Tag Archives: Southern Cooking

Donald Link’s “Real Cajun” Cooking

15 Aug

real cajun

We recently enjoyed dinner at Donald Link’s Cochon restaurant in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Honestly, we had never heard of the place and were not planning on hitting it during our brief eating tour of the Big Easy. But our friend Sara Roahen suggested we should give it a try and this gal really knows her stuff when it comes to Crescent City dining.

I contacted Asst. GM Tomy (pronounced Tommy) Lagneaux and he set us up with a 6:30 dinner reservation and a place at their Chef’s Counter, where diners can watch the chefs in action. We arrived to find that Tomy wasn’t working that night and no one seemed to know a thing about us or our planned visit and review. Bummer. The hostess was cute, but really didn’t seem to care that we were in the process of being stiffed. Thankfully, a manager jumped in and scored us a booth in the back of the clean yet rustic looking dining room.

cochon 

To be concise, the food was pretty good (some of it really good) but the portions were on the smallish side and the prices weren’t exactly cheap. Example: $4 for a small bottle of Mexican Coca Cola, $5 for a bottle of Cheerwine. I do applaud the uniqueness of their beverage selections, but come on folks. Seriously!

The rolls served before dinner were OK — nothing special about them. My hen and andouille gumbo was superb … easily the best we had on this trip (or any trip for that matter). Dark and rich with a nice little afterburn. Good job, y’all. The macaroni and cheese was pretty amazing – the wife and kids scarfed their’s up in record time, although I did manage to steal one decadent taste before it all disappeared.  

I really would have loved to have sampled more food that night. Especially a variety of meats and sausages that Cochon has made it’s name on. But Tomy’s dropping the ball and the rather proud pricing at Cochon prohibited that from happening — at least on this journey.

I would like to score some of their recipes to try at home, so I may see about getting a review copy of Link’s recent cookbook, “Real Cajun.” A guy named Link making world class sausage??? Sounds like it was written in the stars on some starry Bayou night long ago.  

From Publishers Weekly
If bacon does not immediately come to mind as an essential ingredient of Cajun cooking, then clearly you have been missing Link, the chef-owner of two New Orleans restaurants, Herbsaint and Cochon. He not only begins his premiere cookbook with instructions on making four pounds of homemade bacon, he includes such tempting items as a fried oyster and bacon sandwich, tomato and bacon pie, and catfish fried in bacon fat. Even in his vegetarian twice-baked potatoes, he cannot help mentioning, Normally I like crisp bits of bacon in stuffed potatoes. And where bacon leads, the rest of the pig is sure to follow. A classic boudin recipe is rich in pork liver and shoulder; deer sausage combines venison with pork butt; and a hearty/scary breakfast dish, oreilles de cochon (pig ears), is boudin-stuffed beignets. There is also plenty of crawfish, be it in a crawfish pie, a traditional boil or in a boulette (deep fried balls of crawfish meat and stuffing). A bourbon cherry lemonade or a plate of fresh peach buckle would cleanse the palate nicely, Eighty color photos enhance Link’s efforts, as do his brief meditations on crawfish farming, family gatherings and the joys of making a perfect roux. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
“Donald Link’s book simply makes me hungry the way I used to be around my grandmother’s kitchen down on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is more than a chef. He is a southern artist using tradition as a canvas and acquired culinary magic as his box of paints, with which he brings to life masterpieces of southern cuisine that ignite our taste buds as well as reminding us of who we are and where we come from.”
—Jimmy Buffett

“Donald Link’s childhood in Cajun Country taught him that cooking is all about family, local ingredients, and, most important, taste. There’s no blackened redfish here, just delicious recipes (think Crispy Softshell Crab with Chili Glaze or Satsuma Buttermilk Pie) and great memories, informed by his wry sense of humor and passion for food and place. Real Cajun is the real deal and proves, once again, that Link is not only the soul of New Orleans but also one of the most talented chefs in the country.”
—Julia Reed

“Donald Link is rediscovering traditional Cajun food in all of its diversity and simplicity. His flavors come from backyard organic vegetables, local fish, and heritage breed pork. The essence of Cochon’s cooking is beautifully revealed in this inviting book.”
—Alice Waters


“Donald Link’s cooking embodies the very best–the heart and soul–of New Orleans cuisine; there’s no one in the business with more credibility. Real Cajun captures the straight-up, un-cut, raw, and wonderful rustic classics in all their unvarnished, unprettified glory.”
—Anthony Bourdain


“Real Cajun tells Donald Link’s captivating story of growing up in southwest Louisiana and shares with us the incredible no-holds-barred type of cooking and eating that Cajuns live for. With great traditions, vivid tales, and passionate cooking from a real Cajun chef, this cookbook will be a treasure for all who turn its pages.”
—Frank Stitt


“Real Cajun is honest, gutsy, and proudly provincial. Read this book and you’ll want to mainline shrimp and crab gumbo. Cook from this book and you’ll rationalize an all boudin diet.”
—John T. Edge, general editor of Cornbread Nation

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Black Eyed Pea Cornbread

8 Nov

bep-cornbread

I found this recipe at www.saveur.com

BLACK EYED PEA CORNBREAD

SERVES 6 – 12

Unlike traditional corn bread, this version is soft and rich—more like a soufflé or a spoon bread.

1 tsp. butter
1 lb. fresh loose spicy pork sausage meat
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup white cornmeal
1⁄2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1  15-oz. can black-eyed peas, drained
3⁄4 cup canned cream-style corn
1⁄2 cup canned chopped green chiles
1⁄2 cup drained sliced pickled jalapeños, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking dish with butter and set aside. Break sausage meat into chunks and put into a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, breaking sausage up with a slotted spoon, until meat is lightly browned and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage and onions with the spoon to paper towels to let drain.

2. Whisk cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Beat eggs, buttermilk, and oil together in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring until cornmeal mixture is just moistened (batter will be lumpy). Stir in sausage mixture, cheese, black-eyed peas, corn, green chiles, and jalapeños. Pour batter into prepared dish, smoothing top with the back of the spoon. Bake until golden brown, 50–60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea

29 Oct

From Publishers Weekly
The warm, languid air of the South filters through this engaging book, in which Foose shares the traditional recipes that she ate while growing up on the Mississippi Delta and has returned to after training as a pastry chef in France and traveling the world. Gently humorous stories about family and friends form a seamless part of her instructions for community recipes like Strawberry Missionary Society Salad, as well as pleasant surprises like Tabbouleh, Curried Sweet Potato Soup, and Chinese Grocery Roast Pork that take Southern food beyond stereotypes. Fried chicken and grits do appear, but for such classics Foose emphasizes relatively simple, wholesome preparations that are rich without loading on more butter and oil than necessary. Although recipes for Gumbo Z’Herbs, Chile Lime Skirt Steak, and creamy succotash are mouthwatering enough just to read about, many cooks will be tempted to flip straight to the last chapters, where her enticing breads and pastries provide the book with a winning flourish. The cook may be Southern, but the appeal of the dishes she presents should reach well beyond people who grew up in the land of four-hour lunches and sweet tea savored on a porch swing.

This French twist on U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish is easy to make and delightful to serve to both your family and your dinner party.
PAPER SACK CATFISH

Serves 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
6 (6-ounce) U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs fresh dill
1 lemon, sliced into 6 thin rounds

Paper Sack Catfish from Chef Martha Foose's book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea 1. With nonstick cooking spray, lightly spray all over the outside of six lunch-size paper sacks.  The bags should be slightly translucent after spraying.  Cut six 8-inch lengths of butcher’s twine.  Set aside.

2. Adjust the racks in the oven, placing one in the lowest slot and one in the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the garlic, salt, oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

4. Place the catfish in a single layer in a dish.  Pour the sauce evenly over the fish, and then sprinkle with the pepper.  Place one dill sprig and one lemon slice on each fillet.  Gently slide each fillet into each paper sack.  Gather the mouth of the bag and give it a twist, then tie with twine.

5. Place three bags on a large rimmed baking sheet and the other three on another baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, halfway through reversing the pans.  Serve at once, placing an inflated sack on each dinner plate.  For maximum effect, slice open the bags at the table.

Notes:

The sacks can be assembled and refrigerated 1 hour before baking. Add 5 minutes to the baking time if the sacks are coming right out of the fridge.

For added flavor and to round out the meal, place a few blanched asparagus spears beneath the fish and a thin slice of prosciutto or country ham draped across the top of the fish in each bag before baking.

This same dish can be prepared with fennel and oranges in place of the lemon and dill.

To learn more about Martha and her schedule of upcoming events, visit marthafoose.com.

 

Get your copy today — http://www.amazon.com/Screen-Doors-Sweet-Tea-Southern/dp/0307351408/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1225301285&sr=8-1