Friday, December 19, 2008

Things I've Cooked and Photographed with my iPhone

This is an okra gumbo with chicken, andouille (a smoked sausage) and tasso (smoked ham). My friend went upriver to LaPlace this week and brought me the meats from Jacob's (I think). Jason Perlow, on his Off the Broiler blog, has a wonderful pictorial journey through the story of andouille, a Cajun version of the French sausage, developed via French and German settlers in Louisiana.

This gumbo has no roux, so it's got a thin texture. Okra is the thickening agent. Traditionally, one should not add file to an okra gumbo, but we're not traditionalists. We'll sprinkle it in when we serve it.

I tried something new, and steamed several small yams right in the gumbo as it cooked. Gumbo isn't one thing, it's got many facets. There are many gumbos in this world, and that makes the world all the better. There are Creole gumbos and Cajun gumbos, and gumbos made by people like me, who pick and choose from all the options as we like.

Some Cajuns like to eat their gumbo with boiled eggs right in the bowl. I've never done that. But from my sweetie I learned to smash up a small yam in the bowl, with the gumbo and rice. That's my favorite way to eat it now. I'm leaving this in the fridge overnight before serving it. Gumbo's always best the next day.

This is my butternut squash soup, with a slice of bread I made, using the easy, no-knead recipe from the New York Times' Minimalist column. The soup starts with roasted squash, an apple, onion, celery and carrot, bay leaf, fresh thyme, salt, pepper and stock (veggie or chicke.) Remove the herb stalks and blend it up for a soup base - it freezes wonderfully. You can thin that with stock, or with buttermilk. In this bowl, there's a little Bulgarian yogurt, some red pepper flakes and chopped thyme on top. Wow. Good.

Fresh white Gulf Shrimp, in August, from the shrimp guy who drives down my block and delivers 5 lb. bags to our houses. I think this became a Cuban Shrimp Creole - onions, peppers, shrimp, cilantro, garlic, fresh oregano, San Marzano tomatoes - yep, that's what happened here. I served it atop sauteed plantains - Balseros, or rafters - the shrimp atop the plantain evokes the Cubans who brave the crossing on their jerry-rigged rafts, hoping to reach Florida safely.

Making a vodka-tomato pasta sauce - the best part is flaming the vodka. This one starts with shallots and sliced Roma tomatoes (roast them, peel them, and seed them first). Use a shot glass to put in the vodka, let it flame, then add and reduce some cream.

Korean short ribs (kalbi) on the grill. They're amazing - use this recipe from NPR :

- it includes instructions on how to get your butcher to cut the ribs. But if you have an Asian market in town, with a meat section, then quickly, go there and get some ribs and cook 'em up!

Sweet pumpkin curry, bok choy and naan, with a little yogurt raita on top.

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