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Crabmeat (Or Shrimp or Crawfish) Nachos

Here in Louisiana, we’re lucky that as one of our favorite crustaceans goes out of season, another comes in. These nachos, which are seriously delicious as a pass-around appetizer, are very easy to make. Use whichever seafood is looking good (lobster, though not local, would also work), but only one species of them. (I’m not persuaded that crabmeat and shrimp together is as good as one or the other alone, assuming good quality to begin with.) The idea for this (but not the exact recipe) comes from Casa Garcia, whose two restaurants in New Orleans offer something like this as an appetizer.

Nachos

Make sure everybody has a margarita (or something like it) in his or her hand as you pass these around, still hot from the oven.

  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 4 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 2 green onions, tender green parts only, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbs. Tabasco jalapeno pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1 cup shredded asiago or fontina cheese, loosely packed
  • 1 lb. white or claw crabmeat, or peeled, deveined medium shrimp, or crawfish tails
  • 40 large, perfect tortilla chips, preferably with a concavity (not wavy)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a shelf in the middle of the oven. Use convection if available.

1. Combine all the ingredients except the cheese, seafood and chips. Put it into a squeeze bottle with a large opening at the tip, or a pastry bag.

2. Set up as many tortilla chips as will fit on a metal pan, preferably one with a rim. (A pizza pan works well.) Squirt about 1/8 teaspoon of the sauce onto each chip. Top with about a tablespoon of seafood. Squirt another teaspoon of the sauce over the seafood. Top with about a teaspoon of the shredded cheese.

3. Put the pan into the oven at 400 degrees for about two minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, passing the nachos around to your guests.

Makes 36-40 nachos.

AlmanacSquare May 18, 2017

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New Orleans Wine And Food Experience May 25-27
Greek Festival May 25, 26, 27

Food Calendar 

Today is National Cheese Soufflee Day. Cheese soufflees are not all that hard to cook, but they do require a certain amount of thought. The first issue is the cheese. You don’t want anything that will throw off a lot of fat–cheddar, for example, isn’t a good choice. Tangy cheeses–like those made with goat’s or sheep’s milk–make the soufflee more interesting. The assembly and baking require closer attention than most dishes. Although you can get away without either, a water bath and straight-sided soufflee dishes make the baking more foolproof. That instruction you hear about never opening the oven during the process is solid. All of what I just described makes it hard for a restaurant to offer hot soufflees–unless it has a chef who does little else.

cheese souffle

The heyday of cheese soufflees in New Orleans was in the late 1970s. That’s when Louis XVI opened for lunch, under Chef Daniel Bonnot. Among the specialties were soufflees not only of cheese but oysters Rockefeller (yum!) and smoked salmon. The line cook was Susan Spicer, who’d just begun her career as a chef, in her early twenties.

Deft Dining Rule #100:

A restaurant that routinely serves well-made hot soufflees gets an extra star just for that.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

The best way to keep a high-rising soufflee from falling over in the oven (or when you take it out) is to make a collar of parchment paper around the top of the dish, holding it tight with masking tape.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Raisin City is in the southwestern outskirts of Fresno, California, in that state’s central valley. It’s a triangular residential area surrounded by vineyards and orange groves, among other crops. The overripe grapes that give the place its name are Raisin City’s raison d’etre. About 165 people–mostly Hispanic–live there. The nearest restaurant is three miles away: Hog Heaven.

Edible Dictionary

lavender, n.–A leaf from the family of plants that includes basil and mint. Lavender is from western Asia. It’s found in the cooking of most of the populations around the Mediterranean. For example, the herb blend known as herbes de provence includes lavender as a main ingredient. The flavor is reminiscent of that of rosemary, but milder. It has an aroma and flavor that puts one in the mid of the blue-purple flowers the plants grow. The color “lavender” is named for the flowers. Honey made by bees from lavender flowers is distinctly different and fragrant. Great in stews and soups, particularly lamb.

The Saints 

Today in 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla–Pope John Paul II–was born in Wadowice, Poland. On his one visit to New Orleans, he dined at Antoine’s. (I know there’s much more to be said about him, but we have a narrow outlook here.). . . Today is the feast day of St. Theodatus, a patron saint of hoteliers and innkeepers.

Food And Volcanoes 

Today in 1980 Mount St. Helens exploded with the force of five hundred Hiroshima bombs, removing most of its altitude. I don’t think a dish has been named for that volcano, but the names of at least two others have wound up on edibles. Both are Italian, which figures: lot of famous volcanoes there. A stromboli is a pizza turnover with a hole punched in the top to let the steam out. It’s supposed to recall the island volcano Stromboli north of Sicily, which smokes most of the time. Chicken Vesuvio is less obvious a connection, although when served right that collection of chicken sausage, and potatoes is as hot as lava.

Music To Marry A Cook By 

On this date in 1963, Jimmy Soul hit the top of the charts with a song that gave this advice:

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife.
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

At the end of the song is this exchange:

“Hey, man, I saw your wife the other day. And she’s uuugg-leeee!”
“Yeah, she’s ugly, but she sure can cook!”

So which would you prefer? A good-looking wife (or husband)? Or one who sure can cook?

Food Namesakes 

Movie actor Yun Fat Chow was born today in Hong Kong in 1955. . . Joseph Beer, who was such a virtuoso on the clarinet that composers wrote pieces especially for him to play, was born today in 1744 in (appropriately) Bavaria. . . On a related note, Rufus Porter, former Saints linebacker, was born today in 1965. . . The Strawberries (Darryl and Lisa) filed for divorce today in 1989. . . This is a reach, but the scientist who theorized the existence of the ionosphere was born today–London, 1850. He sounds like a dedicated eater: Oliver Heaviside. . . Comedian Dane Cook was born today in 1972. . . Jean-Louis Roux, Canadian actor, playwright, and politician, stepped onto the Big Stage today in 1923.

Words To Eat By 

“Soufflee is more important than you think. If men ate soufflee before meetings, life could be much different.”–Jacques Baeyens, French consul general in New York in the 1950s.

Words To Drink By

“It is most absurdly said in popular language of any man, that he is disguised in liquor. On the contrary, most men are disguised by sobriety.”–Thomas de Quincy, British writer of the mid-1800s.
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Diversity In Dining.

What would be a marvelous touch in one restaurant could be an atrocity in another.

Click here for the cartoon.