Strawberries Creole

It’s strawberry time! A sure sign that Summer has arrived is the smell of fresh strawberries at the grocery store or farmer’s market. and the best tool for finding fresh strawberries–your nose. Many farmed strawberries, even in season, are picked while they are still green in order to help them while shipping. Although these will continue to get redder and softer once they have been picked, they will not get any sweeter (although an overnight refrigerated bath in honey may help in that department–that’s cheating though!). The real test is in their smell. If you can’t detect a whiff of strawberries, you probably won’t get the taste of them either. If at all possible, buy locally grown strawberries.

Strawberries Creole

Spice choices:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 scraped vanilla bean
1/4 cup dark rum (or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract)
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur (or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 ounces sour cream
1 quart fresh, cleaned strawberries
Dark brown sugar

Mix one of the desired spices into sour cream. To serve, place sour cream mixture, sugar and strawberries in individual serving bowls. With fork or toothpick, dip strawberries into sour cream, then brown sugar.

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Creole Hot Water Cornbread

I had never heard of hot water cornbread in all my years, but when G. and I went to Louisiana Fried Chicken a few weekends ago, it was one of the options for a bread. It reminded me of a large, flattened hush puppy and was pretty tasty. I don’t recall where I found this recipe, but if you recognize it as yours (or your mama’s) please tell me and I will credit that person. I tweaked it a little as the original recipe called for lard for frying (which I don’t like, it has too heavy a taste for me) but feel free to use lard instead if you so choose.

Creole Hot Water Cornbread

1 2/3 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 3/4 teaspoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
5 teaspoons shortening
1 1/4 cups boiling water
peanut oil for frying

Combine the cornmeal, Creole seasoning, onion, and sugar in a medium bowl. Pour in boiling water and shortening; stir until the shortening melts. Place peanut oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a large skillet; bring to a temperature of 375 degrees over medium-high heat. Shape heaping tablespoons of the dough into flattened balls (thickness is a personal preference). Fry in hot oil, turning once, until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels or better yet, a brown paper (like paper bags).

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French Green Beans

The butter, ham and starch from the potatoes create a rich, smokey, velvety “gravy” that I think is the only way to eat string beans; this is one of those recipes that we New Orleanians have all had all our lives. French-cut green beans are the string beans that have been cut in half on a diagonal.

French Green Beans

2 pounds French-cut string beans (you may buy uncut string beans and “French-cut” them yourself, just be sure to remove the long string from the pod)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound diced smoked ham
1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
6 small new potatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the ham, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Add the potatoes and water, cover pan and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the string beans, salt and creole seasoning and cook 20 minutes more over medium heat.

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