It All Begins with a Roux: Celebrating 2015 in Nashville with a Creole-Italian Style Dinner with a French Wine Pairing! (My Cajun Cooking Classes)

Happy “ROUX” Year!

Put some Cajun in your life and experience “joie de vivre” the joy of living!

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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You can’t do it without a Roux!

Roux is simply flour and oil heated in a pan until the flour cooked until its blonde or the color of peanut butter to a beautiful dark and aromatic mahogany. This simple 2 ingredient mixture from classic French cooking which is the base for some of the most amazing and unique French Cajun and Creole cuisine you’ll ever have. The lighter one (shown below) is usually used for lighter sauces and the base for étouffée or with a deeply rich and nutty aroma of darker one for gumbo!

 

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 Louisiana is flowing through my veins

Italian/Cajun/Creole cuisine has been part of my life from the beginning.  I was born in the Mississippi Delta and raised in Louisiana. My father was 100% Sicilian. From northern Louisiana to Cajun Country in southern Louisiana, the Delta Sicilians brought our unique Italian local cuisine to Louisiana and Mississippi with a fusion of  Creole and Cajun food like no other.

My New Year’s resolution is to cook more Cajun/Italian/Creole and I began with New Year’s Eve! Cajun food seems to be a universal favorite with everyone and my guests were thrilled to know that would be the menu that night. Celebrations in Louisiana, north or further south, wouldn’t be complete without dishes with shrimp, crawfish and ….roux!

In the past it was almost impossible to get the ingredients indigenous to Louisiana brought into Nashville that I found myself getting away from my culinary roots. Not anymore! I can ship crawfish tails over night as well as live crawfish when they are in season. More seasonings are available now everywhere and Nashville is no exception.

One dish everyone seems to especially love is gumbo! Here’s the menu from New Year’s Eve. Don’t wait until next NYE, celebrate anytime with these dishes.

Cooking and Wine Classes

Currently, I am teaching cooking classes at Whole Foods in Green Hills and Casa Azafran  The classes will include Cajun/Creole/Italian-influenced dishes.

I am a student of wine and continue to pursue more certifications. I hold the Advanced Wine and Spirit Trust Certificate and will pursue the first of four certifications through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Cajun/Creole food is based on French cuisine, French wines seemed just right for this dinner. Red and White Bordeaux’s and French sparkling wines enhanced and complemented this NYE dinner!

Menu

Wines details after the food, scroll down! 

First Appetizer

Brie wheel topped with Pecans and Caramel (Pecan Praline Sauce) – Thank you, Dianne for such a delicious beginning!

 

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Appetizer #2.

 Oysters Mosca  for years was a family favorite in our house made famous by Mosca’s Restaurant. This is an example of a Louisiana Cajun food with an Italian influence. There are many recipes out there but this is the one my family made and enjoyed for many years. Fresh Louisiana oysters drained as well as you can and spread out in a large pan, doused with rich olive oil, sliced green onions, minced garlic. Liberally cover with Italian style bread crumbs (or make your own) and grated Parmesan or Parmesano-Reggiano. Bake uncovered 350-375 degrees until hot and bubbly. Serve as an appetizer or main course over angel hair pasta. Your guests will swoon!

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1st Course: Shrimp and Crab Finger Filé Gumbo over Louisiana rice and topped with Crispy Okra “croutons”

You really don’t need a recipe. If you have a well-made roux, that’s all you need as the base for a great gumbo. Stock or broth preferably steeped and then strained of  shrimp shells from the shrimp used in the recipe. I always add dried thyme leaves, white and black pepper, cayenne, fresh garlic, filé powder, dried oregano, marjoram and a dash of worcestershire sauce.

 

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Mardi Gras Salad – Purple, Green and Gold

Although there are many versions of this salad that can be found in about every cajun cookbook or online, the base of the salad reflects the colors of Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold. I made a vinaigrette with olive oil, cider vinegar, dijon mustard and Holiday Brand  fried Pecans with cane sugar from Louisiana.

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Course #2. Beef Tenderloin Filet filled with An Artichoke and Tasso Stuffing

Almost every Sunday, we had Sicilian-Stuffed Artichokes for our Sunday dinner when I was a kid and I thought a deconstructed stuffed artichoke would make a great filling for this tenderloin. In a bowl, I mixed artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, chopped Tasso, garlic, bread crumbs, olive oil and parmesan cheese. The stuffing was rolled up into butterflied tenderloin and roasted in my outdoor pizza oven which  added a nice crust of smokiness. Finally, each guest was present with a thick slick placed on top of a crawfish étouffée.

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Dessert!

Pecan Pie Bread Pudding topped with Brown Sugar Crumble and served with Pecan Caramel and Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Three of my southern favorite desserts got together and this is what was created! I can now scratch off “The best dessert I have ever had” off of my bucket list. DAMN! this was amazing!

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New Year’s Eve Dinner: We are all enjoying our last night of 2014 Cajun-style!

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So many wines, how do you decide what pairs with a Cajun meal? French wines, of course! Simonnet-Febvre Cremant De Bourgogne continues to be one of my favorite sparkling wines. We enjoyed both Brut(Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) and Brut Rosé (Pinot Noir) with our appetizers and it quickly became everyone’s favorite. The fine crisp, dry bubbles of the Brut bring forth lemony and toasty flavors and aromas. And the Brut Rosé adds extra layer of flavors of raspberries that pair with just about everything!

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Two elegant Right Bank Bordeaux Blends (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) were on the wine list for dinner.

Chateau Teysson 2011 Grand Vin De Bordeaux and Chateaux La Moussant 2011 Grand Vin De Bordeaux red Bordeax wines were a great match of our meal. Both with rich dark fruit flavors and aromas both exhibiting fresh fresh fruit just right for a spicy rich meal both priced under $20.

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 Domaines Lafite Barons De Rothschild Bordeaux Blanc 2013   Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc Blend

An aromatic white wine with flavors of exotic fruits and the tang of grapefruit is an elegant, fresh and lively white wine that absolutely pairs with seafood dishes especially on this menu. Great prices on white bordeaux’s will encourage you to experience a beautiful wine often. Definitely include this wine with your next meal! It pairs with just about everything including chicken and lemon dishes, creamy cheeses and shellfish.

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About The Author

Lisa Mays

Lisa is passionate about wine and holds the WSET Advanced Certificate (Wine and Spirit Education Trust of London). She will be pursuing her Diploma Certificate through rigorous on-going studies and plans to attain the prestigious Master of Wine designation.

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Author of this web sitehttp://www.winewithlisa.com

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