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La Belle Cuisine - More Lagniappe * Recipes

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...
is an act of integrity, and faith."

*Lagniappe (lan-yap)  - a little something extra,
that little unexpected pleasant surprise.


 New Orleans Restaurants - Corinne Dunbar's



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"New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin."
~ Mark Twain, 1884

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My New Orleans:
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La Belle Cuisine


Most of the following background information and the recipes are excerpted from "The New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook" by Deirdre Stanforth, published in 1967 by Doubleday & Co., Inc. This delightfully entertaining and informative cookbook
is unfortunately out of print. Alibris has some excellent used copies available:

New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook: the Colorful History and
Fabulous Cuisine of the Great Restaurants of New Orleans

Please feel free to contact us if you're looking for a particular New Orleans restaurant recipe. Who knows, we just may have it!

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Among my many blessings I count the privilege of having spent a large part of
my childhood in New Orleans. Because my mother was a woman of discriminating
taste, I was introduced to some of the finer things in life at a very early age. Fine cuisine was certainly included, which means that my love affair with New Orleans delicacies has endured over half a century!
Both the French Quarter and the Garden District - as different from one another
as they are - were home to me. As a child, I would have been hard pressed to choose between my favorite restaurants in those areas. After long deliberation, I've decided to begin this series of features on New Orleans restaurant recipes with a salute to a "grande dame" who is unfortunately no longer with us... Corinne Dunbar's. This excellent eating establishment's demise was either in 1956 when it was sold and moved to a new location nearby, or in 1987, when the new owner retired, depend-
ing on one's point of view. I remember the original with the utmost fondness.
Deirdre Stanforth's description of Dunbar's captures my sentiments precisely: "Eating there is like being invited to dinner in an elegant old Southern home."
My tender age at the time of my first visit was very conducive to fantasy, so I
took it a step further and pretended to be a guest at an ante-bellum plantation.
Believe me, that didn't require much imagination! Dunbar's was located in an
1840's town house on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District , and always felt more like a private home than a restaurant. No doubt this is due to the fact that Corinne Dunbar was a Creole aristocrat who opened her home for entertaining. "The furnishings were Mrs. Dunbar's own family pieces, and the food was served
on lovely china with beautiful old silver."
A restaurant atmosphere was further avoided by the absence of advertisement.
This beloved establishment was identified only by a small brass plaque that said,
"Corinne Dunbar". Either one knew the restaurant was there, or one did not.
Guests rang the doorbell, were greeted by a uniformed butler, escorted to the
parlor, and later to the dining room.
There was no menu! The meal's courses were set in advance and were served
family style, meaning that guests served themselves from serving dishes on their table. The feast always began with a fruit dish, then a soup followed by Dunbar's famous specialty, Oysters and Artichokes. Don't I wish I had THAT recipe! The
main course was accompanied by a procession of vegetables, and hot biscuits or
tiny muffins were passed around the table. Then came the goûté, a "small touch
of sweet", followed by a demitasse. Is your mouth watering is watering yet?
 Enough talk, let's get on with the recipes!

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Oysters Carnaval

2 dozen oysters with shells and liquid
1 1/2 large or 2 small onions
1 small clove garlic
1/2 bay leaf
2 pieces celery
Pinch of thyme
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
6 strips bacon
6 lemon wedges

Chop oysters and drain, reserving liquid. Mince onions, garlic, bay leaf,
celery and thyme. Fry until brown in an iron skillet in 3 tablespoons of
butter. Add chopped oysters. Moisten 1/2 cup bread crumbs with oyster
liquid and add to mixture in skillet. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or
until oysters have stopped drawing water. Add 2 tablespoons butter and
cook until butter is melted. Boil and scrub oyster shells and fill with oyster
mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Put in a 375-
degree F. oven a few minutes until thoroughly heated. Serve at once, garnished with crisp bacon strips and lemon wedges. Serves 6.

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Crawfish Bisque

2 pounds crawfish
1 pound shrimp
3 quarts water
11/2 medium-sized onions
3/4 clove garlic
2 pieces celery
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves (optional)
3 ounces tomato paste
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet

2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 onion
1/4 clove garlic
1 piece celery
2 sprigs thyme
1/8 cup tomato paste
Salt, pepper, and cayenne
1/2 loaf French bread

Soak crawfish 1 hour in strong salted water. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
Boil shrimp a few minutes in 1 quart lightly salted water. Remove shrimp,
peel, and finely chop. Reserve for stuffing. Put shrimp heads back in water
in which shrimp were boiled, add 2 more quarts of water and crawfish. Add
the onions, garlic, celery, thyme, bay leaves, cloves and tomato paste. Boil
about 30 to 40 minutes, remove crawfish and strain broth. Add flour-water
mixture to broth for thickening, and Kitchen Bouquet. Simmer 2 hours,
stirring frequently.

To make stuffing
: Peel crawfish, saving heads, and chop fine. Combine
with chopped shrimp. Simmer about 30 minutes in shortening together
with the onion, garlic, celery, thyme and tomato paste. Break up French
bread into small pieces, squeeze out after soaking in water, and add to
the crawfish, shrimp and seasonings. Simmer about 20 minutes longer,
stirring constantly. Let cool, then stuff into the empty shells of crawfish
heads. Before serving, the stuffed heads may be browned slightly in a moderate oven. Add 3 or 4 heads to each bowl of soup. Serves 10.

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Shrimp à la Creole

3 pounds shrimp
1 tablespoon shortening
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 pieces celery, chopped
1 pod garlic, minced
1 small bell (green) pepper, chopped
1/2 can tomatoes [no size is given,
use your judgment]
1/2 can tomato paste [no size is given]
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Boiled rice

Boil shrimp approximately 10 minutes, peel and clean. Melt shortening in
a skillet and add onion, celery, garlic and bell pepper. Simmer 5 minutes
and add tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, sugar and salt
and pepper. Mix well and add shrimp. Simmer 1/2 hour and serve in a
circle of boiled rice. Serves 6.

NOTE: These days, the shrimp would not be cooked nearly that long, as
they will toughen. Depending on the size of the shrimp, the boiling time
might be between 5 and 8 minutes, and the cooked shrimp would be
added to the Creole Sauce very shortly before serving.  (MG)

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Daube Creole

1/4 pound salt pork
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
4 cloves
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
One 12-14-pound boneless beef round
1 chopped onion
3 quarts beef stock
2 cups Sherry

Cut salt pork fat into thin strips. Finely chop bay leaves, thyme, parsley,
garlic, onion and cloves and mix with salt and pepper. Roll pork fat strips
in seasoned herb mixture. Make cuts in beef round and push the seasoned
strips into the incisions. Brown the roast in an uncovered dry roasting pan
about 30 minutes at 300 degrees F.
At the end of that time, sprinkle roast with chopped onion, pour over beef stock and Sherry and cook at 350 degrees F. about 3 1/2 hours. Slice at
the table (guest should remove the pockets of seasoning from their slices).
Serves 16-18.

More New Orleans Restaurant Recipes:
Caribbean Room
Commander's Palace
Mr. B's Bistro

More Lagniappe Recipes!
Do you know what it means
to miss New Orleans?

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