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    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Food from New Orleans and Decorating Lesson 3

    There has been so much going on during the past week and in between we have to cook and eat.
    Monday was our Juice TV Awards our big night for Artists and the Record Companies showcasing the best in New Zealand Music.

    It was a great night once again. We have had some beauties in the past with some excellent bad behaviour but it seems that most people were reasonably under control this year. Pity I love the stories of people making drunken fools of themselves.

    Tuesday dawned. Lesson 3 of the Cake Decorating. I am dreaming about this now. 2 nights would you believe.
    We had to go armed with 8 cup cakes each so I went around to Katie’s house and we made the cakes and iced them ready for decorating.

    Also we had to make bases for which are used to complete roses. You can catch them top right hand corner. We made real butter cream icing so that these lovely little cakes could be eaten the next day. As it turns out we didn’t actually decorate the cakes but we had a shot at roses and drop flowers. The staff got the cakes.It seems that I have a tendency to make fully blown roses. If you want peonie roses I'm your girl.
    Katie meanwhile can make beautiful rosebuds.

    To divert for a second they having been making a new footpath in our street since October 1st…here they are diverting water from a deluge to stop our garage flooding.

    This the 10th of October and the concrete is finally being laid. In a couple of days we will be able to drive into our garage again

    Just as well…I am catering for a staff party on Thursday…Emma is leaving us to work in her family business. I thought let’s treat the kids to New Orleans food.

    Our first visit (and the beginning of our obsession with things Cajun) to New Orleans was in 1988. Easter. Staying at the Monteleone Hotel in Royal Street. We were urged to join our friends Jude Finch and Leighton Smith who had planned their trip there
    He is a broadcaster here in New Zealand on NewstalkZB the major talkback station
    and has been responsible for several hundred New Zealanders visiting this wonderful city. He even took tours.
    We personally talked at least 14 people into joining us over the next 4 years. Not bad for people living so far away.

    Leighton had been before and raved about it. He got us excited and it was the first of 5 years in a row to this wonderful city. We had the best time…The Food, the Music, the Drinks. How about the Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens …one of my favourite bars. They have dueling Pianos. It’s a 4am finish after a night there. We loved Mr B’s…we loved everything…
    Of course everyone must go to the New Orleans School of Cookery where we learned lots of secrets that produce Cajun Food. The Roux, The Trinity, (onions, bell peppers and celery) the seasonings (hot and spicy), Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie, File Gumbo, Pralines, Etouffee the list goes on.
    The fabulous Farmers Market with the juiciest tomatoes.

    Beignets at Café du Monde always best very late at night.
    On our subsequent visits which then were always at Jazz Fest, anyone who had accompanied us to the Crescent City got dragged along to the Cookery School.
    What a fantastic time we had.
    It was distressing to hear about Hurricane Katrina. I loved that city and it looks like they have fought back. I do hope so.

    All in all I guess we have spent the best part of 6 weeks there over that 5 years. Met some wonderful people. One such good friend Mr Cliff…he found us in the rain on Day 1 1990 Jazz Fest. Born and bred in NO currently living in Texas. The source of much NO knowledge and lots of fun. Too many stories to tell here. Don’t want to bore anyone. One of many highlights was a visit to Cliff’s parents where they got out the huge pot and turbo burner and cooked us the famous “Crawfish Boil.”
    Wonderful. Thanks to the Rodrigue family for such a treat.

    The photo shows the first recipe sheets we were given by the school.
    Plus “La Bouche Creole” by Leon E Soniat Jr a well thumbed book minus its cover.
    Our Teacher Chef was the Famous Joe who was responsible for Joe’s Stuff Cajun Seasoning. (On their website I see that Joe is no longer there and I can’t find any reference to him but Big Kevin who took one of classes is still there large as life.)
    As you might understand I don’t have any Joe’s Stuff left but have successfully made my own using the recipe of another famous New Orleans’s Chef Emeril Lagasse. He calls it his Essence.

    Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

    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
    Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

    So for Emma’s Party
    I decided to make
    Dirty Rice
    Sicilian Fish
    And Chocolate Mandarin Bread with Castello Cheese

    I used the recipe for Muffuletta from another well used cookbook
    by Terry Thompson
    I took her advice and made my own Muffuletta Bread.
    Simple just use the food processor.

    1 cup warm water 45C
    1 tablespoons sugar
    1 pkt 8gm dried yeast
    About 3 cups bread flour (I used 00 Italian Flour)
    1 ½ teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I used olive oil)
    Sesame seeds

    Combine water and sugar, stir in yeast
    Leave to stand till foamy 5-10 minutes
    In food processor with steel blade add flour salt & oil
    Blitz a couple of seconds
    Add yeast mixture process till dough forms a bowl about 5 seconds
    Stop machine check consistency of dough
    It should be smooth and satiny.
    If dough is too dry add more warm water 1 tablespoons at a time.
    If dough too sticky add a little more flour.
    Process 20 seconds to knead.
    Turn out onto floured board from a ball and place in a well oiled bowl turn to coat all sides.

    Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel Let rise in a warm placer until double in bulk. About 1 ½ hours.
    Punch dough down turn out onto floured surface
    Form dough into a round loaf about 10" diameter
    Sprinkle top with Sesame Seeds
    Cover very loosely let rise again till doubled in bulk about 1 hour.
    Preheat oven to 220C
    Uncover bread and bake in center of oven 10 minutes
    Turn heat down to 190C bake a further 25 minutes
    Loaf is done when it sound hollow when tapped on its bottom.

    Cool completely on rack before using.

    Of course the complete Muffuletta Sandwich which is so famous in New Orleans must have the wonderful Olive salad. Recipe courtesy of Terry Thompson.
    Thinly sliced salami.
    Thinly sliced ham and thinly sliced provolone cheese (I used Gruyere)

    To make the Olive Salad
    1 large jar olives pitted and loosely broken up
    6 garlic gloves
    1 cup drained pickled onions
    4 celery stalks thinly sliced
    2-3 jalapeno peppers sliced
    2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
    1 tablespoons dried oregano
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    3 tbs red wine vinegar
    1/3 cup olive oil

    Drain olives reserve 3 tablespoons brine
    Combine olives, garlic, onions, celery, jalapenos and capers

    In a small bowl whisk olive brine oregano, freshly ground black pepper and vinegar until combined
    Add olive oil in a slow steady stream whisking constantly
    Pour dressing over salad toss

    Will keep about 5 weeks in refrigerator.

    Now to assemble

    Cut loaf horizontally
    Cover with 1 cup olive salad
    Then cheese

    Salami and ham

    Press down and wrap tightly with plastic wrap
    Refrigerate at least 1 hour

    This is not essential but it gives the flavours more time to meld.
    I nearly forgot to take a photo so here is the last slice just before I cut into it and handed it around.

    You must make this…it is wonderful and so so simple

    So now onto the Gumbo and this is the recipe from The New Orleans School of Cookery 20 years ago.
    I am very proud of my Gumbo its pretty good.
    I use chorizo sausage…andouille is not that easy to come by here. I also like the 'heat' in the chorizo.
    Also I don’t use file or okra…sorry

    Making the Cajun roux is different from the original French roux.
    It is made with oil (authentic cooks would use lard) and cooked for quite a long time to get the colour you desire.

    They taught us the quicker high heat method and I find this the easiest.

    This recipe will yield 15 or so portions.
    Great for a crowd.

    1 cup oil rice bran not olive oil
    1 chicken cut up
    3 tablespoons Emeril’s Essence
    3 large chorizo sausages
    1 cup flour
    4 cup chopped onions
    2 cups chopped celery
    2 cups chopped green and red pepper
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    8 cups stock
    Sea salt
    Cayenne pepper to taste
    2 cups chopped green/spring onions
    600 gms green prawns

    Dry Sherry to be served at the table
    Cooked rice (optional)

    First prepare the vegetables
    When the roux is cooked you need to add them immediately to cool down the very hot roux and stop it from scorching.
    Place the vege in the pot you are going to cook the gumbo in.

    Season the chicken with essence and brown in oil
    Pop into oven and cook for about 15 minutes
    Remove till cool enough to handle and break off from bones.

    Slice chorizo and brown in pan remove and set aside.

    Strain this beautifully flavoured oil from chicken and chorizo and strain out bits.
    Top up to 1 cup to start the roux.

    The Roux

    Heat oil till just smoking
    Add flour all at once and whisk.
    Keep on whisking over high heat we are aiming for a nice brown roux
    This will take about 5-8 minutes to get the desired colour.
    The roux funnily enough doesn’t thicken just gets browner.
    If it looks like it is about to burn take it off the heat for a minute or two whisking all the time

    This is the perfect colour for me
    Now throw it immediately into the vege

    Cook until vege soften

    Add chicken and sausage to pot

    Gradually stir in stock and bring to boil
    Reduce to simmer and cook for and hour or so
    Best to make it to this stage in the morning. The longer it sits the better

    There is quite a film of oil on the top and I remove that just before I add the prawns and spring onions.

    So remove the oil bring back to the boil
    Add prawns and spring onions
    Cook for 10 minutes and serve.

    You can serve with boiled rice but I prefer to have it as is.
    Its fab

    PS On that first trip to New Orleans we left Jude and Leighton, flew to Naples and spent a week on the beautiful Amalfi Coast where in Ravello we bought those stunning plates and bowls above.1988. How about that.?

    The rest of the dinner
    Sicilian Fish
    I used lovely Mahi mahi bought from the Auckland Fish Market.
    There is a huge range of fabulous fish

    It’s pretty good.

    I also accompanied the fish with Dirty Rice.

    I didn’t authenticate this recipe as normally it has chicken livers in it which gives it the name. We had a couple of vegos and I didn’t think they would have liked it.
    A simple rice and tasty rice dish
    Here is the recipe from Michael Smith Chef At Home
    Dirty Rice

    1 tub Chicken Livers
    1 tablespoons Olive oil
    The Trinity
    1 cup chopped onions
    ½ cup chopped celery
    ½ cup chopped green and red pepper
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Emeril’s essence to taste

    1 cup rice
    2 cups stock

    Chopped parsley and spring onions

    Brown chicken livers in olive oil

    Add vege and cook till soft
    Add rice and stock
    Bring to boil
    Turn down very low
    Cover and cook till all the liquid has been absorbed.

    Then to finish off

    The wonderful Chocolate and Mandarin Bread
    With White Castello Cheese.

    All washed down with wine left over from the Awards
    Yes there was wine left over…believe it or not

    There was a replay of the awards show and everyone got probably their first chance to see the finished show.
    When you are performing and producing a TV show you don’t get to relax and enjoy so it was an excellent opportunity to do just that.

    Below Emma on the floor receiving her going away present.
    A fab handbag.

    Once again a fun night.

    On Friday we had a big decorating practice
    Here are my roses and drop flowers.
    Katie has got the knack of the smaller roses.

    But here is the work of the professionals.
    Same day.
    We went to Molten an excellent restaurant in Mt Eden.
    (Best food I’ve had for a while absolutely stunning in fact)
    Two doors down are the City Cake Company
    Would you believe a cake and cup cakes with roses.
    We’ll get there one day.

    Our dinner companions
    Ms Lana Ms Jeannie and
    Ms June


    Anali said...

    Wow that was quite a post!! Everything looks wonderful and that was a nice tribute to New Orleans. I've still never been. One day! ; )

    So Simple said...

    Thanks it was fun all those memories
    and Yes I know I just couldn't stop. Quite a marathon

    katiez said...

    I've enjoyed following your decorating classes ;-).
    I'll have the sandwich and 2 cupcakes, please!
    I've never been to New Orleans, either...and, at this point, it's not looking likely....sigh...

    contactos madrid said...
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