Crawfish Pie – Cafe Des Amis style with accents of Green Onion
Our first real meal during our recent weekend trek thru Cajun Country took place in quaint Breaux Bridge, LA (just off I-10 near Lafayette). The name of the restaurant was Cafe Des Amis. We had visited once before, but they were sadly closed the last time we passed thru town. The Friday lunch business was fairly brisk as we settled in for our mid-day meal. For my main course, I opted for the crawfish pie. How can you not order this when in Cajun Country???
Yet I almost didn’t recognize it when it arrived at our table. The dish was fashioned with two flaky pillows of puff pastry — the bottom one hollowed out a bit to accomodate the buttery crawfish etoufee filling. Not your traditional presentation by any means. It did draw some serious attention, however. Four older gentlemen seated at the adjacent table commented that their meals looked “vanilla” in comparison. The pie was sensational — I would certainly recommend it highly. I guess I just have!
Crab Cakes (fried and grilled) with a Smoked Vidalia Cream Sauce
My lunch had started with a terrific crab appetizer (seen above). The smokey cream sauce and strips of sweet onion made an excellent foil for the crab cake combo (one grilled, one fried). Both cakes were tasty, but I honestly preferred the grilled version. The crab meat to breading ratio was perfectly acceptable and the cakes were nicely seasoned. As for the sauce, it was truly “plate-licking good.”
A look at some of the cool local art on display at Cafe Des Amis
The Gateau de Syrop (Syrup Cake) was the best bite of the day
Our lunch reached its high point with dessert. I normally don’t order dessert in the middle of the day, but we simply couldn’t resist the traditional Gateau de Syrop made with Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup (made in nearby Abbeville, LA). It was a masterpiece of gooey, black goodness … topped with lots of local pecans and equal portions of whipped creme anglaise and vanilla ice cream. My wife and kids gave it a go, but I most admit that I put the biggest dent in this dark beauty.
I don’t think I can wait for a return visit to Breaux Bridge to try this rich, delicious cake again. So it’s probably a good thing we found the restaurant’s recipe on the web. Here’s the real-deal recipe from Cafe Des Amis … soooo darn good!
GATEAU DE SYROP (SYRUP CAKE) WITH CREME ANGLAISE
This recipe makes about 3 dozen large muffins.
Cut it in half to make a smaller amount. They also freeze beautifully.
Makes 16 slices
2 cups canola or peanut oil
3 ½ cups 100% pure cane syrup (we prefer Steen’s)
2 cups raw sugar
2/3 cup dark molasses
2 cups boiling water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground cloves
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups sifted flour
¾ cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oil, cane syrup and molasses in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir baking soda into boiling water. Add to the oil, syrup and molasses mixture. Add all other remaining ingredients and beat well at medium to high speed with an electric mixer.
Fill large muffin tins, sprayed with nonstick vegetable spray, about three-fourths full. Bake at 350 degrees until they almost set, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped pecans on top and continue baking until the muffins are completely set.
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring just a boil.
Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat well until light yellow and slightly thickened. Gradually pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and stir over very low heat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, without boiling until the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Do not overcook or it will curdle. Stir in the bourbon. Serve warm or chilled.