So, anyway, there I was messing about on Twitter t’other day when I get a message from Nick (part of the Popstrami team) asking if I was free this Sunday and whether I would like to go along to a cook-off the Popstrami team were having at his house. I’ll admit, I was a bit intimidated by it because I know how serious these guys are about their food (even more so than me), but then Nick tweeted:
“theme is Louisianan bbq”
My eyes widen and I immediately reply:
It was a complete no-brainer. I mean, considering how good the food from Popstrami was and knowing the level of expertise from those involved, this was going to be something special. Then it dawned on me: What the hell was going to be *MY* contribution to the event? (Other than my tummy, obviously). For the rest of the day, I racked my brains. Fortunately, Nick emailed me with the details and a tentative menu for the day and kindly suggested if I had time, perhaps I could make the potato salad or perhaps something alcoholic. That was very sweet of him but I couldn’t really turn up to the cook-off with a potato salad as my contribution – Girl’s got a good reputation to make and I wasn’t going to be the “Potato Salad Girl”! The idea is that we could all document what dishes we’re going to cook and the actual process of doing so for our respective blogs so we can all share with you nice readers out there.
The provisional menu had a lot of meat (understandably) so I thought about perhaps making something seafood-based (When I think of Louisiana, I think of Oysters or Crawfish (Crayfish), of Jambalayas, gumbos and Oyster Po Boys). A quick rack of brains with YKL resulted in thinking of Crayfish Étouffée but that would very much depend on being able to get hold of some crayfish or even something like Louisiana crab cakes, but there was already a lot of protein on the menu so perhaps something for sides would be more appreciated? The first thing that came to mind was Fried Green Tomatoes which means trying to find some flavoursome green tomatoes but it was the Moseley Farmer’s Market the day before so I should be able to get something there? But that was a pretty risky strategy and I needed something I could reliably get ingredients for, too. I then got to thinking of instead of making a jambalaya, perhaps a jambalaya-type-salad-thingy where it’s more like a rice salad (and if I could get hold of some of Lap’s andouille, even better!) so perhaps that could work? YKL suggested something like a lettuce wedge with a good blue cheese dressing but it wasn’t strictly Cajun/Louisianan. KF then came up with the killer suggestion of making a Wop Salad – I couldn’t believe that I had completely forgotten it when thinking of classic New Orleans dishes. Looking at the rest of the menu it seemed perfect so I sounded it out with Nick.
Very sensibly (Hey, someone needs to be the grown-up), Nick pointed out that if I were to cook in his kitchen, I’d have the whole cooking-in-an-unfamiliar-kitchen scenario which could prove problematic so the fried green tomatoes and crab cakes were out of contention. Upon my suggestion of a rice salad/dish he asked if I meant something like a Dirty Rice. ARGH again at forgetting Dirty Rice – Another classic Cajun dish and well, let a Chinese woman do a fried rice dish why don’t you? 😉 So it was decided, my contribution to the cook-off would be a Wop Salad and Dirty Rice. I’m not going to compete with the men and be all macho and do protein, but I’ll do something as (hopefully) a good accompaniment to what has the potential to be gastric meltdown from the amount of food we’ll be preparing. The final menu (as lifted from Nick’s site) is:
Crayfish boudin (Nick) – depending on availability!!
Bruce/Mark/Obama’s Kenyan-Texan chicken wings (Bruce)
Southern-ass baked beans (Gordon)
Dirty Rice (YSL)
Wop Salad (YSL)
Hush puppies (Tom)
Buttermilk ice cream (Nick)
I’m currently deep into research for recipes – Of which I’ll post about later, but I’m already excited at the prospect of the cook-off. I mean, just reading the menu has got me smiling and I tell you what, if the food is anywhere remotely as good as it looks from reading the menu – It’s going to be awesome