Cajun Country Cookin'
Recently, we Clueless girls were enjoying ourselves in the Big Easy. (See, Ann got married there a couple of weeks ago.) Our favorite thing about New Orleans never changes no matter how many times we visit: No, it's not the 24-hour bars, the street musicians, or the architecture. It's the food, of course. Whether it's a muffuletta from Central Grocery or a seven-course meal at Emeril's, New Orleans offers up some great eats. So great, in fact, that we're experiencing Cajun-food withdrawals. So to tide us over until our next trip down to NOLA, we dug up these two great recipes. Enjoy them with a big, frosty mug of Abita Amber or (if you're into the stout stuff) Abita Turbo Dog.
Buy onions that are free of soft spots or skin that is moist or spotted. Onions will keep for more than a month when stored in a cool, dry place.
Purchase celery that has green and crisp leaves. Celery will keep for up to 10 days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To revive wilted celery, soak cut stalks in ice water for about an hour.
Try using tomato paste from a tube for small tomato-paste jobs such as this. You'll find tubed tomato paste by the canned type in your supermarket. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to one year.
Bottled minced garlic is a great time-saver. Just use 1/2 teaspoon for each clove of minced garlic called for in the recipe. Look for this product in the produce section, near the garlic.
Dried bay leaves add a woodsy flavor to dishes. Always remove bay leaves before serving your dish.
Andouille sausage is a spicy smoked sausage used in Cajun cooking. Look for it near the smoked sausages in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. You can substitute smoked sausage for the andouille if you prefer.
Choose plump shrimp with firm shells that smell of salt water (no strong fishy odor. To store uncooked shrimp, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cover and keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To peel and devein shrimp, you can use a deveining tool (a plastic or metal device available at most grocery stores). The tip of the tool is a dull, narrow point that gradually increases in size to a handle that fits in the palm of your hand. Insert the point into the large end of the shrimp (near the intestinal vein), and gently push the instrument toward the tail end until the shell separates from the shrimp. If you don't have this handy device, you can peel the shrimp by pulling off the legs and then removing the shell pieces beginning at the large end. To devein, cut a slit down the outside curve of the shrimp; remove the dark vein and rinse the shrimp under cold water.
A Dutch oven is a large pot with a tightly fitting lid that locks in steam. If you don't have one, just use a large saucepan or skillet.
Ham-and-Oyster Po' Boy How-tos
Shucked oysters should be plump, uniform in size, have a good color, and smell of the sea; their liquor (or liquid) should be clear. Store shucked oysters, covered by their liquor, for up to two days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to three months.
Look for dry breadcrumbs near the flour and baking mixes in your supermarket.
You'll get about 3 tablespoons of juice from one lemon. Since you only need 1 tablespoon of juice for this recipe, you can either squeeze just one-half of the lemon (and section the rest for use in drinks or to serve on the side), or you could squeeze the entire lemon and store the remaining juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.