For the Love of Gratin

A few years ago Aubyn and I, along with Moby, our wonderful (now sadly-departed) pooch, drove from New York City to the coast of South Carolina, to board a ferry to Daufuskie, a sparsely-inhabited island about half-hour by ferry from the mainland. Daufuskie is where Aubyn’s half-sister lived at the time with her husband. The occasion was a Gwinn family reunion of sorts. I say … Continue reading For the Love of Gratin

Great Depression Bouillie au Lait

In our house in Eunice, Louisiana, in the 1960s and ’70s, bouillie au lait (milk custard) was a comfort food. We pronounced it “B-yo-ly,” and sometimes ate it for breakfast or as an after-school snack. In Momma’s childhood home in Ville Platte during the Great Depression, bouillie au lait was survival food. It was affordable for poor families like theirs because it required only three … Continue reading Great Depression Bouillie au Lait

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 a “casserole.”) Usually held together with noodles of some sort, … Continue reading The Casserole Renaissance

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 are available pretty much anywhere. But there was one thing … Continue reading Ortense’s Gateau aux Figues

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 peppers). For the first few summers he’d produce entire mountain … Continue reading You Little Tart!

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 main, I would pair it with steamed asparagus, sautéed Brussels … Continue reading That Dirty Cajun Rice Dressing Thing

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 picnic tables right out in the open. I was a … Continue reading Pépère’s Courtbouillon Chicot

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 everybody knows you can’t have Courtbouillon without yeasty rolls)! Ask … Continue reading Mémère’s Cafeteria-Lady Yeasty Rolls

‘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 staple in Cajun Louisiana. I made this cornbread recipe as … Continue reading ‘Coonass Kandinsky’ Cornbread

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 in the 1970s – the period I write about in … Continue reading Cakeover! Glorious Pink Grapefruit Cake

World Collapsing? Assemble (no actual baking skills required) a Pear Cobbler!

Okay – so the grocery store shelves are skimpy or even empty, and now you’re gonna have to make do with things you (should already) have in your pantry. This is how we survive a plague (of virus, ignorance, overreaction, government ineptitude, and/or bad manners). The photo below shows the only things you’ll need to make a pretty decent knockoff of a proper cobbler. Preheat … Continue reading World Collapsing? Assemble (no actual baking skills required) a Pear Cobbler!

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 when all the little crawfish minding their own business in … Continue reading Smothered With Love: Crawfish Étouffée

Simple & Satisfying: Sautéed Cabbage With Sausage

Having grown up with lots of people always around, all the time (my parents had nine children) – in a food-crazy state like Louisiana, it seems there also always was a correlating abundance of sustenance at our house. Ten-gallon stock-pots filled with gumbo were the norm. We had a 16-cup rice-cooker going nonstop, it seemed, to keep up with the steady supply of rice we … Continue reading Simple & Satisfying: Sautéed Cabbage With Sausage