My husband Denny is a Louisiana boy born and raised. He has so many wonderful memories of his family, friends and of course the food and the way his friends entertained.
One of his favorite evenings was hosted by his good friend Roland, who was a true blue Cajun in every way. I loved his accent and the way he phrased his sentences...one of a kind.
Roland hosted us on several occasions and it was always casual and filled with laughter and great smells...most of the time it was outdoors and the zydeco music was pumping! Kids and adults were all together and Roland took turns teasing us with his mischievous ways.
For Denny's birthday one year, Roland planned this menu and I have repeated it numerous times with great results. I would love to share it with you in hopes that it inspires you to bring a little Cajun flair to your home!
THIS IS WHERE WE SAY LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!!
Appetizer: BBQ Shrimp
2 dz. large shrimp with heads and tails
1 tsp.black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp each of dried thyme and rosemary crushed
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter plus 5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp. lea and Perrins
1/2 chicken stock
1/4 cup beer room temp
Note: I like to make it hotter than this...he called this "The beginners recipe"
Rinse the shrimp in cold water and drain well. Then pinch off and discard the portion of the head from the eyes forward(please feel free to buy the already dressed shrimp)set aside.
In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix with one stick of the unsalted butter, garlic, lea and perrins in a large skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp, cook for 2 min. shaking the pan often. Add the beer and cook and shake pan for one min. remove from heat.
Serve immediately in bowls with lots of good french bread on the side or in the bottom of the bowl..He sometimes would make larger amounts of this and pile it on a platter of rice and sprinkle chopped green onions and parsley on top! Fantastic and very messy!
Grilled Romaine with Cajun Style Blue Cheese Dressing:
Makes one qt. and keeps well!
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups veg (olive oil ) oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 pound blue cheese coarsely crumbled
In food processor combine the onions and garlic till well mixed. With machine still running slowly, add oil in a thin steady stream then add the buttermilk and seasonings and process a few seconds or until well blended. Transfer to large bowl and add blue cheese mix with whisk to break it up (but still keep it lumpy).
Cut romain hearts in half lenghtwise and rub with olive oil and a garlic clove.. put on grill and turn when lightly charred. Place on platter and drizzle with dressing. I pass extra!!
Chicken Big Mamou on Pasta
Makes 6 servings
1 pound of spaghetti, prepared al dente. Rinse in warm water, drain and place in large bowl. Toss with olive oil then set aside.
Prepare seasoning mix day before:
2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1teasp white pepper
3/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
1 lb. plus 4 tablespoon on unsalted butter
1cup very finely chopped green onions
4 medium size garlic cloves peeled
2 tsp minced garlic
3.5 cups chicken stock
Tabasco to taste ...1 to 2 tablesp. I use more.
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts and have the butcher cut them (or you can yourself!) in one inch cubes.
Combine the seasoning mix in small bowl and set aside.
In 4 qt saucepan combine 1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, onions and garlic cloves. Saute 5 min. stirring.
Add the minced garlic and seasoning mix cooking over med. heat until onions are a dark brown. Stir in the tomato sauce and bring to boil. Stir in the sugar and one cup of the green onions and now gently simmer uncovered about 40 min. stirring often!
Now it's time to combine the ingredients of the chicken seasoning mix in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle over the chicken rubbing it in well. Then, in a large skillet melt 1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter add remaining cup of green onions and saute' 3 min. Add chicken and continue cooking 10 min. stirring often. When tomato sauce has simmered about 40 min. stir in the chicken mixture and heat through.
To finish the dish, mix the chicken mixture with the pasta and top with chopped fresh parsley and green onions.
Serve with plenty of good french bread toasted with olive oil!
For dessert I pass trays of large New Orleans Pralines...
For decorations I follow the lead of Roland. I serve it outdoors and cover my tables in black and white newspaper with colorful bandannas as napkins. I bring out my festive fiesta ware in all the sunshine colors and mason jars for cocktails, beer and wine and of course sweet tea!!
My bar table is set with large galvanized buckets to hold the beer, wine etc. To finish off the bar table find a over sized glass vase, preferably tall and fill it with live goldfish and shells and scatter oyster shells on the table. Think bout putting tea lights in the shells!!
Centerpieces can be so simple... mason jars of happy flowers like zinnias and if served at night I often use eggplants that I have made into candle holders... eggplants play a big role in Cajun cooking!!!
I like to send my guests home with a favor so I prepare large jars of New Orleans Red Beans for the take home. Think about setting the jar with the guest names on them as place settings or use old oyster shells are perfect for place cards too.
This is an evening that will really get the party going...but don't forget the zydeco music!!!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!!!