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 over 50 years. 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.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Cajun Super Bowl Party Food

A List of Favorites

If you are looking for something different to serve your guests during the Super Bowl game, you might want to liven up the party with some Cajun foods from the following list:

  1. Lemony Fried Catfish Nuggets
  2. Boudain (Boudin) Balls
  3. Garlic Loaf Shrimp PoBoy
  4. Petite Shrimp Pies
  5. Peño Puppies
  6. Char-grilled Ribeye Steak
  7. Crab Dip
  8. Red Beans over Rice
  9. Shrimp Cocktail
  10. Zesty Cajun Onion Rings
There are many more recipes which are not listed here that would go well with your next party -- Super Bowl or otherwise. Take a look around. You might discover something new.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gateau de Roi - The King's Cake Story

This is an excerpt from "Mr. Lake's New Orleans Forum":

Gateau de Roi

Twelfth Night or King Cake

The story of the king cake begins, like the story of Mardi Gras itself, with the pagans. They had a celebration where a young man from the village was chosen to be treated like a king for a whole year. He was not denied during his reign, but after the year was over he became a human sacrifice to the gods. To eliminate this pagan custom, the Christian Church encouraged an observance calling for the preparation of a king cake containing a bean; whoever received the slice with the bean became king for a week and was allowed to choose a queen to reign with him. This took the place of the sacrificial pagan rite.

The King Cake tradition is believed to have been brought to New Orleans, Louisiana, from France in the 1870's. It evolved from the Twelfth Night or Epiphany pastry made by those early settlers. They added their own touches with the Spanish custom of choosing Twelfth Night royalty.

In European countries, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. The celebration, called Epiphany, Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night, is a time of exchanging gifts and feasting. All over the world people gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. One of the most popular customs is still the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings..."A King's Cake" or Gateau de Roi.

A King Cake's ring shape, too, is significant, as some believe it symbolizes the unity of all Christians, and others believe it aptly resembles a king's crown.

A dried bean was originally hidden inside the cake but was replaced by coins, peas, pecans, rubber dolls, porcelain dolls, and in recent years plastic dolls. Starting around the 1930s, a tiny naked baby (Frozen Charlotte) was used instead of the bean or pea. The baby can be pink, brown, or golden. Some people believe that the baby represents the baby Jesus because Twelfth Night was when the three kings found the baby in Bethlehem.

Tradition has it that the person who finds the baby in the king cake is the next queen or king, he or she receives a year of good luck, is treated as royalty for that day and must host the next king cake party.

King Cake season lasts throughout Mardi Gras from the feast of the Epiphany until Mardi Gras Day.

The royal colors of purple, green and gold on the cake honors the three kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, who visited the Christ child on the Epiphany. Purple represents Justice. Green stands for Faith. Gold signifies Power.

The three colors appeared in 1872 on a Krewe of Rex carnival flag especially designed for the visiting Grand Duke of Russia. He came to New Orleans just for the carnival, and the universal colors remain his legacy.

You can visit Mr. Lake's New Orlean's Forum for more outstanding King Cake recipes (including a Mexican King Cake). Thanks Frank!


Special Note: I couldn't help but notice that the first of the Three Kings was named "Gaspar". Seems as though someone may have forgotten to add the letter "d" at the end of his name.

Ahheee!! Laisser le bon temps rouller!
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Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

I must confess. I have never baked a King Cake, but I do eat them and they are delicious.

My friend Danno at NolaCuisine.com has graciously allowed me to post his King Cake recipe here for your enjoyment. Thanks for sharing, Dan! BTW, visit his site when you get the chance. There you will find an awesome display of great New Orleans style dishes to soothe the soul.

King Cake Recipe

For the Brioche:

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp warm water (115 degree F)
  • 1 tsp iodized salt
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tsp orange zest, minced
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into very small dice
  • 1 egg beaten and 2 Tbsp water, for the egg wash
  • 1 plastic baby trinket

Dissolve the yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, let stand until frothy. Dissolve the salt, sugar, orange zest and milk in a small bowl. When dissolved combine the milk mixture with the yeast mixture. Mix the cinnamon with the flour.

With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, then gradually add the flour, until all is incorporated. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough is formed. A little more flour may be necessary. With the motor running, incorporate the butter into the dough, a little at a time but rather quickly so that it doesn’t heat up and melt.

Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot. When the dough has doubled in bulk punch it down, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll the dough out to a 6 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread the Pecan filling (recipe below) out in the middle of the rectangle along the whole length, leaving about 1 1/2 inch on each side. Place the baby trinket somewhere with the filling. Fold the length of the dough over the filling and roll up tightly, leaving the seam side down. Turn the roll into a circle, seam side down and put one end inside of the other to hide the seam, and seal the circle. Place the cake on a baking sheet and let rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Brush all over with the egg wash, then place the king cake into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

When the cake cools, brush with some of the glaze (recipe below) thinned out with more cold water. This will help the sugars adhere. Decorate the cake with the colored sugars and drizzle some of the thicker glaze onto the cake.

Place on a large round serving plate and decorate with Mardi Gras beads, doubloons and whatever else that you like.

For the Pecan filling:

  • 1 cup pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted until fragrant
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 Tbsp Steen’s Cane Syrup

Combine all of the ingredients together.

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon
water (enough to make a paste that can be drizzled)

Combine the sugar and bourbon, whisk in enough water to make a glaze that can be drizzled.

Happy Mardi Gras ! ... Ahheee!!
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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Boudreaux and Dat Doggone Dog! (Cajun humor)

Boudreaux and his wife Clotille lived on a little farm just outside of the city of Mamou, Louisiana.

One day Clotille said, "Mais, Boudreaux, you have to get rid of dat dog. All he does is lie under de front porch and turn over da trash cans."

Boudreaux said, "Okay Cher. I'll get rid of him."

He put the dog in the pickup, drove down the road a couple of miles, and dumped him out. He drove home and in a few minutes the dog showed up. So he put him back in the truck, drove several more miles and dumped him out.

After Boudreaux got back home, the dog showed up again.

Clotille said, "You have to take him out and drive around and around a lot in circles, den dump him out. Dat way he won't know da way home."

Boudreaux said, "You some smart, Clotille, and dat's why I marry you."

Boudreaux again took the dog, and drove further out. Then he drove all around and zigzagged in and out the back roads a lot then dumped the dog out.

He started back home but pulled over and parked and called Clotille on his cell phone.

"Has dat dog come back yet?"

Clotille answered, "Yes, he just came in."

Boudreaux said, "Well, put him up to da phone - I'm lost."     ... Ahheee!!



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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hemp Is Not Pot -- Stop Blowing Smoke Up Our Derrières!

Let's face it! I'm in the business of preparing foods. These days I do it for family and friends mostly, and I try sticking closely to what I am good at: cooking original Cajun cuisine.

I do, nevertheless, continue to learn about foods--all kinds! Anything natural that comes along which can effectively enhance the flavors of my prepared foods, plus add health benefits at the same time, seems worthy of further research and investigation as far as I'm concerned. Hemp is one fine example of what I'm talking about.

Hemp

Hemp cannot be legally grown here in the U.S., except under strict government oversight for reasons of national security. In fact, I have close friends whose parents lived in Kentucky and grew hemp for the government during WWII to make rope with. Hemp, as you will learn, has dozens of other uses besides rope making.

The NET has certainly made our planet into a much smaller place in this age of instant communications. It's not hard to learn about how other countries, like Canada, New Zealand and Australia are removing their restrictions on hemp and are now growing tens of thousands of acres of it for the export market.

Oddly enough, Americans are allowed to purchase hemp products from other countries, but they can't produce their own. How stupid, as Trump would put it, is that? Lots of questions began dancing in my head as I looked for the real answers as to why. I had to go back a bit to find them out, but I think I've come up with a pretty good idea why.

I wanted to explore the main reasons why farmers here in the United States are restricted from the right to grow and process hemp for the American market and for export?

Even though this blog mostly relates to the preparation of Cajun foods, as editor, I will now and again take the liberty to express my opinions in a commentary on ways which our government gives us the proverbial shaft by pandering to lobbyist and special interest groups.

Here are a few juicy facts which I dug up and included in this article. Enjoy!

Hemp Is Not Pot -- Stop Blowing Smoke Up Our Derrières!

Lately, a few politicians have been quibbling lately, especially Marco Rubio, about how it is not presidents, governors, senators or politicians who create jobs here in America (at the same time promoting private innovations and alluding to Donald Trump's recent declaration that he would be the best job creator that God ever made), yet, I look all around me and ask you: is it not the politicians who are preventing the private sector from creating jobs?

Less government control on the private sector, in certain cases, could potentially pave the way for a trillion dollar industry here at home, as you will see in a minute.

Were it not for one archaic nonsensical law which remains on the books, and one which persist in advancing our economy's downward spiral during a time when we need an uplift, we could begin on a path of making our country more prosperous again with only one product... hemp. Let me explain.

Control over markets in the past has everything to do with the problems which plague and stymie the economic growth in America today. Many of the problems, especially with the weak economy that we are experiencing now, began many decades ago.

One example of how the early 20th-century progressive industrialists gained control over market share was to use legal channels to prevent farmers and the textile industry from capitalizing on the production and processing of hemp.

Hemp, which the Constitution of The United States is written on, was grown by our founding fathers and played a major part in this country's economic development. There was a time in America's history when British colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp.

"Hemp arrived in Colonial America with the Puritans in the form of seed for planting and as fiber in the lines, sails and caulking of the Mayflower. British sailing vessels were never without a store of hemp seed, and Britain’s colonies were compelled by law to grow hemp."


The near limitless opportunities which hemp can offer America if it can be re-introduced as a national commodity is hampered by, and relegated to, some obscure law which was passed way back in the 1930s which made it illegal to grow in the United States.

And, it remains on the books today. It reminds me of some of the wacky obsolete laws here in Texas like the time when the entire Encyclopedia Britannica was banned in this state because it contained a formula for making beer at home.

As the story goes, a disgruntled early 20th century politician discovered that his white wife was having an affair with a black man. His sad and pathetic legacy was to exact legislative revenge on the main culprit, he thought, which was to blame and the real reason for his marital demise: marijuana, which the illicit lovers were smoking when they got caught.

His argument was that Blacks, Mexicans, and Jazz Musicians were corrupting mainstream values here in America by smoking marijuana and that the 'killer' drug... as depicted in the movie "Reefer Madness" in the late 1930s, had to go.

Marijuana

This stupid and idiotic legal maneuver, in my opinion, was merely an opportunistic smokescreen and a legal way for the real culprits, the robber barons, who had their greedy clutches on America's main industries from the outset, like petroleum, lumber, copper, electricity, and transportation, to further prosper.

America's Gilded Age produced iconic characters like the wealthy industrialists and financiers of the time: Rockefeller, Westinghouse, Carnegie, Vanderbilt--these are some of the robber barons of the time which come to mine, whose vast fortunes were made at the expense of the working class.

Now you know the real reason why hemp was excluded as a cash crop for farmers: marijuana. Or, was all of that just a sham?.

While promoting the horrors associated with the sinister cannabis plant that could make you crazy and violent enough to kill someone, as we will see, the propaganda blitz of that time was so effective that somewhere along the way the innocent first cousin, hemp, was included in its eradication.

But, what was the real reason why that happened? You will read that the diminishing demand for hemp products came about because of  the rise of synthetic fiber materials which evolved into the new kid on the block (a bully) and introduced new products which could effectively and practically replace hemp and could be manufactured at much cheaper prices. Petroleum and its by-products played a large role.

While it is true that the introduction of new synthetic materials to the market place may have contributed to less dependency on hemp fibers, it is also worth noting that the demand for lumber and lumber products were on the rise, and America's natural forests provided easy pickings for the giants of the lumber industry.

Competition from hemp growers would certainly not have been welcomed.

To understand how this evolved and inured to the benefit of the big industrialists, we must first take into consideration a few historical truths which have come to light in the recent past.

The genius of Nicola Tesla, for example, was bottled-up and the cap screwed on so tight that no one, except for the aforementioned robber barons, could have access to his inventions and innovations.

Tesla discovered a way to 'broadcast' energy into every home as easily as we use Wi-Fi in our electronic communication devices today.

His idea was to give 'free' energy to the world. But, his patents and ideas were either stolen or purchased so that no one else could use them.

Westinghouse had other plans.

By using the obsolete method of transferring electrical energy through copper wires, Westinghouse figured out a way to profit beyond his wildest dreams by installing meters in every home and business, together with a practical way to keep track of its distribution, and charging consumers for the use of it.

Brilliant move of a greedy person. Don't you think?

His vision, of course, would include his industrialist crony friends to join in for a piece of this new, fresh-out-of-the-oven, American pie.

Wait, this is just the beginning of the story. You see, this became the perfect storm against consumers for the next 100 years and beyond, and a windfall like never before imagined, for the robber barons.

We will circle back to why the production of hemp was outlawed here in America, shortly. So, please bare with me.

For Westinghouse's plan to work would require millions of tons of copper wire, thousands of miles of telephone poles to hold the wires in place, and millions of man hours to put everything together to produce a working model.

Some historians would argue that these progressive industrialists created many jobs which were desperately needed at the time.

That may have been true, but the long-term effects of creating an electrical grid will become a large and significant part of the economic problems which was to plague future generations, including us today.

Starting to see the picture, yet?

The logging industry and lumber industry kicked into high gear to accommodate Westinghouse's plan of 'metered electricity'.

Besides poles, which mostly came from cultured pine trees and took lots of time to replenish, spin-offs from the use of lumber by-products created new markets for lumber material and became the big lumber industrialist's mainstay.

Plywood, ply board, furniture, the booming real estate and building industry, all but ensured that they [the lumber tycoons] would not go out of business anytime soon.

Except for one tiny problem... allowing farmers to grow hemp.

As previously mentioned, that would certainly interfere with the status-quo and they saw the potential threat very early in the game.

Hemp is marijuana's first cousin in the plant kingdom. They are basically identical twins on the outside as appearances go, but the difference between these two relatives is that one contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient which induces feelings of euphoria when taken internally, and the other with only negligible trace amount of the active ingredient. Marijuana versus hemp.
Hemp is a plant grown from a seed. It can grow 15-20 feet tall in the worse soil conditions. It is an annual, herbaceous, long fiber plant similar to flax (linen) and jute. It has hundreds of uses which far surpasses the benefits of lumber, lumber by-products, and even cotton.
,
For example, to create utility poles meant that trees have to grow upwards of 40' tall which can take a couple decades before harvesting.

One acre of hemp, on the other hand, can be harvested annually and effectively supplants 5 acres of trees.

It would be like growing 100 acres of pine trees for 20 years versus growing 1 acre of hemp, annually, for 20 years.

There is a very low carbon footprint in growing hemp and it takes a small fraction of water to produce the crop compared to the large amounts of water needed to grow pine trees to maturity.
Imagine growing one acre of hemp for the same number of years that it would take to grow 100 acres of trees?

One could plan for and be capable of sending a couple of kids to college on all the money made from just that one acre.

Hemp has several hundred uses.

It's not only to make rope from the fibers, it can be used as food, food additives, medicine, clothing, automobiles, housing construction,the list goes on for a country mile the almost limitless uses for the plant which, incidentally, far exceeds the beneficial uses that the lumber industry offers, especially its durability and cheaper cost.


It could truly become a trillion dollar industry here in America and for years to come put hundreds of thousands, if not millions (indirectly), of people to work.

But, the governments prevents us.

So, the similarities of the two plants were considered significant enough to include both of them as a Schedule 1 class controlled substance by the DEA, even though the differences between the two are like day and night. This is where the older cousin gets blamed for the mischief of the younger cousins.

Voila! Problem solved! The big boys can continue to exploit the obsolete resources of the lumber industry, and at the same time take away the rights and opportunity for farmers to grow hemp as a cash crop. No one seems to care enough to straighten out the problem.

So, in a sense, Marco Rubio and those other quibbling politicians are probably correct. Governments and politicians do not create jobs.

However, because of archaic and egregious legal prohibitions which persist in working against the common man, are they [the politicians] not, in fact, restricting Americans' rights from creating their own way of life as they do nothing to repeal, or at least attenuate the effectiveness of such ancient and crazy laws, which makes the innovators impotent and prevents progress in a big way here in America?

Please, stop blowing your smoke up our derrieres!

J.R. Gaspard ~ December 25, 2015
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