Friday, May 21, 2010

Cajun and Creole Cookin'

Ooooooooooouuujiiiii…or is it OOOOOOOwwwweeeee…
Either way that is sum go’ ole gumbo! Yez sir…and to make a good gumbo ya need to know how to make a goooooooood roux.

Ok enough of the down home Cajun talk; in fact not sure if you knew this but the word Cajun came from the French settlers that were kicked out of Canada. They traveled down the Appalachian Mountains and onto the Bayous of current day Louisiana. The Creole cookery was derived from the classic French cuisine mixed with the Spanish settlers. Current day Louisiana was at one time the property of Spain, France and the United States.

It is true what is said about a good roux. You know in the first few weeks of culinary school you learn about roux and the properties associated with roux. However, we only really used maybe two styles of roux. In Cajun cooking you go through all of the colors of the roux rainbow. In fact the darker the roux the less moisture it absorbs and more of a flavor enhancer it becomes. In terms of a classic Cajun gumbo you need the darkest roux, or chocolate roux.

Our menu this week of Cajun and Creole consisted of the following: Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo; fried fish in pearly meal with remoulade sauce; crawfish etouffee; bread pudding with whiskey sauce; red beans and rice; baked cheese grits, braised beef daube with glazed carrots, and sugar snap peas; fried oyster po’boy and pecan pralines.
With the gumbo you need to either pan fry the chicken in a deep pan with oil or cook separately and then use the fat in the pan to make the roux…

Go ahead and add the flour to the fat and continuously stir so it doesn’t burn. When you get to the chocolate state (dark reddish/brown); remove from the heat and add the diced “holy trinity” (celery, onion and green pepper) use the vegetables to scrape the pan. You can then add the stock slowly; at the same time whisk the mix to incorporate the roux/veggies with the stock. Bring this to a boil, then simmer, add garlic and andouille sausage. As the gumbo starts to thicken add the fried chicken to the pot and adjust the seasoning. Remember to add the file powder at the end to thicken the gumbo and give it the signature taste.

The fried fish was excellent; I believe we used grouper for the fried fish. Maria made it and it tasted great along with the fresh remoulade I made to go along with the fish. Remoulade is a mixture of creole mustard, mayo and spices. In this case the spices included paprika, salt, lemon juice and Tabasco. The breading for the fish is a mixture of spices, yellow corn flour and yellow cornmeal.
The crawfish etouffee was made by Mike and it turned out great. In this dish you use roux as well but it’s the blond roux; which can thicken and add flavor. After you make the roux (blond/medium brown) you add the “holy trinity” sauté; and then add the crawfish, lemon juice, green onion, parsley, crawfish fat, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Then you want to add clam juice or fish stock; bring to a boil, simmer and set aside. We used clam juice in this recipe and it tasted great!

I made the bread pudding and we no left overs! Take old bread and cut it into 1 -2 in cubes enough to make 2 cups of diced bread. Then toss in a little drawn butter and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes; then soak in about 6 ounces of milk. The oven should be pre-heated to 300 degrees and get a 1 quart pan (or equivalent) buttered in waiting. While toasting the bread beat 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 ½ tsp of vanilla extract. Whip this mixture really well until the consistency of custard; then add the milk soaked bread and raisins soaked in orange liqueur (Cointreau, Gran Marnier) mix well. Pour the mixture into the buttered pan in waiting and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar; and top with small cubes of butter. Bake for 1 hour or until set; allow to cool 30 min before cutting. Serve with whiskey sauce, caramel, chocolate sauce…whatever your heart desires. My Whiskey sauce was really a ganache; of cream, caramel and whiskey. MMMMMmmmmmm!

As for the rest of the menu Chef thought everything tasted great! Our red beans and rice were cooked thoroughly and we made this before in fundamentals class. Same thing with our glazed carrots and sugar snap peas; we did them in fundamentals class. The cheese grits were made by Mike and they were AWESOME!!!!!!!! Wow they were so good! Mike baked a mixture of cheesy grits that had added whisked egg, sautéed garlic; baked for 30 minutes and topped with cheese.
The braised beef daube is just like Yankee pot roast which we made back in fundamentals…lol…again! It tasted great but just another Yankee pot roast. Our pralines were burnt unfortunately; the person who cooked our pralines burnt the sugar in the pot (caramel sauce with brown sugar). The big thing of the evening was the oysters! We shucked a lot of oysters and I schooled Maria in oyster shucking…lol…Maria then went on to make oyster po’boys with the remoulade suace I made earlier.

Check out the video at:

Overall a great week and awesome food…as they would say New Orleans…
Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! (“Let the Good Times Roll!”)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Floribbean Cuisine

Our hometown cuisine was what we focused on this week in class. Of course on my mind all I could think of was not screwing up something I am good at...

The food turned out to be amazing!!!

In fact here is the link for you to see yourself... great camerawork by Chef Bill.

There are many different varieties to Floribbean dishes; and it is influenced by so many cultures. Of course the biggest culture comes from the immigrants of Cuba and the Caribbean islands.

This week we made conch chowder, golden gazpacho, hearts of palm salad, pan seared (coconut crusted) grouper, cube steak, key lime pie, corn custard, white bean salad, tostones, and roasted pork loin with mango mojo. We also made various mango chutneys and mango salsas.

I made the key west conch chowder which came out awesome! The taste was spot on and authentic; reminded me of being in a small shack in the keys with fresh conch. We ended up using frozen conch of course but the taste was right there evident of using clam juice to make the soup. The only thing I needed to do was to cook the potatoes a little longer; probably about five minutes. I served the soup with a side of sherry (again very authentic) and it gave it just enough heat. I can't wait to make this soup again at home for the family...

The Key Lime pie was made too late in the night and it turned out runny; which of course led to some crazy ideas to plate. This was not a bright spot on the menu; which was very disappointing. The hearts of palm salad and white bean salad were very different. The hearts of palm which comes from an indigenous palm bush in Florida; called "swamp cabbage"; was very easy to make. The white beans needed to be cooked a little longer; otherwise the taste was spot on. I noticed in the making of most of these dishes they have a lot of acidic qualities. Such as the chutneys and vinaigrette we made for the salads and proteins.

The golden gazpacho was a hit with Chef and the taste was perfect. We minced some jalapeno into the mixture along with the called for Tabasco. If you are not a fan of cold soups; then this is not for you. But I will say it was extremely tasty and worth the very easy process. The most time you will put into this soup is when you roast the peppers and peel off the skin. The rest of the way you are pureeing the vegetables and then chilling the soup. We accompanied the soup with twisty puff pastry straws.

The coconut crusted grouper was killer; chef said we could use shredded coconut so we did. The breading consisted of panko bread crumbs, shredded coconut, sugar, salt, pepper and then we used the traditional breading method. After you fry the fish, dry it on paper towels and finish off with an accompaniment of mango salsa.

The roasted pork loin with Al Cacace Floribbean marinade was stupendous! The rub was a mixture of traditional jerk spices along with traditional mojo ingredients. Shhhh it's a secret...
After trussing the pork loin I rubbed it down with the marinade and roasted it for about 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I topped the finished sliced pork with a mango mojo I mage by cooking and pureeing jalapeno, cilantro, mango, and white wine. We accompanied the pork and mojo with mango chutney and black beans.

The star of the night was the tostones. We made them both nights, but the second night we made them three different ways. In the video posted above you can see how I made them. Maria made the plantains into spiders and we dipped all of these yummy, crunchy bananas into a ketchup/lime/mayo dip. The other tostones got tossed a mojo of olive oil, minced garlic, salt and white pepper.

Overall amazing week and awesome menus...we should just have a class of Floribbean cuisine...

The South

No I am not talking about the South in terms of the Civil-War; although a great deal of what we eat today in the South was created during that time.
The South is obviously known for it's Barbecue meats and one pot dishes. A lot of today's cuisine in the South was adopted from slaves brought over from West Africa.

I was only in class for the first of the two days we worked on the South cuisine. Unfortunately the second day was when we made the pulled pork. However, I liked the menu we had the first day of class; which consisted of the following: Grilled Quail with spicy eggplant relish; Tomato and Bib Lettuce salad; Pecan encrusted catfish; slow-cooked greens (collard greens) and Peanut Brittle.

I made the pecan encrusted catfish; which was breaded with finely chopped cornmeal, pecans, bread crumbs and parsley. You season the following mix with salt and pepper; then proceed with traditional breading method (flour, egg wash, breading). You pan fry the fish and dry on paper towel. They came own great; seasoned well, crispy and great pecan flavor. The Quail was in brine for about an hour in a sugar/salt water mix; then split rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper then grilled. We placed the quail on top of a bed of spaghetti style zucchini and squash; which we made the first week of class. This was a great dish and even better to photograph. The spicy eggplant relish was surprisingly very tasty with the quail as well. The collard greens turned out pretty well and the tomato with bibb lettuce was pretty standard. A good way to cool down the meal.

Overall the one day I was in class was very good; only wish I was there for the pulled pork!

The Mid-Atlantic

This week we created dishes indigenious to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The states included in this region are New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The settlers of the region were German, Dutch, Irish, English, just to name a few. Below you will see what our Founding Fathers likely ate on the eve of the Revolutionary War; or after they declared Independence.

Our menu consisted of spicy crab soup with crab puffs; egg, cucumber and tomato salad; buffalo chicken wings; roast duck; applesauce cake with caramel; vichyssoise; beets, endive and feta salad; scallops with mushrooms and asparagus; "shaker-style" turkey cutlet; croquette potatoes; roasted spaghetti squash; ginger pound cake with warm cranberries.

I know this seems like a lot of food but we manage to finish all of these within two days. The first day we made the spicy crab soup, crab puffs, roasted duck, applesauce cake, buffalo wings and cumcumber tomato salad. The soup came out great with great flavor, the right amount of heat and a lot of crab. The puffs were a little dry; I think they may have been cooked too long. The roast duck was extremely juicy and the glaze we made for it was perfect. The applesauce cake was very moist and had great flavor. My favorite was the buffalo wings; which I made my garlic/bluecheese dipping sauce. They were crispy, spicy and was very moist inside; it caused me to buy a fry daddy that weekend.

The next day we made vichyssoise, beet endive and feta salad, scallops with mushrooms and asparagus, "shaker-style" turkey cutlet, croquette potatoes, spaghetti squash and ginger pound cake. Vichyssoise was not my favorite but a very classic soup. This soup was taken off the shelves; when it gave people bottulism for not cooking the soup. These folks were use to eating the soup cold; which is the traditional method. The shaker cutlet was awesome; and the sauce Mike made was killer. The spaghetti squash was tossed in butter and parmesan cheese; and was placed back in it's shell for presentation. The scallops were good but kind of small for my liking. The pound cake was amazing and I took a piece home. My mother said it was to die for and I needed to make had a great texture and just the right amount of ginger.

Overall good week and not super excited about the menu; however a lot of highlights.

search bar

Custom Search