Thursday, March 20, 2014

Benoit looks at multi-cultural New Orleans in new cookbook

            Recently when reviewing a new cookbook, “New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking,” I discussed how nothing in Louisiana is strictly Cajun or Creole, especially in New Orleans, which has a booming Latino population. Ann Benoit looks at the bigger picture in “New Orleans’ Best Ethnic Restaurants” from Pelican Publishing.
            The cookbook spotlights a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, including Middle Eastern, Asian, Caribbean, African and South American fare, with many of them new restaurants I’m dying to try out. There’s also the more typical cuisines we’ve come to know in New Orleans, such as Italian, French, Soul Food and, of course, Cajun and Creole. Photographs are stunning and recipes written like prose with no ingredient listings so the book’s as much a coffee table showpiece as it is educational.
            New Orleans is arguable the first melting pot city in the United States so it’s no wonder there are so many different flavors to its culinary makeup. Benoit offers a lovely guide.
            Here’s a recipe from Mulate’s (of New Orleans) that’s choser to home, chosen because it’s easy to create, it’s a great seafood dish for Lent and if the weather dips during this volatile spring, it’s a nice warm soup for a chilly evening.

Mulate’s Cajun Smoked Oysters
From “New Orleans’ Best Ethnic Restaurants”
1 pound butter
3/4 teaspoon Mulate’s or other Cajun seasoning
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
18 fresh raw oysters
Crusty French bread, for serving

            Directions: Place butter, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, liquid smoke, paprika, Parmesan cheese, and parsley in a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Melt, taking care not to burn butter. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add oysters and cook for 5-7 minutes, until oysters plump and begin to curl around the edges. Serve at once, with plenty of crusty French bread for soaking up the sauce.