That is definitely something I can get behind! I have never tried Cajun cooking before I received this book and I will admit I was somewhat intimidated by it. However, after cracking open the cover, I was pleasantly surprised to find the recipes straightforward, easy to understand and required no mystical techniques. Anyone with basic cooking skills should be able to achieve great results with this book.
Like so many others, Pamela Lyles was displaced from New Orleans to Houston when Hurricane Katrina tore through the south. Da Cajn Critter helped to serve as her therapy. It helped to keep her distracted from the trauma that she-and her family-endured in the aftermath of the storm. She finally had a chance to sit down and sort through the recipes in her head, collect the stories and organize her thoughts. The end result is a fantastic book, filled with amazing recipes, personal anecdotes and thoughtful advice. It is a new favorite in my always expanding library of cookbooks.
My favorite part of the book is the Three Rules Every Critter Lives By:
- The first rule of Da Cajn Critter is that there are no rules. It is about a lifestyle of having fun and enjoying what you are making.
- Makin' groceries. Pamela recommends buying a nice notepad to create your grocery lists and to enlist your children to help you with the shopping. Her advice is to look at grocery shopping (makin groceries) with a sense of adventure-a scavenger hunt of sorts.
- Cooking. Line up all of the ingredients you need for your recipe so you never have to stop and search for that 1 missing item.
- According to Pamela, this is the most important step and should never be skipped. "Before you begin to mix your ingredients, pour yourself a glass of wine or your favorite drink, and turn on some music you love".
We are now ready to begin cooking Da Cajn Critter way.
As we all know, there are 2 reasons to be celebrating Cajun style right now. 1) The Saints winning Super Bowl 44 and 2) Mardi Gras, which is Feb 16th this year. Pamela has added some amazing menus
to her website which highlight many recipes from her book. To kick off your celebration in style, she recommends:
Mama Bea's Cheese Cookies
Sift the flour with the salt and red pepper into a bowl. Cream the butter, cheese and Tabasco sauce in a Mixmaster. Add the flour mixture. Stir in the cereal. Shape the mixture into small balls and arrange 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Press down on each with the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes about 48.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
- 5 ounces extra sharp grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3-5 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
- 1 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
- 1 stick softened butter
I have not tried this recipe yet, but I have tried her "Hot Artichoke Dip" and must say it is yummy. I have been craving artichoke dip for the last month, and it really hit the spot. Another winning recipe is "Herb Marinated Mozzarella". I became addicted to Dorothy Lane Market's
Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella Salad and I personally think Pamela's recipe tops theirs.
I have yet to try any of the entrees in Da Cajn Critter, but I am leaning heavily towards the "Mardi Gras Pork Roast" for dinner followed by a traditional King Cake.
Da Cajn Critter is packed full of delicious sounding recipes, however I am disappointed the author did not include a recipe for King Cake. But don't let this omission stop you from getting a copy of this delightful book. If you are anything like me, it will have your mouth watering and leave you trying to decide which recipe to make first.
Da Cajn Critter, The Lifestyles, The Rules, and Makin' Groceries, by Pamela D Lyles can be purchased at: