Maque Choux

This is a Cajun dish as far as I can tell. As I remember it, the dish was either introduced to the French settlers in the bayou by the Native American tribes in the area or the dish was a synthesis of ingredients the settlers had on hand. I had never had it until this year and it is wonderful! There is a lot of black pepper used in this dish (my doing) so feel free to reduce the amount if you find that amount intimidating.

Maque Choux

8 ears fresh corn, husked and silked (or 7 cups frozen)
6 strips bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning or Cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt

First, prepare the corn by holding each ear of corn firmly with the bottom end placed on a cutting board or in a large bowl to keep the kernels from splattering. With a sharp knife, cut straight down the cob, cutting off only 2 or 3 rows at a time until all kernels are removed. Then, using the back of the knife blade, scrape down the cob to remove the corn “milk.” Add this milk to the corn kernels in a large bowl. Repeat procedure with each of the remaining ears of corn. Set aside.

Then in a stockpot, cook the bacon until crisp. Save bacon strips for another use—like peanut butter and bacon sandwiches! Leave bacon fat in bottom of stockpot. Cook onions and the red and green bell peppers in the bacon fat until soft — about 5-10 minutes. Add corn kernels and corn milk, spices, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the corn from sticking. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I thought it was time to start posting à propos recipes. The following is inspired by the potatoes served before your meal at Deanie’s in Metairie. For folks not “in the know”—when it comes time to throw a seafood boil, it is customary to add corn and potatoes to the water along with the seafood and seafood boil mix to serve alongside the crabs, shrimp and crawfish. At Deanie’s, they serve these delicious potatoes as a substitute for bread before your meal arrives. By using the following method to boil your potatoes for mashing, you will give just enough zing to your mashed potatoes for some real soul.

Just my humble opinion, but Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for mashing, but some people prefer red skinned. Use appropriate mashing potatoes.

Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

For the water:
1 package (3 oz.) Dry Crab Boil
4 quarts of water
4 tablespoons salt
1 quartered lemon
cayenne pepper to taste

3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tbsp heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
Salt and Pepper

A potato ricer, food mill or masher

Put potatoes into a large pot of crab boil water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done – a fork can easily be poked through them.

Warm cream and melt butter, together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove. Drain water from potatoes. Use ricer, mill or masher to mash potatoes into a separate bowl. Add cream and melted butter mixture. Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding milk to achieve the consistency you desire. (Do not over-beat or your potatoes will get gluey.) Salt and pepper to taste. You may add creole seasoning to taste at the end if you desire.

Serves 8.

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Cinnamon Pecans

In Urbana, we used to visit the Farmer’s Market fairly regularly and look for a stand of Amish farmers who sold various baked goods and candies. The one treat that they made that was almost always sold out by the time we got there was their candied pecans. It was a great day when we could find them. This is about as close as I can find… the Amish pecans are a little sweeter, but this recipe is very close.

Cinnamon Pecans

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Moderate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Beat egg whites foamy but not stiff. Stir in sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in 1 pound pecan halves. Spread on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, Stirring 3 or 4 times.

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Cranberry Fruit Conserve

I despise cranberries and I like this recipe a lot… I made this last year for Thanksgiving and everyone seemed to like it much better than that jellied crap. It’s a very nice deep ruby color too, looks very nice on your table.

Cranberry Fruit Conserve

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 4.5 cups

1 (12-ounce) bags fresh cranberries, cleaned
1 cup water
3/4 cups sugar
1 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cups raisins
3/4 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large saucepan, simmer cranberries and sugar in 1 cup water over low heat, about 5 minutes or until skins pop open. Add apples, zests, and juices, and simmer for 15 more minutes. Remove from heat and add raisins and nuts. Let cool and serve chilled.

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Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Modified from a recipe by the Krusteaz company. I made this last year for Thanksgiving, and it was such a hit that it will be holiday tradition from now on. I don’t like the Krusteaz crust (it’s too much like shortbread), so I substitute a 9-inch deep dish pie shell.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: approx. 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings

1, 17.5 oz package Krusteaz Pecan Bar Mix (1 pouch each pecan filling mix and pecans)
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, 1 egg and pumpkin pie spice until blended. Spread evenly over pie crust. Sprinkle pecans evenly over pumpkin filling. Set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together full pouch pecan filling mix, water and 1 egg until blended. Immediately after stirring, pour gently over pumpkin and pecan layer. Bake 50-55 minutes or until center does not jiggle when lightly shaken and top begins to brown. Cool completely before cutting. Garnish with caramel sauce and fresh whipped topping, if desired.