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Friday, August 12, 2011

GREAT FOOD

Great Food
By June Shaw
I live in south Louisiana and am accustomed to Cajun dishes. Some readers of my humorous mysteries ask why I haven’t set my series in our area. Of course we have interesting characters, a unique culture, and fabulous meals. But my protagonist wants to travel—just like me. She and I like to see various places while we still eat great food. That’s why her hunky sometimes-ex lover that she tries to avoid owns a chain of Cajun Delights restaurants. And some of his restaurants happen to be opening in places she travels—and she is horrible at avoiding tempting dishes and men, but—
Here’s the thing. Some people joke and say every Cajun dish begins with a roux. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a roux is a mixture of almost equal parts oil and flour stirred over a low fire until it turns golden brown. It’s what thickens and darkens our gumbos and stews and many other dishes. And it’s not actually used for everything—not cake anyway.
You might start with a small roux, such as 3 T. flour and 3 T oil, although some people make them much larger, maybe 1/3 C. of each. Roux can be saved in the refrigerator for quite a long time. You’d cook a roux in a heavy pot and after it’s uniformly brown, add onions and other desired seasonings, stirring until transparent, and then add needed liquid.
Here’s one recipe for a Chicken Stew: 1 large hen, 3 onions, 1 bell pepper, 1 large T. cooking oil, ½ cup flour, green onions and parsley, salt and red pepper to taste. Cut up the chicken, chop bell pepper and onions very fine. Brown the chicken in hot oil. Remove the chicken and add flour. Stir until this mixture is light brown. Add onions and pepper and cook about five minutes. Then add the chicken and one quart or more of boiling water. Season with salt and pepper and when almost done, add green onions and parsley. Stir the stew as it thickens to prevent burning. If you like mushrooms, add a can toward the end. Serve this dish over rice. Yummy!
Stuffed Crabs: 1 C. crab meat, 1 large onion, 2 T. flour, 2 T. cooking oil, 1 C. stale bread broken into pieces, ¼ C. chopped bell pepper, ¼ C. chopped celery, 2 T. parsley, ½ C. water, salt and pepper to taste. Make a golden brown roux with oil and flour. Add bell pepper, onion, and celery; cook five minute. Add water and cook till thick. Add crab meat and cook about 15 minutes. Add bread and chopped parsley. This will stuff about four crab shells. Sprinkle them with bread crumbs and brown in the oven. Terrific!
Actually I am not a woman who enjoys staying in the kitchen, although my mother and her mother loved to cook. So does my squeeze Bob.
Bob is a terrific Cajun cook, so when I want some of his great recipes to include in my books, I ask and he writes them. You can find samples in the first two books in my series, RELATIVE DANGER, which is now also available on Kindle and Smashwords for just 2.99, and KILLER COUSINS, available in hardcover and soon an e-book, Be looking for DEADLY REUNION, the third book in my series, in July. In this murder mystery, a class reunion takes place on a cruise ship in Alaska. I loved doing the research.
Have you ever eaten Cajun dishes? If so, what are your favorites? Have you tried cooking any?
I love to eat but keep busy and like faster dishes. That’s why I offer my Oven Dressing, which my family loves, on my Web site, www.juneshaw.com. Lots of people down here spend hours preparing dressing, but my great recipe lets you throw everything raw in a casserole and stick it in the oven. I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks for letting me join you today. June
Here’s a link to my first book in the series, which can be read on an e-reader. Deadly Ink nominated it for their David award for Best Mystery of the Year: http://tinyurl.com/2443cac



8 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, June,

I'll be the first to comment. Thanks for the great Cajun recipe!
I haven't traveled much, but I think New Orleans would definitely be a place I'd like to go if only for the food alone. A lot of mystery writers seem to come from your area. Your mystery sounds great. I look forward to reading it.

June Shaw said...

Thanks so much, Jacqueline. Yes, lots of people come down to the N.O. area to eat. And of course there are many other fun things to do. I sure hope you enjoy DEADLY REUNION.

Anonymous said...

I'm printing out those recipes, June! I love Cajun food, and when we plan a trip to New Orleans, the first thing we do is choose restaurants! Wandering the Quarter, stopping here and there for oysters, shrimp roumalade and hot Cajun sausage is a great day!

Julie Robinson said...

Hi June,
I'm so glad you emphasized the roux. I have a "thing" about some New Orleans recipes being called Cajun when they're actually Creole because of the tomato base. The Lafayette Museum used to sell a book called, "First You Make a Roux." I don't know if it's still in print or not.

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