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Posts Tagged ‘crawfish’

scenes from an expat’s Mardi Gras

In In My Kitchen on March 7, 2011 at 10:01 pm

There are plenty of us expat New Orleanians here in the DC-Metro area, and plenty of opportunities to celebrate Mardi Gras with our Louisiana peeps, but they generally involve expensive tickets sold by lottery, formalwear, and lining up a babysitter. Since I rarely want to deal with all that, I’ll do something like meet my friend Ryan in Dupont Circle for a taste of home. First stop, The Cajun Experience. The owners are from Lafayette (like Ryan and I). The chef and bartender are from New Orleans. Our waiter was from San Francisco, but we’ll forgive him for that.

Seems like other expats have been pounding the Abitas at the restaurant lately. They were out of a couple of Abita drafts, as well as out of Andy Gator, so we went for Abbey Ale a Belgian style dubbel ale.

Ryan had been to the restaurant before (they’ve only been open about 5 weeks), and he said the hush puppies (often a freebie afterthought in many Louisiana restaurants) were the lightest he’d ever had. He was not exaggerating. These little buggers just about melted on the tongue, and the chipotle sauce was a nice surprise.

We ordered an appetizer portion of crawfish mac-n-cheese. Hardly a traditional dish, but a pairing I was up for after loving crab mac-n-cheese here in Chesapeake country.

Pot roast poboy. I would have liked some debris, the gravy from the bottom of the pot that Mother’s slathers their roast beef poboys with. But, nice tender beef on Leidenheimer French bread shipped in from New Orleans.

We also ordered crawfish etoufee, which we were so busy enjoying I forgot to get a pic. I make a great etoufee at home, but right now even Chinese crawfish tail meat is $16 a pound, and Chinese crawfish is just — wrong.

Anyhoo, I was having such a good time, I let the waiter talk us into beignets, despite our plans to get them in Northern Virginia. Sorry Ry! They were good, but a little doughy.

After a ridiculous drive through Georgetown (reminding me how glad I am I don’t have to commute into DC everyday anymore), we popped into Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia. I picked up som Porkorn (spicy caramel corn with bacon — fantastic) to bring home to hubby.

Somehow we had room for a second dessert, buttermilk chocolate for him, red velvet for me. And an iced coffee to fuel the drive home, also fitting since Ryan introduced me to iced coffee many years ago at PJ’s Coffee in New Orleans.

Decorator’s tip: tear up your old cookbooks and decoupage them all over your bathroom for funky wall paper!

Tomorrow morning as the Krewe of Zulu rides down St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans handing out those legendary coconuts, I’ll be in my boot camp class at the gym, sweating off the calories from the weekend. N’awlins, I miss ya, dahlin. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all.

a to-do list of sorts

In Family, Food, friends, In My Kitchen, In Other Words, Writing on June 6, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Here’s what’s on my mind, important and not-so-important items for the week. Does everyone else’s list look something like this or am I a bit ADD?

-what ice-cream to make before packing the ice-cream machine
-order photos
-how many playdates I can schedule for Dax this week
-Strawberry Festival bike parade
-buy kids bikes to ride in the Strawberry Festival
-freecycle bikes that are too small for kids
-when to make crawfish etoufee for some grateful (and some not-so-grateful) friends
-run 3x
-100 pushup challenge
-schedule writing date with T
-writers’ association meeting
-rechedule dentist appointments
-floss teeth
-pick strawberries at Larriland
-order mom’s belated birthday present
-figure out father’s day plan for R, dad
-Alice in Wonderland
-dinner at the pool! dinner at the pool!
-finalize rental lease
-pack, pack, pack
-purge, purge, purge
-CSA box
-cook, I should cook, what should I cook?
-write a couple of decent blog entries, as in, better than this one 😉

Crawfish, crawfish, and pie #3

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen on June 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Richard and I have this ongoing argument over the amount of cayenne to use in boiled crawfish. He roots for the heat of the red pepper over the other ingredients of the spice bags that show up with the live crawdads. I argue that the heat shouldn’t drown out the flavors of mustard and dill seed and allspice berries. We generally let the final decision come down to the palates of our guests. For Saturday, we had no idea how much heat our guests could take, so we went conservative.

Then something happened that was a first. The crawfish was ready before any guests arrived, so they sat soaking up all kinds of deliciousness while everyone settled in. Then Richard poured them on the table, and hello, fire and spice! Everyone loved it though, and our happy eaters even dug into the super-spicy corn and the sweet garlic and onions. One guest mashed up the garlic with the potatoes. Well, duh… I’d never thought to do that before, and it was, of course, delicious.

Dessert was the lemon icebox pie Madeleine’ been wanting to make. Entry # 3 in the Summer of Pies.

Richard requested etoufée For his Father’s Day dinner, and as I pulled out my mom’s recipe, I realized I hadn’t made it in over a year. Such a shame.

 

Mama’s Crawfish Etoufée (with edits from Bridget)
 
2 T butter
1 T canola or vegetable oil
1/4 c flour
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped bell pepper
1 lb crawfish tails
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 c fresh chopped green onions
Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1-1 1/2 c chicken broth
 
Brown butter, oil, and flour into a golden brown roux.*
Add onions and peppers, sauté until onions are clear.
Add crawfish tails, lower fire, and simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add parsley, green onions, seasoning, and about 1/2 c of broth. Simmer 5 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 c broth, simmer again.
Serve with steamed white rice.

 * Paul Prudhomme writes a thourough introduction to roux in his Louisiana Kitchen. If you’ve never made a roux, fear not. It takes more patience than skill. Caution is warranted as roux has earned its nickname as “Cajun napalm”. Prudhomme generally recommends darker roux for lighter meats and seafood, but I prefer a medium to light roux for crawfish and shrimp. I also prefer butter as the main fat in this dish versus lard or pork fat.

 

Lemon Icebox Pie (adapted from a recipe in June 2008 Bon Appetit)
 
1 store-bought graham cracker crust
1 14-ounce can plus 2/3 c sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c sugar, divided
2 T cornstarch
2/3 c water
 
Preheat oven to 325° F. Whisk condensed milk, lemon juice, and yolks in medium bowl to blend. Let stand until thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour filling over crust. Bake pie 30 minutes.
While pie bakes, prepare meringue topping. Whisk 2/3 c sugar and cornstarch in heavy small saucepan. Gradually whisk in 2/3 c water. Brig to boil over mediu-high heat, whisking frequently (mixture will thicken). Cool 10 minutes.
Using heavy-duty mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Gradually add 1/3 c sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Beat in warm thick cornstarch mixture 1 T at a time. Beat until meringue forms glossy peaks.*
Spoon meringue over hot filling; spread all the way to the edges to cover filling completely.
Increase oven temperature to 350° F. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown in spots, about 18 minutes. Cool completely, then cover with cake dome and refrigerate over night.
Cut pie into wedges. Serves 8-12.
 

*If, like me, you let just the teeniest bit of yolk get into your egg whites, you will never reach this point. When I came to understand this, I pitched the meringue and opted for fresh whipped cream instead. I did let the pie bake another 10 minutes. It was well set but still had a beautiful silky texture. Next time I’ll save “contaminated” egg whites for an omelet.

 

Boil 2008

In Family, Food on May 18, 2008 at 9:48 pm

 

Every spring I get homesick. Spring in Louisiana means Mardi Gras parades, azalea trails, Jazz Fest, and crawfish boils. Like the crab feast in the Chesapeake region or the clam bake in New England, the crawfish boil offers the chance to get down and dirty with some flavorful seafood. But more importantly, it offers the time to linger over conversations with friends and family.  No showy parade of six courses, no dine and dash. It’s a meal that’s about the people eating it. And that’s my favorite kind.

Yesterday we held our fourth annual crawfish boil. Last year’s boil was a massive event (for our humble abode) with some fifty guests. Richard and I felt like we worked more than enjoyed our own party. So, as nice as it was to invite so many friends and neighbors, this year we went for a much more intimate affair. The weather was superb — about 70 degrees and mostly sunny. And the best part — we actually sat down and feasted ourselves!

The kids kept themselves busy. Dax ferried a couple of crawfish about in the beloved dumptruck.

Madeleine and the other girls created a plethora of signs elucidating their newfound “dislike” of boys. All males in attendance were issued a bathroom pass. All other purposes for entering the house were banned. Interestingly, Dax was the only one who “didn’t need a pass”, though he was likely the only true target of the “no boys — even boy octopuses” ruling.

Boil 2008 has been declared a success. Thanks for coming, y’all!

You too can boil crawfish at home. We’ve ordered live crawfish every year from Cajun Grocer, and have been pleased with the quality of the crawdads and the pricing. We basically follow this recipe from Chef John Folse.

Chef John Folse’s Boiled Crawfish
PREP TIME: 2 Hours
SERVES: 12
COMMMENT: The crawfish boil is the premier social event in the springtime here in Louisiana . Friends and family gather for an afternoon under the shade of an oak tree to enjoy a delicacy unequaled in the Southland.

INGREDIENTS:
50 pounds cleaned crawfish
30 quarts cold water
12 medium onions, quartered
6 heads of garlic, split in half, exposing pods
1 dozen lemons, quartered
1 quart vegetable oil
4 pounds salt
¼ pound cayenne pepper
8 ounces celery salt
4 ounces McCormick Old Bay Seasoning
4 (3-ounce) bags Zatarain’s crab boil
1 (4-ounce) bottle Zatarain’s liquid crab boil
3 (12-ounce) bottles of beer
24 medium red potatoes
6 whole artichokes
3 pounds smoked sausage
12 ears of corn

METHOD:
Live crawfish may be purchased already washed from your seafood supplier. However, a second rinsing in cold water would not hurt. The purging of crawfish, that is, washing the crawfish in cold salted water, has been found to be useless other than to place the animal under unnecessary stress. So forget the purging — rinsing in cold water will suffice. In a 60-quart stockpot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add onions, garlic, lemons, cooking oil, and all other flavorings except vegetables and sausage. Allow mixture to continue boiling for 30 minutes. This boiling of the vegetables will ensure a good flavor. Add red potatoes, artichokes and sausage and cook approximately 10-12 minutes. Add corn and cook 10 minutes before adding the crawfish. Once crawfish are added, bring to a rolling boil, stir gently for one minute. Turn off heat, cover and allow crawfish to soak in hot liquid 12-15 additional minutes, testing occasionally for seasoning and doneness. Crawfish should be served hot with potatoes, artichokes, corn and pitchers of ice cold beer.
NOTE: If boiling 20 pounds or less, cut the ingredient amounts in half including the water.

 

 

Awesome

In Family, Food on May 16, 2008 at 1:29 am

A good day indeed.

First, the Madster’s dance show.

FLowers for Big Sister

This afternoon I ordered crawfish for Saturday from Cajun Grocer. In my search for their phone number, I mistakedly called 1-800-CRAWFISH. The web site is a hoot. Please check it out. And promise me that you won’t think all Cajuns are like this…

Pure Boy Does Yardwork

In Family on May 14, 2008 at 8:14 pm

pure boyAfter ark-worthy rains last week, it was time to clean  up the yard. After the gym, Dax and I set out with gloves, a wheel-barrow and a rake. Dax pushed his beloved Tonka dump truck hither and yon while I picked up branches and leaves that were shredded by the most lashing rain and wind.

As so often seems the case with two small children, cleaning up one mess led to another. I’d dumped out the sitting water from our wading pool way too close to a low bare spot of the yard that is perfect for mud puddles. Dax promptly shed his shoes, socks, shorts, and underwear (note the bare bottom) to get down to business. Nothing a quick bath couldn’t fix.

Cleaning the yard now is a must as Saturday we’ll host our fourth annual crawfish boil. It’s a MUCH smaller affair than last year, and we’re looking forward to actually socializing and eating this time. I vow never again to host 50 people for a party without paying someone to help me run it.