History of the well-known Cajun-Creole dish, Crawfish étouffée.

Since the Crawfish season is upon us, I will share a bit of history behind the crawfish étouffée dish!

Crawfish étouffée was created in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Breaux Bridge is in Acadiana, which locals refer to as “Cajun Country.” The restaurants of Breaux Bridge were the first to offer crawfish openly on their menus, and are well-known for crawfish farming and cooking. In 1959, the Louisiana legislature officially designated Breaux Bridge as “la capitale mondiale de l’ecrevisse” or “the crawfish capital of the world”.

Étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fay) comes from the French word étouffer, which means to smother. This luscious dish starts with a roux, just like Creole Gumbo.

Browning butter or oil and flour together on a low heat makes a creole roux. The roux used for étouffée is a brownish-orange color, which is much lighter than a gumbo roux. This lighter roux will give the dish a completely different taste than gumbo, and has a thicker consistency than gumbo.

Like many Louisiana dishes have the holy trinity (onions, green peppers and celery). It is usually seasoned with Cajun spices, green onions, garlic, parsley, and a rich shrimp stock. The best way to describe the dish is a thick Cajun stew full of delicious, plump crawfish (or shrimp, depending on the season). Crawfish étouffée is usually served hot over Creole boiled rice.

Which do you prefer? Cajun or Creole étouffée?

Seafood Creole Gumbo!

Today we present you one of the most famous Louisiana dishes: Seafood Gumbo!

Gumbo is typically divided into two types. The combinations traditionally common in New Orleans and southeastern Louisiana are known as “Creole,” named after the Louisianans who are descendants of French and Spanish settlers. (The “Cajun” combinations were common in southwestern Louisiana, which was populated primarily by Cajuns. For a reminder of the difference between Creole and Cajun, click here).

But today, we are going to concentrate on Creole Gumbo:

So what is in Creole Gumbo? A Creole (New Orleans) gumbo is made with medium-brown roux and often has tomatoes and okra. The origin of the French word roux is derived from the French word beurre, which means browned butter. However, the roux used in gumbos is much darker than a typical roux made by the French.

The thick soup also contains a mixture of vegetables referred to as the Holy Trinity (onions, bell peppers and celery). We like to add garlic, green onions and parsley to create the Holier than Thou Trinity. Seafood Gumbo contains any combination of oysters, shrimp, fish, crawfish, and crabs. The Creoles favored okra in their gumbo rather than filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves). The word gumbo was derived from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra… so maybe the Creole’s have it right?

Another main difference from Cajun gumbo is that Creoles always add tomatoes to their gumbo. Tomatoes are used in Creole gumbo due to the influence of Italian immigrants to the city. Creole gumbo is generally not as spicy as Cajun gumbo.

Stay connected to find out about the Cajun Gumbo soon! YUM!

Schedule a cooking class with us here if you want to learn how to cook Gumbo.

Creole Red Beans on Mondays!

You can ask Creoles, if it’s Monday, more than likely it’s red beans and rice for dinner. It’s a tradition to make a slow simmering pot of red beans on Mondays and here’s a little background to tell you why!

White sugar planters that fled from Haiti after the slave revolution many years ago in the early 1900’s, brought the kidney bean or red bean to New Orleans. Red beans and rice is a traditional dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine. Originally red beans and rice were made only on Mondays because of washdays. New Orleans women would be out hand-washing the laundry, while the red beans slowly cooked on the stove. While Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, Red Beans remains a traditional dish in households as well as many restaurants on Mondays.

The Red Beans otherwise known as kidney beans are soaked overnight before cooking. After soaking the beans you discard the old water and replace it with new water for your pot. Add finely diced or pureed holy trinity (green bell peppers, white onions, celery) plus green onions, parsley and garlic. We refer to the six vegetables as the “Holier than Thou Trinity.” Then you add Creole spices and hot sauce. In the past, leftover pork bones were added to the pot from Sunday’s dinner. It is an old custom that still resonates today, Sunday pork dinner and Red Beans Monday.

Let us know if you like Red Beans! And don’t forget it is always better on Mondays!

New Orleans Beignets, Official State Doughnut of Louisiana!

If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you may have already had a taste of New Orleans Beignets, which are the official state doughnut of Louisiana.

Beignets are square shaped and do not have holes in them like most doughnuts

In France, ‘beignet’ is an umbrella term for a large variety of pastries made from deep-fried dough with fruit filling. But since Beignets date back to the Middle Age, the names for beignet recipes vary throughout France: beignets, bugnes, merveilles, oreillettes, beignets de carnaval, bottereaux, tourtisseaux, corvechets, ganses, nouets, vautes and several others. The beignet in the United States is simply a deep-fried choux pastry and has a different shape, but the frying method and powdered sugar are the same.

By the 18th century, the French-Creoles, who originally colonized in the Louisiana region, brought their food and pastry traditions with them. This was the beginning of beignets in New Orleans.

Since 1986, the Louisiana government officially named them the Official State Doughnut of Louisiana. But even without the fancy name, beignets are always associated with New Orleans.

The most famous place to get them in New Orleans is Café du Monde, located in Jackson Square in the French Quarter. They usually come three to an order under a signature pile of powdered sugar. When served hot, they are at it’s highest excellence, especially when accompanied with café au lait or chocolate milk!

Cafe du Monde is open 24-hour a day but you also can find Beignets at Cafe Beignets or take them home with you by purchasing the original Beignet mix at our Crescent City Cooks store!

Do you like it spicy?

New Orleans-style cuisine is known to be spicy, but its the combination of spices and sauces that give Cajun and Creole cooks the real zing.
We use many spices including mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion tops (green onion), filé (ground sassafrass), and red and black pepper.

Here is a list of some of the best local seasoning blends (you can find these at our store):

– Andy Roo’s Spicy Cajun Fried Chicken Seasoning. Ingredients: salt, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, celery, black pepper, other herbs and spices. (See the photo)
– “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun Seasonings. Ingredients: salt, red Pepper, black pepper and garlic.
– Cajun Shake “Quick Shake” Seasoning. Ingredients: salt, red pepper and other spices, garlic, onion, and cottonseed oil.
– Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. Ingredients: salt, red pepper, garlic and other spices.

If you need more than just the spice, add heat to any dish with hot sauce (as the average Louisiana-native does)

Here is a list of some famous spicy sauces in New Orleans (we these sell at our store, too!):

– Crystal Hot Sauce. Louisiana favorites, made with fresh cayenne peppers.
– Blair’s Original Death Sauce. One of the hottest sauces made with red and orange habaneros, vinegar, fresh cayenne, smashed garlic, chipotle, lime juice, cilantro, fresh herbs and spices.
– Original Louisiana Hot Sauce. Blended from authentic long cayenne peppers.

Spice and fare are the distinctive qualities that separate Cajun/Creole food from the rest. So why not add these spices to any dish? Pizza? Burgers? Fries? Mac n’ cheese? I think yes!