Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

There are almost as many versions of gumbo as there are cooks, especially in this corner of Texas, near the Gulf of Mexico for seafood, and near Louisiana, the place of gumbo’s origin. It is said that gumbo is to Louisiana as chili is to Texas!  But, here on the south Texas Gulf Coast, both are famous.  I think that most often gumbo is either Seafood Gumbo or Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, but the gumbo I make in my kitchen can be either or both – or in this case, both Shrimp and Chicken. It is a matter of what ingredients I have on hand to use!  Last week, we had some leftover jumbo boiled shrimp and some chopped rotisserie chicken.  I had put both into the freezer to wait until Gumbo night. Since our garden tomato production is at its peak, I also had ripe heirloom tomatoes that went into the pot.  A simmering pot of gumbo tempts almost any appetite. I have several cookbooks collected through the years from Louisiana. The basic recipes I started with came from 2 of those books:  River Road Recipes II and Shadows on the Teche, Cuisine of the Cajun Country.  

I enjoy making the roux and prepping as I go This dish has quite a story.        www.southernfoodways.org/interview/a-short-history-of-gumbo/

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

2-3 cups chopped chicken

2 cups large boiled shrimp

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (you will use 2 for the roux, and 1 to prep the okra)

2 Tablespoons flour

2 large onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and rough chopped

1/2 lb (or more to taste) okra, small to medium pods, sliced thin

1 hot pepper

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Prepare okra by frying in 1 Tablespoon oil in small iron skillet 5- 10 minutes,  until okra is dried out and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and set aside. Begin making the roux by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in large heavy pot.  Add flour, stirring constantly while cooking on medium heat until roux is a deep caramel color. Add onions, then bell pepper and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.  Add okra and stir.  Then add 6 cups chicken broth or stock.  Add tomatoes and chicken and simmer for about an hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are heated through.  (If you are using raw shrimp, follow the same instructions but cook until shrimp are pink and done.) Add 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar just before serving.

We like to add a few hushpuppies on the side.  I usually buy frozen ones and either bake or fry them while gumbo is cooking.

 

 

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

We have one huge artichoke plant in our garden, planted with dreams of growing a crop of artichokes. So far, nothing but gorgeous leaves have been produced. My daughter in law, Kristen, planted and babied this and has watched it anxiously to see if there was anything to harvest. On April 1, my husband bought a small artichoke and nestled in the center of this plant with a small April Fool! note stuck to the bottom. Kristen pulled at it, only realizing the joke when it came out so easily!  She had a good laugh, and so did the rest of us.  So far, even this has not prompted the giant plant to produce.

Wanting to grow our own has nothing to do with enjoying an artichoke while we wait. This is a special treat, but it does not need to wait until we have guests for dinner or a holiday. In fact, I think we enjoy it more when we make it the star attraction. There is nothing hard about preparing and cooking artichokes, but it does take a little time, so it is a special occasion when we have one. You can find this recipe all over the internet and in many cookbooks, but they don’t have our April Fool story!

Steamed Artichoke with Lemon Butter

1 or more Medium to Large Globe Artichokes

2 Lemons, 1 sliced and 1 juiced.

1 Bay Leaf (optional)

2 Teaspoons sallt

4 Tablespoons Butter

Add about an inch and a half of water to a saucepan large enough to set the artichoke in and leave room to cover.  Add salt and bring to boil while geetting the artichoke ready to cook.

  1. Cut off a slice of the bottom and any stem so the artichoke will sit upright. Then slice off the top of the artichoke about an inch and a half down.
  2.  With sharp kitchen shears, cut off just the tip of all the leaves, going around the artichoke until all leaves have the sharp little point on the the edge of the leaves removed.
  3. Reduce heat enough for water to simmer. Set the artichoke into simmeringng water.  Lay lemon slices on top and around. Add bay leaf, if using.  Then cover.
  4. Steam the artichoke for 25 to 35 minutes, depending on size. When you are able to pull one of the leaves out easily, it is done. Remove to serving dish, sitting upright.
  5.  Melt butter and add lemon juice.

Serve the artichoke with lemon butter on the side.To eat the artichoke, pull off leaves, or petals, one at a time. Dip in lemon butter, Tightly grip the stem end of the petal. Place in mouth, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal .

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Continue until all of the petals are removed.

With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the “choke”) covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat. Many think this is the best part of the artichoke!

Cook’s Note: An alternative dipping sauce is mayonnaise with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Heirloom Treasures

This is not about cooking, and certainly not a recipe except for the fact that I often find adding one special beautiful and tasty thing to an ordinary meal can turn the evening into a celebration.  Heirloom tomatoes can do that. I like to grow them, so I find that joy part of their goodness. Besides, they are way too expensive in the stores when you can find them. Each type of heirloom tomato has a distinctive color and flavor.

I like just about anything with a story, and every variety of heirloom vegetables comes with history, with story.  My daughter in law, Kristen, also loves to grow these beauties, and she arranged these with some of our garden basil and a few olives on a platter for a family meal last week. On this plate are Cherokee Purple, Eva Purple Ball, Louisiana Pink, Kosovo, and Paul Robeson tomatoes.  I believe the bright yellow slices are from a Russian Heirloom tomato, but I misplaced the tag when planting and I honestly do not remember.  Another favorite way to use these tomatoes is in Caprese salad, made by simply adding slices of whole milk mozzarella and a few splashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Quoted from another of my blogs, http://www.mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com, which is a collection of family stories.

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

Parmesan Roasted Yellow and Zucchini Squash with Red Pepper

It is summer vegetable time again.  We are doing lots of grilling for meats, vegetables, pineapple – but if it is not good weather for grilling outside, oven roasted meats and veggies are great too!  We recently had this beautiful roasted squash, pepper, and Parmesan dish with roasted pork tenderloin and fresh fig sauce. Great combination!  My version of this recipe originates from Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen.

7 or 8 medium sized yellow squash and zucchini, sliced in diagonal chunks

1 Sweet red pepper, cut in large pieces

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

Zest of 1 lemon,  rest of lemon reserved to add before serving

 sea salt

Crushed red pepper flakes

Put squash, pepper, and zucchini chunks into a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the  olive oil (save some for drizzling on top), salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper; toss to combine. Add Parmesan and toss until vegetables are well coated.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a rack; spray rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread squash, pepper, and zucchini pieces evenly on prepared rack. Transfer to oven and roast until tender and lightly caramelized, 12 -15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool slightly; transfer to a large platter. Drizzle vegetables with remaining olive oil. Zest lemon over squash and cut lemon into wedges; squeeze lemon over squash. Season with sea salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper; serve immediately.