Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sclafani celebrates Louisiana's unique 'Seasons'

            I first met Chef Peter Sclafani when he opened Ruffino’s on the River in River Ranch. The New Orleans-born chef had just participated in an oyster familiarization tour where he joined others offshore learning about harvesting oysters after the devastating hurricanes and the BP oil spill. He exuded excitement about Louisiana seafood, one reason why he’s a member of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
            Sclafani’s new cookbook, “Seasons of Louisiana,” also celebrates Louisiana’s seafood and again his enthusiam jumps off the pages. We’re a state where the four seasons might mean crab, crawfish, hunting and oysters, and his lovely cookbook reflects just that. Chapters include shrimp season, crawfish season, crab season, oyster season, fishing and hunting, Creole tomato season, tailgating and holidays. Concluding the book is a lagniappe section full of his sauces, dressing and seasonings.
            Easy–to-follow recipes run the gamut, with some thinking outside the box, such as the crawfish mac and cheese, redfish beignets and shrimp corn dogs. All are beautifully presented with color photos and chef’s notes.
            Sclafani claims everything tastes better with crab, and I agree. Here’s a very easy recipe for marinated crab claws with a tasty vinaigrette. Sclafani suggests also serving this dish warm substituting crab for shrimp with the cookbook’s shrimp scampi recipe.

Marinated Crab Claws
“Seasons of Louisiana” by Peter Sclafani
2 pounds crab fingers
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2  teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

            Directions: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Let stand for at least 1 hour.