I’m currently sharing my laptop with my husband for school and gaming, since my old desktop decided it doesn’t like the Internet anymore. I’m also slowly putting the blog together, and while I want to get started with recipes and pretty pictures, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. So, until I have more references and resources for all things gluten-free, if there’s something you need to know and I don’t list it, check the link to Gluten Free Goddess in the sidebar. I refer to her for all things gluten-free and non-Cajun.
With that said, here’s a few things you’re going to need if you want to cook Cajun food.
This is the best line of Cajun seasoning blends to be had. It’s local, so if you don’t live here you may have to order it online. But, it’s very, very simple to recreate if you cannot find it. Cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper (or white pepper) and garlic powder. Much less salty than the ubiquitous Tony Chachere’s, and without the wheat contamination. I tend to prefer the ‘Hot’ for cooking and the ‘Original’ as a table seasoning, but some foods don’t stand up to as much cayenne. The white pepper blend is great for anyone that can’t have black pepper, avoids it for health reasons, or just prefers the taste, as does my husband.
Zatarains tends to be much easier to find. However, in my opinion it’s a big can of red salt. It does have other seasonings, such as celery and chili powder and onion, but its just too salty for me. I should probably warn you to take my salt advice with a grain of salt, though, since my doctor, bless her heart, has ordered me to eat more of it to bring my blood pressure up to a normal level. That’s right, up.
While there are lots of gluten free flours out there, I’ve found that sorghum makes a wonderful roux. If you’re going to cook Cajun, you need to learn to make a good roux. If you already know how and you’ve been told you have to stop eating gluten, you might have had a panic attack at the thought of how to make gumbo without flour. Don’t fret, this works just fine. I’ll show you. It’s also great for baking, and gives a texture similar to cornbread. Look for it in health food stores, at Amazon, or if you live in southern Louisiana, you should be able to find it at Rouses, Champagne’s, Albertsons, or even a Super One.
Brown rice flour is essential for thickening a gravy or sauce last minute, and for baking. It’s not the healthiest flour, but it’s very taste-neutral, and better than white rice flour. If you’re not terribly worried about “refined white flour”, by all means, stock up on white rice flour. I have 6 bags in my mini-fridge. It’s cheaper, but it doesn’t give as nice a texture in baking. But sometimes you just want something to taste good and don’t care if if has enough fiber. Like biscuits. You can find it anywhere you can find sorghum. It Also works for roux, but not as well as sorghum, in my experience.
The rest of my flours are in cold storage in jars in the fridge, but they are:
Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
Gluten free rolled Oats
Gluten Free Oat flour (I grind my oats)
Psyllium Husk powder (plain Metamucil, a binder- I don’t use Xanthan gum)
Other seasonings I use:
You will always need plenty of chopped (fresh or frozen) onion and bell pepper. Chopped celery is a personal preference unless you’re making gumbo or étouffée, I tend to use celery salt or celery seed otherwise. I like green onion (scallions) in most dishes, some only use it in gumbo. In any case, you want to have these four items on hand. Some swear by fresh, but I hate chopping onions, so I keep all but the celery ready in the freezer.
If you don’t have it, get a can of shortening. Or *maybe* canola, but I’ve found it doesn’t work as well with gluten free flours as shortening. Butter works well too, especially clarified butter (ghee). You’ll need it for roux.
Last, cookware. I use cast iron. Some use Magnalite or All-clad, or some other tri-ply. Le Creuset would work, but it must be thick, heavy, and stovetop safe. You want something that will work for braising, searing, and de-glazing. It must heat evenly with no hot spots, retain heat well, and not heat too fast. This is possibly the most important part. I use a cheap pre-seasoned cast iron sauce pan from a big box store, but I seasoned my smaller pans myself in the oven. My mom uses a 20 something year old Magnalite. My uncle uses an old cast iron Dutch oven that he seasoned in an open fire. My grandmother uses Le Creuset. It’s up to you, as long as it fits the given criteria.
Until next time, c’est tout!