Down on the Bayou Louisiana Style

Today we celebrate the Bayou State, Louisiana. Throughout the history of the state, the beautiful blending of races and cultures have resulted in the Delta’s own unique flair. Visitors from all around the globe are drawn to the distinct flavors of Louisiana and to listen to the unmistakable sounds of the region.

More than any other state, Louisiana is a melting pot of people. The first of those people traveled across the Bering Straight from modern-day Russia into Alaska, and from there down through the Americas. The first Europeans to reach Louisiana were the Spanish. Yet it was the French that first lay claim to Louisiana. The French held high hopes for the colonization of the New World, with an eye to control it from the Gulf of Mexico, along the Mississippi River, all the way up into Canada. The French managed to dominate the area for over 100 years. France was eventually defeated by the British, then divided between them and the Spanish.

Spain’s control was short-lived, with Napoleon Bonaparte reclaiming the land for France in 1802. That too was short-lived. The territory was purchased from France for the sum of 15 million. Less than sixty years later, nearly 47% of the population in Louisiana were slaves. Like Mississippi’s high population of slaves at the end of the Civil War, much of the population were uneducated and dirt poor. While America put an end to slavery, it was not prepared to deal with the poverty of freed men. Hardships continue today, but that is not to say the people are poor. There are more riches in Heaven than can ever exist on earth.

In addition to the Bayou State, Louisiana has been called the Pelican State because of the abundance of brown pelicans that once flocked to the region. The marshy wetlands of Louisiana were ideal habitats for pelicans. In 1966 the state took on the official nickname of the Pelican State in an effort to drum up tourism for more than just the Bayou and New Orleans. Yet by 1970 the Pelicans were listed as endangered due to pesticides. Through conservation efforts and changes is pesticide laws, the pelican population has been pulled from the brink of extinction.

Perhaps Louisiana should call itself the Alligator State. While most of us think Florida, Louisiana actually has the highest number of alligators in America. There are around 300,000 farm-raised alligators across the state. That number pales in comparison to the two million or so alligators living in the wild. That might explain the need to pass a law prohibiting people from leaving their alligators tied to fire hydrants while in town.

Louisiana has the tallest State Capitol Building in the Country; is home to the ancient city mounds of Poverty Point, claims a sound that is unique to its people and is the birthplace of Creole Cuisine.

Celebrating Louisiana
Cajun Garlic Snow Crab Clusters
Creole Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
White Rice to accompany the Gumbo
Warm Bread to accompany the meal

Creole Tomato Salad

À La Mode Brioche Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

Cajun Garlic Snow Crab Clusters
Snow Crab
8 Snow Crab Leg Clusters
2 tablespoons Cajun Seasoning, divided

At least 48 hours before cooking, thaw crab clusters in the refrigerator.

Fill a a large pot fitted with a steam basket with about an inch of water. Remove basket, set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the Cajun Seasoning to the water.

Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of seasoning over the clusters. Place the steamer basket in the pot, nestle the clusters in the basket. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil. .

Let clusters steam for about 10 minutes on medium high heat.

Remove from heat, keep warm until ready to serve.

Cajun Garlic Butter
12 Garlic Cloves
1-1/4 cups Butter
2 tablespoon Lemon Pepper Seasoning
2-1/2 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning

Peel and mince garlic, set aside. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces.

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat; melt a 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the foam subsides, increase heat to medium; sauté garlic in the butter until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add lemon pepper and Cajun Seasoning to the garlic butter. Cook for about a minute to bring out the flavors of the spice in the butter.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. As each piece of butter begins to melt, add the next. Once all the butter has been added, whisk to blend.

To serve; place crab clusters on a large, rimmed serving platter. Pour butter over the crab, serve and enjoy.

Creole Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
1 lb boneless Chicken Thighs
12 oz Andouille Sausage
1 medium Bell Pepper
3 Cajun Bell Peppers
1 medium Yellow Onion
4 Garlic Cloves
1 medium Celery Rib
4 tablespoons Parsley
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Flour
1 (14 oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
6 cups Chicken Stock
3 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1 tablespoon Filé Powder or to taste

Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, set aside. Cut sausage into 1/4-inch rounds, set aside. Stem bell pepper, remove seeds; dice and set aside. Stem Cajun Bell, retain seeds if desired; dice and set aside. Peel and dice onion and garlic cloves, set aside. Clean celery rib, trim ends. Finely mince celery, set aside. Chop parsley, set aside. While the Gumbo cooks, snip additional parsley for garnish.

Heat a pan to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat.

While the oil warms, season chicken with salt and pepper. When ready, add diced chicken and slices sausages to the skillet. Cook turned as needed to brown evenly. Set aside until ready to use.

Note: Keep the meats and vegetables close at hand to add to the Roux without risking leaving the Roux unattended. If there is no room alongside the stove, remove Roux from heat when adding additional ingredients.

Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil to warm. Add flour, cook for 30 minutes, constantly stirring, until the roux browns to the color of chocolate. DO NOT leave unattended or the Roux may scorch and burn. If it does, discard and start over.

Add peppers, onion, celery and garlic to the deep roux. Stirring constantly, cook for another 5 minutes. Add chicken and andouille. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Add crushed tomatoes, Creole seasoning and chicken stock. Return Gumbo to medium-low heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom.

Add bay leaves and thyme. Let Gumbo simmer for an hour. Stir in parsley; continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in Filé Powder to thicken.

Transfer Gumbo to a large serving bowl. Garnish with parsley. Serve with sticky rice if desired.

Sticky White Rice
1-1/2 cups Long Grain White Rice
3 cups Water
Pinch Salt

In a medium pot with a tight fitting lid, add rice with water. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for about a minute or so, reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed into tender rice.

Let rice rest 5 minutes off heat. Spoon into a serving bowl, fluff with and fork and enjoy. The rice can be served alongside the gumbo or in bowls with the gumbo ladled over the rice.

Creole Tomato Salad
Tomato Salad
3 large ripe Tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 large White Onion
1 tablespoon fresh Mint
2 teaspoons fresh Chives
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices, set aside. Peel onion, thinly slice into rings. Separate rings, set aside. Stack mint leaves, thinly slice into ribbons, set aside. Snip chives.

On a serving platter, alternate tomato and onion slices. Season with a sprinkling of salt. Scatter mint and chives over the tomatoes. Cover with plastic warp until ready to serve.

Note: This salad is served at room temperature.

2 Garlic Cloves
4 teaspoons Olive Oil
4 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

Peel and finely mince garlic. Place garlic in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Cover tightly, shake vigorously. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad just before serving.

Note: Vinaigrette can be made in advance and held at room temperature. Shake again vigorously just before serving.

À La Mode Brioche Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
Bread Pudding
8 slices Day-old Brioche Bread
1-1/2 cups Milk
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Pinch Nutmeg
Pinch Salt
1/3 cup Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 Egg Yolk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Butter a medium (6 cup) casserole dish.  Cut the bread slices into 2-inch cubes. Scatter bread cubes into the prepared casserole dish, set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, cream, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Stir gently to prevent scorching until the butter melts. Whisk the milk once the butter is melted to make sure it’s all incorporated. Let cool for about 5 minutes.

Whisk the whole eggs and yolk together in a small bowl.  Pour into the cooled milk mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined.  

Pour the custard mixture over the cubed bread in the casserole dish.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown white the center is still a bit wobbly.  

While the bread pudding bakes, make the caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon Butter
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Bourbon
Vanilla Ice Cream for serving

In a medium saucepan off heat; stir together the sugar and water. Place saucepan over medium heat. Cook undisturbed until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid comes to a boil.. DO NOT STIR.  

Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the sugar becomes a dark amber hue, about 10 minutes.

While the sugar caramelizes, measure out the heavy cream, butter, salt and bourbon to have at the ready.

The moment the sugar mixture has reached a dark amber hue, remove saucepan from the heat. Immediately whisk in the heavy cream; whisking vigorously while the mixture crackles loudly. After about 15 seconds or so of whisking, a glorious caramel sauce will emerge in pan.

Whisk in the butter, salt, and bourbon.

Drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the bread pudding. Transfer remaining sauce into a syrup dispenser or bowl with a ladle for serving.

Dish up bread pudding in shallow dessert bowls. serve warm with vanilla ice cream topped with caramel sauce.

Note: The bread pudding is best served warm. It can be baked in advance. When ready to serve, cover in foil and gently warm in the oven while the sauce is made. Serve and enjoy.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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