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Recipe friends are all around

People often ask me where I get recipes from, and even though I own hundreds of cookbooks, the best recipes always come form the cooks who actually use a recipe. And you run into those people every day no matter you are.

Not long after school was out this past May, Emily and the newly picked cheerleaders headed off to LSU for camp. We cheerleader parents dutifully loaded up Friday morning to go watch their final presentation and bring them home. The weather was awful that day and by the time we got to LSU’s basketball center we were in the middle of a full-fledged monsoon. So with no option of walking around campus we were stuck inside waiting on the show to begin.

I soon realized the lady in front me was reorganizing a notebook full of recipes. I couldn’t help but notice; the seats are all squished together. It’s not like I was reading over her shoulder or anything, well, until I saw the recipe for crawfish beignets, then maybe I did ease forward just a little.

Pretty quickly I struck up a conversation with her, and before you could turn around we were exchanging e-mail addresses and recipes. There are many that I haven’t had a chance yet to try but here are two that I have and they were as good as promised.

As with all muffins, the less you mix these the better they are. Stir just until moistened.

Pecan pie muffins

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the brown sugar, pecans, flour, baking powder and salt, then make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Stir together the butter, eggs and vanilla, add to the center of the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.

Spoon the batter evenly into lightly greased miniature muffin tins, only filling them three-fourths of the way full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

As you read this next recipe you will soon be wondering if there is a typo. And the answer is the no; the pasta is not a mistake. The angel hair pasta helps shape the dough and then because it is so thin you will be surprised how quickly it becomes a part of the batter.

Crawfish beignets

1 pound crawfish, coarsely chopped

2 eggs

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped green onions

12 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked and hot (I break mine in half before cooking)

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Combine the crawfish, eggs, mustard, cayenne, salt, flour and green onions in a bowl and mix well. Stir in the pasta. Shape into 1-inch balls, pressing them in your hand to form.

Deep fry in hot oil for 2 minutes or until brown. Serve with Creole tartar sauce.

Creole tarter sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon Creole mustard

1 teaspoon salt

Mix well and chill, covered for at least an hour.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.