A few weeks ago Supper Book Club gathered at my place to discuss Swamplandia!, a Pulitzer-Prize finalist novel by Karen Russell. Set off the southwest coast of Florida, this story follows the members of the Bigtree family who are alligator-wrestlers living happily on an alligator theme park until their mother passes away and the family falls apart.
The theme of the night was Creole food. Jess brought over the wine, Nidhi made a salad, and I made this Cajun Steak and Ratatouille from Louisiana Real & Rustic by Emeril Lagasse.
And when I say “I made this,” what I really mean is “Russell made this” and I stood around taking pictures.
“The secret to Louisiana cooking is in the seasonings.” -Emeril
- freshly ground black pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- dried oregano
- dried thyme
Want to know what makes steak especially good? You might not want to know. Grilling it on a cast-iron skillet with butter (this brand especially) and bacon fat (which we keep saved in the fridge). It’s not so pretty, but I’m going to show you a picture anyways. Trust me, it’s yummy.
And please don’t judge too harshly, but we don’t have enough space in our apartment for a dining table, so we just set up four TV trays in our living room when we have guests over. Hey, it gets the job done.
The book, we all agreed, is beautifully written. But we thought her writing style is better suited for poems or short stories. There is an awful incident in the book that we either didn’t want to read about at all, or have it explored more fully. In any case, we were happy to have read the book and for the opportunity to discuss it over a delicious Sunday Supper (though I confess, this was actually a Thursday).
- 2 fillet steaks, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/2 tablespoon of rustic rub
- 1 tablespoon of veggie oil
- Season steaks with rustic rub (aka spices pictured and mentioned above)
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and sear the steaks
- Put whole skillet in a pre-heated oven
- Bake the steaks for 6 minutes for rare, 10 minutes for medium-rare
- 1/4 cup spiced ham
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium zucchini cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups chopped, peeled, and seeded fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium or high heat.
- Add onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until vegetables are slightly wilted.
- Add zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and thyme.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until mixture is a little soupy. The vegetables should have a little crunch in them.
- Can be cooked a day ahead. It gains in flavor when reheated.
Emeril’s new book, Emeril’s Kicked-Up Sandwiches, goes on sale 10/16!