Staying Put in Louisiana Country

My poor blog has been ignored for quite a while. We’re staying put in Louisiana until we have better weather to head up the east coast to see old friends and meet new. So, we’ve kind of hunkered down in the little town of Sulphur, a suburb of Lake Charles and I’ve done more cooking than sightseeing the last few weeks. Plus spent the holidays here cementing friendships with some of the locals – great people in this area.

Since I can’t tell you more about the area, here are some of the dishes I’ve been cooking and maybe one will spark interest in you to add to your menu.

A great find last month was an ebook, “The Southern Foodie – 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die,” and to find it while we are spending a few months right in the middle of all this wonderful Southern food! First dish I tried was a winner (and that’s always a very good sign) – Lasyone’s Red beans and rice and Sausage.

The Lasyone family has owned and operated this restaurant in Natchitoches since 1967. Highlighted offerings which the restaurant is known for – Fried Meat Pies, Crawfish Pie and their Red Beans, Rice and Sausage, which I made and thoroughly enjoyed heat from the seasoning and also the spicy smoked sausage I bought locally and used.
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1/2 cup lard or bacon drippings
2 1/2 quarts water
1 lb dried light red kidney beans
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery
1 1/2 cups chopped smoked sausage
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbs dried parsley
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs salt
6 cups cooked long-grain white rice

In large pot combine the lard, water, beans, onion, bell pepper, and celery.

Cook uncovered on medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water as needed, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender.

Add sausage, garlic powder, red pepper, parsley, sugar, and salt during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve over the rice.
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A new breakfast treat for us was making Apple-Walnut Pancakes one Sunday morning. The recipe comes from Cooking.com and the pancakes are wonderfully light and flavorful from the tart apple and toasted walnuts.

Treat yourself to a short or tall stack of these fluffy pancakes flecked with tart apple and toasted walnuts. Eat them as is, or smear them with sweet butter and a drizzle of warm maple syrup.
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1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
11/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 Tbs melted butter
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk together the buttermilk, egg and butter in a small bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until the flour mixture is moistened. Gently fold in the apple and walnuts.

Brush a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet with oil or spray with nonstick spray and set over medium-low heat. Using a scant 1/4 cup for each pancake, pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles begin to appear and the edges of the pancakes are dry, about 2 minutes. Turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the pancakes to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, making a total of 12 pancakes.

Tip: If the batter is a little too thick, thin it out by gently adding more buttermilk, a tablespoon at a time. Alternately, if the batter is too thin, add a tablespoon or two of more flour.
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And, while we’re in the country of spicy smoked sausages, what better twist to try with a dish than making Salami (or Sausage) Carbonara – the creaminess combined with the spiciness is just brilliant. The recipe calls for Salami, but we loved the sausage addition.
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1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb good-quality salami, sliced 1/4 inch thick and finely diced
1 1/2 lbs bucatini
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
Coarsely ground black pepper

In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the salami and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the salami is tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the salami and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the pasta is coated and hot, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately add the egg mixture and remaining 1 cup of cooking water. Using tongs, toss the pasta until creamy, about 1 minute. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve in shallow bowls, passing more cheese at the table.
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I needed an idea for leftover pork and found the perfect easy and fast stir-fry in one of my own cookbooks – “I Have LEFTOVERS…What Do I Do Now?”
???????????????????????????????Linguine and Pork Stir-Fry
Substitute just about any meat or fish for the pork and you’ll have a delicious and fast dinner.

1 lb. Linguine, Spaghetti, or Vermicelli, uncooked
1 Tablespoon sesame oil, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (approx. 1/2 head) cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain and toss with 1/2 Tablespoon of the sesame oil, set aside and keep warm. Dice the pork and set aside.

In a deep pot or large skillet, heat the other 1/2 Tablespoon oil and add the garlic, cabbage, onions, bell pepper and carrot; stir-fry until all is tender. Add the meat and lightly stir-fry until hot; then add hot linguine and toss to mix. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings
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I’m going to finish up this blog entry with an old favorite which is an invaluable recipe to have in any cook’s repertoire – how to make Crème Fraîche – which is a thickened cream with a tangy, nutty flavor. It can be very expensive to buy in the U.S. which seems quite frivolous given the flavor is substandard to that made in France. Homemade is equally delicious and so very easy to make at home. My friend, Chef June Jacobs gave me this method years ago and I love having it on hand.

CREME FRAÎCHE – HOW TO MAKE – Chef June Jacobs
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2 cups whipping (heavy) cream preferably NOT ultra-pasteurized
1/4 cup buttermilk — room temperature

Warm cream in heavy small saucepan to lukewarm (85° F). Remove from heat and mix in buttermilk. Put the mixture into a clean glass jar (that has a tight-fitting lid for later use). Leave the jar open and cover with a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper, fastened with a rubber band. Let it stand in a warm draft-free area until slightly thickened, 24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room.

When the cream has “clotted,” remove the paper and replace it with the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use.  That’s it! It is so easy and so very delicious.

Chef June’s tip: Stored in this manner, the Crème Fraîche should keep until you’ve used it up (and made more!) Like fine cheese, it may develop a “skin”, but you can remove it and use what’s underneath.
Another of her tips – Crème Fraîche whips beautifully and is wonderful on a strawberry shortcake.

Note: Normally all I can find is ultra-pasteurized and buttermilk on the shelves is reduced fat/1 ½% milkfat/50% less fat than whole milk, but it works. Mine is normally ‘clotted’ after 30 hours.
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Well, it’s time to check out the freezer – it’s almost empty and figure out how much I can buy at the Holly Beach Seafood Shack here in town. They have been closed since mid-December, so I’m really anxious to check out what they have for us this new year.

Hope you find something in the above recipes you might like to try – let me know if you do. Would love to hear.

cjdacook@netscape.com

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