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N'awlins dishes please the palate

Back to the real world, I'm telling everyone. I just returned from a week in a most colorful, magical place - beautiful architecture, majestic oaks, a river wind, jazz in the distance - New Orleans.

"The Big Easy" it is called and there's a saying down there: "There are two times of day in Louisiana, mealtime and in between." Food is serious business and it reflects the city's diverse history. There are two French-influenced cultures, Creole and Cajun, with Caribbean, African, Spanish and Native-American flavors stirred in. It's a delicious mix.

Fried oysters, crawfish etouffee, po-boys, turtle soup laced with sherry, pecan pralines, muffulettas, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans, bread pudding, and beignets with chicory coffee - we had them all.

And now I'm looking forward to having dinner parties and share a bit of New Orleans with my friends - maybe you'd like to do that as well.



MR. B's GUMBO YA YA

1 chicken (31/2 pounds), quartered

1 can chicken broth

2 cups water

6 ounces kielbasa or smoked sausage, fully cooked and diced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup tomato paste

1 cup each chopped onion, green pepper and celery

10 ounces frozen sliced okra

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon each cayenne and black pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Bring chicken, broth and water to boil in a large pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 40-45 minutes until chicken is no longer pink near the bone. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove skin and pull meat off chicken in bite-size pieces. Pour broth into a large container; cover and refrigerate separately overnight - until fat in soup has risen to the surface and hardened. Spoon fat off broth.

Cook kielbasa in a Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Remove with slotted spoon to a small bowl.

Add oil to pot; whisk in flour, then 1 cup of the chicken broth. Stir over medium heat 10 minutes until flour mixture turns dark brown - this is called a roux. Stir in tomato paste and remaining ingredients. Cook and stir 5 minutes.

Add kielbasa and remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and liquid has thickened. Add chicken and simmer 10 minutes until heated through. Serves six.

- from Mr. B's



Cajun cooking came from country folk - the Acadians who left France for Nova Scotia in the 1600s and, after

being expelled from Canada by the British, made their way to the swamps and bayous of rural Louisiana. Their cuisine is a lot like their music - spicy and robust.



CAJUN SEAFOOD AND SAUSAGE GUMBO

1/3 cup flour

1 12-ounce container fresh oysters, undrained

2 cups frozen cut okra

2 cups chopped onion

11/2 cups diced green bell pepper

11/2 cups diced celery

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon paprika (or to taste, possibly more)

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon each white pepper, cayenne and black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound smoked saus-age, cut into bite-size pieces

2 8-ounce bottles clam juice

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 pound small shrimp

1/2 pound lump crab meat

6 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Place 1/3 cup flour in a shallow baking pan; bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour or until very brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Set the browned flour aside.

Drain oysters, reserving the liquid; set both aside.

Grease a large Dutch oven; place over medium heat until hot. Add okra and next 4 ingredients; cook 12 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in browned flour. Add reserved oyster liquid, 2/3 cup water and next 13 ingredients; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour.

Add shrimp, oysters and crab meat; stir well. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until shrimp are done and edges of oysters begin to curl. Discard bay leaves. Serve over rice. Makes 3 quarts.

- from Cooking Light

Marian Platt can be reached at 683-4691 or

mlplatt@olypen.com.

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