Hot Hominy

This old buffet dish is a wonderful side for cool-weather occasions. Most recipes call for white hominy, but I’ve seen yellow used, and it’s pretty. The hominy should be drained and rinsed to remove the salt. For each (28/32 oz.) can, add two cups cheddar cheese sauce (make your own; you can do it) with a large chopped poblano and a small jar of pimentos. You can add other vegetables–cubed squash/zucchini, kernel corn, or green limas—as well as meat–sausage, bacon, or ham–if you like. Season with salt, white pepper, and chili powder. You can add cayenne for heat; some people use jalapenos. Bake at 300 until hominy is tender, about 20 mins.


Crab Tchoupitoulas

This recipe is a variation of a dish served at Pere Antoine Restaurant on the corner of Royal Street and St. Ann in the Vieux Carré, where mushroom caps are stuffed with the creamed spinach-mushroom-crab mixture then breaded and deep-fried. Here the dish is served en casserole, with a more substantial emphasis on the crab, making it much less time-consuming and more suitable for a buffet. In formal culinary parlance, this would likely be called a crab Florentine bon femme but Pere Antoine calls it Tchoupitoulas after a tribe of Native Americans who settled in the area during their Pre-Columbian wanderings along the Mississippi River.

Sauté a half pound of fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced, a 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, drained (squeeze it!), a half pound lump crab meat (picked through), a few ounces of finely julienned fresh sweet red pepper, a few tablespoons of grated onion and a finely minced clove of garlic in butter. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Make a rich white sauce with a blond roux of two tablespoons butter, three of plain flour, a cup of whole cream and a cup of whole milk. Add spinach and crab mixture to sauce along with a half cup of freshly grated Parmesan, Romano or another hard-sharp cheese. You can add a ground pepper of your choice (I recommend white) for a little zip, and as with all seafood, lemon or lime is always a welcome accent. Place in a very hot oven until browned and bubbling. Serve with well-buttered toast. This dish can be made up to three days before and frozen until the occasion.