Some families are food adventurers. Such is the Broussard family of Lafayette. The whole bunch — Daddy Brett, Mommy Bethany, daughter Claire and son Andrew — cooks.
They even have a blog (souschefkids.com) that follows their culinary journey.
Forty-two year old Brett, whose day job is as a financial advisor for Ameriprise, is by far the worst addicted to the art.
The word “art” is a good one. Listen to the kids:
“It’s fun. It’s like art, but you eat it,” 13-year-old Andrew said. “I like to plate foods with different textures. I like experimenting. It makes my mouth happy.”
Claire (age 11) agreed.
“I like both cooking and baking,” she said. “I baked some brownies last night for my grandma. I like cookies and pie, too. I like plating food — making it look pretty. I like art; that helps.”
Brett loves hunting and fishing, but inevitably those hobbies take him back to cooking.
“I’ve fallen in love with duck hunting because I enjoy the cooking of the ducks more than the actual hunting itself,” he explaine. “I like to clean them so that I can save the innards (translation: heart, liver, tongue, and gizzard) for cooking.
“When I catch a fish, lots of times I have a dish selected for it before I land it.”
Bethany, Brett’s charming wife of 15 years, never had a chance.
“When we got married, I thought I was being a good little wife and started cooking when I got home from work,” she said. “He would come home with an idea of what he wanted for dinner. He would ask if I minded putting my food in the refrigerator so he could cook his idea. Either that or he would take over my cooking.
“It hurt my feelings some at first, but now I don’t care. He does 95 percent of the cooking. I enjoy cooking, but I get run over.
“I enjoy basic Cajun cooking — rice and gravy. He likes to experiment with new things.”
The menu for a 10-course dinner Brett recently prepared at a duck hunting camp is an example of his penchant for experimentation: grilled duck hearts, duck and andouille gumbo, duck salad, duck head cheese, duck nuts (duck meatballs over pasta), duck breast lettuce wraps, duck “tamale” sausage, seared medium-rare duck breast, duck saltimbocca and bananas Foster.
Besides the 10-course meals (other menus are Bizarre Foods, Decadent Foods, Locally Sourced Foods, and Molecular Gastronomy) he so enjoys cooking, he also teaches cooking classes for 25 to 30 friends and business associates at E’s Kitchen in Lafayette. The classes focus on techniques and ingredients.
Ultimately, all of it traces back to his grandmother Ruby Reaux Hebert’s kitchen.
“Some of my earliest memories are of walking into my grandmother’s house and smelling the smells,” he said. “I remember walking down the long corridor that led to her kitchen. The aromas were magical to me.
“It amazed me that we (he and his grandfather Brod Hebert) could catch a fish and clean it, and an hour later have courtbouillon. I wondered was the stove magic — was there something in her pots to do what she did with simple ingredients?
“Whatever I do, I want to create the magic of my grandmother.”
Shrimp and Tasso Stuffed Fish
Brett prepared this dish with redfish because he is a fanatical redfish chaser in his kayak, but he is quick to add that any fish works for the recipe as long as they are large enough to produce 10- to 12-inch fillets.
“I am always looking for new ways to prepare fish,” he said. “One of my favorite preparations is making stuffings using Cajun smoked meats. I taught a Cajun cooking class with this dish.
“The stuffing is very rich — lots of butter. It pairs well with the fish because the stuffing compliments the fish rather than overpowers it. It lends itself to a beautiful presentation, too. It’s easy to make. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 3.
“You can substitute crawfish, crabmeat or oysters for the shrimp, and you can substitute other smoked meats for the tasso.”
Brett makes his own seafood stock by boiling shrimp shells with vegetables such as red and green bell peppers, garlic cloves and carrot pieces in water. “Anything I cook, I’m huge with stocks,” Brett said. “I’ve never heard anyone complain of a dish being too flavorful.”
1/4 cup butter
1/4 lb. tasso, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 lb. peeled shrimp, chopped
1/2 cup chicken or seafood stock
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
Cajun seasoning to taste
4 10-inch fish fillets
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add tasso, onions, celery, and bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, parsley and green onions, and sauté an additional minute. Add shrimp and stock, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in crackers and season to taste. Liberally season the fish fillets with Cajun seasoning. Spoon a quarter of the stuffing on each fillet and bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until fish is done. Serves 4.
Oyster & Andouille Pasta
Brett credits the inspiration for making an oyster pasta to Brian Blanchard, owner of the Lafayette restaurant iMonelli.
“But Brian’s dish is olive oil-based; mine is cream-sauced,” Brett said. “I’ve added andouille, too. His has no meat.
“I use andouille instead of tasso because I find it less overpowering to the oysters. Oysters are the star of this dish. A key is not to overcook them. I do a quick 2 or 3-minute cook to let their edges curl, and they are done. Too many people overcook oysters.”
Brett cooks this dish even in the summer, when oysters are skinny.
“I just like that oyster taste,” he said. “This recipe is mine and it’s good.”
A tip: Dried pasta may be used instead of fresh pasta, but remember that 1 pound of dry pasta yields 1½ pounds of cooked pasta, so adjust the recipe accordingly.
Also, cooked pasta has a wetter surface and will not absorb the sauce as well as fresh pasta.
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sliced and quartered andouille sausage
1/4 cup finely chopped purple onion or shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp. chicken base
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pt. oysters, drained
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground
9 oz. fresh fettuccine
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add sausage, onion and bell pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Whisk in wine and chicken base, stir to mix and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and half of the Parmesan cheese and stir to mix well. Add the green onions and parsley (reserving some of each for garnish), and simmer for about 4 minutes. Add the oysters, season with salt and pepper, and cook an additional 3 minutes or until the oysters start to curl at the edges. Toss with pasta and top with remaining Parmesan cheese, green onions and parsley. Serves 4.