Guest Author - Sandie Jarrett
The first time I heard about a dish called ‘Crawfish Étouffée’, I had visions of a table set with fine linens, bone china, and gleaming sterling silver. In my vision, the table was adorned with candles,flowers, and sparkling crystal. My innocence allowed me to envision an everyday dish as something elegant and romantic, reserved for special occasions.
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romance, love, and innocence so this year, I am going to recreate my youthful vision of a romantic dinner of Crawfish Étouffée for two. Étouffée (ay-too-FAY) is a dark, rich, spicy crawfish or shrimp stew served over white rice. The name, étouffée, is a derivative of the French word étouffér or ‘to smoother.” Like most Cajun recipes, there are as many delicious recipes for this dish as there are great Cajun cooks.
Some recipes for Crawfish Étouffée, as in Chef Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook, have many steps and are best suited to cooks that can easily follow a recipe with multiple steps, while other recipes, as in Nathaniel Burton’s Creole Feast, are straight forward, with a few simple ingredients and even fewer steps. Emeril Lagassee has several different recipes, including an especially delicious crawfish or shrimp étouffée from his elegant Delmonico restaurant cookbook that includes chopped tomatoes. It is from the recipes of these celebrated chefs that I found inspiration for my elegant Valentine’s Day crawfish (or shrimp) Étouffée for 4 as well as for the additional courses.
To elevate your celebration to the status it deserves, serve each course separately. Don’t worry if you don’t have silver and china. Set the table with mismatched china pieces from flea markets and garage sales, your everyday dishes or even good quality paper plates; then add a few unscented candles, a small bowl or vase of fresh flowers and let the food take center stage.
Always start off with something bubbly. If you don’t wish to serve Champagne or sparkling wine, try club soda or sparkling water. The effervescence opens the taste buds and welcomes in the delicious flavors of the food.
The recipes used to create this romantic menu can easily be decreased to serve 2 or increased to serve a crowd. Serve with a warm sliced baguette and fresh sweet butter.
I hope that you enjoy my Romantic Cajun Dinner whether you serve it on Valentine's Day or for any other occasion.
With Warmest Regards,
Recipe for Crab-stuffed Mushrooms - an elegant way to begin any meal.
Recipe for Field Greens with Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette - light and lively salad of fresh field greens tossed with blue cheese crumbles, pecans, dried cranberries, and a pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette add a sophisticated touch to any meal.
Recipe for Classic Crawfish Étouffée over Rice - thick and spicy, Crawfish Étouffée makes an elegant presentation on the dinner or buffet table. If crawfish is unavailable, this dish is equally delicious made with shrimp.
Bananas Foster - rich, sweet, and oh so good, this New Orleans classic is
easy to make and the perfect ending to any meal.