By Deborah Eisenhut

 

After a long visit to Louisiana recently, I

have come to the conclusion that people

there do not need a holiday as a reason to

celebrate. There are more festivals and

celebrations all year-long in New Orleans

than anywhere else we have visited.

The holiday season from Halloween to New

Year’s is especially filled with cultural

cuisine that I call “the art of food”. Most

people associate Louisiana with seafood

and spicy hot dishes, gumbo and etouffee.

While the traditional Creole and Cajun

foods are well seasoned, most of the

cooking is balanced, light and fresh. We

dined on “blacked” everything and were

pleasantly surprised at the subtlety of

seasonings. Particularly famous for

crayfish (crawfish) or “mud bugs” as they

are affectionately called, Louisiana

supplies 95% of the crayfish harvested in

the US. Crayfish are usually cooked in a

highly seasoned boil with potatoes and

corn on the cob. Other popular Cajun and

Creole crayfish, dishes are crayfish

ettoffee, crayfish pie, crayfish bisque and

many more.

Around Christmas, there is a wonderful

19th century Creole tradition called

Reveillon Dinner and it is celebrated in

restaurants all over New Orleans. These

events celebrate the roots of Creole French

families with special dishes and family style

dining.

Try any of the following recipes, and adapt

the seasoning to taste. As I previously

stated, the enjoyment is particularly in

“the art of food”:

 

Oyster Dressing “Grand Mere”

2 ounces slab bacon cut 1/4 inch dice

1 stick unsalted butter

1 celery rib cut 1/4 inch dice

1/2 green bell pepper cut 1/4 inch dice

1/2 small onion finely diced

2 large garlic cloves minced

2 TBLS sweet paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cayenne powder

2 Large baguettes (about 1 lb) cut into 1/2

inch dice (12 cups)

4 dozen shucked oysters plus 1 cup oyster

liquor, oysters cut in half (2 cups)

2 scallions minced

2 TBLS chopped parsley

4 Large eggs

1 tsp Tabasco sauce

1 tsp sea salt

Heat oven to 350. Butter a 10X14 inch

shallow baking dish. In large skillet cook

bacon over moderate heat until crisp, add

butter, let melt, add celery, green pepper,

onion & garlic until softened @ 8 minutes.

Add paprika, garlic powder & cook for 3

minutes stirring occasionally. Put diced

bread in a large bowl, spoon the bacon

mixture on top, add the oysters and the

liquor along with the scallions & parsley. In

a small bowl beat the eggs with the hot

sauce and salt. Pour the eggs into the

bowl & mix all together. Scrape the

dressing into the prepared baking dish &

bake in upper 1/3 part of oven for about 45

minutes until heated through & crisp on

top. Serve hot.

 

Chocolate Expresso Cookies

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chips

8 TBLS unsalted butter cut into pieces

3 Large eggs

1 cup plus 2 TBLS sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons finely ground dark roast

coffee beans (or expresso powder)

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 350, Grease 2 Large heavy

baking sheets

In a double boiler or metal bowl over a

saucepan of barely simmering water melt

unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup chips &

butter stirring until smooth and remove

bowl from water heat. In a bowl with eggs,

sugar, ground coffee, beat on high until

very thick & pale & mixture forms a ribbon

when beaters are lifted, then beat in

chocolate mixture. Into mixture sift flour,

BP, salt & just combine. Stir in remaining

chips and nuts. Drop batter by heaping

TBLS (or small ice cream scoop) 2 inches

apart onto baking sheets in middle oven

bake 8-10 minutes until puffed and cracked

on top. Cool 1 minute the remove to racks.

Can top with sifted powder sugar.

 

Hot Spiced Wine

2 bottles light bodied red wine

1 1/4 cups sugar

Zest of 1 orange

Zest of 1 lemon

3 black peppercorns crushed

2 cardamom pods crushed

1 3-inch cinnamon stick crushed

1 clove crushed

1/2 cup kirsch

In a large saucepan, combine the red wine,

sugar and zest’s, put the spices in a tea

ball or cheesecloth bag & add to pan.

Bring wine to a very slow simmer over

moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the

sugar. Remove from heat and remove

spice ball & stir in kirsch. Ladle into

heatproof glasses and serve immediately.