Creamy Cajon Seafood Dip (Crawfish Dipping sauce) recipe

Every year we here at ChowTown hold our annual Seafood Boil. During this limited and highly sought after event we boil up a hundred pounds or so of crab, crawfish, shrimp, sausage and corn in a “just hot enough” blend of spices. This vast quantity of unspeakable deliciousness is then dumped 30 pounds or so at a time on the table in front of our guests who promptly upon seeing this wonder loose all sence of propriety and descend upon the food with their bare hands.

For our American readers this will most likely ring a bell and is not so odd since a crawfish, crab or shrimp boil as well as clam bakes tend to follow this same M.O.

Anyway, it seems that the fine folks who throw these shindigs are reticent to disclose the recipes for the dips and spice mixes they use(okay, not all of them. It just sounds better to say that). As a result I’ve come up with my own versions.

The following is a fairly close rendition of the dip I threw together for our last event and while my hope was simply that it would be gone afterwards and not make anyone vomit, it turned out that it was very well received. So much so that I’ve been pestered day and night for the recipe. While not exactly what I made this is more or less the same stuff.

This will make enough to fill a medium sized plastic Heinz ketchup squeeze bottle(very scientific, huh?)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Hy’s cajun seasoning (or other brand)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp creole mustard or yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp basic hot sauce such as Tabasco or Franks
  • 1/2 tbsp siracha hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk the whole thing until well blended

Crab Boil 2010

This past week-end we held our second annual crab-boil(I thinks perhaps we’ll use Seafood-boil going forward). We managed to double our attendance over last year and have a list forming for next year’s event already. It was a great success and we are very happy that everyone enjoyed themselves so much.

The only glitch other than having to change venue was a result of needing to ship in 30 lbs of crawfish from Louisiana and dealing with our overly enthusiastic customs personnel. It seems that crawfish may just represent a real and present danger to our national security. I assume this since despite the order being in Calgary within an amazingly short period of leaving the bayou it was a grand total of 50+ hours until they arrived at my door(unopened). I’m just glad that the supplier talked me out of ordering all live crawfish(for reasons unrelated to our pathetic government employees). Instead they suggested I opt for the pre-cooked version and then add a bag of 15 or so live bugs to use in our crawfish race. While the sack of dead racers was upsetting, it would have been a complete disaster to have had 30 pounds of dead crawdads arrive at my door and therefore be forced to scramble and buy something to replace them.

Now, putting aside the sorry state of our tax dollars at work,  it was a great evening and everyone seemed to have a terrific time eating, talking, eating some more and making new friends while eating. I of course was endeavouring to make the event run smoothly by cooking the food and offering my expert advice on the proper means by which one should extricate the juicy bits from both crab and crawfish alike. This was aided greatly by our vast array of  task appropriate weaponry designed for just this very purpose. These tools allowed those in attendance to select which method best suited them when attempting to consume as much food as they physically could without doing irreversible harm to themselves. Some used the crackers, some the mallet and crab-knife or the shell openers while still others had their own tried and true hands-on techniques(certain of which I will now add to my personal repertoire and claim as my own). I was happy to see that certain veterans of last years event actually brought their own seafood shears in order to increase efficiency and thus also up the total amount of food they could pack away before others could get to it. I’m proud to call such people my friends. These creative souls and self starters will make great foodies in short order.

As with last year, we once again were able to serve the wonderful hand crafted andouille sausage that everyone appeared to enjoy a great deal. I did have it toned down a little to make it a bit less dangerous for those unaccustomed to such spicy treats. My thanks go out to Rocky from Rocky’s Sausage Haus for the special order and making it just right. If you are looking for any of the numerous varieties of wonderful meats in tube form that can be had I urge you to give Rocky a call and he’ll hook you up. If you visit his shop I strongly caution you to eat a large meal ahead of time to avoid the inevitable large purchases that will result after seeing and smelling the offerings while hungry(I’m in full drool just thinking about it).

Now, for those of you who were in attendance Saturday I feel it necessary to again reiterate my firm stance that I will in fact never give out my recipe for Rum Cake. The offers of bribes, sexual favors and the various and at times fascinatingly descriptive threats of violence to my person as well as the many other numerous forms of attempted coercion will not be successful. I am however taking orders for Christmas and will continue to leave the offer on the table for other events if you are nice enough to me for the remainder of the year. :)

On a somewhat similar note(minus the adult undertones) I am going to post my newly created recipe for the crawfish dipping sauce that was on the table and has been requested by several… as soon as I remember how I made it.

I want to again thank all those who chose to share such a lovely Saturday evening with us. We hope you all had a fun and satisfying time, we look forward to sharing the good times with you again next year and for many more to come.

Now that we’ve got a couple of these under the belt we feel we are able to dial-in things much better for the next event. We will change the name to “Seafood Boil” to eliminate any further confusion and having a better grasp of quantities we are more able to provide the amount of each item that our guests prefer. So, what I’m basically saying is that things will only get better therefore you need to start thinking about coming next year and decide quickly.

Help us support a good local cause

Part of Market Collective‘s 2nd Anniversary!
Saturday June 19: 10 AM-6 PM
Sunday June 20: 11 AM-5 PM
148 10 Ave NW (Old Ant Hill Fabrics building)

Admission is $2 or a donation to the Calgary Food Bank
Come down and meet your favourite local bloggers and buy a sweet treat (or two) for Father’s Day!

Inspired by the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale held in the States in April, Vincci of Ceci n’est pas un food blog and Calgary is Awesome has organized a Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale in support of a great local organization, Calgary Meals on Wheels.

Calgary Meals on Wheels is a charity that prepares nutritious and delicious meals to its clients in need, which includes seniors, the disabled, children from low-income families and the working homeless. Their recent capital campaign failed to raise enough money to allow them to renovate their new facilities, so unfortunately they will have to sell it and downsize – clearly they need our help!

If you are a Calgary-area food blogger, it’s not too late to participate! Email Vincci at vwctsui [at] gmail [dot] com for more details.

See you there!

Participating Blogs:
Backseat Gourmet
Calgary is Awesome
Calgary Restaurant Examiner
Ceci n’est pas un food blog
The Celiac Husband
Celiac Teen
Chocolate & Ginger
ChowTown
The Crazy Kitchen
Dinner with Julie
Eat in Calgary
Food Mamma
I Love Alberta Beets
Kitchen Scraps
Live, Love, Laugh, EAT!!!
Scrumptiously Fit Food
Vegedible
Vlad’s Gonzo Food Blog

Egg Salad BLT Sandwich recipe

I’ve always enjoyed sandwiches and while the cutting down of bread in my life has curbed my eating of them, sometimes I just need to indulge.

This is not a “Tried & True” recipe that I’ve used for years but rather one I came up with on the fly in order to use up some eggs in the fridge and also the bread that was leftover from some other kitchen adventures. Because of this I hope anyone who plays with this recipe will let me know what worked for them.

Why would I post a recipe that has not been tested often and proven to be great? the answer is simple…. It’s my blog and I liked this enough to want to share it. :)

I cannot say exactly how many sandwiches this will make but I’d go with 3 since the two I had were fairly full.

Ingredients:

For the egg mixture

  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 1 tbsp dill pickle, chopped
  • ½ tbsp yellow mustard
  • ½ tsp dill weed
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich

  • 6 slices of your favorite bread, toasted
  • 3 leaves of green lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 6 slices of bacon, halved

Method:

  1. interestingly it’s better to start with eggs that are several days old. Using fresh eggs will lead to them being annoying to peel.
  2. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover them with cold water, about 2 inches over the tops. Don’t salt the water or add vinegar. Place over HIGH heat.
  3. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let sit for 8 minutes.
  5. While the eggs are cooking fry up your bacon.
  6. Once the eggs are done run cold water over them for about a minute, fill the pot and let them soak to cool off for ten minutes. They will peel better if you cool them in the refrigerator for about an hour or if you cooked them the day before.
  7. Chop the eggs and vegetables to your desired size and put in a medium bowl.
  8. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. If you mince the veggies in a machine I found the mix will be too moist.

Assembly:

  1. Place a slice of lettuce on each top half of bread and cover with 2 slices of tomato and 4 half slices of bacon.
  2. Coat bottoms with egg salad mixture and add salt and pepper if desired.
  3. Ahhh… who am I kidding? just put them together and eat ‘em.

Mimo Restaurant review

Being a seafood lover I’m always happy to locate a restaurant that serves more than the basic North American versions. I’d never had Portuguese food and while the seafood in Macau that we’ve eaten may be influenced by it I wanted to try the real thing.

Mimo is located just off of International Avenue(17th Ave) in the cities’ SE and is surrounded by stores serving food from many parts of the world. They are family run and have been around for quite some time, two facts that are not lost on the foodie looking for a good meal. Being one of only a very few Portuguese places in town we felt they needed to be tried.

We visited Mimo as the June instalment of our monthly UrbanSpoon foodie runs. I’m still amazed and very pleased with our selections thus far. We’ve not chosen a place that disappointed and this is something considering that we tend towards more interesting ethnic fare and smaller stores

Having read a little about this place I was unsure what to expect as far as the store itself, the food has gotten nothing but great reviews but the location has been described in less than glowing terms . I’d heard that Mimo was a bit of a hole and one had to navigate through a bar then down a hallway into a dark windowless dining room. I’d also read of renovations, and thus could only go and see for myself.Flaming Sausage

It turns out that the renos were done and the space was nicely lit with the dining room moved right to the front and there are windows. Although not a large space it wasn’t cramped. I will however give less than high marks for the hard and unpadded chairs, but then I’m getting old and we were there for over 3 hours.

Looking over the menu it’s hard to make a decision as everything was either great sounding or looked so interesting as to almost call out to the foodie in me. In the end the fact we were in a group and Portuguese is yet another food culture that believes in large share plates we decided to go with that.

The staff were very friendly and being a family run store that has been around for awhile they are very comfortable with their customers. Our servers were chatty and fun to talk with as they explained the food to us and while unwilling to divulge any of the secrets we continually tried to pry out of them we were happy with the service they provided.

Given that fact that we were the smallest group in the dining room(by far) the kitchen and the front of house kept up quite well. We may not have recieved the same attention as we might have if the place was less crazy but we were certainly not left to our own devices for any length of time and the food came out in fairly quickly.

First up was a selection of appetizers. We decided on the Home-made sausage, a delicious Portuguese chorizo that is cooked over a flame on its plate in front of you. The second was snails in wine sauce and finally grilled squid.

All of these were terrific choices with the squid being tender and the sausage tasting very nice. The snails were basic but as with the other apps and mains it was the sauce that made the dish. We had to ask for a second plate of bread to soak up all that remained on the plates.

The mains were something that involved more discussion than we would have thought. You see as foodies we tend to want to sample as much of the menu as possible and this tends to lead to difficulty walking to our cars at the end of the meal (usually with take-home bags). KC Foore’s other half was the voice of caution on this night and we all decided to listen. So, instead of the Paella for 3 and extra main that we had originally wanted to order we opted for a single and just the 3 mains.

What we ended up with was easily enough for the 6 of us. The Discover Portugal is a huge, heaping platter of seafood and veggies that contained lobster, crab, clams, mussels, shrimp, squid and vegetables smothered in yet another tasty sauce with just a bit of heat(which can be turned up on request). The paella was also the selection of seafood but over Portuguese rice. Our third selection was the bacalhau (poached cod). This is a dried salt cod that has been reconstituted while cooked. It’s served with boiled potatoes and olive oil with vinegar as a condiment. This is a most interesting dish which was unlike any fish meal I’d had prior.

The Discover Portugal and Paella are seafood lovers dreams and we all enjoyed making a mess while devouring them with our hands. I only have one sour note regarding the seafood and that is that it was over-cooked. This did not impact my enjoyment to a large degree but was noticeable. As with the appies the sauces were wonderful and both they and the rice in the paella disappeared quickly.

After savaging this ginormous pile of food most of us were really in no condition to eat any more, this however did not stop the more intrepid in the group. So while some enjoyed a glass of port or spiced coffee myself , KC Foore and Twisted Chinaman ordered some dessert to complete the Mimo experience.

I have a deep-seated weakness for rice pudding that was formed during a childhood being fed by my Ukrainian Grandmother who was a masterful cook, so after seeing this as a selection on the menu I had little choice but to order it. The pudding was creamy and nicely spiced but the rice was a little on the chewy side and I felt it could have been cooked longer. This aside It was a pleasant finish to my meal and not likely to be consistently undercooked.

Aside from a few minor issues this was a very good meal and one that I’m not going to miss the chance to repeat in the future. Anyone with a thing for seafood should give Mimo a visit, but I’d suggest caution when confronted by the selection and only order a couple of dishes to start, you can always order more.

MIMO Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thoughts of a foodie on a diet

For the past couple of months I’ve been putting a greater effort into losing some of my more than ample midsection by cutting back on the bad stuff and working out. I just wanted to write down some of the things I’ve come to realise since doing so. These tend more towards the way we think and I believe this is the root of many issues.

  1. We tend to believe that “more is better” and this is perhaps the most detrimental psychological issue facing North Americans when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. I’ve travelled extensively in the United States and believe that the large portions(or huge as in Texas) that can be had for cheap are a main cause of overeating. Just because we are paying our hard-earned money does not mean we need 4 pounds of food at a sitting. If restaurant owners would reduce both quantity and price things would improve.
  2. We have a thing for sauces. I’ve come to see that many of us eat any dish with a sauce as if the food were merely a vector for the sauce. In many cases it’s not the food itself that is unhealthy but rather what we put on it. I’ve caught myself putting far more dressing on salad than is necessary to add the flavour, in fact watching others I’ve come to see that it’s the taste of the sauce they want and care little for the food it’s covering other than for texture.
  3. The food industry is as evil as insurance companies and banks. We are all genetically programmed to seek out and ingest as much of the things that provide high calories as we can. This is a throwback to when food was scarce and our bodies have not yet come to realise that we have access to large amounts of it. The makers of the food we buy are very much aware of this and engineer the food they make to have the sweet, fatty flavours and carbs with the right mouth feel that triggers the deepest parts of our brain to kick into “eat as much as you can” mode. They say they are wanting to provide nutrient dense, good quality food but in reality they don’t care if you die at 40 as long as you buy their product in massive quantities before you do.
  4. Corn is in everything. If you take a good look at the ingredients on the label of any packaged food you buy you’re going to in most cases find something derived from corn. Trigicerides,  Xanthan gum, High fructose corn syrup, Dextrin, MSG, Caramel colour, Maltose, Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Ascorbic acid and others all come from corn. If you had a corn allergy you’d either be very healthy or die young.
  5. The outside is the place to be. When you go grocery shopping and are trying to eat right the thing to do is avoid the isles. All of the food that’s good for you can be found on the outside, fresh meats, produce, dairy etc can be had by simply going around all of the isles full of processed garbage.
  6. Calories aren’t everything. Once you come to understand this you will feel much more free and less likely to yo-yo in your weight. The number of calories you consume is important but they are not the evil that so many believe. Every one of us needs a certain number of calories to just go about our day, this is the basic number our bodies burn to fuel what we do. Going over that number will cause our body to store the excess for lean times and create new fat cells to do so. Cutting back large numbers will produce weight loss but will put our bodies into “starvation” mode. When in this state the body believes that food is scarce and will slow the metabolism to burn less in order to protect us. We also tend to burn more lean muscle in order to make up for the shortfall, we only burn fat reserves as a last ditch effort to get energy when food intake is low for long periods of time. When in this state and we then eat more than the number of calories we burn(like when you’ve lost some weight and begin to take in more calories) our body stores it as fat for the next time things get bad, so if you diet many times like this in your life you loose muscle and increase the number of fat cells in your body. Basically if you cut back too much you create more fat, and fat cells burn 70 times less energy than muscle cells meaning over time you need less calories to get through the day and will only get heavier. Feeding yourself what you need, eating high quality food and getting some exercise will make the body increase it’s metabolism because it has enough. As a result you will begin to lose the weight and it will not come back as easily.

These are just some of the things I’ve come to understand and I hope sharing them will help others.

Hooters review

While this certainly is not a “restaurant” and generally I don’t review bars/pubs/etc I feel compelled to do so on this one occasion. I really wish I’d had my camera for this.

I used to really enjoy going out a couple of times per month and indulging in a heaping pile of chicken wings and a wobbly-pop or three. These days I refrain from doing so more than say once a year due to my having discovered just how bad these tasty treats are for me.

So recently I caved in and having not done the “wing thing” in more than a year I justified treating myself to a limited number, in this case only 20. (hey , that’s nothing I’ve downed 120 before)

I didn’t feel like hunting around for a place and being only a few blocks from the NE Hooters location I figured they would do in satisfying my unhealthy urges on this particular occasion (hey I’m referring to the chicken wings here, okay?).

I ordered 20 “naked” wings -hot of course- a beer and some onion rings. The waitress was nice and brought me a paper to read while I waited. My beer was brought right away as well.

When the wings came I had to take a minute to let what I saw sink in, I have never seen chicken wings that were so small in my life. I remember having this same order at this very location in the past and receiving a hot, heaping pile of big wings that covered the platter it was served on. This scattering of pigeon-esque flight appendages was a mere shadow of what I’d expected and sat one or two deep in the middle of the mostly vacant platter. Now I was hungry and while disappointed I still ate these sad little flappers and drumettes, I did have to adjust my technique however as it proved difficult to even separate the tips and bones. It was impossible to just pick one up and eat as just to get a grip on the things was very difficult since most of it was covered with my not exactly sausage-like fingers. Now you know what a “drumette” is supposed to look like right? Yeah, a smaller version of a drumstick. Well these looked more like fingers, no plump piece of meat to bite off just a slight bump of mostly skin.

If these did in fact come from chickens I can just see the farm-yard and what it looked like while these things were alive…. They probably sat in front of the x-box all day long and were the ones chosen last for dodge-ball at school. You know, the skinny nerdy guys the other chickens picked on all the time, who developed slowly and I’m guessing had no breasts to speak of.

All kidding aside this was a very expensive and pathetic serving of skin and bones covered with hot sauce. The rings were actually pretty good and while over-priced I did enjoy them. Likewise for the beer, I got the brand I wanted and it was fresh and cold but also more money than it should have been. All in for the 20 wings, rings and two beer I paid over $40 and gave a $5 tip to the waitress who did provide good service (get your mind out of the gutter).

For the nearly $50 per person it cost for this truly sad meal I can go almost anywhere in the city and dine on actual food that is well made and fills me up. I will take a little more time in deciding where to get my next wing-fix and am never going to darken the door of Hooters ever again.

Hooters (2730 23 St) on Urbanspoon