Romanced with Etouffee

In chapter 8 of “My Knotty Jolene,” the love interest surprises Jolene with a box filled with crab cakes and shrimp etouffee.  Yum!

Since the novel is written in first person, present tense, she describes it as, “A burst of flavor hits my tongue and my palate sings. I moan.”

If you’ve never tried etouffee, it’s flavored with spicy sauces such as Worcestershire, Cajun, and Louisiana hot sauce. I first ate etouffee while visiting the small town of Dulac, Louisiana during Mardi Gras in the mid nineties. Dulac is a small, coastal town just south of Houma, where most homes are built on stilts and the Cajuns are proud of their heritage. It was in one of these homes that I was given a brief tutorial of the difference between how etouffee is pronounced , depending on if you’re getting ready to eat it, or if you’ve eaten it. Of course, this could have been a case of Louisiana boys messing with me. But I was told that it’s called “eat-too-fay” at one point and “eh-too-fay” at another. A quick Internet search didn’t clear up the mystery, but after going to Mardi Gras celebrations in this small town over a course of a couple of years, this is the dish I remember, and the name I’ll never forget. If you know the answer, I would love to hear it. Post a comment, please.

If you want to try it for yourself, Emeril Lagasse shares his version on Food Network’s site at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/shrimp-etouffee-recipe.html.

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Another favorite recipe from Louisiana is Cajun Red Beans and Rice. I’m a foodie, so most of my time while there was spent learning the dishes and how to cook them.

One of the locals was kind enough to gift to me a Cajun cookbook entitled “Down the Bayou Cajun Recipes” by Mary Ellen. As you can see from the cover, the book has traveled a lot over the past few years and has been heavily used. I’m not sure if it’s still available for purchase, but here is a link to the book information:

http://books.google.com/books/about/Down_the_Bayou_Cajun_Recipes.html?id=Z683QwAACAAJ.

My favorite recipe from the book, and one that Jolene would most likely enjoy, is as follows:

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dried red beans, soaked overnight

1/4 lb ham, cut in chunks

1 lb. sausage (smoked)

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

3 T. onion tops (shallots)

2 T. parsley

2 T. Hot Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste using Creole seasoning

(Creole Seasoning is a mixture of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt, chili powder, and Accent)

Combine all ingredients with enough water to cover well. Cook beans until tender. Add water from time to time to make a thick rich gravy. Serve over cooked rice. Add Louisiana Hot sauce for more spice. Serves six.

Note: Ham hocks or pickled pork may be used in place of smoked sausage.

The recipe seems a bit confusing, I would say it means to cook all of the ingredients until the beans are tender. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! I know that Jolene would!