. Stir in salt, pepper and parsley.

2. Cook sausage according to package directions; cut into serving pieces. Serve beans and sausage over rice. (Note: It is also very good to add the sausage to the beans while they are cooking, as long as there isn’t a problem of too much grease. In that case, you might wish to cook the sausage first, then add it in.) Makes 8 servings.

Louisiana crawfish boil

I always used to say crawdads, but I have heard that most people in Louisiana say crawfish, and people in the North tend to say crayfish. I might as well go with the Louisiana way.

2 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen crawfish, shell on

4 ears corn, shucked and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces

1 pound small yellow potatoes, halved (you can also use small red potatoes)

1 onion, peeled and sliced into 6 wedges

1 pound smoked sausage (andouille or kielbasa), sliced into 1-inch pieces

8 cloves garlic, smashed

1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning

1 lemon, quartered

Salt and pepper, to taste

For serving:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or garlic butter seafood sauce (recipe follows)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

1. Fill up a large pot with water over medium-high heat. Add Old Bay seasoning, garlic and lemon. Bring to a boil.

2. Add corn and baby potatoes into the water. Boil for about 10 minutes.

3. Add sausage and onions. Cover with a lid and boil for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Gently stir in crawfish. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes or until the crawfish turn into a bright red color. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If crawfish are pre-cooked, you’ll only need 3 to 4 minutes; if they are frozen, add 2 to 3 more minutes.) Drain the mixture (you can reserve about 1/2 cup of the broth for serving, if you wish).

5. Transfer the crawfish boil to a serving plate or spread out on a layer of newspapers.6. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Serve with melted butter or homemade garlic butter seafood sauce.

Garlic butter seafood sauce

3 tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (or less if you prefer)

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add 1/2 cup of butter and the olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add onions and cook, stirring, until they are soft. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and brown sugar. Stir mixture together.

3. Turn the heat to low and add the remaining butter. Simmer until the butter is melted, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened.

4. Remove from heat. Pour the sauce over your favorite seafood boil or serve it as a dipping sauce. Makes 6 servings.



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