labneh on a plate

Labneh with Preserved Lemon

I have been participating in The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge and in February the goal was salt preserving. I made preserved lemons, which I had never even eaten before much less made. Making food you’ve never tried before is a bit scary. How do you know if you’ve done it correctly? Is this what it’s supposed to taste like? Have I actually made preserved lemon and not some other dish completely?

I still don’t know the answer to that question, honestly. I have, however, finally used my preserved lemons for something. I made a labneh based on this Bon Appetite recipe. The original recipe has more ingredients that I wanted, because I wanted the lemon to really shine through. It also involves taking labneh and adding liquid to it, which makes it more the consistency of Greek yogurt. As far as I can tell, the difference between yogurt, Greek yogurt, and labneh is water content, with plain yogurt being the wettest and labneh being the driest and most dense. Rather than add as much liquid back in, I made mine more cheese-like in texture. You can see how smooth the Bon Appetite one is compared to mine, but mine spreads much better on a cracker.

I used store-bought Greek yogurt and strained it for two days. To get the original Bon Appetit texture, you can probably strain it for as little as two hours. My yogurt was nothing fancy–just basic store brand, but everyone I served this too assumed it was a gourmet cheese. It’s that delicious, and easy to boot!

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Labneh with Preserved Lemons
Servings: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 1/3rd cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp preserved lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Place a strainer or colander over a bowl and line with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Place yogurt inside and cover. Let sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.

  2. Blend the mint, lemon peel, and 1/3rd cup of olive oil in a blender. I recommend a small processor such as a Magic Bullet because the quantity is so small.

  3. Taste the herbed oil mixture and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Stir the mixture into the labneh. Season with salt to taste.

  5. Drizzle remaining olive oil on top to serve.

A man and a woman enjoying a drink on a patio

Texas Shandy

That’s my friend Dummo Scoof there on the left and me, Reggo Toots, on the right. This is us pre-crawfish boil as we taste-tested a new cocktail I was working on for the boil that I’m calling a Texas Shandy. It’s not actually a shandy, which is typically beer and lemonade. Instead I sub out the lemonade for Texas’ favorite citrus, Ruby Red grapefruit. I also sub out the whole non-alcoholic part of it. It’s a doozy. One guest at the crawfish boil said he hadn’t been that drunk in 25 years. Fair warning if you try it at home. I find one of these is the perfect amount for an afternoon on the patio. Dorothy Parker would have to rewrite her (apocrycphal) poem for this drink.

 

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Texas Shandy

One glass of this will have you blissing out on the patio all afternoon.

Servings: 1 glass
Ingredients
  • 1 can Lone Star
  • 2 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • lime twist
Instructions
  1. Pour 4/5ths of the Lone Star, the vodka, and the lime juice in a pint glass. Stir.

  2. Drink the leftover Lone Star. 

  3. Garnish with the lime twist.

Authentic Cajun Crawfish Dip for Your Next Crawfish Boil

Picnic table of boiled crawfish

This week was my friend Luke’s annual crawfish boil, and it was amazing as always. I’m as Cajun as you can get, so I jump at any chance I have to eat crawfish here in Austin. Unfortunately, usually the serving sizes are not adequate for my Cajun stomach, nor is the seasoning adequate for my taste buds. Luke’s crawfish always manages to satisfy on both accounts. (The amazing picture above is also by him. Thank you Luke!)

Going to Austin crawfish boils, I’ve learned that I need to be prepared to bring my own crawfish dip. Crawfish dip, as in dip that you dip your crawfish in, is not something that exists here. I’ve seen people use butter, which I guess makes sense, crawfish are similar to lobster. That’s not how we we do it in Acadiana though. In Acadiana, we all make our own special concoction of mayo and other special ingredients, creating something not unlike the “special sauce” you put on a burger. Meeting everyone in the kitchen before the boil to each make your unique bowl of dip is one of my favorite parts of a crawfish boil. In Austin, however, this means me meeting myself in the kitchen, and then making enough to supply the party.

Yes, I bring Bag of Louisiana brand crawfish boil seasoningmy own crawfish dip to bars and other locations serving crawfish. I bring my own koozie too. That’s how I roll.

As my inaugural blog recipe, here’s my ‘classic’ version of the crawfish dip. It’s about as basic as you can get. This particular one is my¬†go-to Austin-party dip because of the extra spice. It compensates for the fact that I usually find the crawfish to be under-seasoned. The spice it calls for is in fact ‘Crawfish Boil’, the same mixture that is commonly added to the pot of crawfish itself, usually Louisiana or Zatarain’s brand (pronounced Zat-UH-ranz or Zat-UH-rehnz). If you need help finding this in your area, try looking in a store that features international foods. In Texas, Fiesta actually has a very nice section of ‘Cajun supplies’. When I lived in Oregon, I found the same thing in Asian and Mexican supermarkets.

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Authentic Cajun Crawfish Dip
Prep Time
5 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp crawfish boil seasoning
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Taste as you go to add more seasoning if desired. If you find it getting too salty, you can try supplementing Low Sodium Tony Chachere's.