Category Archives: Louisiana Creole Food

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Happy fall, y’all!

Today’s post comes with a family recipe for one of my childhood favorite foods. But, we need to dig into some world history first!

What does Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean have to do with my Louisiana Creole Mirlton recipe? Read on…

Mirliton, [MEL-ee-tawn], [MER-lee-tawn], or [MEEL-ee-tawn] in Louisiana, [MEER-lee-tawn] in French, is a south Louisiana staple. The squash, called chayote [chah·YOH·teh] in Spanish, is native to Mesoamerica. This old world plant has documented roots in Louisiana dated in the mid-1800s. However, evidence suggests it reached the Louisiana colony much earlier. In one theory, the plant came to the port city of New Orleans, while a Spanish colony, via other Spanish colonies in Latin America. Another explanation is that it came with colonizers (including gens de couleur libres) and the people they enslaved that fled to New Orleans from Saint-Domingue and Cuba from 1791 to 1815, during and following the slave rebellion that created the Republic of Haiti in 1804. The evidence supporting this latter theory is the fact that there are two places that use the word “mirliton” for this squash—Louisiana and the former French colony renamed Haiti after the revolution. In English, Anglo-Americans call this squash a “vegetable pear” because of its shape. So was the staple called chayote brought to colonial Louisiana during the Spanish period? If so, did the influx of roughly 15,000 French-speakers from Saint-Domingue and Cuba that arrived in New Orleans influence using the French name for the squash? Or was it brought to Louisiana by Saint-Dominguans?

Food history is so fascinating!

This squash is technically a fruit and grows on a vine in warm climates. I remember mirliton growing in my grandmother’s backyard in New Orleans. The plant grew all over the city before Hurricane Katrina decimated the plant. As part of hurricane recovery, a nonprofit organization dedicated itself to the revival and conservation of the Louisiana mirliton.

Чайот.JPG” by SKas is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0

Below is the recipe passed on to me that I will pass on to my children.

Louisiana Creole Mirliton Recipe

Ingredients and prep:

  • 6-8 medium mirlitons
  • 2 pounds gulf shrimp
  • 1 pound white lump crab meat
  • 1 pound cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 medium bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium onions, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick butter
  • Louisiana Creole seasoning
    • ½ tsp cayenne
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • ½ tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tbsp dried garlic powder
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ tsp onion powder
  • cayenne pepper  to taste
  • Italian bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176 °C).
  2. Boil whole mirlitons in salted water until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
  3. While the mirlitons cool, sauté onion, celery, and bell pepper in butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Add ham, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook another 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp with Louisiana Creole seasoning. Set aside.
  5. Cut cooled mirlitons in half and remove the seeds and pods. Scoop out the mirliton flesh and place into a colander. Lightly squeeze out excess moisture. TIP: If you want to stuff the shells instead of making a casserole, score on the sides before scooping to leave a little flesh on the sides. The skin tears easily.
  6. Add drained mirlitons to Dutch oven. Add cayenne. TIP: If there’s a lot of water, add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs to thicken or cook on medium-low heat, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates.
  7. Add seasoned shrimp. Cook about 20 minutes.
  8. Fold in crabmeat and parsley. Put mixture in mirliton shells.
  9. Top with bread crumbs. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread crumbs turn brown.
  10. Serve with Louisiana French Bread or French baguette.

Bon appétit!

OPTION: Make as a casserole.

Recipe: Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage Recipe

Recipe: Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage Recipe

I am often asked for my recipes after posting pictures. Here’s one for the cabbage I grew up eating in New Orleans. Folks in Louisiana do appreciate good food!

Bon appétit!

 

My Louisiana Creole Smothered Cabbage

Ingredients:

2 Tbls. olive oil

1 Tbl. butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 lb. ham, cubed

1 lb. andouille sausage or another smoked sausage, coin sliced

2-3 heads of cabbage, cored, cleaned and chopped

1 tsp. Louisiana Creole Seasoning

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • -1 teaspoon paprika
  • -1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • -1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • -1 tbl dried garlic powder
  • -1/2 tsp black pepper
  • -1/2 tsp onion powder

½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 cup white rice, cooked

Salt & pepper to taste

Cornbread (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut and clean cabbage leaves.

  2. In a 6 quart pot, fry bacon on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high, add ham, and sausage. Cook for about 15 minutes.

  3. Add oil and onion, cook until onion is brown. Reserve the meat & onion in a bowl.

  4. Use the same pot, add a little water, reduce heat to medium. Fill the pot with cabbage and cover. Check often, stirring cabbage until the cabbage wilts, adding water as needed.

  5. Continue adding more cabbage to fill the pot. Cabbage is cooked when all leaves are wilted and some turn light brown. Add Louisiana Creole Seasoning and cayenne.

  6. Return meat to pot, add garlic and butter. Do not cover. Instead, allow remaining water in the pot to evaporate.

  7. Serve over white rice.

Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016

Mardi Gras Season 2016 will kickoff, as always, on January 6th. New Orleans and Brazil are well known destinations for those who want to experience one of the greatest parties on earth – Carnival. Although the season varies, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras day will always fall on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, 40 days before Easter in accordance to the liturgical calendar.

To get this party started, those who celebrate will make, bake, or buy a King Cake on January 6th.

Here’s one from last year. Keyword…”one”…I make, buy, and eat them throughout the season!

2015-02-18 19.55.47

And to show how big a deal these traditional cakes are, the King Cake Festival is an annual event to honor these delicious confections. The 3rd annual festival is January 31st. It’s a FREE family friendly event benefiting Ochsner Hospital Pediatric Departments. There’s something for everyone; music, games, food, and lots and lots of King Cakes to sample! A People’s Choice Award is given to the bakery with the most votes for the tastiest cake of the season.

Past winners included:

2015 Maurice French Pastries

2014 Haydel’s Bakery

Very excited that I will be there in Champions Square this year as a vendor with The King Cake Baby. Click here for more details and updates on this event.

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There will be lots of celebrations on January 6th too.  Some will attend the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc parade. Joan of Arc is a symbol of New Orleans’ French heritage. January 6th is her birthday.

Some will attend the ball of The Twelfth Night Revelers, a Carnival organization that had their first ball on January 6, 1870, a tradition that continues today. The female from their court who finds the bean- la fève – in the wooden King Cake is crowned Queen – La Reine.

The Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows will parade on the St. Charles Streetcar line the night of January 6th. That krewe is known as being the “dessert of Carnival”, a satirical and fun group. One of their mottos is “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men.”

Click here to read my post from last year about the history of Louisiana Creole Carnival celebrations –  Twelfth Night or Little Christmas or Feast of the Epiphany or Kings’ Day and Mardi Gras.

And you don’t have to be part of a high society, live in New Orleans or where King Cakes are sold to celebrate the kick off of Mardi Gras. You can make a king cake in your very own kitchen. Watch Alex the French Guy make a French version –La Galette des Rois, he’s adorable and funny. CookingAndCrafting demonstrates how to make a New Orleans King Cake from scratch. The recipe I put in The King Cake Baby is a very easy one because it’s made from frozen dough. I used it with a handful of adults and a cafeteria full of kids to make 50 King Cakes in a few hours that we sent to our troops in the Wounded Warriors Project at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

If you don’t have a plastic baby, use a bean or a coin (wrap the coin in foil for hygienic reasons) to hide. Just remember, before you take a bite, be sure to check for the baby or whatever is hidden inside!

Bon appétit!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

SCBWI Book Launch Party – You’re Invited!

It’s the SCBWI Book Launch Party! Click here to visit, like, comment, and share my party page for a chance to win a copy of The King Cake Baby.

 

Follow the baby on his Facebook page here.

While on the SCBWI site, check out other great kidlit titles.

 

Let’s get this party started!

SCBWI book launch

National Gumbo Day: First You Make A Roux

National Gumbo Day: First You Make A Roux
Today is National Gumbo Day! Hooray!
For anyone who grew up in Louisiana before the internet, learning to make a gumbo was a right of passage. Somebody, whether it was your mama, papa, marraine, parrain, mamie, papi, grand-mère or grand-père made sure to pass on the family recipe. It doesn’t matter if you learned to cook a gumbo with fowl, seafood, or z’herbes, everyone learned to start the dish the same way – first you make a roux.  Roux, pronounced “roo”, is a mixture of fat like butter, lard, or oil and flour.  Used as a thickening agent, roux also adds flavor to a gumbo. The second thing learned is to never leave the skillet because it’s not that hard to burn a roux.
This week Louisiana lost one of her native sons, Chef Paul Prudhomme. So, in honor of both he and this delicious day, allow the Chef to teach you how to make a roux. It doesn’t matter if you like it light or dark, that’s the first step.        
See my post from last year here for a bit of history on gumbo. Bon appétit!
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np3uGcdQNUw

Goodreads Book Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The King Cake Baby by Keila Dawson

The King Cake Baby

by Keila Dawson

Giveaway ends July 31, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

                 **Win an autographed copy**


Celebrating my debut picture book half birthday with a giveaway! 

The King Cake Baby is a tasty re-telling of the Gingerbread Man tale, told New Orleans style! The little plastic baby escapes before he’s hidden inside a cake. Then chased by an old Creole lady and an old Creole man, a praline lady in Jackson Square, and a waiter at Café du Monde. But can he outrun a clever baker?

Enter to win a copy to find out what happens. Because you can’t have a king cake without a king cake baby hidden inside!

“No, mon ami, you can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!