I first fell in love with Louisiana when Terry Thompson from Mandeville came to my week long intensive class I used to teach out of my home many years ago. She has since written several cookbooks on Louisiana cuisine. Terry introduced me to the late Lee Barnes who invited me to teach at her school in New Orleans. She also introduced me to Paul Prudhomme whom I adored on first hearing.Paul Prudhomme, for those of you who don't know, is a fantastic chef, restauranteur, and tv personality. He is also a deeply philosophical and compassionate person. Paul's blackened red fish became so wildly popular it temporarily put red fish on the endangered species list. And it was at his restaurant K-Paul's that I discovered the infamous Cajun Martini. The recipe is simply this: Take a large bottle of gin or vodka (i prefer gin) and add a jalapeno pepper. Fill the neck space with vermouth and allow it to sit for several days. It gets more intense as it continues to sit. Chill and shake the bottle well before serving. There is something incredibly deliciously exciting about the sensation of icy cold gin with the spicy hot kick of the pepper. As an aside, it is the only time in my experience that alcohol has cured instead of worsened a headache! Several years ago, a dear friend, Rhea Denker, whose brother lived in New Orelans, gave me a bottle of Panola's Jalapeno sauce. I quickly discovered that the slightly vinegary hot pepper was a terrific enhancement to pesto. I added a small splash to my weekly pesto and pasta and the bottle was soon emptied but I saved it for years hoping to return to New Orleans for a visit or to find a source. I don't know WHAT took me so long to think of googling and there it was in all it's glory--a website for all of Panola's products! http://www.panolapepper.com I was so eager to order I didn't notice that the two large bottles I thought I was ordered were, in fact, two tiny bottles only 1.7 ounces each. I should have realized this as the price was so very low the shipping was many times higher. Here's what I thought I was ordering: Here's what I mistakenly ordered: And here's what they sent: Talk about casting jalapeno sauce on the water. They must have realized my mistake and decided to remedy it. Just think how disappointed I would have been on opening the long awaited bottles only to find those two miniatures. Actually, at first I thought they had included the little bottles as samples and had run out of the big ones I thought I had ordered. Then I looked at the receipt and it clicked. My mistake. What generosity of spirit to have thrown in that big bottle. Not surprising from what I know of the amazingly wonderful people of Louisiana.
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