Crawfish Cardinale Tarts

The late Julia Reed shared this classic Creole recipe from her book JULIA REED'S NEW ORLEANS
A hand grabs a Crawfish Cardinale Tart, a recipe by Julia Reed, from the tray
Crawfish Cardinale Tarts served on an Old Sheffield tray

“Crawfish Cardinale, a creamy, Cognac-tinged concoction, is a staple at Antoine’s, where it is served in a ramekin. Emeril Lagasse and John Folse serve theirs as an appetizer or main course in puff pastry patty shells. For this party, I passed around a tinier taste of the rich crawfish in hors d’oeuvre–size puff pastry shells straight out of the freezer case.”—Julia Reed from Julia Reed’s New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll (Rizzoli, 2019)

Crawfish Cardinale Tarts

Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres


  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons seafood stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound crawfish tails
  • 2 dozen mini pastry shells (I most often use Athens brand phyllo shells, which are ready to use straight out of the freezer, or Siljans crispy shells.)


1 | Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Lower heat and add shallots and garlic, stirring often to make sure the garlic does not burn, and cook until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the stock and tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

2 | Add cream, Cognac, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. Blend well and cook about 5 minutes, until a thickish, sauce-like consistency is achieved, stirring frequently. Add the crawfish tails and cook until the tails are hot, 2 to 3 minutes more.

3 | Remove mixture from heat and taste for seasonings. Spoon into the shells and serve immediately.