Creole Soup with Ham and Crayfish

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May 2010


Recipe Preparation

Nutritional Content

One serving contains the following: Calories (kcal) 361.0 %Calories from Fat 52.8 Fat (g) 21.2 Saturated Fat (g) 8.4 Cholesterol (mg) 120.5 Carbohydrates (g) 26.0 Dietary Fiber (g) 3.1 Total Sugars (g) 7.9 Net Carbs (g) 22.9 Protein (g) 19.5

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CRAYFISH BISQUE A LA CREOLE (La Cuisine Creole, 1885)

Wash the crayfishes, boil and drain them. Separate the heads from the tails.

Clean out some of the heads, allowing two or three heads to each person.

Peel the tails. Chop up a part of them, add to them some bread, onions, salt, black pepper and an egg or two. With this dressing, stuff the heads that you have cleaned out.

Chop the claws and the parts adhering to them. Fry a little garlic, onions, ham, one turnip, one carrot, and a little flour add some water, the chopped claws, a few tomatoes, thyme, sweet bay, parsley and a little rice, stirring often to avoid scorching.

When well boiled, strain through a colander. After straining, put back to the fire and season to taste.

Put the stuffed heads into the oven until brown.

When ready to serve, put them and the tails aside in a soup dish and pour the soup over them. Before serving, add a little butter and nutmeg, stirring until the butter is melted.

Classic Seafood Recipes & Fish Recipes


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This creamy banana pudding is made Southern Style! You might want to make an extra batch, as people will most likely be coming back for seconds.

Cooking Tips:

  1. Pumpkin substitute: At the last minute, you find that you thought you had pumpkin for a recipe, then you find out you don't. You might just have some sweet potatoes! Sweet potatoes are a good substitute for pumpkin, and pumpkin is a good substitute for sweet potatoes (In certain recipes) .
  2. Pie Crust: If you are having trouble with your crust browning too soon around the rim, place some tin foil around it prevent burning.
  3. Frying Turkey: If you are frying a turkey, please use precautions, and the correct type of oil. Peanut oil is the best oil to use as it has a lower flash point, and doesn't catch on fire as easily as other oils. NEVER fry a turkey indoors!
  4. Injecting a Turkey: There are several Cajun marinades (and others) that come with an injector to add more flavor. Personally, I like the marinades that Tony Chachere makes.

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Creole Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee (pron: Ay-too-fay) is sometimes mistaken for Crawfish Stew. The difference between Cajun cooking and Creole cooking is Cajun food is more "country" cooking and Creole food is more refined "city" or French cooking. The Cajuns used roux's and heavy seasoning whereas, the Creoles used delicate, rich creams and their food was lighter in color and taste. This is a fine example of Creole Crawfish Etouffee. Compare the ingredients and photographs to my Crawfish Stew recipe.

1/4 pound butter
4 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green peppers
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half-and-half
4 lbs crawfish tail meat

Melt butter in large heavy-duty pot. Add onions, peppers, garlic and all seasonings. Saute, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add flour and mix thoroughly for 1 minute, stirring often. Add whipping cream and half-and-half. Cook until cream thickens but does not boil, stirring often.

Add crawfish tails. Stirring often, cook until meat and vegetables are done. Crawfish may be substituted for shrimp.

4 lbs crawfish tails
2 can cream of mushroom soup
2 can cream of celery soup
2 lg onion, chopped
2 bunch green onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 tbs parsley, chopped
2 sticks butter
Tony's seasonings

Saute' onions, green onions, and garlic in butter in a pot until onions are browned and wilted. Stir in cream of celery and cream of mushroom. Increase heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in crawfish and Tony's seasoning. Cook for about 10 minutes and reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle parsley on top. Serve over hot rice.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Just last week I was telling a good friend that I had plans to make a shrimp and okra gumbo for the weekend. Without hesitation, she asked, “Cajun gumbo or Creole gumbo?” Oh, here I go again. After a 10-minute explanation, I could see my friend regretted even asking the question. But, it is a difficult subject, and one that has engaged the highest level of scholarly study. If you have a bit shy of ten minutes, pour another cup of coffee and hear me out.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo blends the best of Cajun cooking and Creole cooking in one delicious bowl. (All photos credit: George Graham)

So what is the difference between Cajun cooking and Creole cooking? For a Louisiana food writer covering Cajun and Creole cooking, that’s akin to asking, “what’s in a gumbo?” There is no clear answer, and that is the beauty of the culture and cuisine. At the risk of becoming embroiled in culinary controversy, let me shed some light on this long and sometimes heated debate.

The difference between the two is most easily explained by looking at the two cultures and their geography. Europeans of wealth and stature settled in the city of New Orleans and brought with them a palate for more gentrified cuisine reminiscent of their French, Spanish or English roots. Over time, servants and cooks of African descent learned these sophisticated recipes and techniques and blended them with their spicy, herb-infused cooking. Before long, tastes mingled into a soulful mix that became the defining taste of Creole. Cooking with tomatoes, cream, butter, cheeses and other more refined ingredients led to the rich cuisine for which New Orleans has become famous. French sauce techniques helped define dishes like shrimp remoulade, trout meunière, oysters Bienville, crabmeat ravigote and so many other great Creole dishes. And those classic European dishes were joined by down home Creole foods like gumbo z’herbes, smoky red beans and rice, dishes spiked with okra, as well as a tomato-infused version of jambalaya.

Meanwhile, in the marshes of southwest Louisiana a different sort of culinary evolution was taking place. In 1755, the expulsion of the French Acadians from Nova Scotia by the British resulted in the migration of thousands of families to the wetlands of southern Louisiana. All along the Gulf coast and northward into the prairie region of Acadiana, settlers put down roots. These were not people of wealth, but simple farming families. To survive, they trapped, fished and hunted for food, and applied their basic rural French culinary skills to simple Cajun recipes that fit their palate. Settlers along the coastal parishes made their livelihood by shrimping, crabbing, and harvesting oysters further inland, farming the flatlands with sugarcane and rice as predominant crops led to Cajun recipes using all of these indigenous ingredients. The Atchafalaya Basin was a wild source for crawfish, and eventually the rice fields were flooded after the harvest for farming crawfish in a controlled aquaculture environment. Over time, the Germans settled into the region north of Lafayette and brought with them sausage-making and smokehouse skills that blended beautifully into the gumbo of flavors we now know as Cajun cooking.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo is a recipe that links the cultures of Louisiana.

Family plays an important part in Cajun foodways. Even today, celebrations erupt whenever families come together to cook a whole hog. The boucherie and the cochon de lait are French traditions that are important to the Cajun way of life. Even crawfish boils are family celebrations that bring people together over food. Food is a key ingredient of the joie de vivre of living in South Louisiana.

I’ve heard Cajun food described as a basic and unrefined method of rustic, rural, farm cooking. I disagree. To me, that description shortchanges the talent and taste of the culinary art of the French Acadians. I believe the evolution of this distinctly original cuisine is based on artisan techniques handed down for generations and preserved as a cultural treasure. Pride and passion for Cajun cooking are as much defining elements of the people as the music, dance and language. Deep, dark gumbos, spicy tasso, rich crawfish étouffée and black-iron pot rice and gravy are original Cajun recipes steeped in historical reverence for a culture that endures.

But, the explanation doesn’t end there.

I contend that over time Cajun and Creole cuisines have converged into a unique, cross-cultural cuisine that is represented throughout Louisiana. The holy trinity of spices–onion, bell pepper, and celery–is the divine starting point of both cuisines. Okra appears often in gumbos on both sides of the Atchafalaya Basin, and a bowl of creamy red beans with smoked andouille is a link that deliciously bridges the two cultures. The beauty of eating in Louisiana is the blending of flavors into unexpected and surprisingly unique dishes.

Let the debate end. What’s the true Louisiana cuisine? Who cares? The blurring of the lines of distinction of these two cultures has resulted in a truly original, one-of-a-kind cuisine. To celebrate and illustrate this union, I offer up a steaming hot bowl of shrimp and okra gumbo.

One bite and you will clearly understand.

Freshly cut okra adds a Creole touch to this Cajun recipe for Shrimp and Okra Gumbo.

CRAYFISH BISQUE: A CREOLE DISH (La Cuisine Creole, 1885)

Parboil the fish, pick out the meat, and mince or pound it in a mortar until very fine it will require about fifty crayfish.

Add to the fish one-third the quantity of bread soaked in milk, and a quarter of a pound of butter, also salt to taste, a bunch of thyme, two leaves of sage, a small piece of garlic and a chopped onion. Mix all well and cook ten minutes, stirring all the time to keep it from growing hard.

Clean the heads of the fish, throw them in strong salt and water for a few minutes and then drain them. Fill each one with the above stuffing, flour them, and fry a light brown.

Set a clean stewpan over a slow fire, put into it three spoonfuls of lard or butter, a slice of ham or bacon, two onions chopped fine dredge over it enough flour to absorb the grease, then add a pint and a-half of boiling water, or better still, plain beef stock.

Season this with a bunch of thyme, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.

Let it cook slowly for half an hour, then put the heads of the crayfish in and let them boil fifteen minutes. Serve rice with it.

Classic Seafood Recipes & Fish Recipes


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Secrets of Creole and Cajun Food

Is the food in New Orleans Creole, or Cajun? Mary Goodbody offers up six things you probably didn’t know about the two cuisines.

Mary Goodbody

Steven Mark Needham / Getty Images

Outsiders may know the food as being Creole…or is it Cajun? Does it matter? Aren’t they the same thing? It can be very confusing. While the two styles of cooking share a lot of ingredients and flavors, they are distinct from each other. Both are absolutely heavenly, full of flavors that dance on the tongue and waltz their way down the throat. They both rely on thick, flour-based roux, bell peppers, garlic, celery, onions, and chiles. Both can be hot and fiery, yet not all the food is spicy. Both include oysters, crawfish, crab, shrimp, and fish from the Gulf of Mexico, and pork, fowl, and beef. The Cajuns favor a spicy sausage called andouille, while the Creoles make chaurice.

Today, most New Orleans chefs cook “Louisiana food,” a term favored by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, who more than 20 years ago recognized that the two cuisines, while distinct, shared enough commonalities that they could happily come together. And yet it’s not just purists who know that the two styles have their own characteristics. Here are six ways the cuisines are alike and different.

“Creole food is greatly influenced by French settlers but also has significant traces of Spanish, Portuguese, German, English, African, and Native American cooking.”

1. How it all began. Originating in New Orleans, Creole cuisine is the result of influences from the many nationalities who settled in the city. Creole food is greatly influenced by French settlers but also has significant traces of Spanish, Portuguese, German, English, African, and Native American cooking. Many think Creole food is a direct outgrowth of French cuisine, but it’s an amalgam of so many culinary styles that it is far less “French” than Cajun cooking. It is truly the cuisine of the city of New Orleans. It tends to be a little more sophisticated and refined than Cajun food. Some people label Creole food as “city food” and Cajun as “country food.”

Cajun food developed separately from Creole and has a longer history. In the middle of the 18th century, the English exiled the French who originally settled in Nova Scotia (which at the time was called Acadia). Many of these uprooted people made their way to the bayou country of Louisiana, where they were free to speak French and practice Catholicism. Once there, they continued to fish and farm as they always had but had to learn about a very different climate and a host of unfamiliar natural resources available to them. Relying on fish, seafood, game, the vegetables they could grow, and domesticated animals they could raise, they created a distinctive cuisine with roots in the cooking of southern France. Because most Cajuns—which is a bowdlerized pronunciation of Acadian—were poor, the food tends to be hearty and cooked in one pot, which is an easier, more efficient way to feed many mouths and hard-laboring folks.

2. Only in Louisiana. The most authentic Creole cooking is found in private homes. Today most restaurants in New Orleans serve a tasty marriage of Cajun and Creole cooking so that there is less distinction between the two than there used to be. Some restaurant food is strictly Creole: shrimp Creole, which is shrimp cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, celery, onion, and garlic pain perdu, which is New Orleans-style French toast and bananas Foster, a popular dessert invented at Brennan’s restaurant years ago, to name a few. Peacemakers are Creole creations, supposedly developed for errant husbands to take home to their wives after a night of debauchery—because, the reasoning goes, what wife could resist a sandwich chock full of fried oysters, slathered with tangy tartar sauce, and wedged inside the French Quarter’s best, freshly baked bread?

3. The role of rice. Louisiana residents eat more rice than most Americans, a fact that’s easily explained when you take into account that both Creole and Cajun dishes are cooled and tempered by the addition of white rice, either as a bed beneath the food (most often true of Creole) or an ingredient stirred into the dish (most often true of Cajun). Dirty rice, a Cajun dish made by mixing chicken gizzards and livers into rice, is rich and filling calas, which are deep-fried rice balls, are very much Creole breakfast food and used to be sold early in the morning on the streets of the city.

4. Gumbo 101. Gumbo is a Cajun soup (some say stew) that begins with a dark roux and then may contain chicken, seafood, and any variety of vegetables. It is typically thickened with okra, or with a fine powder ground from sassafras leaves called file powder, which is also a common thickener. Both give gumbo the slightly gelatinous quality much prized by everyone who likes it. Most historians believe gumbo evolved from a dish early Acadians made when they tried to recreate bouillabaisse.

5. Jambalaya vs. etouffée. Both jambalaya and etouffée are familiar Cajun dishes. Jambalaya is rice based, highly seasoned, and flavored with a delicious mixture of beef, chicken, smoked sausages, pork, ham (often tasso, a Cajun smoked ham), or seafood. Plus, it nearly always includes tomatoes. According to Prudhomme and the Acadian Dictionary, the name comes from jambon, French for ham ya, African for rice and a la, which is a phrase the Cajuns affix to many things. Etouffée is a dish that is “smothered,” or covered with liquid, and contains seafood, crawfish, poultry, or meat.

6. If it ain’t crawfish, it ain’t Cajun. Crawfish are integral to Cajun food. Most folks call them crayfish, but in the bayou, they are crawfish. More crawfish are raised and eaten in Louisiana than elsewhere, and are sold live, as tails only, or blanched and peeled (“picked” is how they describe peeled). Crawfish etouffée is made with dark Cajun roux, which thickens the liquid that “smothers” the crawfish.

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Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chile, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound frozen peeled crawfish tails, thawed according to package directions
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 oz.)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Crackers, toasted baguette slices

Melt butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, garlic, jalapeño, salt, and black pepper, and cook 6 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne pepper, and cook 1 more minute.

Place crawfish, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, and cream in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in bell pepper mixture, Creole mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Cover and cook on HIGH 45 minutes. Reduce heat to WARM. Stir in lemon juice and parsley serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Crawfish and Shrimp Gumbo Recipe

It's a match made in heaven: crawfish, shrimp and gumbo. This dish will make you swoon!

Don't miss this recipe for Crawfish and Shrimp Gumbo.

Louisiana loves gumbo so much that residents made it the official dish of the State in 2004! Gumbo comes in plethora of varieties but we sugguest you dive into this simple and extremely tasty recipe featuring some of Louisiana's best ingredients: crawfish and shrimp. This recipe is provided by Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine.

Ingredients for Crawfish Shrimp Gumbo

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained (optional)
  • 1 pound large Louisiana shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh okra
  • 2 (16-ounce) packages cooked Louisiana crawfish tails, undrained
  • Hot cooked rice (for serving)
  • Garnish: chopped parsley and sliced green onion

Method of Preparation:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, add oil, and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add flour, and whisk until combined. Lower heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until a dark chocolate roux forms, 30 to 40 minutes.
  2. Add onion, bell peppers, and celery, and cook, stirring, until onions are tender, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add 8 cups water, Cajun seasoning, and tomato. Bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.
  3. Stir in shrimp, okra, and crawfish. Bring to a boil reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with rice. Garnish with parsley and green onion, if desired.

Shopping tips:
When buying seafood, make sure to check labels to ensure that you're buying domestic. U.S. seafood tastes better and it's regulated by the FDA, so it's always safe.

Looking for more recipes? Visit our recipe gallery and visit Louisiana Cookin’ for even more recipes and food tips.


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