This month, we’re taking a closer look at the Spanish influences in Creole
cuisine in Langlois Cajun/Creole dinner series, and we’re putting the late-summer crops
from Crossroads Farm to good use on this menu. We’re;re also incorporating some fun kitchen
toys, er, tools for this menu. Think: molecular gastronomy, Louisiana style. Here's how it's
all shaking down:
For the first course, we’re serving a classic, pureed, silky-smooth, chilled corn soup that
highlights the natural sweetness of corn at this time of year. We add a little fresh cream and
a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it up, and it’s scented with a swizzle of fresh thyme
from the herb garden and a drizzle of roasted garlic oil. We’re adding some drama to this
dish by topping it with fresh popcorn that’s doused with liquid nitrogen. Dropped into the
soup, it has a dragon’s breath effect.
During this course, we talk about corn and colonial American history, as well as the use of
corn in Creole and Cajun foods (think: cornbread and Macque Choux, the late-summer
corn/tomato/onion/okra stew). Oh, and if you’re looking for things to do around Louisiana
in June, the Corn Festival in Bunkie is a hoot. It’s everything you love about a small-town
food festival, and the Bunkie Chamber of Commerce’s annual cookbook is a must-buy.
Brace yourself for the second course: it’s a hearty meat and potatoes dish, but we lighten it
up with bright, zippy sauces. We hand-cut dry-aged New York strip steaks, hit them with a
light Creole spice mix, and cold-smoke the steaks over local pecan and oak wood.
I’m in love with the Canary Island-style salt-crusted potatoes (papas arrugadas) we’re
serving with the steak. The backstory is as fascinating as the technique, which Chef Tess
picked up from Top Chef winner Marcel Vigneron during Tales of the Cocktail 2012.
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, was a first and
last stop for Spanish galleons coming and going across the Atlantic to the Americas. The
native cuisine is marked by Spanish and North African influences, but the salt-crusting
technique is authentically Canarios: small potatoes are boiled in salty seawater, which
produces a wrinkly, salt-infused potato skin. (We don’t use seawater, but the results are
pretty much the same.) The potatoes are traditionally served with a punchy, green mojo
sauce, and we’re also serving this dish with a charred red pepper romesco (a sauce native to
the Catalan region in Spain). Both sauces balance the saltiness of the potatoes and pair well
with the cold-smoked steak. The dish is finished with charred green onions (called calcot)
and crisp purple potato chips.
Our Spanish theme carries through to the dessert course, a sorbet variation on sangria. We
opted to use a lighter white wine, our house Pinto Grigio (versus the traditional sangria
red), and it’s sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and
vanilla. We blend perfect, ripe, local peaches and cantaloupe picked from the Crossroads
Farm with the wine syrup and freeze it. The sorbe is served with a sauce made from locally-
grown berries, including mulberries, blackberries, and blueberries.