How To Use New Orleans Style Cooking To Save Calories

If you know the right tricks, cooking can be a great way to gain control of your calorie consumption. Here in New Orleans we can make just about anything taste great, and healthy foods are no exception. Check out this list of calorie conscious swaps:

Crawfish>Andouille
For three ounces of Andouille sausage you get a whopping 11 grams of fat. However,
the same three ounces of crawfish contain less than a single gram of fat. Many recipes come in both seafood and meat versions like gumbo, which can be made with crawfish or with Andouille. Skip the sausage and opt for the leaner shellfish!

Creole Mustard
Everyone loves a good condiment, but unfortunately not all condiments are made equal. Ketchup is high in sugar and mayonnaise is about 75% fat. Try Zatarain’s Creole Mustard (>1g fat per serving!) for a New Orleans recipe that’s been around since the late 1800’s.

Cajun Spices
“Slap YA Mama” seasoning can make just about any dish better, so why not use it to spice up an otherwise boring low fat/low calorie food? Use it as a rub on fish, a seasoning on cooked vegetables, or an extra kick in your broth-based soup. Seasonings are a wonderful alternative to high fat flavor-fillers like oil or butter.

 

Oil-Free Roux
Make a one-ingredient roux from flour and save yourself 2/3 of the calories of regular oil-based roux! Here is a recipe from Southern Cuisine Blog:

Ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Spread flour evenly across the bottom of a 15-inch cast iron skillet
    3. Bake, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 hour
    4. Make sure to stir well around the edges of the skillet so the flour does not scorch.
    5. Cook Flour until the light or dark color is achieved depending on the purpose of the roux. The roux will become darker when liquid is added
    6. When the desired color is reached, cool on a large cookie sheet, stirring occasionally
    7. Store in a sealed jar for future use. 1 cup of oil-less roux will thicken 11/2 quarts of stock to a perfect gumbo consistency
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Jambalaya Yeah Ya’ll love that!

Although there is much speculation about the origin of jambalaya, the facts are unclear. The most commonly repeated folklore is that the word derives from the combination of the French word jambon meaning ham, the French article “à la” a contraction of “à la manière de” meaning “in the style of,” and “ya,” thought to be of West African origin meaning rice. Hence, the dish was named “jamb à la ya.”

However, ham is not the signature ingredient of the dish and there is no known African language in which “ya” means “rice.” Another source suggests that the word comes from the Spanish jamon (ham) + paella, a noted Spanish rice dish. Spanish speakers would call a ham rice dish, paella con jamon, not jamon paella. All we know for sure is the first records of Creole Jambalaya originate from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World. Learn more about Cajun and Creole History here!

The strong French influence in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish. But as Gumbo, two types of Jambalaya exist: Creole and Cajun!
  • Creole Jambalaya or “Red Jambalaya” is found primarily in and around New Orleans. Creole Jambalaya includes tomatoes in the recipe and specifically why the Cajuns refer to it as Red Jambalaya. Creole Jambalaya includes a variety of different ingredients including tomatoes, chicken, shrimp, The Holier than Thou Trinity (onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, green onion and, parsley), rice, creole spices and hot sauce.
  • Cajun Jambalaya originated in southern Louisiana by the Cajuns around the bayou. The Cajun Jambalaya includes a variety of meats such as tasso (a cajun dried pork or turkey), andouille (smoked pork sausage), chicken, or any wild game. They also include the Holy Trinity, rice, & cajun spices.
Let us know how you like your Jambalaya, Creole or Cajun style? Both are delicious right?!

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!