Crawfish Boulettes

At Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans, these are served with the fried seafood platter and the crawfish combination. Deanie’s calls them “crawfish dressing balls.” To say that I crave them all the time is an understatement; it’s more like true lust. On our last trip, we went to Deanie’s twice just so I could get these little treats.

Half seafood platter


Crawfish Boulettes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb crawfish tails, with fat (I used shrimp once and it was just as good)
  • 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tbps Creole seasoning, or to taste
  • 4 eggs, beaten separately in two bowls of two eggs apiece
  • 1 tbps Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • corn meal for breading

Directions:

In a food processor, grind the crawfish tails together with bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic, and parsley. In a mixing bowl, incorporate the bread crumbs, Creole seasoning, two of the beaten eggs, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Shape mixture with hands into smallish meatball-sized portions. Dip each boulette into remaining beaten egg, dredge each into breading medium and fry in oil until golden brown. Serves about 8-10.

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Carnival Shrimp

In honor of carnival season and crab season, this is a stuffed shrimp recipe—New Orleans style. This dish has all the hallmarks of good creole cooking… butter, wine, and seafood! Unfortunately for me, I had to use prawns in this recipe because jumbo gulf shrimp are unheard of out here. Prawns have a much blander taste than gulf shrimp do (it’s due to their diet), so I compensated by seasoning each shrimp. I didn’t include this step in the recipe because some folks are lucky enough to have access to real shrimp. If you use prawns, sprinkle each raw prawn with Old Bay before topping.

Carnival Shrimp

Carnival Shrimp

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup water
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 lb. lump crab meat
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 Tablespoon Creole seasoning
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
2 lbs. large shrimp (or prawns)
Italian bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350º. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until the onion glistens. Add flour and make a quick roux. Add water and thin out the roux. Add bell pepper, salt, Creole seasoning and stir until everything is incorporated. Add wine. Cook mixture for 2 minutes (5 minutes if wine was added) until bell pepper is soft. Fold in crab meat and try to keep pieces as whole as possible. Set mixture aside while you clean and peel shrimp. Butterfly the cleaned and peeled shrimp and lay each shrimp on a greased baking sheet. Take a tablespoon and top each butterflied shrimp with a tablespoonful of the crab meat mixture. Sprinkle enough bread crumbs over each shrimp to just cover. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

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Crawfish Pasta

Crawfish Pasta

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 toes garlic, minced
1 can whole tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 lbs. crawfish meat
1/2 cup red sherry
1 1/2 cups water
Creole seasoning, Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb. cooked pasta

In a large saucepan sauté onion, celery and parsley in olive oil. Cook until golden brown and translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and water; then season. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Test seasonings and add crawfish and sherry; continue to cook for 30 minutes. Add cooked pasta to sauce and mix well. Serves 8.

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Creole Style Moussaka

Now that we made all these sauces mères last week, let’s make something with one of them. Moussaka is a traditional Greek casserole typically made with eggplant, lamb and potato and is covered by a creamy Béchamel sauce. I love it, it’s one of my favorite dishes of all time (and I HATE eggplant). To make it a Louisiana Creole dish, I essentially combined the ingredients from my grandmother’s mirliton casserole and added Béchamel and some “typically Greek” spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Creole Style Moussaka

For the filling:
1/2 lb chopped shrimp
1/2 lb lump crabmeat
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 toes garlic, peeled and crushed

For the cheese sauce:
Refer to Béchamel recipe (quick and dirty version will be fine) and halve it
4 oz white cheddar cheese or parmesan, grated

Additional ingredients:
2 good-sized eggplants
4 mirlitons
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 °. Peel the mirlitons and slice each lengthwise in half and remove the seed. Using a sharp knife, slice each half into 1/2“ slices. Cut the ends off the eggplants, and slice into 1/2” slices from top to bottom. Place eggplants and mirlitons in separate baking or roasting trays – salt the mirlitons, and drizzle both liberally with oil. Place in the oven – cook mirlitons for 35 minutes or until soft like baked potato, and eggplants for 15-20 or until fairly limp. Remove from oven and allow to cool, covered.

While doing this, in a large non-stick saucepan heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, puree, wine and remaining spices and condiments. Add the chopped shrimp and once they turn pink, cover and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes. When done, place filling in a separate mixing bowl, add in bread crumbs and fold in crab meat, being careful not to break lumps.

In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and mix in the flour until you get a blond roux. Reduce the heat and slowly stir in the milk, adding a little at a time as the sauce thickens consistently. Do not allow the sauce to become too thick or the roux to become too dark, as this can lead to lumps. When the milk is all used, sprinkle the cheese into the pan and stir well. You just made a Mornay sauce.

Take a large, square, oven-proof casserole dish. At the very bottom, lay half of the mirliton slices (covering the bottom evenly) then half the eggplant, covering the mirliton. Add half the filling and spread over the vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mirliton, eggplant and sauce, and then cover with the Mornay sauce, smoothing over the top layer of meat with a spatula to ensure that all of the filling is coated. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, and serve.

Optional: You could substitute diced ham for the crab.

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Barbeque Shrimp

Legend has it that Pascal’s Manale Restaurant on Napoleon Ave. invented this dish. It is not a barbequed dish (it was named by its inventor), though it is delicious. This recipe is supposedly as close to the original as possible. Easy, easy dish!

Barbeque Shrimp

1 lb. butter
4 tablespoon fresh black pepper
4 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4-5 lbs. of large shrimp, whole, heads and tails on
1 whole lemon
Loaf of decent French Bread

In a saucepan melt butter and add seasonings. Heat for 2 minutes to allow spice to infuse in the fat. Add shrimp and cook for around 6-7 minutes. Add fresh lemon at the end and serve on platters or bowls with bread for sopping the juices. Serves 6.

Watch the shrimp… it cooks fast and you want this to have a good texture. Shrimp without the heads will not work, you need the fat from behind the eyes to mix with the butter for the best flavor. Messy and wonderful!

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Crabmeat and Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton

I stole this recipe from Chef John Folse’s Site, halved the recipe and changed it somewhat to suit my taste. I made this on Saturday night and it tasted so much like the stuffed crab recipe my grandmother used to make, so comforting. This used to be the ONLY way to get me to eat seafood as a kid… I hated all of it (now I mainly just despise strong tasting fish like Salmon) and being from the gulf region, you could see where that might be a problem. Fortunately, living in the Bay Area, our seafood is as good as that from the gulf… especially shellfish. I served this with yukon gold mashed potatoes to which I added shredded pepper jack cheese and some creole seasoning. Yum.

Mirlitons: Say Melly-tawn or Mel-uh-tahn. They are the name for Chayote Squash in New Orleans. Yuppies here in the Bay Area pay upwards of several dollars for one as they are quite en vogue with the foodie crowd. Silly fools… they can get them for less than 50 cents apiece in Mexican markets… or for free in a New Orleans yard… if you have one, you have many as they are a “weed” there! Mirlitons have a delicate almost apple-y flavor when cooked and become quite soft when boiled, like a potato… they are actually pretty starchy for a squash. You can eat the entire shell, peel and all, when this dish is complete. John Folse’s site has several mirliton recipes that look quite tasty.

Crabmeat and Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton

Prep Time: 2 Hours
Yields: 3 Serving

Ingredients:
3 mirlitons (Chayote Squash), sliced lengthwise
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1/2 pound (70-90 count) shrimp, peeled and de-veined (use gloves! some people are HIGHLY allergic to shellfish shells even if they aren’t allergic to the meat)
1/2 stick (1/8 lb) butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced red or green bell peppers
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (or Creole seasoning)
As many dashes Crystal hot sauce (or any other cayenne based pepper sauce) as you like, to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
6 pats butter

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil sliced mirlitons in lightly-salted water 30-40 minutes or until meat is tender enough to scoop from shells. Once tender, remove from water and cool. Using a teaspoon, remove seeds and gently scoop all meat out of shell, being careful not to tear shell. Discard excess liquid accumulated while scooping meat. Reserve meat and save shells for stuffing. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Sauté; onions, celery, bell peppers, garlic and basil 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Blend in shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes or until pink and curled. Mix in reserved meat from mirlitons and chop large pieces while cooking. Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring until flavors develop. After most of liquid has evaporated, remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and parsley. Fold in crabmeat, being careful to not break lumps. Sprinkle in approximately 3/4 cup of bread crumbs to absorb any excess liquid and to hold stuffing intact. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions and stuff into hollowed-out shells. Place stuffed mirlitons on baking pan and sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs. Top each mirliton with 1 pat of butter. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve 1 mirliton half as a vegetable or 2 halves as an entrée.

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Creole Tuna Casserole

What could be better? Elements of creole cooking combined with comfort food… for me that’s redundant, but that’s not the point…

Creole Tuna Casserole

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tins (12 oz. total) of tuna packed in water, drained
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of Rotel or diced tomatoes
16 oz. shell-type or rotini pasta (any type that will hold sauce well)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups of milk
8 oz. SHARP cheddar cheese
a couple of dashes of Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs (depends on your taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees;. Start your pasta water boiling. Sautée onion and bell pepper in a tablespoon or so of olive oil until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and tomatoes and sautee mixture for another 2 minutes. Season vegetable mixture with creole seasoning, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and hot sauce then remove from heat. Check pasta for just below al dente stage as the pasta will cook more in the oven, drain pasta when it’s done. The next step is to make a béchamel sauce. Start the roux by melting the butter and adding the flour to the melted butter. You only want this to be a blond roux, so you don’t need to cook it long, just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add cold milk to roux and whisk until smooth. Add 3/4 of your shredded cheddar cheese to béchamel and whisk until creamy smooth. Combine tuna, pasta and vegetable mixture in a bowl and mix together until all the ingredients are fairly integrated. Add béchamel to mixture and fold until blended. Transfer mixture into a casserole dish, top with leftover cheese and bread crumbs. To make bread crumbs turn out crunchy and golden brown, add a tablespoon more of butter, chopped, to the top. Bake at 350 degrees; for 30 minutes.

EDIT: you can try it with Fontina or Gruyere mixed in with the cheddar. Or better yet, try Pepper Jack.