“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
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
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.
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