Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Recipes from My New Orleans by John Besh

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law gave Chip and me John Besh's My New Orleans for Christmas. John Besh has many restaurants in the New Orleans area. We've been to Restaurant August two or three times, and we never miss brunch at Luke on our weekend visits to New Orleans.

Chip read My New Orleans cover to cover first, and I almost stole it away from him before he finished. As Chip was reading the cookbook, he read many of the stories and recipes from the cookbook aloud to me and would have my mouth watering every night right before bed. I probably dreamed of creole cooking for a week straight! I knew that this was going to be a cookbook I actually cooked from... unlike The French Laundry cookbook that I've ogled but have yet to try a darn recipe.

I made Besh's the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo for the NFC Championship, and it was mighty good! I left out the okra, though, because I just don’t love okra. For Chip's birthday back in October, I made Emeril's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and it was neat to compare the two batches. I cheated on the Besh batch because I pulled the meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. For the Emeril batch, I used only thigh meat. The thigh meat was better, I think, but the recipes were really similar.

For the Super Bowl, I decided to make the Shrimp, Chicken, and Andouille Jambalaya and the Mardi Gras King Cake recipes from My New Orleans. The jambalaya was really good. It was a celebration of pork: bacon, andouille, ground pork sausage, and sliced smoked sausage. We don't eat much pork in our house, so it was definitely a treat. I used crawfish tails instead of shrimp, and that added a yummy twist.

Stirring up all that porky flavor!

I have some reservations on the King Cake recipe. The recipe said the baking temperature and time should be 375F for 30 minutes. I thought the temp was a little too high, and sure enough it turned out dry and a little too brown. I should have pulled it out of the oven earlier or baked it at 350F. Also, Besh's recipe had me sift the cinnamon and nutmeg into the flour. Next time I might try to roll out the dough, shake on some cinnamon sugar, and roll it up jellyroll-style so that there are swirls of cinnamon throughout the braids. But seriously, I can't complain too much, because with a few tweaks, it will be a showstopper. Just look at this cake!

I forgot to take photos until I had already mixed the dough, kneaded for 15 minutes (!), and let it take its first rise. And from there...

Rolling out the dough for the braid.

The recipe said equal lenghts. These looked equal enough for me!

Getting ready to braid.

The braiding begins. It was so FUN!

Braided and ready for its second rise.

Second rise done. Now it is ready for the oven!

Cooling before the icing goes on.

What do you think? Happy Mardi Gras!


Ginger said...

That king cake looks pretty good to me! I LOVE king cake - had it twice today!

 r4 said...

Looks so adorable recipe. Thanks!
I would like to try it soon.

Leah Maria said...

The king cake looks delicious! You did a great job on it!! The gumbo and jambalaya sounds wonderful. I haven't made gumbo all season, I think it's time to.

Casey said...

mmmm..... the king cake looks beautiful and I've got the Besh cookbook on my wish list now!

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

Yum! That looks awesome!