• Tommy Centola

Mulling over cooking courses

For roughly the past 7-8 years, I had the dream of starting cooking classes locally. I love sharing my passion for the dishes I grew up with. While giving demonstrations are an option (hopefully at the farmer’s market this year), I would like a hands-on classroom where people would be doing instead of just watching. I have been talking to some people lately gauging interest in these classes.

While a classroom setting is not currently available, I have already started putting together menus for these classes. Today, I have a some recipes that would be near the top of the list for these classes: Shrimp Étouffée, Creole Sausage & Andouille Jambalaya and Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. For those of you who like to follow recipes, here is a sneak peek at the class.

Crawfish Étouffée is the dish that is pictured on the cover of my new book, Creole & Cajun Comfort Food. I find that more people eat shrimp instead of crawfish. So, I reworked this iconic recipe. It is as tasty as the original.

Shrimp 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 small raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

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 shrimp 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.

Growing up, my mom would regularly fix Sausage Jambalaya. As I started to experiment in the kitchen, I would start with her original recipe and expand on it. Here is the jambalaya that is a close second to my mom’s.

Creole Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

1 pound andouille sausage, cut into bite size pieces

1 pound chicken thigh meat, cut into bite size pieces

1/3 cup onions, chopped

¼ cup celery, chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper, chopped

¼ cup garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 quart beef broth

1/2 quart chicken broth

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 cups long grain rice

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

2 tablespoons basil

2 tablespoons oregano

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

1 tablespoon paprika

Over medium heat, cook sausage, chicken, onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Add broth and dry seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add rice. Cover and lower heat to low. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.

Bananas Foster is an iconic New Orleans dessert. Here it is presented in bread pudding form, This recipe is from my book Creole & Cajun Comfort Food.

Banana Foster Bread Pudding

8 large croissants, cut into large pieces

1 quarts heavy cream

8 eggs, beaten lightly

1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling

1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus additional for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 banana, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon dark rum

1 tablespoon banana liqueur

Butter

Preheat oven to 325℉.

Butter a 2-quart baking dish, and place the croissants inside, In a large mixing bowl, mix together heavy cream, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, banana, rum and liqueur. Pour mixture over the bread. Stir until the croissants are well-coated. Let stand for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the top lightly with additional cinnamon and sugar and dot with butter. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. Serve warm.

I am hoping that one day Harding might expand their curriculum to include Hospitality courses. I know that the facility they would build would be top notch. Then we could start teaching some good ole Creole & Cajun dishes. Until them, Good Cooking, Good Eating and Good Living!

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