Tag Archives: Cajun

Chef John Besh Visits Fairhope, Alabama to Promote New Cookbook, “My Family Table”

10 Dec

Chef John Besh has made quite a name for himself here along the Gulf Coast. His culinary empire is based out of New Orleans, yet he is truly all over the globe these days. One day you see him as a judge on Top Chef, the next you might spot him on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, then you see him whipping up something tasty on NBC’s Today Show. When not appearing on TV or running his nine (yes, NINE!) acclaimed restaurants, Besh somehow finds time to re-connect with his family and knock out a few cookbooks. They may have successfully cloned this guy — I can’t be sure.  

Besh’s latest cookbook project is a marriage of his love for food and family. It’s titled “My Family Table … A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking.” We can totally relate to this sentiment around our household. Sure, we still love to dine out. But it is increasingly difficult to find a quality meal at a fair price. A meal out for a family of 4 can put a pretty sizeable dent in the old family grocery budget.

This “coffee table” book is well-over 250 pages and features some truly beautiful photography. The publisher (Andrews McMeel) should be quite pleased with the end result. It is a terrific collection of recipes and a fine Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for foodie on your shopping list. The book retails for $35.

We recently met Chef Besh and his wife at Page & Palette in our current hometown of Fairhope, AL. He was kind enough to sign our copy, which will surely become a staple in our already massive home collection of Southern-themed cookbooks. Besh, a former US Marine, reveals some of his favorite Louisiana products/ingredients. No secrets here, friends. He loves Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup, but who doesn’t? Some more surprising items found in his home pantry include Virgin Pecan Oil, Hoisin Sauce, Coconut Milk, and Sambal Paste. Yup, his kitchen mastery and tastes certainly extend beyond the bayous of his beloved home state of Louisiana.

The 140 recipes included here, much like Besh himself, bounce all over the map. Risotto, Fruit Crumble,  Couscous, Pork Shoulder, Ratatouille, Coq Au Vin, Corn Pudding, Chili, and Beef Noodle Bowls. Dishes sampled at the book signing were a Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Jambalaya, and a Seafood Dressing. The Bird’s Nest Potatoes look simple, but delicious. Let’s call the overall theme of this volume Cajun/Asian with the common denominators being big flavor with a little bit of heat. The Creamy Lentil Soup (laced with diced bacon) would surely hit the spot on a cold winter’s day.

There are desserts too. Don’t miss the Lemon-Blackberry Cheesecake. The full page, full color image of this creation will have you drooling, for sure. The Bananas Flambe, an obvious nod to his love of New Orleans, is fueled with dark rum and accented with orange zest, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of fresh ground nutmeg. The execution of this dish is not for amateurs, but it will surely draw oooo’s and ahhhh’s at your next dinner party.

John Besh and his wife Jenifer love Fairhope. They made that clear during our brief but enjoyable chat. We, in turn, appreciate them making time to slow down and enjoy our little piece of heaven. Talk radio host Glenn Beck recently said visiting Fairhope was a little like being on the set of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It is indeed a life full of wonder. And John Besh wants you to make it even more wonderful by focusing on family and hearty home cooked meals. And, as Paul McCartney once sang, “What’s wrong with that?”

www.chefjohnbesh.com

www.andrewsmcmeel.com

Divine Bakery Treats in the Heart of Cajun Country

17 Nov

Keller’s Bakery is a morning “must-do” in downtown Lafayette, LA.

Even the paper bags are old school at Keller’s Bakery.

Keller’s shows their support for the UL-L Ragin’ Cajuns football team.

These unique Walnut Macaroons immediately caught my eye. Deee-lish!

Nothing like a nutty macaroon and a cup o’ cafe chaud!

LeJeune’s Bakery (circa 1884) is a landmark in Jeanerette.

LeJeune supplies much of the bread for the surrounding community.

The Jeanerette locals like to meet and eat at The Yellow Bowl.

Bread pudding is a popular treat at eateries throughout the region.  

Told ya they were a historic landmark!

The most exquisite pastries were found at Lafayette’s Poupart’s Bakery.

http://www.poupartsbakery.com/

Photos from The Hebert Seafood Boil

12 Jul

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The calm before the storm. Cooking dogs & sipping Red Stripe.

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The perged mudbugs are dumped into the boiling pot.

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Once ready, the crawfish are transferred to a temporary vessel.

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The vessel is promptly dumped on the long, brown papered tables.

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My lovely bride Eileen steps up to the chow line.

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My platter — not a bad start, huh?

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Lloyd Hebert shifts gears and begins cooking the fresh Gulf shrimp.

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These babies are ready to eat, folks!

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Time for round two — hope you all are still hungry!

Cajun Power’s Sloppy Boudreaux Mix

5 Jul

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I made some sandwiches for the kids with this store bought sauce.

Really good — nice n’ tangy and loaded with chopped onions.

I also love their Cajun Power Garlic Sauce. Awesome!

Just add some lean ground turkey to the Sloppy Boudreaux sauce and you are in “bidness.” It makes for an easy but satisfying family meal. I can also tell you that this brand contains very few artificial ingredients. Compares favorably to the more readily available MANWICH brand.

Learn more about the makers at www.cajunpowersauce.com

New Book on Tabasco legend

3 Mar

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We received a wonderful new book from University of Mississippi Press yesterday. It is a beautiful coffee table volume detailing the long and glorious history of my favorite condiment — Tabasco hot sauce. The writers have obviously done their research and the book is filled with amazing photos and period pieces of all kinds. Don’t miss this one if you’re looking for a red-hot read!

Here is the product description from Amazon.com …

Tabasco®: An Illustrated History is the first and only book about the McIlhenny family and company based on previously untapped documents in the McIlhenny Company Archives. This chronicle examines the origin of Tabasco® sauce, from its post-Civil War creation on Avery Island, Louisiana, to its evolution into the “gold standard” of pepper sauces and a global culinary icon.

It also examines the often stranger-than-fiction stories that are inexorably bound up with the rise of Tabasco®–Edmund McIlhenny’s creation of the sauce in the midst of Reconstruction- era economic ruin; John Avery McIlhenny’s adventures in Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders volunteer cavalry regiment; Edward Avery McIlhenny’s explorations in the unforgiving Arctic; and Walter S. McIlhenny’s amazing heroics in World War II, which eventually secured him the rank of brigadier general, even as he modernized his family business and ensured its success into the late twentieth century.

In addition to the central narrative, Tabasco®: An Illustrated History contains numerous detailed sidebars, as well as over a dozen historical recipes selected from handwritten McIlhenny family cookbooks and other archival sources. This book boasts hundreds of fascinating photographs, both in color and black-and-white, many of which are previously unpublished.

John Folse Makes Superb Gumbo & More

6 Jan

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Every December, Chef John Folse of Gonzales, LA sends us an amazing assortment of soups, gumbos, and etoufees. This holiday season was no different and we were quite blessed for that.

This December we received some traditional Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and some incredible Crawfish Etoufee. Both dishes were perfectly seasoned and well received by our guests over the holiday season. Even the folks who were not well versed on Bayou cuisine could enjoy and appreciate the true knack John Folse has in the kitchen.

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John Folse’s food empire also includes the Bittersweet Plantation Dairy

We are honored that John is a DixieDining.com sponsor and wish him the very best of luck in the New Year. Read more about John’s unique philosophy below and order up some of his products for your next dinner party or neighborhood “fais do-do” (throwdown).   

THE FOLSE PHILOSOPHY

I was born on Cabanocey Plantation in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Although I didn’t know it at the time, just to be born there made a person part of history. I was by no means part of a great plantation family like the Romans, Cantrelles, Bringiers or Kenners. Quite the contrary, I came at a time when men were land poor. The plantations were gifts from our grandfathers and fathers before, handed down from one generation to another. In many cases, a French Creole or Antebellum mansion was considered an albatross for the family who inherited it. We certainly did not consider it part of a great legacy. My great grandfather, Victorin Zeringue, purchased Cabanocey in the early 1900s. With over 750 acres, he and his wife, Evelie Robert, thought they were destined for greatness. If anything, they were great landowners. They made a good living, and in those days that was a triumph.

Victorin and Evelie went on to have many children, one of them my grandfather, Albert. Albert married Regina Waguespack, and together they produced six more heirs to Cabanocey. One of them, my mother, Therese, married Royley Folse and eight more heirs were born. My mother, father and ancestors before were all good cooks. How could they not be, having been reared in the heart of Cajun country. This area of the United States somehow produces good cooks. There is the Gulf of Mexico with its abundance of salt water seafoods, an array of fresh-water lakes and rivers and of course, the lush, green and tropical swampland. Each of these contributes equally to the bounty that is Cajun and Creole cuisine.

As a Cajun first and a chef second, it’s important to remember that culture is the cuisine of a people. Often, young culinarians search for a base of good cooking while failing to simply look at their own culture and environment. I have come to realize that no cuisine can develop or expand where there isn’t a strong foundation of regional culture and ingredients. We are fortunate, here in Bayou Country, to have the very best gift that God has given anyone in ingredients destined for the pot. My philosophy on cooking is just as simple. Choose first the heritage of your people. Herein lies the spice and flavor of your very palate. Choose secondly the ingredients of your area. Herein lies the uniqueness of your creations.

Lastly, practice simplicity. There is an old jazz saying here in Louisiana, “mo is betta!” In the world of cooking, this is the greatest fallacy. “Simplicity is betta.” The simple flavors are the ones we long for day in and day out. Like all great artists, chefs must create a style that is recognizable. In order to stand out, you should stay true to your roots, stay true to your region and stay true to your heart and soul. But most of all remember simplicity! In the words of Edith Stern, builder of Longue Vue Gardens Plantation in New Orleans, when asked what would be served to a great statesman coming to visit her home, she replied, “The more important the guest, the simpler and more regional the dish.”

Learn more about Folse and his products at www.jfolse.com. I am truly amazed by John’s verve & versatility — the guy is into everything and his energy is obviously boundless. His reach extends to TV, Radio, a highly rated bed & breakfast, a fine dining restaurant, a smokehouse … must I continue??? Let’s just say that John Folse is a modern day Bayou renaissance man. Long may he rule as the “Gumbo King of Louisiana.”

More Cajun Goodness from Bourque’s

24 Nov

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Just look at this bread, people. Do I really need to say any more?

Another part of our amazing holiday shipment from Bourque’s Specialties of Port Barre, LA was their absolutely incredible Jalapeno Cheese Sausage Bread. Oh my gosh, where do we begin to dare explain the wonders of this one of a kind belly bomb? The closest thing I can compare it to would be the Ugly Biscuits we once woofed down with glee at Fairhope, Alabama’s Biscuit King.

Yes, imagine (if you will) a larger, spicier version of the Ugly Biscuit and you’re getting close. I really hate to use the word ugly because in our eyes this bread is a “thang of beee-yooo-teee.” It’s made with smoked sausage, jalapeno peppers, Rotel tomotoes, eggs, cheese, and bread dough … but its sum is far greater than its individual parts. It’s a zesty Cajun treat — one bite and it will set you FREE! Tip: Have an ice cold beverage lurking nearby.

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Here’s an inside peek at the bread — MMMMM! 

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An old photo of Adolph Bourque (AKA “The Boss”) who started it all  

The following detail was lifted off the Bourque’s web-based emporium …  

This family owned and operated business began in the home of Adolph and Yvonne Bourque, selling a variety of home grown vegetables and other staples.  Going through five stores and fifty-six  years of hard work and dedication, the business has grown to a 20,000 square foot supermarket, located in Port Barre, Louisiana near the birthplace of Bayou Teche.  

The business also includes a full service washerteria, loan company, real estate, rental properties, etc.  Bourque’s Supermarket offers a complete line of Cajun specialty meats, homemade sausage, boudin, cracklin, homemade beef jerky, fresh produce, deli/bakery, and other great products to cook those old-fashioned Cajun recipes.  

We also make our own seasoning, fish fry, roux, chile, seafood gumbo, and homemade dressing mix.  We ship anything, anywhere. Bourque’s Supermarket is currently being operated by children and grand children of Adolph and Yvonne Bourque.

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As you can see, Adolph’s image adorns most of the product packaging at Bourque’s. What a great way for folks to remember and pay their respects to the Bayou genius who founded the company more than a half century ago. We recently sampled their Crab and Corn Bisque for the first time — and it will not be the last. It’s super creamy and accented with just the right blend of spice.

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This is a vintage image of Adolph & his empire (Circa 1962)

I have learned not to add any salt, pepper, hot sauce, or other spice blends to any of the Bourque’s culinary creations. The Bourque boys like it good and spicy and that is more than A-O-K with yours truly. This is good soup, y’all — and I’ll also tell you what it is not. It’s NOT loaded with any artificial ingredients or preservatives. And meaty crabs gave their lives. They didn’t just crawl through the pot.

Come and get it, chere — it’s the REAL DEAL!!!

The World’s Best Beef Jerky!

22 Nov

Forget about commercial Slim Jim and Jack Links’ jerky, the world’s finest dried and spiced meat is made by our friends at Bourque Specialties in Port Barre, LA. We first met Shannon and Chad Bourque when we were road tripping through the Bayou a couple year’s back. I was blown away with their product quality and their friendliness, so we decided to share them with the rest of the planet. Lucky you!  

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Shannon & Chad are seen above toting a mess of delicious boudin

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The beef jerky is packed as you see it above. The meat is incredibly spicy and smoky. It is also pretty darn tender as far as beef jerkys go. No, this stuff will not rip your dentures out. However, the flavor is over the top fabulous. I challenge you to find a better jerky anywhere. This is perhaps the world’s most perfect food for delivering maximum protein and taste.  

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Want some now? Never fear, Bourque’s ships their products worldwide.

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The pork boudin at Bourque’s is also world class. Made of pork, rice and spices, the boudin is best when squeezed atop a Saltine cracker and blasted with a splash of Tabasco sauce. At least that is how we roll here at DixieDining.com.  

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The staff at Bourque’s has your boudin links waiting, so order today y’all!

WWW.BOURQUESPECIALTIES.COM

More on Bourque’s later - including a review of their creamy Crab & Corn Soup!

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