New Orleans Cuisine

My Creole & Cajun Recipe Page

This is my blog dedicated to New Orleans & Louisiana cooking! I'll give links to great Creole & Cajun recipes and sites, as well as some of my own recipes. I love talkin' New Orleans, food and otherwise! Incidentally, I'm from Detroit. Go Figure. Lets just say I figured out "what it means, to miss New Orleans" and this site helps ease the pain.

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"Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins."
-Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Chicken & Andouille Gumbo Recipe

I wanted to make something yesterday to showcase the Andouille that I made last week, I decided on a simple Chicken & Andouille Gumbo. I have to tell you, the Andouille is out of this world, after smoking, I let it cure in the cool basement for 3 days, it plumped up nice in the Gumbo pot! You can pat me on the back as soon as my arm is out of the way. Seriously though, it looks good and tastes even better. I almost never follow a recipe for Gumbo, just techniques, but I wrote this down as I went along. Since I started this Blog I've been writing things down a lot more, which is a good thing. I usually make my Roux ahead and keep it in the refrigerator, but I've run out. It probably comes out a little better when you cook the sausage and trinity in the roux anyway. I used Okra in this Gumbo. Everyone always says, never cook Okra in cast iron pots, it will turn black! da da DAAAA!!! I've always cooked okra in my cast iron, it has never turned black. Maybe I have an enchanted, okra friendly pot. When I cook soups or one pot meals I always layer the seasonings, I don't throw it all in at once. I also add my holy trinity in 2 stages, 3/4 of it cooks with the Andouille in the Roux, and the rest goes in with the stock. Anyway, the recipe:

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3/4 Cup A.P. Flour
4 Tbsp Creole Seasoning
1 Cup Onions, Diced
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
1 1/2 Cups Andouille, Cubed
1 Cup Fresh Okra, Cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3 Tbsp Garlic, Chopped
6 Cups cold Chicken Stock
3 Fresh Bay Leaves
1 1/2 Cups Bite size pieces of Raw Chicken Thigh*
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce to taste
Kosher Salt to taste, if necessary
2 Tablespoons Italian Parsley, finely Chopped
1/4 Cup Thinly Sliced Green Onions

Mix your onion, celery, and bell pepper together: The Holy Trinity
Heat the oil in a cast iron dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a milk chocolate Roux (making a Roux). Add the Andouille, 1 Tbsp of Seasoning, and 3/4 of the Holy Trinity, cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the Okra, cook for about 2 minutes. Add the cold stock, remaining seasoning, and Garlic. Bring to a Boil. Bring this down to a simmer and let it go for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the Chicken, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, Parsley, and 1/2 of the Green Onions. When the chicken is cooked through, garnish with Green Onions and serve with Boiled Rice, Crusty French Bread, and a good cold beer (I like Dixie or Abita Amber).

* I prefer Chicken Thighs for my soups and Gumbos. It's the misunderstood portion of the bird, which is fine by me because it keeps the price down. I get them bone in, then Cartel wrap the bones and stick them in the freezer for stock. I'm like a Vulture when it comes to bones for stock, my freezer looks like the Catacombs (animals only of course).

This makes about 3-4 Main Course Servings

Creole Seasoning Recipe

Another staple in my kitchen is a good Creole Seasoning. A lot of people use Tony Chachere's, or Chef Paul's, I like to make my own, it's easy if you have all the spices on hand, and you have control over the heat and salinity. One of the many things I like about Paul Prudhomme's cookbooks, is that he gives a seasoning mix recipe for each dish. He always uses 3 peppers in every seasoning: Black, White, and Cayenne, because they all touch a different place on your tongue. What I like to do is make a base seasoning, that I can add on to for each dish. For instance, if I want a Southwest seasoning, I add cumin, chipotle, and ancho chili powder. You can also omit the salt if you prefer. This is a good basic Creole Seasoning:

My Creole Seasoning

1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
1/3 Cup Paprika
1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
4 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tbsp White Pepper
2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight jar or plastic container.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Grilled Monkfish with Beurre Blanc

I posted my Beurre Blanc recipe, so I had to do something with it! The grocery had some nice Monkfish, which I tossed in 2 cloves of pressed garlic, lemon zest, a few turns of black pepper, and about 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I let that sit for about an hour, heated my gas grill with a nice apple wood smoke, and grilled the fillets for about 5 minutes on each side. I served this with rice, Broccoli and Beurre Blanc over the fish. If you haven't witnessed a whole Monkfish, don't go out of your way, they're ugly as sin, as well as a pain to clean! They call it Poor man's Lobster. I guess it has some similarity to Lobster, but whether you think so or not, it's a great tasting fish.

Beurre Blanc Recipe

Beurre Blanc or Lemon Butter Sauce is very versatile and goes great with all types of fish. As my mentor Chef would say, "You can put Beurre Blanc on your bumper and it will taste good!" I learned this from my mentor Chef who never used Cream in his Beurre Blanc, a cheat which he called Training Wheels. We made a straight Beurre Blanc and held it in a steam table all day without breaking. I learned this sauce by making it a lot, right after making my Bearnaise. The first time I made it, it broke, I've made it right everytime since. It takes a little practice, and in my opinion, you have to screw it up once, to really get the hang of it, just like Bearnaise. It's really not a hard sauce to make.
**Tips** When cooking your emulsion (shallot, lemon, peppercorns, and white wine), don't let all the liquid evaporate, if you do, your sauce will definately break. You want it mostly evaporated, not to dry, not too wet. A lot of people remove the pan from the heat to incorporate the butter, I leave the pan on full blast (in restaurants you don't have a lot of time to stand around and watch butter melt). Here is the way I make it for a small batch:

Beurre Blanc or Lemon Butter Sauce

1 Shallot, Chopped
3 Tbsp White Wine
1 Lemon, Cut off the pith & peel, then chop the lemon into segments, nothing fancy
1 Tbsp Whole Black PepperCorns
2 Sticks (8 oz.) Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes
1 dash Hot Sauce
1 dash Worcestershire Sauce
Kosher Salt & Cayenne Pepper To Taste

Combine the Shallot, Wine, Lemon segments, and Peppercorns in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. When the lemons break down and the liquid is almost evaporated, slowly start adding the butter. When the first amount of butter is almost melted, add more, do this until all of the butter is incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients. Strain.
* When I make this at home, I use it immediately. If it gets too hot, or too cold it will break. It's much easier to hold in a restaurant.
** If you must use Training Wheels, use about 1 Tablespoon which you will cook with your shallot, wine, lemons, and peppercorns. Try making it without it though, live on the wild side!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

I just made a batch of Worcestershire Sauce that is starting its 2 week aging process. You can use it in place of Lea & Perrins. It has a unique flavor that is sweeter, thicker, and spicier than the store bought variety. It's wonderful in marinades! I adapted this recipe from the Commander's Kitchen cookbook. Tamarind (or Tamarindo) is a pod fruit native to tropical Africa and not so native to most grocery stores. I've found it jarred in paste form in Indian markets and fresh in one really great produce market. The paste is more convenient, but I like working with exotic fresh ingredients, so I've used both.

Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Medium Onions, Chopped
5 Serrano or Jalapeno Chilies, Chopped
10 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
2 oz. Anchovy Fillets
4 Cups Water
2 Quarts Distilled White Vinegar
2 Cups Steen's 100% Pure Cane Syrup
2 Cups Dark Corn Syrup
1 Cup Molasses
1 tsp. Whole Cloves
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Peeled and Chopped Lemons
3 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/2 lb Fresh Horseradish, Peeled & Grated

Combine the oil, onions, chilies, and garlic in a Heavy Dutch Oven (I like Cast Iron), saute until the onions are slightly softened. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 3 hours. Strain. Refrigerate.

**If you like, put this in sterilized mason jars, screw on hot lids tightly, and place in a hot water bath, covering the jars by 1 inch. Boil for 15 minutes then remove and let cool. Check the seals, tighten the lids. Keep in a cool, dark place indefinitely. Refrigerate after opening.

My Remoulade Inspired Potato Salad

Spring is here and it's getting into Barbecue season (for those of you who stopped for the winter), so I thought I would share my Louisiana Inspired Potato Salad. It has the flavors of Remoulade Sauce, as a matter of fact, in the past I've actually just used Homemade Remoulade Sauce, which works great as well. I make my own Mayonnaise for this, which is basically an Aioli. One technique that really adds a lot of flavor to a Potato Salad is tossing the hot potatoes with an acid (Lemon juice or Apple Cider Vinegar) and seasonings before chilling them. It adds another depth of flavor. This goes great with Grilled Seafood, a Crawfish Boil (cook the potatoes in the liquid, then make the salad...ohhhh), or just about any Barbecue meal!

My Remoulade Inspired Potato Salad

3 lbs Small to Medium Red Skin Potatoes
3-4 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Black Pepper To Taste
3 Tbsp Prepared Horseradish

1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
1/4 Cup Thinly sliced Green Onions
2 Tbsp Chopped Italian Parsley
1 Recipe of My Garlic Mayonnaise
4 Tbsp Creole Mustard or another Whole Grain Mustard
3 Hardboiled Eggs, diced (Optional)

Cover the potatoes with water and boil them until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain then quarter the hot potatoes, leave the skins on. While still hot toss them with the Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper, and the Horseradish. Place in the refrigerator until completely cool, then toss with the remaining ingredients and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Chill until ready to serve. It will be better if made a day ahead.

Garlic Mayonnaise

1 Egg
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic, Minced (Optional)
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
Salt, Black Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper to taste

In a food Processor, blend the egg, garlic and lemon juice for about 10 seconds. While the motor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil starting with the Extra Virgin then the Vegetable Oil. The mixture should thicken. Season with salt and the peppers. Keep covered in the refrigerator. Use within a couple of days.

**If using for My Potato Salad, stir in:

1 Tbsp Ketchup
2 tsp Yellow Mustard
1 tsp Paprika
1 shake of

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Butcher? Fish Monger? What are those?

Ever watch the Food network and here someone say, "Have your Butcher, do this for you", or "Have you Fish Monger do that for you"? I don't know what it's like in your neck of the woods, but we don't have Butchers or Fish Mongers, we have disgruntled grocery store employees. Whenever I ask for something that isn't in the display cooler, they look at me like I'm from another planet! For instance, the other day I was making sausage and I asked the guy with the white hat and blood stained apron, who I assumed was a butcher, if he could sell me some pork fat. Sounds like a nice transaction for the store right? Wrong! He would not do it, and he was a total ass about! Then I walked past the "fish monger", a smarmy woman who probably hasn't smiled since Nixon was in office, scowling over a case full of freezer burned shrimp, gaping Mussels that may have been alive last week, and Tuna Fillets that resemble chunks of cancer, surgically removed from someone's lung! I know I shouldn't complain, I can find virtually any ingredient I need where I live, for a price. I just wish the Butchers in this area hadn't been driven out of business, then again maybe all of them haven't, maybe I just need to look harder. OK. I'm through ranting now, and yes I do feel better.

Yesterday's Smoking Experience

Yesterday's smoking experience was a good one. The Andouille looks great, I'm going to let it hang in the basement for 1 or 2 days, I'll see how it looks tonight. I started out with 24 charcoal briquettes that I heated in a chimney starter for 15 minutes. I put them in the smoker in a pile to one side. I used a mixture of apple and hickory chips that were soaked overnight in hot sauce, then soaked in water for 2 hours before smoking. I looked for Pecan wood, I found every type of wood but: Alder, Apple, Cherry, Maple, Mesquite. Everything but Pecan. I've read Pecan wood is a little more subtle than Hickory as well as a little sweeter. So I decided to use a mixture of the delicate and sweet Apple and the deeper flavored Hickory. I changed chips about every 20 minutes or so. When they turn black they start to give off a bitter smoke. White smoke is good, black smoke is bad. Anyway, the temperature outside was about 50 degrees F and the highest my smoker reached was about 120 degrees F, that's pretty good. I smoked the links for 4 hours at an average temperature of about 100 degrees. I was shooting for 80 degrees F, but 100 degrees is great. I used a water bowl on the middle shelf filled with ice to cool the smoke down before it reached the meat; it worked well. I will post a pic of the finished product when it is ready. Of course, the true test will be the first dish that I cook with it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Tips for Linking Sausage

Originally uploaded by Danno1.
While I was linking up My Andouille yesterday, I realized that there are some little tips that I could share, most of which I learned by screwing up. I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert on the subject, far from it, but I have learned a few things. This is for just about any sausage, not just the ones associated with New Orleans Cuisine. Any sausage: Andouille, Italian, Kielbasa, Chaurice, Boudin, you get the idea. I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, with a grinding attachment and sausage tubes. The kitchen aid works great, the only downside is that the sausage feeds about 10 inches off of the counter, instead of at counter level. No big deal. It's just something I've gotten used to. I use hog casings, packed in salt, from the Italian market down the street from my house. I don't like synthetic casings because they look and taste, well..synthetic. Use natural casings. When you're ready to use them, turn your kitchen sink on cold, very low, then hook the casing over the faucet, it will slowly fill up like a hose. Let it run for a few minutes, then squeeze all of the water out. You do this for two reasons: To clean all of that nasty salt off, and to check for holes in the casing, holes are bad. Anyway, here are some tips:
* Keep all of your grinding equipment and meat very cold. I throw everything in the fridge a few hours before I start, the grinder, the plunger, the bowl that I'm grinding into, everything. Two reasons for this: Food safety and to keep the fat from starting to render out of your sausage. The motor heats up quite a bit. If your making a large batch, keep half of the meat in the fridge until you need it.
* Put a little oil on your sausage tube to make the casing slide on and off easier. If your sausage casing is filling up and your casing is clinging to the tube, you may have a blow out.
* Once your casing is on the tube, pull out about 2-3 inches, make a fist around the tube and casing to keep air out, then start feeding some ground sausage into the chamber. Once some starts coming out, turn the motor off and tie the casing.
* When linking sausage on a kitchen aid, I find it more aggravating than helpful with 2 people. The one feeding is either going too fast or too slow for the one shaping the links. After a little practice you can do it faster alone.
* Now that your casing is tied, turn your motor on low and start plunging some ground meat through. I'm right handed so I feed with my left and form the link with my right. As the meat feeds in, gently squeeze it to the tied end with the back of your hand while holding the tube to prevent air pockets. Not too much or the casing will break, not too little because your links will look like they need Viagra. I fill the casings pretty tight, it takes some practice though. Keep doing this until, in the case of Andouille, you have about a ten inch link, turn off the motor, pull out the casing about 2-3 inches and cut it. Now form the end of the sausage and tie it. You can adjust your motor speed to your pace.
* If you want a rope of smaller links, you can make one long casing, then pinch & twist between each link, then tie each division with butcher's twine. Just make sure you don't pack as much into the casings or they will burst.
* Don't sweat air pockets while you're linking, finish your link, then worry about it. Simply take a toothpick or skewer and poke the air pocket, just a tiny hole, then gently rub it until the air is gone.
* You now have fresh sausage. I tie butcher's twine around one end each of two links, then hang them from hooks in the basement to cure.

I will keep copious notes on my smoking experience today and share them tonight.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Andouille Sausage Revisited

Originally uploaded by Danno1.
I've got a new batch of Andouille in the works! I cubed and seasoned it yesterday, this morning I ground it and linked it. It looks fantastic, this pic was taken just after I linked it, I'll have more up tomorrow! I currently have it drying in the basement. I used the exact measurements as My Andouille Recipe , 5 lbs. of Pork (nice, fatty Boston Butt). I will have pics from each stage posted in the next few days. Tomorrow is my day to smoke, my favorite part! I'm using Hickory chunks, which tonight I will toss with about 8 oz. of Crystal Hot Sauce to soak overnight, maybe pop them in a low oven for an hour (I got this idea when I read that Tabasco sells wood chunks that are made from their spent pepper aging barrels). Tomorrow I will soak the chunks in water for about an hour before I smoke. My goal tomorrow is to keep the temperature at 80 degrees F or lower using a traditional upright barrel smoker, which is a lot colder than I usually smoke, see My Smoking Method. It's going to be tough, but I have a plan! Here it is:

#1 - Get my Andouille super cold before I smoke it, maybe a trip in the freezer, not frozen, but darned cold!
#2 - Only use enough charcoal to keep the wood smoldering, a small little pile. The charcoal I use will be pushed to one side of the smoker, the Andouille will be on the opposite side on the top rack.
#3 - The middle rack, between the sausage and the heat, with have a large bowl filled with ice, refreshed as needed.

Wish me luck! I will certainly get more pictures up tomorrow, as well as an update on how my plan worked, if anyone is interested. Hopefully I won't have to delete this post. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Steen's 100% Pure Cane Syrup

Originally uploaded by Danno1.

If you haven't already, check out this outstanding product from Abbeville, Louisiana. No preservatives. That has a nice ring to it doesn't it! Speaking of which, has anyone else looked at the label on any of Emeril Lagasse's line of products. I happened to check out the ingredients list on his BBQ sauce, the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup! Well, if he wants to put his name, face, and reputation on a bottle of that mass produced corporate swill, that's his business. I make my own BBQ sauce and I use Steen's. It really is a great product, similar to molasses, but thinner with a slightly milder flavor. I make a Boudin stuffed Pork Chop with a Steen's glaze. You may have to hunt around your local Gourmet stores to find it, or just get it online. Personally, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Incidentally, if you live in the Detroit area, you can find Steen's, as well as a wealth of other hard to find products at:

Rafal Spice Company, 2521 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207 (in Eastern Market downtown)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Pableaux Johnson- A truly great Article about Uglesich's

I recognized Pableaux Johnson's name from articles in New Orleans Gourmet Magazine. I really miss that magazine! They only had about four issues. I was trying to get a subscription online when I realized they had pulled it. Just the other day I caught the name on a link, Bayou Dog, a few of the articles from the magazine are on his site! Check out this great article about Anthony Uglesich by Pableaux Johnson!

YatCuisine Podcasts

I'm sitting here listening to Yatcuisine's Podcast about Gumbo. I've been hearing a lot about Podcasts, but I haven't checked any out. I love it! He's doing weekly Podcast's (Mp3 Format) about New Orleans cooking, Damn that's great! Check him out!

The Muffuletta Recipe

Originally uploaded by Danno1.

This pic is of the Central Grocery's Muffuletta. The best! The model that all other Muffulettas should try to emulate! There are a lot of bad ones in the city. The one at the Napoleon House isn't bad. It's a heated version with a more finely chopped olive salad. They also use Pastrami on their version, I'm not crazy about that. It's not bad, but like all others, It's no Central Grocery. Ask my friend Tom how great this sandwich is! He would have missed Lundi Gras one year because of a hangover if it wasn't for CG's Muff. I make a pretty good Muffuletta, I'm not going to say it's as good as CG's, but it's pretty darned good. The quality bread is important, you need about a 10 inch round loaf with a good coarse texture, nice crust (not too hard) and sesame seeds. Here is my recipe:

My Muffuletta

1 10" round loaf Italian bread with Sesame seeds
1 Recipe Olive Salad
1/4 lb Genoa Salami (Oldani is the best, and I'm relatively certain it's what CG uses)
1/4 lb Hot Capicola (this is my spin, you can use regular Ham.)
1/4 lb Mortadella (I use San Danielle)
1/4 lb Mozzarella
1/4 lb Provolone

Cut the bread in half length wise.
Brush both sides with the oil from your 1 week old olive salad, go a little heavier on the bottom.
Layer half of the Oldani on the bottom half of bread. Then the Mortadella. Then the Mozzarella, then the Capicola, Provolone, and the remainder of Oldani. Top this with the olive salad. Put the lid on and press it down without smashing the bread. Quarter it. You've just created pure heaven.

Serves: 4 light eaters, 2 hungry hangovers or one bad to the bone eating machine!

Check out The Muffuletta Incident

Monday, March 21, 2005

Louisiana Seafood Seasons

Ever ask, "When are Crawfish in season?" How about Soft-Shell Crabs? Well, check out this great chart from Louisiana Seafood: Louisiana Seafood Seasons Also check out the great list of Louisiana Seafood suppliers for Home Chefs or Professional Chefs.

Muffuletta Olive Salad Recipe

This is my version of the Olive Salad for the New Orleans Cuisine classic sandwich, The Muffuletta! My friend Tom and I always make at least one stop at the Central Grocery on Decatur during a visit for Mardi Gras. Grab a Muffuletta Sandwich, a beer in a go cup and sit up at the Riverwalk to watch the barges roll by on the Mississippi, or just sit in the street like a common Hobo, depending on how hungry you are. Back to the recipe, I would make this at least a week ahead, it improves with age. Use good quality olives, Hey, good quality everything, right! I'm fortunate enough to have a great Italian market, about a mile from my house called Ventimiglia's. I also make my own Pimientos, the jarred variety are mushy, and they're super easy to make; recipe follows. This recipe makes enough for a Muffuletta and a few Bruschetta (recipe follows):

Muffuletta Olive Salad

1 1/2 Cups Green Olives, Pitted
1/2 Cup Calamatta Olives (or Black) Pitted
1 Cup Gardiniera (Pickled Cauliflower, carrots, celery, Pepperoncini)
1 Tbsp. Capers
3 each Fresh Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8 Cup Celery, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh oregano (When I have it in my garden) or 2 tsp. dried
1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Pimientos (Roasted red peppers) Recipe follows
1 Tbsp. Green Onions, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground pepper To Taste (salt may not be necessary)

Crush each olive on a cutting board with your hand. Combine all ingredients. Cover with:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil about 1 - 1 1/2 Cups

Put into a bowl or jar, cover and let the flavors marry for about a week.

Roasted Red Peppers (Pimientos)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Place 2 Red bell Peppers (remove the blasted sticker!) on a baking sheet, place in the oven. In 15-20 minutes flip it over. Leave it in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, this makes the skin come off more easily. Uncover and remove all of the skin. Run under cold water, remove the stem and seeds, careful they're hot! Refrigerate. Great in a number of dishes, Paella, Jambalaya, Sauteed Chorizo or Andouille, Olive salad, you name it.

Olive Salad Bruschetta

Slice a Baguette into 3/4 inch thick slices on the bias, Pop them under the Broiler until they're golden brown. Break a Garlic clove in half and rub it onto the slices. Top with generous heaps of Olive Salad with plenty of oil & liquid. Serve immediately.

Muffuletta sandwich recipe

Friday, March 18, 2005


Since I've been talking about smoking meats and sausage making, I may as well discuss the second most famous smoked meat of New Orleans Cuisine: Tasso (TAH-so). Tasso used to be made from the trim after a hog boucherie, thin strips, heavily seasoned, dried, then smoked for hours. It's a great seasoning meat for Gumbos, Jambalayas, Red Beans and just about every soup you could dream up. If you want to get really fancy make the Commander's Palace recipe Shrimp Henican, created by the late Jamie Shannon.
These days, the Tasso that you can buy is a little more fancy, more of a ham than the "jerky" style of the old days, mine is somewhere in between. I always find it amazing how these ingredients and recipes, that basically came from scrap and the poorest times, turned into Gourmet, I love it! Tasso is great to make and keep in the freezer, just as I described in My Andouille Recipe. When I make Andouille, I usually make some Tasso with it, it's very easy to make, but you have to do some planning. When you season it, I recommend keeping it in the fridge, at least 3 days, to let it cure. The last batch I made was beautifully pink inside after it was smoked, like ham. Unfortunately, I was a little heavy handed with the cayenne, which is fine for me, but my wife can't take the heat. It should have some heat, but I don't like losing control of the heat in a dish I'm making, the same reason you don't salt stocks. Here is my recipe for Tasso with the cayenne cut back. I use either a Boston butt cut into about 4 inch long, 1 inch thick pieces, or even better (and cheaper), Boneless Country Style ribs, as is. This is seasoning for about 5 lbs of pork:

My Tasso Recipe

5 lbs Pork cut as described above

3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Cayenne or To Taste (see above)
4 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp White Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 healthy pinch Pink Meat Cure or Prague Powder

Mix the seasoning together well. Rub the seasoning into the meat, you want a lot on there, call it 1/8 inch, use it all. Place on a plate or tray, cover and refrigerate 3 days. Smoke using my method for about 3 -4 hours. Kill two pigs with one stone and make some Andouille with it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Smoking Sausages or Seasoning Meats

Well, your Andouille has been made and left to hang in a cool place overnight, now it's time to smoke. I use an inexpensive (about $60) barrel smoker which can be found at Home Depot, Lowe's or just about anywhere here in Detroit. I usually use Hickory chips or chunks to smoke sausage, although I want to get my hands on some Pecan wood, that's what Jacob's uses, but it's kind of hard to come by in Michigan. I use charcoal, pushed to one side for the heat source, no fluid or match light please, all you will taste is the chemicals. I heat the charcoal in a chimney starter with a ball of newspaper under it. Now here is where the problem lies. Keeping the temperature down. If it gets too hot, it cooks the sausage instead of smoking it, which renders the fat out. You're shooting for 170-200 degrees F. My friend Tom and I were just talking the other night about his recent batch of Andouille. He came to the conclusion, and I agree, that it's best to make Andouille in the early or late winter time (call it 30-40 degrees F) here in Michigan. Your temperature stays just about right because you're not battling the summer heat. Another alternative is to put ice in the water pan underneath the meat. I swear, this year I'm going to build a cold smoker. Cold smoking is where your fire is in a seperate chamber and the smoke is piped to the meat with no heat. It takes a lot longer to smoke, but it's a much better product because your smoke curing as opposed to cooking. In the barrel smoker I would smoke it for about 3-4 hours. After it's done, and it's cool, I cryovac it in about 1 lb packages and freeze it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Making Andouille Sausage

**Update 11/16/2005** I tweaked this recipe around and made it a whole lot better at Nola Cuisine. I simplified the seasonings and changed the smoking technique, it turned out wonderfully:

Latest batch of Andouille Sausage at Nola Cuisine (with picture).

I need to make a fresh stash of Andouille (Ahn-DOO-ee). The stuff in the grocery stores in my area is a joke, you may as well break open a package of Oscar Meyer hot dogs for your Gumbo. You know the kind I mean, basically Alpo, stuffed into a casing and injected with liquid smoke carcinogens. Anyway before I go about it, I thought I would blog about it, because hey, Andouille is a cornerstone of so many great New Orleans Cuisine & Louisiana dishes! The better the Andouille, the better the dish! I hear Jacob's is about the best around, they've been making it for 76 years or so, you can get it online, and I don't think they beat you up on the shipping cost. I still have to order some, to try it. But I enjoy making sausage, so I make my own. My good friend Tom does as well. So here is how I go about it. This is a 2 day process. I use either a pork shoulder or boston butt, which ever looks the best and is nice and fatty. I usually make about 10 pounds. If you can add extra pork fat, do so (but no salt pork please!). Fat is good for sausage. You want about 75% lean/25% fat. Cube this up into about 1 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with the following seasonings (Let's pretend we have 5 pounds of meat & Fat total):

My Andouille Seasonings
(For a 5# batch)

2 tsp of Cayenne or to taste (Remember, if you make it too hot, every dish you make with it will be too hot! Start off with a little, you can add more later!)
1/4 Cup Paprika
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Garlic
1/8 Cup Fresh Ground Black Pepper
4 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Thyme, dried
1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
4 Each Green Onions, sliced
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/8 Cup Non-Fat Powdered Milk (this is a binder)
1 pinch of pink meat cure powder

Toss this mixture with the cubed meat. Cover and refigerate overnight (this step is optional, but if you have the time, do it). Coarsley grind this (TIP: Keep your grinding equipment cold. It's for food safety as well as keeping the fat from starting to render from the heat of the machine). Make a small patty of this and cook it. How is the seasoning? Adjust if necessary, Check it now, last chance to reseason! If it tastes good you can stuff it into thoroughly washed hog casings. I weigh out 1 pound portions of ground meat, stuff it into the casing, then twist and tie them off. This will take a little practice. Now it's time to let them cure. The quick way, if you want to smoke them later that day, is to dry them in a barely warm oven for a few hours, just enough heat to make the air dry. But since I do it a day ahead, I hang them in the basement overnight, its cool & dark down there. You basically want to dry the skin out so that it will absorb the smoke, this is called forming a pellicle. Don't skip this step, trust me on this one. Don't worry about the meat spoiling. The spices cure the meat, just be smart about where you hang them, remember, this was a way of preserving meats before refrigeration, but if it freaks you out, you could certainly hang them in the refrigerator. When I make Spanish Chorizo, which isn't smoked, I hang it in the same fashion, but for a few days, until it starts to get nicely cured and wrinkled, like a pepperoni or salami.
...Check out....the smoking process...

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Sazerac

Originally uploaded by Danno1.
Another great New Orleans Cuisine icon! The Sazerac, some say is America's first cocktail. Invented by Antoine Peychaud, a Creole pharmacist, in the 1830's. The original contained Brandy (some say Cognac), absinthe and the Apothecary's secret bitters. Sazerac lovers all have their own recipe which they think is the best, which is ridiculous, because mine is the best. My buddy Tom also shakes a great Sazerac, he uses Wild Turkey Rye 101. In addition to recipe, an equally ferocious debate, is which bar in New Orleans has the best. I'm sure the locals would know better, but a great one is at the Fairmount Hotel's Sazerac Bar. The Fairmont Hotel, which was the Roosevelt until 1965. The Roosevelt was owned by Seymour Weiss, friend of Huey Long, who set up shop in the hotel. Anyway, they make a good Sazerac, as well as their famous Ramos Gin Fizz, but that's another post. Another thing, don't go looking for a Sazerac in the Hurricane shops on Bourbon, they'll look at you like your from another planet. Great places for a Sazerac on Bourbon are the Desire Oyster Bar or Felix's. Peychaud's can be difficult to find in the Detroit area but I managed to find a few places that carry it. Herbsaint, I've only found in New Orleans. Not too much different than Pernod, but it's 90 proof as opposed to Pernod's 80 proof, plus its cheaper, and from New Orleans.

My Sazerac

2 oz. Rye Whiskey (I use Jim Beam Rye, or Wild Turkey Rye 101; You could also use Bourbon, hell, Commander's Palace does!)
8 dashes Peychaud Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Tablespoon Simple Syrup (equal parts sugar and water/cooked until the sugar disolves)
about 1/2 ounce Herbsaint or Pernod.
1 Lemon Twist

Chill an old fashioned glass. Combine the Rye, bitters and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it baby, shake it. Coat the glass with the Herbsaint, pour out the excess. Add the mix to the glass, twist the lemon and drop it in. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Variety of Uses for Creole Sauce

Now that I've given my basic recipe for Creole Sauce, here are some examples of its versatility within New Orleans Cuisine. Keep in mind, my recipe of Creole sauce is pretty small, 2-3 servings.

Catfish Courtbouillon (COO-B-yawn) Creole sauce made with dark roux and Seafood sock. Simmer the sauce with 4-5 lemon slices, add Catfish cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. For my small recipe I would use about an 8-10 oz. Piece of Catfish. Serve over Boiled rice.

Grillades & Grits (GREE-yahds) Creole sauce made with dark roux and beef, veal or pork stock. I use Round Steak 1 lb. cut into 2 inch squares about 1/2 inch thick. Dredge the Grillades in flour mixed with Creole seasoning. Heat about 3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil in a dutch oven until almost smoking, brown them very well (in batches if necessary). Cover the Grillades with Creole sauce, add a little water or beef stock to make it slightly thin, the sauce will reduce while cooking. Simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Serve over Grits.

Sauce Piquant This is a Cajun sauce which can contain almost any varmint imaginable. Alligator, Turtle, Squirrel, Rabbit, Shrimp, Chicken, Crawfish, et cetera. This is basically Creole sauce which is very, very hot; which makes it a Cajun Sauce. I would add about 1/4 cup hot peppers (Jalapenos if they're hot ones (they're not as hot as they used to be), or Serranos) for my small Creole Sauce recipe. Make it with a comparable stock to the main ingredient. Make it similar to the Courtbouillon. I don't usually use a thickening agent for this sauce, if I do its a dark roux. Serve this dish over rice.

Shrimp Creole Make your Creole Sauce with Shrimp stock. If you're fortunate enough to be able to find heads on shrimp, do so. Simmer the shrimp (about a pound) in the sauce until just cooked through, serve immediately over rice with plenty of sauce.

Creole Choron Sauce This sauce goes great with seafood, particularly Soft Shell Crab. Equal parts Creole Sauce & Bearnaise Sauce mixed together.

...more to come...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Creole Sauce

Creole sauce is extremely verstile in New Orleans Cuisine and Louisiana cooking in general. It is the basis for so many dishes, when you come right down to it, with just slight variations for each, so I'm going to try to break this down as I see it, but first things first. My recipe for Creole Sauce. This is just my loose recipe, keep in mind everyone has their own! They may call it Red Gravy, Creole Tomato Sauce, Sauce Piquant (which isn't exactly the same but damned similar), but they all contain the same basic ingredients: Tomatoes, Holy Trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper), Garlic, Some kind of stock (usually chicken, more on this later), Cayenne, Hot Sauce, Bay Leaf, Seasonings (Salt & pepper or maybe a Creole seasoning, almost always Thyme), Green Onions and Parsley. These are what I consider the basics. Here is how I make a small batch (its usually just my wife and I, so this makes enough for dinner and some left over) of basic Creole Sauce:


2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Julienned
2 Stalks Celery, Julienned
1 small Bell Pepper, Julienned
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
1 Can Diced Tomatoes (14 1/2 oz.) or Same amount Fresh from the Garden
Stock to cover, about 2 cups
2 Bay leaves (Preferably fresh)
Salt, Black Pepper, Thyme (dried), Cayenne, White Pepper all To Taste
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Hot Sauce, To Taste (I use Crystal Hot Sauce)
2 Tbsp. Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
3 Thinly sliced Green Onions
Corn Starch Slurry (2 Tbsp. Corn starch/2 Tbsp Water) or Dark Roux
depending on the dish.
**Note** If you don't want to use a thickening agent, simply reduce the sauce until it is the correct consistency.

Heat the oil over medium heat, add the trinity and saute until slightly wilted. Add the Garlic and Tomatoes and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Cover with the stock by 1/2 inch, add bay leaves and a small amount of seasoning, bring to a boil; lower to a simmer. If using roux, add at this point. Not too much, maybe 1-2 Tablespoons. If it gets too thick, add a little more stock or water. It should be loose but not too watery. Simmer about 20 minutes. Add the seasonings and Hot sauce to taste. Add the worcestershire sauce, parsley and green onions. If using the slurry, Bring to a boil then add the slurry, a little at a time until it is the right consistency. It should be tight, but not watery. Not too thick, not too thin. Remove the Bay leaves.

**a variety of uses for Creole Sauce **

Sunday, March 06, 2005

File Powder

File Powder
Originally uploaded by Danno1.
If you've ever wondered how File (FEE-lay) Powder is made check out THIS LINK! File is a New Orleans Cuisine Staple, it is made from the ground, young and tender leaves of the Sassafras tree (Sassafras root is the original flavoring of root beer). The Choctaw Indians, native in Louisiana, introduced the use of File to thicken Gumbos and soups. One thing to remember about using a File in a Gumbo is never boil it. It becomes stringy and unpleasant. When I use File in a Gumbo, I always add it at the table. It has a wonderful flavor. I wish Sassafras trees were native in Michigan, I would love to make my own File.

Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz by Howard Mitcham

This is another of my absolute favorite New Orleans Cuisine cookbooks. I linked it to so you can see it, and they have it for about $10, I payed $16. This is one of my favorite books to just sit down and thumb through. It was first published in 1978, and what I love about this book, in addition to all of the fantastic recipes, is the history of the dishes and ingredients. The author gives a very in depth description and history to a variety of different species of seafood, with loads of recipes for each; from oysters to alligators. He also has sections about different pioneer jazz musicians of New Orleans: Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll morton, Louis Armstrong, etc. You really can't go wrong with this cookbook if you love Louisiana cooking, want to learn about it, or just want some great recipes.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cajun & Creole Index on Recipe Source!

I just found this great site! I only linked to the Louisiana recipes, but they have other great regional recipes indexed on the sidebar. The New Orleans Cuisine section is great with loads of different versions of the classics, and recipes from famous chefs as well. Alex Patout's crawfish boil, the Napoleon House Muffaletta, and on and on. A great resource. Speaking of Napoleon House, if you get to New Orleans check this place out, great New Orleans ambience; charming, shabby decadence.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by Danno1.

Jambalaya is as synonymous with New Orleans Cuisine as Gumbo! There are vicious debates about whether the dish is of French or Spanish origin. The word itself is from the French & Spanish word for ham, Jambon. The a la is French, and the ya is said to be an African word for "Rice". Personally, I can't see how someone could dispute the dishes similarity to the Spanish Paella, but hey, my opinion is like everyone else's: Worthless. Here is what we do know about Jambalaya: It's delicious! So everyone quick arguing and get cooking! (Although I love that people in Louisiana argue about food!) Here is my recipe which is an adaption of one of Paul Prudhomme's recipes.

Chicken & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Andouille Sausage, Diced
1/2 Cup Onion, Diced
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Cup Celery, Diced
2 Tbsp. Garlic, Minced
1/2 Cup Tomataoes, Diced
1/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
1 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
3/4 Cup Enriched Long grain Rice
1 Cup Boneless Chicken Thigh, Diced
(Seasoning Mix: 1/2 tsp Cayenne, 3/4 tsp White Pepper, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rubbed Sage, 3 Bay Leaves)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter, saute the Andouille until slightly browned. Add 1/2 of the trinity (onion/b.pepper/celery) saute until tender. Add tomato cook about a minute, then add the tomato sauce, cook 1 minute more. Add the garlic and rice, cook 1 minute. Add the stock, seasoning mix, bay leaves, other half of the trinity, and Raw Chicken. Stir well and bake uncovered for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, but still has a little bite. Top with chopped parsley, and sliced green onions. Put on some Zydeco and enjoy!

Yield: 2-3 servings

**NOTE** You could substitute shrimp or other seafood for the chicken & seafood stock for the chicken stock. You could also substitute ham, tasso, kielbasa, chorizo, etc, etc... for the Andouille. This dish is great for using up leftovers. Last night I made it with 1/2 cup ham/ 1/2 cup Andouille, and I used leftover smoked chicken that I made the night before. As long as you keep the liquid/rice ratio you can use whatever you want.