Cajun French: le jardinage (lu jar-deen-aj) – vegetables
The farmers market was teeming with young vegetables this week; eggplant, radish, squash, peppers were begging to be purchased. We generally grill our vegetables but this week we decided to try roasting. After slicing the vegetables we tossed them with Cajun olive oil and local honey. The results were awesome! The vegetables were accompanied by pan grilled salmon and salad. This recipe is very simple to prepare yet full of flavor and aromas. Honey is the star of this dish so make sure you use high quality local honey.
Radish Greens – what to do with them? We ask this question because our farmers market radishes come with the greens. Greens are a favorite of ours but we had never used Radish Greens. In researching recipes, most had an Asian flair and as good as the recipes sounded we wanted a Cajun influence. With our Cajun Culture and Radish Greens we developed a recipe that honored our Cajun Culture as well as infusing the Radish Greens.
Saturday morning was stormy which meant the Red Stick Farmers Market would be held in the Galvez Parking Garage. It also meant there would be fewer farmers at the market due to the weather. Upon arriving, as we thought there were fewer farmers yet the farmers that were there had an abundance of Spring vegetables. There was an array of color – yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes and much more including broccoli flowers. We enjoy cooking with flowers and had never used broccoli flowers so of course they had to go in our market basket. We took half the flowers and decided to cook them with rice. The flowers are delicate and add sweetness to the rice. We served the rice with our Mustard Tarragon rubbed Catfish.
Crawfish boils bring family and friends together to enjoy the bounty of south Louisiana. Every Cajun family has their own “special” boiling recipe and most are willing to share to prove it’s the best! Besides the enjoyment of the boil itself, one of the best parts is the left over crawfish. Most families plan their boils so there is crawfish left to incorporate in other dishes. Our Saturday afternoon boil was no different and we had crawfish to make our Crawfish Boil Fritter. This is a sweet savory dish and makes a great start to any meal.
While traveling we see many varieties of fruits and vegetables not available in Louisiana. One such was the Delicata Squash we purchased at the North Platte, NE farmers market. As we normally do with most of our fresh vegetables, the Delicata Squash was grilled using olive oil and salt. We enjoyed it, were glad to have tasted it and added a new vegetable to our food regimen.
What do we see at the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge, LA this week but a Delicata Squash – what a surprise. The farmer called it Sweet Potato Squash; no matter the name we had to have it. This time we decided to roast it with fresh sweet red peppers, onions and leeks. We gave the dish a Louisiana spin by using Steen’s Cane Syrup and Creole Mustard.
Interested to know why it was called Sweet Potato Squash, research ensued. We found the name came from the pulp tasting somewhat like a sweet potato. Also the rind is edible which gives another dimension to the squash. While researching we came across an article by “What’s Cooking America”, stating that the Delicata Squash was first introduced in New York City in 1894 and was popular through the 1920’s. Once vegetables began being transported from one area to the other, the Delicata became unavailable due to its thinner more tender skin which was not suited for transportation and storage.
Now with the popularity of farmers markets, vegetables like the Delicata Squash are available and enjoyed once again.
The eggplant sitting on the counter was begging to be used. Not wanting to prepare in the usual way of smothering we put our creative caps on and went to work. Knowing we were going to serve the eggplant with salmon, we decided on a mash. Salmon has a very mild flavor so we did not want the eggplant to overpower the salmon. By using garlic and mint with grilled onions the eggplant was not heavily herbed. The eggplant taste was predominant and blended well with the rosemary salmon.
Stale bread is bread pudding in waiting. When bread pudding is mentioned, we think dessert. Recently our stale bread consisted of wheat, French, lemon rosemary, and olive. Thinking of the bread combination dessert was not in the vision. Besides the stale bread, we also had vegetables that were in need of cooking. What evolved was a vegetable bread pudding that became a side dish, part of a stuffing for flounder and used in an omelet.
There is nothing like the taste of fresh Spring vegetables and Red Stick Farmers Market offers a variety to choose from. We have purchased several beet varieties as well as celery root. The past few weeks we have used the beets and celery root separately so this week we decided to make a salad combining both root vegetables. We wanted the vegetables crunchy but not hard so we parboiled them in seasoned water. Cucumber, though not a root vegetable, was added for a crisp taste. The salad brings Spring to the table.
A little bit of this and a little bit of that. What to do with that little bit of leftovers; combine them and make a great side dish. Rice is a staple in Cajun kitchens and at Cajun meals yet sometimes there is just a little rice left, not enough for one serving much less for a family. When that happens we just see what other vegetables we have and start combining and soon we have Veggie Rice. This is a quick, easy, and time saving dish.
Cajun French: la confiture aux figues (la kon-fee-tūr ō feeg) – fig preserve
Brussels Sprouts are one of those love/hate vegetables. We are on the love side and enjoy them from steamed to cooked in a sauce and everything in between. It is Spring time and in south Louisiana that means strawberries and they were abundant at the Red Stick Farmers Market. Besides fresh strawberries, Spring also means Abita Strawberry Beer, one of their seasonal beers. Home from the market we had Brussels Sprouts and fresh strawberries and in the frig we had Abita Strawberry Beer and fig preserves. Below is the dish that evolved from those ingredients. It is sweet with a hint of savory from Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning.