Laisser les Bons Temps Roulade, Encore!
(Let the Good Times Roulade, Again) (March 20, 2006)
Poor shattered New Orleans. North America's quirkiest, most wonderful and, yes, unusual city has been through hell and worse with the utter disaster of Hurricanes Katrina, then Rita.
For weeks, then months, nothing seemed to be happening; FEMA dithered and more homeless and hungry were bussed elsewhere, then seemingly forgotten. But slowly, the lifeblood of New Orleans those wonderful restaurants grand and simple, large and small began the struggle to reopen not only to serve beloved patrons again, but to provide a livelihood for the staff that make it all possible. From the celebrity chef to the dishwashing crew, restaurants are really communities who work together to provide for the people, and themselves.
Many reasoned that if a good number of New Orleans restaurants could re-open, these "little communities" would be helping the city move that much closer to "back to bidness as usual." And why not? "New Orleans," stated Chef Paul Prudhomme, "is simply 'The place for creative cooking in the United States!'" Millions of visitors agreed; culinary tourism was at an all-time high when the disasters struck.
Today, thanks to massive efforts all round much from the private sector the city is coming back to life again! More residents are returning home, facilities are reopening, and oh, so important, restaurant stoves are firing up, not only all around the city but the rest of North America as well in an effort to help rebuild and re-start New Orleans!
One such effort is underway in far-away Toronto, Canada.
Democrats Abroad Canada and Southern Accent, a popular Cajun/Creole restaurant, are hosting a fundraising evening for New Orleans restaurants on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Feast on a selection of 12 delectable Cajun and Creole dishes, including Blackened Livers on Garlic Toast, Cajun Andouille Sausage with Chipotle Maple Hot Sauce, Deep Fried Calamari served with Ginger Remoulade, Voodoo Custard with Shrimp Tart and lots more! Help the future of New Orleans... and hey, find out yours, too, as a fortune teller will also be on hand! Pssst... she told us to take a look at ca.democratsabroad.org/events.php#2424.
It started when Southern Accent created their Dollar a Meal Deal: $1 per entree is donated to Save New Orleans Soul for the struggling restaurants trying to reopen. Is it working? Southern Accent has raised $7900 so far, with more to come. You eat, you enjoy, you help! Can't beat that with a stick!
Southern Accent is holding another great evening to help N.O. restaurants get going again on Saturday, April 22, with the first donation recipient, New Orleans Chef Troy Brocato. His brand new Flamingeaux Café was under four feet of water mere weeks after opening and completely wiped out. This brilliant young Chef, a nephew of Paul Prudhomme, will be on hand in the kitchen at Southern Accent, and the evening of great fun and food will help Troy and others to jump-start their New Orleans restaurants once again. More details posted at www.southernaccent.com/events/events.html.
Can't make it to the Big TO? Host your own fundraiser, and start with these recipes from two of the best chefs New Orleans has ever produced: Paul Prudhomme and Jamie Shannon. Jamie Shannon was at the helm of Commander's Palace for 16 years, and the executive chef for eleven, making the restaurant one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved restaurants in the country. It's always at the top of the Zagat list, among others, and is constantly featured in the best food publications. A trip to New Orleans is simply not complete without a meal at Commander's Palace.
Paul Prudhomme grew up south of Opelousas, Lousiana, in Acadian country. He spent 12 years in his own program of apprenticeship traveling throughout the country to work with chefs of every professional and ethnic background. Upon returning, he and his wife, Kay Hinrichs, opened K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in 1959, and the rest, as they say, is history. His cookbooks are constant bestsellers, his restaurants full throughout the year! He has received every possible culinary award, including the Mérite Agricole from the French government! He is Louisiana cooking!
New Orleans simply cannot be described in a few words. The place is most definitely a separate universe, a diverse, non-stop, 24-hour party with great food and good times everywhere. Dan Bigman, in a recent Forbes Magazine travel feature, December 2005, nicely sums up where the city is today and what you should do about it: "I'd never been to New Orleans. Figured it was time I went. And after a weekend down there, I urge you to go, too. What's it like now? Through first-time eyes, it is quiet and melancholy, beautiful, wounded, tired but hopeful. And yes, it was fun. If you're looking for a place that's happy to see you, this is it."
And finally, we hooted and completely agreed with ESPN host Will Carroll's comment about eating out in the Big Easy:"Forget about business school. You got us a table for twelve on a Friday night in New Orleans. That's leadership."
Clearly this is a city that knows its priorities! And... doing something about it!
On today's menu:
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Jambalaya rivals gumbo as Louisiana's quintessential Creole dish. All you need is a tangy green salad, some garlic bread, and a feisty Sauvignon Blanc. It's a great party dish that you can prepare ahead so you can enjoy the party yourself... now that's New Orleans.
You cannot get a better version than Jamie Shannon's recipe; this from the Commander's Kitchen cookbook.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 pound andouille sausage, in ¼-inch slices
- 1 large bell pepper, any colour, in large dice
- 1 large onion in large dice
- 3 ribs celery in large dice
- 1 small head garlic, cloves peeled and minced
- Creole Seafood Seasoning (recipe follows)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 large tomatoes, cored peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled
- ½ pound fish fillet, diced (trout, catfish, redfish, bass and bluefish work well)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups long-grain rice, rinsed 3 times
- 6 cups water
- 1 pint shucked oysters with their liquor
- 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp hot sauce or to taste
Combine the butter and sausage in a Dutch oven or heavy-gauge pot over high heat and sauté for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper, onions, celery and garlic and season with Creole seasoning, salt and black pepper. Sauté, still over high heat for about 8 minutes, or until the natural sugars in the vegetables have browned and caramelized.
Add the tomatoes, shrimp, fish and bay leaves and stir. Add the rice and stir gently, and add the water. Gently move the spoon across the bottom of the pot, making sure that the rice is not sticking. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Turn off the heat, then fold in the oysters, cover and let sit for about 8 minutes, during which time the jambalaya will continue cooking from residual heat.
To serve: Transfer to a serving bowl and mix in the green onions. Season with hot sauce.
Chef Jamie Shannon says, "If there is any 'magic' to our cooking, it's in seasoning mixes such as this. With this mixture, we try to unmask the depth of flavour in our native seafood, not overpower it. We want every bit to display a full flavour profile so we liberally sprinkle seasoning on the entire piece of fish. That means both sides. Make a decent-sized batch of this mixture so it will always be handy, then rube or sprinkle it on the food. Remember, mixtures such as this one cost very little to make yourself but quite a lot of if you buy them at retail.
- 1/3 cup table salt
- ¼ cup granulated or powdered garlic
- ¼ cup freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 Tbsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp dried basil
- 2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1/3 cup paprika
- 3 Tbsp granulated or powdered onion
Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or mixing bowl and pour the mixture into a large glass or plastic jar. Seal it so that it is airtight. It will keep indefinitely.
Chef Jamie's Tip: Cayenne pepper is the main source of heat in this mixture; if you wish, reduce the quantity as much as half.
Tony's wine recommendation:
A white wine with some sweetness semi-dry Riesling, Viognier or Alsace Pinot Gris.
We found this shrimp recipe online at recipezaar.com and it's a red-hot winner! Top the shrimp with Paul Prudhomme's genuine New Orleans Remoulade (recipe follows) and we guarantee that this will wake up every single one of your heat-loving taste buds!
- 32 raw peeled large shrimp
- ¼ lb unsalted butter
- Mushrooms (optional)
- Tomatoes (optional)
- Onions (optional)
- Bell Peppers, sliced (optional)
- 1 tsp ground basil
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- Mix spice ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl (make a double or triple batch and store the remainder for later use!) Dredge shrimp through the mixture.
- Place a large skillet over a very high heat, and melt the butter.
- Place the shrimp in the skillet and turn heat down to medium.
- Cook on both sides for approximately 7 minutes (maybe less) each pay attention to the shrimp, as they cook quickly; when the shrimp curl, they are done.
- Optional: sprinkle the vegetables with the spice mix and sauté in the butter in the same skillet.
- Serve with lots of garlic bread and ice-cold beer or chilled white wine.
Tony's wine recommendation:
Chablis, Muscadet or Soave, well chilled.
Chef Paul Prudhomme gives us this recipe from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, and it's the classic. You'll use it as a delicious side for other seafood as well... and find your own favourite combos!
Makes 1½ cups
- 2 egg yolks
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- ½ cup finely chopped green onions
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup finely grated fresh horseradish or prepared horseradish
- ¼ lemon, seeded
- 1 bay leaf rumbled
- 2 Tbsp Creole mustard (preferred) or brown mustard
- 2 Tbsp catsup
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp prepared mustard
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
In a blender or food processor, beat the egg yolks 2 minutes. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin stream. One at a time, blend in the remaining ingredients until well mixed and lemon rind is finely chopped. Chill well.
Arrange shrimp on plate with bowl-shaped lettuce leaves, shredded lettuce, tomatoes black olives and parsley. Top with sauce.
Sweet-Potato Pecan Pie
From Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen comes this ultimate dessert, and other than pralines, could this possibly be more New Orleans? Pecan pie, that utterly decadent southern staple, combined with another southern belle, sweet potatoes. The stunning result is dangerous... especially when served as Chef Paul suggests, with Chantilly Cream. Never mind, it's all for such a good cause!
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ of a whole egg, vigorously beaten until frothy (reserve the other half for the sweet-potato filling)
- 2 Tbsp cold milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
Sweet potato filling
- 23 sweet potatoes (or enough to yield 1 cup cooked pulp), baked
- ¼ cup, packed, light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/3 egg, vigorously beaten until frothy (reserved above)
- 1 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Pecan pie syrup
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup dark corn syrup
- 2 small eggs
- 1½ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup pecan pieces or halves
For the dough: Place the softened butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat on high speed until the mixture is creamy. Add the ½ egg and beat 30 seconds. Add the milk and beat on high speed 2 minutes. Add the flour and beat on medium speed 5 seconds, hen on high speed just until blended, about 5 seconds more (overbeating will produce a tough dough). Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a 5-inch patty about ½ inch thick. Lightly dust the patty with flour and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. (The dough will last up to one week refrigerated.)
For the sweet-potato filling: Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer until the batter is smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat. Set aside.
For the pecan pie syrup: Combine all the ingredients except the pecans in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly on slow speed on electric mixer until the syrup is opaque, about 1 minute; stir in pecans and set aside.
To assemble: Spoon the sweet-potato filling evenly into the dough-lined cake pan. Pour the pecan syrup on top. Bake in a 325°F oven until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1¾ hours. (Note: The pecans will rise to the top of the pie during baking.)
Cool and serve with Chantilly Cream. Store pie at room temperature for the first 24 hours, then (in the unlikely event there is any left) refrigerate.
Makes about 2 cups
Better double the recipe...
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp brandy
- 1 tsp Grand Marnier
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp dairy sour cream
Refrigerate a medium size bowl and beaters until very cold. Combine cream, vanilla, brandy and Grand Marnier in the bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute. Add the sugar and sour cream and beat on medium just until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Do not overbeat. (Overbeating will make the cream grainy, which is the first step leading to butter. Once it is grainy you can't return it to its former consistency, but if this ever happens, enjoy it on toast!)
Thank you Chef Paul! See you at Southern Accent!
Tony's wine recommendation:
Beaumes-de-Venise or a sweet Italian Muscat, Marsala or Tawny Port.
We wish to thank William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, for permission to publish material and photographs from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen. ©1984 by Paul Prudhomme. Photography by Tom Jimison.
We wish to thank Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, for permission to publish material and photographs from Commander's Kitchen. ©2000 by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jamie Shannon. Photography by Eugenia Uhl.
We wish to thank www.recipezaar.com for permission to publish their recipe for Blackened Shrimp (Recipe #30762).
For more information on Southern Accent and Democrats Abroad Canada's fundraising event to aid Katrina victims, please go to ca.democratsabroad.org/events.php#2424 and www.southernaccent.com. IMPORTANT: Is your group helping those in need through food? We'd love to know about it and, if possible, help you with a story. Let us know!
Note: Sadly, young Chef Jamie Shannon died a few years ago of cancer. Food guru Tom Fitzmorris, in his column, the New Orleans Daily Menu, eulogized Chef Jamie saying, "He was known for his innovative use of traditional New Orleans fare, reworking crawfish and oyster dishes, as well as for his outgoing and vibrant demeanor. His employer said of him, 'He was the quintessential hospitality person. He wanted to make people happy.' Under his term as executive chef, Commander's was named best restaurant in the US by the James Beard Foundation, and Chef Jamie was tapped as the Foundation's best chef in the southeastern United States."
Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.
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