Real Cajun Cooking lets you choose from hundreds of authentic Cajun recipes. Learn to easily prepare and cook original Cajun-style family meals with help from south Louisiana's Cajun cook and connoisseur, Jacques Gaspard, who's been preparing great Cajun meals for several decades. Create the best gumbos, seafood, jambalaya, stews,, salads and deserts – the way they were originally prepared. Besides great original recipes, you will discover a hodgepodge of stories, recordings, music, videos and humorous anecdotes to entertain. So enjoy! Don't forget to tell all of your family and friends about Real Cajun Cooking. They will thank you for it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Smothered Okra - No Tomatoes

Okra Plant
It may be a tongue twister to quickly repeat the words "southern smothered" five times, but the smothered okra produced from this recipe is very pleasing to the palate--especially when prepared the old-fashioned way--Cajun style, and without tomatoes.

San les tomates is a French expression which means "minus the tomatoes".

Tomatoes and green peppers are acidic and they work to obscure the incredible natural flavors of the okra pods. They also weaken the nutritional benefits that this versatile vegetable provides. The cooking method for smothered okra is uncomplicated and painless, as I shall demonstrate.

Ingredients

Smothered Okra
  • 8 cups sliced okra (1 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • dripping from 2 slices of cooked smoked bacon
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • salt and black or white pepper to taste

Instructions

Using medium heat, add the vegetable oil and bacon drippings into a large skillet (use a stainless or aluminum skillet to maintain the okra's greenish color, a cast-iron skillet will produce a darker meal--still okay, though)

When the oil heats-up and begins to smoke, add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mucilage (slime) disappears (20 - 30 minutes).

Constantly stirring the cut okra is very important if you want to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the skillet. Bon appetite!


Tomatoes and Cajun Cuisine

It was after Spain colonized Louisiana in 1763 when the value of tomatoes in Cajun-prepared foods became fashionable.

The Spanish colonists distributed tomato seeds among the settlements. The humble tomato was easy to grow and began to flourish in the rich soils of the Mississippi Delta. It became popular among the African slaves, Native Americans, Creoles, as well as the Acadian settlers, who began using the vegetable/fruit in a variety of prepared meals.

Louisiana’s history is colorful, to say the least. During the historical struggles of the New World, in less than 100 years, she succumbed to the empirical powers of France, Spain and the United States of America, which inevitably produced an overlapping of cultures.

It is reasonable to believe that there was a willing exchange of knowledge and skills about cooking and preserving foods among the New World settlers. We see evidence of this between Creole and Cajun styles of cooking. (Courtbouillion is one example)

The first Acadians did not (could not) grow these and other tropical and sub-tropical plants in the Canadian Maritimes. Nova Scotia's climate made it next to impossible to plant and gather many of the plant foods which are now considered part of Cajun cuisine.
Peppers and tomatoes, for example, need a warm climate to become fruitful and therefore could not be grown successfully in that region (Hardiness Zone 6b). It is also safe to assume that there were no seeds available in that region at the time.
It was not until much later, when the Acadians migrated to south Louisiana, when they began using tomatoes and peppers in their prepared foods. These add-in ingredients were never part of the original recipes, however.


Interesting Facts about Okra Plants
  
For thousands of years Africans have used okra as a valued food source and medication to treat a variety of ailments.
The plant may have originated in East Africa where it grew wild in the highlands of Ethiopia and it was cultivated along the Nile River Valley in Egypt. From there it made its way to the four corners of the world via traders.
Queen Cleopatra used the okra seed pods for food, and the mucilage as skin nourishment. Some speculate that was how she attained her radiant beauty.

It is a miracle the beauty and cosmetics industries are not all over this.

It is understandable that with some folks the slime in okra is a turn-off. It may conjure-up visions of gooey monsters in those old flix like The Blob and Ghost Hunters. Nevertheless, according to the USDA, the benefits of okra are worth noting.

Raw Okra


Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy
129 kJ (31 kcal)
Carbohydrates
7.03 g
- Sugars
1.20 g
- Dietary fiber
3.2 g
Fat
0.10 g
Protein
2.00 g
Water
90.17 g
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.Source: USDA Nutrient database


Health Benefits of Okra
  1. The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize the blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
  2. Okra's mucilage (the gooey/slime) binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
  3. Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra's mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most individuals, unlike over-the-counter drugs.
  4. Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
  5. Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
  6. Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
  7. Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  8. Okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
  9. Okra is good for summer heat treatment.
  10. Okra is good for constipation.
  11. Okra is good in normalizing the blood sugar and cholesterol level.
  12. Okra is good for asthma. Okra's vitamin C is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which curtail the development of asthma symptoms.
  13. Okra is good for atherosclerosis.
  14. Okra is believed to protect some forms of cancer expansion, especially colorectal cancer.
  15. Eating okra helps to support the structure of capillaries.
  16. Some information shows that eating okra lowers the risk of cataracts.
  17. Okra is good for preventing diabetes.
  18. Okra protects you from pimples and maintains smooth and beautiful skin. We understand the reason why Cleopatra and Yang Guifei loved to eat okra.
There are other medicinal uses of okra, like its protection against trans fats.

Okra is easy to grow anywhere during the summer season in cold countries and throughout the year in tropical areas. You can even plant it in a container garden at the terrace in condominium buildings. 
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Baked Shrimp with Lemon-Garlic Butter

This Baked Shrimp with Lemon-Garlic Butter recipe is so simple to prepare and VERY delicious, too... especially when using Wild White Gulf of Mexico Shrimp, which are known worldwide for their sweet and succulent flavor.

16/20 Count Wild White Gulf of Mexico Shrimp
I prefer to use a regular cookie tray like a Wilton 15.25" x 10.25" x  1" when preparing this Cajun favorite. It's a perfect pan because it can hold enough cooked shrimp to serve more than just a couple folks at a dinner party (unless, of course, you invite one of my Cajun relatives).

Try it next time when you get the chance. If you are a shrimp lover like me, I know you will absolutely love this delicacy.

Just recently I purchased several pounds of the 16/20 count Wild White Gulf of Mexico Shrimp from my supplier, CajunGrocer, in Lafayette, Louisiana. I am here to tell you cher, that they are the best that money can buy and you don't have to spend a fortune to buy 'em.

Most of the time I try to order my gulf white shrimp with the heads on because believe or not, they are less expensive with the heads on, and I get a much bigger bang for my buck because I use the heads to make a broth, which I then include in special meals like seafood gumbo. It's excellent for other dishes, too -- like etouffee, piquant, and jambalaya.

I also use shrimp broth in some batter/coating recipes for frying catfish nuggets, oysters, and other seafood. When I am finished boiling and extracting all of the flavors from the heads, I bury them in my garden to feed my vegetables. Nothing wasted! It becomes an excellent fertilizer. Everything has been recycled. And, that's good.

One other thing... the larger the better. When I can get the 9-12 count of gulf whites, I get even more use from the shrimp heads because they are large enough, at that size, to contain a fair amount of meat.

I like to call it the rib-eye of large shrimp. Just pry apart the top portion of the heads from the bottom, clip the legs off with kitchen shears, wash under cool running water, dredge them in your favorite tempura batter and deep-fry at 365 degrees F. for about 3 minutes. It tastes amazingly like freshly fried soft shell crab.

If you would like to take a gander at the latest prices on Gulf of Mexico Wild White Shrimp you can visit my favorite supplier by using this link: Cajun Grocer.

Tell them that RealCajunCooking.com/ sent you.

It takes just 2 or 3 days [ground] to get your order delivered to your door. The shipping rates are reasonable. Your shipment is packed in dry ice and these extra-large shrimp are individually quick frozen (IQF) -- which means you can remove as many as you want individually, without having to thaw the entire bag.

It takes about 20 minutes, or so, for IQF shrimp to thaw out. Use cool water. Once they are thoroughly thawed remove the heads from the body and make your shrimp broth before discarding the heads.

The amount of water that you use will determine the strength of the broth.  I also like to add the shrimp shells to my broth preparation because it offers even more overall flavor.

Note: You may want to use just a tiny bit of salt when preparing the broth to help extract the flavors from the heads and shells, but not too much if you plan to use the discarded refuse as fertilizer for your vegetable garden.

Adding too much salt in the preparation of the broth will affect the soil and consequently the growth of your garden plants if you decide to use it as fertilizer.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below and I will be glad to answer them.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. of 16/20 count Wild White Gulf of Mexico Shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied to the tail (leave tails on)
  • 1/4 lb. melted butter (or 1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano or Italian seasoning (your choice)
  • 1 large lemon, squeeze the juice out for later use then cut into thin slices
  • 2 tsp. of Old Bay with Garlic & Herb Seasoning 
  • 1 tsp. salt




Instructions
  1.     combine the melted butter. lemon juice and seasoning into a 2-quart bowl
  2.     whisk all of the ingredients well for a few seconds
  3.     add the peeled shrimp and mix together gently and coating thoroughly
  4.     top the cookie tray with heavy duty aluminum foil
  5.     layer the top of the foil evenly with lemon slices
  6.     add the shrimp on top of the lemon slices until the entire tray is filled
  7.     place tray midway in a  preheated 350-degree oven and cook for 12 -15 min.
Voila!  Simple and delicious! An excellent hors d'oeuvres for your lucky guests.

Bon appetite!... Ummm... C'est Magnifique!
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Baked Jalapenos|Bacon-Draped Stuffed Pepper Poppers

Baked Jalapeno Pepper Poppers make a great snack for almost any occasion.

Mammoth jalapeño peppers; ground beef and pork; cream cheese, thinly sliced hickory-smoked bacon and a 350° F oven are what's required to produce these wonderfully tasting cheese-filled hot pepper poppers.

I am always on the look-out for the large jalapeño peppers at my the local market but this year I decided to grow some myself in my herb garden so I can have plenty at hand at a moment's notice.

That is what it takes to make up a batch of these baked peppers. If hot tasting food is part of your dietary indulgences, then you will certainly be pleased when you bite into one of these spicy-hot appetizers--guaranteed to open up the sinuses.

Ingredients

  • 12 large jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 lb. breakfast pork sausage
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • hickory-smoked bacon, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. cut the peppers in half and remove seeds and inside ribs
  2. brown the two types of meat together and remove any oil
  3. mix meats and cream cheese together until well blended
  4. stuff each pepper half, slightly bulging
  5. stretch and drape bacon slices over peppers
  6. arrange the pepper halves (face up) in rows on a cookie sheet
  7. bake at 350° F for about 30 minutes (until bacon turns crispy)

Note: In the prep stage, cut the bacon slices into 3 equal lengths. Gently stretch the cut bacon in all directions before draping it over the peppers. This means you should have enough with 8 slices of bacon to cover all of the appetizers.

When the peppers are done you may serve immediately, or you may freeze them to use at a later date.

When you are ready for a few appetizers just pop them in the microwave oven for a minute or two until they become piping hot.

You may want to serve ice cream as a desert. (smiling).

Bon Appetit!
KT




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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Gaspard's Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe (video)

Gaspard's Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe is an easy meal to make and a very tasty side dish which goes well with barbecue, smoked or fried turkey and chicken, and is also a great stand-alone meal.





Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. hot breakfast sausage
  • 1 lb. long grain rice (3 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 can beef stock
  • 1 packet of Lipton's Beefy Onion soup mix
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh chopped parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large cast iron skillet begin by browning both meats over medium heat. About half-way through the browning process add the Lipton's Beefy Onion soup mix, the chopped onions and bell peppers and continue to cook (uncovered) until the vegetables have become translucent.

Next, stir-in the can of beef stock and continue cooking and stirring for about 15 minutes before adding the chopped green onions and parsley.

Finally, stir-in the cooked rice and mix well.

Serve piping hot. Makes 10 -12 servings. Enjoy! Ahheee!!
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