Let’s Talk Food: Fat Tuesday is next week

Next week Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, which is a day before Ash Wednesday. It is a celebration of food, lots of it, before the Lenten season. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and po boy sandwiches, crawfish, shrimp and grits, Creole crab cakes, shrimp and chicken etouffee, dirty rice, and red beans and rice are some of the items on the menu for that day.

If you are confused about Cajun and Creole foods, welcome to the club. Cajuns are of Acadian descent, who were French settlers who made their way to Canada. They were then exiled and relocated to lower Louisiana in the late 1700’s, where they began to be known as Cajuns.

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Creole food has more European, African, Caribbean and Hispanic influences.

Both are foods of Louisiana and when traveling there, you can eat both Cajun and Creole in restaurants.

Typically Creole foods use tomatoes and tomato-based sauces while traditional Cajun food does not.

With the French influence, Cajun foods would have a French name such as andouille, au gratin, beignets, bisque, boudin, bouillabaisse, fricassee, etouffee, jambalaya, mirlitons, pralines, roux and sauce piquante.

Creole foods may include oysters Rockefeller, Creole bread pudding with a vanilla whiskey sauce, crawfish boil, crawfish or shrimp with grits.

Spencer Oliver, owner of the former Roussels in Hilo and Waikoloa was on my cooking show, Audrey Wilson’s Cooking Show on Na Leo TV this month and showcased a few recipes from the restaurant. Spencer lived in New Orleans till he was about 20 years old. His brother Andrew, who worked at various New York restaurants, always wanted to own his own restaurant so Roussels became a reality when the whole family followed their mother and sisters to Hilo. Enjoying the dishes he made brought back great memories of time spent dining at Roussels.

Here are the recipes that we prepared from Roussels:

Creole Cole Slaw

Serves 6-8

Dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons Creole Mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 head cabbage

Rough cut cabbage into half into 3/4-inch squares. Add dressing to taste (should be moist) and mix to combine well.

Louisiana Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Serves 10-12

1 1/2 loaves of French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/8 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

Mix in a large bowl.

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups heavy cream

Add to the bowl. Mix all ingredients except the French bread cubes. After mixed well, add the bread and toss to completely coat the bread.

Line a 10-inch round pan with a removable bottom with vegetable spray and roughly line with a square of parchment paper that completely covers the sides of the pan. The corners will be sticking up. Lightly spray the bottom of the parchment paper.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour, checking with the toothpick after 45 minutes.

Cut into pieces, serve with whiskey sauce.

Whiskey sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 pound butter

1/4 cup bourbon

1 large egg

In a saucepan, melt butter, add sugar and cook until sugar is dissolved. In a separate medium bowl, stir egg well and slowly add about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg, while whisking continuously so the egg does not cook. After tempering the egg, pour it back into the hot butter sugar mixture, mixing constantly. Serve the bread pudding with the warmed whiskey sauce drizzled on top.

(This sauce is so delicious by itself)

Shrimp Po’ boy

Serves 4-6

Loaf of French bread

Mayonnaise

Creole mustard

Lettuce

2 tomatoes thinly sliced

16-24 medium to large shrimp, peeled and rinsed

About 1 cup all-purpose flour

About 1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup milk

Oil for deep frying

Mix about 1 cup all-purpose flour with about 1 cup of cornmeal in bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip prepared shrimp first in milk, and in flour/cornmeal mixture.

Fill oil in a pot, about 2 inches. Heat until about 350 degrees. Place prepared shrimp for 2 minutes until light golden brown, remove and place on paper towels to absorb the oil.

Cut French bread loaf lengthwise being careful not to cut all the way through. Open loaf wide so that it lays flat on the counter.

Coat one side with mayonnaise, to taste and the other side with the Creole mustard, to taste.

Add lettuce, sliced tomatoes and shrimp and close loaf.

Cut to size, 4 to 6 pieces.

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Foodie Bites

The Hawaii Community College’s Culinary program’s Bamboo Hale is open only on Thursday and Friday this week with the menu of the Americas and dishes of India. Hours are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. with the last seating at 12:20 p.m. Call 934-2591 for reservations. The Cafeteria is open from 10:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Call 934-2559 for specials of the day and take-out orders.

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