Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Call it Cajun, Creole or Louisiana cooking


The Saucy Cook

By Mary Jo Spiegel
Enquirer contributor

        Can't make it to Memphis for Elvis Week? Let Hannah Warren's question take you there.

        “What is the difference between Cajun and Creole?” she asks.

        Now, you know Elvis was the King and the 25th anniversary of his death is commemorated Aug. 10-18 this year. But do you remember he was also hip shakin' King Creole?

        Busy dodging mobsters in that 1958 film of the same name, Elvis still found time to “sing a song about pork and greens” and even a musical recipe for crawfish. He didn't delve far enough into New Orleans cuisine for Hannah's question, however.

        So, I must look beyond Elvis. As it turns out, there are more similarities than differences in Cajun and Creole cooking. This May's Chef magazine says both styles evolved from French, African, Spanish and other worldly influences. Creole dishes are typically more refined, while Cajun is heartier peasant fare.

        But the two styles are growing closer together and often combined, so when in doubt, just call it “Louisiana cooking.” Somehow, when Elvis sang, “You'll never know what heaven means, until you've been down to New Orleans,” I'm pretty sure he meant the food.

        • “If you feel low-down, so help me Hannah, you're sure to lose your blues in Louisiana,” Elvis sang, perhaps about this Southern Living recipe that spurred Hannah's question. In the Presley Family and Friends Cookbook (Cumberland House; $16.95) Mary Jenkins, longtime Graceland cook says, “Elvis didn't like no poultry.”

        So for a little less aggravation, maybe a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich will satisfy you.
       
       Send food questions, tips, recipe requests and recipes to Saucy Cook, c/o the Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; fax: 768-8330; e-mail: foodlady@zoomtown.com. Please include name, neighborhood, e-mail and phone number.

       
Chicken Cakes with Creole Sauce

       
2 tablespoons butter
        1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
       4 green onions, thinly sliced
       1 garlic clove, pressed
       3 cups chopped cooked chicken
       1 cup soft bread crumbs
       1 large egg, lightly beaten
       2 tablespoons mayonnaise
       1 tablespoon Creole mustard
       2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
        1/4 cup vegetable oil
       Creole Sauce (recipe follows)

        Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onions and garlic and saute 3 minutes or until tender. In bowl, stir together bell pepper mixture, chicken and remaining ingredients, except oil. Shape chicken mixture into 8 equal sized patties. Fry 4 patties at a time in 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium flame 3 minutes each side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve with Creole Sauce. Makes 4 servings.
Creole Sauce

       
1 cup mayonnaise
       3 green onions, sliced
       2 tablespoons Creole mustard
       2 garlic cloves, pressed
       1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
        1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

        Stir together all ingredients. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

        Note: You can find Creole mustard in most groceries.

        • Purchase Creole seasoning, or make this version from www.gumbopages.com.

Creole Seasoning

       
2 tablespoons onion powder
       2 tablespoons garlic powder
       2 tablespoons dried oregano
       2 tablespoons dried basil
       1 tablespoon dried thyme
       1 tablespoon black pepper
       1 tablespoon white pepper
       1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
       5 tablespoons sweet paprika

        Mix ingredients until all shook up. Store in airtight container. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Help us

       
• Kathleen Williams, all the way in Dadeville, Ala., remembers a Cincinnati cheesecake made with cottage cheese and a thick crust, but has forgotten the recipe.

        • If you have a recipe that tastes like Longhorn Steakhouse's steak rub, pass it on for Jake Ruppert in Anderson Township.

       



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