A grand dessert won the grand prize at the 45th Bayou Gourmet Cookoff.
Dale Patrick Adams, of Vacherie, won the cookoff with a dessert that would be a perfect addition to any Louisiana Thanksgiving table, a Caramel Apple Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Syrup Rum Sauce.
Adams, a project manager for AT&T, was not professionally trained in the culinary arts, but learned to cook by his grandmother.
“Preparing good food for my family has always been extremely important to me,” Adams said. “I have always done the cooking for my family. When our children were babies, I even made their baby food.”
We asked Adams to share a little about his love for cooking, along with his innovative recipe. Here are his edited responses to our questions.
How important is preparing good food to you and your family, and why?
By preparing and cooking my family’s food, I always knew what was in their food and knowing that it is as fresh and clean as it could be. As my parents aged, searching for recipes that would taste great and fulfilled their special diet needs became a challenge and one that I enjoyed doing. I also help my wife with her diet to feel satisfied and healthy, since she has struggled with gestational diabetes and now prediabetes.
How did you start in the kitchen and come to learn the art of cooking?
When I was a child, I enjoyed baking and cooking with my grandmother, my father’s mom. She allowed me to help and be creative as a child. We would spend holidays and summers in the kitchen, these are memories that are extremely dear to me. Now that I’m a father, I share these memories with my family and dear friends. My father especially loved when I would share my dishes and desserts, the aroma when he immediately walked through the door put a smile on his face. This made the holidays even more special and he would remark on how it reminded him of his childhood. Now that my father is gone, these dishes, desserts and aroma have made my heart smile.
What is your favorite dish to cook, and your favorite to eat, if different? And why?
My favorite dish to cook is seafood gumbo. My favorite meal to eat is steamed lobster with clarified butter with steamed asparagus and Crabmeat au Gratin. Why these two are different is due to the mess factor in making and eating.
How has your cooking and eating changed during the pandemic?
Not really, I have always made my bread and as far as desserts, my son and I have been baking a little more. He is a Junior at Nicholls studying Culinary with a concentration in pastry.
Do you have a family cooking memory that is special to you?
When I was 3 or 4 years old, I loved being in the kitchen with my grandmother, baking. She baked cakes often, not just for birthdays and holidays. As I was growing up I noticed how she made her family feel special by the love that she put into every cake. I still do this today for my family, and by the expressions on their faces I know that I am sharing my love like my grandmother once did for me.
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Syrup Rum Sauce
Blend condensed milk, can of boiled caramel, milk, butter, sugar, vanilla paste, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook on low heat until sugar is melted. Pour onto fresh plain croutons. Soak bread in mixed milks for 1 to 2 hours. Chop 2 cups of peeled apples and soak in boiled apple cider syrup.
Add all 4 beaten eggs, apples and mix. Pour into medium-depth steamer pan or larger pan. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
Melt sugar in butter. Remove from heat and add beaten egg and whisk thoroughly. Add rum and stir. Serve warm.
What is about living in south Louisiana that inspires your cooking?
There is an abundance of fresh seafood, meat and produce readily available throughout the year.
Cooking has always been a stress reliever for me. I enjoy preparing seafood for my family in too many dishes to name.
My seafood gumbo is one that they all enjoy. My father-in-law would pride himself on his chicken and Andouille gumbo. However, when he wanted a good seafood gumbo, he would ask me to make him one.
What advice would you have for someone who is interested in the art of cooking?
My advice would be to give it a try and do not be afford to fail. Sometimes by failing you learn the best lessons of why not to do a certain thing. You must practice.