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Whew! I’ve been on the road so much lately, I’ve met myself coming and going.
The second weekend in October I hosted the Culinaire sur la Table Tent at the Festivals Acadiana et Creole. The festival is an annual event in Lafayette and there is lots of good food (my favorite this year was crawfish florentine stuffed into a small French bread) and great music (Cajun and Zydeco). The festival grounds were packed with people having a grand time!
I was delighted to have several wonderful guests do cooking demonstrations in our tent. Jude Tauzin, Chef at Catahoula’s in Grand Coteau, made a tasso and sweet potato bisque that was fantastic. Chef Holly Goeting from Charley G’s in Lafayette whipped up a risotto that combined roasted pecans, cranberries and roasted sweet potatoes—yummy! My friend Stan Dry made a batch of butterscotch-coconut brownies to pass around to the hungry crowd. Floyd Poche, a master at making all kinds of sausage, brought along samplings of his pork sausage, andouille and tasso. Wanda Barras (my first cousin) has a goat farm in St. Martinville and makes incredible goat cheese—she showcased several of her products. Lori Walls and her family demonstrated the art of making boudin. Diane Wright Hoffpauer and her brother explained how farm-raised crawfish and rice are grown in the same fields. Diane made a creamy crawfish and popcorn rice pudding that was outstanding. And finally, Chefs Greg and Mary Sonnier whipped up a batch of squash and shrimp bisque that was superb.
Then I was off to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at Oxford, Ms to prepare a gumbo z’herbes for the Southern Foodway Alliance group (275 guests). The Ole Miss campus is one of the prettiest in the South. The gumbo z’herbes (a gumbo made with turnip greens, collards, mustard greens, cabbage and lots of other green stuff and andouille, salt meat and smoked ham) was well received. Michelle McRaney, Chef at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans, joined me and prepared her spectacular gumbo ya-ya. The day we served the gumbo on the campus was a bit chilly and rainy so the gumbos were much appreciated. You won’t go hungry at a SFA event—we are sausage and grits, lots of sweet potatoes, and a goodly amount of fried catfish and cole slaw!
Next up was a week at Epcot for the annual Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I had never been to Epcot and it’s incredible! Louisiana was showcased for six weeks. The exhibit included a small replica of the French Market in the French Quarter of New Orleans where Louisiana crafts, books, and ingredients were sold. On a stage that resembled a Mardi Gras float, the Pine Leaf Boys, a Cajun band from Lafayette, played daily to a crowd that couldn’t stop dancing. The Tabasco people hosted a section where children were entertained while cooking demonstrations were presented in another part of the exhibit. Disney does it well–the landscape around the exhibit had cypress trees, Tabasco pepper plants, magnolia trees, a patch of rice plants and sugar cane, AND even a small garden that included parsley and green onions—essential in Cajun cooking. I presented two demonstrations to packed houses and the guests loved our crawfish etouffee. John Folse supplied crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo and praline bread pudding at the exhibit and people stood in line for these delicious offerings. BUT the highlight of the week was the Party for the Senses held in a beautiful venue. There were 20 chefs (including myself) serving 1200 people throughout the evening. Thanks to Shannon Edwards from the John Folse Culinary School at Nichools State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, I managed to make 18 gallons (using 150 pounds of Louisiana crawfish) of crawfish etouffee to serve with Konriko Wild Pecan Rice and cole slaw to serve the hungry guests. They loved it!
I had a few days to recuperate from Epcot before I set off for DeRidder, La to participate in a fund raiser for their Main Street Association. The weather was beautiful although a bit chilly. The day was a grand success—all the food booths ran out of food within 2 hours!
GREAT NEWS! Finally, after almost three years, the book COOKING UP A STORM Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune in New Orleans has been released. Judy Walker, the food editor at the Times-Picayune, and I co-edited the book and we are so very proud of it. It all began not long after Hurricane Katrina brought New Orleans to its knees when readers of the Times-Picayune began asking for recipes they lost to flood waters. Through Judy’s column Exchange Alley, she was able to find recipes from readers to help those who had lost their favorite recipes. I urge you to get a copy—check with your local book stores. Judy and I have been on the road for book signings in New Orleans and Fairhope Alabama. She’s in Arizona this week (Thanksiving week) and I’ll be in New Iberia at Books Along the Teche signings books. We’ll have more book signings before Christmas in New Orleans.
On another note, a book I edited for Abita Beer will be released in the next couple of weeks. If you like beer and also like cooking with beer, GET THIS BOOK! It contains great recipes using Abita products. I’ll be in Baton Rouge and New Orleans signing books so check your local listings.
And finally, I’ve turned in the manuscript to Pelican Publishing for a book PECANS—SOUP TO NUTS. it will be out until next fall, but it’s also a great cookbook.
In between book signings I’m trying to gear up for the holidays. I’ll keep you posted on what I’ll be cooking for the holiday table!