A Bit Of Gumbo

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Though Disney didn’t quite get it right with their take on a healthy gumbo, they were on the right path. Gumbo can be full of flavor and toe the line of health. Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve certainly had many variations of gumbo-some that use everything but the kitchen sink-and others that were healthier and with fewer ingredients. My brother was the first in the family to cook a roux-less gumbo with some great seafood. Picking up a few things from him and adding my own twist was just what I needed to pass muster with the more common chicken and sausage gumbo. I used a couple cuts of chicken to make a flavorful base and okra as the thickening agent. I also used two types of sausage for that smokey taste and the kick of the South. I made this a few weeks back for my second gumbo cooking spree. Since it’s once again cold, this was an easy pull from the freezer and quick to defrost in the pot. Below is the recipe. Give it a try and make your own version of a healthier gumbo! 🙂

Ingredients:
1 pack of drumsticks (5-6)
2 chicken breast
2 cups diced onion
3/4 lb andouille sausage
1/2 lb smoked sausage
16 oz fresh or frozen okra
1 cup diced green onion
1/2 tbsp. cayenne
1 1/2 tbsp. gumbo file
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
8 cups of water

Directions:
1. Put a large pot on the stove with 6 cups of water over medium-high heat.
2. Rinse chicken thoroughly and remove skin from the chicken legs. It’s ok if some skin remains, but remove as much as possible, then add the chicken to the pot.
3. Peel and dice the onion and add to the pot.
4. Let boil for 15 minutes, then add okra and reduce to medium heat.
5. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove chicken legs from pot, onto a plate and pull off chicken with a fork before adding back to the pot. You can also loosely break off pieces of the chicken breast, though it will mostly fall apart once it is done cooking. Add seasonings, green onion and remaining water.
6. Slice sausage and andouille in half and then into 1/4 inch pieces and add to the pot. Top it and reduce to low heat, to simmer.
7. Let cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep until ready to eat. *Double the recipe and freeze it for easy meal nights.
8. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Rosemary

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It was great to be part of the last Red Stick Farmers Market of the year and make a warming dish for the cool morning. It was even better to see people young and aging, try something new and for most, find something they enjoyed and would like to try making at home. Let me just say, the quality of lamb from Our Family Farm, the Fekete Farm and Morrow Farm vegetables and the spices from Red Stick Spice Company made all the difference. Since this will be my last post until the New Year, I wish you all a happy holiday season and inspiration for memorable meals. Enjoy!

Rosemary lamb and vegetable stew

1 lb. of ground lamb
1 cup of chopped carrots
1/4 cup minced shallot or 1/2 cup of yellow onion
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup chopped green onion
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped kale
1 1/2 cups of shredded or chopped Swiss chard
1/2 cup sliced sweet peppers
1 cup fresh corn
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. whole peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. of rosemary finishing sea salt (sprinkle on each serving)
1/2 can of 14 oz diced tomato (no salt added)
4 tbsp. of tomato paste
4 cups of water

Optional garnish ingredients
1 cup of thinlyshaved turnips
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. or raw sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and slice shallot or onion and garlic. Add, with the lamb, to a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
2. Break meat apart with a large spoon and brown evenly. Add 1 cup of the water to prevent sticking.
3. Peel and chop carrots and add to pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes and open the cans.
4. Add the diced tomato, paste and two cups of water to the pot.
5. Mince fresh rosemary and add to pot and add all seasonings except finishing salt. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes.
6. While simmering, add sugar and rice wine vinegar to a bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Peel two medium large turnips leaving green stems attached for stability. Score the turnip into fourths without removing the stems and then slice over the bowl using a mandolin on the thinnest setting. (If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a box grater or a potato peeler to make ribbons of turnips.) Season with salt and pepper, stir and set aside to steep.
7. Shuck and rinse corn. Cut off cob into a bowl or on the cutting board. Add to the pot.
8. Rinse a few leaves of kale and Swiss chard and rip or cut leaves from the stems. Slice into thin strips and wilt in greens one cup at a time. Add remaining water if needed. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes then plate.
9. Sprinkle a pinch of rosemary finishing salt to each plate and top with a fork full of pickled turnips.
10. Enjoy.

A Bit Of Curiosity

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I’ve always heard that curiosity killed the cat, but that certainly doesn’t ring true when cooking. I went to the Red Stick Farmers Market this past Saturday and was inspired to create something warm to fight off the cold day. I picked up some beef marrow bones and oxtail from the Gonsoulin farmers to make a rich broth for a beef and veggie soup. I’ve never cooked with either but was curious to find out what difference it could make in a dish. The flavor was beyond incredible paired with garlic, onion and herbs. I’m certain a pot of this will be a winner and should make 10-12 servings for easy meals during the week as the Christmas preparations are underway. Please see the recipe and instructions below and be sure to share your thoughts if you try it.

This will be my last post until after the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Ingredients:

1 lb oxtail
1 lb marrow bones
8 quarts of water
2 heads of garlic
2 medium yellow onions
2 medium-sized red potatoes
1/2 lb lentils
2 cups chopped carrots
8oz pack of whole baby Portobello mushrooms
1 bundle of mustard greens
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp italian seasoning
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp coarse black pepper
2 tbsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Add marrow bones and oxtail to a large pot and cover in 8 quarts of water.
  2. Peel and chop onions and add to pot.
  3. Remove garlic cloves from each head, peel off the skin, cut off the hard end and mince into mid-sized pieces. Add to pot.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil reduce to low-medium heat (3 out of 10). Let boil for an hour.
  5. Peel and chop carrots into 1 to 2 inch thick pieces. Add to simmering pot. Let cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Rinse and slice potatoes into 1 inch thick slices before cutting in half. You want the potatoes to serve as a thickening agent. Let cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Slice mushrooms into 1/2 inch thick pieces, including stems unless tough. Do not rinse mushroom caps before slicing. If you see dirt, remove it with a damp paper towel.
  8. Add mushrooms and all of the seasoning to pot. Let cook for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Stir pot and use a large metal spoon to remove some meat from the bones if tender enough to break with the spoon.
  10. Wash mustard greens by submerging them in a bowl or sink of water for 10 minutes. Chop the greens in groups of 4-5 leaves, into thin strips. Cut long strips in halves or thirds.
  11. Add greens to pot and let cook for 10-15 minutes before cutting off heat. The residual heat will continue to cook the soup.
  12. Taste and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Serve in a bowl and enjoy.

Note: I made a ham and cheese sandwich with microgreens to go with my soup. It can be served alone or with the sandwich addition of your choice.