Saturday, June 26, 2010

Maque Choux and Faux Barbeque

It’s wonderful having guests who are open to anything, but not addicted to activity. Mary and John have been sleeping in, as one would imagine one should do while on vacation. This gives me and Richard the opportunity to also catch up on our beauty rest after staying up later than my bedtime gabbing and guffawing. Of course staying up late and sleeping in is easy here in the summer when darkness doesn’t descend until nine in the evening and the sun doesn’t come over the hill until nine in the morning.

After they were here for a couple of days, we figured it was time to introduce our northern Great Lakes guests to some of our mountain folk. We started with Jack and worked our way over to Mamie. These encounters went well, so we decided to have a bit of a dinner party, even though we only have six kitchen chairs. John and Mary are boaters, and John enjoys classic cars, so we invited Deborah and Charlie over to join us for supper. We all enjoyed swapping tales of automobile escapades and bragging about boating. The boating blunders were at least as entertaining as the bragging.

Even though our guests are from Wisconsin, I figured we’d introduce them to something that they can only get from a Cajun cook. On a pre-BP-oil-spill trip down to Louisiana, I’d brought home forty pounds of Gulf shrimp for our freezer. It was time to put some of them to use, so we had barbeque shrimp (which never see a barbeque grill) over some of Tellico Bakery’s fabulous sourdough bread. The sauce resembles a barbecue sauce in looks only; it’s really mostly a bread dipping sauce of butter, olive oil, paprika and other herbs and spices. We accompanied this with some of the stewed corn dish called Maque Choux that I make by the vat during harvesting season and one of Richard salads, this time with many of the ingredients also grown by him.

Richard outdid himself with the preparation of desserts. In addition to the brownies and homemade fudge sauce that I already had on hand, he whipped up a batch of shortcake with strawberries, blueberries, and custard sauce. Because the custard sauce called for a bunch of egg yolks, he had a lot of leftover egg whites that he baked into a meringue. This gave me the opportunity to wallow in one of my most favorite desserts, floating island, which consists of a puddle of creamy custard sauce topped with a fluffy pillow of perfect meringue. Others at the table got very creative with the ingredients presented. John and Mary’s concoctions resembled banana splits, minus the bananas – shortbread topped with the various fruits, a generous slather of custard sauce and a cloud of meringue.

I thought of asking Mary to sing for her supper, since she is a professional classical singer, but I didn’t want to push my luck. I did, however, inform Charlie and Deborah that before the next time our “Cheese- head” friends come south, we should send Mary some Bluegrass music to practice for her Coker Creek debut.