Tag Archives: Cajun cooking

Potato Salad with almost everything, paquing eggs and things Cajuns do

A few years ago, a friend of mine who was born or raised in Shreveport, called me and said “I have to ask you a question”.  It was Christmas time  and they had gone to her husband’s Christmas party and it had been catered by a catering company from South Louisiana.  She says “The food was good.  They served jambalaya and gumbo and…and…potato salad.  No barbecue. Did they get confused?”  I laughed first and then told her that Cajuns eat potato salad with nearly everything.  Etouffee…potato salad.  Chicken fricassee…potato salad.  Rice and gravy and..yes, potato salad.  This falls under the list of things that I never considered abnormal.  Actually, I never considered it at all.  I love potato salad with most stuff and thought my family must like it this way.  Nope.  Apparently it is a colloquial thing.  I will not say it is a “Cajun” thing or a “South Louisiana” thing.  I have had some people say “you are from Alexandria and that is not South Louisiana.”  Fair enough.  I have had people say “Alexandria and Marksville are both considered Central Louisiana”.  Ya’ll…I am not going to claim to know.  I think being Cajun is more a state of mind.  I know people who live in Baton Rouge who don’t consider themselves Cajun.  I have explained before that my family are first generation Alexandrians.  This means, my parents were both born and raised in Avoyelles Parish (Marksville by the way of Blue Town and Broulliette to be precise) and moved to Alex. after getting married.  So, we did most things, cooked most things, adhered to the customs that their families adhered too.  So, I will not claim to know why we eat potato salad with more things than not.  I don’t know where this comes from.  I just know that I grew up thinking it was just what you did and I love me some potato salad and I never questioned it.

So today, I am going to tell ya’ll how I make my potato salad.  I imagine most of ya’ll have a potato salad recipe, but some of you may not.  Maybe you need a little potato salad inspiration.  I know my Momou and Momee made very similar yet distinctly different potato salads.  I liked them both and now my potato salad combines the best of both worlds.  My favorite potato salad memory is the colored eggs that ended up in the potato salad on Easter Sunday.  We would paque eggs and the loser eggs would be peeled and then put in the potato salad.  I always thought it was fun and colorful as a kiddo.  I know that potato salad always tasted so good with the cuchon de lait and dirty rice.  Bring on the colorful potato salad.  For those who may not know what paque (pronounced “pock”) eggs means…that is where you hold a dyed Easter egg in your hand and someone else does the same and you knock the tops of the eggs together.  If you crack their egg, you win and vice versa.  It was good Easter fun I tell you.  My kids love to paque some eggs.  Anyhow, back to potato salad.  Momou’s potato salad was always a little more yellow than Momee’s.  Her potatoes were always a little more substantial where as the potatoes in Momee’s were a little softer, a little more mashed.  Her potato salad usually had some pickles or pickle relish in it.  Momou’s had more pepper in it.  Mine falls somewhere in between the two and I tend to add Tony’s to mine, like my Daddy does.  I remember making potato salad in college and after we got married and BD would always say “yeah, something is missing. It is good but…”  Finally at 38, I think I am close to getting it the way we like it.  But we have much higher expectations for potato salad I do believe.  As I type this, I realize how much thought and effort seems to be put into it.  I guess when you eat something so frequently with so many main dishes, it should be good!!  Maybe it is just me?   Forgive me if I am taking liberties by preaching potato salad to ya’ll.  I do so love it and feel sad for anyone who might be at a loss about how to make it.  Or God forbid, buys it from the store?!!  I must stop that now.  If I can save one person from store bought potato salad, then my work here is done.  Namaste.  Peace on Earth.  Homemade potato salad for all!!!

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Posed at Momee’s house, right before or after I hunted some eggs.  I bet I paqued a few that day

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Another Easter Sunday at Momee’s…my parents and me and all 3 of my little sisters…I bet we ate potato salad with colored eggs in it that day

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Easter Sunday at Momou’s…Ben’s first Easter and his intro into paquing.  Pretty sure Momou won that match.

Cajun Mama’s Potato Salad 

Serves about 8 or 6 hungry Cajuns as the saying goes

Stuff you need~

4 medium size potatoes (I typically use Idahoan potatoes), washed and cut into equal sized pieces

4 eggs

salt and pepper

Tony’s

mayonnaise

mustard

What to do with the stuff~

Cut your potatoes into equal sized pieces.  I usually half the potato and then quarter the halves.  I peel the potatoes after they are boiled rather than before.  That is what my mom and dad did so I do the same.  Put your cut up potato pieces and the eggs in a pot and cover them amply with water.  Bring them to a boil and then reduce heat as needed but keep them at a low boil until the potatoes are fork tender  (for me typically about 20 minutes, give or take). You may prefer the potatoes to be less tender, so just use your judgement.   When you feel they are ready, drain the potatoes and eggs in a colander.  When you can, place the eggs in a bowl of cold water.  Peel the eggs.  Peel the potatoes.  Add both to a medium size bowl.  Now, add about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and start out with a few squirts of mustard.  Ya’ll, I wish I could be more precise but I go by how it looks (and tastes).  Definitely add in some kosher salt and pepper as you stir.  Stir in more mayo and mustard (gradually) and salt and pepper (a little Tony’s).  Continue to do this until you feel it is just right.  Or close.  It is definitely a trial and error process, or at least it has been for me.  When the potato salad is dressed and seasoned to your liking, sprinkle a little more Tony’s over the top for presentation.  Yes.  It is good.  Yes, it will go with almost anything.  Well…as far as I am concerned.  And it always tastes better with colored eggs on Easter Sunday.  Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

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I love some Dukes mayo in my potato salad (I prefer it to Hellman’s)

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It’s getting good…love it when the potatoes are still a little warm 

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Whatever the question…potato salad is a good answer

 

 

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Dianne’s Quick and Easy Crawfish Étouffée

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Big Daddy and his mama circa 1993(photo property of Lyndy Hartley Doskocil)

Some of you might ask “who is Dianne?” and some of you already know. What a lady. Such a great lady. Dianne Hartley Bowlin was Big Daddy’s mama. She passed away in 1994 and we miss her everyday. She was a spirited and strong lady full of conviction and a loud laugh that was contagious. She had beautiful brown eyes and a little button nose that I am so glad my girls inherited. She was a beautiful spirit that lives on everyday in so many ways.
And her recipes of course are one of those ways. She ended up a social worker but got her degree from NLU in home economics and she loved to cook. See, she passed before Big Daddy and I got together, but I knew her all my life. It’s a long story and one that I am proud of but it is an emotional story that is a blog post in and of itself. So, let’s just say, she was a part of my life since I was little and by the grace of God, she still is. Because I married her son and gave birth to her grandkids. She is known as Mammaw Dianne to them and she is very much a presence in their lives. My father in law remarried and I love my mother in law. Aka Deb aka Granny. None of this takes away her part in our lives. But to tell about this recipe, I must tell of Dianne. She had many great recipes, ones that I will share as time goes by but this is by far my favorite. It represents her in so many ways. Spicy, no fuss, practical and yet absolutely perfect in it’s simplicity. It is not an old Cajun recipe. I actually have no clue where it came from. I remember getting it when big daddy and I started dating and I fell in love (with him and this recipe). You make a potato salad and some French bread and just go on and you will be just right. With the Lenten season upon us, this is a great recipe to have. It is perfect for company or just to make for the fam on a Friday night. Please don’t judge this recipe by it’s surprise ingredients. They somehow end up making a truly delicious étouffée. Trust me on this one, ok? Dianne would be proud and I believe she is up in Heaven laughing her big laugh at the thought of a blog post all about her.

Dianne’s Quick and Easy Crawfish Étouffée

Serves about 6

Stuff you need~

1 stick of butter
1-12 ounce bag of seasoning blend
Tony’s to taste
2 cans Golden mushroom soup
1 can cream of mushroom
1 pound of crawfish tails (fat included…Good night do not forget the fat!!)
A bloop of ketchup
A bloop of mustard (I had to put that because the original recipe had that in it. Bloop. A squirt. And yes ketchup and mustard. I don’t know why but it works. Just go with it.)

What to do with the stuff~

In a large deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the seasoning blend and sauté until the veggies are tender. Add a little Tony’s at this point but don’t over do it. Now stir in the soups and let this cook on low heat for about 10 minutes or so to let the soups and seasoning blend get comfortable together and flavors blend. Stir in the crawfish tails. Now squeeze in the ketchup and mustard. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and give it a quick taste. It may need a little more ketchup and mustard. I usually add 2 bloops of each. Lol at bloops. That’s the funniest word! Ok anyway, let the étouffée simmer for about 20
minutes while the flavors blend aka the time while the rice finishes cooking. Give it another taste and add a few shakes of Tony’s if you think it needs it. Serve it up over rice and let the good times roll. Don’t forget your potato salad and the French bread. Ooh Cher, it’s gonna be good yeah!

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bloop!

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pretty little veggies getting all tender

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bloop bloop bloop

Cajun Mama Red Beans and Rice and clean sheets: A Monday Tradition

Red beans in the crockpot is one of the very first things I learned to cook. My mom was working as a nurse full time and I helped out with the meals. She would call me during the summer and talk me through the process so I could get them on in the morning. In college, I didn’t have a crockpot so I would make red beans own the stove. It just wasn’t the same but I did it. I have always loved red beans and rice but it wasn’t until I was married (I got my big ole red beans crockpot! As I call it) and pregnant with my first child that I developed a deep appreciation (some would call it obsession) with crockpot red beans. And consequently, I craved them throughout all 4 pregnancies. Guess because I was growing some Cajun bebes. 👶 Anyway, the old Cajun saying is red beans and rice and sheet washing on Mondays. I don’t always abide by that but it is definitely a great way to think. I have not researched into where that saying got its start, but I have the theory. My theory is that Mondays generally just stink. Not see if it was always discussed with such disdain as it is now, but pretty sure Mondays have been earning their bad rep since way back when. So what better way to counteract the negative impact of a Monday than with a pot of red beans and some fresh sheets? I am sure there is far more to it, but that is my hunch. I have had some requests for me to post the recipe on my blog so I am honoring the requests.
Updated 6/12/14
When I was growing up, Momou made some pickled sweet peppers and would keep them in this little glass container. My daddy would pour the juice over his red beans. I have her recipe for her peppers and she gave me one of the little containers when I got married but I have not worked up the courage to attempt to make them. I will though. So for now I buy banana pepper rings and they are awesome. If you like a little kick to your beans (authentic kick at that) then banana peppers are amazing!! ~AMB

Cajun Mama Red Beans and Rice 

Ingredients 

1 bag of red beans (I only use Camellia beans)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 package of sausage, sliced (I use Eckrich skinless sausage)

Directions

Soak your beans in the crockpot overnight. The next morning drain the water and cover beans with fresh water plus some. Add veggies. Add salt and pepper, at this point use sparingly. You can add more later as necessary.)
Cook for 6 hours on low. After this, add sausage and more salt and pepper if desired. Again use sparingly as sausage will add salt to the flavor. Cook for another hour on low. Season to taste and then serve. Yum! Enjoy!!!

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Red beans and rice…so perfectly simple or simply perfect?