Barry Toups is a soft-spoken man with a mild Cajun accent, who says his passion is entertaining people.
He lives in one wing of his Crawfish Haven/Mrs. Rosie’s Bed & Breakfast (337-652-8870), 4 miles north of Kaplan in rural Vermilion Parish. The century-old white Victorian home is set on his 53-acre crawfish farm, and was formerly the life-long residence of Rose Blanchard Robichaux.
From the second week in November to June 1, he escorts his B & B guests, as well as day-visitors on the boat with him as he runs his commercial crawfish traps. Part of the catch is boiled at the B & B for the guests.
He also offers Cajun meals at the B & B. Two-night guests get crawfish étouffée or chicken and sausage gumbo, served with rice, sweet peas and a warm potato salad.
If that’s not enough, he offers cooking classes for groups of 4 to 8 people. With hands-on participation, participants learn how to make scratch Cajun meals.
“Most of my cooking skills came from the hunting camp. I watched those old men cook, and my mom Edna was a good cook too.”
Barry was recognized for his expertise in seafood by being appointed in 2018 to the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to represent the crawfish industry.
“I can have this dish ready in less than an hour. My momma started me with this. My aunts just used onions, but my mother used cream of mushroom soup. Then I tested golden mushroom condensed soup. It had a better taste and a better color. The finished dish looks better.
“I started cooking étouffées in competition in 2018. I cooked them twice and came in third in the Lake Charles Dreams Come True Benefit and first in the Kaplan High Chorus and Piano Seafood Cookoff.
TIP: Claiming that it adds “a freshness to the dish,’ Barry calls crawfish pureé his “secret weapon.” Made by Teche Valley Seafood in St. Martinville, it is sold in 8-oz., 16-oz. plastic snap lid containers and 5-lb. bags. Barry buys his from Larry’s Super Foods in Kaplan.
- ½ stick of butter
- 1 24-oz bag of frozen Pictsweet Farms Seasoning Blend
- 1 ¼-cup size chunk of frozen Crawfish Pureé
- 1 10-oz. can of condensed golden mushroom soup
- Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste
- 1 lb. crawfish tailmeat
- 1 bunch of green onions, tops only, chopped
PREPARATION: Serves 4.
Melt butter in a large pot. Stir in frozen seasoning blend over medium heat to thaw. Add pureé and soup. Stir to thoroughly blend. Simmer 20 minutes until the onions in the seasoning blend are soft. Add the crawfish, stir and simmer 15 minutes. Add green onion tops before serving. Serve over rice.
Turtle Sauce Piquant
“Every day for Father’s Day, for my father Robert, who is 79, we cook turtle sauce piquant and fried frog legs. For those family members who don’t eat turtle or frogs, I cook a redfish sauce piquant.
“I started playing around with the recipe 20 years ago until I got what I wanted. This sauce can be frozen to use with meat or fish later.”
Barry stresses cooking time for the dish. After adding the tomato products, he tapped the lid of the pot, “If I ate this now, it would upset my stomach. After cooking for 4 hours, it’s delicious and I can eat all I want. Long cooking is important.”
TIP: The Pictsweet Farm Frozen Seasoning Blend that Barry uses is comprised of diced onions, celery, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and parsley. If this blend, or a similar one, isn’t available, one can be made at home, with a ratio of ingredients that pleases personal tastes.
TIP: Barry’s turtle meat is bone-in, because he cleans turtles captured on his crawfish farm. Most commercially available turtle meat is boneless, so the amount needed to cook this dish is one-third less than the ingredient list calls for if the meat is boneless.
- ½ cup Savoie’s Old Fashioned Light Roux
- 16 oz. frozen Pictsweet Farm Seasoning Blend
- 1 10-oz. can Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
- 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
- 3 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 heaping tsp. pickling spice
- 2 ½ lb. bone-in turtle meat
- Cajun/Creole Seasoning
PREPARATION: Serves 6.
Heat 1 qt. of water to boiling in a large pot. Stir in the roux over medium heat until dissolved. Add water as needed to keep the level constant and the roux from burning. When the consistency of the liquid is creamy, stir in the seasoning blend. Add the Rotel tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the tomato paste and the bay leaves. Stir to blend. Put the seasoning blend in a tea ball strainer and add it to the sauce. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 1 ½ hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Season the turtle meat to taste with Cajun/Creole seasoning and add it to the sauce. Simmer for 2 hours or until the turtle meat is tender. Add water, if needed. Serve over rice.