Thursday, January 27, 2011

fussy fussy roux roux

i make chicken and sausage gumbo often. like, probably at least once every two weeks during the cold months and then even sometimes when its sunny. depending on who you talk to and what articles you read, you'll get different answers on what makes a gumbo authentic. my three big ones are:

1. a dark roux- i mean dark. so dark. like chocolate colored dark. like it should take you almost an hour to make it dark.
2. the(cajun)holy trinity...celery, bell pepper, and onion
3. good seasoning/spice

i see a lot of and have tasted many recipes for gumbo that have okra and tomoatoes in them. i don't use either because i cook for the pickiest eater in the world, but even if i didn't i still wouldn't use okra. i don't think it has a place in any type of gumbo.

also, i love love LOVE seafood gumbo. i never get to make it, though, because have i mentioned that i cook for a picky eater.. maybe one day i'll get a chance to make it again and i shall tell you all about it.

alright, let's do this. we need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup ap flour, plus 1 Tbs
1 onion, medium dice
3 large stalks celery, medium dice
1 large bell pepper, medium dice
2 tsp Tony Chachere's or other cajun spice (including but not limited to: salt, cayenne, garlic&onion powder...)
2 quarts chicken stock (sometimes i use one box of broth, plus equal amount of water)
4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)..i guess breasts are acceptable but they have to be bone in, skin on
1 lb sausage (andouille is ideal but not always easy to find)
1 tsp file powder, plus additional for serving
steamed rice for serving
chopped green onions for serving
hot sauce for serving

Melt your butter on very low heat while you dice your veggies.

Now dump the flour into butter and whisk until smooth. Crank up the heat a bit to medium low and whisk constantly for 30 minutes, not allowing the roux to remain un-whisked for longer than 30 sec-1 min at a time. This is actually more important when it starts getting really dark, so it doesn't burn. During the first 15 minutes or so, you can leave it alone for a minute or so at a time. (I've bookmarked this recipe over at Homesick Texan for a way less time consuming roux, but just can't seem to get around to making it. Old habits, ya know? Regardless, the final product/color looks like hers.) So anyway, after about 30 minutes, you should have a peanut butter colored roux. Guess what? Keep whisking. Do this until its a deep chocolate color (yes, i know this is super fussy).

Then dump in your veggies, this will soften them and also stop the roux from cooking. Stir the veg around for a minute, dump in the cajun spice and cook for another minute or so.

Now dump in all the stock/broth/water, and whisk to dissolve all the roux that's floating around.

Add your chicken and bring to a simmer. Let it roll for about an hour or until chicken is cooked through.

While its simmering away, slice your sausage into rounds, and if it is uncooked (or if you just want to add some more color and flavor to it) brown it off in another pan. Drain it and set aside.

Pull out the chicken, leaving the gumbo simmering, and when its cool enough to handle pick all the meat off the bone. Toss it back into the pot with the sausage.

Turn down the heat, just to keep the gumbo warm. Add the file and stir just before serving.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions. Additional file and hot sauce can be added as desired.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

we had pizza hut for supper. sue me.

we had pizza hut because i spent all morning cooking in my mother's kitchen. with my mother. we spent all morning cooking because her freezer stopped freezing some time last night and everything thawed out. we grilled sausage and hamburger meat to freeze. then i made baked halibut and a HUGE batch of sauce picante (its a cajun thing). amanda asked me to post my sauce picante(pronounced pee-kaw) recipe but i'm not going to because i'm a bad sister. and because i'm hoping she will go in to labor soon and i can just give it to her when i go to see the bebe. and because i don't really have a recipe. that's how i roll.

after a short rest from the meat-a-thon, i decided i needed some baking therapy. i made this super simple brownie recipe from Hershey's with a few alterations, and as always it did not fail me. i killed about three brownies yesterday.

needless to say after all the grilling, braising, and baking i was so over cooking. billy offered to get pizza hut. whatever, dude. it was good. here are the brownies. mmmm. brownies.

Hershey's Best Brownie
adapted from

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup ap flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch square (or round) baking dish. Mix together the butter and sugars until combine really well. Then add the eggs until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla. In a seperate bowl sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until well combined. It'll be a little thick. Stir in the pecans. Dump it all into the greased baking dish and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. I under cook mine just a tad so it'll stay kinda gooey in the middle.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

i'm about to go shopping. here's the plan.

This week's menu is very simple (then again, it almost always is with a picky babydaddy to feed), because as Amanda said, she's hoping Sophie arrives sometime soon. I, in turn, am hoping she calls me when it all starts, so I can cut this menu short and rush to Dallas in time to see the little booger come on out.

tonight- pan-fried pork chops with hasselback potatoes..and i'll probably sneak some spinach onto the plate
monday- red beans and rice with sausage
tuesday- garlicky baked shrimp with green beans
wednesday- chicken and sausage gumbo
thursday- chili and cornbread
friday- is the baby here yet? no? fine. chicken strips and fries.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breakfast for a Week

I love brown bananas. Brown bananas mean I get to bake! As if I needed an excuse. I wanted to make this recipe healthy-ish. It will serve as our breakfast for the next several days, after I slightly altered this recipe from Annie's Eats and threw in some whole wheat flour. I got 12 LARGE muffins out of this. Really, they are on the verge of being jumbo. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from Annie's Eats

3/4 cup ap flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 large bananas, mashed

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (first six). In another (larger) bowl mash the bananas and add sugar, egg and melted butter. Mix well. Stir the dry ingredients into this mixture just until incorporated. Finally, stir in the chopped pecans. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

Oh, and i promise to start posting photos one day. I think the 16 month old hid my camera.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eatin' on the Cheap

Born and raised in south Texas, I grew up eating plenty of pinto beans: refried, charro, in chili... But somehow I've yet to grow tired of them. Babydaddy grew up eating a lot of beans as well, but more of the Louisiana variety: red kidneys, limas, etc... Needless to say we eat a lot of beans around here.
1. they're cheap
2. they're versatile
3. they're just good

Tonight for dinner we had pinto beans (and cornbread, of course), but this is pretty much my basic method for preparing any dried bean or pea, so feel free to substitute.

Now a word about the cornbread. For about three years now I have been hooked on Jiffy Corn Muffins. I know that makes me a bad foodie, using a box and all, but I LOVE the sweet deliciousness that is Jiffy. I stumbled across this recipe at Mommie Cooks! a few weeks ago while playing in food blog land, I made them once and bid Jiffy farewell without a second thought. If you like your cornbread sweet (and even if you don't), please try this. Oh so good.

Pot O' Beans

1 lb dried pinto beans
1 yellow onion, quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, skin off and smashed
1 fresh jalapeno, whole
4 slices bacon
a good palmful of Tony Chachere's (or salt and pepper)
a good pinch of cumin

Soak beans according to package directions. Drain beans and cover by 1/2 to 1 inch fresh water in a large pot. Place pot over medium heat, add onion, garlic, jalapeno, and bacon. Bring to a boil then reduce to a slow simmer. Let it roll. Allow to simmer for at least two hours then add seasoning. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Honey Sweet Corn Bread
Adapted from Mommie Cooks!

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup ap flour
4 tsp baking powder 
2 Tbsp white sugar 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Mix your dry ingredients (first five) together in a large bowl. In another bowl mix together vanilla, honey, egg, and milk.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is moistened. Finally stir in the melted butter. Now, pour the mixture into a greased 9x9 pan (i use a 9" cast iron skillet) and bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let's Begin...

My sister says, "You have a very empty wordpress." I say, "I don't use that one. I have a blogspot now.. Which I don't use either." And so I realized that to be a good food blogger, or a food blogger at all, I must actually post entries to my food blog.

How exciting that my first ever blog post is about my first ever homemade cinnamon rolls! Right?? I snagged this recipe from Tartlette, and followed it to a T. These are YUMMY and I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the simplicity of this recipe..being yeasty and all. But as is with many yeasty things, the most difficult part is waiting for the rise. Anyway, I am very much looking forward to making these again and again!

Cinnabon™ Knock-off Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 rolls

For the dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast (1/4 oz. size or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup warm milk (105º to 110º F.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

For the icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
Mix together the sugar, butter, salt & eggs. Add flour and milk and mix well
Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands lightly dusted with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough flat until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about ¼ inch thick.
Preheat oven to 400º F and position a rack in the middle.

Prepare the filling:
combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the surface.

Form the rolls:
Working carefully from the top (a 21 inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
Cut the rolled dough into 1 ¾ inch slices and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased baking pan. Let the rolls rise again until doubled in size (about 30 min.). Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden on top.

Prepare the icing:
While the rolls bake, mix the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then add the milk and flavorings. Mix on high speed again until the icing is smooth and fluffy.
When the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes, then coat generously with the icing.