Sarah Savoy's Cajun Home Cooking.
A qualified Louisiana chef, Sarah has turned this skill into an entertainment format leading Cajun cookery demonstrations in which she cooks up a range of authentic Louisiana dishes, accompanied with live music from her band guaranteed to whet the appetite.
Music and food are inextricably linked in Louisiana and Sarah singles out "Lapin dans son nique" (Rabbit in its Nest) by her mother, Ann Savoy, to illustrate the point.
"This song has always been the perfect image of life in Louisiana to me. When my mom first visited my dad in Louisiana, after he'd been filling her head with visions of sunsets viewed through Spanish moss hanging from cypress trees over swamps and Acadian-style homes, she was discouraged to find crop duster planes, trailer parks, and mosquitos big enough to shoot instead of swat. But then Dad brought her to see the house he had in mind for them, an old Acadian-style home built by his great-grandfather with a 300 year old oak tree in the backyard. Mom imagined the house with a fresh coat of paint, a picket fence, and a swing on the front porch and she was sold. Still, add to those mosquitoes the poisonous snakes in the yard, the dogs depositing gifts of sheep's ears on the front porch, the insane humid heat of Louisiana summers, and the flying cockroaches that were attracted to that beautiful oak tree, and Mom, having come from an upper-class suburb of Richmond, Virginia, decided to stay inside, playing music with Dad and taking care of their four children.
But that is exactly the kind of life that makes Louisiana so special to me—music and food always simmering together in the kitchens of Cajun homes, and friends from all over the world stopping by for a cup of strong coffee or a plate of spicy crawfish étouffée. The kitchen in our family home is where Dad’s handmade accordions sit on the piano, which stands next to Mom’s guitars and fiddles. The kitchen is where I learned to play piano and guitar, first started toying around with an accordion, watched Dad cooking up my favorite stews and sauces piquantes, and learned most of my family history while having a cup of coffee with Dad in the early morning or a glass of wine with Mom late at night."
Here's Sarah's recipe for Crawfish Etouffee
"Many people make crawfish etouffee with a roux, which makes it a much heavier meal. My Uncle Coonie does is that way, and it is to die for, but Dad likes to make it without, allowing the flavor of the crawfish to really dominate the dish. This is his recipe. What I like most about it, personally, is that without the heavy roux we can go back for seconds and still have energy for a jam session after dinner!"
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 kg crawfish tails
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
240 ml tomato sauce (or 5 tomatoes peeled and chopped)
140 ml water
1/ small bunch green onion tops, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons parsley, minced
Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crawfish and season well with salt, black pepper, and Cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the crawfish reach a nicely-browned color. Add flour and thoroughly incorporate.
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, green onions, parsley, and butter. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.Add the tomato sauce and cook 5 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.
Serve over steamed white, long grain rice.
Note--If you can't find crawfish and decide to use shrimp, cook the shrimp only 2 minutes, then mix the flour in, cook 2 minutes, add the vegetables and butter, cook five minutes, then add the tomato sauce and simmer 10 minutes. Crawfish don't get tough like shrimp do if you cook them too long.