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i just got back from NOLA, and damn the food rocks. now, how can i try to prepare it myself? [Moved from New Orleans]

I just came back from noLA....what a wonderful experience full of lovely, genuine people! the food was full of heart, and clearly a great pride is taken in the culture concerning the preparation of meal. Thank you to all my friends who gave their suggestions so kindly and passionately (ScarlettNola, Ris Deveau, BillHunt, JazzyB, CajunGirl, nikinik, jreedtattooer, skirx, and debrouillard, to name a few.). i truly appreciate it. If you're ever in B-more, I owe you a cocktail and dinner...and no, i'm not kidding.

Now what i would love to know...how can i make this food at home? there are no cajun/creole restaurants to pop into here in honville, and i crave certain things. wanted to buy a cookbook, but i've heard there are certain ways to perfection. please give a shout-out!!! a recipe, or a cookbook i can purchase that is "authentic." I was wary of bourbon street stores, and the like...
would be awesome to hear your tips on gumbo, red beans and rice(is there such a recipe?), fried catfish, collards, macc chou, pecan pie, crawfish etoufee, fried chicken, jumbaylaya, and beignets.

I love your city. I can't wait to return. but until then, will never be able to live witout the aforementioned..

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  1. the food does indeed rock. outside of tips from NOLA about cooking methods, there's a thread on the WDC/B board about sourcing ingredients in the Mid-A region.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609314

    1. I like "Chef Paul Prudhomme's Lousiana
      Kitchen" (abook).

      Also, check out the Gumbo Pages:

      http://www.gumbopages.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        I second the Gumbo Pages recommendation, I'd also suggest buying a copy of the Picayune Creole Cookbook.

      2. Hell yeah, that food rocks! My favorite food (and music) city, hands down; my brother lives in Mandeville and commutes downtown to work everyday, eats lunch in the French Quarter once a week. We've visited many times and can't get enough; I still dream of going to JazzFest some year. One thing I did years ago was go out and buy a great cast iron skillet; I was so lucky to find someone in the classifieds giving up her camping gear so I scored a beautifully seasoned CI skillet and dutch oven for $10-yo! the dutch oven is HEAVY!- Do you have a skillet? Really helps with roux-making. Red beans and rice has been discussed at great lengths on this board. Have fun with your great new culinary adventure--you will love the dishes you create!!!

        10 Replies
        1. re: Val

          i don't have a cast iron skillet...is there one that is a better quality? thanks, Val!

          1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

            I've read favorable comments on Chowhound about Lodge cast iron products which are preseasoned--you might look at the Cookware board here on chowhound for more information. Of course, I use my CI skillet for more than just roux-making; you can bake up some hellacious cornbread in it too!

            1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

              jcp.com has a cast iron Dutch oven for sale that looks good....

              1. re: bayoucook

                Honestly, I would not try to make my first roux in an iron skillet- it just retains too much heat, so you either have to pour lava-hot roux from a hot, heavy pan into a container, or you have to know when to turn the heat off.

                I make it my stainless stockpot.

                1. re: Coconuts

                  the first few times are always going to be problematic, it is a 'feel' kind of thing, often easily fixed if it's not burned.

                  Coconuts: I think the exact pan is secondary to the technique and ingredients, but do you make excess roux? I see that as a sort of a starter batch for the next time and just let it cool on the range before storing in the fridge. I think an hour or two is prob. safe.

                  IMHO the key thing with CI is curing and not getting too uptight about scouring. Lulu If you MUST use water always always put it back on the range, oil and sear the moisture off. one wants a certain 'history' of flavor and no rust.

                  1. re: Coconuts

                    I've noticed that it takes soooo much longer in a stockpot or Dutch oven than it does in >any> skillet; have you? I was taught to make it in a cast iron skillet and told how to control the heat - that helped a lot!

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      No, it's faster for me in the pot since it gets hot so much faster- but it's a thin stainless pot with an aluminum bottom, and it's the pan I've gotten used to, so that helps too.

                      I think the "being taught" is really the key. I made my first roux in a nonstick pan by directions from a packaged gumbo soup mix. My mom's "gumbo" involves a lot of cans of stuff (then again, everything my mom cooks involves a can, box or bag of something). The only other person I knew for years that made roux for anything made his in the microwave. If you don't have someone to tell you to turn the cast iron pan off now, X number of colors before the one you're going for, then the learning curve is easier in a pan where you can turn the heat off and it stops cooking within minutes.

                2. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

                  the BEST place to get a cast iron is a yard sale or flea market, used. They get sooo better with age. It's my two favorite cooking pans in my house - big fryer and dutch oven.

                  I'm with you bout NOLA - hubby and I bought timeshare in La. JUST to get our fix once a year.

                  How close are you to Augusta, NJ - The Best Crawfish Festival where you can get authentic NOLA food for three days (and excellent music too). Restaurants come up from Nola to cook and serve. It's the end of May - we found it a few years ago, been going ever since:
                  http://www.crawfishfest.com/

                  1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

                    My neighbor bought two of Emeril's pre-seasoned cast iron skillets and she's very happy with them. She still oiled them and set them in a moderate oven for an hour to really season them.

                3. You must have Tom Fitzmorris's book New Orleans Food. It is one of the best. Also like Emeril's cookbook Louisiana Real and Rustic, and Commander's Kitchen. But if just one, the first one.

                  1. Also go to Louisianacookin.com and emerils.com for good recipes. You might want to subscribe to Louisiana Cookin' - love that mag.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bayoucook

                      I will and thank you! i went to the commander's kitchen..thought it was great that they walk you through the back of the house to get to the bar. talk about stimulating the appetite! are all three user-friendly?

                      1. re: LuLuBlaubugunder

                        Very user-friendly, down to earth recipes that are delicious.