It took a few tries, but I’ve finally settled on a recipe for Momma’s Syrup Pie (or Tarte au Sirop). My goal was to recreate a pie that is, on the surface, very simple: a sweet pie dough crust, with a caramel custard-like filling, though not a caramel custard pie per se. This old Cajun pie was a doozy to figure out because few reliable, … Continue reading Elusive Cajun Recipe: Syrup Pie
Thanksgiving week, y’all! I don’t love Thanksgiving turkey so much, but I love the side dishes. This side is my second fave (after Rice Dressing) and I like to use a recipe I developed from a childhood memory of my Aunt Versie’s version. In hers, the corn was more crumbly than other recipes I’ve tried, which end up a bit wet. Aunt Versie’s was crumbly … Continue reading T’ante Versie’s Maque Choux
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 like what you’d get if you cake-ified Ben & Jerry’s … Continue reading The Other Christmas Day Cake
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 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 challenging for non-Cajuns. This very selective glossary includes terms I … Continue reading Un Petit Glossaire Cajun
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
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
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!
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
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 often comes to mind when outsiders think of Louisiana food. … Continue reading Meatball Fricassee
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 – better make a roux! Tomorrow’s Christmas – better make … Continue reading First, I made a roux.
Today the temperature dropped quickly here in Manhattan, and I hear that the Coonasses down home in Louisiana are also experiencing a cold snap. Which can only mean one thing for them and me: Gumbo. So today I’m channeling all those fine Coonasses down there to write this blog post on Eliza Mae’s (my long-departed momma’s) Seafood Gumbo. I think seafood gumbo was Momma’s best dish … Continue reading Rouxvana: Eliza Mae’s Seafood Gumbo
The experience of eating an otherwise forgettable dinner in a fancy restaurant in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan was marred by the very memorable dessert they served: a chocolate cake that wasn’t trying to be anything else. SOOO many restaurants – especially fancy ones – try to pimp up what should already be standard fare: simple chocolate cake that tastes like chocolate and that doesn’t … Continue reading Cakeover: Chocolate on Chocolate with a Smidge of Chocolate
In my senior year at LSU, I wrote this poem while sitting in my bullet-proof cashier’s booth at the ECOL filling station on College Drive in Baton Rouge. We sold only fuel, engine oil, cigarettes, and lighters. I had the brutal 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. When my roommate Colleen discovered the poem in my stuff (it was scribbled on the inside of a … Continue reading Poetry at the Filling Station
C.A.K.E. It’s my favorite four-letter word. No matter the time of day, or the setting, or the circumstances, I never turn down cake. Even the lowliest, skankiest-looking 24-hour-convenience-store shelf cake (think Entenmann’s but without the ‘finesse’) has me squirming with glee. That said, I definitely gravitate towards the more substantive, authentic homemade cakes – those that our mommas and mémères and tantes made. I also … Continue reading Cakeover: Beautiful Black & White Cake