• Tommy Centola

Cooking something special for mom

Mother’s Day is approaching. It’s been many years since I was able to cook for my mom. Which got me thinking, what would I cook for her on this special day if she was still with us?

Since she was not around for the release of my cookbooks, I would want to make her the dishes I consider my signature dish from each book. This meal would start with my Crab Cakes, from my first book. It would be followed up by two recipes from my latest books, Crawfish Étouffée and White Chocolate Creme Brûlée . Knowing my mom, she would be pleased. Let’s go to the kitchen and start cooking.

My Crab Cake recipe is my most published one. It’s the recipe that started my writing journey. This dish is the perfect way to start my special dinner.

Crab Cakes

1 pound crabmeat

1 tablespoon butter

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning

3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh basil leaves, chopped

Pick through crabmeat, removing pieces of shells. Set aside. Over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Sauté garlic in butter until golden brown. Add green onions and cook until soft. Add parsley and cook one minute. Add crabmeat to pan. Add Old Bay Seasoning and mix thoroughly. Add heavy cream and mix well. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. The mixture should not be liquidly. If so add more breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to cool. Form cakes in hand, making a 2 1/2 -inch circle. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Cook in a 350 ℉ oven for 10 minutes. You may also deep fry them by heating a fryer to 360 ℉. Dip crab cake in mixture of milk and beaten egg, then cover with breadcrumbs. Cook them for 3 minutes or until golden brown.

With this being the cover photo of my new cookbook, Creole & Cajun Comfort Food, how could I serve her another entrée? It’s not a fancy dish, but it is very flavor-able. It pleases everyone whenever I make it. It is also often requested.

Crawfish Étouffée

3/4 cup butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 cup seafood stock

1 pound crawfish tails

6 green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Salt, pepper and Creole seasoning to taste

Cooked rice

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in the flour until well blended. Gradually stir in the tomato sauce and stock, then add the crawfish tails and bring to a simmer. Add the green onions and parsley and season with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes over low heat, until the crawfish is cooked but not tough. Serve over hot rice.

I wanted to end this meal with a light but elegant dessert. Nothing could be better than my White Chocolate Creme Brûlée. It’s one of my most requested desserts and always has people asking for seconds.

White Chocolate Creme Brûlée

4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar plus more for caramelizing

2 cups heavy cream

4 ounces white chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300℉.

In a medium bowl, mix the egg yolks with sugar until smooth. In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Add white chocolate to the simmering heavy cream. Turn off heat and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Add the white chocolate mixture to the egg yolk mixture slowly, whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and whisk. Pour into 4 ramekins. Place ramekins in a 9x13-inch baking pan. Add enough water so the cups sit in 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water. Bake until set, about 45 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle additional sugar on top of the dessert. Torch the sugar to desired level of brownness. If you don’t have a torch, broil for 4-5 minutes to achieve the crust. You can either warm the dessert or serve it cold before you brûlée the sugar.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day. Cherish each day with your mom. I know I wish I could. Celebrate her every day not just in May. You would not be who you are without her. Good Cooking! Good Eating! Good Living!

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