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

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.)

Book cover for "Julia Reed's New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll"

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.

Makes 24 hors d’oeuvres

Excerpted from Julia Reed’s New Orleans: Food, Fun, and Field Trips for Letting the Good Times Roll. Check out Flower magazine’s Q&A with Reed about the book, which has been described as a love letter to the city. Photography by Paul Costello

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