Roux Memories – A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes

 

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250 authentic Cajun and Creole recipes and memories from a Louisiana native.

In Louisiana, life happens in the kitchen. Children are reared and lives unfold over bubbling pots of gumbo, bowls of shelled peas, and shaved-ice sno-balls. The kitchen is the happy hub where heritage is conveyed, culinary traditions evolve, and Cajun and Creole cuisine is at its finest. Unfortunately, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed homes and neighborhoods and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, bonds were stretched, and many recipes lost. Fortunately, Roux Memories offers the Louisiana diaspora–as well as anyone else with a love for Cajun and Creole fare–250 home-tested recipes along with snippets of life from a Cajun family with four decades of roots in New Orleans. Accompanying the recipes are vintage family and food photos as well as sidebars explaining the roots of Cajun and Creole cooking. Recipes include crawfish gumbo, Cajun corn soup, shrimp remoulade, New Orleans shrimp boil, hickory and spice burgers, cochon de lait, crawfish pie, alligator fritters, chicken and sausage jambalaya, pork cracklins, cracklin cornbread, dirty rice, king cake, pecan pralines, syrup cookies, and many more Cajun and Creole favorites.

Reviews for Roux Memories – A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes

15 September 2010

St. Joseph News-Press (www.newspressnow) Northwest Missouri

After reading the preface to the new cookbook “Roux Memories,” which was officially released Sept. 14, you can tell that author Belinda Hulin understands what good food is all about.

“When I tell people I’m from New Orleans, they invariably ask me why I left,” she writes. “I tell them it’s because I thought there must be more to life than eating, drinking and having a good time. And, of course, I was wrong.”Family get-togethers included Cajun and Creole specialties like crawfish gumbo, dirty rice, pecan pralines, cracklin cornbread and pork cracklins.”

But the Louisiana native didn’t realize how important those family recipes were until Hurricane Katrina hit her mother’s home.

“The equipment that pumps the water out of the canals into the lake died,” she explains. “The pump operators were evacuated and couldn’t get back to put on the backup generators. So the streets flooded, leaving four to five feet of water standing in the home.”

We recently talked with Ms. Hulin about how the hurricane triggered her desire to write a family cookbook.

Were you able to salvage any of your mother’s recipes?

“There was muck everywhere. It was disgusting. I went there with one of my sisters, and she and I shoveled our childhood off the lawn. We had on gloves, masks and were up to our ankles in who knows what. At some point, I decided I should go upstairs, and there on the staircase is my mother’s recipe box. It’s huge. There’s stuff sticking out, you can barely shut it. I could tell someone was looking at something and when it was time to evacuate, they just shoved it up there.”

You’ve been a food writer for more than 20 years and have written four cookbooks. Why did you pick now to write a family cookbook?

“Forever, like everyone else says, I’ve said I was going to write the family cookbook and give it to everyone in the family. I kept thinking there would be plenty of time. That night as I was trying to make peace with all that happened, I decided I can’t wait anymore. I’ve got to do this now and I’ve got to do it for my mother and all the people who lost their recipes.”

Why do you think it’s important to preserve family recipes?

“I have become very passionate about this topic. Not just my own family recipes, but the idea that your family recipes are your heritage. They are as much a part of your family history as whose nose you’ve got and whose eyes you have. I felt like I had a close encounter of losing a lot of things because of this storm. And I know for a fact that many people did.”

How did you come up with your chicken and sausage gumbo recipe?

“It’s one I started making when I was a young woman living in an apartment, my first newspaper job and we were all poor. So I used to have these parties at my house because it was in a small town in north Louisiana with no place to go. People would come over and I would make chicken and sausage gumbo. You could stretch it as you needed to by adding more broth or more rice. We sat around, drank beer, solved the problems of the day and ate chicken and sausage gumbo.”

Can you make it in a Crock Pot?

“After it’s cooked, you can to keep it warm, but a Crock Pot will not cook it properly. You have to have that process of evaporation. Since the sauce doesn’t evaporate, you don’t get that concentration of flavors.”

Where does the title “Roux Memories” come from?

“Gumbo is a thick soup made with love. It’s got to be thickened, but If your gumbo tastes floury, you’ve missed the mark. The roux is the quintessential thing. And the thing about making a roux for gumbo is the process of browning the flour and the oil. You sit there and you have got to do it slowly — you can’t burn it — constantly stirring it so it gets to a nice rich, red-brown color, the color of toast before it’s burnt. That’s what gives it so much flavor. There’s nothing you can do but daydream. And that’s where the roux memories comes from. Of course, as I say that, Cajuns will sometimes use okra for a thin gumbo. But for the most part, the roux is the magic ingredient.”

Does your recipe for beignets taste like the kind you buy on street corners in New Orleans?

“There are two recipes. One is the homestyle beignet, and they are not. But the New Orleans-style beignets, absolutely. They all guard their secrets with their lives, but you are talking about a yeast-style dough that puffs. It’s not as heavy as the homestyle, which are sort of like fried cake like doughnuts, more solid. The important thing is when you say it’s a yeast-style bread, some people think they can just cut up a bunch of frozen bread dough — it does not work. It might be something edible, but compared to real beignets, they’re going to be leaden. If you follow the recipe for New Orleans-style beignets, you’ll get the real deal.”

Lifestyles reporter Sylvia Anderson can be reached at sylvia.anderson@​newspress now.com.

 

19 September 2010

The Daily Advertiser (theadvertiser.com) Monroe, Louisiana

“Cookbooks are a marvelous thing, offering hope to those who want to relive great food at home or add inspiration to even the best cooks when their imagination runs dry.

Some cookbooks add a dollop of lagniappe, that little something extra that makes you want to forgo the pots, pull up a comfy chair and enjoy the background material instead.

Belinda Hulin’s Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story with Recipes (Globe Pequot, $19.95) is just such a gem, filled with family stories, photos and anecdotes about life in South Louisiana. Her mama’s seafood gumbo, for instance, comes with a heart-warming story of how her parents met. Her crawfish étouffée complements a story of her first New Orleans Mardi Gras. It’s written with love but also well written — a real joy of a book.

And to top it off, Hulin’s aim at assembling these 250 home-tested recipes was to preserve them for prosperity, after watching so many in her home town of New Orleans lose their family lore in the flood after Hurricane Katrina.

Her message is simple, but not news to those of us in the Bayou State: Cooking goes way beyond sustenance, and good food and great company result in vivid memories.

“Mostly, it’s the way we offer comfort and show people we love them,” Hulin writes.

Don’t miss this sweet cookbook and share the love.

Cherie Cohen

 

 

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