Sunday, April 19, 2015

Good Cookin' in Nawlin's Two... Shrimp Beignets...

One of the most enjoyable aspects of New Orleans is being able to sit under the softly whirring ceiling fans at Café du Monde’s large patio in the French Quarter eating a classic morning breakfast of fried beignets and sipping café au lait. Beignets, pronounced (Ben-yeh) are traditional Creole doughnuts made of flat squares of dough that are flash-fried to a golden, puffy glory, then dusted heavily with powdered sugar and served scorching hot. Crazy delicious, and was the first thing I thought of upon waking up everyday I was there! Gotta get my messy but oh-so delectable fix!

The popular horse and carriage rides outside Jackson Square.

Lunch at Cookin’ Cajun Cooking was a popular teaching and lunching show back then- we're talking 15 years ago!! Chef Bang was our host, whipping up various popular dishes of the Crescent City. Once he had gone through the step-by-step preparation in his enthusiastic and comical entertainment style, a full meal was served to the audience seated at dining tables. It’s a fantastic concept, and after people can browse in their adjoining Gourmet Shop to pick up spices, mixes and other exciting New Orleans specialties. This was where I tried their famous Mardi Gras spice mix whipped into a dip with mayo and sour cream. One of the best flavours I ever tasted, and later became an inspiration in a line of dip products I developed for a dip and paté company Summersweet Fine Foods- Mardi Gras with Shrimp Dip, still selling in the US retail market today :). 

Me and Chef Bang. You can visit and order items from
their extensive catalogue, that can be shipped directly to your home. 

Beignets have also transformed into savoury offerings such as with shrimp and spices creating a wonderful appetizer. Clams, smoked chicken, crabmeat and mushrooms are delicious alternatives in Creole beignets. I eagerly made this recipe after my first trip with a New Orlean's-inspired party for my friends and it was a pure hit! I had bought some Mardi Gras spice mix and that went wonderful with the savoury doughnuts. You can also serve these with tartar sauce.

Shrimp Beignets
Makes 15 beignets (double the recipe to serve a crowd)

1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1-2 Tbsp. chopped pimento or chilies
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked shrimps
1 to 2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
3/4 cup water
a few dashes of hot sauce
canola or peanut oil

Mix the dry ingredients together evenly. Add the remaining ingredients up to parsley and mix well. Add water and hot sauce, but just enough to form a loose dough. Set aside for 15 minutes to rest. Heat the oil in a sauce pot or fryer until a bamboo stick inserted into the centre forms bubbles shooting up its side. Spoon in dough by the Tbsp. and deep fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with mayo spiked with hot sauce or cayenne pepper, or tartar sauce.

If you like savoury seafood doughnuts, try making my whelk fritters which are considered upscale large snails. Very delicious and reminds me of delicious Bahama conch fritters!

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