Benefits of Cooking Classes: Beyond the Kitchen

Cooking offers a connection to those around us.

The ability to serve up a tasty treat in the kitchen can not only put your grumbling stomach at ease, but also your mind. Cooking involves experimentation, risk and great reward. The delicious meal created in the end is only the icing on the cake (figuratively and possibly literally.) The creative process involved with cooking can also improve your mental health. Recent psychological studies show that cooking may lead to an increase in feelings of happiness and well-being.

All senses – smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound – are put to full use during the act of cooking. The journey can be just as rewarding as the destination. Sizzling garlic, chopping onions, or breaking apart basil leaves can refresh and rejuvenate the senses. Not only are the senses sweetly satisfied, but the variety of possible dishes opens a world of creativity to the chef. If the creativity pays off in a succulent dish, not only are the taste buds given a boost, but also the chef’s confidence in his/her cooking skills.

Looking to add a new flavor to expand the creativity of your dishes? Learning how to cook New Orleans-style at Crescent City Cooks will easily add a few more dishes to your repertoire. It’s hard not to fall in love with the flavoring and spices that accompany those oh-so-delicious Creole dishes. They’re easy to learn and the tastes are impossible to forget.

So if you’re getting sick of the ol’ Lasagna Thursdays, come by to our Thursday class to master chicken & Andouille Gumbo, jambalaya, Bananas Foster, and pralines. Give your senses the night-out they deserve. We’re sure they’ll appreciate it, and your friends and family too!

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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.

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!