Let’s Talk Food: Today is Fat Tuesday
Today is Fat Tuesday, and if you read last week’s “Let’s Talk Food,” you would have made some malasadas this morning. I will never forget what Jimmy Souza used to say on Fat Tuesdays. His wife Janet is Japanese so he would always say that her malasada has an “ume.” Ume is a Japanese pickled plum that is sometimes found in the middle of a musubi.
After your fill of malasadas this morning, a celebration of Mardi Gras cuisine is in order tonight.
We are attending a Mardi Gras party tonight and the menu includes gumbo, beef Grillades with grits, shrimp creole, jambalaya, grilled corn on the cob, Louisiana bread pudding with a sweet whisky sauce, and beignets.
I love gumbo and have attended “The Cookin’ Cajun Cooking School in New Orleans to learn how to make gumbo properly.
Gumbo can be made a day or two ahead to allow the flavors to develop as it rests. Louisiana-grown long grain rice is served with this dish.
The dark brown roux is essential for making a good gumbo. My instructor, Big Lisette, said when you are making your roux, don’t answer the phone if it rings or go to the door if someone is knocking. You can’t leave the pot and must keep mixing!
Andouille File Gumbo
Cut up into pieces:
1 fryer chicken
3 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic
In a heavy Dutch oven, add and heat on medium high :
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
Keep mixing with wooden spoon until a dark brown roux is made.
Add and cook until translucent:
2 cups onions, chopped
Add and cook 5 minutes more:
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Add and bring to boil:
8 cups hot chicken stock or broth
One (16-ounce) can tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
One bay leaf
After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
Chicken, cut up and seasoned
1 1/2 pounds Andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Adjust seasonings to taste and skim fat before serving. Serve over boiled rice. Garnish with:
Green onions, chopped
Have file powder at the table should anyone want to add to their gumbo.
To end the meal, bread pudding is usually available at most restaurants in New Orleans. Each chef has a unique version that plays around with the traditional recipe, using fresh, canned, or dried fruit. The liqueur sauce may be Grand Marnier, Amaretto or whiskey.
It is a great way to use up stale bread and is very easy to make.
In a large bowl, soak:
One (10-ounce) loaf stale French bread
1 quart milk (if bread is very hard, add more milk)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 eggs, beaten
Mix very lightly. Place in a well-buttered dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven. While hot, poke holes in cake with the end of a wooden spoon. Splash with Amaretto (or liqueur of your choice).
Make Amaretto sauce:
Over low heat, melt together, stirring constantly:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto Liqueur
Pour sauce over bread pudding to penetrate the pudding as well as glaze the top.
File powder is dried, ground sassafras leaves and aids in thickening gumbo and adds a unique flavor.
I learned the difference between Cajun and Creole at my cooking classes. Cajuns are Louisiana residents descended from French settlers of Nova Scotia who moved south to escape the English, settling in the rich bayou country of South Louisiana.
Cajun cooking is robust “country” food featuring one pot meals using homegrown vegetables, peppers, spices, and wild game such as raccoon, opossum, turkey, rabbit, turtle, and seafood.
Creoles are descendants of the early French and Spanish settlers who brought West Indies and other cooking influences to the New Orleans area. Creole cooking is usually highly spices food featuring rich sauces, rice, tomatoes, okra, peppers, and seafood and is considered refined “city” food.
Congratulations to MW Restaurant in Honolulu! It is THE restaurant that people are talking about, but more importantly, MW is a James Beard Award semifinalist for the Best New Restaurant. Co-owner/wife/pastry chef Michelle Karr Ueoka is a James Beard Award semifinalist for the Outstanding Pastry Chef! What honors for a new restaurant! MW Restaurant is located in the Ala Moana district, 1538 Kapiolani Boulevard, Suite 107. With all this recognition, reservations are highly recommended if you are on Oahu. Call (808) 955-6505.
The Hawaii Community College Culinary Arts Program’s Bamboo Hale will feature the foods of Puerto Rico through Friday. Call 934-2591 for reservations. The cafeteria is also open with great and reasonably priced plate lunches. Please support the students in the program.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have a question. Bon appetit until next week.
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