Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cajun Fare with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night I presented the following dishes for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy at the Madison Square MLCC.  Bran Adams, Education Coordinator for the APC, presented on culture and plants of the American South Cajun experience and Scott Strizic, Product Consultant for the MLCC, presented wonderful beverage pairings.  


Jambalaya, photo by Karen Peters

Welcome beverage:  The Hurricane  


1. Sweet Potato and Apple salad

Paired with Santa Margherita Prosecco, $16.99 on sale now, regular, $17.99


  • 4 cups peeled and grated sweet potatoes 
  • 2 tart green apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried red currants
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Mix the sweet potatoes, apples, currants and pecans in a large bowl. Combine the juices, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together, then add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Pour over the salad, toss well to combine well, then refrigerate overnight before serving.

YIELD: 6-8 servings.

2. Ultimate Shrimp and Grits (By Tyler Florence)
Paired with Cave Springs Riesling, $16.99
For the grits:
3 cups milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound andouille or spicy Italian spicy sausage, cut in chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
Pinch cayenne pepper, adjust to personal preference
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 green onions, sliced

For the grits:

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp:

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saut� for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately.

3. Chicken, Sausage and Tasso JAMBALAYA
Paired with Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red, $16.03

by Marc Savoy of Eunice, LA

  • 1 whole chicken cut up
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 pound tasso, cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 5 cups rice
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning mixture (4 parts cayenne, 2 parts black pepper, 2 parts garlic powder, 1 part onion powder, 1 part salt)*

Brown the chicken. Add the sausage and tasso and cook for about fifteen minutes. Pour off the fat but keep the drippings in the pot. Add the vegetables and cook until soft. Add 10 cups of water and two teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and add rice. Cover and cook over low heat until rice is cooked.

YIELD: 8-10 servings.
* I admit to a bias against garlic and onion powders but I'm so impressed with this blend and outcome!

Paired with Malmado Malbec, served cold, $23.99

  • 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest 

Preheat oven to 375�F.

Cook the potatoes unpeeled until tender throughout. Let cool. Peel and mash the potatoes, then stir in melted butter.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, add sugar and beat thoroughly. Add milk, vanilla, molasses, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest. Beat until well blended. Stir into mashed sweet potatoes, then mix until well blended.

Place the mixture into a buttered 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Optionally, you may sprinkle the top of the pone with additional brown sugar. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes; uncover, then bake for 10 minutes. Allow the pone to cool completely before serving.

YIELD: 6-8 servings.