When Sheryl Boudy was a girl, she watched her father cook, learning how food should look and taste. She and her four siblings were his prep cooks, cutting corn off the cob, chopping bags of onions when they were on sale at Schwegmann’s.
“I just took to the kitchen,” Boudy said. “I didn’t know how much until I had my own family. I really loved it.” Like her father, she never used a recipe.
Her father, Alvin Aramburo Sr., had been one of 11 children, Boudy said. He broke a bone as a child and “was in a big old cast and couldn’t go to school for three months. He took an interest in the kitchen” and learned to cook from his mother.
Boudy’s inherited love of cooking became a blog and then a Facebook group, “Sheryl In the Kitchen,” which now has almost 5,000 members. When she started her online communities, “I talked about my daddy so much they felt like they knew him,” she says. He died two years ago.
“Recipes My Daddy Never Wrote Down: A Collection of New Orleans Recipes from My Childhood” is Boudy’s self-published new cookbook. She spent five years working on it, measuring recipes she’s made most of her life. Two years ago, the pace sped up when she retired after 33 years as a social worker.
Here are a few other cookbooks that shine a light on local cooking traditions.
The cookbook lovingly captures her family life and her father’s skilled ways. It continues Boudy’s mission of teaching folks to cook, to quit buying fast food, to stop saying they don’t like to cook.
The 25 recipes are New Orleans home cooking, heavy on seafood: barbecue shrimp, marinated blue crabs, bell peppers stuffed with beef, shrimp or crawfish and crab, double cheese macaroni, crawfish bisque, smothered pork chops with onions.
“He didn’t consider a piece of chicken and some broccoli and baked potato a meal. … He made red gravy … so rich and succulent. He made a roux so it wasn’t tomato-acidy; it was smooth and thick,” she said.
He would make extra gravy and serve it one night with pork chops, and a couple of nights later, with meatballs and all that extra flavor from the pork. A neighbor supplied him with game, wild ducks, rabbits and snapping turtles, or cowan as it’s called in New Orleans. Into the red gravy it went.
Her father was incredibly organized. Every freezer shelf was labeled, for chicken, pork, beef and seasonings. Freeze chopped seasonings flat, Boudy advises her groups, and just break off a piece to use.
The cookbook is $25 at sherylboudy.com, plus $5 shipping, and she signs every copy. Many more recipes are available on the website and in her Facebook group, as well as videos. But recipes are a guide, she says. Put whatever you want in your own food.
One of Boudy’s biggest online hits is crawfish eggrolls. For Kings Day earlier this month, she modified the concept and replaced the crawfish and mozzarella with a filling made of apples and cream cheese.
“We had Mardi Gras rolls,” she said.
Boudy perfected the filling, but wanted a crispy eggroll exterior, she writes. Her dad suggested coating them like fried chicken. The eggrolls can be individually frozen, then thawed and deep-fried. Reprinted with permission from “Recipes My Daddy Never Wrote Down.” Make 8-10 servings.
½ stick butter
1½ cups chopped green onions
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cups peeled crawfish tails
1½ cups evaporated milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon granulated crab boil (such as Zatarain’s or Old Bay)
12 mozzarella sticks, cut in half lengthwise
1-pound package eggroll wrappers
Oil for frying
Flour for dredging
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon EACH salt, pepper and cayenne
1. Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add green onions and parsley, cook 2 minutes. Add crawfish and cook 3 minutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk together evaporated milk and cornstarch. Stirring constantly, add evaporated milk mixture to crawfish tails. Cook until thickened. Add granulated garlic, paprika and granulated crab boil or Old Bay. Let mixture cool.
3. Make eggwash: Whisk together eggs, milk, garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Spread flour for dredging on a plate or shallow pan.
4. Cut mozzarella sticks in half lengthwise. Place in the center of an eggroll wrapper. Add a generous amount of crawfish filling alongside the cheese stick. Dip finger in eggwash and run a small bead along all sides of the wrapper. Roll until tightly sealed.
5. Dip eggroll in eggwash, then flour. Repeat to dip and coat twice. (Eggrolls can be frozen at this point.)
6. Heat oil for frying. Deep-fry until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut eggroll on an angle and serve hot.
Stewed Chicken in Red Gravy
Boudy’s dad always served this with green peas and potato salad, she writes. Use your favorite pieces of chicken, or add your favorite sausage or wieners. Reprinted with permission from “Recipes My Daddy Never Wrote Down.” Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1 (3 to 3½-pound) chicken, cut in serving pieces
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
8 cups tomato sauce
2 cups diced or stewed tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped garlic
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water or chicken broth
½ cup cooking wine or white wine
¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Steamed rice or favorite cooked pasta for serving
1. Cut chicken breasts in half. Remove chicken skin. Wash pieces and drain in a strainer. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons oil. Add half the chicken; brown on both sides. Add remaining chicken and brown. Remove from pot.
3. Deglaze pot with remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add flour while stirring constantly. Stir until roux turns brown, then add onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water or broth. Season to taste with cayenne, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
4. Add wine. Squeeze juice from lemon, being careful to remove seeds. Add juice to pot. Add chicken. Cook on low 50 minutes to 1 hour, until chicken is tender. Serve over rice or pasta.
Praline Bundt Cake
Sheryl Boudy’s brother Anthony J. Aramburo is the family baker. Boudy turned to him for dessert recipes. Reprinted with permission from “Recipes My Daddy Never Wrote Down.” Serves 12-15.
1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup butter
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1½ cups powdered sugar
1½ cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with shortening; dust with flour. In a mixing bowl, combine room temperature butter, 2 cups brown sugar and 1 cup granulated sugar. Beat at medium speed until light and creamy.
2. On low speed, add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl between each. Add vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. With mixer on low, alternate adding ½ cup dry mixture and buttermilk until both are incorporated, scraping bowl often. Add pecans and beat 1 minute.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 75 to 90 minutes, until a long skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack 15 to 20 minutes. Turn onto rack.
5. Make praline icing: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup butter and evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a slight boil. Remove from heat. Do not overcook.
6. Pour into a bowl, being careful as bottom of the bowl will be hot. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, stirring until both are completely incorporated to make a silky, smooth icing. Let cool about 15 minutes, then stir in coarsely chopped toasted pecans.
7. Pour evenly over the top of the cake and let drizzle down the sides. Cake can be served after icing has set.
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