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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Exploring Creole-Italian Cuisine

Often I am asked if I’m working on another cookbook. To be honest, I’m always searching and developing new dishes. There are many Creole and Cajun cookbooks available. One classic style of New Orleans cooking is not often found as the subject of a cookbook, Creole-Italian. With Italian blood flowing through my veins, a Creole-Italian cookbook would be my next choice.

Today, I am sharing with you three Italian dishes. The first, Italian Crab Salad, is classic Creole-Italian cooking. The second, Chicken Cacciatore, is an Italian dish that is easily adapted into Creole-Italian cuisine. The third, Tiramisu, would never be considered Creole-Italian. So grab your ingredients, and Let’s head to the kitchen!


Italian Crab Salad

This dish is often served as a salad course. It can also be used as an appetizer or entrée. No matter when you serve it, this is a simple dish packed with flavor.

1 large head lettuce, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup Giardeniera (Italian pickled vegetable salad), drained

1 1/2 to 2 cups lump crabmeat, picked thru for shells

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

Break lettuce into bite sized pieces and combine with Giardeniera, crabmeat and onions. Thoroughly mix oil, vinegar, salt and garlic. Pour over lettuce, Giardeniera and crabmeat. Gently toss and serve.

Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore is translated as hunter in Italian. The chicken is cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. For a different twist, serve it over pasta. You will want as much of the sauce as you can get.

1½ pounds chicken breast boneless, skinless and cut into

½ inch strips

1 medium onion, julienned

1 medium green bell pepper, julienned

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes

½ teaspoon fresh oregano chopped

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Hot cooked rice

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onions, bell

pepper, and garlic in oil until chicken is lightly browned on both sides

and vegetables are tender. Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes and

seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5

minutes or until heated through. Serve over rice.

Tiramisu

There is no Creole in this dessert. It is straight up Italian. Tiramisu is a very light dish. It doesn’t matter how much you have had to eat, there is always room for a piece of Tiramisu. Tell me what you think.

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1/3 cup sugar, divided

1 tablespoon rum

4 eggs, separated

9 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened

4 (3-ounce) packages soft ladyfingers

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

In a shallow dish, combine water, espresso powder, 1/4 cup sugar, and rum. Stir until espresso and sugar dissolve; let cool.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add mascarpone, and beat until incorporated and smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into mascarpone mixture.

Dip ladyfingers, one at a time, in the coffee mixture, and place them side-by-side in 13x9-inch serving dish until dish is covered with one layer. Pour half of the mascarpone mixture mixture onto ladyfingers. Repeat layering of dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture.

Sift cocoa powder over mascarpone mixture, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Little did I know when I was growing up that I was eating a variation of Italian cooking. Of course, Creole-Italians had to adapt to the ingredients they had available to them. This is the Italian cooking I grew up on. I know of only one cookbook devoted to Creole-Italian cuisine. Who knows? One day I may write mine and there will be two.

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