I love reading and learning about Louisianan food, but I haven’t cooked that many dishes from the state. I now make a gumbo without a recipe, feeling comfortable enough to make any changes and tweaks as the mood suits me. I’ll occasionally cook a jambalaya, but will usually refer to a recipe. I have made an attempt at doberge cake, an extravagant layered chocolate confection which I think most people would buy in rather than make at home. It was delicious, but is quite a labour-heavy experience to make. I have made a pecan pie, using the filling recipe from The Gumbo Pages although that’s not exclusive to Louisiana.
My latest addition to this list are beignets- the state doughnut of Louisiana (as an aside- I love the idea of an official state doughnut, although after reading this article, sadly I don't think there is a doughnut per state). Beignets can be made with a choux pastry or a yeast-leaved dough. I made the latter. I think the place to get beignets in New Orleans sells the yeasted type (I could be wrong about this though). I will have to try the choux pastry version too though, to complete my beignet education.
The recipe I used was from Taste and Tell Blog (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the recipe). They were definitely a success, except for the first 2 I made which were a little uncooked in the middle- I don't own a thermometer for deep frying.
My favourite thing about this recipe is that once you have made the dough, you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week with no ill effects. So whenever you fancy a treat, you can tear off enough dough for a beignet or two, and cook it to order. Like most deep-fried foods, it’s best to eat them fresh out of the pan rather than letting them sit around.
Being able to keep a ball of the dough in the fridge and cook in batches over the week helped me gain a better feeling for when the oil was hot enough to put the uncooked beignet in the pan, and tell when it was ready to be taken out. It also gave me more opportunities for experimentation, such as making a chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauce. This was my only deviation from the recipe, but there is a lot of scope for new ideas. Having said that, a plain beignet, liberally dusted with icing sugar is a wonderful thing, and doesn’t require anything else- except maybe some coffee alongside.