The Unexpected Cajun Kitchen: Classic Cuisine with a Twist of Farm-to-Table Freshness by Leigh Ann Chatagnier* has been on my bookshelf for almost two years. I used it as inspiration for several dishes for D's 13th birthday dinner. But, I guess, I've never written about it. That changes today.
After watching The Princess and the Frog with me for this month's Food'N'Flix project (we ended up making Cajun Courtbouillon), my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was determined to make beignets. And it turned out that I needed a dessert for a wine pairing dinner. I thought: beignets would go well with the sparkling Sauvignon Blanc.
So, he pulled this book off the shelf and whipped up the dough. It rose on our way over to our friends' house and during the dinner. After dinner, he made himself at home in their kitchen and cranked these out.
Let me admit at the get-go: I am not a huge fan of beignets. Jake and I made our way over to Café du Monde, when we were in New Orleans, for the obligatory beignet order dunked in chicory coffee. And I wasn't sold. We've had them at a local restaurant and, while they're okay, it's not how I would choose to ingest calories if I had my druthers.
However, these beignets are an unexpected delight. I still limited myself to one because I don't run enough miles in a week to justify gorging myself. But others had seconds, thirds, and even fourth servings. They were that good! And, best yet, they aren't that difficult.
On the PageBefore we get to the recipe, however, I'm going to say a few words about this book. In her introduction, Chatagnier writes, "Food is love, and I have so much I want to share. My hope for this cookbook is that it inspires people to spend a little more time eating dinner with their families and breaking bread with friends, and that it encourages you to get into the kitchen to try something new." Yes, indeed!
This book, and this recipe, certainly did that. And I can see us trying out several of her other creations, too. The book is comprised of seven different sections: The Essentials, including Remoulade Sauce and Cajun Seasoning; Brunch, with an intriguing Boudin Omelette and Crawfish Eggs Benedict; Everyday Dish, such as Seafood Pastalaya and Cajun Spiced Pork Burgers; Date Night with Jambalaya Pot Pies for Two and Chicory Coffee Rubbed NY Strips and Skillet Haricot Verts; Small Bites, including Mufalletta Sliders and Baked Cajun Empanadas; and, finally, Sweet Tooth, with a Satsuma Bundt Cake and Bananas Foster Banana Bread. All look delicious as the photography in this book is delectable, too.
On the Plate
very slightly adapted from Chatagnier's Almond Beignet Bites
Ingredients makes approximately 2 dozen, but his were larger than bite-sized
- 1 table active dry yeast
- 3 T granulated sugar, divided
- 1 C warm water
- 3 C flour
- 1/2 t vanilla salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 t pure almond extract
- pinch of cinnamon
- canola oil for frying + 2 T for dough
- powdered sugar for serving
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 T sugar and warm water. Sprinkle yeast on the top and let stand until bubbly and frothy, approximately 5 minutes.
In another mixing bowl, stir together 2 T sugar, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla salt.
After the yeast has bloomed, whisk in eggs, almond extract, and 2 T oil. As you whisk, incorporated the dry ingredients until the dough comes together in a ball. Place in an oiled container, cover, and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
When you're read to cook, fill a skillet with at least an inch of canola oil covering the bottom of the pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it sizzles when you add a drop of water. Pull off bite-sized pieces - or use two tablespoons to pull off the pieces - and drop them into the hot oil.
Cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. The boys tell me that some of them flipped over by themselves. But, I didn't see that.
Once nicely browned, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined platter or wire rack.
Dust the beignets generously with powdered sugar and serve immediately. I let the kids dust their own...what fun!
And some of the adults, yes, it started with my husband, wanted a whole bowl full of powdered sugar so he could roll them around in their for full coverage!
I paired this unexpected beignet delight with a bubbly Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria wines in New Zealand. D's beignets have been requested for our next dinner party and, in fact, he had so much fun making them, we're doing an encore for tonight's dessert.
These beignets were a delicious end to an evening of breaking bread with friends as Chatagnier hoped her recipes would inspire. Cheers!
*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.
Here's what everyone else read in October 2018: here.