Crawfish boils are kind of a big deal here in Houston. And by kind of a big deal, I mean how much more fun could a person want to have besides drinking beer (ahem, grapefruit margaritas), standing around a gigantic pot filled to the brim with corn, potatoes, crawfish, and scary amounts of cayenne pepper.
All that’s turned out onto a large table covered with newspaper. Suddenly, it’s the ultimate, informal family style experience.
I’ve developed a new appreciation for crawfish this year. You see, I’ve always had this thing with crawfish… or against crawfish.
Really, my thing has to do with getting to the actual crawfish. It’s not the most appealing thing. But a few grapefruit margaritas seem to take care of all of that and I found myself peeling away.
My friend Harmony says peeling crawfish is therapeutic. And I’d agree… all the way up until my fingers began to burn. And that really just meant it was time for another margarita.
Harmony sent us away with a bunch of leftover crawfish and the orders to “make something awesome” with it. And something awesome we made.
I whipped up my favorite stove top mac & cheese and added the leftover crawfish and the spicy corn cut away from the cob. If you already think that a pile of spicy crawfish is pretty much a perfect food on its own, try it in a big bowl of carbs, covered in a light cheesy sauce.
The rest of the leftovers went into the freezer until I have the chance to make something awesome for Harmony
Crawfish Mac & Cheese
Crawfish boil leftovers get new life in a creamy stove top mac & cheese.
8 oz macaroni pasta
4 oz white cheddar cheese, grated (don't use pre-shred)
4 oz fontina
1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt (I use 0% Fage)
1 Tbsp Creole (or other spicy brown) mustard
1 cup leftover crawfish tails
Kernels from 1-2 leftover corn cobs
Sliced dark green onions, for serving
Cook macaroni pasta for 8-10 minutes in salted water, until al dente.
Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Add 1/4 cup pasta water, the yogurt, several dashes of Tobasco, mustard, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping, adding additional pasta water as necessary to thin the cheese sauce.
Stir in crawfish and corn kernels, and serve immediately topped with green onions.
To reheat, microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Add a tablespoon or two of skim milk or water to thin the sauce, if necessary.
What else would you have for breakfast after a crawfish boil but Eggs Benedict with a cajun twist?
Honestly, after as much stuff as we indulged in, we probably should have just had a bowl of lawn clippings for breakfast. And lunch. But I thought that leftover crawfish, bacon, and a spicy hollandaise sauce sounded much better. And no reason to stop the overindulgent train on a weekend before noon, right?
Eggs Benedict gets a Cajun makeover with leftover crawfish tails and a kicked-up hollandaise sauce.
For the spicy hollandaise sauce:
3 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp water
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2-2 tsp Creole mustard (or any brown or dijon mustard)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
For each serving:
1 toasted English muffin half
1 slice of cooked bacon
1 poached or fried egg
Spoon of leftover crawfish tails, warmed
In a heatproof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water, whisk egg yolks with water, whisking vigorously, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice, a few dashes of Tabasco and 1/2 tsp of Creole mustard.
Whisk in 1-2 pieces of butter at a time until melted.
Season with salt and pepper and whisk in additional Creole mustard, if desired (I used 2 tsp total, after reserving some of the sauce for the Creole mustard hater in the house).
Keep warm over the doubler boiler, whisking occasionally.
Build your Eggs Trivette from the bottom-up: toasted english muffin half, bacon (breaking the pieces as necessary to fit), egg, spicy hollandaise sauce, and a spoonful of crawfish tails.
It’s spring here in Texas, weather-wise if not quite calendar-wise yet. With all this beautiful weather comes a flood of fresh produce that no longer requires considering a second mortgage, unlike that sad-looking, coffee stirrer-thin asparagus for $5/lb that was out barely a month ago.
Strawberries are abundant, wonderful, and on sale everywhere right now. But since some of my favorite strawberry recipes involve flour and sugar – two things that I’m trying to avoid right now – we decided to try to be a little more creative and focus on more on non-baked-good alternatives.
Enter Strawberry-Avocado Salsa, stage right.
The salsa is simply a tomato-less twist on pico de gallo… with strawberries. And avocado. And orange and lemon juices in place of lime. But other than that, you know, it’s exactly the same kind of wonderful that goes great with fish and chicken and chips and tortillas.
We whipped up a batch for a tortilla- and chip-less (but not margarita-less!) taco night on the patio – and it was pretty perfect. There’s a lot going on with the salsa: heat from the pepper, the sweetness from the strawberries, the richness of the avocado, and the acidity from the citrus. And all that goes on top of smokey, grilled salmon filet.
A white fish would work pretty perfectly, too. And so would chicken. A tortilla might make it even better… as would a side of tortilla chips to handle the leftover salsa.
Salmon with Strawberry Avocado Salsa
Smokey grilled fish topped with a sweet-meets-heat salsa of strawberries and avocado.
For the marinade:
Juice and zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil (plus extra for oiling grill grates)
4 salmon filets (~6 oz each)
For the salsa:
1/2 pint of strawberries, hulled and diced
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded (or not) and diced
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt
Heat your grill/grill pan to medium-high and oil your grill grates to prevent the fish from sticking. (You can also do this under the broiler if it's too cold out.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients and then transfer to a shallow dish.
Place the fish skin-side up in the marinade and let sit for 10 minutes. (If you're using a skinless fish flip after 5 minutes; if using chicken, try to let it marinate for as long as possible.)
Transfer the fish to the grill, skin-side down and cook for ~10-12 minutes (4-6 under the broiler), until the thickest part of the fish is opaque.
While the fish is cooking, stir together the ingredients for the salsa in a medium bowl.
Serve the fish, seasoned with additional salt & pepper, topped with a generous scoop of salsa.
Spring is just around the corner! You can tell because we’re already gardening. And swimming. And every restaurant around here without the words “happy meal” or “value size” on their menu has a banner hanging off the front of the building with one single 8-letter word:
But even better than that? Pulling up to your grocery store and finding a crawfish boil going on right next to the big plastic truck kiddie shopping carts.
Three years ago I swore that I’d never use those things. And then The Little got old enough to realize how “awesome” the carts were and started throwing tantrums. So it was 1) die a little inside and push a kiddie cart or 2) eat a mustard sandwich for dinner.
Mustard sandwiches aren’t nearly as good as Crawfish Fettuccine.
Now, I’ve come to realize that the inventor of those things was a genius. You know what a Terrible Two/Three doesn’t care about? EVERYTHING. As long as they have a shopping cart with a fake steering wheel to keep them busy while you’re digging through the bins trying to find the perfect limes for margaritas.
Even the liquor stores out here have them. God Bless Suburbia.
I picked up a kiddie cart (I’m partial to the black one with flames on the side) and 2.5lbs of already cooked (doesn’t get better than that) crawfish for a couple of dishes, but after my husband finished peeling them (I do not peel crawfish), I only had enough for one.
So I tried to make it count.
I whipped up our favorite (and light!) alfredo sauce and then spiked it with Tobasco and creole mustard. A few simple flavors with a little heat turned into a pretty phenomenal dinner. It wasn’t so spicy that my 3-year old couldn’t eat it but enough to make it not-your-everyday alfredo sauce.
Turn up the heat on a light and flavorful alfredo sauce with hot sauce and crawfish.
8 oz fettuccine noodles, uncooked
2 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, chopped (dark green parts reserved for garnish)
2/3 cup milk (I use 2%)
3 oz (6 Tbsp) neufchatel
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp Tobasco
1 rounded tsp creole mustard (or other deli- or dijon-style mustard)
12 oz cooked and peeled crawfish tails
Cook pasta in salted water per package instructions.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain pasta and set aside.
In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Cook garlic and white and light green parts of the onion just until garlic begins to brown.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, milk, and cream cheese, stirring until the cream cheese has mostly melted.
Add Parmesan, tobasco, and mustard, stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce is mostly smooth.
Add cooked pasta and crawfish tails, tossing with tongs or two large spoons to coat.
Add additional splashes of pasta water as necessary while tossing the pasta to smooth the sauce and ensure everything is coated.