Cars and Cajun food: two wholly unrelated topics Tuesday, October 16, 2007Last week the weather finally broke and the heat went rushing out. In it's place came perfectly cooler temps, stews, changing leaves and sweatshirts. I finally got to bust out my favorite sweatshirt, my gray MG sweatshirt that I've had since I was 16. It's only appropriate the when the weather finally changes enough that it makes driving a convertible a little less fun that you have something else to look forward to.
Next week I'll be driving the Midget to my parents house to store it for the winter and have my mechanic take a look and see he can find that damn short the keeps the blowing the fuse for the control panel. I'm sadder than I thought I would be about storing him up for the winter as it has been an exceptional season of fun. My freckles are starting to fade and I'll miss those too, I fully believe that all that time spent going on drives brought them back full force since I've been pretty freckle free since the last time I owned a Midget.
But Bernard will be back in the spring once the snow melts and the weather turns warm again.
Yes, I finally came up with a fitting name for the Midget. It was a long and decidedly hard thing to do since one wants to choose a name for a car the really encompasses it's spirit. Bernard is a bit crotchety and persnickety but still lovable and fun. And it's pronounced in the British way, not the odd way I've heard my family pronounce it.
This last weekend was cooking club (sorry, for the abrupt transition I can't think of a gentle way to make it flow together today). It was a Cajun feast, Yumi started us off with a amazing spiced crawfish pie.
Summer hosted, and went all out and prepared rabbit. A first for all of us, and it was tender, delicate and moist. And not gamey (which seems to have been every single person's question about it).
For sides Summer made a brussel sprouts with shallot and butter and I contributed a corn souffle. The corn souffle was enough to cause me several hours of worry since it called for canned creamed corn and canned corn. Never ever in my life have I bought canned corn, I buy fresh or frozen (same as my mother). So the canned corned worried me, would it have a slightly metal taste? Be minorly mushy? Luckily it turned out just dandy and everyone loved it. Whew!
Nancy made bourbon balls, they were so alcohol infused that I actually left the room to go stand outside in the cold because I got hot. Bourbon is so warming to me, and the cool of the night air was the only thing that helped. She also brought more of her fantastic apple and thyme martinis, woo! And just like that we were all off the the races.
But her amazing Cranberry Orange Tart is what stole my heart (goddamn that rhymes). I'm quite possibly completely addicted to cranberries, and Nancy is much the same. So when she saw the bags of little red berries in the store for the first time this season she knew she had to make the tart. Thank the infant Jesus she did.
It was so good that the slice I took home didn't make it past coffee on Sunday morning.
And I'm sorry for the blurriness of the photos, I just stopped caring after I downed that first apple and thyme martini.
Crawfish Pie Recipe
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green and red peppers
1 cup diced celery
8 ounce bag of precooked crawfish tails
1 and 1/4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 generous shot sherry (I bet brandy or cognac will work as well)
1/2 chopped green onion
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons Creole spice
2 ready-made roll out pie crusts
Water or chicken stock
1 egg, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a skillet melt butter, add flour and whisk into a paste. Cook roux while stirring for 5 minutes or until it begins to turn lightly golden. Add onions, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes, until vegetables are tender. The mixture will be thick. Splash in sherry to deglaze the pan and mix in the tomato paste. Once that is incorporated, add crawfish, green onions, parsley and seasoning. Then add either water or chicken stock until it reaches the desired texture, a smooth, slightly thick wet mix. Cook just until heated through, about 1 minute more. Let cool slightly.
Roll out pie dough and either split into individual containers or one regular 9 inch pie pan. Pour filling into pie shell and top with remaining dough. Crimp edges well and poke holes in top. Brush the top with the egg wash (this will give a golden color to the top). Bake for 40 minutes, until crust is golden and filling is bubbling hot.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Makes 2/3 of a cup
1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 c. milk
4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 c. shredded cheese (optional)
Mix everything in bowl except egg whites. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into corn mixture. Pour into greased souffle pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Mine actually took a full hour to cook but since I've not made this recipe repeatedly you might want to check after 30 minutes to make sure yours isn't done and mine was just a fluke.
Cranberry Orange Tart
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water
1/3 cup orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
Preheat oven to 425°.
To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly (do not form a ball). Gently press mixture into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.
Slightly overlap 2 lengths of plastic wrap on slightly damp surface. Unwrap and place chilled dough on plastic wrap. Cover dough with 2 additional lengths of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 14-inch circle. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.
Remove plastic wrap; fit dough into a 10-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under or flute decoratively.
To prepare filling, combine juice and cornstarch in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add remaining ingredients; stir well. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake at 425° for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove tart from oven); bake an additional 35 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.