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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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

First You Start With A Roux....

A lot of Acadian and Creole cooking stories start this way. Roux is the foundation for most dishes in New Orleans Cuisine. Gumbo, Crawfish pie, Court Bouillon (COO-be-yon), etc... Making a good roux is essential! This isn't the French roux, I'm talking about here! This is the Acadian roux! The deep chocolate colored roux that makes Gumbo what it is! I call these cooking stories because, folks like me, who like to cook, read cookbooks like a story. The author's story. I like cookbooks with some history in them. You know, where the dish came from, the evolution, that sort of thing. Cajun & Creole Cookbooks are great for this. The first chapter I read when I get a new one is ROUX. Usually Chapter One. It's fascianting how something as simple as cooked flour and fat, can be so different in each cookbook. I don't always cook my roux the same, I like to experiment. One thing that I do differently than most cookbooks is, not only do I cook the roux ahead of time, but I add it after the liquid. I find that I have more control over the consistency of the dish this way, especially if I'm making a huge batch of a gumbo or soup. Just remember, only add cold roux to hot liquid, or cold liquid to hot roux, also, roux doesn't come to its full thickening power until it boils. If you do make your roux ahead, it keeps well in the fridge for practically ever. Anyway here is the latest way that I made my roux:

1 Cup Lard (Hey, what can I say? Lard has the best flavor! You can use Veg. Oil though)
1 3/4 Cup A.P. Flour ( I always gradually add the flour, you may need more or less. It should be thick, but not clumpy)
1 or 2 Bottles of Good quality Beer, like Dixie

Heat you lard over Medium Heat until good and hot, while oil is heating, open a beer. Gradually whisk in your flour until smooth. At this time, I generally switch to a wooden spoon, it gets into the crevices better; take a sip of beer. You want to stir constantly, but not too fast, this is a southern dish. Slow down, have some beer. Picture a streetcar lazily lumbering down St. Charles Avenue. I can remember my mentor Chef watching as I whisked my roux as if it were a bowl of egg whites. He said, "What are you doing? Let it cook! If you stir too fast, you cool it down. It needs to cook." I always think of that when I make roux. However, you do want to keep that roux movin'. If it starts getting too brown as you stir, pull that baby of the burner for a minute, lower the heat a smidge, and For God's sake, Don't splash it on your skin, Chef Paul calls it Cajun Napalm, you'll know what he means if it gets you. I gradually lower the heat as I cook roux. Anyway, after about 10-12 minutes on the streetcar, the roux will start to look like wet sand, peanut butter colored. Drink some beer (I failed to mention, every shade of brown the roux turns, you should have a gulp of beer). Take it nice and slow, turning the heat down if necessary. Opening another beer if necessary. In about 10-12 more minutes, Your roux will look like milk chocolate. This is where I get off the streetcar, a lot of cooks take it further down the line, but this is my stop. I then let it cool at room temperature for awhile, then cover and chill.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Jelly Roll Morton

This post has nothing to do with New Orleans Cuisine, but a lot to do with New Orleans. Jelly Roll Morton came up as a musician in the brothels and clubs of "the district" on Basin Street, or Storyville. He is known to most people as a braggart, a pimp, a pool shark, and head cutter on the piano. He was a character, you can be sure of that, but first and foremost he was a musician.

Jelly Roll Morton
Originally uploaded by Danno1.
I just finished a book about Jelly Roll Morton called Jelly's Blues: The Life, Music, And Redemption Of Jelly Roll Morton. A very sad story. A very familiar, sad story, of an unbelievably talented black musician who gave everything to his music, trusted some white business men, got screwed in a big way, died penniless and unhappy. We all know this story. I get sick everytime I hear it. This one was really sad to me. One of the originators of Jazz, everyone was playing his songs during his lifetime! Screwed on his royalties; his due, and worse than that, no one wanted him. He had so much music to give. His career took, what the book rightly called a "Free Fall". He was no saint, for sure, but a pioneer, and all he really wanted was his due. Some recognition. He never even got a jazz funeral, his band mates weren't even allowed to blow at his graveside. I was reading this, getting sick, then I turned on MTV, Ashley Simpson's show was on. Talentless, over privileged girl, getting far more than she is worth, simply because she fits a mold. No contribution to the music world, ZERO. But getting paid, very, very, well. If you love music, read this book. I'm going to go now, so I can steal some of Jelly Roll's music, via MP3, back from the record companies.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by Danno1.

Gumbo is probably the dish most associated with New Orleans Cuisine and more largely Louisiana Cuisine. It has strong roots in the history of the state. Gumbo is a symbol of the community, and the history. It's just like Louisiana, or America for that matter, a little of this from here, a little of that from there! You have all of these cultural ingredients coming together, to make something truly fantastic! You have the French influence with the Roux (though this is a much darker roux, which the french would probably consider burned. Hats off to the Acadians), and the idea, some say, comes from the French Bouillabaisse of Provence, more specifically Marseille. You have the okra from the African slaves, the seeds of which, I've read, came to America nestled in their hair on the slave boats. The word Gumbo actually comes from the African word for Okra. Then we have the File (FEE-lay) from the Choctaw Indians, which is the young leaves of the native Sassafras tree that are dried and ground into a powder. Some say Okra and File, should never be used together, because they're both thickening agents. What do I say? A lot of cooks have a code of ethics, especially about something as sacred as Gumbo! That's what makes their versions good. I respect the purist point of view. But this is my kitchen Jack! I say experiment! Hey, if the earlier settlers listened to the guy saying they couldn't make Bouilliabaise because there was no Rascasse, there may not have been Gumbo. In life there is always someone telling you, "Hey you can't do it that way!" No matter what you're doing! Every place I have ever worked, I have one of these guys. Knows it all, but going nowhere. I say to hell with that, there is always a way to make it work. Its hit and miss, this is how we learn. Anyway, this post is going to be done in installments, this is a huge topic. But like all great stories from Louisiana, this one starts with a Roux....

My Chicken & Andouille Gumbo Recipe

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Happy Mardi Gras!

Rex Today
Originally uploaded by Danno1.
Happy Mardi Gras everyone! It sure is hard watching all of those folks have such a great time on the webcams today! I am supremely jealous! I was going to tackle a big topic today, but I'm not going to have time, because it's a huge topic. In a word: Gumbo
Yes, in honor of Mardi Gras I'm going to do a section on Gumbo tommorow, specifically, Creole Gumbo! Since tommorow is Ash Wednesday, for traditions sake, I should be doing Gumbo Z'Herbes, but hey, what can I say. Anyway, Happy Mardi Gras, party it up folks, because come midnight, the magic is over. Until next year that is!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Zapp's Chips!

Originally uploaded by Danno1.
Hey, I was just watching a show on the food-network about potato chips, and hell, it's the day before Mardi Gras, and Zapp's didn't come up!!?? Get your Muffaletta or your Po' Boy or whatever sandwich strikes your fancy, but for God's Sake, get your Zapp's with it!!!! Your in New Orleans man... you know what they say, when in New Orleans do as the ahh.... Romans do, or something like that....hey I think they sell Zapp's at the Central Grocery, that's Roman enough for me!!...They're Italian!!! But whatever the cliche....Get your Zapp's Jack! Check out my pic! Central grocery Muff, Abita Turbo Dog guessed it....Zapp's Cajun Crawtators! Talk about your balanced diet! We also topped that off with some boiled crawfish from the french market!

Happy Lundi Gras!

Originally uploaded by Danno1.
I wish I could say this picture was from this year, but it was from Mardi Gras 2000. I'm spending this Mardi Gras in sunny Detroit! Damn. It's rough watching the people on the webcam, Everyone pie-eyed, smiles that say: Not a Care In The World. Like the two drunks in the picture. But even the years I don't get to go, it's always nice to know that Mardi Gras is happening in New Orleans. It will be there next year, and the year after that, and the year after that! A nice feeling. Anyway, since I'm missing New Orleans in a big way today, it's Monday so that means Red Beans & Rice! Anyway, to all you folks in New Orleans, Happy Lundi Gras, drink a few hand grenades for me and Tom. By the way, the picture: (Left to right) Guy from, Danno, Tom.

The Meters are going on the stereo & the Red Beans are going on the stove....