Our beautiful Louisiana turns 200 years old today!

April 30th, 2012 rings in the state’s 200th birthday! And the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission is pulling all the strings to make the celebration worthy of two centuries of candles.

Louisiana was officially admitted to the Union on April 30, 1812 as the 18th state.
From the very beginning, Louisiana differed from the rest because of the Catholic French and Spanish-speaking populations brought between 1699 and 1803. Today, our beautiful state is still known for being a little bit different. Our music, food, history and outdoor adventures make us unlike any other state in the country.

How many wonderful memories and friends have we made there in that beautiful State? Thank you for all of the good memories, happy times, delicious food, drink, and wonderful people!

Our motto is “Laissez les bons temps rouler” which means, “Let the good times roll!”

You can learn more about the Louisiana bicentennial and find a calendar of bicentennial events with a list of 200 free things to do around the state at www.LouisianaBicentennial2012.com.

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?!

Riverwalk MarketPlace, the home of our New Orleans’ Cooking School, Crescent City Cooks!

Today we are going to talk about where Crescent City Cooks is located: Riverwalk MarketPlace.

History:

Riverwalk Marketplace is a mall located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is connected to the adjacent Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel. We have a perfect view of the Mississippi River waterfront that stretches from the base of Canal Street upriver to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The mall is well located and provides customers with something to look at!

This three-block-long shopping center contains several retail chains, local specialty shops and a food court. Plaques along the river walkway relate bits of the Mississippi River‘s history and folklore. Various cruise ships leave from the Julia Street Wharf slightly upriver; you can often see them from the front of the Riverwalk. (And my cooking studio!)

This area along the riverfront was always used for shipping. By the start of the 1980s, increased use of containers in shipping made some of the older riverfront wharfs less useful, so the Poydras Street Wharf and the Julia Street Wharf were demolished, and the land was used as part of the 1984 World’s Fair. After the fair, this area was redeveloped into the “Riverwalk,”an upscale mall intended to attract both tourists and locals.

The Riverwalk closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 due to extensive wind and looting damage. It reopened in early December of that year in hopes that Christmas Season shopping would jump-start the area’s recovery. Only a small number of shops were able to open at first. Additional businesses have gradually been reopening since.

Riverwalk is home to more than 100 retail stores like our culinary boutique and cooking school Crescent City Cooks, eateries and attractions including the brand new Southern Food & Beverage Museum.

Info:

Located in the heart of downtown New Orleans on the Mississippi River.
500 Port of New Orleans Pl.
New Orleans, LA 70130.

You can find the Riverwalk MarketPlace website http://www.riverwalkmarketplace.com or on Facebook and Twitter @RiverwalkNOLA

Directions:

Riverwalk is located on the downtown New Orleans riverfront at the foot of Canal, Poydras and Julia Streets, between the Convention Center and the Aquarium, adjacent to the Hilton Hotel. Take I-10 East or West to the Poydras Street exit and follow Poydras to the river. Or take Highway 90 to the Camp Street exit and Camp Street to Poydras. A right onto Poydras Street will bring you to Riverwalk’s entrance.

Thank you for reading, daily updates on the Crescent City Cooks Facebook page and Twitter account @CrescentCCooks

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?

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!