Learn to cook like a Cajun and develop your own style with help from south Louisiana cook and humorist, Jacques Gaspard, who's been cooking great Cajun foods for nearly 50 years. Learn how to prepare the best gumbos, seafood, jambalaya, stews, salads and deserts – the way they were originally prepared – pure and simple. Besides great original recipes you will discover a hodgepodge of stories, recordings, music, videos and humorous anecdotes to entertain. So enjoy! ... Ahheee!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cajun-fried Bullfrog Legs

North American Bullfrog
Once a year one will find nearly the entire population of Rayne, Louisiana practically jumping out of their skins with anticipation of attending the Rayne Frog Festival, which this year is held on May 6-9 [2015].

The City of Rayne, Louisiana is officially designated the Frog Capital of the world. The small southern town, with a population approaching 9,000, is located about 15 minutes west of Lafayette, Louisiana and roughly 7 miles north of a small parish community named Indian Bayou -- a hop, skip and jump from where I grew up.

Some people claim bullfrog legs taste like chicken (don't everything?). I prefer the taste of fried bullfrog legs more than chicken, and they are easier to cook, as well.

Bullfrogs are part of nature’s bounty and can be found in many areas of North America around shallow waters, like bayous, ponds, ditches, swamps and reservoirs.

Hundreds were harvested from among the ponds during my family's crawfish farming operations back in 1960s and 70s.

Bullfrogs are predators with voracious appetites and can consume their weight in crawfish every few days. Imagine 40 acres of crawfish ponds 3 to 4 feet deep. It was home to thousands of them. They were considered pests – like insects feeding on garden plants.

Luckily, just about everyone in my family enjoyed eating bullfrogs.

So, it was a trade-off of sorts, although I think the frogs got the jump on us in the long-run. [intended] Nevertheless, our family had a constant supply of both crawfish and bullfrog when we wanted them.

There is a common misconception about bullfrogs. Many folks think the males are the large ones, when in fact, the females are larger -- and that‘s no bull.

Female bullfrogs can stretch-out to nearly a foot long and can weigh up to 3 lbs. About a third of its weight is used for consumption -- around a pound per animal when the four legs and back are utilized.

Many Cajuns love to include bullfrog meat in their diet. IMHO they are much cleaner than chicken.

Bullfrogs can be prepared several ways. The delicate tasting white meat can be used in making gumbo, sauce piquant, etouffee and they can be served Cajun-fried (a more popular way to enjoy them).

Bullfrog meat can also be baked, boiled, broiled, added to stews… the list continues.

Are you a newbie at cooking frog legs?

You can fry them up just like chicken, except it does not take as long as frying chicken. Use your favorite batter. Here is one recipe you can try,  seafood batter , or follow the recipe shown here:

Cajun-fried Bullfrog Legs

These crispy fried bullfrog legs are absolutely delicious! There's no doubt your friends will ask for this recipe, but don't give it to them. Just send them over to Real Cajun Cooking - Pure and Simple so they can discover how to make this and other tasty dishes, as well.

Ingredients

  • 12 pairs of bullfrog legs
  • Fried Bullfrog Legs
    2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbs. DIY Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 4 oz. fresh beer
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 quart peanut oil

Instructions

In a bowl, add the egg whites, your favorite Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, salt, Tabasco sauce, baking powder and beer together and thoroughly mix. Next, dissolve 2 tsp. of cornstarch in a small amount of cold water and add it to the mixture. Again, blend all of the ingredients together. This will be used to coat the frog legs.

In a separate bowl, with a lid, mix 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of yellow cornmeal together. After dredging the frog legs in the beer batter, add them to the bowl of flour and cornmeal, close the lid, and shake until they are well coated on all sides. (A large Ziploc-type bag can also be used for this.)

Heat peanut oil (or vegetable oil) to 365°F. and fry the legs for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side (turning once), or until they have turned golden-brown. Do not attempt to fry too many at one time because it will bring down the oil temperature. This will make them greasy. We are looking for crispy legs, remember? This is why it is important to maintain an even temperature throughout the process.

Note: Peanut oil can be used several times before it has to be discarded and it imparts a better flavor.

Want a good laugh? Here is a frog joke: "Boudreaux and the Frog -- With Age Comes Wisdom"

Bon Appetite! ... Ahheee!!
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cajun Fish Patties

Cajun Fish Patties
Cajun fish patties include a medley of familiar ingredients and herbs which are common in many foods prepared by the Acadians of South Louisiana. Some of the fish which I have personally used to make these delicious fish patties, besides catfish, include buffalo fish, (I've posted a 3-part instructional video on another site which shows what a buffalo fish looks like and how to go about processing one.)

In addition to buffalo fish, I have also used other kinds of white flesh fish, like garfish, to make my fish patties. Here's a garfish info link if you want to see what they look like in their natural habitat.

I've also used fillets of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch and other kinds of fish to make these fish patties... the list goes on.

Once, several years ago when I lived in the Atchafalaya swamp basin in south Louisiana, I made enough of these delicious fish patties to satisfy 8 hungry grown men and a couple puppies. It only took a couple fish, which I had caught earlier that day, to do produce the dinner. Each fish weighed around 10 lbs.

Everyone loved it, too! What was the fish, you ask?

We call the fish 'choupique' (pronounced shoe pick) down south where I was raised, but in other areas of the country it is known by different names... including mudfish, mud pike, dogfish, Grinnell, cypress trout and bowfin.

Did you know that the roe of the bowfin fish produces quality caviar? Yep! Last I heard the roe from this fish was fetching nearly $120 for 16 oz . You can see a picture of it here.

Most folk that I know up here in NE Texas consider some of the above species of fish, like buffalo fish and garfish, as "trash" fish, and find enjoyment in hunting them using fancy bows with tethered arrows designed for bow fishing ... just for the sport of it. Most of the fish which are killed are left behind to decompose.

I bet if they knew how tasty these fish are when prepared the way we Cajuns do it, they would think twice about not including a few for the dinner table.

Hope this helps. Bon appetite!



Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. of deboned fish (most kinds of white flesh fish may be used)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. boiled potatoes, crumbled and slightly mashed
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt
  • black, white and/or red pepper to taste
  • a few dashes of Tabascos sauce
  • enough oil for frying
Instructions
    1. cut fish in small pieces
    2. season with salt and ground peppers
    3. place fish in pot with 1/2 cup cooking oil
    4. cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F. 
    5. add onion, celery and garlic
    6. cook until vegetables are wilted then remove from heat
    7. add crumbled mashed potatoes and half the bread crumbs
    8. next, add eggs, chopped green onions and parsley
    9. mix well.
    10. use a large tablespoon to scoop mixture and flatten into round patties
    11. coat the fish patties with remaining bread crumbs
    12. fry patties in oil at 365 degrees F. for 2 1/2 minutes on each side (or until golden brown)

    Serves 8.

    Bon jour!
    KT
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    Saturday, March 21, 2015

    Cajun Broiled Catfish Fillets

    Cajun broiled catfish fillets are quick and simple to prepare. My family and friends have always preferred the smaller catfish which are between 12 to 16 inches long because they are more tender and tasty than the larger ones, plus they cook more quickly.

    Ingredients
    Broiled Catfish Fillets
    • 12 small catfish fillets, patted dry
    • 3/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
    • 1 Tbs. mustard 
    • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
    • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
    • Salt and pepper to taste


    Instructions


    1. place the catfish fillets in a well-oiled baking pan or cookie sheet
    2. rub a small amount of mustard on top of each fish fillet 
    3. combine the remaining wet ingredients to make a basting sauce
    4. lightly brush sauce over the fillets 
    5. lightly sprinkle Italian-style breadcrumbs on each fillet
    6. broil on high until golden brown (around 6 to 7 minutes).


    The heat source should be about 5 to 6 inches from the fillets. Do not flip the tender fillets because it may cause them to fall apart. Serve over fried rice.

    Bon Appetite!
    KT
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    Thursday, March 19, 2015

    How to Boil Shrimp, Crabs or Crawfish

    Boiled Shrimp
    If you know how to boil shrimp, crabs or crayfish the way Cajuns do it, then you are in for a delicious treat. As we are heading into the 2015 harvest, get ready to impress your family and friends with this traditional method of preparing them. It's easy and fun.

    To do an exemplary job we must include the right kind of seasoning to the water in which the shrimp, crab or crayfish are to be boiled, but not before purging them first using cool clean water and regular table salt, for a few minutes, in a different container. Our family and friends have regularly used a #2 galvanized washtub for that occasion.

    Boiled Crab
    The saline solution during the purging process causes the crustaceans to regurgitate any of the pond water from which they were harvested, and the thrashing around for a few minutes while in the salt water solution helps to clean the underpart of the crayfish and crab shells and tails which will sometimes collect tiny bits of muddy or sandy residue from the waters they were harvested from. You may want to stir them around a bit with a broom handle or long spoon to help them along if you would like to speed-up the cleaning process. This will agitate them and the water.


    Boiled Crawfish
    The basic seasonings for the boil consist of salt, ground red cayenne pepper, and black pepper (easy on the black pepper, tho). This is the secret of bringing out the flavor of boiled seafood as served by Louisiana Acadians (Cajuns). It is important to remember that these types of seafood will completely cook in a short period of time. Overcooking can cause problems with texture, taste and the ability to easily peel or clean them. So, take precautions.







    Instructions


    1. bring your seasoned water to a boil in a large pot then add the shrimp, crabs or crayfish
    2. bring to a boil again and cook rapidly for 5 minutes in a large uncovered pot
    3. be sure to have enough water to cover the seafood
    4. remove from heat, cover the pot and let them set in the hot seasoned water for about 5 minutes
    5. the covered pot will retain the heat while the mud bugs, shrimp or crab cools. This allows them to absorb more of the seasoned water in which they were boiled 
    6. spread a few sheets of newspaper on a large table and evenly lay the seafood out within reach of your dinner guests
    7. don't forget to add containers around to collect the discarded shells after eating 

    Tip: Remember to boil only live crayfish or crabs. Discard any dead ones before hand. They certainly won't taste good, and they could make you sick. So, get rid of the dead ones.

    When boiling a large amount of crayfish or crabs (20 lbs. or more) you may want to add small new potatoes, small to medium size onions, hot smoked pork sausage (hot Italian sausages are the best) cut into 2 inch links, and you may even include corn on the cob. We've added eggs on occasion to add a little more stuff to the pot. Be sure to have plenty of cold beer on hand to tame the hot seasoning.

    Many Cajuns will add dry or liquid crab or shrimp boil, and a cup of oil, to make the crustaceans spicer and easier to peel.

    Our Family Crayfish Farm

     "I was seven years old when my grandfather had this crazy idea of flooding our rice fields after the harvest. Grandfather didn't even finish grade school back in the old days but it did not diminish the fact that he was an innovator, or his ability to get things accomplished.

    The Gaspard Family has a claim of being the first commercial crayfish farmers in the State of Louisiana. The only challenge to that claim came from the Trahan family who resided about 12 miles away in a small one-horse town called Duson. I think Mr. Trahan copied my grandfather's successful operation, with his blessings, and they subsequently began their own crawfish farming operation.

    Back in the day, we used rudimentary harvesting methods to catch crayfish, namely; pyramid shaped henged wire nets with baits affixed in the center of the net with clothespins. Even then, each year we managed to harvest tons of the delicious mud bugs. 
    Later on, we made and used wire traps. The traps were made of  ¾ inch chicken wire formed into a cylindrical shape with a funnel opening at each end. We quadrupled our harvest and the 3/4" openings would allow the immature crayfish to escape the cages to live another day while the big ones remained trapped inside.

    We operated our crayfish farm for nearly two decades. Most of the money earned from the farm operation was cold hard cash. This was a windfall for me because it allowed me to buy very first car (a brand new 1963 Chevrolet Super Sport) from the money I made and saved. I was 15 years old at the time.

    As word spread, people would travel from miles around just to fish our ponds. Back then we would rent the nets by the dozen, sell bait and soda to anyone who did not have their own fishing equipment. 
    I remember one time a business man came by to check out our farm. Before he knew it, we equipped him with a pair of waders, a dozen nets, a number two washtub, and a long cane pole. He fished a couple hours and walked away with about 100 pounds of crayfish. I've never in my life seen a Yankee that excited before.

    Folk would place the nets at the very end of the pole and from the levee would strategically place them about 15 feet apart... never getting their feet wet. A dozen nets would usually do the trick. If you didn't walk away with about 100 pounds in an hour, or so, it probably meant you were just playing around and not too serious about fishing.
    Back in the day we sold our crayfish for 10 cents a pound when people would harvest their own. If we caught them for you it cost 20 cents a pound.

    Later on, when I was in high school, my grandfather would give me all the proceeds from the fish farm just for managing it while he was away pursuing other interests. Some weekends I would pocket around $300 - $400. Not bad for a lanky pimple-faced teenage farm boy..

    Crayfish season would last only about 4 months until it was time to plow up the fields and prepare for the next rice harvest. This is when I would go down to the coast to catch shrimp and crab. I used a throw net to catch shrimp and nylon string with chicken necks tied to the end of it to catch crabs. We always had a freezer full of seafood. Those were the good old days."

    Bon Appetite!
    KT 
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    Friday, March 13, 2015

    Wild Rabbit Sauce Piquante

    Wild Rabbit Sauce Piquante is a slightly peppery meat stew which emerges out of the small amount of Rotel tomatoes included in the sauce. Easy to make, this dish is about as good as it gets. Great taste! It goes well with cooked long grain white rice.


    Ingredients

    Wild Rabbit Sauce Piquante
    • 2 wild rabbits, cleaned and cut up into pieces
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1 Tbs. flour
    • 1 small can tomato sauce
    • 1 small can Rotel tomatoes
    • water
    • salt and pepper
    Instructions 
      1. Season wild rabbit with salt and pepper 
      2. Using a Dutch oven, add oil and cut rabbit pieces 
      3. Brown pieces of meat well on both sides the remove meat
      4. Lower heat to medium and sauté onions, bell pepper and flour in same pan until brown 
      5. Return rabbit meat to pan and add tomato sauce, Rotel tomatoes and enough water to cover meat 
      6. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until meat is tender 
      7. Add onion tops and parsley just before serving 
      8. Serve over white long grain rice
      Bon Appetite!

      Note: You can also use this recipe for Squirrel Sauce Piquante.
      KT
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