Tilapia Creole

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Tilapia CreoleHappy Fourth of July! If you aren’t in the mood to grill or want to serve something a little different today, here’s a recipe we’ll be serving this weekend at The Cabin: Tilapia Creole. I’ve shared another Tilapia recipe with you before, and I hope you enjoy this one just as much as the last one.

Tilapia Creole
1 serving

Ingredients

1 tilapia filet
Vegetable oil for frying
Seasoned cornmeal (add Seasonall or Tony Chachere’s and mix together)
1/4 cup Trinity (chopped onions, bell peppers, & celery)
Handful of diced tomatoes
1 tsp tomato paste
Pinch of Seasonall to taste
1 cup heavy cream
Cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornstarch & 2 oz. water, whisked together)

Method

For the tilapia, most southern servers fry their catfish in a vegetable oil.

The fillet is first dredged in whole milk, and then in seasoned corn meal. Then deep well fried until it floats. Most cooks agree that when it floats it’s done.

For the sauce:

Over medium heat, sauté the Trinity in a little bit of butter until caramelized.

Add the diced tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, lower heat, and reduce, for about 10-12 minutes until your desired consistency is achieved.

To serve, smother the fried tilapia filet with the Creole sauce. Mixed greens are a great side.

Magret de Canard and Toulouse Sausage Cassoulet

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Looks like a great recipe, especially down here in Louisiana for all the duck hunters. Replace the Toulouse sausage with some good, fresh andouille if you have access to it. Give it a try!

Cooking in Sens

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I think the Dog gave me this idea.  I don’t have any cannellini beans in the pantry.  I’ve got 2 kinds of hominy and chickpeas.  In addition, normally I would have used duck legs instead of duck breasts for the cassoulet, preferring to reserve the duck breasts for searing and eating rare. However, I have so many duck breasts!  And these weren’t Jean Louis’ anyway but of an inferior but okay supermarket quality.

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This cassoulet turned out well, even with the chickpeas.  In fact, in was fabulous 🙂  I had a bonus of Toulouse sausages in the freezer and seared the fat from 3 duck breasts, using two in the cassoulet and reserving one for sandwiches or a salad later.  I browned the sausages in some of the reserved duck fat and also used some to saute the onions, garlic and carrots.

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All of my stove top casseroles and tajines are…

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Cajun Cabbage

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Sautéed cabbage and pork chop over riceIn honor of our losing to the Germans but advancing to the Knockout Stage of the World Cup, I thought I’d share a little Louisiana-German culinary history today. When you think of Cabbage and sauerkraut, I bet the first culinary culture you think of is Germany. Definitely not Louisiana Cajun culture. BUT since Louisiana has been a great melting pot of cultures over the last 300 years, a German cultural identity managed to establish itself on the German Coast (Cote des Allemands) in the early to mid-1700s. The Germans brought their blue-collar work ethic, farming traditions, and of course their culinary heritage with them. In fact, the modern day andouille that we love to eat so much in our dishes here originated with the Germans on the German Coast. Many of the traditional German dishes have filtered into our menus at The Cabin Restuarant and the Coffee House in The Cajun Village, like cabbage, for instance.

Here’s an excerpt from Thomas Robert in The Cabin Cook Book on our “Cabbage Heritage” in Louisiana:

“Cabbage was widely grown in Europe and on the German Coast. Most of the cabbage was turned into sauerkraut. My mother had a 12 gallon earthenware crock in which she made the sauerkraut. 

Young cabbages were selected for harvest and the outer leaves and the hard core were discarded. The cabbage was sliced very thinly on a homemade slicing board. As the cabbage was sliced it was liberally sprinkled with salt and firmly packed down tightly into the crock. The crock was finally filled to within a few inches of the top, and a tight fitting lid made of cypress wood was pressed down on top of the cabbage and enough weights were placed on the lid to cause it to submerge below the level of saltwater which formed in the crock. If there was not enough liquid
to overflow the lid she added brine as necessary.

The crock was covered with a clean cloth and set aside in an unheated room. Within days the fermentation of the cabbage began and in cool weather it took about three weeks to complete. The sauerkraut was then ready to eat and as long as the lid was kept submerged it would last till the crock was empty. The sauerkraut could and was eaten as it was, but most of the time it was used in full dishes. We had a constant supply of salted pork (which did not need refrigeration) and this was the meat most often used and cooked with potatoes and the sauerkraut.”

At The Cabin and the Coffee, we like to serve our cabbage sautéed with a smothered pork chop over rice (picture above). You’ll have to come give it a try sometime, or try the traditional way of making sauerkraut yourself!

Point Houmas Plantation

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Point Houmas frontal 2Recently I had the opportunity to walk through Point Houmas plantation across the river, close to Donaldsonville. Currently abandoned, Point Houmas sits on a point called Point Houmas on the edge of a massive sugarcane field. The whole point has been zoned heavy industrial, threatening the future of the plantation home. The purpose of our visit was to determine if the plantation was able to saved and moved across the river to land owned by my in-laws in Darrow. The moving and restoration of Point Houmas would have been conducted under their non-profit, 360 Grassroots.

Point Houmas is an incredible plantation home. The building is still in great shape, given that it has sat neglected for at least 35-40 years. Much of the original plaster on the ground level ceiling still survives. The 8 foot brick piers that lift the building off the ground are in good shape, although could use a little bit of repointing here and there. The house is so high off the ground that you could easily drive a care under it. The building does have a relatively new roof and does appear watertight, although the chimneys had been capped and cut when the roof was added.

As you can see in the pictures, the house has a very simple Creole-style floor plan, with 2 parlors in the front and 3 rooms in the rear. The front porch wraps around about half the house, while the rear porch was enclosed to create a faux loggia. The ceilings are 16′-17′ high (they make you feel pretty small as you walk through the house), and it appears that the pocket doors separating the parlors are original.

Ian Concept

Rendering by Ian Crawford

The style of Point Houmas is Eastlake, with a touch of late-Italianate due to the appearance of dentil work. This allows me to roughly date the home to the 1870s, early 1880s. The owner of Point Houmas plantation, according to Adrien Persac’s 1858 “Map of the Mississippi”, was a man by the name of Colonel J.L. Manning. I have not been able to find too much history on Col. Manning or Point Houmas, but plan to carve out some time this year to head to the archives at the Historic New Orleans Collection to dig a little deeper. My good friend, Ian Crawford, director of the Jemison-Van de Graaff mansion in Tuscaloosa, was able to put together a rendering of what we think it may have looked like originally.

Point Houmas is an absolute gem on River Road, but unfortunately the cost of moving and restoring the plantation was well beyond our limited budget. As for now, it is still sitting on the point across the river from The Cabin, waiting for a friend to save it from what seems an inevitable date with an industrial plant. As far as I know, the owner is willing to donate to the building to a non-profit as long as the person pays all moving costs. I will update in the future if I hear any news on the plantation. Please spread the word about this historic Louisiana plantation!

Buildings and Grounds at the LSU Rural Life Museum

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Some great shots from the Rural Life Museum, which is about 15 min from The Cabin Restaurant. Definitely worth a visit if you are traveling to Louisiana!

The Furniture Record

This is the last blog from the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton_Rouge. I have here a set of images from the external buildings and grounds. There are many buildings typical of what one would find in 18th and 19th centuries.

Pigeons, believe it or not, were an important source of food and fertilizer. Fitting their station in life, they had their own buildings, the Pigeonnier (Dove Cote):

A pigeonnier (dove cote. Where do you  keep your pigeons. A pigeonnier (dove cote. Where do you keep your pigeons.

And a place for groups of humans.

And a church. And a church.

And a few other interesting buildings:

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The stairs do not lead to a granny flat. The stairs do not lead to a granny flat.

I do not believe the lean is original but who knows? I do not believe the lean is original but who knows?

I have pictures of the interiors of many of the buildings featuring either appropriate furniture or construction details. It was all in all one of the most interesting period museums I have visited.

To see all…

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