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Marcelle Bienvenu

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Posts posted by Marcelle Bienvenu

  1. Classically/traditionally, the broth from the greens usually suffices. However, if you want to add chicken stock, that would be fine. Here is a recipe from my files:

    Gumbo z'herbes

    Makes 10 to 12 servings

    1 pound collard or mustard greens (or both)

    1 pound spinach

    1 pound turnip greens (optional)

    1 pound green cabbage leaves, cut into strips

    1 large bunch fresh watercress (optional)

    1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley

    1/2 teaspoon cayenne

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    2 bay leaves

    1/2 teaspoon ground thyme

    1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    1 pound salt meat or ham, cut into small cubes

    1 brunch green onions, trimmed and chopped

    1 cup chopped onions

    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    Wash and pat dry all the fresh greens. Put the greens in a large, deep pot and add enough water to cover. Add the cayenne, black pepper, bay leaves, thyme and allspice. Bring the mixture to a boil, pressing the greens down into the water. Cook until the greens are very tender and are falling apart. Drain and reserve the looking liquid. You should have three to four quarts. Set the liquid aside.

    Chop the greens, either with a knife or kitchen shears, or you can pulse them (in batches) in a food processor, but don't puree.

    In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, combine the oil and flour over medium heat. Stirring constantly, make a roux the color of peanut butter. Add the salt meat, green onions, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, about five minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and stir to blend. Add the chopped greens and simmer, partially covered, for about two hours. Adjust seasoning to taste.

    The gumbo can be served over rice. And don't forget the French bread. Oh, and I like to serve this with potato salad or baked sweet potatoes!

    I must tell you thought, that this isn't a thick traditional gumbo, but rather a more brothy one that is not only filling, but full of flavor and also nutritious. The fun of this is to try and find as many fresh greens as possible. If you can't find all that I have listed, you can use whatever greens you can find. I suggest that you go to your market and select seasonal greens (or use frozen ones) that suit your taste buds. Making and serving this gumbo is a delightful tradition, and I am always encouraging people to learn about how our local dishes developed through the years.


    Marcelle Bienvenu

  2. Here is some information that might be of use to you.

    In the original TP Cookbook, the greens called for in the recipe are: cabbage, radish, turnips, mustard, spinach, watercress, parsley and green onions (8 greens).

    In the Time-Life Acadian-Creole book, "…it (gumbo z'herbes) is said to have been originated by the superstitious Creoles especially for Good Friday when, it was believed, you would have good luck for the coming year if you ate seven greens and met seven people during the day." The recipe in this book calls for: collard or mustard greens, spinach, beet or turnip greens, chicory, cabbage, watercress, parsley, along with tops of carrots and radishes.

    In Leon Soniat's LA BOUCHE CREOLE: "One of the greatest of these (gumbos), actually termed the king of the gumbos is Gumbo Z'herbes, the gumbo of herbs or green gumbo. It was traditionally served on Good Friday. It seems that after so many days of abstinence and fasting during Lent, observed in the predominantly Catholic community, one needed the sort of revivification or rejuvenation given by this conglomeration of greens. To get all the greens necessary, one had to go to the French Market. Well I do remember early in the morning, almost at daybreak, how we would set out, for we lived within walking distance of the old French Market. When we got to the vegetable stands, where we bought the ingredients for the gumbo z'herbes, there would be the vegetable men or hawkers and their cries of 'GET YOUR GREENS, LADY, GET YOUR TWELVE GREENS, GET YOUR FIFTEEN GREENS, GET YOUR SEVEN GREENS, ….the numbers changed as we passed by each of the different stands.

    Marcelle Bienvenu

  3. Marcelle Bienvenu here. Regarding your request for information on Cajun Chefs.

    I'm happy to hear that a fifth-grader is interested in doing a project on famous Cajun chefs.

    And I appreciate the mention of my name in this forum on this topic. I do not consider myself a chef, but a food writer, cookbook author and a food historian on Cajun and Creole cuisines. I have worked for both Chef Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

    Paul comes from Cajun roots and was probably the first chef to introduce Cajun cuisine on the culinary scene when he became executive chef at Commander's Palace in the 1970s.

    Before Paul began preaching the gospel of Cajun cooking, it was easy enough to distinguish between Cajun and Creole. Cajun cooking was "country" cooking and Creole was "city" cooking. But now both cuisines overlap.

    In the book STIR THE POT; THE HISTORY OF CAJUN CUISINE, I co-authored with Carl Brasseaux and his son Ryan, we follow the evolution and development of the cuisine. It's worth a read, but may be a little heavy for a fifth-grader.

    Anyway, my list of "famous" Cajun chefs would include Paul Prudhomme, John Folse, and newcomer Donald Link, although they have all put their own personal spin on the humble cuisine of Cajun cooking, and have brought the country dishes to new heights.

    I remember a young chef years ago, when asked what Cajun cooking was, answered that it was "what your mama cooked."

    I would be happy to help you and your fifth-grader with the project.

    Marcelle Bienvenu

  4. This is an old favorite that I learned at Commander's Palace years ago. It's usually served as an appetizer, but double the recipe and it can certainly be a main course.


    Makes 2 servings (appetizers)

    6 to 8 large shrimp

    8 tablespoons butter

    1/2 cup chopped green onions

    1 teaspoon minced garlic

    1/2 cup sliced fresh white button mushrooms

    1 ounce brandy

    Worcestershire sauce

    Salt and cayenne

    Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp turn pink. Add the brandy, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, for a few minutes.

    Serve over toast points, toasted croutons, or in pastry shells.

    Or toss with pasta.

    Or add some chopped tomatoes for a different twist.

  5. Here is my post with pic of my latest venture in Creole Cream Cheese:


    Anyone have any other suggestions on making CCC at home? I know Marcelle Bienvenu frequents this forum, and I am a huge fan of her work. I've learned a lot from her writing in the Picayune's Creole Cookbook and the Time-Life: Creole & Acadian book, both of which are 2 of my absolute favorites. My recipe for CCC is largely based on what I read in the Picayune book, and experimentation.

    Danno: Thank you for your kind words. My great aunts and my mother made their own Creole cream cheese for years, but I'm afraid I haven't made it in quite a while. I usually buy the Creole cream cheese at Dorignac's, although I have used John Folse's a couple of times but find it less flavorful than the one at Dorignac's in Metairie. I commend you for making yours from scratch.

    My recipe for CCC is simple:

    2 cups heavy crean

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    5 egg yolks

    2 1/2 cups Creole Cream cheese

    Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring the mixture up to a gentle boil to scald it. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and slowly add the cream mixture, whisking to blend. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and cool (I chill it in the 'fridge). You can then make the ice cream in a ice cream machine or, we used to pour it into a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze in the freezer for about 8 hours.

  6. After reading the thread regarding Louisiana cookbooks, favorites and recommendations, I decided to toot my own horn. I appreciate the kind words regarding my cookbook WHO'S YOUR MAMA, ARE YOU CATHOLIC, AND CAN YOU MAKE A ROUX? Unfortunately it went out of print almost three years ago due to a legal problem. But I'm happy to announce that the book is being republished and will be re-released in June by Acadiana House Publishers. It has been redesigned but will include all the original recipes, photographs and narratives. The book will be available at most bookstores and through this website http://www.acadianhouse.com/acadianhousepu...ingonlinestore/

    Book signings in New Orleans, New Iberia, Houma, and Lafayette, as well as in Shreveport, and perhaps Pensacola are being scheduled for this summer.

    I hope to see some of you then! And thanks again.

    Marcelle Bienvenu

  7. I'm all out of mallards and wood ducks, but a friend of mine wants me to show him how to make duck gumbo.  I've never done it with anything but wild ducks and have always assumed that using Long Island ducks would result in a greasy pot of gumbo.  Has anybody out there ever tried it before?  If so, how did it turn out?

    You are correct in assuming that store-bought ducks are very fat and I find don't work very well in duck gumbo. Too, Long-Island ducks don't have a lot of meat on them. And you'll certainly won't have the flavor that mallards and wood ducks bring to the gumbo. Tell you friend to wait until you can use wild ducks. It would be better to make a chicken/andouille gumbo.

  8. Marcelle was even more charming than I imagined. She's knowledgable, witty, and a good storyteller. Marcelle, if you're reading this, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. It was a privilege and a pleasure.

    Why thank you Patti! You've made my day. The audience was a good one and it's always fun telling people about our culture and cuisine. I hope you invite me again.

  9. Hey y'all, just wanted to follow up now that I'm back home.  First, let me apologize for not taking many food pics.  I'd be a horrible blogger.  And yes, I will blame my two small children in large part.

    The breakfast feast at my friend's mother's house was yummy.  The highlights were her homegrown satsumas:


    We brought about a dozen home.  Should have brought more.

    and cheese biscuits:


    Sarah's cheese biscuits are legendary in our little circle of friends.  Whenever we had sleepovers she'd make these for our breakfast.  What kills me is that she makes them with Pioneer biscuit mix.  Maybe all the cheddar disguises the fact that it's a mix.  She gave me the parfait glass with which she used to cut the biscuits until her son dropped and and broke the bottom of the glass.  Sarah reports that when the glass fell, I cursed her son for not respecting the biscuit cutter.

    The fare at the wedding was standard Catholic Cajun fare.  Boudin balls, roast beef, open bar.  Nothing to exciting, and not a single crudite in sight.  I found that a bit strange.  The cakes were AWESOME though.  My cousin (mother of the bride) couldn't remember the name of the baker, but I'm pretty sure it must have been Mrs. Short (Kathleen?).  There was THE cake plus about 8 other cakes, I suppose in lieu of a single groom's cake.  Tres leches, coconut, red velvet, carrot, and others I don't recall.  The red velvet was hands down the best I've ever had.  The others were excellent too.  Only drawback was that they were so moist that they were difficult to serve.

    On Sunday, we headed to Baton Rouge to meet up with friends.  At lunch we met another family at The Chimes East (The Chimes near LSU just opened a new store on Coursey -- much bigger and much more of a "family" restaurant than the original.)  I was disappointed in my order -- grilled amberjack with crawfish bearnaise sauce.  The crawfish were mealy and the sauce was obviously made to far ahead.  I would have prefered the fish by itself.

    My parents had said that they wanted to take treat us to a restaurant of our choosing.  My dad has a very narrow view of what makes a good restaurant, so I suggested that my parents choose between Zea (one of their suggestions) and Guama's.  They chose Zea, apparently a local chain focusing on rotisserie items.  If I had to choose a chain, Zea would likely get my vote.  This was not cutting edge cuisine, but a simply solid menu and ambience that will appeal to a wide audience.  I had a very nice spinach salad and redfish with a nice topping of shrimp etoufee.  Sides were collard greens and roasted corn grits.  Nice.  This was my best seafood entree the whole trip.

    Thursday night we went to Cafe des Amis where one of the chefs is a friend of a friend.  Turned out he wasn't there, even though we'd coordinated to go on one of his work nights.  Bummer.  The apps outshone the entrees that night.  The chef sent out pecan encrusted shrimp with Turbo (Abita beer) butter sauce.  We also ordered the crab cheesecake, which was more on the quiche side of a cheesecake, but quite good.  (side note -- anyone have suggestions for serving savory cheesecake as an hors d'oeuvre? -- is a fork required?)  The BBQ shrimp was the best entree.  Nice big gulf shrimp and a thick brown sauce, french bread toast points.  We also had crawfish fettucine (mediocre) and drum topped with a crab/crawfish sauce (again, the sauce was disappointing, and the fish was fishy.)  The white chocolate bread pudding rocked.  They get points for decor and ambiance -- lots of cool folk art.  And the antique bar was at the Hotel Evangeline in Lafayette -- where my parents first met 40+ years ago.

    I knew I wanted some killer biscuits before we left town, but felt like Dwyer's would have been too much of a production for us.  So on Friday morning we had breakfast at Edie's Express at Bendel Gardens.  We ordered the $3 platter with 3 eggs, sausage/bacon, and a biscuit, and the biscuits stole the show, of course.  Absolutely gorgeous and feather light.

    We never made it to Poupart's but my dad did pick up a baguette for dinner on Friday night.  One of my last carb splurges before coming home.

    Speaking of carb splurge, a family friend brought over some homegrown lemons with which I made some killer lemon bars.  The two remaining lemons are in my fridge.

    The other treat we brought home was some olive salad from Cedar Grocery.  Totally forgot about going to Central Grocery when we were in NO.  Ooops!

  10. Oh my, is that the REAL Marcelle Bienvenu?  Cool...  I'm looking forward to picking up your new book while I'm home.

    I should have included Charley G's in my original list.  I actually used to work for Charlie when he had a share in Hub City Diner.

    Yes, it's really me. I just joined the eGullet Society and am enjoying it tremendously. The book is available at Barnes & Noble and Lily's in the Oil Center (housed in the Bella Luna store next to the Kitchenary). If you're going to be in Lafayette February 4, there will be a book signing for STIR THE POT at Barnes & Noble at 6:30. A Cajun band will also be on hand as well as some hot boudin to munch on. Come join us.

  11. All the places mentioned in this thread are fine, but you might want to also try Charley G's, an upscale place near the Mall of Acadiana. There is a nice bar, live music by a trio on weekend nights. Good grilled food. Also, you might want to take a drive to neaby Breaux Bridge and have dinner at Cafe des Amis or better yet, attend their Saturday morning zydeco brunch!

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