As I’ve said before, the Tricentennial is upon us. But there are just 2 or 3 chapters that remain to be completed. Rather that wait around for the print version, I have decided to pre-publish the entire book here online within this blog. Chapter 2 (sans recipes) and the Christmas chapter may already be found here, but moving forward I will pre-publish all the chapters as I clean them up into final drafts (I use the word “final” very loosely). The included recipes will make their way into the chapters as the year goes by. Hope you enjoy the history AND the food!
A staple in any South Louisiana kitchen, translates as Lost Bread, and is a popular way to use up stale bread as opposed to making bread crumbs or feeding the birds outside; sometimes also called French Toast.
At its most basic, (1) heat up some oil in a frying pan, (2) make an egg and milk wash, (3) soak the stale bread in the wash, (4) fry it brown in the pan, (5) add some sugar, or cinnamon , or what have you, (6) eat it up with some coffee.
Ahhh! But as with most classic recipes, these simple steps offer a wide range of variations.
Step One: What kind of oil? Frere Gerard would have used bear oil, olive oil, bacon grease, or butter. Each one would infuse a distinct flavor upon your breakfast toast. In our tricentennial kitchens, the plethora of cooking oils available in our markets gives the cook a vast repertoire of flavors to experiment with.
Step Two: Beat an egg into some milk (we won’t get into what kind of egg or which animal’s milk). Gerard may have added some vanilla bean, nutmeg, allspice, or cloves into the wash. Today, your choices are measured beyond number.
Step Three: The same sentiment holds true for the bread choice. In New Orleans today, it is usually stale po-boy bread. But again go with your imagination.
Step Four: Sugar (powdered or table) and cinnamon are almost de rigeur. But think pancakes or waffles (like at IHOP), knock your lights out.
Step Five: No choice or variation allowed here. Just Eat.
4 or 5 Red Potatoes, boiled & mashed
½ small onion
½ red bell pepper
2-4 cloves garlic
Oil. Egg, lemon juice, thyme, parsley, cayenne
½ lb. picked crab meat
Boil and mash 5 large red potatoes. Chop the veggies as fine as possible (modern, pass them through a food chopper).
Next prepare a proto-recipe for the blending medium, i.e. the mayo*. Blend together (vigorously beat together) a large egg yolk, ½ cup olive oil,1 tsp. each of vinegar and/or lemon juice, the thyme, parsley, and cayenne to taste. When you have a nice firm mayo-like sauce, add the crabmeat to the mashed potatoes, blend in the “mayo”. Form into 8 or 10 cakes, correcting the texture with added bread crumbs. Coat the cakes with a layer of crumbs. If you have time, chill the cakes for a few hours. Bake the cakes at 370˚ for a half hour, then fry them in a heavy pan, oiled ¼ inch deep for 2 minutes on each side. Alternately, you can fry the cakes directly in ½ inch of oil, five minutes in each side.
* Gerard would not have had access to the sauce we call mayonnaise, as it wasn’t invented until the late 1700’s. However, egg and oil emulsions had been around sine Classical times. For a brief history and fuller discussion of mayo see chapter 14 Everyday Cooking in Creole New Orleans.
Coming soon as they are tested:
Sagamite Stuffed Cabbage* with Black Eye Peas (for a New Orleans New Year’s)
Corn flour, Onions or shallots, Green peppers, Parsley. Chopped or Ground Pork. Cabbage leaves, Black Eye Peas
* makes great stuffing for mushrooms, tomatoes, or bell peppers as well.
Bacon Wrapped Cabbage Rolls – nuts, bread, carrots, onions
Pies: Fruit and Nut
Turnip and Rabbit Pie