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Saturday, February 21, 2009

HIgher Level Palate Pleasers : Mardi Gras- I love cajun food and New Orleans

I've been to nearby New Orleans, before the carnage of hurricane Katrina, several times for various NASA and other teaching activities/ conferences that I have participated with. While I have never been to Mardi Gras or have eaten at one of the real famous restaurants in New Orleans (Lagasse's places and more there are so many- I did eat at some of the lesser places). This is always an interesting time of the year and reliving some of the times there, walking around the streets, eating at Cafe DeMonde and more. The current Cajun and Creole recipes I continue to try. There have been some Cajun restaurants in Kansas City that I have tried as well like Jazz and some others.
Tonight I got take out for Popeyes chicken which is always great. I also love their cajun dirty rice.It is real good there. There are many ways to make it yourself too though.
This Popeye's recipe here is not complicated but it sure comes out great.
Other recipes include just sausage, throwing in some mushrooms, more cajun spices and more. See if you like some of these


Popeye's Dirty Rice Recipies
Popeye's Dirty Rice Recipies

1 pound spicy bulk breakfast sausage
1 can clear chicken broth - (14 oz)
1/2 cup long-grain rice
1 teaspoon dried minced onion

Cooking Directions:
Brown sausage in skillet until pink color disappears, crumbling with fork.
Stir in broth, rice and minced onion.
Simmer gently, covered, 18 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and most of broth is absorbed.


This was transcribed verbatim from a hand-written recipe by my late great-aunt Nettie Zeringue (of da Nint' Ward, and then Da Parish), with a few annotations.
She passed this on to me when I first moved to California, and it came in handy when I had to fend for myself to get Louisiana food. Thanks, Aunt Nettie!

4 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (what Aunt Nettie used); OR
3 teaspoons Creole seasoning blend, plus
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
2 cups converted rice
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 quart water
Chicken livers, gizzards, necks, wings, backs
"If you bought a whole chicken, season and broil the breasts, legs and thighs to serve as an entree with the rice. If you're making this as a side dish for something else, then ...
"Put the gizzards, livers, wings, necks, backs, etc., in the water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.) Let cool and remove the meat from the bones. Finely mince the meat and giblets, then return to the water; set aside for the moment.

"Melt the butter in a heavy pot, then add rice and fry until brown. Add onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper and parsley, and fry until transparent.

"Heat the chicken and broth again, and add to the rice. The water should be about one inch above the rice; if needed add extra water.

"Add seasoning, bring to a boil and cook until the water has almost evaporated and is just bubbling on top of the rice. Stir to prevent sticking. Cover and cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice set for about 10 minutes. When ready to serve, stir rice well.

"Very tasty," said Aunt Nettie.

She added, "If you would like to make jambalaya, you can use this dirty rice recipe except for the giblets. I put whatever I want, sometimes shrimp, smoked sausage, ham, or whatever. The shrimp jambalaya is the best."
Stuffed Eggplant
(from the Bon Ton Restaurant)

6 medium eggplants
1 pound small shrimp
1 pound white lump crab meat
4 bell peppers
4 medium onions
1/2 cup parsley
3 pods garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup celery
Bread crumbs
Boil eggplants until soft; then dig out meat. Save eggplant shells. While you are doing this, fry bell peppers, onion, celery, and garlic together until limp, then add eggplant meat. Let smother on medium fire till most water is cooked out, then add shrimp. Cook for another 20 minutes, then put all of this in another bowl and fold in crab meat and parsley. Let cool a little, then add enough bread crumbs to be firm enough to stuff shells. Sprinkle a little bread crumbs on top and paprika. Then sprinkle a little oil or oleo on top. Bake till done or brown in 350°F oven. Serves 12.

Cajun Chicken Pizza

1 Mama Mary’s 12 inch Thin & Crispy Gourmet Pizza Crust
Olive oil to mist the crust
1/2 cup; (1 stick ) butter
2 tblspn fresh ground pepper
2 tblspnl fresh lemon juice
1 tblspn paprika
1 tblspnl dried basil crumbled
1 tblspn garlic cloves , minced
2 bay leaves crumbled
2 tspn dried rosemary , crumbled
1 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tspn fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tspn salt
1 - 3lb chicken , cut into piece

3/4 cup pizza sauce
1 cup Mozzarella Cheesed shredded
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and sliced
10 basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 450F.

Melt butter in heavy large skilled over medium -low heat, Add next 11 ingredients and cook until spices are aromatic stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add chicken, turning to cool. Cover and chill for 2-4 hours.
Reduce oven temperature to 425 F.
Place the pizza sauce over the crust, making sure none of it it is on the pizza rim.
Spread the cajun pepper chicken pieces over the pizza.
Spread the cheese over top over the chicken, add the tomatoes, the basils and then the pine nuts.

Keeping pizza on the pan bake for 8-10 minutes. To crisp the crust remove from the parchment-lined pan and place directly on the oven rack for 3 additional minutes.

Remove from oven. Top pizza with basil leaves and pine nuts.

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