Category: Book of Recipes

Beignet, Done That!!
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Beignet, Done That!!

Let’s get one thing straight before we begin: it’s pronounced “ben-YAY.”

Okay, we may start.

So, the word beignet actually comes from the Celtic word bigne which means “to raise.” The word also derives from the Spanish for fritters, buelos, but ultimately, the French word for fritters (beignet, of course) stuck for the long haul. Truly, all of the influences go hand and hand.

These Louisiana specialties are fried, raised pieces of dough that make for an excellent treat. After the dough is fried, the squares of yumminess are sprinkled with powdered sugar, and the result is …

OK, It’s Okra Time!
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OK, It’s Okra Time!

It’s gooey, it’s slimy, it’s OKRA. It may get a bad rap, but around here, we know it as DELICIOUS.

The magical green vegetable originated in the African region we now know as Ethiopia and made its way through North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean before heading to the rest of the world. In Asia, the veggie is known as “lady’s fingers,” on the island of Macau it is called quilobo, while in North America, it’s Igbo name okwuru stuck to become today’s OKRA.

Okra came rather late to colonial America. Though introduced to the lower Americas during the

Tastes of Texas: Tex Mex
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Tastes of Texas: Tex Mex

Tex Mex, you know it, you love it, but where did it come from? I’ve got answers. Let me give you the short lowdown on some Tex Mex history.

So, Tex Mex didn’t start as a cuisine: it started as a train. The Texas-Mexican Railway came first in 1875. Tex Mex started as the train’s abbreviation but ended up describing the people of Mexican descent who were born in Texas.

“Tex Mex” as a culture has existed for hundreds of years: it began during the mission era when Spanish and Mexican foods mixed with Anglo fare. But, Tex Mex the

Crawfish: The Lobster of the South
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Crawfish: The Lobster of the South

Fun fact: crawfish is not seafood. Tastes, looks, smells like seafood, but it’s not: it’s freshwater grub. It’s delicious and totally Southern.

Nothing screams Louisiana quite like crawfish. The fish resemble little lobsters and are colloquially called “mudbugs” because they live in the mud of freshwater bayous. (Sounds a little gross, right?) The meat is more tender than your average lobster and has a more distinct flavor than most other seafood.

Crawfish were first harvested by local Native Americans but then later became a key ingredient in Cajun cooking. In Cajun legend from the 1700s, lobsters in Louisiana spoke to

Let’s Talk Cajun
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Let’s Talk Cajun

Cajun = spicy.

And spicy is my middle name.

So, the Cajuns came to Louisiana around the 1700s as Acadians from the French-Canadian region, Nova Scotia. They didn’t come to Louisiana by choice (they were exiled), but they brought with them some French country cooking. In Canada, they lived off the land and ate what was available, mostly meat and vegetables that they cooked in a stew. The Acadians were poor, country folk, and most of their dishes were easy one-pot recipes that were thick and hearty.

In Louisiana, the Acadians found all sorts of new ingredients, like oysters, alligator,

Muffuletta: The Story of a Sandwich
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Muffuletta: The Story of a Sandwich

Sandwiches are bomb. You can put anything between two slices of bread and call it a sandwich, it’s amazing. I’m a Louisiana boy, so naturally my favorite kind is the Muffuletta.

The word “muffuletta” refers to the round sesame bread that makes the sandwich. Muffuletta bread originated in Sicily, but the sandwich has its home in good ol’ New Orleans. The sammy was invented in the famous institution Central Grocery in the French Quarter around 1906, but the bread has been around since the 1890s. Yep, the muffuletta is older than the Po’ Boy!

The muffuletta came to life out

I have to say, I love a good etouffee
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I have to say, I love a good etouffee

Etou–what?

I have to say, I love a good etouffee.

A crazy popular Cajun dish, etouffee has been around for at least 70 years. It’s traditionally made with crawfish, but I like mine with shrimp. The word etouffee is French, and literally means “suffocated,” as in, that shrimp got suffocated in a big vat of flavor. The dish is chock full of veggies in a tomato-based sauce and crawfish smothered in. It’s sort of like a seafood stew. The tomato sauce is a contended addition to the stew: it’s said that real Cajun etouffee doesn’t include the stuff, and that