Gimme Some Gumbo

Something had me craving some gumbo the other day.  What, not sure.  I flipped through the great reference I have, The Little Gumbo Book by Gwen McKee and found the recipe I was looking for.  It’s a Seafood Oven Okra Gumbo that uses a Dry Roux.  The reason I love it is that you can throw it in the oven for a couple hours AND the (dry) roux it uses has no butter or oil.  It’s just flour.

So, here we go —

Skillet Dry Roux

Place 1-2 cups flour in an iron skillet on medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the flour is the color of the outside of pecans (about 15 minutes).  Cool and store in a jar.  To use:  Mix equal parts of dry roux with water or oil.

IMG_2063[1]Seafood Oven Okra Gumbo

Oven Okra (this makes a lot, also none of my quantities really matched in proportion to the recipe)

3 pounds okra, sliced (ok, I grabbed one bag of the frozen stuff)

3 onions, chopped (I used one big one)

3 ribs celery, chopped (I used several ribs, why not, it’s veggies!)

3 cloves garlic, minced (only 3?, yeah right)

1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, chopped

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1 teaspoon K’s Cajun seasoning **see recipe below–note I sort of threw in a bit of each of those ingredients (or S&P)

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Combine all ingredients in large heavy pot.

IMG_2058[1]Cover and cook 2 hours in 300-degree oven, stirring twice during cooking.  Uncover and cook another 20 minutes.  *I didn’t feel like it needed to cook that long.

IMG_2066[1]Makes enough for 2 pots of gumbo.  This can be halved or doubled; freeze portions for later quick-fixin gumbo!

Next…

3-4 cups Oven Okra (I’ve always just taken all that I had)

2 quarts water

1/2 cup Dry Roux

2 pounds peeled uncooked shrimp

8-10 crabs, cleaned, halved or 1 (6-ounce) can crab meat (this time I used scallops)

1 1/2 tsp K’s Cajun Seasoning or S&P

Mix roux in 1/2 cold water.  Stir into Oven Okra.  Add remaining water.  Bring to a boil, then add seafood; season.  Cook 30 minutes.  Served over hot rice.  Serves 8-10.

IMG_2071[1]NOTE:  Add chicken stock or most any poultry, seafood or meat to Oven Okra to create your own special gumbo concoction.

It was just what I was looking for.  So good, lots of flavors.  Be warned…don’t taste it right from the pot or you can easily burn your tongue.  And, be ready for lots of leftovers.  This would be great to serve at a Super Bowl party.  Enjoy!

K’s Cajun Seasoning

1 (26-oz box) salt

3 tbsp black pepper

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp Accent (optional ) — what is this?

2 tbsp dried parsley flakes

4 tbsp red pepper (cayenne)

2 tbsp chili powder

Mix all in large bowl and store for daily use.

Grapefruit and Hearts of Palm Salad

Found this recipe in Cooking Light and it just sounded so good.  Many of my favorite ingredients.  It just doesn’t seem like something that would be published in a winter issue (Jan/Feb) but I’m happy it was.

Grapefruit and Hearts of Palm Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola mayonnaise (nixed that)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups baby kale (I chopped it)
  • 1 1/2 cups ruby red grapefruit sections (about 2 large grapefruit)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans hearts of palm, rinsed, drained, and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small red chile, seeded and thinly sliced (I just used pepper flakes)
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, cut into thin wedges

IMG_1986[1]Directions

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth.

2. Place 2/3 cup kale on each of 6 plates. Arrange grapefruit sections, onion, hearts of palm, chile, and avocado evenly over kale. Drizzle with dressing. (ok, I didn’t make it that fancy — tossed all that stuff in a bowl and dressed it).

IMG_1989[1]So good!  Served it with some pan-seared scallops.  I could eat this every night.

Use It Or Lose It

In the past week I’ve been making a bunch of great recipes that of course called for delicious fresh herbs.  But, how much did I need to use?  Oh, maybe 1-2 tablespoons.  And how much did I have to buy?  Oh, that entire huge packet at the store.  So, these herbs are on their last legs and I have to use them somehow.  So, what to do?  Pesto!  The main ingredients I needed to use were (flat leaf) parsley, chives and basil.  Can you tell I shop at Trader Joe’s a lot based on the packaging?

IMG_1975[1]Got those sort of off the stems the threw them in the mini prep then decided what all to put in there.  Opted to use lemon olive oil, tons of garlic (of course!), a splash of lemon juice then opted for hazelnuts for a bit of a different taste.  Oh, S&P, too of course.  I can’t use the cheese because of the lactose intolerance thing, though if I had manchego on hand, I might have tried it.

IMG_1977[1]With all said and done, I had some very tasty green mush.  Will be great for pasta or just a veggie dip.

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City Perch

There are some new restaurants/bars opening in the area and I was lucky enough to check one out courtesy of a client.  We visited City Perch in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD at Pike & Rose (outside of DC).

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Quite the diverse menu, from drinks to food.  With several of us there, we covered the menu quite well.  I started with the Montgomery Blues — Greenbrier Small Batch Gin, Blueberries, Rosemary, Jack Rudy Tonic.  Delicious and the fresh rosemary was a nice addition.

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Some of the others at the table were Dark + Stoutly — Stonewall American Rum, Ginger, Flying Dog ‘Pearl Necklace’ Stout.  It was very similar to a black & tan. One of them enjoying it stirred it to see if it would combine but it separated again.

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Another at the bar was the Forbidden Garden Margarita — 100% Garden Margarita — 100% de Agave Reposado Applejack, Apple Cider, Applejack.  I tried some of that — very nice.  Was there really alcohol in that? That is what can cause some problems.

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We also had some of the appetizers — olives, nuts, fries.  Addictive.  If you’re in the DC-area, totally check this place out.

Brew on

There was just a great article about the Best New Breweries in the US in The Daily Meal.  They are everywhere across the country, showing how much microbreweries continue to grow.  And as noted in the article, according to the Brewers Association, an average of 1.5 new breweries opens every day in the U.S. alone. In 2014, 13 states reached the 100-brewery milestone (along with some other great stats).

Photo Source: thedailymeal.com

Photo Source: thedailymeal.com

Posole

It’s winter, which means it’s soup time.  Was debating what to make the other night and came across a recipe I love that I hadn’t put together for awhile — Posole (from Cooking Light).  The true meaning of the word/name is hominy, so that is obviously a must in the ingredients.  There are many ways to make it/variations on the recipe.  The key is that it has to be made during the the cold weather season.

Ingredients

1 pound tomatillos (I normally use green salsa but the store was out this time so actually had to use what the recipe called for)
6 cups Brown Chicken Stock (not sure what brown vs. ‘normal’ is, and I just use broth)
2 cups chopped onion
3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I usually just use Tabasco and/or chili powder)
1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
1 teaspoon salt

—>below are all garnishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
8 lime wedges

Preparation

Remove/discard husks and stems from the tomatillos. Cook whole tomatillos in boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender; drain.

IMG_1911[1]Place tomatillos in a blender; process until smooth; set aside.

IMG_1913[1]Place stock and the next five (5) ingredients (stock through hominy) in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from bones (I have always used boneless — and skinless); shred. Stir in pureed tomatillos and salt; cook for five(5) minutes or until heated.

Stir in chicken, and serve with cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges, if desired.

IMG_1917[1]Delicious!  I served it with some guacamole, salsa and chips.  I also have plenty to eat for several days or freeze to keep on hand.

Mead

I keep trying new things…that’s what the new year is about, right?  So, I when I was at a new bar, there was the choice of Mead on the menu.  Not something you see often, so I asked the bartender about it.  He gave me a quick description.  I wasn’t overly sold.  Then, he said ‘oh, you have to try it, mostly because I am so trying to get rid of this bottle.’ Should that have been my first clue that I was not going to like this stuff? (yes, could be personal).  So, he gave me a decent pour of Sap House Meadery’s Sugar Maple.  I had the initial sip, then a couple more.  An ice wine is what I could most closely compare it to.  But I could not put a finger on the taste.  After beyond, beyond deep thought (trust me), the only thing I could think of on this is that it tasted like the super dried seal of an envelope (don’t we eat/taste these everyday?).  So, I was glad I got to sample this and check it off my list.  I moved onto to something else.

If you have thoughts on Mead, please let me know.  Would love to hear them.

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Whisk(ed)y Away…

I’m not a huge straight, hard liquor drinker. But am usually up for trying something new.  The latest inquiry/offer was if I drink scotch/whiskey.  My answer was not really; I have a bottle of Jack if I want a Bourbon & Ginger.

But now I have been introduced to the true (aka good) scotch (whisky) and was blown away.

The first one I sampled was Laphroaig Single Malt Quarter Cask.  Ok, I love Pinotage because of the smoke.  That varietal has nothing compared to this. I know I’m comparing apples to oranges here but wow, wow, wow.  I was taking beyond baby sips of this stuff because I have never really been a hard liquor drinker but from what I had, it was unbelievable.  I know I’m being repetitive but SMOKE with a bit of sweet.

IMG_1898[1]IMG_1895[1]The second one I tasted was Lagavulin.  It was smoother than the first but not as smoky — initially.  After it had ‘breathed’ for a bit, wow, the notes definitely came out.  It also had a longer finish. Very different but still on the same stream of overall taste.  So unique.

IMG_1900[1]I will say, you definitely learn something new everyday.  This was quite different from my normal tastings and I will see how much I continue to explore this beverage.  Cheers!

Decanted

Simple pleasures, that’s what it’s all about.  For Christmas I had this huge box/present that I could not quite figure out (from the exterior).  It did have the very fashionable type of Crate & Barrel all over the exterior.  I finally opened it, then dug through layer upon layer of bubble wrap, then, oh, layer after layer of some kind of paper, oh, then tissue paper and tissue and tissue paper.  Inside I (finally) found a beautiful decanter.  How perfect!  Somebody must know me.  I broke it in on New Year’s Eve with a magnificent red from Washington — Eleven La Ronde.  It tasted even better than usual.  Simple pleasures.

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