Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Cajun Flea Market + A Lovely Award !

When I woke up this morning and it was 58 degrees in Cajun Country, I knew it was going to be a beautiful day. Gone was the humidity that we've had for the past few days and the sky was the prettiest clear blue that I've seen in ages. I thought it would be a great day to take a drive to a a small town about 15 miles north of Lafayette, Grand Coteau, La. A charming little Cajun town, just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Grand Coteau's Main St. is lined with antique stores, a flea market, and other quaint little shops and eateries. I was looking for a vintage wicker table for my patio and thought that this would be a great place to start.

(click to enlarge)

I thought about Carol @ the Writer's Porch, when I saw these chickens on this chest.

This is the other shop, next to the first, both owned by a very nice couple.


A look around the front porch, and I'm liking what I see. I fell in love with a vintage tablecloth, but it was already sold.


This was the furniture barn, filled with gorgeous antiques and vintage furniture.

This collection reminded me of Laura @ White Spray Paint.


And at last, I found an antique wicker table that I liked. Liked the cowboy figurine, too.

What do you think? Do you think that I should buy the table and restore it, or should I keep looking?
********
A LovelyAward
Definition of "lovely": appealing to the emotions as well as the eye.
It was a total surprise last night when I got a comment from a dear reader saying that she had an award for me on her blog. Helena from Helena Halme was kind enough to pass "The Lovely Blog "award along to me, after receiving the award herself. She is originally from Finland, but now living in England and her blog is lovely indeed, and I can understand why she received this award. Please pay her a visit when you have time. Thank you so much for this honor, Helene! She said that all I had to do to accept this award was pass it on to some of my favorite blogs. That is not an easy task, since there are so many that are my favorites, and so many who already have this award. But I have to pick five, so here goes.


Cloudia @ Comfort Spiral

Congrats , you all certainly deserve this award!
Now, please pass this lovely award to five of your faves.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Seafood Stuffed Bell Peppers + Bayou Blues

A friend gave me a bunch of bell peppers from his garden and I rushed over to my seafood market and bought everything to make these divinely delicious stuffed peppers. Crab meat, shrimp, and crawfish, yes thank you very much. You can never have enough of these 3 in your freezer! I've been making these for 30 years and God only knows where I got the recipe. But I know one thing, they are sinfully good! Cest bon, cher! Bon Appetit!!

Seafood Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 medium bell peppers
1/2 stick butter
1/2 lb. lump crab meat
1/2 lb. small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb. peeled crawfish tails
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup each of the trinity, (onions, bell peppers, and celery)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
Few good shakes Tabasco
Salt to taste
1- 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut tops off bell peppers and wash and remove seeds. Par boil in large pot of salty water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In large skillet, saute crawfish, shrimp, and the trinity in butter for 10 minutes. Add crab meat, seasonings, salt and Tabasco and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs and cheese and mix thoroughly. Stuff peppers and top with cheese and place in a shallow baking dish. Add 1 cup of water to bottom of the shallow baking dish and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. If you don't have crawfish, they are just as good with shrimp and crab.

*******
Weekend Fun

It was a great weekend and now I'm rev-ing up for a really fun week, coming up in Cajun Country! On Wednesday, it's a friend's birthday party and see below for Thursday and Friday. I know, it doesn't leave much time for cooking , so I will be eating out, this week!

On Thursday, October 1st, River Ranch will host "Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys", at "Rockin' on the River" as part of their Fall concert series. Don't miss this fabulous dance band, playing all your Cajun faves.

Then on Friday, October 2, Bach Lunch kicks off it's Fall Friday lunch concert series at 11:30 am, in Parc Sans Souci, in downtown Lafayette. Les Freres Michot will entertain the crowd with their highly spirited Cajun tunes.

And then on Friday night, at the Downtown Alive T.G.I.F block party, this week's band, "Henry Gray and the Cats" will be playing the blues, in Parc International. Here's a little preview of this fabulous band, playing at The Louisiana Music Factory, in New Orleans, during this year's Jazz Fest! Enjoy! Can't wait, see ya'll there!! Let the good times roll, cher!



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spicy Chicken Sauce Piquante' + Tour of the Swamp


Since I am having company for dinner tomorrow, I thought that I would make this fabulous chicken recipe that has become a family favorite, at my house. I am using a whole cut up fryer, but it works just as well with chicken breasts. The zesty flavors in this spicy, succulent dish combine to make this Cajun meal one that your guests will long remember. Oh, cest bon, cher! Bon Appetit! 


Spicy Chicken Sauce Piquante'

1 whole cut up fryer chicken
or 6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each bell peppers and celery, chopped
1 tbs. minced garlic
1 (6 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes w/ juice
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs.'s Cajun seasoning
Few shakes Tabasco sauce
2 tbs.'s Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup green onions
1/4 cup fresh parsley

Season chicken thoroughly with Cajun seasoning and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce. Cover with foil and marinate in fridge, for 1 hour.
In heavy dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat and saute seasoned chicken until golden brown. (about 10 minutes on each side) Remove from oil and set aside.

Add flour to the pot, using a wire whisk, and stir continuously until a medium brown roux is reached. Add tomato sauce, slowly, and continue to stir for 5 minutes, until sauce is a rich reddish brown color. Add a little water, if needed.



Add onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic and saute and stir for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir until well blended and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add chicken, salt, Tabasco,, and more Cajun seasoning. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.



Add green onions and parsley and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice with a big tossed salad and French bread. Oh cest bon, cher! Le Bon Manger!

******
Thought that ya'll might enjoy a little tour of a Louisiana swamp for dessert!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Fall Festival Time! + Cajun Bread Pudding

It's fall festival time in Cajun Country and that means fun time ! We've got the annual Sugarcane Festival going on in New Iberia, La., this weekend, that celebrates everything sweet. You'll want to be sure and make a pass over there, cher!

A fabulous entertainment line-up including , Mike and the Rockets and Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie. After Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ruined the sugarcane crop last year, this year's cane is a bumper crop, taller than I've ever seen it. So the farmers have a lot to be thankful for at this year's festival. For a complete schedule go here.

And don't forget about Downtown Alive on Friday night, beginning at 6 p.m., in Parc Souci, featuring, "David Egan and the " 20 Years of Trouble Band". This fantastic group of musicians will have you dancin' up a storm with plenty of bayou blues tunes and a few good jitterbugs. Come on out and enjoy everything that Acadiana has to offer, great music, great food, and great times. Let the good times roll!

Here is a little sample clip of one of Acadiana's best keyboard players, David Egan, jamming at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette, with Tab Benoit on guitar. Can't wait! see ya'll there!!!


video

********
And I wanted to share this great recipe for a quick and easy, old fashioned Cajun bread pudding. So delicious with morning coffee or tea and perfect on any Fall brunch or dinner table. Enjoy!


Cajun Bread Pudding

1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple w/ juice
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 loaf of "day old " French bread
6 0z. melted butter
3 lg. eggs
1 large can Pet milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp.'s cinnamon

Place the pineapple and raisins in a bowl, . Break up the French bread in a large bowl and pour milk over and blend gently. Let stand for 1 hour, then drain excess milk. Add the butter and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the Pet milk, vanilla, and the sugars, fold in pineapple and raisins and add mixture to the bread . Mix with a large spoon, until blended. Transfer mixture into a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cest bon, cher! Great plain, but I sometimes make a simple lemon glaze (recipe to follow), but any kind of glaze would be a wonderful addition.

Lemon Sauce

In a medium bowl, beat an egg white until frothy. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tbs.'s lemon juice and a dash of salt. Beat well and drizzle over warm bread pudding. Sinfully good!

 
Looking For Cajun Products? Look No Further : Cajun Supermarket

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Visit with Cuz + New Orleans Beat

Although today might be officially the first day of Fall, we are still in summer mode in Cajun Country, with temps. around 90, for highs and 70, for lows. It's a lovely time of year, warm, but not hot, and mornings and evenings are nice. I am thankful for this extra month of summer and all it embraces, including being able to wear flip flops, swim, and go boating. I would love to live somewhere, where it would be summer all year long. That somewhere would have to have Cajun cuisine, music, and people, of course.


*******



 
I dropped by my dear cousin's house for a little visit the other day, and as usual, Cuz was busy working in her beautiful yard. It is one of her passions and she was definitely born with a green thumb. The patio was a bit too sunny, so we retreated to her lovely, shady porch for a few glasses of wine and a little music. I brought my cd's, so I picked one of my faves,"La Toussaint".


I was in the mood for some Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Their La Toussaint album is fabulous and has several of my favorite songs on it. Since Cuz has music piped out to the yard, it was a most enjoyable afternoon. Here is a shot of her pond that she built herself, complete with 12'' long goldfish under those lily pads.


******
Here is a clip of my favorite song on the La Toussaint CD, "New Orleans Beat" Crank it up for this one. Enjoy! Happy Fall , Ya'll !!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is a Cajun? + Bayou Boogie










  • What is a Cajun?

    Between the hills of North Louisiana and the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, lives the Cajun. Among the marshes and the bayous, the tall oaks and whispering moss, he carries on the traditions of his hardy French, Nova Scotian ancestors, les Acadiens, whose deportation and flight from persecution brought them to the lush Louisiana soil over two centuries ago.
    (click to enlarge)
      A Cajun likes fiddles and accordions in his music, plenty of pepper and spice in his food, shrimp and fish in his nets, speed in his horses and boats, neighborliness in his neighbors, and lots of love in his home. A Cajun likes to dance and laugh and sing when his hard week of work is done. And on Sunday, he likes to go to church to refresh his spirit and keep his always sustaining faith.

      A Cajun dislikes people who don't laugh enough, fish enough, or enjoy all of the good things God has given to Cajun country. He doesn't like to be hurried when he's resting, or distracted when he's working. He doesn't like to see people unhappy, and he'll do all he can or give all he has to bring a smile to a face stricken with sadness.


      A link with a proud past, a Cajun is a man of tolerance who will let the world go its way, if the world will let him go his. He is full of great friendliness, and will give you the crawfish off his table, the sac-au-lait off his hook, or the shirt off his back. If he likes you, he'll give you his whole wide world. If he doesn't, he'll give you a wide berth, or the toe of his boot!

      A Cajun can be as stubborn as a mule and as onery as an alligator. If he sets his mind on something, he'll fight an alligator before he'll yield to your opinions. You'd just as well argue with a fence post, as to try and change his mind. He carved out Acadiana, by hand, from the uncultivated swamps and marshes and prairies. He can work as hard and as long as any man.


      But when the work is done and the argument ended, a Cajun can sweep you right into a wonderful world of "joie de vivre" with an accordion chorus, a good gumbo, and a handful of little words, laissez les bon temps rouler! He loves a good time and celebrates with many festivals and a fais do do. He loves to eat and to cook the way his ancestors did so many years ago.

      A Cajun has as many ingredients in his blood as Mama's gumbo, and his virtues are many. He has tolerance for those who earn it, charity for those who need it, a smile for those who return it, and love for all who share it ! He likes to have fun and enjoy life and has the joie de vivre in his soul. So what is a Cajun? All these things and more! 


      Adapted from "What is a Cajun"? - Hamm, 1972

      ********************************************************************************************************
      My favorite festival, Festival Acadiens et Creole, is right around the corner. Here's a little clip that I took
      from atop a picnic table, at last year's festival, just to give you an idea of the good times coming right up! Let the good times roll!


      video

      Friday, September 18, 2009

      Cajun Spice Cake w/ Praline Icing

      With the official start of Fall just days away, I decided to bake one of my favorite cakes to usher in this splendid season. This cake is sinfully delicious and it's only fair to warn you that it will be hard, if not impossible, to eat only one piece. I could barely control myself, while making the icing, and had to lick the spoon and the bowl, after adding it to this wonderfully moist cake. Ahh, the flavors of Fall, so rich and decadent! Cest bon, cher! Enjoy!

      Cajun Spice Cake

       2 1/2 cups flour
      1 tsp. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. cinnamon
      1/2 tsp. ground cloves
      1/4 tsp. nutmeg
      1/4 tsp. salt
      2 cups brown sugar (1 sm. box)
      1 cup butter, softened
      4 eggs
      1 8 oz. carton sour cream
      1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
      1 tsp. vanilla extract

      Beat the butter and cream cheese with electric mixer. Add sugar gradually and continue mixing until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, until just blended. Combine flour, and next 6 ingredients and mix well. Add to butter mixture, alternating with sour cream. Add vanilla and stir till blended. Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. (I use Baker's Joy) Bake @ 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

      ******
      Praline Icing

      1 cup light brown sugar
      1/2 cup butter
      1/4 cup milk
      1 cup confectioners sugar
      1 tsp. almond extract
      3/4 cup chopped pecans

      In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil. Boil for one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add pecans and continue to stir for about 3 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken. Pour onto cooled cake. Makes 1 1/2 cups. This is a divinely delicious icing and could be used on a variety of different cakes. Worth the calories, I promise you, cher!



      Have a great weekend, everyone!

      Wednesday, September 16, 2009

      Double-Header Zydeco Breakfast !

      There's a great little cafe in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana that has the most wonderful Cajun breakfasts. I've been there many times and was there on a Saturday in August, when Joe Hall and the Canecutters were playing. Cafe' Des Amis is one of those quaint Cajun places where you can get a good breakfast and hear live music and dance, too. You'll find all of your favorite Cajun breakfast delights, such as couche-couche, grilled boudin patties, pain perdu, or beignets and of course, lots of strong Louisiana coffee. Or try Eggs Arnaud, eggs your way with grilled boudin patties, or homemade bisquits topped with crawfish etoufee. And maybe a Cajun Bloody Mary or an Abita beer or two.

      After this fabulous breakfast, you are asked to move your chairs aside to make room for the dancers that didn't quite get enough dancing in on Friday night. Every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 11:30 am, the popular restaurant hosts a Zydeco band, that is guaranteed to get your Cajun or non Cajun blood pumping, for sure! Very aerobic and so much fun! Perfect for working off that rich, decadent breakfast. Believe me when I tell you that it is a blast! True to Cajun tradition, the cafe' caters to locals and visitors alike. Conveniently located off I-10 East, at 140 E. Bridge Street, in Breaux Bridge. For a complete schedule and menu, click here. Hope ya'll pass a good time. Let the good times roll, cher!




      Monday, September 14, 2009

      South of the Border Chili w/ Jalapeno Cornbread

      It was a rainy weekend in Cajun Country and I was in the mood to cook. With guests over to watch the Saints game, on Sunday, I cooked one of my favorite tailgating recipes. This spicy, bursting with flavor, chili is one of my faves that I have tweaked through the years. It is a true comfort food and satisfies the soul. This recipe's name doesn't mean south of the border in Mexico, but rather south of La. Highway 14, in Abbeville, where I first learned how to cook chili. La. Hwy. 14 is the border for evacuations during hurricanes. If you live south of this road, you must evacuate, since this area is prone to flooding. Serve with jalapeno cornbread and a few cold beers! Hot and spicy, cher!

      South of the Border Chili

      1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
      1 large onion, chopped
      1 green bell pepper,chopped
      3 ribs celery, chopped
      1/2 cup fresh cilantro,chopped
      2 tbs.'s minced garlic
      1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
      1 can pinto or chili beans
      1 (15 oz.) can tomato puree
      1 (15 oz. ) can diced tomatoes, with juice
      1 cup jar or homemade salsa
      3 small cans tomato sauce
      1/2 cup water
      1/8 cup chili powder
      1 tsp. ground cumin
      2 tbs.'s Cajun seasoning, divided
      1 tsp. salt

      In large heavy pot, on medium heat, brown ground beef and sprinkle with 1 tbs. Cajun seasoning. Add "the trinity", (onions, peppers, and celery), garlic, cilantro a
      nd jalapeno peppers, and stir with beef for 10 minutes and drain excess oil.




      Return to heat and add Worcestershire sauce and stir. Add water, diced tomatoes, and salsa, and stir and cook for 10 minutes.




      Add beans, tomato sauce, tomato puree, salt, cumin, chili powder, and other tbs. Cajun seasoning, and mix well. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for one hour or more.

      Serve with a scoop of hot cooked rice and jalapeno cornbread. Serves 6 Enjoy!
      Bon Appetit!

      Jalapeno Cornbread

      2 large eggs
      1 cup buttermilk
      1 cup vegetable oil
      1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
      1 tbs. baking powder
      1/2 tsp. baking soda
      1 tsp. salt
      1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
      1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced, with seeds removed

      In a large bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and oil. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased cast iron skillet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
      Melts in your mouth, cher! Cest bon!

      Saturday, September 12, 2009

      A Cajun Food & Drink Diary- Part II


      Although I ate a lot of fantastic food, while on vacation, after a week without Cajun food, you might say that I was craving it!

      This was my welcome home dinner. Shrimp stew with chocolate bread pudding for dessert! Cest' bon, cher!


      The next night, we went to Agave Mexican Restaurant for happy hour and had a round of their fabulous Margaritas. I had an envie for some Shrimp En Brochette, so we walked next door to Stan's Downtown and had a delightful drink on the patio, and ordered the brochette to go.. I had a Cherry Blossom, while we were waiting.








      By this time, I was craving a salad and went to The Filling Station Pub and Grille for lunch the next day, and had the Shrimp Stuffed Avocado, (my favorite) with a nice glass of wine.





      Then by Friday, I was ready for a Shrimp Poboy and headed downtown to Dwyer's Cafe.





      So you can see that I haven't been missing any meals, and have been making up for lost time. Cest bon, cher! The life of a Cajun is oh, so good and there's no place like home!

      Thursday, September 10, 2009

      Time for Downtown Alive + Bayou Boogie

      It's that time again in Cajun country! Time for Lafayette's favorite Friday night "T.G.I.F." block party. The 26th annual Fall concert schedule has been released and it looks like one big jammin' line- up. The fun all starts on Friday, September 11, and runs every Friday evening through Nov. 20, with a special lagniappe edition on Thanksgiving eve, November 25!



      Kicking off this fantastic party will be T.K. Hulin, Steve Adams and Smoke, with special guest, Charlene Howard. For a complete schedule go here. Oh the memories with this one- of- a- kind band. T.K. is a local Cajun legend and his distinctive Swamp Pop sound continues to attract huge crowds in Acadiana. Come on out for a bon temps and get into the Fall festival spirit.

      We have a lot of great festivals coming right up, including Festival Acadiens et Creole, my favorite, slated to run from Friday, October 10 through Sunday, October 12, in Girard Park in Lafayette. This Cajun Woodstock is one that you don't want to miss! See ya'll there! Let the good times roll, cher!


       ********
      Here's a little clip of a Downtown Alive party that I took at the Spring 09' series. Enjoy!

      Marcia Ball
       

      video

      Tuesday, September 8, 2009

      Mama's Cornmeal Biscuits + Giveaway Winner !


      On the first cool morning of the year, my dear mother would always make these luscious, melt in-your mouth biscuits. The sweet aroma would fill the house and lead everyone to the kitchen for breakfast. These heavenly, cornmeal biscuits were out of this world, especially served with her homemade fig preserves. Easy and delicious! Cest' bon, cher! 


      Mama's Cornmeal Biscuits
        
      1 1/2 cups flour
      1/2 cup cornmeal
      3 tsp.'s baking powder
      1 tbsp. sugar
      1/4 tsp. salt
      1/4 cup butter
      1/2 cup milk, plus a little more if needed


      Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture becomes coarse. Stir in milk. (dough will be stiff)



      Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a 3 inch round biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve with homemade jam or preserves. Serves 4.


      *****
      Giveaway Winner!

      After a fabulous vacation, it's so good to be back home ! It's surprisingly not too hot and there is a bit of Fall in the air, which is unusual for this early in the year, in Cajun Country. Thanks to all of you who visited and left comments on my posts, while I was away. There were 26 entries in the Cajun Spice Giveaway and the winner was randomly selected. I am delighted to announce that we have a winner!!!

      And the winner is............Kat of "At the Compound"!
      Kat's a great lady and has an interesting blog about family life in northern Alabama. Congratulations Kat! Please send me an email with your address and I will get this Cajun lagniappe package into the mail for you. Enjoy!