Okra Gumbo with Sausage and Fish

My friend Mike offers us his classic gumbo recipe with okra, andouille and seafood. I wish I had gotten a chance to taste it, but the color of that roux is evidence enough that it must have been great.

This recipe was adapted from several in Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. This gumbo is a family favorite. It isn’t too spicy, has a delicious toasty, nutty complexity from the roux, and the okra keeps it from being too thin (the darker you make a roux, the less thickening power it has). It is, however, a definite time commitment. This is a recipe where you should have everything completely prepped and lain out before you start heating the oil for the roux.

Gumbo previously: Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille and Shrimp
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North Indian Style Spinach Chicken

I love Indian food, but sometimes those curries can be heavy. This dish, on the other hand, is more brothy than saucy, and still has that flavor I love. It has tomatoes, spinach and chicken breast, but it would be good with garbanzo beans instead, if you wanted to make it vegetarian.

I saw this in Sunset Magazine, which has been full of good recipes lately (See: Ginger Pear Crisp). My mom and I loved how light it felt while still filling us up.

Of course we changed it up a bit. Instead of serving with plain yogurt on top and cucumber salad on the side, I combined the two in a raita. I liked the cool crunch of cucumbers mixed in with the cooked vegetables. It’s all about layering flavors, textures and temperatures.

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Saffron Chicken Tajine and Eggplant-Tomato-Herb Salad

The theme of the night was ambiance.

My friend and fellow foodblogger Ally came over to help make a warm and hearty Moroccan meal for my family. As the vegetables roasted and the chicken simmered, we dimmed the dining room lights and adorned the table with candles and tiny tajine pots. We made a pot of hot mint tea.

During the meal, my family tried to remember Moroccan restaurants we had been to around the world.

What was the one with rose petals on the floor?

Oh yeah, it was downstairs and had candles on the wall?

Remember that one with all the pillows?

Bereber?

No.

That one has pillows too. The one on Robertson?

No.

That one had pillows.

404?

I think it was in New York.

Ok, so they all have pillows.

Homemade Moroccan bread — the recipe I used seems to have disappeared from the Internet

Then it clicked. Earlier in the week I read the Morocco chapter of New American Chef:

“The real beauty of Moroccan cuisine, however, is the hospitality that is as engulfing as the flavors and aromas.”

Several times the book mentioned the importance of comfort while eating. I know we must have had delicious and filling meals of couscous, merguez, tagines and other Moroccan delights, but what we all remembered most about those restaurants was the ambiance. The low tables, the heavy curtains, the rustic walls, the ceremonious pouring of tea, the rose petals, the pillows…

The meal Ally and I prepared was definitely tasty, and equally important, served with just the right ambiance.

North African meals previously: Tunisian Lamb Stew, Moroccan Roast Chicken and Algerian Carrot Salad
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Indian-Style Scrambled Eggs

indian-scrambled-eggsWhen someone asks me what my favorite type of food is, it's hard to narrow it down. I love so many kinds of cuisine, and I don't know enough about them all to make a definitive declaration.

Indian food is always on the list, but it just might be the top. The more I learn about it, the more I taste it, the surer I feel. Ginger, garlic, chilies and cilantro…what a combination, those ingredients should be in everything.

And in much of Indian food they are. Even scrambled eggs!

I read about this dish in Mangoes and Curry Leaves. The authors said it was something they had in a small tea shop in a rural area of India. I made it for lunch yesterday and loved it.

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BLT Orzo

blt-orzo

Tonight, with my parents out for the evening and my little brother satisfied after a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, I set out to make dinner for my sister and I. My mom had suggested we make some BLTs, and though that sounded more like lunch than dinner, the idea stuck.

When I saw some orzo pasta in the cupboard, I decided it would be perfect for a warm and hearty reinvention of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

I crisped the bacon, then cooked tomatoes and garlic and wilted some arugula in the sauce just before tossing it with the pasta and serving with a little parmesan. To me, it was exactly what I wanted from a dinner adaptation of the lunch classic.

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Gumbo

Gumbo Pot

This is the meal inspired by a sausage and a song. When the campus meat market started offering andouille sausage, I knew we had to make gumbo. Then our friend Kat discovered a song listed under the genre “gumbo funk,” and we had a soundtrack.

We cooked up a big ol’ pot of gumbo for Michael’s parents when we went to visit, and maybe Michael’s mom just loves us, but she couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. I can’t say I’ve had a ton of gumbo in my day, but this was the best one I’ve tasted. The vegetables maintained their form and taste, instead of becoming a pot of mush. The chicken, sausage and shrimp each brought their own flavors too.

The best canned tomatoes available.  Don't even try to argue otherwise.
According to Michael, the best canned tomatoes available. Don't even try to argue otherwise.

This Food Network recipe just called for chicken and andouille, but I felt like there should be some seafood. You can do scallops too. The only other change we made to the recipe was adding a combination of Cajun spices to the flour in which we dredged the chicken. In addition to salt and pepper, I added paprika, chili powder, celery salt and oregano. If you have a packaged blend, that works too.

Gumbo Dish

Change whatever you want in the recipe, but make sure you have some gumbo funk on the playlist.

Britt and Kat Gumbo


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