Several years ago, my husband Darrell and I were visiting New Orleans when we happened upon the National World War II Museum. It is a six-acre complex, consisting of five pavilions housing historical exhibits, artifacts, multimedia experiences and personal accounts from folks who were there.
Originally founded in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum, there is a special emphasis on the invasion of Normandy, specifically the Higgins boats. These boats, vital to amphibious operations, were designed, built and tested in New Orleans by Higgins Industries.
Upon entering the building, it was apparent the respect and admiration the curators had given those who were involved in this war. I felt a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes immediately. My sweet daddy served in WWII where he was trained to service the Jeeps that some historians credit as the “workhorse of the American military.”
When we visited, WWII veterans were stationed around the museum telling their stories. I was riveted. If you ever find yourself in downtown New Orleans, this museum is a must-see. Allow yourself at least one full day to take it all in.
If you can’t visit, it is worth your time to go to their website, www.nationalww2museum.org to read about it. It truly is a national treasure.
You know I can’t mention New Orleans without a nod to Cajun cuisine. While a little longer than most recipes I suggest, this one is worth every ingredient, stir and taste test! Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Crevolyn Wiley is a Gainesville resident with her first published cookbook “Cooking with Crevolyn” available at J&J Foods. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shrimp and Andouille Cheese Grits Casserole
Ingredients for casserole:
3 1/2 cups milk
3 1/2 cups water
2 cups old-fashioned grits (not quick or instant)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced crosswise
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, if desired
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Recipe for Shrimp and Shrimp Gravy:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 pound medium peeled, deveined raw shrimp
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish.
Bring the milk and water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Whisk in the grits and salt and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook the grits until tender and thick, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. While the grits are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sauté the sausage until browned, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the grits are tender and thickened, stir in Cajun seasoning, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, heavy cream and butter. Crack eggs into a bowl, beat lightly and add about 1/2 cup grits mixture to temper. Once tempered, add to grits mixture. Spoon grits into prepared casserole dish. Bake in the center of the oven until casserole is lightly golden and set, about 40 minutes.
While grits are baking, cook the shrimp and shrimp gravy. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and cook about 3-4 minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook about a minute, stirring constantly. Add flour and cook about a minute, stirring constantly. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine and cook until mixture is thickened, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, heavy cream, salt and pepper.
Remove grits from oven and sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.
Spoon shrimp mixture over baked grits using a slotted spoon. Pour shrimp gravy from pan into a serving bowl, serve alongside casserole.