Cook's Corner: Cajun flair adds spice

Published 3:15 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

By Staff
We are still a few weeks away from the big football game and from what I can hear the Saints are looking pretty good.
If the Saints do make it to the Super Bowl, you may want to plan a little Creole cuisine for any gathering you have on the schedule.
This first recipe sounded a little interesting to me whether for a football party or not. I thought it might be a little tough to find fresh corn that's good this time of the year, so you can substitute canned corn for the fresh. For this recipe, you can use a can of well-drained white corn in place of the fresh corn. I've left the recipe in the original form so that you'll know what to use when fresh corn season arrives. When scooping the batter up for frying, you may also find that a one or two tablespoon cookie dough scoop would be very helpful.
Ham and Corn Beignets
2 quarts oil for frying
4 ears fresh corn
4 eggs
Three-fourths cup milk
10 ounces diced cooked ham
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
One-half cup diced red onion
1 tbsp. salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
In a large heavy pot, preheat the vegetable oil to between 350 degrees and 375 degrees. Shuck, wash and dry the corn. Using a sharp knife, shave the ears of corn into a medium sized bowl. Using a cheese grater, scrape any remaining corn and juice into the bowl with the kernels. Discard the scraped cobs. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Combine the corn, ham, cayenne pepper, red onion, salt, flour and baking powder with the egg and milk mixture. Whisk until a firm batter has formed. Slowly drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil one at a time. The drops should form a loose layer on the top of the oil. Fry until the drops of batter are dark golden brown. Remove the beignets from the oil and place them on a towel. Check that they are cooked all the way through. If the centers are doughy, lower the heat of the oil and fry the beignets again for 2 or 3 minutes. Repeat this step until all the batter has been used.
If you are looking for something that will feed a crowd without breaking your budget, this next recipe may be just what you need. Classic red beans and rice can be prepared in a short amount of time using canned beans and other ingredients. This dish is great alone or served with a side of cornbread muffins. The following recipe is said to provide eight servings, but can easily be doubled to meet your needs.
Classic Red Beans and Rice
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked rice
16 oz. kielbasa or other smoked sausage, cut diagonally into quarter-inch slices
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove chopped garlic
2 (15 ounce) cans canned kidney beans, drained
1 (16 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
One-half tsp. dried oregano
salt to taste
One-half tsp. pepper
In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. In a large skillet over low heat, cook sausage for 5 minutes. Stir in onion, green pepper and garlic; saute until tender. Pour in beans and tomatoes with juice. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
There always has to be something sweet on the table no matter what the occasion. Get-togethers or parties always seem to beg for diet relief. This cake recipe is one that came straight from Bayou country and is hoo-yaa good!
Cajun Pecan Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and one-half cups white sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
One-fourth tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
Three-fourths cup white sugar
Three-fourths cup evaporated milk
One-half pound butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1 and one-half cups flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan. In a large bowl, sift together flour, one and a-half cups sugar, salt and baking soda. Add eggs, pineapple and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared 9×13 inch pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Have topping ready when cake is done.
To Make Topping: In a saucepan, combine milk, three-fourths cup sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add pecans and coconut and combine. Remove from heat. When cake comes out of the oven, pour on the topping and carefully spread on while cake is still hot.
Even though I'm not keeping up with the football teams very closely, I do hope that the New Orleans Saints make it to the big game. It'd be great to have a Southern team get so far. After everything the Saints have suffered in the wake of Katrina, it's great to see how well they have played this year. And, their winning season isn't being given to them out of pity, they've been playing very well. Go Saints!
If by some chance, however, the Saints get knocked out of the running, I'll be looking for area-familiar recipes for whichever teams end up at the event.
I'm always up for ideas for recipes and tips for the kitchen. If you have something you'd like to share, please let me know. Either give me a call at 867-4876 or email me at
Until next week, Happy Cooking!

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