Posts Tagged ‘photographs’

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Mandatory Items: Prepare a pot of gumbo, using one of the recipes provided, a variation thereof, or any other gumbo recipe you find that tickles your fancy.

I’m so happy when a Challenge host says to us that we can use any recipe that tickles our fancy, or fits our dietary/lifestyle needs. Because I’m trying to cook more healthfully, traditional recipes don’t always mesh harmoniously with my lifestyle, and long, complicated recipes don’t always mesh with the busy lives we have. When the husband is coming home from work an hour or two late, you don’t want dinner to be stuck in some sort of limbo while waiting, or wait until he’s home to begin the 4-hour-long preparations required for the meal. Plus, this month my folks are in town from Las Vegas, so the Challenge recipe had to be something that a diabetic eater could fit in to her daily diet, and not include shrimp. So while I didn’t go with one of the provided recipes, I was able to find a gumbo recipe that came together quickly, used easy-to-find ingredients, and was healthful enough to possibly become a regular recipe.

Note: My apologies for the quality of the photos! I had to do them with my cellphone camera. I never charged up the rechargeable battery on the good camera. 😦

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo*
serves 4 or 5

6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in 1-inch cubes
9 oz. Aidell’s jalapeno chicken sausage (3 links), sliced
10 oz. frozen gumbo-style vegetables (corn, pepper, okra, and onion)**
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried thyme***
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

*This could also be Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo, or Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo, but for one anticrustacean among us. I’m looking forward to a Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo version in future!
**Perhaps it is my geographic area, but a mix of gumbo vegetables could not be found in my local stores. I was, however, able to find a 10-ounce bag of frozen cut okra, so I supplemented that with some frozen whole kernel corn and frozen chopped onions, to total between 10 and 14 ounces.
***WHY DO I NEVER HAVE DRIED THYME?? I seem to be allergic to thyme, in that there is never any in the kitchen, even when I could have sworn there was. I substituted dried tarragon, with no ill effects. With so much chicken in the dish, it was quite complementary.

Step 1: Get your ingredients together and recruit some assistants! As you can see, my assistant is so excited to participate, she has to be held back:

Until she realizes there is food in progress:

Coat the bottom of a large stewpot generously with non-stick spray. Heat to medium-low heat and add the cubed chicken and the sliced sausage. Brown, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

Stir in frozen vegetables and garlic; saute until vegetables are thawed, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of flour over and cook 1 minute, stirring well. Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes and scrape up any browned bits sticking to the bottom. Add bay leaf, thyme (tarragon), salt, pepper, and simmer 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaf.

At this point, I kept simmering, as I was waiting for the rice cooker to finish up and the gumbo sauce to thicken. I was concerned that it was looking too soupy. When the rice was done and in a bowl on the table — and my diners were waiting — I said the gumbo would be what it would be, and transferred it to a large bowl with a ladle for serving. My dad’s first comment — “Looks good! Although I know some chefs [who] would’ve added a bit more liquid.” So it must not have been too soupy after all! (What qualifies him to pronounce on my gumbo? We lived in Louisiana ages and ages hence.)

In the serving bowl:

Served with rice:


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Louis’s Crossing


Chicken parm with salad

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Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

The very name strikes fear in to the hearts of even the most intrepid cooks and bakers: SOUFFLE. But I was really excited, because I thought the recipes were all well written, easy-to-follow, and confident. And some of that confidence leaked over to me. And since I already had a packet of frozen artichokes in the freezer, I chose to make the Crab & Artichoke Soufflé. I had to buy white pepper and a 2 quart soufflé dish, but I had everything else. And that made me feel good too, that my kitchen is getting better stocked with tools and ingredients!

You can download the PDF with the directions for all three soufflés (Crab & Artichoke, Watercress, and Chocolate) here.

I gathered all my ingredients together in prep bowls before I began, since the directions recommended working as quickly as possible once you get going to take advantage of the souffle’s chemistry. Because I was zipping around the kitchen grabbing bowls and things, my assistant had to be excluded from the room. I think I tripped over her five or six times before I made her go in the other room.

And stay there!

Here’s my crab and my chopped artichokes waiting to be employed. Note also the annotated sheet of directions. I took the motto “Be Prepared!” very seriously here because I knew I could turn out a passable soufflé if I didn’t make a dumb mistake.

To make a savoury soufflé you start with a roux of butter and flour, then add in the milk, herbs, and cheese to build a cheese sauce. Watching the cheese sauce develop was like magic, as the grated soft gouda melted and smoothed out at the same time as the sauce thickened.

(Yes, the recipe calls for gruyere cheese, but I can never find gruyere very easily, and when I do, I don’t like the flavor. So I substituted the same young gouda I used for the Broccoli and Mushroom Quiche.)

My soufflé did not rise fantastically — my baked goods almost never rise correctly, so I did not get upset over this. But once we had cut in to it, it did deflate. So it did se souffle a little bit.

Upon exiting the oven:

A few minutes later after Jim took the first bite:

I was a little bit disappointed in the texture of the finished soufflé. I found it very wet and wished it had been fluffier; perhaps what it really needed was to be baked a bit longer to release the moisture and steam, and therefore rise, a bit more. I also found it MUCH too peppery, so the next time I make it — and it has been requested! Will wonders never cease — I am going to halve or perhaps even quarter the amount of white pepper that the recipe recommends. Jim did not think it was too peppery, and says he can always add a bit more if he feels like his needs it.

Amy wants the soufflé very badly. She loves seafood.

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Zucchini Sausage Casserole, Hurricane Earl, 3 Sept 2010

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