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Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

Doing a slow boil

I love my husband for many reasons, among them his ability to spot interesting foods and eateries.

Which is pretty remarkable given his upbringing. He was raised in a very traditional southern family and his mama’s fried chicken, pork chops, squash casserole and macaroni and cheese outshines Paula Deen’s any day of the week. But her recipe repertoire is pretty limited – I suspect that is due in large part to the picky palates of her family and the tight budget she had to work with when her children were young. 

Case in point: when we married, my husband had never tasted broccoli.

Seriously.

However, he was more than willing to try new foods, and has been our longtime intrepid food scout, always looking for new and unusual foods and venues.  (Like ordering barnacles in Portugal.  But that’s another story, for another timezone.) 

We moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1985. At some point soon after we arrived on the scene, Mr. Official spotted a hole-in-the-wall place called “The Cajun Boiling Pot” and suggested we try it.

Just as I remember it

 The interior was quintessential strip-mall diner: worn linoleum floor, heavily varnished (and slightly greasy) pine paneled booths with ripped vinyl padded seats and formica-plated tabletops.  A little dark, a little dingy but filled with contented diners.

The menu choices were unlike any we had ever seen, so we plunged in and ordered a family-style boiled dinner.   We had no idea what we were doing but the zydeco music was playing and the smell was intoxicating.

The waiter spread newspaper on our table, and dumped steaming hot food on it: spicy boiled crawfish, shrimp, corn on the cob, new potatoes, and sausage, much like this photo.

A wood mallet and small forks were our only utensils.  We looked around at the other diners, looked at each other, shrugged and dove in, and didn’t stop eating until it was gone.

Yum.

We went back several times while we lived in the area.  I hear it has since closed.  But it has never left our memories.  We’ve never found anything quite like it around here, but I did some research and discovered a bit of the history and background on seafood boils.  What we experienced was pretty authentic to the Louisiana-style boiling pots.  In South Carolina, the name and ingredients change slightly: Frogmore Stew, Beaufort Boil, or Low-country Boil.  They all refer to a similar dish, with no crawfish or hot sauce, and emphasis on the shrimp.

I brought home the ingredients for a seafood boil the other day.  Not as good as just-caught shrimp and fresh Andouille sausage, but tasty, nonetheless.   A boil is easy; the following is enough for 4-6 generous servings.

4 quarts water
juice from one lemon (you can also add the remaining rinds if you like)
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (more to taste)
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (more or less to taste)
1/2 pound small new red potatoes
1 pound Andouille or kielbasa sausage
2 ears fresh sweet corn, broken into 2-3 pieces each
1 pound (or more to taste) raw shrimp in the shell
1/2-1 pound crab legs (optional)

additional lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, sour cream, hot sauce, butter

Bring water, lemon juice, and seasoning to a boil in a large stockpot (we have also used our turkey fryer outdoors and doubled the when we’re cooking for a crowd.)  Taste and adjust seasonings before adding other ingredients (you want it to be fairly spicy or the food will be bland – trust me on this.)

Add the potatoes, corn and sausage and cook until done (10-15 minutes.)  Add shrimp and crab legs; boil for a couple minutes (do not overcook), then strain and place on clean newspaper or waxed paper.  Hand out plates and napkins; serve with chunks of warm crusty bread and butter.  Lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, butter and sour cream are definitely nice-to-have on hand, too.

Happy adventuring,

(Photo of The Cajun Boiling Pot courtesy of tulsainsite.com)

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Recipe of the Week: Crab Wedges

Since we’re enjoying spring break in the “Fishing and Seafood Capital of the East Coast” this week, here’s a recipe for an appetizer that showcases my personal favorite seafood, crab. (And finally puts something in the “appetizers” section of my recipe box page!)

I first encountered these hors d’oeuvre at a college professor’s home when he invited a group of students and spouses/significant others over for a get-together, and it was our host who produced them. I immediately requested the recipe, which he graciously shared.

Crab Wedges

Ingredients:
1 3-ounce package cream cheese,  softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (unsalted; do not substitute margarine), room temperature
1/8 cup finely chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup Cracker Barrel or other sharp cheddar, finely grated
1 6.5-ounce can crabmeat, drained or 1/2 pound cooked meat from crab claws
3-4 English muffins, split open

Directions:
Mix together cream cheese and butter.  Add onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic dry mustard and cheese; mix well.  Fold in crab meat. Spread on English muffin halves.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Use a pizza cutter to slice each English muffin into sixths.  Serve warm.  Makes 36-48 wedges.

Happy eating!

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Our final week of celebrating soup month, and I might have just saved the best for last!

Several years ago, Mr. Official and I traveled to New Orleans for our anniversary, and had an amazing time even though the weather was a little nippy. One of the restaurants we visited was Arnaud’s, a venerable French Quarter establishment known for its world-famous remoulade sauce. They served Mr. Official a particularly wonderful oyster soup. (Side note : oyster soup or stew is a Christmas Eve traditional dish for Catholics and especially in areas where fresh oysters are plentiful…places like New Orleans.) The restaurant was kind enough to email the recipe to me after we left. Merci beacoup, Chef Tommy! If you are a fan of oyster soup (or stew), this one is definitely bowl-worthy.

Arnaud’s Oyster Soup

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups water
2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, drained
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions:
Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add oysters and cook for 3 minutes. Remove oysters with a slotted spoon and reserve 3 cups liquid. Set both aside.

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook celery, green onions and onion in 1 tablespoon butter, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in 2 1/2 cups reserved broth, plus garlic, thyme, red pepper and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Stir in whipping cream; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in milk and return to simmer. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly, then about 3 minutes or until smooth (mixture will be very thick.) Gradually add flour mixture to milk mixture, stirring with a wire whisk until blended. Add oysters, salt and white pepper. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and ladle into warm soup plates. Serves 4-6

Happy soup-ing,
Terry

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