The Casserole Renaissance

The 1970s ushered in the era of convenience foods – think “Hamburger Helper” and taco-making kits (“Just add your own ground beef!”). It was also the heyday of the casserole – a dish with a wide (and forgiving) interpretation involving the combination of protein, fat, and starch in a rectangular baking dish (funnily enough, called…

Ortense’s Gateau aux Figues

In 1992 when I moved to New York from Louisiana I took my love of the food of my home state right into my East Village kitchen – where regularly I made jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, fricassée, courtbouillon, and all the rest, like I’d never left Cajun Country. The key ingredients (or reasonable substitutes) for those dishes…

You Little Tart!

With ten mouths to feed, my daddy’s vegetable garden in Eunice, La. was an essential part of our family’s meal-plan. I remember those early years when he experimented with growing things – things that had a knack for producing an abundance of food – particularly tomatoes, eggplants, and zucchinis (not to mention cucumbers and bell…

That Dirty Cajun Rice Dressing Thing

Popeye’s calls this dish “Cajun Rice,” but I don’t know of any Cajuns who call it that. We either call it “Rice Dressing” or “Dirty Rice.” Whatever it’s called, it’s my absolute favorite side dish, and like many side dishes, it could easily serve as a main dish if you are so inclined. As a…

Pépère’s Courtbouillon Chicot

Chicot State Park near Ville Platte, Louisiana, a multifarious, 6,400-acre wildlife reserve, is the setting of one of my earliest cooking lessons. In addition to places to hike, swim, go fishing or boating, the park also features plenty of covered pavilions outfitted with big barbeque pits adjacent to them, as well as fire pits and…

Mémère’s Cafeteria-Lady Yeasty Rolls

Everybody’s baking on these long days during the pandemic. I’m no exception. I’ve been wanting to make another cake because I’m overdue for one, but I’ve also been craving my pépère (grandfather) DeJean’s catfish Courtbouillon (recipe coming soon to a blog post near you). This would then require me to bake my mémère’s Yeasty Rolls (and…

Un Petit Glossaire Cajun

The Cajun language is a mixture of ancient and modern French, some Franglais, as well as many words that are unique to the region of Louisiana where our Canadian ancestors originally settled. My new book, “Stone Motel – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy,” has lots of words and phrases whose meanings might prove a little…

‘Coonass Kandinsky’ Cornbread

Side dish or main course? The only correct answer is, “Both.” When my parents were kids during the Great Depression, cornbread was usually the main event – breakfast, lunch, or supper. Momma said she took cornbread to school for lunch pretty regularly. When it wasn’t cornbread, it was most likely Bouillie au Lait, another Depression…

Cakeover! Glorious Pink Grapefruit Cake

You may have heard by now that I’m in the midst of promoting my book, so I’ve been a bit negligent of my food-making blog entries. Well, today I’m rectifying that (if only temporarily) with the newest recipe: My Glorious Pink Grapefruit Cake! The inspiration for this cake comes from those lemon and lime cakes…

Smothered With Love: Crawfish Étouffée

Like so many dishes in Louisiana (as in other food-obsessed cultures), classic recipes tend to vary from town to town, neighborhood to neighborhood, block to block, and kitchen to kitchen (and in my case, even within the same kitchen). Crawfish Étouffée (smothered crawfish) is a perfect example of this. And right now happens to be…

Meatball Fricassee

Everybody knows about gumbo. It’s the quintessential Louisiana dish. And for all kinds of good reasons. It’s served in homes and restaurants all over the Bayou State (and in many other states – which tend to muck it up with unorthodox methods so as not to scare away their loyal customers). Gumbo is what most…

First, I made a roux.

Starting a new year is always a great time to focus on the basics. In this post, I zero in on the needlessly intimidating process of roux-making. For the next post, I will share my recipe for the very best dish on Planet Earth – using this roux – Spoiler: it’s not gumbo. Hurricane’s coming…

The Other Christmas Day Cake

For years I have been imagining a cake that would be just the thing for Christmas Day. Well, you, my devoted Cakeover legion, are in luck! This weekend I broke down and finally started tinkering with a recipe – and the outcome, I am happy to report, is pretty much right on. This cake tastes…