Recipes are built on technique and lots of trial and error. At least mine are.
Technique is important because many recipes start with a basic: how to make a white sauce or prep a vegetable for cooking. Both skills are needed for today's recipes for Crawfish Mac and Cheese and Cucumber Canapes.
Once you know how to do something, then comes the alchemy of combining ingredients to get the best flavors.
Sometimes my recipes are a collection of elements from several recipes, which I'll modify to use local ingredients, what’s available and what fits with the taste buds at my dinner table.
By the time I’ve honed a successful version, the only thing that remains from the original recipes is the inspiration.
Often, the results are wonderful, but, sometimes, they're a disappointment.
Now to that white sauce and the Crawfish Mac and Cheese. The sauce — made with butter, flour and milk — is what gives the dish its perfect creamy consistency. The secret to this recipe is not to overdo the milk or the cheese.
To perfect these cool Cucumber Dill Canapes, great on a hot day, technique is important. To keep the cucumbers from becoming watery, scoop out the seeds before chopping. Then drain them before mixing with the other ingredients. And, above all, don’t salt them until you’re ready to serve. Salting fresh vegetables draws out the water, making the dish, well, watery.
Now there are times you want that, such as when making okra and tomato stew. In this case, no one likes a watery cucumber canape.
As I continue on my culinary adventures, thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing more recipes that show off the best foods our area has to offer.
Crawfish Mac and Cheese
Makes 6-8 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.
1 stick butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup cheddar, Monterrey Jack cheese mix, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning*
Tabasco hot sauce to taste
1 pound crawfish tails
8 ounces shell macaroni pasta, cooked
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Cook’s note: I used Red Stick Spice Company’s Bayou Blend
1. Melt butter in a heavy pot over medium heat.
2. Saute onions, green onions, bell pepper and garlic until tender and onions are translucent.
3. Sprinkle flour on top and stir until blended.
4. Slowly stir in milk until sauce is smooth and creamy. Add more milk if the sauce becomes stiff.
5. Stir in cream cheese and cheddar mix until melted.
6. Season with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Add hot sauce as desired.
7. Stir in crawfish tails and simmer until tails are warm.
8. Gently stir in pasta and parsley. Serve warm.
Cucumber Dill Canapes
Makes 24 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
Pumpernickel bread slices
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Cut one cucumber in half and remove the seeds, but leave the peel.
2. Shred the cucumber and place in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Mix in softened goat cheese, sour cream, garlic and pepper.
4. Stir dill into cheese mixture.
5. Chill for at least one hour up to overnight before serving.
6. Thinly slice the second cucumber. Bias cut pumpernickel bread and toast lightly.
7. Spread the cucumber cream mixture onto each slice then top with cucumber slices.
8. Sprinkle on salt on top. Garnish with dill sprigs and serve.