Crawfish Salad Pastry Puffs

Crawfish Salad Pastry Puffs is a quick, easy and festive appetizer that is perfect any holiday party. The salad can be made ahead of time and the pastry puffs can be baked ahead of time so you can assemble them just before serving. This will keep them from getting soggy.

Crawfish Salad Pastry Puffs
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, November/December 2016)

Makes 24

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup minced leek
1/4 cup minced celery
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. cooked crawfish tails
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tsp Creole seasoning
Kosher salt
1/2 cup minced red onion, rinsed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
4 (10-ounce) packages puff pastry shells, baked and hollowed

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add leek, celery, and garlic; cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add crawfish, bell pepper, Creole seasoning, and a pinch of salt; cook until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Refrigerator for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine onion, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, paprika, and another pinch of salt. Add crawfish mixture and chopped cilantro.

Place about 2 tablespoons crawfish salad in each prepared pastry shell. Garnish with cilantro.

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Shrimp and Tasso Gumbo

Shrimp and Tasso Gumbo features a deep mahogany roux, beautiful shrimp, and smoky, spicy Tasso ham. Ample Bites got the Tasso for this recipe from Ream’s Elburn Market.

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Shrimp and Tasso Gumbo
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Makes 8 Entree Servings

12 cups shrimp stock
1 cup canola oil, plus 2 tablespoons more for browning the tasso
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb. tasso ham, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup garlic, finely chopped, about 12 large cloves
1/2 lb. fresh or frozen okra, thick sliced
1 lb. Roma tomatoes, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tsp Creole seasoning
2 thyme sprigs, tied together in a bundle with cooking twine
1 bay leaf
2 lbs. medium shrimp (31-40 count), peeled and deveined, tails on
2 Tbsp Tabasco
Brown rice, cooked and drained

Brown the tasso in a large Dutch oven in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, about 8 minutes. Remove tasso to a paper-towel-lined bowl and set aside.

To make the roux: In the same Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the oil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is a deep mahogany brown, about 40 minutes.

Stir in the onion, celery, okra, and peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tasso and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, Creole seasoning, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer for 90 minutes. If serving soon, add shrimp and Tabasco and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes.

Serve in a wide shallow bowl with 1/3 cup of cooked rice in the center. Garnish with additional hot sauce.

The gumbo can be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time and gently reheated. Add during reheating. Add additional shrimp to the gumbo when serving as leftovers.

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Shrimp Cornbread Muffins

Baking Shrimp Cornbread Muffins is a great way to meld several flavors of the South into a delicious handheld savory treat. These muffins would also be great with either crawfish or crab.

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Shrimp Cornbread Muffins
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of LousianaCookin.com, 2014)

Makes 8 large muffins

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter, slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt butter. Add shrimp and cook for 2 – 3 minutes per side; add garlic, a dash of salt and pepper, and cook one minute more. Allow the shrimp to cool and then chop coarsely. Place the shrimp and the chives, garlic sauce from the pan, and Cajun seasoning in a bowl and combine. Refrigerate the shrimp mixture for at least 20 minutes and then bring to room temperature before adding to the muffins.

In a large bowl whisk together flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, jalapeno, and 2 teaspoons salt. In a small bowl whisk eggs until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add buttermilk and melted butter, and combine. Add egg mixture to the flour and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter equally among eight muffin cups. Place 1 tablespoon of shrimp mixture in the middle of each muffin and press down slightly. Bake 10 – 12 minutes and remove from the oven. Add an additional tablespoon of shrimp mixture to each muffin. Return to the oven and bake for 2 – 4 minutes. Let cool in muffin tin 10 minutes. Carefully remove muffins and serve immediately.

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Okra and Corn Fritters

Okra and Corn Fritters are sweet, doughy, savory balls that are part doughnut hole and part biscuit. The fritter’s crispy outer shell conceals the warm, flaky goodness inside. This recipe includes okra and some fresh sweetcorn. The fritters can be made without and vegetables or, to really make them decadent, try adding crabmeat, lobster or finely chopped shrimp.

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Okra and Corn Fritters
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of LousianaCookin.com, July/August 2014)

Makes about 3 dozen

Canola oil
5 cups self-rising buttermilk cornmeal mix
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb. fresh okra, finely chopped
3 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cob
3 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Heat the oil in a fryer to a constant temperature of 350F.

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal mix, garlic powder, salt, pepper, okra and corn kernels, stirring to combine. In a small bowl whisk together the milk and eggs. Combine milk mixture with cornmeal mixture.

Drop batter, in batches, by rounded tablespoons into the oil. Cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the frying process. Drain on paper towels, season with salt, and serve warm with your favorite sauce.

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Crawfish Soup

Crawfish Soup and a few jalapeno-cheese corn muffins make a great lunch or dinner regardless of whether the temperature is 80 or 40 degrees fahrenheit.

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Crawfish Soup
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, March/April 2014)

Makes about 12 servings

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups green bell pepper
2 cups carrot
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
10 cups shrimp and/or chicken stock
2 16-ounce packages crawfish tails
½ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh basil
2 tsp hot sauce
4 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 freshly ground black pepper
½ cup half and half

In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper and carrot. Cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, broth, and crawfish. Bring to a boil. Add lemon juice, parsley, basil, hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer 26 to 30 minutes. Stir in half-and-half. Serve immediately.

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Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo with Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits tasted awfully good on another bitterly cold Midwest winter evening.

In preparing this dish Ample Bites used my friend and fellow food enthusiast Tebo Wells’ recipe with a few minor tweaks. The stock was a combination of my own shrimp stock from last year and some chicken stock. Making the roux in the microwave was a big time-saver and it produced a pretty a nice dark caramel color after about 6 minutes total.

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Seafood Gumbo
(Adapted from Tebo’s Seafood Gumbo recipe)

Serves 8 – 10

2 – 3 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1 medium bell pepper
4 – 6 green onions (including tops) finely chopped
1 16 oz. bag frozen sliced okra, thawed
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp liquid crab boil
½ cup vegetable oil
5/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ quarts Shrimp Stock
1 lb. lump crab meat
3 – 5 bay leaves

In a large saucepan, warm shrimp stock.

Prepare vegetables. Mix seasonings (salt, pepper, crab boil and cayenne) and set aside.

Make roux: thoroughly mix the oil and flour in a microwave-safe container. Heat on high in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir thoroughly. Repeat for 1 minute. Continue to heat in 1-minute increments until desired color is reached.

In a heavy cast iron pot or Dutch oven, over high heat add the onions and garlic to the roux. Stir constantly until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Be careful not to burn the roux.

Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and green onions. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp stock, okra, seasonings and bay leaves. Stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 40 minutes. Let stand until needed – at least an hour – to allow flavors to meld.

Before serving, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and add shrimp and crabmeat. Simmer for 6 – 8 minutes until shrimp are pink. Remove bay leaves and let stand for 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Serve in a large bowls with 1/3 cup of cooked rice in each bowl.

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Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits

Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits are the perfect bread to serve along with a gumbo or a hearty soup. The sweetness of the sweet potato is nicely balanced with the salty bacon crumbles and the creamy cheddar cheese.

If you want to kick the flavor up a little bit you can add some finely chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper. To make more of a cornbread biscuit substitute corn meal for some of the flour.

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Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits
(Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, 2014)

Makes 8 biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 cup milk
½ cup mashed sweet potato

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and cayenne. Using a pastry mixer, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Stir in cheese and bacon. Make a well in the flour mixture.

In a small bowl mix together milk and sweet potato. Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until just combined. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead gently about a dozen times. Roll the dough into a ¾”-thick rectangle. Cut into 8 rectangular pieces.

On baking sheet, place the biscuits about 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.

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Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues

Ample Bites has had a hankering for crawfish for quite sometime and I finally did something about it. I order crawfish tail meat from www.cajungrocer.com and put them into a new recipe that I found in Louisiana Cookin’ magazine and adapted.

Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues combine several of my favorite ingredients – crawfish tail meat, eggplant, jalapeno pepper and, of course, garlic. A pirogue is a flat-bottom boat used in the bayous of the South and peeled and hollowed-out eggplant bears a strong resemblance to the real thing.

This dish is really very easy to make. The most complicated part of the recipe is breading and frying the eggplant boats before stuffing. The crawfish was precooked prior to shipping. The vegetables take but a few minutes to chop. They soften, simmer and then stand prior to stuffing the crawfish and vegetable mixture into the pirogues. Once stuffed, the eggplant bakes for 10 – 15 minutes and is served immediately. I accompanied mine with some homemade jalapeno-cheddar corn bread muffins and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.

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Eggplant-Crawfish Pirogues
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’, March/April 2013)

Serves 6

3 medium eggplants, peeled and halved lengthwise
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup seeded and chopped jalapeno
½ cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper
¾ cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds cooked crawfish tail meat
4 ½ tsp, Kosher salt, divided
4 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper, divided
4 ½ tsp panko bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 cup fat free milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Starting from the center of each eggplant half, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1-inch shell. Chop flesh and set shells aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add onion, peppers, and garlic; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Cook stirring frequently, for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are very soft and beginning to brown. Add chopped eggplant, crawfish, 1 ½ teaspoons each salt and pepper and ½ teaspoon cayenne; cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in breadcrumbs and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches, and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350F.

Meanwhile in a shallow dish, combine flour, garlic powder, remaining salt and pepper and cayenne. Into another shallow bowl, pour milk. Dip each eggplant boat into milk and then dredge in flour. Fry shells in batches in the hot oil, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Spoon crawfish mixture into fried eggplant shells and transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. Top with parmesan cheese and bake 10 – 15 minutes until heated through and the eggplant is tender. Serve immediately.

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