Food & Drink

Remember the taste of the Coast over Lent with these vintage seafood recipes

The secret of the crab-stuffed potato at Bay St. Louis Crab Fest

Laura Griffith, aka the "Crab Lady," shares the secret of the festival's signature event.
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Laura Griffith, aka the "Crab Lady," shares the secret of the festival's signature event.

Mardi Gras is over, and Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of the Lenten season.

Looking for something besides fish sticks, cheese pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Friday night dinner?

These classic Mississippi Coast seafood recipes are sure to please even the most land-locked out-of-towner.

Seafood has always been a tradition on Gulf Coast holiday tables. In fact, the “Picayune Creole Cookbook,” first published in 1901, suggests a Thanksgiving menu that included oysters on the half shell, baked red snapper a la Creole, and roasted turkey with oyster stuffing.

Our editors dove into the Sun Herald’s archives to find some festive favorites:

Spicy Shrimp-Stuffed Mirliton

  • 3 mirlitons, boiled, cut in half and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and each cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • Salt and cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the pulp of the mirlitons, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Reserve the pulp. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions, peppers, celery and shallots for about 5 minutes, or until they are wilted and golden. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the garlic, shrimp and reserved pulp. Saute the mixture for 5 minutes. Stir in the bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Remove from the heat. Fill each mirliton shell with the mixture. Bake for 1 hour. Place the stuffed mirlitons on a platter. Garnish with chives, cheese and Essence. Serves six.

Andrea Yeager’s Crab Puffs

Tea party puffs:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 4 eggs

Filling:

  • 1/2 pound crab meat, picked through
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1- 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion

Combine butter and boiling water in medium-size saucepan and heat over high heat until butter melts. Turn heat to low, add salt and flour stirring vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan in a smooth, compact ball, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with spoon until mixture has a satin-like sheen. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 1- 1/2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets, shaping each into a mound that points up in the center. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 20-25 minutes without opening the oven door. Puffs should be puffed and golden. Remove with a spatula to wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, combine crab meat, softened cream cheese, horseradish and onion in mixing bowl. Mix until blended. Slice tops off tea party puffs, fill and replace tops. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 3 to 3- 1/2 dozen.

Elsie Pittman’s Gumbo

This recipe is a guide, just add your own amounts. Remember, a roux is equal parts oil and flour.

  • 3 tablespoons Crisco shortening
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Green onions, chopped; use plenty (she did not use white onions)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • Smoked sausage (about 1 pound)
  • Garlic cloves; we use about 2-3, minced
  • 2-3 pounds boiled shrimp, reserve water in which shrimp were boiled
  • 1 pound crab claw meat, picked through
  • Chopped okra
  • 1 small can tomato paste

Cover shrimp with water and add Tony Chachere’s seasoning or crab boil. Cook until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat immediately. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside. Cook smoked sausage in shortening until heated thoroughly. Remove sausage with slotted spoon. Add 3 tablespoons flour to pot sausage was cooked in. Stir until roux becomes a milk chocolate color. Be sure to stir roux constantly so it does not burn. If it burns, toss it out and start over. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic cloves and okra to roux , again stirring constantly. Add shrimp stock or water in which shrimp were boiled. Stir. Add tomato paste and stir well. Heat mixture. Add shrimp and crab meat and heat thoroughly. Andrea Yeager’s note: We add Tony Chachere’s seasoning or crab boil to water in which shrimp is cooked. This adds a nice spice without being too spicy.

Dee Turner’s Red Fish Court Bouillon

  • 1 big red fish/snapper
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Morton’s Nature’s Seasons (at least 1 tablespoon)
  • Old Bay Seasoning, sprinkle good over fish
  • 1 onion, thin sliced rings
  • 1/2 to 1 bunch fresh shallots, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped fine
  • 1/2 to 1 bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 3 or 4 toes fresh garlic, pressed
  • Water (about an inch in the bottom of the pot)
  • 1/2 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes (optional) or fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Butter to taste

Spray turkey pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish in pan. Salt and pepper fish. Place lemon slices on top of fish. Put tomato paste on and around fish. Do the same with the onion, shallots, parsley, celery, bell pepper, garlic, Nature’s Seasons, basil and oregano. If you like it a little spicy, add the 1/2 can Ro-Tel tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients around the fish. Put enough water to make it approximately fingernail depth. Bake at 350 degrees covered for approximately 1 hour or until desired doneness. If fish is not browned enough when cooked, uncover pan and let brown for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. NOTE: If you like, you can also sprinkle some seasoned bread crumbs on top of the fish before baking.

Crescent City Grill Seafood Gumbo

  • 5 cups shrimp stock
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 5 gumbo crabs
  • 3½ tomatoes, diced with juice
  • 2/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2½ teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1¼ cups corn oil
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • 2 cups okra
  • 3 cups onion, medium dice
  • 1½ celery, medium dice
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper, medium dice
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled
  • 1 pound claw crabmeat, picked of all shell
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked of all shell
  • 1 pound oysters, with juice

Bring first 10 ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to a brisk simmer and continue to cook, skimming the tomato-like foam from the top of the stock. While the stock is simmering, make a dark roux using the corn oil and flour. Add the okra to the roux, stirring constantly. Once the okra is incorporated into the roux, add the onion, celery, green onion, bell pepper, parsley, garlic, Creole seasoning and hot sauce, stirring well to incorporate. At this point you should have something that resembles a black, gooey mass. Add the shrimp and continue stirring until shrimp turn pink. Add the crabmeat and oysters. Turn up the heat on the simmering stock. Transfer the seafood/roux mixture to the hot stock and stir until the roux is completely dissolved. Bring the stock to a boil once more and then reduce to a simmer. Remove the gumbo crabs, and serve over rice.

— Robert St. John

Oysters Rockefeller

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs, Panko preferred
  • 4-6 chopped green onions
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach (or any other green you like)
  • Salt and pepper as desired
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 dozen oysters

Sauté the garlic in butter for just a minute or two, make sure not to burn it, or all will be lost. Pour off half the melted butter and add the breadcrumbs in a separate pan, then mix well. Add the green onions and spinach to the pan with the garlic butter and cook until the spinach is wilted. Season aggressively with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Now add the olive oil and Parmesan. Load the shells (one oyster each, unless they are small, then add another one to make a mouthful) with the green mixture, and top with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown and serve at once.

Crab Salad

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab
  • 7 oz crème fraiche
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt packed capers
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
  • Cilantro to garnish

Carefully pick over the crab to remove any small pieces of shell the packer missed. If you can’t find crème fraiche, cut a little sour cream with a few teaspoons of heavy cream, it isn’t as good, but will do. Combine all of the ingredients, being carefully so as not to break up those beautiful big lumps of crab. Now taste and season as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use, then artfully garnish with the cilantro. Serve this salad with a nice pinot gris or a dry riesling.

Shrimp Creole

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped smoked sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 (14 ounce) can best quality tomatoes
  • Black pepper, red pepper flakes, Old Bay Seasoning
  • Green onions for garnish
  • Butter and oil as needed

Season the shrimp and then sauté very quickly in a hot skillet with a little oil and butter. Do not cook more than 3 minutes max. Remove and set aside. In the same pan cook the sausage until well browned, remove and set aside. Add the vegetables, with a little more butter, and sauté for 10 minutes, at a reduced heat. Remember to season as you go. Add the tomatoes and sausage (optionally add a glass of wine if you like) and simmer for 15 minutes. While the sauce simmers add 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken stock to the rice, cover and simmer until tender. Add the shrimp to the sauce, and heat just to warm. Plate the rice, top with the shrimp and sauce and serve immediately. Serve with a nice little gruner veltliner.

Crabmeat Au Gratin

  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1-2 pinch salt
  • 1-2 pinch black pepper
  • Dash Valentina Hot Sauce
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

“Ruby Fayard and her husband, Earl Houston Fayard Sr., ran and owned Ocean Springs Seafood Co. and Market for many years until Hurricane Katrina. Ruby made and sold Crabmeat Potatoes for years by the dozens. She called them “those damn potatoes.” Restaurants along the Coast asked if she would make them on a regular basis for them to put on the menu but she declined.”

Make a white sauce by combining the butter, flour, and milk. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and well incorporated. Add the sherry and hot sauce. Now taste and season accordingly. Add the crab, mixing carefully, pour into ramekins, top with cheese and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and brown. Serve with a cold, locally brewed bear and crusty French bread. If you insist on overcooking your oysters, please move on and don’t even think about using this recipe. Listen carefully; if your oysters are not too cold, if the oil is hot enough, and you don’t overcrowd the pot, oysters are wonderfully cooked, just crispy on the outside and still moist and juicy in the inside, in less than 1 minute. For every second you continue to cook them, they will decline in flavor and texture.

Crabmeat Potatoes

  • 16 medium Idaho potatoes
  • 1 pound white crabmeat
  • 3/4 pound margarine
  • 1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound sour cream
  • Prudhomme’s vegetable seasoning
  • Salt to taste
  • Red cayenne pepper to taste
  • Paprika to taste

Bake potatoes until done (about 1 1/2 hours for 16). Cut potatoes lengthwise and scoop out potato meat from the skins, setting the skins on the side for later. Place the meat in a large bowl or pot, add margarine, cheese, sour cream and seasonings and start mixing until well blended and there are no large chunks of potato. Add crabmeat and mix again. Spoon the mixture into potato skins and sprinkle with paprika.

Wrap individual potatoes in clear plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Warm in oven and serve.

— Ruby Grace Alliston Fayard, submitted by Alison Hill

Shrimp Mosca

  • 2 pounds whole unpeeled shrimp (15 to 20 to pound)
  • 6 buds garlic, peeled and cut in halves
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 ounce sauterne wine
  • 2 ounces olive oil

Heat oil in frying pan. Add shrimp and spices. Sauté for 20 to 25 minutes. Add sauterne and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve with hot, crisp bread. Shrimp are to be peeled at the table and bread dunked into the sauce. Serves 4 or 5.

— Frenchies Ocean Springs from “Cooking on the Sound”

Oysters Moran

  • 4 dozen medium-size oysters
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 dash of oregano
  • 1 dash of garlic salt
  • 2 to 8 tablespoons bread crumbs

Place oysters in frying pan with their own juice. Cook and then pour off the water. Add lemon juice, wine, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, green onions, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Place on fire until cheese is melted. Add butter. Stir until well mixed. Add bread crumbs to thicken sauce. Place in 4 casserole dishes. Top with paprika and sprig of parsley. Serves 4.

— Frenchies Ocean Springs from “Cooking on the Sound”

Oysters Landmark

  • 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 16 fresh Select oysters, drained
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • Hot cooked noodles
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Diced pimiento

Sauté garlic and green onions in butter in a heavy skillet 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Add the oysters and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until edges of oysters begin to curl. To serve, spoon over noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and pimiento. Yield: 2 servings.

— The Landmark Townsquare, Bay St. Louis

Crabmeat Scooter

  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound crab meat
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pasta of your choice

Saute onions and parsley in butter for 2 minutes. Add flour, whipping cream and cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Add crab meat, salt and pepper. Serve over cooked pasta. Serves 4-6.

— “Favre Family Cookbook”

Long Beach Sauce

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ribs finely chopped celery
  • 1 bunch finely chopped green onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Chappy’s Garlic Spice or garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chappy’s Zydeco Spice or Cajun seasoning
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 8 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 pound crab meat
  • 1/2 pound boiled shrimp

Melt butter in stockpot over medium-high heat; add flour and stir for 5 minutes. Put in celery, green onions and bell pepper. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add spices and mix well. Add enough milk to cover vegetable mixture in pot. Bring it up with milk (make it rise). You don’t want the sauce to be too thin or too thick. Stir well and cook down slowly for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat. Add mushrooms, crab meat and shrimp. Add remaining milk. Mix sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Serves 12. Serve with lightly fried or grilled fish, soft-shell crab or chicken.

— From “Looks Good to Me!” by Chef John “Chappy” Chapman

Seafood Bread

  • 1/2 pound fresh crab meat (or 1/2 pound cooked, peeled and chopped shrimp)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 loaf French bread (15 inches long)
  • 1/4 pound sliced Swiss cheese

Combine crab meat or shrimp, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, lemon juice and garlic salt. Slice bread in half lengthwise and arrange on baking sheet. Spread cut sides with butter. Top with cheese slices, trimmed to fit bread. Cover cheese with crab or shrimp mixture. Bake in 350-degree oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cut crosswise into serving pieces.

— Joan B. Eaton Of D’Iberville

Biloxi Shrimp Butter

  • 1/2 pound small fresh shrimp, cooked
  • 3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Tabasco or your favorite pepper sauce

Bring butter to room temperature. Put drained shrimp into a blender with lemon juice. Add butter and the seasonings. Use the pepper sauce to preferred taste, starting with 1/8 of a teaspoon. Blend all this well then put in a small bowl or mold and refrigerate until you serve it with slices of toasted French bread or bland crackers.

Best Fried Oysters

  • Fresh oysters still in their liquor
  • Tempura powder
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • Deep heavy pot suitable for frying
  • Clean canola oil

Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Do not fill the fryer or deep pot more than halfway, to do so is to rick a serious fire. Drain the beautiful oysters, toss in the dry tempura powder, which you have seasoned with the Tony’s seasoning, until well coated. Now set aside until they become tacky or spritz with water to hurry up the process. Toss in the panko until coated. Carefully add a few oysters to the hot oil. Look at your watch or count the seconds off out load; 1,2,3 ... when you get to 50 remove the oysters and let drain on paper towels. Now try one, being careful not to burn your month. Proceed until all the oysters are cooked, but it is vital to serve immediately. If left longer than 3 minutes, they will start to become soggy. Serve plain or on top of a green salad. Serve with the best sparkling wine, Champagne or Italian prosecco you can afford.

Lafont Inn Seafood Casserole

  • 1 pound crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 pound shrimp, cooked, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Paprika

Combine crabmeat, shrimp, sour cream, onion, celery, bell pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Pour into butter 2 1/2-quart casserole. Top with breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Yield: 6 servings.

— Lynda Howell

Hugo’s Crabmeat-Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 1 pound claw crabmeat, picked through for shell particles
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • Breadcrumbs (Kelly uses Progresso Italian breadcrumbs), divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • Flour
  • Buttermilk

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Saute until soft. Cool slightly. Add beaten egg and some of the breadcrumbs. Stir together. Add picked crabmeat, salt, pepper and parsley; toss lightly. If too loose, add more breadcrumbs until mixture holds together somewhat. Stuff mushrooms with mixture. Any leftovers can be formed into patties and cooked until light brown on both slides in a black cast-iron skillet sprayed with non-stick spray. Dip stuffed mushrooms in buttermilk, then into flour, then back into buttermilk and then roll in remaining breadcrumbs. Drop into deep fryer and fry until golden brown.

— Lewis Kelly and Glenda Simons

Oyster Stew

There used to be a fellow in Biloxi who was famous for his oyster stew. He made it every Sunday, opening the oysters in his back yard, and soon neighbors would gather, hoping for a cup full of his famed stew. The trick, or so he said, was that it was made in an old coffee can! This recipe does not call for a coffee can, but it is quite simple and delicious. The Creoles called this dish huitres en fricassee.

  • 4 dozen oysters (the larger the better)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 pint oyster liquor
  • 1 pint cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Green onion for garnish

Combine the flour and butter carefully, you do not want any lumps. Put the liquor in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the flour and butter mixture, be careful and whisk it in completely. Heat the cream in another pan, and after the liquor has been simmering for at least 5 minutes, whisk in the hot cream. Simmer a few minutes more to bring it all together, add the oysters and turn off the heat. The worst thing you can do is overcook the oysters. Let them sit 3-5 minutes, garnish with the green onion and serve at once.

Crab Cakes And Rouille Sauce

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 green onions
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

For the sauce

  • 2 red bell peppers (you can use yellow as well)
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Olive oil

Pick the crab carefully, even the best packers occasionally leave bits of shell. Place the butter in a sauté pan, melt and then add the panko, cook until well toasted. Carefully combine the crab, egg, and half the toasted bread crumbs, it should just hold together. If it is too thin, add more panko, if it is too dry add 1/2 a whisked egg. Form into patties and fry in butter just until well-browned. To make the sauce, roast the red peppers over an open flame, or under the broiler if you must. When well blackened, place in a paper bag and allow to finish cooking. When they have cooled, wash off the charred skin and place all of the ingredients, except the oil, in a blender and give it a whirl or two. Now, slowly add the oil, just like in making a mayonnaise, add in a thin stream until the sauce thickens. Plate the crab cakes, garnish sparingly with the sauce and serve at once. A good wine choice would be a Pinot Grigio.

Killer Crab Cakes

  • 1 pound crab meat
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 strip of smoked bacon
  • Chopped green onion
  • 2 whole farm fresh eggs
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter

Chop the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and sauté until crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel, but leave the drippings in the pan. Add the onion and celery, season well with the black and red pepper and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. In a large bowl add the cooked vegetables (cooled), the bacon, panko, green onion and the eggs, mix well and season again if necessary. Add the crab meat and mix carefully. You do not want to break up those big, beautiful lumps of crab meat you paid so dearly for. Form into cakes and sauté in butter over a medium flame until browned. If your cakes come apart when you turn them, it is no big deal, they will still be delicious. Serve on a bed of greens for presentation.

Shrimp And Grits

  • 1 cup freshly ground yellow grits
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 soft boiled egg per serving
  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup locally made Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Green onions for garnish

Prepare the grits according to package directions, but add the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano when just done, mix well. Remove the casings from the sausage and cook in a large sauté pan (add a little olive oil if necessary). When the sausage is just done add the onions and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook just 2 minutes more. Remove this mixture, but do not remove the leftover oil. Turn the heat to high and cook the shrimp very quickly, not more than 2 minutes on a side, remove and add to the sausage, onion mixture. Plate the grits in big bowls, carefully place the soft boiled egg on each and then top with the shrimp and sausage. Garnish with the green onions. Serve at once.

Oysters On The Half Shell

  • 12 freshly shucked oysters along with their liquor
  • 1/2 cup store-bought cocktail sauce
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • saltine crackers

Open the oysters and present in the half shell on a tray, filled with a bed of ice. Make sure each oyster has enough liquor in the shell. Place the tiniest amount of the sauce on the oyster, just the smallest squirt of lemon juice and then, eyes closed, put the shell to your mouth and, enjoy. Repeat the process, but don’t forget the crackers. If you just can’t bring yourself to buy store bought cocktail sauce make your own by combining chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, Sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Play with the proportions until you get a sauce to your liking.

Seafood Stew

  • 1 pound large shrimp
  • 1 pound lemon fish cut into bite size shapes
  • 1 bunch clams, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
  • 4-6 toes chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced smoked sausage
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Optional: chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped basil at the very end, dried oregano

Seafood stock:

  • 2 whole cooked crabs, quartered
  • Shrimp heads
  • 1-2 cups of fish pieces
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper corns
  • 1 rough chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup rough chopped celery

A good seafood stock is fundamental to this recipe. A mix of seafood and vegetables (the exact composition is not critical), carefully seasoned and simmered for at least an hour is the first step. If you skimp on this part of the recipe your results will be less. Add all of the ingredients to a stock pot, top off with water and simmer for 1 hour. Allow to cool, strain and reserve the liquid.

Sauté the sausage in a large pot until well browned, remove and set aside. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes; add the celery and bell peppers and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the wine and reduce by one half, toss in the sausage, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer at least 30 minutes, 1 hour is better. Make sure to taste and re-season as necessary. Add the fish 15 minutes before ready to serve. The shrimp can be added 5 minutes before serving or they can be seasoned and cooked in a very hot pan to add some color before adding to the stew. Drop in the whole clams and simmer until they open (just a few minutes). If a few fail to open toss them, they’re not safe to eat. Serve with toasted garlic bread. Also goes well with pasta, but add tomato sauce to make it a bit thicker.

Oyster Dressing

  • About 20 small to medium oysters in their liquor, 1/2 pound
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/8 pound (1-1/2 sticks) margarine, in all
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion, in all
  • 1 cup chopped celery, in all
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper, in all
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, in all
  • Season with salt, pepper, cayenne and dried thyme as you go along, tasting to adjust

Seasoning mix:

  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, garlic powder, ground red pepper (cayenne preferred), sweet paprika and black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder, dried oregano leaves, dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • About 1 cup very fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)

Combine the oysters and water; stir and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Strain and reserve the oysters and oyster water separately; refrigerate until ready to use. Melt 4 tablespoons of the margarine in a large skillet over high heat. When the margarine is almost melted, add 3/4 cup of the onions, 1/2 cup of the celery, 1/2 cup of the bell pepper and 1/4 cup of the scallions. Saute over high heat until the onions are dark brown but not burned, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. (Editor’s Note: If you’re afraid of burning, stir constantly, but don’t be quick to turn down the heat, and don’t skip this step; it is crucial.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the seasoning mix ingredients; mix well. When the onions are browned, stir 2 teaspoons of the mix and the garlic into the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 3/4 cup onion, 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup bell pepper, 1 stick margarine and the bay leaves. Stir until margarine is melted. Continue cooking 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the reserved oyster water and cook over high heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining seasoning mix and enough bread crumbs to make a moist but not runny dressing; remove from heat. Stir in the drained oysters. Spoon dressing into an ungreased 8-inch by 8-inch by 2-inch baking pan and bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard bay leaves and stir in the butter and green onions. Makes about 3 cups.

— Paul Prudhomme And Helen Larroux

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