Monday, June 29, 2015

Cooking Club -- CAJUN FOOD.

Cooking Club!
Meeting number 2.
You remember the rules, etc from the last cooking club meeting, right?
Of course you do.
You remember everything I've ever said!

Gina and Mark were away so Shelly and Lorin filled in as subs.
Shelly is a permanent substitute. 
We figure that someone will always not be able to make it...  that's where Shelly steps in.
And she was just MOVED beyond WORDS to have that honor bestowed upon her, as you can tell!

And the category was:
In a wild west setting.
This is it:

I wish I had been more vigilant about taking photos of April's backyard.
She was the host.
This photo above is  just one small part of her yard.
It's her husband's shop in the back.
She just has such a knack for decorating.
It's lovely.

While April was busy preparing her Cajun, low country boil, the rest of us were visiting and having wine.

 Sally snuck in to make sure that April didn't need any help!

While the rest of us sat with our wine glasses and enjoyed the evening.

One nice thing about summer evenings in Northern Nevada is that it cools off and there comes a slight breeze.
And we have hardly any bugs.

Um...what did I say about a 'slight' breeze?
A monsoon came up---tropical hurricane winds!
Look at it whipping thru the trees!
( so I can take pictures of WIND but not the rest of April's backyard? )

These guys sat calmly thru the 5 minute windstorm, waiting for their food.

 Ta Da!!
And here it is!

 We learned
  • CREOLE refers to the original European — particularly French and Spanish — settlers of New Orleans. They were mostly from wealthy families and brought or sent for chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals.
  • CAJUNS are the descendants from the former French colony in East Canada, called Acadia (Nova Scotia) who were exiled by the English in 1755.  Many made their way to Louisiana, settling in the swamps and bayous. Cajun cooking has very little influence of the classical cuisine of Europe--it is truly an American Cuisine.
The cultural difference between the two methods of cooking lies in the fact that Creoles had access to local markets, and servants to cook their food while Cajuns lived mostly off the land, were subject to the elements of the seasons, and generally cooked meals in one large pot.

It is said that a Creole feeds one family with three chickens and a Cajun feeds three families with one chicken.  

Another major difference between Creole and Cajun food is in the type of roux used as the base of sauces, stews, soups, and other savory dishes. Creole roux is made from butter and flour (as in France), while Cajun roux is made from lard or oil and flour. This is partly due to the scarcity of dairy products in some areas of Acadiana (Acadia + Louisiana) when Cajun cuisine was being developed. Gumbo is perhaps the signature dish of both cuisines. Creole gumbo has a tomato base and is more of a soup, while Cajun gumbo has a roux base and is more of a stew.

We are certainly not experts at cooking, but we all like to eat, and we all like to learn new things.  And we like to enjoy each other's company and laugh.
We took a quiz on crawdads.  Because crawdads or craw-fish are big in Cajun cooking.
And by the way, it was split down the middle of this table on who said crawdad and who said craw-fish or cray-fish.

This time our theme was Cajun  Cooking.
Shelly had the appetizer --- Cajun meatballs  (was supposed to have alligator meat, she comprised with elk meat)
April  had the main dish-- Low Country Boil
Debbie E had a side dish --- Cajun cheesy corn bread with jalapenos
Debbie/me had a side dish-- Dirty  Rice
And Sally?

Here she is getting ready for her Bananas Foster!

Banana Liqueur AND Rum!!

 Paul tastes the rum to make sure it's good!
Very important step.

Smelled so YUMMY in all it's brown sugar and cinnamoniness!

 And then....the lighting of the rum!!

 Ta Da!

The finished project!
Mmm... Mmmm... good!

And the night wouldn't have been complete without some Cajun music.  Or... New Orleans Jazz.

As you know, I made Dirty Rice (much to the disappointment of Shelly's husband Lorin.  He was sure I'd make Red Beans and Rice)
I did discover that originally, Dirty Rice was cooked with chicken livers, but... well, I found a different recipe that  used ground beef and ground sausage.
We like to try out new things, but chicken livers is not  one of them.

Dirty Rice is really good!
A bit spicy, but not too bad.

Now  don't think bad of me, but I didn't pay attention to the recipe.
No, I didn't leave anything  out.
No, I cooked it according to directions.

But I didn't read the fine print.....
... serves 45-50.

I now have three 9x13 pans of dirty rice in my fridge!

We ate one pretty much at the Cooking Club.
One is going home with my son and his wife.
And... Rich and I are eating leftovers for a while.
Lots and lots of leftovers!

Dirty  Rice Casserole
from Taste of Home

2 pounds of ground beef
2 pounds of ground sausage
2 large onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 jar diced pimientos, drained
5 cups of water
2 cans each, undiluted of:
cream of chicken soup
cream of mushroom soup
condensed French Onion soup
2 T Creole seasoning
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 c ups uncooked long grain rice

In several Dutch ovens or stockpots

**this should have been my first clue--several stockpots!

cook the beef , pork and onions over med.  heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain.
Stir in the celery, green pepper and pimientos.
Combine water and soups, stir in Creole seasoning, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir into meat mixture, bring to a boil and stir in the rice.

Carefully transfer mixture to three greased 13x9 baking dishes. Cover and bake at 350F , stir. cover and bake for  30-40 minutes longer, or until rice is tender.

 At the end of the meal, we picked from a hat and next time our theme  is:

Let's Go To Hawaii!

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