Cooking Like a Creole.... or a Cajun. You decide
You will not go hungry when you visit New Orleans, guaranteed! There is a world class restaurant around every corner. New Orleans is most known for their bold and spicy Cajun and Creole cuisine. On our recent trip to the Big Easy, Gadabout Gals Tiffany and Kelly (with a group of friends) took a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking. We spent a morning learning how to create these wonderful dishes at home.
We also learned the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine.
I (Gadabout Tiff) had been wondering about that!
Tiffany and Kelly with the lovely culinary teacher Pat
Pat, our culinary teacher, mixed a lively history lesson of New Orleans with a fun presentation on how to prepare the top dishes of Louisianna. We learned essentials, like the holy trinitiy of cajun cuisine and the melting pot of influences found in a Creole dish. The difference between cajun and creole boils down to tomatoes. Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and a proper cajun dish does not. Creole is commonly known as city food, while cajun is country food. Either way, you will find both in New Orleans.
Pat's kitchen... a very entertaining presentation of history. lore and legend
Eager to learn, we sat down to biscuits and tea. The secret ingredient in the flakey biscuits... lard. Yep, that's right. Turns out lard isn't that bad for a healthy diet.
Pat would be teaching on how to prepare Gumbo, Jambalaya, Bread Pudding with Whisky Sauce and Pralines. With recipes to take notes on during the class, I felt as if we were given precious insider secrets!
The first recipe Pat prepared was bread pudding. It needed to bake, so she got started on it right away. She quipped, "people will eat anything if you add enough sugar." I was totally unaware that any fruit mixture is acceptable in bread pudding. This recipe called for Pińa Colada mix. WHAT? Also, any stale bread will do accept sourdough or bagels.
Next up GUMBO! Can you name what makes up the Holy Trinity of Cajun Cuisine???? Leave a comment if you know! It is key to any cajun dish. One tip Pat shared to a good gumbo is to split your trinity in half. Add a half uncooked trinity at the very end of cooking.
I have never attempted a rue. Pat used lard for this dish as well. The key to making a good rue is to have your lard hot before you add the flour. (also hot stock = no lumps)
And you NEVER leave a rue.
We also learned about spices! Pat added a suprising amount of Joe's Stuff seasoning.
OH... it smelled so good!
According to Pat, Jambalaya is rice with a surprise. A few differences between jambalaya and gumbo: jambalaya uses smoked sausage/ gumbo uses Andouille, jambalaya adds rice and tomatoes (tomatoes is the main difference between cajun and creole).
The last recipe on the agenda was Pralines, a creole confection. This sweet candy requires a little more care, but is worth the effort. I prefer to buy them.
We were all in a heavenly food coma by the end of the class. I left the class confident that I would whip up these dishes when I got home. In fact, Jeff and I are planning to serve gumbo, jambalaya and bread pudding at an upcoming party.
I highly recommend attending a class at The New Orleans School of Cooking. It was both entertainng and informative! There are plenty of classes to choose from. At the very least, stop by and shop their Louisianna General Store. Pick up one of their Class Packs with seaonings and a cookbook!