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The Best of the Best from Louisiana

BOOK1I’m not exactly sure where I acquired this cookbook, but it’s been in my collection for a long time. I’m talking about “The Best of the Best from Louisiana”, published by Quail Ridge Press, Inc. in 1984. This is a collection of recipes from Louisiana’s favorite cookbooks. What’s not to love about the food from Louisiana??? Naturally, I wanted to make sure the recipe I tried from this cookbook was truly “Cajun” in nature, which is why I chose to make “Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish” recipe. OK, so I didn’t use redfish, I used catfish, but it was excellent! I’d recommend this recipe to anyone who loves blackened catfish. However, I will warn you, you really need to COOK THIS OUTSIDE! More on that later. Paul Prudomme, if you don’t recognize his name, is a celebrity chef, famous for his Cajun cuisine. He has written a number of cookbooks and has owned several restaurants, so when I came across this recipe, I just knew it would be delicious.  I didn’t have redfish on hand, so I substituted catfish and made a few other slight changes to the recipe.  The recipe below includes the changes I made.   I hope your family will enjoy it as much as mine did.  This is going to be my go-to recipe for blackened fish in the future.

Now, I’d highly suggest you COOK THIS OUTSIDE, as it will smoke up your house, set off your fire alarms, and upset you dog.  Your teen might even come out of their room to see what all the smoke is from and ask if the house is on fire.  I will tell your from experience, that it smokes that bad!   So please, take my advice and cook this outside.  But don’t pass up this recipe just because it needs to be cooked outside, it is definitely worth the trouble!

Food

Paul Prudhomme’s blackened Redfish

3-4 redfish fillets (I used catfish) **See Note Below

2 dried bay leaves, finely crushed

2 teaspoons paprika

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 stick butter, melted

NOTE:  It is important to use a fillet that is no less than 8 oz. and no more than 12 oz, otherwise, it won’t cook properly.

When ready to cook, place a heavy, cast-iron, deep skillet or Dutch oven on the burner and heat up to high.  You must use cast-iron, as no other metal can take this high heat!  Heat until skillet is almost “white hot”, you want to get it hot enough to see a “flame circle” in the center.  Remember, you are heating this dry, no oil, butter, etc..  While you are heating the skillet, lay the fillets out on a baking sheet or large plate.  Fill all the spices together in a bowl.  Then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the fillets and slightly pat the spices on to the fillet, on both sides.  Dip each fillet into the butter, coating completely.  The immediately drop them into the hot skillet.  It might be best to do them one at a time.  The fish is going to sizzle, pop, and smoke, but that’s OK.  That is what it is supposed to do.  Cook for about a minute, then flip the fish over and let it cook for another minute or so until you think it is done.  (The original recipe says cook 30-40 seconds per side, but mine needed more than that.  I think it will depend on the thickness of your fillets).  When done, there should be a brown crispy crust on the outside, but the fish inside should be light, tender and flaky.

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The Blue Denim Gourmet

The Blue Denim Gourmet is my most recently purchased cookbook. A few weeks ago, I was out shopping with my mom and we stopped to look inside Half Price Bookstore.  I love searching the shelves of my local Half Price Bookstore.  I always find something, whether it’s a cookbook or other.  Anyways, I have to admit that I don’t buy cookbooks near as often as I used to, I’ve almost stopped completely, but I couldn’t pass up this book, as it had so many great looking recipes.  Why have I almost stopped buying cookbooks you ask?  Well for one, I don’t have enough space to store them anymore, and two, for the last eight years I’ve have been finding most of my new recipes on a website called: http://www.recipezaar.com/.  I’ve been a member there for years and you can find me their in the member list as “Kim D.”.  I love the community of cooks and the tried-and-true, treasured recipes posted by its members.  I’ve even met several members in person.  It’s a wonderful site and well worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Let’s get back to The Blue Denim Gourmet.  The cookbook was published by the Junior League of Odessa, Texas.  Junior League cookbooks always seem to have the best recipes.  My copy is the sixth printing from 1983.  I was seriously craving something sweet and narrowed down my decision of recipes to two choices:  a Praline Apple Pie or a Coffee Cake.  Decisions, decisions!  I hate decisions! Well, after pondering my choices, I decided on the Coffee Cake and I’m so glad I did.  I’m not saying that the Praline Apple Pie would not have been delicious, but the Coffee Cake was so deliciously moist.  This cake would be great for breakfast with a cup of coffee, as well as a delectable dessert to serve to guests.  The coffee cake would also be a great dessert to take on a picnic or to a pot-luck dinner at church.  This recipe is definitely worth baking!  The only change I made to the recipe was that I omitted the cardamom, because I didn’t have any in my spice cabinet.  The original recipe says to divide the batter into 3 round cake pans, but I used a 9X13-inch pan and it worked just fine.  Also, the recipe says this cake freezes well, but we wouldn’t know about that, it was gone in no time! 

Coffee Cake

Cake:

1 Duncan Hines Golden Butter Cake Mix

4 eggs

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

1 large package instant vanilla pudding

Topping:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 pinch cardamom

Butter a 9X13-inch baking pan.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine cake mix, eggs, butter, vegetable oil, sour cream and vanilla pudding and blend until smooth; set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients.  Sprinkle about 1/3 of the topping mixture on to the bottom of the prepared pan.  Pour the cake batter over top.  Then sprinkle the remaining 2/3 topping mixture over top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cake tests done with a toothpick.

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