Rouses Magazine - Baking Spirits Bright

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Towering Red Velvet Cake

e lly Cak i t n e G y r r row-circle-upRouses Be A

A row-circle-upRou s

es Towering Tr ip Chocolate Caklee

OLIO D’OLIVA ITALIANO! Our cold extracted, 100% Italian Olive Oil is produced in West Central Sicily and made with Biancolilla, Cerasuola and Nocellara del Belice olives.

Our spirit shines bright this holiday season. Despite a tough year, we have a lot to be thankful for. The Gulf Coast continues to show up for each other and our communities like no one else. A food relief effort lead by chefs, cooks and volunteers helped us distribute thousands of free hot meals at Rouses Markets in the days and weeks following Hurricane Ida. It’s amazing how much a hot meal, a cold drink and a smile from one neighbor to the next can help. Our network of vendor partners also went above and beyond after Ida — as they always do in times of crisis. They donated essential supplies, and helped us deliver truckloads of food and water to food banks, food pantries, churches, charities and community care efforts. And our customers also helped us collect much-needed food items at our stores, which the food banks distributed. PHOTO BY CHANNING CANDIES

Months after the storm, we continue to help each other get back on our feet.

IDA DISASTER RELIEF FUND We set up our Disaster Relief Fund to help our Rouses team members who are victims of disasters like Hurricane Ida. If you would like to join us in supporting the fund, visit Your donation is tax deductible, and 100% of it will go to our team members in need.

We started an Ida Disaster Relief Fund for our team members who suffered losses to their homes and personal belongings, just like we did after hurricanes Sally and Laura, and after the floods in Baton Rouge and Denham Springs. Our company seeded the fund with a $100,000 donation, and we received an outpouring of support from vendors and customers like you who also wanted to help. We have already doubled the money in our Disaster Relief Fund, which is helping our team members rebuild, and we continue to receive generous donations, for which we are grateful. There are more fundraising efforts in the works, too. We are also grateful, as we are every year, for the opportunity to share the holidays with you.

Here’s to a brand new year – we’re looking forward to it! — Donny Rouse, CEO, 3rd Generation

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Marketing & Advertising Director


Tim Acosta

Donny Rouse

17 Flour Power

5 Creative Director & Editor

Letter from the Editor

Marcy Nathan

by Marcy Nathan

Art Director, Layout & Design Eliza Schulze

Illustrator Kacie Galtier

7 Cookin’ on Hwy 1 with Tim Acosta 9 Joyce to the World by Ali Rouse Royster

23 Cake Decorating 101


Copy Editors


Patti Stallard

Top 20 Tips

Adrienne Crezo

for Baking by Michelle Knight

27 Stir Mix-A-Lot

Strawberry Frosting

29 Frosting the Snowman 43 Leaven Help Us

WHATCHA BAKIN’? 15 Gentilly Cake 19 Crawfish Pies


Amanda Kennedy

A Recipe for Success

Harley Breaux

by David W. Brown

20 Easy Turnover Dough for Crawfish Pies


Chicken Pot Pie

Nancy Besson Taryn Clement Mary Ann Florey

Yippie Pie Yay! by Marcelle Bienvenu 31 Prima Batterina 36 History in the Baking by Sarah Baird


Royal Icing 28 Gingerbread Cookies

Advertising & Marketing

Stephanie Hopkins

27 Sugar Cookies

25 Butter Me Up

Creative Manager McNally Sislo

25 Lane Cake

21 Natchitoches Meat Pie 22 Olive Oil Cake

Classic Buttercream Frosting 29 Milk Chocolate Ganache 73 Whatcha Cookin’? Online Recipes

IDA HITS HOME 49 Together We Rebuild by David W. Brown 53 This is Home by David W. Brown 54 Blues Bayou by Ken Wells 58 Right on ‘Que by David W. Brown

23 Satsuma Rum Cake

65 When Life Gives You Lemons, Throw ‘Em In The Pot by David W. Brown

24 Red Velvet Cake

69 Rouses Means Local

Carrot Cake

mouse-pointer What Pie Am I? If you’ve ever been curious which pie reflects your personality best, visit the link below to take this quiz & reveal your baked-to-perfection doppelgänger. W W W. R O U S E S . C O M




I LOVE illustrating food. I love eating food — especially when that food happens to be cake. I had the pleasure of illustrating the cakes featured (along with a couple of sweeter-than-pie headlines) in this issue. I must admit, focusing on every layer and swirl had me opting for dessert before dinner a couple of nights. – Kacie Galtier, Designer & Illustrator

Preparing for photoshoot days involves a lot of planning and a LOT of props. One of the best parts is collecting well-loved items from friends and family members to use in our shoots. This issue features one of my grandmother’s classic white button-downs (page 10) and my motherin-law’s vintage cookie cutters (page 28). – Eliza Schulze, Art Director

I had so much fun baking and decorating the gingerbread versions of Rouses team members for this issue. (page 30). I always decorate a gingerbread house for Christmas, but I had never made it from scratch before. So I won’t tell you how many heads I burned…let’s just say I ate a lot of gingerbread for the cause. – McNally Sislo, Creative Manager


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR By Marcy Nathan, Creative Director


which doubles as our magazine photo studio. You see the conference room table in many of our photos. It belonged to a friend of mine, whose dad used it as a desk. There’s a small air vent in the conference room that goes directly down to the bakery. You hear bursts of laughter and pure joy through that vent — it’s clear just how much our bakers and decorators absolutely love what they do. And you smell those intoxicating smells. On days when I have to deal with numbers and spreadsheets, I will lock myself in that conference room so I can be more productive, and so I don’t bother everyone else in the office with my complaining. I worry the bakers can hear me grumbling to myself....

y office sits directly above the bakery at our market in Downtown New Orleans. You know when you walk past one of our bakeries and it smells just so amazingly good? Well, my entire office smells that way every day.

I have never been much of a cook, and I’m certainly not a baker. I never moved past the light-bulb-powered Easy Bake Oven my parents gave me for Christmas — so the inspiration for this holiday issue came directly through that vent.

It mostly smells like freshly baked bread — we bake our famous French bread throughout the day. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and my favorite for po-boys. But during king cake season, which is right around the corner, the office has that warm smell of gourmet cinnamon dough, and oh my God , some days that smell is so fragrant it makes me want to eat my chair.

We took pictures of most of the cakes in our bakery case downstairs for this issue, including our wraparound cover. (Yes, we shot them on our conference room table.) When I was writing our baking and frosting and icing tidbits, I learned that a cake with ganache or buttercream can last three to four days in the refrigerator. But that is only true if you don’t leave the knife in the cake box; we polished off our cover cakes, plus a three-tiered Gentilly cake, in just two days.

And it’s not enough that I smell sugar and cinnamon and yeasty breads when I’m upstairs in the office. I’m also in and out of the store downstairs on a daily basis. It always smells just so good, like fried-chicken-and-rotisserie-chicken so good. Like smoked-brisketand-sausage-and-ribs so good. And whatever delicious thing Charles is making in the kitchen for the hot food line — so, so, so good. There’s that beautiful bakery, of course, and a boiling room for seafood. There is nothing else like the spicy smell of crawfish boiling. I’m not even surprised that someone actually made a candle with that scent. Every office has a sweet spot, where it’s not too hot, not too cold, and it’s the perfect place to work. Ours is our small conference room,

On the pages that follow we share a recipe for a homemade version of our berry Gentilly cake. Our berry Gentilly cake is the second-most-famous cake we sell (the first being Doberge). I would eat our Gentilly cake frosting from a bowl with a spoon if I could. (If I could? Who am I kidding — I would, and I have.) Now our bakers have started making a different seasonal Gentilly cake every month of the year. If you want to be one of the first to know what each flavor is when our bakers unveil it, follow us on social media.



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COOKIN´ ON HWY 1 By Tim Acosta, Advertising & Marketing Director


s I write this, I’m sitting in my backyard looking out at a field high with sugarcane. If you live in Lafourche, Terrebonne, Vermilion, Iberia, Iberville, Lafayette, St. Mary, Assumption, or any of the other Louisiana parishes where sugarcane is grown — there are 24 sugar parishes — you are surrounded by cane. Louisiana’s warm climate is perfect for growing sugarcane. Most years, Louisiana produces more than 15 million tons of sugarcane, which yields about 16 million tons of raw sugar. At Rouses Markets, we have our own brand of sugar. It is 100% Louisiana sugar, grown by Louisiana farmers.

I grew up in the cane fields. My dad has been a sugarcane farmer all of his life. His dad was a sugarcane farmer. And when I wasn’t in school, my dad would put me to work in the cane field. In the spring, my job was to break the stubble, which is the below-ground portion of the stalk left in the field after harvest. You plant a new crop of cane in late summer, early fall. It was one my jobs to walk the rows of sugarcane after planting, to fill in any gaps that were missed. Grinding season, the annual harvest, starts in October when the temperatures begin to drop. It runs right up until Christmas — sometimes longer, depending on the weather. Weather is the biggest factor for farmers, no matter what they grow.

in heaps on top of the rows. I would drive a tractor hauling a wagon or two to help collect the cane and move it to the transfer loader. My parrain, Pookie, ran the front-end loader, which loaded the cane onto cane trucks. The farmers would then haul the cane to South Coast Sugar Mill, which was right there in Raceland, and is still there today. The mill would weigh and shred the sugarcane, and crush it to extract the juice. On hot days I would chew on stalks of raw sugarcane. It would quench my thirst while we worked. But the best stalks were cut in November and December. Cool weather and frost raise the sugar content in the cane, so it is sweeter then. November and December are deer hunting season, and we’d hunt in the field after the farmers shipped their limit on cane. My son, Nick, often meets my dad in the field weekends this time of year. Farming roots run deep in my family. The Acostas are descendants of the Canary Islands which is in the southernmost region of Spain, where sugarcane was once cultivated. I had cousins in New Iberia on my mom’s side, and we always went to the Louisiana Sugarcane Festival there. It seemed like it took forever to get there on old Hwy. 90. Hurricane Ida damaged over 118,000 acres of Louisiana sugarcane. Luckily, there was no serious damage to the sugar mills. But cane that’s knocked down can rise again — and so can people. Grinding season is in full swing right now, and will be even bigger next year.

Farming is more modern now, but when I was a young boy, they planted cane by hand, and there were a lot more steps to getting the crop out. During grinding season, my Uncle Bobby would run the cane cutter (now it’s called a harvester). He’d cut the cane and lay it

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JOYCE TO THE WORLD By Ali Rouse Royster, 3rd Generation


hristmas baking is one of my absolute favorite parts of the holiday. There’s nothing as cozy and heartwarming to me than cuing up the Christmas jams, flicking on the lights of the tree, lighting a fire in the fireplace (if it’s not 80 degrees), and breaking out the mixer and the rolling pin to make a good old-fashioned mess. I must have inherited this from my lovely, always festive Granny, Joyce Rouse. She absolutely loved Christmas and sweets! So, it is perfectly on-brand that one of Granny’s favorite traditions was baking cocoons at Christmastime. She and her dear friend Mrs. Celina (who both of my dad’s sisters called “Nanny,” but I’m not sure whose Nanny she actually was) would pick a Sunday a few weeks before Christmas, turn up the Christmas music, take over every surface of the kitchen, cover it all with Rouses paper bags (as a substitute for wax paper) and make cocoons. Anyone who stopped by might help for a while, especially my aunts Cindy and Jeaneen, but if they did a step

wrong they’d have to redo it! Cocoons are nothing complicated but they are a process — make, cool, shape just right, bake, cool, dip, and dip again. We reminisced about Granny’s cocoons for years. We knew there was a recipe somewhere, but no one could find it. My aunts tried a recipe they found online that looked about right, but it wasn’t it. A few summers ago, Aunt Jeaneen was packing to move, and it was like Christmas in July — the original cocoon recipe resurfaced! The news spread throughout the fam, and we made a plan to make them together that winter. When we did, the younger generation was mostly relegated to doing the dirty work. We were a mess, but it was a blast. (The prosecco we were sipping surely helped with both the sugar marks on our clothes and all the giggles.) Aunt Neen had containers ready — like Granny used to — for when the cocoons were done, so we could bring some home and drop some off to other family members and friends. Granny used to hide about half the containers in a secret spot so that they would last longer. Cocoons have a tendency to disappear quickly in the Rouse house.

not allergic to them, I just can’t stand them. But if any of my Rouse fam calls me to make cocoons, I will be there with (jingle) bells on, because the beauty of Christmas traditions is that baking cookies — like decorating the tree, like putting out cookies for Santa — is about so much more than baking cookies.

I’ll let you in on my little secret — I don’t even eat cocoons! I don’t eat pecans — I’m

mouse-pointer Make your own! Get Joyce Rouse’s Cocoon cookie recipe at




R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21


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A DIFFERENT GENTILLY CAKE FOR EVERY MONTH OF THE YEAR Find a new seasonally inspired Gentilly Cake flavor in our Bakery every month.

By Michelle Knight, Bakery Director at Rouses Markets


Always read the recipe from top to bottom before getting started, so you know exactly what to do.


Check the pantry and fridge to be sure you have all the ingredients you’ll need — you may have to make a Rouses run.


Take your eggs, milk, and butter out of the fridge ahead of time so they reach room temperature before you need them. Some recipes, like pie crust, require very cold butter or other ingredients. Go back to step 1 and check!


If your recipe calls for separated eggs, use cold eggs; the yolks and eggs hold their shape better and separate more easily when chilled.


Choose the right pan. The size makes a difference when it comes to baking times and temperatures. Pan color also matters; dark-colored pans absorb more heat than light-colored or transparent materials, so your cake may cook more quickly than you expect in dark pans.

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Prep your pan or mold before you start preparing the recipe.

If the recipe calls for you to grease and flour the pan, use a sifter. Dust a handful of flour over the pan, adding more if needed and shaking out any excess.









If you make a chocolate cake, instead of using flour to keep the batter from sticking, dust the pan with cocoa powder so it doesn’t have flour streaks. Preheat the oven to the directed temperature for at least 20 minutes.

Organize and prep your ingredients before you mix anything.

Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients. Baking is more successful when measurements are precise. Flour could weigh more per cup, for example, if it is unsifted and packed. Using a scale eliminates the guesswork.


Sift your dry ingredients together to avoid lumps and evenly distribute the baking soda and salt through the flour.


Make sure your oven light bulb is working before you start, so you can check on the baking process without opening the door. Set a timer to go off at the end of the recommended baking period.

Use a toothpick, cake tester, or knife blade to see if the cake is done. Insert it into the center of the cake; it should come away clean when you pull it out. A freshly baked cake needs to cool and set in its pan before you attempt to remove it.


Remove the cake from the pan before it cools completely. A cool cake will stick.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT CONVERSION TABLE » 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

Use a mixing bowl with a non-skid bottom, or wrap a damp kitchen towel around the bottom of a traditional mixing bowl to keep it from sliding on the countertop while you’re mixing.


4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup


5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon = ¹⁄ 3 cup


8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup


1 cup = 1/2 pint



2 cups = 1 pint


4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart


4 quarts = 1 gallon


Dash or pinch = less than ¹⁄ 8 teaspoon

Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer to precisely measure your oven’s temperature, rather than relying on the oven presets.

baking spirits bright



Bake your cake on the middle rack of the oven. The middle rack allows hot air to circulate evenly around the pan, resulting in even baking.

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layered showstopper, the foundation of

While we sell a three-layer version of this cake, this two-layer version is easier to make at home. Makes 1 9-inch cake

which is our Rouses-exclusive almond cake piled high with fresh berries. The layers sandwich and are nestled within a mound of smooth, decadent and delicious frosting. You wouldn’t believe how much. The third layer of almond cake is positioned on top and the whole thing is draped in that frosting, with the smooth flourishes that only our bakers can make. Then yet another layer of frosting — this time piped from a bag with a leaf tip — goes around the sides to create our signature lacelike embellishment. Lastly, it is artfully garnished with berries, just so. That gives it some serious Instagram power. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s or any occasion.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 (15.25-16.25 ounce) white cake mix ¼ teaspoon almond extract Eggs, oil and other ingredients as indicated on cake mix box Gentilly Frosting (recipe follows) Orange Simple Syrup (recipe follows) Apricot Glaze (recipe follows) ¼ cup sliced strawberries ¼ cup sliced raspberries ¼ cup sliced blueberries ¼ cup sliced blackberries Whole strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries for garnish HOW TO PREP: Prepare cake according to package directions. Add almond extract with water. Bake in 2 9-inch cake pans according to package directions. Prepare icing, syrup and glaze. To assemble: Transfer one cake layer to a plate or cake stand. Drizzle with orange syrup. Cover with a thick layer of frosting, and evenly distribute sliced fruit. Place the second layer on top of the first. Drizzle with orange syrup. Pipe or spread remaining frosting and garnish with whole strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Use a brush to lightly coat the berries with apricot glaze. Let dry. Refrigerate cake until serving.

GENTILLY FROSTING WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 8-ounce container cream cheese 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 cups heavy whipping cream 1 teaspoon almond extract HOW TO PREP: Using a heavy-duty mixer, mix the cream cheese and mascarpone together. Add confectioners’ sugar and process until fully mixed. Add the whipping cream at low speed just until incorporated. Add almond extract. Whip at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

baking spirits bright

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Our Gentilly Cake is a three-

ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP WHAT YOU WILL NEED: ¼ cup warm water ¼ cup sugar 2 teaspoons orange extract HOW TO PREP: In a small bowl, combine water, sugar and extract until completely mixed. APRICOT GLAZE WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 3 tablespoons Rouses Apricot Jam Splash of water HOW TO PREP: Heat jam in a small microwave-safe bowl or ramekin. Stir in water a few drops at a time, to make a thin glaze.

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Pull-Apart Crescent Christmas Tree

2 cans (8 oz) refrigerated Pillsbury™ Original Crescent Rolls (8 Count) 2 packages (5.5 oz each) garlic & herbs Boursin® cheese 1 tablespoon butter, melted 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves Steps 1 Heat oven to 375°F. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Separate dough into 16 triangles. Use kitchen scissors or knife to cut each triangle in half lengthwise. 2 Spoon about 2 teaspoons cheese on shortest side of each triangle. Roll up each, starting at shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point. Using photo as a guide, place crescents next to each other in tree-shaped pattern on cookie sheet, starting with trunk and working up to top. 3 Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until deep golden brown. Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with parsley.

Find more Holiday recipes at

Elf Chex Mix INGREDIENTS • 8 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal • 2½ cups white vanilla baking chips • 2 tablespoons holiday candy sprinkles • 1½ cups mini vanilla wafer cookies • 1 cup tree-shaped pretzels • 2 tablespoons holiday nonpareils • 1 cup holiday almond or peanut chocolate candies

Full of Possibilities From mixing up a bowl of your favorite homemade Chex™ Mix around the holidays to packing your kids’ lunches for school, you’ll find a world full of possibilities in these simple little squares. Visit your onestop destination for ideas and inspiration on creating fun, memorable family moments with Chex cereal.

PREPARATION 1. Line 2 large rimmed pans with waxed paper. In large bowl, add cereal. 2. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave 2 cups of the baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds, stirring after 45 seconds, until chips are starting to melt. Continue heating in 15-second increments, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour over cereal; mix to thoroughly coat. Spread mixture in one of the pans; top with sprinkles. Cool 20 to 30 minutes or until set. 3. Meanwhile, spread cookies and pretzels in single layer, right side up, in remaining pan. In same microwavable bowl, microwave remaining 1/2 cup baking chips uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds, until

chips are melted and smooth. Transfer melted chips to small resealable food-storage plastic bag, and cut small corner off one end of bag. Drizzle onto cookies and pretzels; sprinkle with nonpareils. Cool 20 to 30 minutes or until set. 4. Break cereal mixture into bite-size pieces; transfer to large serving bowl. Carefully break apart pretzels and cookies, if necessary. Add to bowl; stir in candies.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Gluten is a protein found in wheat products. The amount of protein in flour determines the structure and texture of a baked good, like a cake or cookie. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT When you see the word “flour” in a recipe, it usually refers to allpurpose flour. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard wheat (highprotein) and soft wheat (lowerprotein) grains. It has a medium protein content of about 10 to 12%. All-purpose flour can be used in a variety of baking. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Self-rising flour is just allpurpose flour with baking powder and salt already added. You can easily make your own for any recipe that calls for self-rising flour by adding 11/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 cup all-purpose flour. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Softer, lighter cakes — like angel food cakes, for example — benefit from a soft wheat cake flour that is low in protein and gluten, like Swans Down Cake Flour. Pastry flour falls between all-purpose flour and cake flour, with an 8 to 9% protein content. It is perfect for pie crusts. You can also make your own: Combine 1¹/₃ cups all-purpose flour with ²/₃ cup cake flour.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Bread flour is a higher-protein flour. It’s called “bread flour” because most bread requires higher amounts of protein to produce lots of gluten — it helps make bread airy and chewy and gives it its unique texture. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Whole wheat flour is a bulkier flour made from the entire wheat kernel. If you substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, use ²/₃ cup whole wheat flour for every 1 cup of allpurpose, and expect a somewhat denser cake. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Almond flour is a low-carb, gluten-free substitute for allpurpose flour, but it can’t replace all-purpose flour cup-for-cup when baking. Use 3/4 cup almond flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose for non-yeast baked goods; and up to 1¹/₃ cup almond flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose for yeasted recipes, like pizza, bread, and rolls.

By David W. Brown


ur Gentilly Cake was invented by our former bakery director, Chaya Conrad, who today is the owner of Bywater Bakery at the corner of Dauphine and Independence Streets in New Orleans, with her husband, Alton Osborne. The bakery couldn’t be busier. “We do a little bit of everything: We bake bread, we do breakfast pastries, we do a light lunch and breakfast, and we have a big — very big — cake business.” And yes, that includes king cakes. There are vegan and gluten-free menus, Bagel Fridays, Breakfast Gumbo(!), and many sweets and savories. They even have yaka mein for when you’ve had too much to drink the night before—but go easy on Tuesday evenings: The bakery is closed on Wednesdays.

baking spirits bright



Since Bywater Bakery opened in 2017 it has become a community hub for the neighborhood, and to that end, it even hosts live music on weekends and sells paintings by local artists on its walls. “Everybody from the neighborhood comes,” Conrad said—and they bring their dogs with them. “You know, we see everybody! I know all the dogs—I know the dogs more than I know the people.” Her culinary skills extend even to fourlegged friends: Visiting dogs get bacon.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Coconut flour is another lowcarb, gluten-free option, but it is a challenging ingredient to bake with; it’s high in fiber, so it absorbs a lot of liquid during baking. Swap about 1/4 to ¹/₃ cup coconut flour for 1 cup of regular flour, and increase the number of eggs.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Confectioners’ sugar, or powdered sugar, is finely ground white sugar mixed with a bit of cornstarch; the ratio is about 1 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Confectioners’ sugar dissolves quickly, and the texture makes it ideal for frostings and icings.




R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

By Marcelle Bienvenue

CRAWFISH PIES When I was a youngster (in the 1950s), my father often boiled crawfish for supper on Friday nights during the spring. Back then, crawfish

was mostly caught in the Atchafalaya Basin, and it was sometimes referred to as “the poor man’s meal.” A fisherman caught the freshwater crustaceans in big nets and brought home his catch, keeping enough to feed his family, then selling the rest out of the back of his pickup truck for as little as 10 cents a pound. Daddy, always a kidder, often teased us, saying that we were so poor we had to eat crawfish at least once a week during the spring season. Boy, we were so lucky to be poor!

baking spirits bright


During the 1960s, Mama often ordered a crawfish pie from a friend of hers who made them in her home, then sold them to the locals. They were superb: juicy crawfish tails smothered down with the usual onions, bell pepper, celery and a handful of tomatoes, then poured into a pie crust and baked. But sadly, the lady became so overwhelmed with orders, she quit making them. Not to be deterred, Mama announced that she could make her own crawfish pies. Her method was simple and easy. She used a pre-made pie crust, and the filling was much like her étouffée (with the addition of tomatoes). THE RECIPE: CRAWFISH PIES Makes 6 servings

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter 1 cup chopped onions ½ cup chopped bell peppers ¼ cup chopped celery 1½ teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon cayenne ½ cup chopped canned tomatoes 1 pound crawfish tails 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour ½ cup water 2 tablespoons chopped green onions 1 tablespoon chopped parsley 1 (9-inch) pie crust HOW TO PREP: Preheat the oven to 375°F.


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. W W W. R O U S E S . C O M


and place it on a lightly floured surface. With a knife, cut the dough into 8 equal portions. Lightly flour each piece.

Dissolve the flour in the water and add the mixture to the pan. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Add the green onions and parsley, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 30 minutes. Pour the crawfish mixture into the pie crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the edges of the pie crust are golden. Cool for several minutes before cutting into wedges to serve. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Tip: You can make this same crawfish

filling for mini pies. Look for small or mini tart shells in the frozen food section. The filling should be enough for 8 to 10 mini pies. Or, use the mixture to make turnovers. My friend Emeril showed me how to make an easy turnover dough (see below). EASY TURNOVER DOUGH FOR CRAWFISH PIES Makes 8 servings

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1½ cups solid vegetable shortening ¾ cup ice cold water 1 egg, beaten HOW TO PREP: Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the shortening and work it in with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Using the tines of a fork, stir in as much of the water as you need to bring the dough together, 1 tablespoon at a time. Work it with your hands until you have a smooth ball of dough, but don’t overhandle the dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 0 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

Using your fingers, flatten each piece into a 6-inch round, about ¼-inch thick. Fill the center of each one with a heaping ⅓ cup of the crawfish mixture (recipe above). Brush the edges with some of the beaten egg. Fold the rounds in half and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops of the turnovers with the beaten egg. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot. CHICKEN POT PIE The winter winds will be blowing soon enough and, while gumbo seems to be the go-to dish for those cold winter nights, there are other cold-weather dishes I like to prepare to enjoy in a warm, cozy kitchen or in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace. Fortunately for me, I had an aunt who married a Pennsylvania Dutchman. For years, she lived in Pittsburgh and learned how to make both savory and sweet pies from her in-laws. Whenever Aunt Claudia visited us in Acadiana, my mother would beg her to make her delicious pot pies. She had a grand repertoire that included a hearty beef pot pie with Yorkshire pudding that was chock-full of chunks of potatoes, rare roast beef and onions, jolted with horseradish mixed with heavy cream. It took the better part of an afternoon to put together, but oh, was it worth it. Her chicken pot pies were Papa’s favorites, and I must say I agreed with him. THE RECIPE: CHICKEN POT PIE Makes about 6 servings

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Pastry: 1½ cups all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces ¼ cup ice water For the Filling: 4 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds) 1 cup heavy cream

4 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces 2 zucchini, unpeeled and cut into ½-inch pieces 5 tablespoons butter 1 cup chopped onions 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup chicken broth ¼ cup white wine 1 tablespoon dried tarragon 1½ teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Cayenne pepper, to taste 1 large egg 1 tablespoon water HOW TO PREP: To make the pastry, mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ice water and blend into the flour mixture. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press large chunks of the dough away from you with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough into a ball and repeat the process. Shape the dough into a thick circle, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in a baking pan. Pour the cream over them and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan; reserve the cream and pan juices. Let the chicken cool, then cut into one-inch chunks. Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook for 1 minute more. Drain and cool under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain well. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the reserved

Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Mix the egg and water together in a small bowl to make an egg wash; set aside. Pour the chicken filling into a deep twoquart casserole. Roll out the pastry and place it over the casserole dish. Trim the pastry, leaving a one-inch border. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash and press the overhanging dough onto the dish. Crimp the pastry all around and brush the top with more of the egg wash. With a knife, make a couple of slashes in the center of the pastry for steam to vent. Place the dish on a baking sheet and put it in the preheated oven. Bake until the crust is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot. NATCHITOCHES MEAT PIE The town of Natchitoches became a household name when the hit movie Steel Magnolias was filmed there in 1989. Natchitoches predates the 1718 founding of New Orleans; according to the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, “Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, in an effort to establish trade with the Spanish in Mexico, commissioned the building of a small fort on the west bank of the Red River near a village of the Natchitoches Indians in 1714.” I was introduced to the local delicacy called Natchitoches meat pies in the late 1960s, when my parents took us to the quaint Central Louisiana town located on the Red River to attend the annual Christmas Festival of Lights, which began in 1927. Our visit would not have been complete without enjoying the famous Natchitoches meat pies (believed to have been around

since the Civil War — or as early as the 1700s, when legend has it street vendors sold them along Front Street). The pies are served at just about every eatery in the area. However, it’s Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant that resurrected the local delicacy in 1967, and continues to crank out thousands of the handmade meatfilled crispy pastries. We happily feasted on a couple of dozen in the restaurant and purchased some to take home with us. According to the locals, there is some discussion regarding the amount of beef and pork that should go into the meat pies. Lasyone’s still use their original recipe with a 4-to-1 ratio of ground beef to ground pork, but most other outlets use equal parts beef and pork. I always say, make it to please your own palate! Just so you know how important the meat pies are to this town, the Louisiana legislature declared by unanimous vote in the summer of 2003, at the initiative of Representative Taylor Townsend (a native of Natchitoches), “There shall be an official state meat pie. The official state meat pie shall be the Natchitoches meat pie.” I’ve tried several versions of the meat pie, and finally decided this is the one that tickles my taste buds. THE RECIPE: NATCHITOCHES MEAT PIE Makes 18 to 20 meat pies

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Dough: 4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ cup solid vegetable shortening 1 egg 1 cup milk For the Filling: 1 teaspoon solid vegetable shortening 1½ pounds lean ground beef ½ pound lean ground pork 1 cup chopped green onions 1 teaspoon chopped garlic 1 cup chopped bell peppers 1½ teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon cayenne ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour Vegetable oil for deep-frying HOW TO PREP: Heat the shortening in a heavy pot (preferably black cast-iron) over medium heat. Add the beef and pork, and cook, stirring, until all pink has disappeared, around 6 to 8 minutes. Add the green onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Season with the salt, cayenne and black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, mixing well. Remove from the heat and let cool.

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cream mixture and the wine. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 5 minutes. Add the tarragon, salt, pepper and cayenne, and simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken and vegetable mixture to the saucepan and mix gently into the cream sauce. Remove from heat.

Make the dough by sifting the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening and incorporate into the mixture. In a small bowl, beat the egg and the milk together. Work the egg-milk mixture gradually into the dry ingredients until a thick dough is formed. Divide the dough into 18 to 20 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough pieces into thin rounds. Using a saucer as a guide, trim the dough to make even rounds. Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture slightly off center of the round dough. Fold to make the edges meet and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Marcelle Bienvenu is a cookbook author and food writer. A native of St. Martinville, in

the heart of Cajun country, Bienvenu wrote

Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic and Can

You Make a Roux? and Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine with Eula Mae Dora, and other books and cookbooks. She also co-

authored five cookbooks with Emeril Lagasse. W W W. R O U S E S . C O M



OLIVE OIL CAKE Makes 1 10-inch cake This is one of many traditional Italian desserts made with extra virgin olive oil.

HOW TO PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 10inch round cake pan with olive oil, making sure to coat the sides. Lightly dust the pan with flour and set aside.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Cake: ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 1½ teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 3 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature 4 large eggs, at room temperature 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar and lemon zest until pale and thickened, about 3 minutes. Alternately beat in the dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Tap or shake the pan to make sure there are no air bubbles in the batter.

For the Glaze: 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar 3 tablespoons whole milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place in preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the sides pull away from the pan. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a

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In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk the melted butter with the olive oil and milk and set aside.

small knife around edge of cake, then turn onto rack to let cool completely. To make glaze: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Set cake and rack over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Spread glaze on cooled cake, allowing it to drip over edges. Let glaze set for at least 20 minutes before serving.

CARROT CAKE Makes 1 9x13-inch cake

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Cake: ¾ cup vegetable oil or canola oil, or melted coconut oil, plus more for pan 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the Icing: 1 brick (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, softened 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted Pinch of salt, to taste HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch baking dish; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, buttermilk, 2 teaspoons of the vanilla and eggs until no brown sugar lumps remain; then whisk into flour mixture. Stir in carrots, pineapple, nuts, coconut and raisins. Pour or spoon the batter into prepared baking dish; smooth the surface with a spatula. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before icing. In a third bowl, using a handheld mixer, or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and remaining vanilla, and a pinch of salt; beat on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Spread icing over cake; refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before slicing.


CAKE DECORATING 101 ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Wait until the cake is cooled completely before starting. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you’re making a layer cake, use a bread knife or other long, serrated knife to level each layer before stacking. Position the knife right where the cake’s dome begins, and carefully slice off the top to create a flat surface. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT A rotating cake stand — or turntable —makes it easy to ice, frost, and decorate cakes, and get smooth sides on round cakes. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you are planning to move your cake after you decorate it, a cake board or baseboard will make transferring it much more manageable. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Put a small dollop of frosting on your cake stand, platter, or cake board before you set down the cake to decorate it. This will keep the cake from sliding around. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you’re stacking a cake, you want the frosting between layers to be 1-inch thick and barely hanging over the side of the cake. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Use an offset spatula to decorate. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT After your cake has been filled and stacked, use your offset spatula to add a very thin layer of frosting all around it. A crumb coat helps keeps any loose cake crumbs from making their way into

your frosting as you decorate. Stick the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes after adding the crumb coat to let it set. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT After the crumb coat, for a basic naked cake, use your offset spatula to spread a small amount of frosting all around the cake. For a rustic cake, begin by frosting the top of the cake, using the offset spatula to give it some naturallooking swirls and strokes. Use small C-shaped strokes to apply the frosting to the sides.

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1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup dark brown sugar ½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup buttermilk 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided 4 eggs 2 cups finely grated carrots 1 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut ½ cup raisins

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT For a perfectly smooth cake, use a warm metal spatula (or knife) to add frosting a bit at a time until you have a thick, even layer on all sides of the cake. The warm spatula will help smooth the frosting out by melting any butter or shortening in your recipe. Gently press the flat of the spatula against the side of the cake as you rotate the cake stand, cleaning it and dipping it in hot water as you go. Continue until the desired smoothness is achieved. Finish by using the hot spatula to smooth the entire top of the cake. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT To decorate a drip cake, start with a cold, perfectly smooth, frosted cake. Work with one teaspoon of warm ganache at a time, spooning it carefully over the edge of the cake. Finish by using an offset spatula to smooth the entire top of the cake with ganache.

Makes 1 10-inch cake

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Cake: 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 cup sugar W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 2 3

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Satsumas, a type of mandarin citrus, are grown all over the Gulf Coast.


2 eggs, lightly beaten Zest (grated rind) of 1 lemon Zest (grated rind) of 2 satsumas 21/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk For the Glaze: Juice of 2 large satsumas Juice of 1 lemon 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons rum HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan well. In a mixing bowl, beat butter until light. Add sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs and zest of lemon and satsumas. Beat until the mixture is very light. In a medium mixing bowl, sift or mix together well the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with 2 4 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. When the batter is well-blended, spoon it into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. When mixture boils and sugar is dissolved, pour evenly over the hot cake. Cake can be left in the pan for several days before serving.

RED VELVET CAKE Makes 1 8-inch cake

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Cake: 3 cups all-purpose flour 1½ cups granulated sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cocoa powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 eggs 1½ cups vegetable or canola oil 1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon butter For the Icing: 12 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted Pinch of salt, to taste HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with butter or baking spray. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa and salt into a mixing bowl. In another bowl, using a handheld mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and apple cider vinegar until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the batter into the three prepared pans.

In a bowl using a handheld mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, sifted confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt; beat on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread 1/4 of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top and frost top and all sides with the remaining frosting.

BUTTER ME UP ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Most recipes call for unsalted butter. The amount of salt in salted butter varies by brand, which can affect the flavor of your cake, cookies, or pie. With unsalted butter, you can control the amount of salt you add. If all you have on hand is salted butter, cut the instructed salt amount in the recipe in half. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Creaming refers to beating fat, usually butter, with sugar into a fluffy, smooth mixture. Creaming evenly disperses the sugar throughout the butter and adds air pockets, which helps the leavening process. Sometimes eggs are also added in the creaming method, most often for cookie recipes. Use softened butter.

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Place cakes in preheated oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cakes rest for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans. Once removed, let cakes cool completely before decorating.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Working butter into a dry ingredient like flour is called cutting in. Use cold, cubed butter and a pastry cutter, fork, or two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the butter stays in tiny clumps.

LANE CAKE Makes 1 9-inch cake

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: For the Cake: 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans 33/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 31/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup milk 8 large egg whites For the Glaze: 8 large egg yolks 4 whole large eggs 11/2 cups sugar 21/2 cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature. For ease of handling, cut into pieces while butter is cold, then allow pieces to come to room temperature. 1/4 cup bourbon For the Filling: 2 cups raisins, preferably large, such as muscat or monukka, finely chopped 1/2 cup bourbon 23/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut 11/4 cups chopped pecans 1/2 cup candied kumquats, drained and chopped

HOW TO PREP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour four round 9-inch cake pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients. In a clean mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, whisk 8 egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into cake batter. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cake batter springs back when touched but has no color on top, about 15 minutes. Transfer pans from oven to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and return to racks to cool completely. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar until thick and glossy, and sugar has dissolved. Transfer bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until

mixture is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, whisking until thoroughly combined. Add bourbon and whisk until incorporated. If frosting starts to separate, continue beating until it comes back together, about 5 minutes. Cover raisins with warm water and soak until plumped, around 15 minutes. Drain. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Brush with about 2 tablespoons of bourbon to moisten. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting and top evenly with 1/2 cup soaked raisins and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut. Sprinkle with ¹/₃ of the chopped pecans and ¹/₃ of the chopped kumquats. Repeat process with 2 more cake layers in the same order (frosting, raisins, coconut, pecans, kumquats). Top with remaining cake layer. Brush with remaining bourbon. Spread a thin coat of frosting over the top and sides of cake to cover. Chill for 20 minutes. After cake is chilled, use remaining frosting to fully cover top and sides of cake. Serve.

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 6 cups all-purpose flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon kosher salt 3 cups granulated sugar 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon almond extract 3 eggs Royal icing (recipe below) Sprinkles and sanding sugars, for decorating HOW TO PREP: Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together sugar, butter, vanilla extract and almond extract until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after adding each egg to incorporate. Add dry ingredients; mix on low speed until dough is smooth and well-blended. Turn dough out onto to a floured surface; divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk, and wrap each disk in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325°F. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll to ¹/₈-inch thickness on a floured surface

(lightly coat rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking). Using various large cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Reroll and cut scraps. Place baking sheets in preheated oven and bake until cookies are lightly browned around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool cookies completely on wire racks, about 20 minutes. Decorate with royal icing, sprinkles and sugars.

ROYAL ICING Makes about 4 cups of icing

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 4 large egg whites, divided 8 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon almond extract 5-6 tablespoons warm water Food coloring, optional

STIR MIX-A-LOT ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Stirring is a simple mixing technique used to mix dry ingredients, liquid ingredients, or a combination of both. You generally want to stir the ingredients just until they are combined. Recipes that contain flour often say, “be careful not to overmix.” When flour is exposed to liquids and stirred around, its proteins start to form gluten structures. That gluten holds whatever you’re baking together — but too much gluten, which can be the result of overmixing, can also make baked goods tough or gummy. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Folding is a way to gently combine light and heavy ingredients without deflating the lighter, aerated element. A lighter, airy component, such as whipped egg whites, is folded into a heavier ingredient or mixture, like heavy cream or cake batter, to preserve the air bubbles — adding a light fluffiness to the batter. Folding is best executed using a rubber spatula to gently and repeatedly lift and turn the ingredients until they are combined. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Beating means combining two ingredients — at least one wet — into a smooth mixture and bringing in air. For example, eggs are beaten to blend the egg white and yolk and incorporate air. Beating can be done by hand with a spoon, whisk, or fork, or with a stand mixer (using either the paddle or whisk attachment), or an electric

handheld mixer on medium to high speed. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Whipping is similar to beating, but the two are not the same thing. To whip is to beat an ingredient or mixture vigorously to incorporate a large amount of air into an ingredient or mixture, making it frothy. Egg whites are whipped to soft, medium, or firm peaks.

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SUGAR COOKIES Makes about 4 dozen large cookies

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Whipping Egg Whites When recipes tell you to whip egg whites to a particular peak stage, follow the directions, or your results will be unpredictable. Room temperature egg whites create the best foam volume and stability. You can use a whisk or electric beater to whip egg whites to one of four stages: »

No peak: Egg whites are barely beaten and still so liquidy they won’t hold a peak.


Soft peak: Egg whites are not glossy, can barely hold their shape, and the peaks slump over to one side.


Medium peak: Egg whites are becoming glossy, and hold their shape well but will not remain standing if turned sideways or upside-down.


Stiff or firm peaks: Egg whites are glossy, and stand straight up when you turn your whisk or egg beater upside-down.

W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 2 7

HOW TO PREP: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add egg whites and whisk on medium speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn mixer down to low, then slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate before adding more. Mix on high speed until glossy and stiff, about 3 minutes more. Immediately transfer the icing to a piping bag fitted with a plain piping tip, or a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off to create a ¹/₃-inchwide opening. (Cover the tip or the cut corner with a damp paper towel or cloth until you are ready to use to keep the icing from drying out.) To color the icing, add food coloring one drop at a time until the desired color is reached.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 1½ tablespoons ground ginger 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon allspice ¼ teaspoon ground cloves ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened ½ cup light brown sugar ²/₃ cup molasses ½ cup water 2 8 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

HOW TO PREP: In a bowl, combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, allspice, cloves and salt; set aside. In another larger bowl, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add molasses & water. Slowly add flour mixture, and stir until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a 12-inch circle, ¼-inch thick. Cut cookies into shapes. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and place sheet in preheated oven. Bake 12 minutes, or until your thumb leaves no indentation when you lightly touch cookies. Cool on rack.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries 1 cup butter, softened 6 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¹/₈ teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons whole milk, divided HOW TO PREP: Process the strawberries in a food processor until puréed. Set aside. Cream the butter on medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, about 6 to 7 minutes. Gradually

add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, salt and 2 tablespoons of the milk, beating until blended. Gently fold in the strawberry purée. Stir in up to 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

CLASSIC BUTTERCREAM FROSTING Makes 3 cups Buttercream frosting can be made a few days ahead of time if kept covered and refrigerated. When ready to use, bring it back to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED: 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened Small pinch of salt 1½ pounds (24 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk 3 drops food coloring, or as needed (optional) HOW TO PREP: Cream the butter on medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, about 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the salt and confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Add in vanilla extract and cream or milk, and mix until incorporated. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the buttercream for an additional 3 or 4 minutes, or until you reach desired consistency. (If the buttercream is too thick, add a bit more

milk or cream, one teaspoon at a time). Add food coloring, if using, and beat for 30 seconds until smooth, or until desired color is reached. For chocolate buttercream frosting add ½ cup unsweetened natural or Dutchprocess cocoa powder at the same time you add the sugar.


WHAT YOU WILL NEED: ½ cup heavy cream 4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped HOW TO PREP: Bring cream to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Put chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Standard icing is made with powdered sugar and liquid — cream or milk, citrus juice, or liqueur — mixed to a smooth consistency. You can add melted butter or vanilla extract for additional flavor. Standard icing is thick enough to decorate a cookie but thin enough to pour or drizzle over cakes. It tends to set quickly and harden when dry. Food coloring can be added to make it colorful. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Royal icing is powdered sugar, egg whites (or meringue powder), and flavorings; the egg whites give it more stability than standard icing. Royal icing is most commonly used for cookie decorations; it can act as edible glue to hold gingerbread houses together and secure candy pieces and decorations to the gingerbread. It dries to a hard, shiny, candy-like finish. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Fondant is an icing made with powdered sugar, water, butter, and gelatin (or marshmallows). There are two different types of fondant: poured and rolled. Poured is melted and poured over cakes. Rolled is draped over a cake; it can also be molded or cut into elaborate shapes for decoration. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Frosting is made by whipping a cream base, like butter, with powdered sugar until light and fluffy. It is thicker than icing.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Buttercreams are popular frostings used on birthday cakes and layer cakes. American buttercream, also known as plain or quick buttercream, calls for mixing powdered sugar with butter, and sometimes milk or heavy cream and vanilla — it doesn’t use any egg whites. Swiss, Italian, and French buttercreams all contain eggs. Swiss and Italian buttercreams are made with meringue; French buttercream uses egg yolks rather than whites.

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ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Whipped cream frosting is a bit lighter than American buttercream frosting because there is no butter. It is made with heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Whipped cream frosting is used on desserts that are already sweet, like cheesecakes. Cream cheese frosting tops red velvet and carrot cakes. It’s made the same way as traditional American buttercream, but with butter and cream cheese. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Ganache — a 1:1 mixture of chocolate melted into heavy cream — works as a filling and frosting; it can even be poured and makes a beautiful drip for cakes. You can use semi-sweet chocolate (traditional), bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate as your ganache base. A white chocolate ganache base can be colored with food coloring.

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Q&A WITH JOANNA EURAQUE, OWNER AND EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF OF THE BATTERINA What was the first thing you ever baked? Brownies. My grandmother taught me how to bake when I was very young. She always baked the most delicious brownies. I treasured those moments with her. Later I started baking with my mom — I still bake with my mom. Brownies led to cupcakes, which led to cakes, which led to cheesecakes, which are my specialty. Watching my grandmother and my mother bake taught me so many lessons about baking. Later I went Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge. I earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts with a focus on advanced baking and pastry. That was in 2016. I’ve heard people say cooking is an art, and baking is a science. With cooking you can improvise, but with baking, you need to follow the recipe or things won’t turn out perfectly. If one thing is off, your entire recipe is gone. And a bad recipe makes your taste buds mad, and we definitely don’t want that! That’s certainly true with cheesecakes. Cheesecake is so temperamental. It can develop ugly cracks on the surface or might sink a bit in the middle if you overmix it; it can fall, like a souffle, if you don’t let it rest long enough. It can develop ugly cracks on the surface or might sink a bit in the middle when you overbeat it. You have to be very careful in the kitchen when you are baking cheesecake. If you don’t blink, or breathe, you should be good to go! Your cheesecake is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, especially the cookie butter. The crumb is so moist. If there is one cheesecake that I am most known for, it’s cookie butter. I use Lotus Biscoff cookies, which are spicy shortbread cookies that have a bit of a caramel flavor. I do maybe six flavor offerings a week, and cookie butter is always one. That is the one that my customers just can’t get enough

of. There’s usually a seasonal flavor, like local strawberries during strawberry season, as well as a chocolate flavor because I absolutely love chocolate! How did you come up with the name The Batterina? I’m a retired dancer. It’s a combination of my two loves: ballet and baking. One day I was in class, while we were in the middle of making a recipe it just hit me — “The Batterina.” I had to hurry and write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. And that’s how The Batterina was born. How can people buy your cheesecake? I’m at the Rouses Pop Up at Tchoup every Saturday at the Rouses Market on Tchoupitoulas in New Orleans, and I pop up at other Rouses Markets, too. Follow me on Instagram @the_batterina to see where and when. Most of my business is through Instagram. Your mom is at every Pop Up. Mama Jo — everyone calls her Mama Jo — helps me bake and sell and handle pick-ups. She’s my wing woman. I honestly couldn’t do it without her. She’s the reason I’m as organized as I am. If I was alone, I’m sure I’d forget everything at home.

INSTAGRAM the_batterina Photo by Channing Candies

and the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe, have stood the test of time for a reason. Finally, since this is the baking issue, let’s settle something once and for all. Is cheesecake a cake? It’s not what typically constitutes a cake. It’s more like a custard or a souffle, even a tart! Or, like some people say, a pie. I guess if we’re willing to call Boston Cream pie a pie when it’s sponge cake, I say we’re even.

I know you don’t share your recipes, but is there another recipe you would recommend to our readers? Believe it or not, the one on the back of the Philadelphia Cream Cheese brick. It’s a classic. Recipes like that one, W W W. R O U S E S . C O M


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Cranberry and Chili Meatballs with a Dijon Twist Ingredients: ½ package (26 oz.) Rosina Italian Style Meatballs 1 can (16 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce 1 /3 cup chili sauce 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard Directions: In a slow cooker or crock pot blend the cranberry sauce, chili sauce and Dijon mustard. Add the frozen meatballs and stir to coat. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low 5 to 6 hours until meatballs are heated through. This recipe can also be simmered on med-low on a stove top in a pot for 30 minutes; stirring frequently, or in an oven in a greased 2 qt. casserole at 350°F for 40 minutes covered. MANUFACTURER’S COUPON




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New recipe that delivers better taste! A hint of sweetness, an easier first bite, fluffier and softer texture. Our food is best in class! It’s the little things that make food taste special. We believe in doing things right, and we just happen to love it.

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baking spirits bright

BLACK FOREST CAKE ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT DISPLAY CASE VIEW: A multi-tiered chocolate sponge cake with layers of fluffy whipped cream and boozy cherries decorated with puffs of whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and maraschino cherries. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY: With a Victorian gothic color palette of deep ember, moody burgundy, and wispy white, it comes as no surprise that Black Forest cake — also called the Black Forest gateau — hails from a region of Southwestern Germany rich in lush woodlands and folklore galore. But despite what one might think, the

cake isn’t named for the region itself, but for a sweet-tart cherry liqueur called Kirschwasser (“cherry water” in German, sometimes called kirsch) that’s made by distilling morello cherries, a cousin to the sour cherry, twice, using a complete (stones and all) fermentation process. For a Black Forest cake to have “official” status in the eyes of the German government, this liquored-up cherry extract and the fruit it’s made from must be used. As the cake has been exported around the world, everything from rumsoaked cherries to cherry preserves have taken the place of this often hard-to-find ingredient. Like most historic desserts, there’s quite a bit of debate about its origin. By the mid-1800s, Kirschwasser was widely produced across the Black Forest region, and the fermented cherries often found their way into — or spooned atop — cakes. But in 1915, the most widely held account is that pastry chef Josef Keller created the original Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte (“Black Forest cherry torte”) at a café just outside of Bonn, then passed along the recipe

to apprentice August Schaefer, whose descendants have long laid claim to the “original” Black Forest cake at their restaurant in Triberg. Due to its fairytalelike appearance and locally sourced kirsch-spiked decadence, the cake was widely recreated and reimagined as a dessert across Germany, Austria, and Switzerland by the 1930s, and then saw a resurgence as a European dinner party favorite in the 1970s. An annual festival in Todtnauberg celebrating the cake allows amateurs and experts alike to show off new innovations in Black Forest gateaumaking each year. (Once, a version made inside a tin can stole the show.) The festival also spotlights an odd cultural coincidence. The bollenhut is a traditional women’s hat from the region, comprising a flat piece of felt, large pompoms, and a ribbon for tying the hat under one’s chin. The red pompoms worn by young, unmarried girls closely resemble the cherries on top of a Black Forest cake, while married women wear hats with black pompoms. The mystery remains whether the hats are an W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 3 7

inspiration for the cake’s appearance, but they are pretty similar. In 2021, the festival went virtual, allowing more than 100 bakers to have their cakes judged remotely by a panel of regional pastry experts. If you want to compete next year, I’d suggest distilling your cherries now (and making your own bollenhut).


A three- or four-tiered chocolate cake layered with a boiled custard coconut-pecan filling — which also traditionally decorates the top of the cake — and (maybe) chocolate frosting. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

A lot of things in this world have misleading labels. A jellyfish is neither made of jelly nor a fish. A peanut isn’t a nut; it’s a legume. And German chocolate cake isn’t German; it’s from Texas.

named after a confectioner named Samuel German, who invented the style while working for Baker’s Chocolate way back in 1852. What’s more, it calls for the use of buttermilk in making the layer cakes: a clear giveaway that a Southern recipe is afoot. When syndicated, the cake’s popularity spread from coast to coast, losing the possessive name along the way and leaving us with the sticky, nutty dessert we now know as German chocolate cake. People forgot so quickly about the cake’s origin that — in a truly bizarre twist of fate — proud Texan former President Lyndon B. Johnson served the cake to German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard as a “German” dessert at his Johnson City ranch during a 1963 meeting. (There is no official report on how that went over.) Perhaps to make the cake appear more authentically German, in the middle part of the 20th century, bakeries decorated the top of the cake not only with the coconut-pecan mixture, but also with maraschino cherries and shards of chocolate, a la the Black Forest cake. But there’s no hiding it. This cake is a decadent, larger-than-life Texan, through and through.

Yes, despite having “German” right there in the name, German chocolate cake has no European roots — but does have plenty of ties to the Lone Star State. A little sleuthing by the Dallas Morning News found that the first-ever printed recipe for German chocolate cake ran in their pages as part of famed food editor Julie Bendell’s “Recipe of the Day” column in June 1957. In the submission from Mrs. George Clay of Southeast Dallas, the local homemaker called the cake “German’s Sweet Chocolate Cake” (note the possessive form) after the type of chocolate used to create it: Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate. The chocolate itself was 3 8 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21


A three- or four-tiered, bourbonsoaked sponge cake featuring a rich custard filling with raisins, coconut, dried fruit or chopped nuts, and boiled icing (or a fluffy white icing) around the outside. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

A cake deeply woven into Alabama’s

cultural fabric and national literary history, Lane Cake is an old-fashioned baked good that’s taken on a mythology all its own. Lane cake’s story starts — like so many Southern confections — at the county fair. Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, won first prize for her dessert, which she called “prize cake” at a nearby county fair in Georgia. (She was confident in its abilities, it appears, and rightfully so.) Friends eventually convinced her to include “prize cake” as an entry in her 1898 self-published cookbook, A Few Good Things to Eat, but give credit where credit is due by christening it with her own name: Lane cake. With its combination of bourbon and raisins (additional ingredient riffs like chopped nuts and coconut came later), Lane cake became a regional staple at church potlucks and family reunions across the region. But it wasn’t until Monroeville, Alabama’s own Harper Lee included a reference to it in her 1960 classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, that the recipe reached icon status. In the book, six-year-old narrator Scout Finch eats a slice of the boozy cake baked by a neighbor and — as the classic line goes — muses, “Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” Now we all know that “shinny” is slang for liquor, and “tight” is slang for tipsy, but the bourbon in Lane cake isn’t just for the buzzy effect. It was initially used to keep the cake moist so that it would last longer in the event guests popped by a few days after baking. (This also solves the problem posed by that old Southern saying, “If I had known you were coming, I would’ve baked you a cake!”) Plus, the way the layers of the cake absorb the caramelized, rich notes of the bourbon make this a creation to bake a couple of days in advance of an event: It only gets better when it sits overnight. Many recipes allow for some flexibility on the liquid used to moisten the cake — like wine, brandy, or even apple cider — but the cake-making process for Lane cake is an involved one, so you might want to save yourself an extra


A dense cake — typically between 6 and 9 layers — made from thin slices of sponge cake cushioned by layers of dessert pudding. The most common (and popular) puddings are chocolate and lemon, with poured fondant glaze icing in the corresponding flavor. “Half-andhalf” doberge cakes split down the center, half chocolate and half lemon, are also a local bakery staple.

next thing I knew, I was in business,” she explained to the Times-Picayune in 1980. The doberge cake — which she gave an appropriately Francophonesounding name — was an immediate hit, and quickly became a birthday party staple in neighborhoods across the city. But after a series of health issues in 1946, Ledner sold the doberge name and recipe to Joe Gambino’s Bakery under the agreement that she wouldn’t open a bakery to compete against him in New Orleans within the next five years. But the allure of that sponge-meetspudding combination was too strong, and Ledner returned to dobergemaking at a new bakery in Metairie — a loophole in the non-compete! — just a few short years later. So, native New Orleanians: Are you a chocolate, lemon, or half-and-half?


New Orleanians love to argue about all-things-food — the best po’boy, oyster shucking techniques, the “curse” of eating king cake outside of Carnival season — but if locals were to name the signature cake of the city, a consensus could assuredly be reached the doberge cake is it. Invented by St. Charles Parish-native Beulah Ledner in 1932, the cake is a spin on the Hungarian Dobos torte, a similarly wafer-thin, tightly stacked cake with layers of genoise cake and chocolate buttercream topped with caramel. Like many now-legendary dessert inventors of the 20th century, Ledner wasn’t a professional baker, but at the insistence of friends and family, began baking her lemon pies, miniature kuchens and this unique spin on the Dobos torte for the public under the name Mrs. Charles Ledner’s Superior Home Baking. “I never intended to go into business. Then friends started asking me to make lemon pies for their friends and the


A multi-tiered, deep red, lightly sweetened chocolate cake coated in cream cheese frosting. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

There are few food moments in film lore more infamous than the armadillo cake scene in the 1989’s tearjerker classic, Steel Magnolias. Bride-to-be Shelley (Julia Roberts) is lamenting the fact that the groom’s cake for their wedding has been baked into the shape of an armadillo — grey icing and all. “Worse, the cake part is red velvet cake. Blood red,” she says, exasperated. “People are going to be hacking into this poor animal that looks like it’s bleeding to death!”

Reflected on-screen as a Louisiana staple and with an entry in every church cookbook from Beaumont to Raleigh, red velvet cake has created a public persona that’s fully Southern. It’s origin story, however, is not. During the Victorian Era, “velvet” cake referred to a specific category of “fancy” baked cake that incorporated cocoa powder, an ingredient which is naturally very acidic and helped create a light, soft — dare I say velvety? — crumb in comparison to more common, coarser cakes of the era.

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glass of whatever you’re cooking with as a reward when the finished product finally goes in the oven.

In the early part of the 20th century, a combination of “velvet cake” and “devil’s food cake” grew in popularity in the United States, ultimately resulting in a ruddy-brown — not exactly red — “velvet” cake that is the prototype for what we eat today. “As it drifted south, the [red velvet] recipe was often executed with buttermilk. In that time period, most cocoa powder was not only natural, it was also raw. (In modern cocoa powder, the beans are roasted.) The combined effect of the acidic buttermilk and the acidic cocoa powder created a density in the texture of the cake, which amplified its velvetiness,” Stella Park, author of BraveTart: Iconic America Desserts, told Splendid Table in 2017. “Simultaneously, the pH of the cake helped some of the [red] color pigments in the raw cocoa powder shine through. That’s why the trick doesn’t really work today. You can’t do it at home unless you get raw cocoa powder, because the type of cocoa you’re picking up at the store is going to be a roasted product, not raw.” With unprocessed cocoa falling out of favor, bakers are constantly experimenting with all sorts of methods that will — hopefully — ensure their red velvet cakes are a rich, fire engine red. Beet juice was a popular choice during World War II (it also helped to moisten the cake) and, of course, food coloring is the most popular choice today. During the 2010s, there was something of a frenzy around red velvet cake as the dessert moved from “cake” to W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 3 9

take on a life of its own as a “flavor.” Red velvet pancakes, red velvet ice cream, red velvet cheesecake — even red velvet-scented candles! — are now out there in the wild, ready and waiting for fans of the ruby-hued original.


A dense, layered spice cake featuring a mixture of mashed bananas and canned pineapple covered in cream cheese frosting and, optionally, decorated with toasted pecans. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

Hummingbirds might be zippy little delicate creatures flitting from one flower to the next, but hummingbird cake is a thick dessert so chocked full of tropically-inspired ingredients that it definitely lacks any of the buoyancy of its namesake — even if it does share an island connection. The cake’s rise to fame in the United States is also directly linked to Southern Living, where it remains the magazine’s most requested recipe of all time. The story goes that a reader — Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, North Carolina — submitted the recipe, which was published to great fanfare in February 1978. There are records of it appearing before then in small-town papers and county fair bakeoffs, though, so where did the idea originally come from? A sweetly ingenious ad campaign. Hummingbird cake “began as the Dr. Bird Cake [and was] created to bring exposure to Jamaica Airlines and Jamaica as a travel destination in 1969,” writes Anne Bryn in her 2016 book, American Cake. “The airline’s symbol, emblazoned on the jets, was 4 0 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

the hummingbird, or as it was known in Jamaica, Dr. Bird. Press parties were held in New York and Miami to unveil a new promotional cake... [with] tropical flavors to conjure up some idyllic beach holiday in the islands. Who would have thought that a marketing promotion by Jamaica Airlines would evolve into one of America’s best-loved cakes?” The cake’s popularity also points to a larger trend in midcentury baking: canned fruit. Canning technologies advanced rapidly after World War II, meaning that fruits that were rare and difficult-to-find for the average consumer before — like, say, a fresh pineapple — were now stocked on grocery shelves, making them prime ingredients for featuring in celebration cakes. But there’s nothing dated about the hummingbird cake, with a bananapineapple-cream cheese trifecta that ensured the recipe was not only a hit 50 years ago but remains a frequent flyer on potluck tables and cake stands across the Southeast. It’s even earned the impressive nickname “the cake that doesn’t last.”


A bombe of ice cream atop a piece of sponge cake or pound cake covered in a shell of tufted meringue and baked in the oven until golden. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

When Sen. William H. Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians in 1867, he not only ushered in the arrival of the United States’ 49th state, but also one of the most scientifically fascinating desserts still wowing diners with its interplay of hot-and-cold: baked Alaska.

It also has an origin story complex enough to match its “how does it work?” baking magic. The elements that make up a baked Alaska are nothing new. Marie Antionette loved to eat meringue by the spoonful. Frozen trifles and ice cream bombes were all the range in Victorian Europe. Thomas Jefferson even served warm, pastry-covered ice cream balls at a dinner party in 1802. But it wasn’t until Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumsford) — an American in exile who also invented, among other things, the double-boiler and kitchen range — made a fascinating discovery that baked Alaska could take shape in earnest. Thompson’s kitchen tinkering led to the realization that, because of the air pockets in whipped egg whites, meringue has low thermal conductivity and serves as a great insulator, meaning that if you wrapped ice cream in meringue and baked it, the frozen interior wouldn’t melt in an oven. (Science is delicious sometimes.) This eureka moment led to the creation of baked Alaska’s spiritual — if not direct — predecessor, omelette à la norvégienne, which was first made sometime in the 1830s and served as an edible “scientific” treat at the Paris World’s Far in 1867. The original name is a bit confounding; what is a “Norwegian omelette”? Much like Alaska is to Americans, Norway was considered the ultimate in snowy northern climates for Parisians. It was likely called “omelette” because the ice cream was, quite literally, encased in eggs. The dish — a genoise sponge cake covered with ice cream and meringue — was a sensation. It comes as little surprise, then, that when ex-pat Parisian Charles Ranhofer — chef at the Delmonico in New York City — wanted to create a dish to commemorate Alaska’s purchase, he took a page from the omelette à la norvégienne’s playbook. Ranhofer’s original version of the dessert he called “Alaska, Florida” (for obvious reasons) consisted of banana ice cream, walnut spice cake, and meringue, baked in the oven.


A golden — often loafshaped — butter cake with a particularly dense crumb. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

Pound cake — that velvety, dense baked good often cut in slices so thick they could be used as coasters — has an alarmingly simple recipe at its core. A pound of flour, pound of butter, pound of sugar, a pound of eggs. Simple enough, right? It’s a nofrills, kitchen-staple-ingredient dessert with a luminous golden hue (thanks to all that butter and yolk) that doesn’t need any gussied-up additions — unless, of course, bakers want to gild the lily a little bit. Typically cooked in a loaf, tube or Bundt pan, pound cake dates back to the early 1700s, and was first recorded in Amelia Simmons 1795 book, American Cookery. “One pound sugar, one pound butter, one pound flour, one pound or ten eggs,” Simmons writes. “Rose water, spices to your taste; watch it well, it will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes.” Our measurements and bake times are a little bit larger and longer today — after all, you can’t bake a

modern cake in 15 minutes — but the straightforwardness of pound cake is what makes it a dish inexperienced bakers often turn to in the early days of dessert creation. Variations on pound cake exist across the world. In Mexico, there’s panqué con nueces (pound cake with nuts) and panqué con pasas (pound cake with raisins). In French-speaking Caribbean countries, pound cake is a Christmastime delight, often spiked with rum or a mashed banana for extra moisture. In the Brittany region of France, pound cake is known as quatre-quarts (four quarters, for the ratio of the four primary ingredients) and is set apart by using a special, local sea salt butter known as beurre sale rather than regular unsalted butter. You can speckle dried fruits or chocolate chips into pound cake, frost it completely if you’re feeling over-the-top, add in orange zest for an unexpected burst of citrus, or substitute some of the butter for sour cream to create a sour cream pound cake. It’s a perfect canvas for a drizzle of homemade strawberry sauce or a dollop of whipped cream, and I’ve been known to grill slices of pound cake alongside peaches in the summertime then top it off with lavender ice cream. Truly, what can’t pound cake do?


A circular, fluted cake with a distinctive hole in the middle. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

While Bundt cake pans are par for the course in kitchens today, few inquiring minds stop to ask why this pan in particular has enjoyed such ubiquity in American kitchen cabinets. After all, why not the madeleine pan?

Or even, say, the tins specially-made for that sticky-sweet dessert rum baba? It all ties back to World War II. The actual Bundt cake itself traditionally baked in a Bundt pan was a celebration cake across Germany, Austria, and Hungry known as bundkuchen, a name which combined the words “bund” (a gathering of people) and “kuchen” (cake) to form a “cake for gathering.” Also known as kugelhopf, these yeasty, brioche-like baked goods are dotted with raisins and almonds and eat similarly to a coffee cake.

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Of course, not everyone was a fan. “The transition from the hot outside envelope to the frozen inside is painfully sudden, and not likely to be attended with beneficial effect,” 19thcentury British journalist George Sala wrote. But it’s worked for Antoine’s! Since the late 1800s, baked Alaska has served as the signature, showstopping dessert at this New Orleans old line restaurant, where steady-handed bakers still write celebratory messages on the torched meringue exterior before delivering the sweet dish to the table.

After returning from World War II, Minnesota-native and midcentury kitchen tinkerer extraordinaire Henry David Dalquist, founder of the kitchen supplies company Nordic Ware, began making Bundt pans out of cast aluminum after a request from the Hadassah Society, an organization of Jewish women who wanted to recreate the cakes they remembered from childhood. The “t” added onto the end of “bund” was, by report, for trademarking purposes. Bundt pans now come in a wide array of sizes and patterns, but all have the distinct doughnut shape. The pan sold rather poorly until 1966, and Dalquist was for a time better known as the inventor who patented the automated rotating food tray inside microwaves. But all changed when a Bundt cake called the “Tunnel of Fudge” won second prize at the annual Pillsbury Bakeoff, a competition closely watched and celebrated by homemakers across the country. More than 200,000 requests for the pan funneled into the Nordic Ware company, and the Bundt soon easily surpassed the top-tier tin of the day, the Jell-O mold, as the most sought-after pan in the United States. This cake tin is so pivotal to American culture that several of the original Bundt pans produced by Dalquist are even displayed in the Smithsonian! Today, the Bundt cake is one of a handful of confections that derives its name not from its ingredients or recipe, but rather its shape. You can make angel food cake in a Bundt pan, bake a traditional chocolate cake in W W W. R O U S E S . C O M


a Bundt pan, and you can even make monkey bread in a Bundt pan. You can drizzle it with ganache, frost it completely with Swiss meringue, stud it with chocolate chips, and it’s all still a Bundt cake. There’s even an entire chain of cake stores called Nothing Bundt Cakes that sell, well, nothing but different types of Bundt cakes.


A multi-layer white or yellow cake with coconut cream filling, covered in white “seven-minute” frosting, and coated in shredded coconut flakes (preferably toasted or sweetened). ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

Outside of football tailgates and the saying “Bless your heart!” there are few things more Southern than coconut cake — particularly for the Black community. Enslaved Africans brought the knowledge of how to use coconut in dishes — cracking them open, scraping the flesh — with them to the United States, and port cities like Charleston and New Orleans were some of the first to see this laborintensive ingredient incorporated into savory dishes, candies and cakes. “Coconut cakes have long been associated with the South... [and] Old Charleston records show that a pastry chef by the name of Catherine Joor had 400 pounds of coconut in her possession at her death in 1773,” writes Bryn in American Cakes. Coconut cakes are also a pivotal part of the history of the “cakewalk” — an activity now most commonly associated with school fundraisers and church picnics. “In the pre-Civil 4 2 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

War South, the ‘cakewalk’ was an exaggerated dance the enslaved performed near their cabins or in the woods to mock the ballroom pretensions displayed by the plantation aristocracy. At the end of an evening of strutting, twirling canes, and tipping top hats, a prize was presented to the winning couple… a towering, extra-sweet coconut cake,” writes Toni Tipton-Martin in her James Beard Award-winning book, Jubilee. “Like so many things associated with plantation social life, coconut cake eventually became a centerpiece of African American special occasions, reserved for weddings, funerals, church suppers and Christmastime.” The first recorded mention of a coconut cake-like dessert is in 1881’s What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking by Abby Fisher, a former slave who moved from Alabama to San Francisco. By 1904, The Blue Grass Cookbook by Minnie Fox and John Fox, Jr. penned a recipe for a fluffy coconut layer cake that closely resembles what we recognize presently as the celebration-time favorite. Today, some home cooks love to add a layer of lemon curd to their coconut cake; others triple-up the coconut flavor with coconut extract, coconut cream, and coconut milk; and many still wouldn’t dare touch a family heirloom recipe out of superstition. But it’s undeniable that coconut cake remains the grand dame of Southern events and inextricably linked to the region’s history — no matter how you decide to spin your grandma’s classic recipe.


A cream cheese-slathered cake featuring a warmly cinnamon-spiced batter with shredded carrots woven in alongside walnuts, pecans, or (optional and controversial) raisins. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

Even though we mostly relegate vegetables to savory roles in 2021 (when’s the last time you saw broccoli ice cream?), carrots have a long and diverse history of being made into desserts. That’s because they’re, well, pretty sweet. One of the oldest recorded instances of a sweetened carrot dish — and assuredly an ancestor to the carrot cake — is the carrot pudding of the Middle Ages. A recipe recorded in 1584’s A Book of Cookrye gives instructions for how to make a pudding in a “carret” root: Take your carret root and scrape it fair, then take a fine knife and cut out all the meat that is within the roote and make it hollow. The recipe does call for the addition of meat — much like mincemeat pies of the day — but mimics many of the same flavor profiles of modern carrot cakes: cloves, dates, mace (aka nutmeg), butter, flour, and sugar. Carrots have been enormously popular in desserts across all social classes in the United States and Europe, from the French aristocracy on down, despite an erroneous widespread belief their popularity is a result of lower-income families looking for ways to sweeten desserts without prohibitively expensive sugar. George Washington ate carrot tea cake at Fraunces Tavern on British Evacuation Day. It was baked into pastry in the form of elaborate carrot pies during the Victorian Era. Carrots have long been as much a sweet “delicacy” reserved for special occasion as any cherry or plum. The first recorded instance of carrot cake in a cookbook is Richard Dolby’s The Cook’s Dictionary and Housekeeper’s Directory (1830) where, among other steps, Dolby instructs to “make a cream patisserie, with about half a pint of milk; and

In modern kitchens, carrot cakes take many forms: sometimes marketed as a “healthy” alternative to regular white cake; sometimes filled with all sorts of culinary trinkets like pecans and dried fruits; most of the time shellacked in a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. However you like it, it’s safe to say we’ve come a long way from carrot pudding.

perfectly sweet, almond-undertoned wedding cake flavor on your big day. The origins of this tradition are a little murky, but probably stem from the confluence of several simultaneous events. Wedding cakes became a commonplace occurrence by the late 1800s, and as evidence by this syndicated column from 1893 — which just so happened to run in the New Orleans Item — almond paste was a big part of the wedding cake experience: In the wedding cake of more ancient type, there was a thicker layer of white sugar which nobody cared about; a medium layer of almond paste, which everybody wished for, and did not always get; and an immense quantity of cake of which many only ate a few crumbs. The latest specimen has a thin layer of sugar, only just enough to look pretty, and underneath are alternate layers of cake and almond paste, one as thick as the other. The consequence is that no one

is defrauded of their lawful share of almond paste, or “love” as it is usually called. And while almond-meets-cake flavor fell out of favor elsewhere, this was also around the time with 229,000 Italian immigrants — many Sicilian — were making their way to New Orleans, and Italian culture has long been smitten with using almond flavoring in desserts. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the reason wedding cake flavor has stuck around for a couple of centuries in the Crescent City.

baking spirits bright

when done mix it with the carrots; add a pinch of minced orange-flowers praline, three-quarters of a pound of powder-sugar … and four whole eggs.” It was then poured into a mold and baked, giving us something that very much resembles today’s carrot cakes.

Sarah Baird is the author of multiple books

including New Orleans Cocktails and Flask, which

was released in summer 2019. A 2019 Knight

Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University,

her work has been featured in The New York Times,

Washington Post, Saveur, Eater, Food & Wine

and The Guardian, among others. Previously, she served as restaurant critic for the New Orleans

alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly, where she won Critic

of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews.


Multi-tiered almond-flavored white cake, traditionally with pineapple filling and buttercream frosting. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THE SWEET STORY:

It’s a sob story told time and time again by New Orleanians who are getting married elsewhere. They arrive at a bakery, ready to place the traditional order for their upcoming nuptials, and confidently request a wedding cake-flavored cake. Record scratch! The staff looks at them quizzically: Uh, what is that? “Wedding cake” flavor is a distinctly New Orleans specialty: an almondflavored white cake that’s as much a part of the city’s wedding tradition as cake pulls. Everyone born and raised in the city knows what it tastes like, and for centuries, it was the default option for the bulk of wedding cakes — no need for taste-testing multiple combinations of flavors and frostings. Nope, you’re getting a cake with that

LEAVEN HELP US ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Adding bicarbonate of soda, commonly known as baking soda, to a cake recipe made with an acid like buttermilk, lemon juice or yogurt, releases carbon dioxide bubbles, making it light and fluffy. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and cream of tartar, which is a dry, powdery acid. (Some manufacturers add cornstarch.) Use baking powder in recipes that do not call for an additional acidic ingredient. You can make baking powder by

combining 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Cream of Tartar is a dry, powdery acid that is a byproduct of wine production. Adding a very small amount of cream of tartar when you’re beating egg whites helps make them stable. A weak acid, like lemon juice or white vinegar, works as a substitute. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice per egg white.

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4 8 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

By David W. Brown


fter Hurricane Ida devastated south Louisiana, you might have noticed that the first store to open in your local area was Rouses. Since its founding in 1960, Rouses Markets has made disaster recovery a top priority for stores. This kind of real-time response is no easy task, but it’s built right into the Rouses Markets company DNA.

“We’ve always been the last store to close and the first store to open for communities after storms and disasters,” says Donny Rouse, the company’s third-generation CEO. “We make it a point to have at least one store open in every community after storms. We’ve always given away truckloads of water and ice at locations right after the storm. And if we don’t have enough employees to open a store all the way up, we’ll have it open as a drive-through for our customers to get small items. We will do what it takes to serve our communities.” Hurricane Ida proved an especially hard one for the Rouses team. The storm passed through the Greater New Orleans area, one of the company’s major markets, and then entered the bayou areas. Houma, where the company is headquartered, was also hit, making the track a “worst-case scenario.” Local stores, the corporate office, and distribution centers were affected, but in the end, with a lot of preparation work, the stores were able to open quickly and safely. THE DAYS PRIOR Everyone who has lived through a major hurricane knows that hurricane recovery begins a few days before the storm hits. That’s why Rouses begins preparing to reopen long before landfall, says Charles Merrell, the vice president of corporate development at Rouses Markets. “That is when we start looking at properties. We do walkarounds. We look at drains. We look at air conditioners on the roof. We look at anything that’s not tied down. We get stores buttoned up and tightened down against wind and water.” Most new Rouses locations have hurricane-proof windows and doors,

but older stores must still be boarded up with shutters and wood. His team also looks at generators, which are essential for protecting food when community power grids fail. Most Rouses locations are protected either through a permanent generator or big, moveable semi-trailer generators. The company also manages a fleet of generators capable of performing whole-store refrigeration. “There’s a whole maintenance wing that just focuses on generators,” says Merrell. The company sends the teams out to check oil and belts and transfer switches, and to deliver generators where necessary. “You would think it would be fairly simple, but it ends up being highly complex,” he says. Many generators have fuel tanks designed to run anywhere from 12 to 48 hours, burning 30 to 35 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. Therefore, a big part of disaster response is logistics, setting up fuel deliveries to keep the diesel coming once power is lost. After Hurricane Ida, 44 stores in stormaffected areas lost power, and generators at 40 locations managed to start successfully. It’s a big, challenging job, but Rouses also makes sure its team members are protected at home. “I always impress on my team that if you need to button your house up, be sure to do that. We try to get as far ahead a storm prep as we can so that on the last day, everyone has a day to take care of their homes in a safe manner.” During the storms, the team can monitor its generators, refrigerators, and computer systems remotely. After the storm, the same team that hardened stores help get them up and running again. When hurricanes are category two and under, volunteers sometimes ride the storms out from local stores to get them opened as soon as possible. “If it’s above a category two, we don’t let anybody stay in the store in any type of track.” Once a hurricane has passed through, and the roads are safe, and wind speeds are around 35 miles per hour or less, recovery teams — knowing cell service is likely to be offline — are instructed to go to the closest store to their houses to make a difference however possible, and to then go to the next store to make a difference. They eventually meet at pre-designated rally points.

Recovery typically involves first making the store watertight again, and then supplying it with power and refrigeration to serve its community as fast as possible. “The first thing we do when we get there is do a three-sixty around the store, get any debris out of the way, and check that the generator has fuel,” says Merrill. “We climb onto the roof and check it for damage. We check gas lines, too — we’ve had them rip off the building, and start blowing natural gas out, and we’ve had to shut that off.” The team also verifies the integrity of awnings and sprinkler systems, which have also been ripped from stores in storms past. Air conditioners are also checked.

ida hits home


Roof damage is repaired immediately. Water penetration plus high humidity can lead to a mold problem. It can also render refrigerated goods and dry goods nonsalable. “We get roofers out immediately after the assessment, get the stores watertight, and then address refrigeration and air conditioning so that humidity issues do not spoil any product.” Meanwhile, the store operations teams are working to get delivery trucks on the road as quickly and safely as possible. “This all happens within about two days. We have roofers ahead of time that we’ve already put on standby, and additional construction resources and contractors that we use on standby, to make sure that we’re first in line.” After Hurricane Ida, the biggest problem for the recovery team proved to be the lack of cell towers. The Rouses team’s preparation in advance of the storm proved beneficial and effective. Lacking communication abilities, team members went to their local stores and worked outward to prearranged meetup points. For four days, the recovery teams populated Excel spreadsheets with store impacts, what was dispatched, what needed to be done, and who was doing it. It was a ceaseless, tireless effort, and for members of recovery teams, no task is too big or small. “I was on almost every roof in the greater Baton Rouge market doing assessments. I ran

W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 4 9

The team, says Donny Rouse, has really stepped up for the community and each other. “I just want to thank our employees for the hard work that they’ve done,” he says. “Last year, we had seven or so storms hit all our markets. This year, we had just one so far, but we took the sort of direct hit that we’d never really want to take. But our employees and our buildings held up extremely well, and we were able to open quickly and safely, get groceries on shelves, and serve as communities in need. The team did a phenomenal job.”

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT TOP Rouses Recovery Team from left to right: Nathan Pendergrass, Charles Merrell, Mickey Simpson, Farrell Alleman, Shawn Vice, Tommy Benoit, Ozzie Osborne. Photo by Channing Candies. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT BOTTOM LEFT Charles Merrell, the vice president of corporate development at Rouses Markets. Photo by Channing Candies. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT BOTTOM RIGHT Rouses Markets Store #17 in Thibodaux, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida blew through on August 29, 2021.

5 0 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

PROTECTING THE TEAM According to Tim Acosta, the director of advertising and marketing for Rouses Markets, Hurricane Ida was “a fastball.” “It came quickly and seemed to come out of nowhere,” he says. Once it was clear that a storm was coming — and with a perilous track, at that — hurricane preparation began. “We already have hurricane plans in place where all we have to do is pull the trigger.” The company immediately began rolling out extra loads of water and other supplies generally useful to customers during hurricanes, including bread, batteries, non-perishable foods, packaged meats, cold cuts, and snacks. After the storm, with limited staff and limited hours, customers were able to return, though in controlled numbers, so that checkout lines were not overwhelmed. Office support personnel were directed to stores near their homes to supplement teams. The entire response was a lifeline for local communities. “They were so appreciative,” says Acosta. “Nobody could believe that we were able to open so fast. We were the first grocery stores to open immediately after the storm. The fact that we had products ready for them when

they came in, and that we had truckloads of products continuing to roll them in immediately after the storm and until this day, was very welcome for communities, who needed recovery supplies.” Getting those supplies to stores operating in the middle of a literal disaster is no small effort. Wholesalers were as affected as everyone else. “At the same time,” says Acosta, “we had to find ways to get products out stores, so we had to think outside the box.” The Rouses team worked directly with vendors and manufacturers, and when possible, bypassed wholesale suppliers until they could get on two feet. “We had truckloads of products shipped directly from the manufacturer or the vendor warehouses straight into our stores.” After the storm, with most areas without power and with heavy traffic on roads during the day, trucks rolled overnight and arrived at three o’clock in the morning at stores. “That’s how we overcame that challenge and were getting grocery products in our stores.” That required having staff onsite to receive the shipments, unload the inventory, and set up the stores for customers. Because many Rouses team members were affected, the corporate office had to figure out how to help make life easier for them. “People were having trouble getting fuel for their cars due to the long fuel lines. It was another problem we had to face, and the solution we came up with was to have

500-gallon fuel tanks behind select locations in each market for our team members to be able to get fuel to fill up their vehicles, so they would have to worry about that. They had gas to get back and forth, rather than spending five or six hours in a gas station line.”

ida hits home

a chainsaw, I moved buggies — whatever it took to get through this thing and get our stores open safely,” says Merrell.

Many team members were personally affected by the loss of homes and property. To help them recover, the company established a $100,000 Rouses team member disaster relief fund. It was later opened up for vendors and suppliers as well. Employee pay in affected areas was also boosted to help make life a little easier for everyone. Because the company is headquartered in Houma, Rouses was mindful to help out its home community. “We were not forgetting about our folks down here,” says Acosta. Groups came down and cooked hot meals for anyone in the community who was hungry, started regular community events, and dedicated part of parking lots in various store locations to the Salvation Army, which also provided hot meals to people struggling after the storm. “Hurricane season is basically another season for us, like preparing for football season or Christmas,” says Acosta. “It’s an unfortunate reality that disasters affect us, and part of our business is to prepare for them, to be here for our communities.” The most important thing, he says, is the safety of Rouses team members and customers. To that end, after storms, stores open as late as possible, but still close early enough for team members to get home safely. The team, says Donny Rouse, has really stepped up for the community and each other. “I just want to thank our employees for the hard work that they’ve done,” he says. “Last year, we had seven or so storms hit all our markets. This year, we had just one so far, but we took the sort of direct hit that we’d never really want to take. But our employees and our buildings held up extremely well, and we were able to open quickly and safely, get groceries on shelves, and serve as communities in need. The team did a phenomenal job.”

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Markets in Golden Meadow officially welcomed back customers to the store.

By David W. Brown

It was Reggie Legendre who opened the doors.


olden Meadow, Louisiana, was one of the many communities in the state that saw major devastation during Hurricane Ida. In addition to an obliterated power grid, the community endured weeks without running water or gas power. With no nearby gas stations working, generators were useless.

“I’ve been with the company for almost 21 years,” says Reggie Legendre, the store director of Rouses in Golden Meadow. “I opened the doors two days after the storm, looked around, and got down on the floor and started to cry. We were a total gut job.”

“We have been feeding the community here since the storm passed,” he said. “We got donations out, gave away free water, gave away free meals. But nothing felt better than opening those doors.” The problems aren’t over for the Golden Meadow community, however. “We still have a ways to go,” he says. “You’re looking at probably months and months—and maybe years—before this community is back to where it was before.”

He says it has been a humbling experience. “Dealing with everything going on, both emotionally and physically, we’ve still found the strength to be here serving the community, because that’s what we were here for. And my team and myself, we’re passionate. We’re here for the community.”

ida hits home



Reggie Legendre, the store director of Rouses in Golden Meadow; The store after Hurricane Ida tore through; Rouses #82 team. Rouses Markets in Golden Meadow officially reopened one month after the storm, to the day.

Several members of the Rouses Golden Meadow team had to relocate after losing everything. The company helped facilitate those moves, employing them at other Rouses Markets in areas less affected by Ida. “We have an amazing team at Rouses. I can’t say it enough,” said Legendre. Cleanup of the Golden Meadow location started right away. Like others in the community, the structure and lot had endured winds of 130 miles per hour, and suffered a sustained lack of electricity for several weeks. There was water in the building, the back room was torn away, as was part of the kitchen. But on September 29th — one month after the storm, to the day — Rouses


W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 5 3

We are truly a gumbo of people, descendants of aristocrats, pioneers, adventurers, refugees, pirates; people who, freed from bondage, rose up to make spectacular contributions to our polyglot culture. Our gifts to the world are substantial: jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop music. We’ve given the world gumbo — and hands-down the best regional cooking in all of America. We understand that boudin is about as close to Heaven as you can come on Earth. We know how to dance.

5 4 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

By Ken Wells


was 1,800 miles away from my spiritual home on the day Hurricane Ida churned in the Gulf on its way to assault the southeast Louisiana coast.

I was obviously in no danger, but I had reason to be fidgety. I have two brothers in

Houma, one in Chauvin, and one in Baton Rouge. My nephew has a fishing camp in Cocodrie, my cousin one in Grand Isle. I have assorted relatives and many of my truest lifelong friends spread out all along the Gumbo Belt — Houma, Thibodaux, Matthews, New Orleans, LaPlace, Lafayette.

ida hits home


Plenty of phone calls, texts and Messenger chats later, I knew everyone had made reasonable sheltering plans. But, still, Ida was a monster, and it was clear that Houma, my birthplace, was in for a rough shucking. Also, I was homesick. In a typical year, I visit three to four times, often for weeks at a time — to catch up with the bros and friends, fish reds and specks in Lake Decade and Oyster Bayou or sac-a’-lait in the Atchafalaya Basin. I make my non-negotiable dining stops: gumbo at A-Bear’s Café, boiled crabs or crawfish at 1921 Seafood, an oyster po’boy at Big Al’s. I sneak off to New Orleans to have dinner with my foodie friends at the latest hip Creole restaurant. My brother Pershing has a music studio in Houma and is active in the local music scene. I love going out to listen to local bands where you can find everything from Cajun to Zydeco to Swamp Pop to R&B, and even localized hip-hop, if you want it. All this is my of way steeping myself in the sense of place that has informed a great deal of my writing career and is at the core of every novel and non-fiction book I’ve written. With the emergence of the Delta variant, this dreaded elongated pandemic has kept me away for almost two years now, vaccinated though I am. Air travel is a hectic, claustrophobic drag. Rental cars are non-existent or so expensive it’s cheaper to buy one. People are both wary and careless, gracious and cranky. This all sucks a great deal of pleasure out of going anywhere long distance.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Photos by Amanda Kennedy, Terrebonne Parish resident & Rouses Senior Manager of Brand & Marketing Strategy

The bayou country in Terrebonne Parish is unique and beautiful: the wildlife, the sunsets over the marsh, boats everywhere…but it’s the bald cypress trees that mean the bayou to me. I love their knees that branch out everywhere, so strong and hardy, just like the people of the bayou. -Amanda Kennedy

Still, I often think of my homeplace as an indispensable friend, the place where my roots run deep and where I always feel welcomed, the place that recharges my inspiration. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world, and I still conclude that there’s no place like it. But what if Ida ripped apart the very fabric of it? So, from my dodgy backwoods internet connection in Maine, where I live from July through October, I spent part of the day of Ida’s approach streaming my friend Martin Folse’s essential local TV broadcast. I W W W. R O U S E S . C O M 5 5


wanted to get a better sense of what might happen than I could get from the national news outlets. It wasn’t reassuring. Martin’s Ida projection map had Houma pretty close to the bullseye. I have a lot of experience with hurricanes and understand all too well their destructive powers. As Hurricane Audrey roared over us, I recall being an eight-year-old kid hunkered down with my family in my grandparent’s small rental house on Gum Street in Houma. The roof miraculously survived, but I can still vividly remember the shrieking wind and the candles throwing flickering shadows on the wall after the power went out. I can admit it now: I was terrified. I was a junior at Terrebonne High School in 1965 when the principal came on the speaker in the late morning to say, “Well, we’re dismissing school. There’s a hurricane called Betsy headed our way and it’s looking bad.” (Yes, we went to school that morning! There was no early-warning Weather Channel back then.) 5 6 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

We still lived on our little farm out on Bayou Black — a charming but aging house with a questionable tin roof. We sat on the bayouside in the middle of sprawling sugarcane fields which, as my nervous mom pointed out, would provide little shelter if Betsy hit us head-on with her projected 140 mph winds. My father wanted to stay — until late afternoon when winds from Betsy’s outer bands started to really shake the roof. We had an invitation from a Houma friend to shelter at her substantial Victorian house on Wood Street and so we made the decision to flee. It was a memorable drive down that old Bayou Black clamshell road — scudding clouds, pummeling winds, blinding rain, thousands of acres of sugarcane already blown flat as though a giant lawn mower had descended from the sky. A time or two, I thought our old Jeep Willys wagon was going to blow into the ditch — if not into the bayou itself. We made it, nerves frayed. Betsy swooped in at night, and I kept vigil at

a window, at one point watching the tin roof of a garage across the street blow off sheet by sheet, the sections helicoptering away in the howling maw. I recall falling asleep on a couch only to be awakened by a sound. Or, actually, the lack of any sound. The eye stood over us, and the night had gotten eerily quiet. We ventured out onto a porch and stared at the moon and a few twinkling stars. And then the other side of eyewall moved in — shaking the solid old house to its bones. But we made it through unscathed. Our farmhouse wasn’t so lucky, and we knew the decision to leave was the right one. We lost about a third of the roof. The rain had drenched walls and buckled wooden floors. We had a few outbuildings back then, including what I called a corn crib — a small wooden building about the size of an outhouse where we stored feed for the chickens we still kept. We’d rounded up the chickens and locked them safely away in the corn crib, or so we thought.

And then there was Katrina. I was working on Page One of The Wall Street Journal then. When news of the catastrophic levee collapses moved over the wires, I was dispatched to cover the aftermath as the Louisiana-savvy guy on staff. I would spend the next four months in New Orleans and the fishing communities nearby, writing stories of both unbelievable destruction and uncanny courage and resilience as the area struggled to recover from an unimaginable disaster. (A great deal of that reportage is in my book, The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous.) Of course, the history of Katrina is now written, and New Orleans and vicinity did recover—spectacularly so.

Which gives me cause for optimism about the recovery — long and hard as it will no doubt be — of my homeplace. It was wrenching to read in the post-Ida headlines that 40% of the homes in Houma had been rendered uninhabitable. My brother Chris texted photos of wind-gutted houses in Chauvin. (He lost part of his roof, but his place stood.) My niece, Sunny, who lives near Atlanta but whose Cajun roots still run deep, went with a small relief convoy to Grand Isle. But natural disasters are hardly unique to the Motherland. Tornado alley spans much of the Midwest. She sent pictures that resembled a place that had been carpet-bombed.

I understand those who argue that it’s folly to continually rebuild in an area smack in the middle of a hurricane corridor. Remember the post-Katrina op-ed in the Washington Post that said New Orleans should be abandoned and turned into a marshy barrier against future storms? But natural disasters are hardly unique to the Motherland. I went through the scary 1989 San Francisco earthquake that killed 63 people and caused $6 billion in damage. But no one seriously suggested that San Francisco be relocated to, say, Sacramento because it sits atop a well-known earthquake fault. San Francisco rebuilt, and property values have never been higher. And, of course, there’s this. Far more people died in New England from Ida’s torrential rains than died in South Louisiana from the actual storm. There’s no completely safe place to which to relocate. I was very aware of the pessimism after the first few days of Ida. People awoke to shocking scenes. In some neighborhoods, entire blocks of houses had been flattened or crushed. Power was out and would stay out. Gasoline to run generators was in short supply. A lot of people had lost everything— well, everything material. But then came little vignettes of optimism. My brother in Chauvin took in a couple who’d lost their house. But they were hoping to rebuild, as was the guy down the street who now slept in a tent in his living room to ward off the rain that poured unimpeded through his missing roof. He wasn’t going anywhere.

And yet, miraculously, no one died. And those much-derided Morganza-to-the-Gulf levees — the very ones the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decertified a few years back, saying they were inadequate to protect in a major storm — performed extraordinarily well. They held; had they not, Ida might have been Katrina writ large.

And less than a week after Ida’s landfall, when the roads had been finally cleared of trees and boats, I got a text from my friend, John Weimer, who was part of a relief caravan that had made its way to Chauvin, bringing water, foodstuffs, and gasoline to people in urgent need. It was a scene repeated all over Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and throughout the sprawling footprint of Ida’s landfall. Our generosity is contagious.

The feds were wrong and we were right. It proves that local wisdom and determination to build the system without federal support was the absolute right thing to do. (Hey, Congress, now that we’ve passed our test, give us the money to lift the system to New Orleans levels.)

Along with pictures of destroyed camps and houses, John, a Thibodaux boy who happens to be the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, took the pulse of the people he met there. “People are resilient and resolute,” he wrote. “Please send prayers.”

This is not to make light of what it will take to return to “normal.” Still, when I think about the arc of our story, we are a people of resilience and perseverance. We remain singular on the American landscape, a culture carved into a spectacular watery wilderness that is by some measures still the seventh-largest wetland on Earth (if, alas, a shrinking one).

ida hits home

But every outbuilding was gone, including the corn crib. We never found a feather, much less a chicken. Still, we picked up the pieces, and life eventually returned to normal.

We are truly a gumbo of people, descendants of aristocrats, pioneers, adventurers, refugees, pirates; people who, freed from bondage, rose up to make spectacular contributions to our polyglot culture. Our gifts to the world are substantial: jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop music. We’ve given the world gumbo — and hands-down the best regional cooking in all of America. We understand that boudin is about as close to Heaven as you can come on Earth. We know how to dance. I can assure you this is not necessarily true in Iowa, though I have nothing against the place. I think about my Swiss-German Toups forbears who got to Louisiana in 1721 after a long and hazardous sea voyage from France. They were awarded a pig and 40 arpents (about 34 acres) on the Mississippi River in a place with no infrastructure, no modern medicine, and plenty of dangers like malaria, yellow fever, hurricanes, and venomous snakes. Yet they persevered and eventually prospered, never thinking of giving up because, while existence was sometimes challenging, South Louisiana became home. Not just home, but the home of the heart. We should keep building those levees. But I doubt Ida will diminish that spirit.

Ken Wells grew up on the banks of Bayou Black

deep in South Louisiana’s Cajun belt. He got

his first newspaper job as a 19-year-old college

dropout, covering car wrecks and gator sightings

for The Courier, a Houma, Louisiana weekly, while still helping out in his family’s snake-collecting

business. Wells’ journalism career includes positions

as senior writer and features editor for The Wall

Street Journal’s Page One. His latest book, Gumbo

Life: Tales from the Roux Bayou, is in stores now.

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RIGHT ON ‘QUE FOR HELPING OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED We worked with our supplier partners to bring food, funds and hands-on assistance to help those struggling after the storm. Thank you to the following for joining us in our relief efforts. Astor Chocolate • Bakerly •Back to Nature • Backers • B&G Foods • Bear Creek • Big Sky • Blue Runner • Bono USA • Camerican • Capital City Produce • Clement Foods • Coca-Cola • Community Coffee • Cooks BBQ • Crescent Crown • Del Grosso • DeLallo • Dole • Drink Oxygen Water • Drink Vibi+ • Else Nutrition • Falcon Rice • Farm Ridge Farm • Fever Tree Beverages • Fillo’s Beans • Frito Lay • 4 Sisters Rice • GFI • Harvest Best • Icco • Johnson & Johnson • Kellogg’s• La Galvalina •LA Great Water • Lehi Valley • LH Hayward • Camelia Beans • Melissa’s Produce • Nabisco • Olds Fitzgerald Products • Overseas Trading • Pepsi • Red Gold • Robinson Fresh • Schuman Farms • Seneca • The Stuter Co. • Sunkist • Tampico • Trophy Nut • Two Rivers • Zapp’s • Zyn FOR FEEDING OUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED We want to thank these charities, businesses, groups and individuals who have so generously donated food and meals to our neighbors in need. The Cajun Ninja •Cinco Baptist Church • Community Coffee • The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux • Joe Impastato • Jambalaya Girl • The Salvation Army USA •Johnsonville BBQ Big Taste Grill • Louisiana Fish Fry Products • Moonlight Marine Fabrication, LLC • ResQue • Sideline Pass • Slo-Melt Ice • Stale Kracker • Tony Chachere’s • ZydeGeaux’s 5 8 R O U S E S N OV E M B E R | D E C E M B E R 20 21

By David W. Brown


ince Hurricane Ida ravaged remote Louisiana towns and communities, a disaster recovery group called ResQue has worked tirelessly to feed community members and utility workers in devastated, poorly populated areas.

“I think that the heart and soul of this country is in our smaller communities,” said Brad Gottsegen, who founded ResQue in 2016. “Those communities are the easiest to forget about, particularly after a storm. It’s like they fall off the radar. There’s not much in the way of industry and business going on in a lot of these communities, and so people forget that they exist.” But the people, he said, are still there, and their struggles are real. The group goes into these communities with trailers, grills, tables, chairs, and tents

to set up food distribution sites. They not only feed people but also strike up conversations with them and help them open up. They are, in other words, doing more than feeding people — they are helping build communities. Gottsegen first organized the program after seeing the severe flooding that devastated Baton Rouge and neighboring Livingston Parish. As a member of a pediatric cancer fundraising group called Hogs for the Cause for more than a decade, he knew he could leverage his connections to help those in need long before other relief organizations could mobilize a response. “I had a whole group of friends who have the knowledge and capacity to cook large amounts of food,” he said. “I made a couple of calls, and not surprisingly, within a matter of an hour had forty volunteers who pledged to provide food, cook food, and serve food in Baton Rouge.” They fed five thousand people during a single weekend, including flood victims,

After those successful two days, Gottsegen sat down with fellow volunteers, and they discussed the situation and the future. It was something he thought they should do regularly, he said, as the need for disaster relief is only increasing in South Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast. Storms, he said, are more common and more violent than in years gone by. “We decided that we have the capacity, we have the desire, and we know how to fundraise, so let’s put something together that will allow us to do this whenever the need arises.” That was the genesis of ResQue. Gottsegen and his group subsequently formed a 501c3 nonprofit with the stated mission of preparing hot meals for those in need and covering the time gap between a disaster event and the federal and state response.

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contract workers, military service members, and first responders. “Anyone who was hungry and looking for a hot meal,” he said. “It was just a really powerful communitybuilding event.”

Needs were a little different post-Ida, however. “What’s particularly interesting about this storm,” Gottsegen said, “is that the disaster response has gotten much better and much more diverse.” Between the Red Cross, the National Guard, and World Central Kitchen, tremendous resources were brought to bear in a timely manner. But in the aftermath of the storm comes the aftermath of the response, wherein another problem emerges: at some point, these organizations leave, regardless of the state of hurting communities. “If you’ve driven around South Louisiana in the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen that this recovery is going to take years. The devastation in some of these areas is almost incomprehensible. These organizations come in and do an incredible job in the near term, but in the long term, they just disappear, even though people in disaster-stricken areas are really hurting, really needing assistance, really looking for an uplifting hot meal and a cold beverage.”

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT OPPOSITE PAGE ResQue team handing out meals at Rouses Markets in Golden Meadow, Louisiana weeks after Hurricane Ida made landfall. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT THIS PAGE ResQue team from left to right: Rob Laurent, Drew Herrington, Dave McCelvey, Brad Gottsegen, Robby Moss. Photo by Channing Candies.

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ResQue has thus stepped in to fill that space, focusing its efforts on the relief of small communities still recovering from the hurricane. “We started working two weeks after the storm. We’ve been focusing on much smaller communities that have not received the attention that larger places like Houma and the New Orleans area have gotten,” said Gottsegen. ResQue has been able to feed communities and utility employees who have been working diligently to restore an entire power grid wiped off the map. “The resilience of the people that we have been able to serve has been extraordinary and uplifting,” he said. Though he’s been doing this for several years, what strikes Gottsegen most profoundly post-Ida are the seemingly limitless capacity for kindness and generosity within these communities and the pride Louisianans take in their homes and heritage. “Something like this comes about, and the number of people that have just thrown

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themselves into the mix with what we do — the number of people who have offered their time or their money or anything they can do to help us — has just absolutely been beyond anything that I have experienced in the six years that we’ve been doing this. It gives me hope for the future,” he said. Anyone interested in helping ResQue in its mission can contact them at to find out how to volunteer or donate. ResQue has worked closely with Rouses Markets because of the number of stores Rouses has in many of these far-flung and affected areas.

“Most of these areas had severe damage and literally no goods and services available,” he said. “Not only no electricity, no gas stations, no drugstores. In some places, every building was damaged.” The lack of electricity has made life particularly harrowing for some communities that were impoverished to begin with. The loss of homes and lack of basic human needs has made life for many just shy of unbearable. “We drove through entire swaths of communities where every power pole was down, every wire was in the street.” Already, ResQue has served almost 10 thousand meals in five communities, and they aren’t close to stopping. “We’ll continue to serve roughly 15 hundred meals per event as long as the need is there,” said Gottsegen. “A hot meal and a cold beverage can make people realize that we haven’t forgotten about them. We’re there to support them. They have not been forgotten.”

Ain’t gone no more!

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There’s a reason New Orleanians find themselves in the kitchen come holiday time. It’s where our most cherished traditions come to life. And we’re proud to have played a part in the festivities. So to all the cooks, bakers, and chefs whose creations make the holidays taste like home, may the flavors and fun of this season bring you happiness and joy.


By David W. Brown


is name is Larry Thompson, but you probably know him as Mr. Shrimp. In the last few months, his seafood pop-ups have become must-see (and taste) events at Rouses Market on Tchoupitoulas in Uptown New Orleans. His Throw It in the Pot seafood boil appeared in select markets and then disappeared, as people just couldn’t get enough of it. Today he is in recovery mode from Hurricane Ida, which wiped out his capacity to make the seasoning and rendered his house unlivable. He’s not giving up, though—the man is tenacious and knows

how to work—and is working with Rouses Markets to keep “feeding the people,” as he likes to say. Pre-Ida, Mr. Shrimp might have seemed like an overnight success, but Thompson has been in the culinary industry his whole life. He started at the House of Blues, where the chefs hired him to work as a dishwasher. He was 13. Soon after, he was promoted to prep cook—a job that opened the door to his next job, at Semolina’s. He worked there during his high school years. The restaurant enrolled the future Mr. Shrimp in classes that covered everything that involved cooking. He went from dishwasher to pantry to sauté station to grill to key supervisor, and then a manager—a job that involved yet more training on how to run both the front and back of the house. Over the years, he would also work at Macaroni Grill, Margaritaville, and Chili’s. The next phase of his career began in 2019 while he acted as caretaker for his father, who had lung cancer. His dad was a former Marine—”a real tough guy,”

Thompson says—who loved his son’s cooking, and always enjoyed having full meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “When it came to lunch, he always wanted seafood—fish, shrimp—he wanted the works! And one day I was cooking it for him, and he said, ‘Wow, I’ve been all over the world and I never knew the best cook came out of me!’ I thought he was just telling me that because I’m his son.”

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After his father died, Thompson considered opening a restaurant, and linked up with local fishermen. (His shrimp comes strictly from the Gulf of Mexico.) Once he saw the quality of the shrimp, which included a lesscommon extra colossal variety, his plans changed slightly. He decided to become a wholesaler and sell the shrimp as part of a home and business delivery service. He had the training and experience from the restaurant industry. The transportation part of his background came from his father, who was a truck driver for the federal government. “I had both of those things: the cooking and the transportation part, and that’s how we got here.”


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ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Mr. Shrimp and his family from left to right: Keia’ly Thompson, Lawrence Thompson, Larry Thompson, Keionne Thompson, and Kyron Sumler. Photo by Channing Candies.

THE MR. SHRIMP EXPERIENCE To get the word out, he started marketing his new shrimp business on Facebook and other social media platforms. The Super Bowl in 2020 was when things went supernova. During halftime, he boiled his shrimp live on Facebook as a way to get people to buy them, and comments started flooding in—people could not get over their color and how appetizing they appeared. So, Thompson started hand delivering boiled shrimp, in addition to raw—and he did so with a twist. He called it the Mr. Shrimp Experience. “If I came to your house with boiled shrimp, you had to taste it in front of me. I wanted the raw reaction—an on-the-spot review,” he says. The response was universal praise, and he asked people to write just what they had told him on the Mr. Shrimp Facebook page. Word of mouth grew, and soon people were asking specifically for the experience. Delivery was one thing, but how often does a business seem to really care what you

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think? “The idea was getting them the food, but everybody was gravitating to the personalized customer service,” says Thompson. People really got into it, raving about Mr. Shrimp on personal Facebook pages and groups such as Where Black NOLA Eats. “They were leaving long reviews—I’m talking reviews almost like a novel.” The burgeoning online Mr. Shrimp family started making requests: could he do sides? Could he do boiled potatoes that tasted like the shrimp? Yes he could! And after that success, people started asking if he could do corn? Yes he could! Can you do sausage? Can you do turkey necks? Yes and yes! In fact, the turkey neck became so popular that people started asking if he could only deliver that. “That wasn’t my thing,” he says, “because me being Mr. Shrimp, I’ve got to bring you some shrimp!” In April 2020, he got an email from Chef Marcus Jacobs at Marjie’s Grill on Broad Street in New Orleans. “He said, ‘I see you are delivering shrimp, but are you licensed to

deliver to a restaurant?’ I said, ‘You are the first person to ask me that! Yes, I am licensed to deliver to homes and restaurants.’” They set up a meeting, and Marjie’s became the first—but certainly not the last—restaurant to carry Mr. Shrimp’s shrimp. “I thank him every day,” says Thompson. “A lot of the restaurants I deliver to today are because of Marcus. They trust him, and they started trusting me.” A REVEL ATION A confluence of tragedy led to Mr. Shrimp seasoning. His wife, Keionne, was hospitalized when she was 21 weeks pregnant. She gave birth at 23 weeks. They lost the first twin, a boy, but the second survived—“He’s a miracle,” says Thompson—and for five months and two days, the family remained in the newborn intensive care unit. The idea for Throw It in the Pot came to Thompson while staying at the hospital. One of his customers asked if Mr. Shrimp could

from local entrepreneurs and found Mr. Shrimp very quickly. (“I was like, has Rouses been following me around?” Thompson laughed. “Little ol’ me? I’m just trying to feed the people!”) Within the month, Thompson did his first pop-up event, giving customers at Rouses Markets on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans the Mr. Shrimp Experience. Two weeks after that, Mr. Shrimp’s Throw It in the Pot was on select store shelves.

somehow sell the flavor of the shrimp he had been delivering. It really stayed in the back of Thompson’s mind, and one night, he says, he had a revelation. “God came to me and said, ‘Young man, I know you are tired, but the item you are boiling is going to take you far,’” Thompson recalls. “It was like somebody hit me with a baseball bat across my face.” He created the product that would be Throw It in the Pot that morning. The Throw it in the Pot Flavor Enhancer also emerged from prayer, and materialized yet again though a lot of hard work. THROW IT IN THE POT The team members at Rouses Markets are always on the lookout for great products from local entrepreneurs and found Mr. Shrimp very quickly. (“I was like, has Rouses been following me around?” Thompson laughed. “Little ol’ me? I’m just trying to feed the people!”) Within the month, Thompson did his first pop-up event, giving customers at Rouses Markets on Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans the Mr. Shrimp Experience. Two weeks after that, Mr. Shrimp’s Throw It in the Pot was on select store shelves. It was wildly successful, and Thompson and Rouses began working together to roll the product out to every Rouses location. Then Hurricane Ida came. The storm did not spare Mr. Shrimp. Thompson lives in Estelle, Louisiana, not far from Jean Lafitte. He and his family evacuated to Dallas on August 28th. The hurricane arrived the next day, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. From afar, there was an impending sense of dream as friends who had stayed behind reported that Thomson’s area was hit hard, but access was impossible. Government officials asked all people who had evacuated to stay away,

and they did so. On September 3rd, they returned home. “There were several holes in my main roof. There were several holes in my workshop where I do my work at and develop my product.” He immediately climbed on his roof and things looked even worse. He went in his house, and his fears were realized. “My house smelled awful, like somebody died in it,” he said. His attic was filled with water. The insulation was soaked. His garage was ruined and already developing mold. His master bedroom had water in the walls—“It looked like the walls were sweating,” he said—and his hallway was the same. His workshop was wet and mildewed due to water coming in from the ceiling. His machinery was destroyed as well. He did as much cleanup as he could with the remaining hours in the day. Power was out, and once the sun set, that would be it until morning. Then hard rains arrived—a miserable setback for anyone with roof damage. It got worse from there. His insurance company began robbing him blind. They said they wouldn’t cover any living expenses because there wasn’t a mandatory evacuation. FEMA deemed his house unlivable, and the adjuster actually said that despite all that, it wouldn’t be so bad because “It would be like camping,” Thompson recalls. “I said, ‘My wife is pregnant. I have a young son with a compromised lung, and we’ve already been through a lot. We need to do things faster.” He went through all this before, after Hurricane Katrina. He calls the entire process “overwhelming.” Seventy percent of his house had to be gutted. The insurance company continues to give Thompson the runaround. It goes without saying that his stock of Throw it in the Pot and flavor enhancers were ruined, and impossible to make until some semblance of recovery would arrive.

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The team members at Rouses Markets are always on the lookout for great products

The local seafood industry and fishermen that Thompson connects with buyers were likewise devastated in the weeks to follow. Since then, the community has rallied to the Mr. Shrimp cause. A GoFundMe is ongoing, slowly inching toward its goal. As fishing resumes, Mr. Shrimp has again been able to get his shrimp back into homes and restaurants, and Thompson is slowly rebuilding his ability to make his Throw It in the Pot products, which will end up in more of Rouses Markets seafood departments in the months to come. Rouses Markets has partnered with Mr. Shrimp to have him cook for people in need in places like Chauvin, Dulac, and Thibodaux, and for first responders and soldiers in the Army National Guard. He has also been doing pop-ups at the Rouses Market on Tchoupitoulas in New Orleans. “I’ve been going out there feeding people, trying to help people recover from this terrible devastation of a storm,” he said. “It’s been a piece of work, but my wife and my family, we are doing what we need to do. It’s been a lot. And I’m still trying to find a way to put a smile on a customer’s face.” Despite this, the best days for Mr. Shrimp are ahead. To get Throw It in the Pot back on store shelves, he is looking at business locations to set up shop and get capacity to full strength. His partnership with Rouses Markets is strong and getting stronger. It is going to take time, but Thompson will do what it takes. He is grateful for how far Mr. Shrimp has gone, and hopeful about how far it might yet go. “It has been a blessing to see, from 2019 to now, how far things have gone. The best is yet to come,” Mr. Shrimp says. “I really love what I do, and it’s the people who make me get up every day. It’s not work at all. It really isn’t.”

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rouses means local Communities grow together. On any number of holidays, you’ve likely dashed

into a Rouses Market at some point to pick up an item you forgot to get on your previous trip — some ingredient that makes or breaks your famous casserole,

some seasoning you thought sure you had at home but didn’t. Or maybe you’re

picking up the Thanksgiving turkey, cooked and with all the fixings. Maybe it’s

Halloween, and you’re preparing to see the delighted faces of children wearing superhero costumes and holding out hollow plastic pumpkins. Cakes on

birthdays, crawfish for graduation celebrations, “grazings” for Super Bowl parties, cabbage for New Year’s Day. With each of these events and all of this food that

you bring into the most intimate occasions in your home, any Rouses employee

will tell you that providing the necessary goods is a humbling responsibility that

Rouses takes very seriously. We are one community.

To shop at Rouses is to shop at a local, family-owned company that carries local

products. Many of those products are so successful that you might not even have

known they were from Rouses local areas. And as Rouses has grown over the last

60+ years, we have never stopped finding the best local products, the best local

produce, the best local meats and seafood. Together we have grown, Rouses and

the community, in a spirit of entrepreneurship.

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LEAVE THE FUSS TO US We offer complete holiday meals (turkey or ham) with traditional fixings, as well as dressings and side dishes available à la carte. Our chefs can also prepared large pans of your favorite comfort foods, local favorites or any of our signature items. All you have to do is heat and eat. For locations, phone numbers and a copy of our holiday menu, go to *This year, please remember to plan ahead and order early.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1. Green Bean Casserole 2. Cranberry Orange Relish 3. Shrimp and Mirliton Dressing 4. Turkey Gravy 5. Cornbread Dressing 6. Sweet Potato Casserole


mouse-pointer Smoked Sausage & Tasso Dressing

mouse-pointer Grilled Asparagus

mouse-pointer Leftover Pot Pie

mouse-pointer Smothered Green Beans with Potatoes

mouse-pointer Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

mouse-pointer Black-eyed Peas & Cabbage

mouse-pointer Sweet Potato Hash

mouse-pointer Mr. Anthony Rouse’s Down Home Oyster Dressing

mouse-pointer Uncle Tim’s Stuffed Mirlitons W W W. R O U S E S . C O M


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