Monday, December 15, 2014

Trending Bites on Cooking Channel

Food trends seem to be on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps it has to do with the amount of food television I seem to be watching now that summer is over and I have more time inside. It makes me feel the need to seek out unusual ingredients- sea beans being the one thing I am currently obsessed with finding- and try different styles of cooking. New spices and flavors. Unusual produce. Exotic meats. You get the idea.

Today while stuck at home recuperating I happened to catch a special show on The Cooking Channel called Trending Bites. Hosted by Mo Rocca, the show featured several current and growing trends in the food scene- nationwide. While a lot of them seemed like the logical next step from their predecessor trend (the Crookie having been inspired by the Cronut, and so forth) some of them are completely new and inspired. 

Food boats- Food trucks have been on the scene for quite a few years now. There are a still a few hot food truck spots, and some cities that haven't embraced them (like Chicago) but chefs have begun to take their mobile kitchens in a fun new direction. Summertime brings crowds of visitors to all the vacation destinations, especially if there is a beach involved. A few enterprising chefs have started to leave the wheels on dry land and are launching a whole new mobile restaurant- the food boat. Just the Cook is a food boat owned by Ernie Hall in Panama City, Florida. The whole setup is little more than a small building on a pontoon platform. No boat motor, it gets towed out into the water, sets anchor and opens for business.  Famous for their Dandy Donut Burger, a handcrafted burger seasoned with pulverized garlic and rosemary, grilled and topped with Swiss and Blue cheeses, Canadian bacon and a grilled red bell pepper, with a split and toasted glazed donut serving as the bun, Just the Cook uses marine radio to take orders from nearby boaters and boxes everything up for pickup. Boaters cruise over and dock up to collect their meals. The end of the day isn't the end of business either. Just the Cook has a dockside boat slip for serving land lubbers as well. Look for other food boats in other states too.

Hybrid desserts-  You would have to be on another planet to not have heard about the Cronut craze a year or so ago. Combining two different food ideas into one unique dish is alive and well all over. In Chicago Waffles Cafe is serving up the "WoNut." Rich batter starts on a waffle iron to set the shape, then finishes cooking in hot oil like a donut, giving the WoNut a crispy exterior, super soft and fluffy interior covered in a sweet glaze. Expect all the usual cake flavors like Red Velvet, with lots of sprinkles and other embellishments. A Toronto, Canada French bakery is changing up the Cronut with the "Crookie"- part croissant, part Oreo cookie, and all delicious. Fans are snapping them up like crazy. Los Angeleans can get a late night dose of sweetness at AfterHours, a bakery and ice cream shop serving up the "MilkyBun"- a light and fluffy fried donut and ice cream sandwich. Gourmet ice cream flavors make it extra special.

Edible serving ware- This ideas is a little lost on me. Cambridge MA Harvard professor David Edwards has invented the WikiPearl as a way to serve food in edible shells. Oddly enough, the edible packaging comes packaged in PACKAGES. Seems to me that alone erases the novelty and uniqueness of this product. Maybe when edible cups and spoons becomes more mainstream......

Photo courtesy of WikiPedia
Shipping container restaurants- Montreal restauranteur Daniel Noiseau transforms old shipping containers into MuvBoxes- moveable kitchens. Watching these restaurant boxes open and set up for business everyday was fascinating. The sides fold down and form the dining areas with pop up and add on seating. Many are totally off-grid. They have the look of a food truck in many ways but with a sense of permanency at the same time. What really appealed to me is the open kitchen design, lots of windows and a very contemporary, urban look. Sleek and modern. I could definitely see myself owning and operating one of these.

3D Printed food- Using edible "inks" to create intricate food designs engineers have designed giant printers to create edible items. Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman is one baker who has embraced this new technology. Common in European countries, in the US the trend seems to focus on sugar use and baking/candy making. Kyle Von Hasseln and Elizabeth Von Hasseln owners of Sugar Labs create amazing cake toppers using the ChefJet Pro for other bakers, including Chef Duff at his Charm City Cakes West shop. We got to see a printer working on a cake topper Sugar Labs was creating for Chef Duff- seeing the finished piece emerge from the machine was amazing. 

Craft beer trends- What is icy cold and swirls like DQ ice cream? Frozen beer, of course. This Japanese craze hit MLB stadiums in the US and took off.  Frozen beer foams tops a chilled beer- looks like a beer float. Imbibers swear it keeps the beer cold longer and since it's frozen beer, it doesn't water down the drink. In Atlanta, Ari Fliescher's company Frozen Pints creates craft beer ice creams. Claimed to be the result of an accidental spill Frozen Pints has created 7 flavors to date. Since they use real beer in every ice cream there is 1-3% alcohol in finished ice cream. 

Food ATMs- In Chicago you can grab a healthy lunch on the run from a vending machine- no kidding- salad vending machines. Farmers Fridge packs fresh and healthy ingredients into jars with extra attention paid to organic and local ingredients. Antioxidant Salad, Detox Salad, The Cheater and Crunchy Thai salad are just a few offerings. West Hollywood boasts Burrito Box machines, fresh-steamed to order.  Beverly Hills Caviar is a caviar vending machine $5-$500. And of course, we cannot forget the one that started it all- the Sprinkles Cupcake Bakery ATM. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Kicked Up Home Cooking- Flat iron steak gets boozy

Sorry, more braising.  Actually, I am not really sorry. Since my recent reintroduction to braising I just cannot stop. Better not stand around my kitchen too long- you're going to end up in a pot with garlic, onions, mushrooms and a liquor of some sort!

I had quite a giggle over a recent post on Wini Moranville's blog Chez Bonne Femme. She prepared this recipe from Molly Stevens' cookbook All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking using flat iron steaks but mentioned the old standards of my childhood- top round steak and cubed steak. I remember my mother laboring over the cutting board, pounding the life out of round steak and then cooking it for hours. Sometimes it turned out tender, but most of the time it was just dry and chewy. I can't remember the last time I have seen one of those big platter-sized round steaks in the meat department. I don't really miss them. Flat iron steaks are the new kid in town and I'm going to give this recipe a try myself. The pictures on Wini's blog are mouth watering and the ingredients have everything I love- butter, onion, herbs, mushrooms and a splash of sherry. Boozy braising is right up my alley! Here is the recipe from Chez Bonne Femme-

Smothered Flat-iron Steaks with Mushrooms and Onions

Serves 4

4 3/4 to 1 inch thick boneless flat-iron steaks (you might have to cut 2 large steaks into 4 portions)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound cremini or baby bella mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 large yellow onion (about 3/4 lb), sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

Using a meat mallet (or the bottom of a heavy saucepan), pound the steaks one at a time between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap until about 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the steaks with flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the olive oil in a braiser over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook the meat, turning as needed, until nicely browned on both sides, but not cooked through, about 8 minutes total. Remove the steaks from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the braiser, and when it is melted, add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until the liquid they release has mostly evaporated and they've started to brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.

Return the braiser to the heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter; when the butter has melted, add the onions, thyme, and paprika; lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add the sherry; bring to a boil while stirring to loosen the browned bits clinging the the bottom of the pan.

Reduce the heat to simmering; return the mushrooms and their juices to the pan and stir to combine. Tuck the steaks and any juices into the mushroom-onion mixture, covering the steaks with some of the mushrooms and onions. Cover the pan and allow to simmer. After a few minutes, make sure that the liquid is at a gentle simmer and adjust the heat as needed. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the steaks are fork tender.

Transfer the steaks to a serving platter, but leave the mushrooms and onions in the pan. Increase the heat to a boil and allow the liquid to reduce to a sauce-like consistency. Season to taste, then spoon the sauce over the steaks. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Doesn't this sound absolutely delicious? So I am going to make it. Of course, that means a Foodie Field Trip to the city to get flat iron steaks and cremini mushrooms. I have cooked with so many different cuts of meat over the years but honestly don't think flat iron steaks have ever been in my kitchen. First time for everything, right? So let's go shopping.......

Back in the kitchen- let's do this! I'm going to start out by prepping my vegetables and have them ready to go. No time for slicing and dicing later when a hot pan is waiting on you, so slicing the onion......

pounding the steaks, seasoning, dredging and all that good stuff.......

and now we are ready to heat our pan. I will be using a Dutch oven because I don't have a braiser pan yet but it will work great in this recipe. The first step is heating the oil and browning the steaks. A nice sear is all you need, you don't want to cook them completely at this stage. Remove to a plate and set aside. I use the upside down lid of my Dutch oven- saves a dish to wash later.

Onions come next and smell oh so good when they're cooking. Look at all that delicious fond building up on the bottom of the pot.

Mushrooms- out here in the country the only thing available was plain old white button mushrooms, but they work just fine. Slice them thickly for a heartier bite. Add the sherry to the pot and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom- those are the tastiest bits in the world and make the best sauce.

Make a cozy little spot in the onions to nestle the steaks for braising. I added 2 cups of beef stock to the pot so we would have lots of leftover pan juices. Cover and let the magic happen.

In just about an hour, you have a pot full of amazing.

I roasted some parsnips and carrots since I had the oven on (warming the house on this cold day) and even managed to slip a dessert in there to bake. The Chef was suitably impressed with this French-style dinner. We had plenty of the delicious beefy juices left over, I chopped up the remaining roasted veggies and tomorrow we'll be recycling that delicious pot into some lovely vegetable soup.

Remember, to get your own copy of Wini's wonderful cookbooks, click HERE

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kitchen 101- Gravy and Sauces

The Chef and I are putting our heads together to come up with what we think are some of the basic skills every cook should master. Not everyone needs to make flawless puff pastry or be able to sear foie gras like a master chef, but making some of the basics should be a priority for everyone who enjoys cooking and loves good food. Where to start? How about an everyday basic like making gravies and sauces? Grocery stores have made it too easy to cheat- with jarred gravy and mixes for every kind of sauce you can think of, many people just don't know how to make them from scratch anymore. We hope to change this. So let's start with a very basic form of thickening- roux.

What is a roux anyway? Quite simply- the easiest way to thicken a liquid. If you were forced to endure Home Economics as a junior high kid (like I was) you might have learned to make white sauce. Thin, medium and thick- each had a specific use and a different amount of butter and flour to thicken it. That, my friends, is roux. Melted butter or fat and flour, in equal parts, with milk or broth, makes your sauce or gravy.

Let's talk about white sauce, or Bechamel sauce, for a few minutes. I mentioned the three types of white sauce- thin, medium and thick. They are all made from the same basic technique- melt the fat, add the flour, cook out the raw flavor, add the milk. Bring to a boil and simmer. Thin white sauce is typically what you would want if you are adding cheese to the sauce. Medium white sauce is the Bechamel most of us are familiar with. Thick white sauce isn't as common as it once was. People don't make croquettes and dishes like that as much as in years past. 

Thin white sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Medium white sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Thick white sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Seems simple enough right? It is!! White sauce is so easy to dress up- a little bit of grainy mustard, some shredded cheese, chopped herbs, sauteed mushrooms or caramelized onions.

Now, what does cornstarch have to do with sauce? For people who prefer not to use wheat products cornstarch is the perfect option. Like roux, the cornstarch mixture used for thickening is called a slurry. For each one cup of liquid, you will need one tablespoon of cornstarch and one tablespoon cold water. Bring your sauce mixture to boil, then whisk in the slurry. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.

Yet another way to make an easy and delicious sauce is to make a reduction. A reduction can be made from almost any liquid- broth or stock, wine, juice. You can't get any easier than a reduction either- simply add your liquid to a heavy saucepan or skillet and boil gently to evaporate the liquid until you have a thick, glossy and luxe reduced liquid. You can add herbs or seasonings and strain them out before using. Red wine and port wine make incredible reductions and are a beautiful sauce for a perfectly cooked steak. Reduced fruit juices are awesome as syrups and flavorings, as well as meat glazes. Like sauces, reductions can be perked up with minced garlic or shallots, a shake or two of spice and some citrus zest.

With those basic sauce skills under your belt, you can dress up the simplest dishes. Have fun and experiment!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Experimenting with fermentation and Asian flavors- Kimchi

It's time to make some kimchi. It really is. With all the culinary exploration we've been doing at The Little Lake House I have regrettably forgotten this Korean flavor powerhouse. Many times I've said "I need to grab some kimchi" or "I have all these jars, I should make some kimchi." Well now that time has come- I AM going to make some kimchi. 

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have never tried Korean food. No reason why, just never have. One of my very best friends, Andi, is Korean and makes kimchi, so she is going to be my kimchi mentor. Andi and I have awesome food conversations. Her recipe for tomato jam changed my life. We can spend an entire day going back and forth with recipes, things we saw at the grocery store, food blogs we've read, and what we're having for lunch. So Andi will be offering her expertise as I start this project, and her thoughts on the finished product.

Cutting the scallions into little bitty matchsticks was a bit
time consuming but worth it for a beautiful batch of kimchi.
Asian foods rely heavily on vegetables- for flavor, for texture- and freshness is critical. As a fermented food, kimchi needs to be made from the absolute freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. Napa cabbage is one of my very favorite vegetables. I've made many delicious stir fried dishes and even egg rolls with it. I love spicy foods so this will be right up my alley with the Korean red pepper. Fresh ginger, garlic, scallions and carrots will also be in this party. Fairly simple ingredients and a short fermentation period will bring everything together, and I'll be enjoying fresh homemade kimchi before long!

You will need-
  • 1 head Napa cabbage       
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
Remove the ugly outer leaved of the cabbages. Cut them in half lengthwise, slice into 2 inch slices. Using a large bowl or stockpot, layer the cabbage with the sea salt. Cover with a towel and let rest for about an hour, mixing up the cabbage every once in a while, using your hands to squeeze the cabbage a bit, to release the liquid.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Pack the kimchi into a large jar or crock (those half gallon canning jars are great for this, but one large crock or bucket will do in a pinch). There should be enough liquid to completely cover the vegetables.

Place the lids loosely on the jars (or cover crock with a towel if you don't have a lid) and set the jars on a baking sheet in case of overflows. Allow the kimchi to ferment for 5 days, mixing and packing the cabbage down several times, then store in refrigerator. If you used a crock, pack the kimchi in quart jars.

This smells soooo amazing right now.
*NOTE- If you find that the cabbage hasn't quite given off enough liquid to adequately cover the vegetables, and you MUST keep them submerged in brine during the entire fermentation process, you can make some additional brine to top it off. Combine 2 cups water with 2 tablespoons sea salt and stir to dissolve the salt completely. 

Three pints of spicy, crunchy kimchi
Now that I've got some kimchi going, I can plan some recipes and dishes to use it in. For sure I will be making mandu, a Korean dumpling, and lots of other delicious things. I'll be looking to Andi and anyone else who loves Korean food, for some great ideas.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lake House Big Bad Fried Chicken Salad

Do you ever feel like you just cannot get enough vegetables into your diet? I know I do, and many times I will turn to a big entree salad to add some fiber and wholesome goodies to my diet. Make no mistake, I don't always keep it uber-healthy, like tonight- we're making a big bad salad with some really naughty add-ins, but that's not always the case. Remember, this is a whole meal salad, so we need some substance.

I get my salad mix from a nearby aquaponics farm not from the supermarket. You just cannot compare this to grocery store salad mix- not at all. Beautiful leaf lettuces, malabar spinach, rainbow chard, kale, nasturtium leaves and fresh basil bring so much flavor to the bowl. I sometimes add a little Romaine lettuce for some juicy crunch, and Romaine is nutritionally superior to iceberg lettuce. 

Look at all the goodness- the beautiful rainbow chard, and
that big beautiful nasturtium leaf- so delicious!
I absolutely loved the Lake House Steakhouse Salad I made a while back, so I am going to borrow an ideas from that salad- the fried onion strings. They were the perfect blend of crispy and sweet and made a fun and delicious topping. So we're going to go there again. Click HERE for the recipe for the easy onion strings and salad recipe- you'll want to try it if you haven't yet.

I'm borrowing the onion ring idea but changing up a lot of everything else. Instead of steak I'm thinking some good old fried chicken- like a couple chicken breasts, crunchy stuff and all, cut off the bone and cut up, shredded cheese, the last of our fresh home-grown tomatoes, might scope out the remains of the garden and see if I have any baby zucchini to add, and instead of just hard boiled eggs, how about a few deviled eggs instead? This is going to be big, delicious and not 100% healthy, but that's ok. I'm also going to cheat just a little bit by using a store-bought salad dressing but adding my own touches and kicking up the spice a bit- more like something we always eat around here.

Little Lake House Big Bad Fried Chicken Salad

8-10 cups mixed salad greens
1 cup shredded cheese (I used ColbyJack)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (or chopped larger tomatoes)
3 deli or leftover fried chicken breasts, removed from bone and cut up
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
mayo, yellow mustard, salt and pepper
additional fresh salad veggies of choice, olives, etc
Salad dressing of choice* (spicy ranch or honey mustard are really good)
One recipe onion strings

Begin by cutting the hard boiled eggs in half. Flip the yolks into a small bowl, reserve the whites on a plate. Mash the yolks with a fork, add mayo, yellow mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and stuff mixture back into egg whites. Chill.

Place the salad greens in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, shredded cheese, any other fresh veggies you are using, and the chicken. Toss together well. 

You can use leftover fried chicken breasts or breaded fried
chicken tenders- they work great too and no bones to mess with
 Drizzle the dressing of choice over the salad, toss well to coat all the pieces. Pile a large serving amount on each dinner plate. Add a couple deviled egg halves to each plate. Top salads with a big handful of the onion strings. Go crazy!!!

*Note- For the dressing I used about a cup of store-bought ranch dressing and dressed it up. Chopped fresh chives, chopped candied (or pickled if desired) jalapenos, a splash of the candied jalapeno juice (or milk)- just a splash- just to loosen it up a little but not to water it down. Lots of freshly cracked black pepper adds a final touch.

Now you might not be a big fan of salads as an entree. I happen to LOVE salad meals. The nutrition from all the fresh vegetables is so many times better than a burger, all the fiber, antioxidants from the colorful veggies. Salads can be good AND bad depending on what you add to them. In this case I've added some not-so-healthy additions like the fried chicken, cheese, deviled eggs, but hey, we don't always add all this stuff to salads so it's all about moderation....and FUN- we want food to be fun, and something you enjoy, not something you feel shameful about eating. That whole "guilt-free food" thing- infuriates me. Yes, there are a few naughty treats in this bowl but it's also filled with wonderful things- like that amazing superfood kale, fresh tomatoes that came from the garden (no chemicals), that aquaponic salad mix with spinach and chard (all organic), lean protein from the egg white- also organic eggs from the same farm (the yolk is a treat). Yes, I kinda threw it over the fence with the dressing, but I wanted something creamy for a change so....... once in a while won't kill me. Eating is about finding balance, so I'm going to balance this plate on my knee and enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Hour- Viniq

You can immediately tell when a new liquor comes on the market and it's marketed to women. It's always pretty, in an elegant bottle, flowery or fruity and usually light on the alcohol. The Chef and I recently stopped in a little shop we had never been in before and had a little look around. The selection was impressive, lots of different vodkas, a fairly good wine selection and a walk-in beer vault with a really nice selection of brews.

Don't try putting out a fire with THIS bottle!!
Trying to pick out a new and different cocktail was a real challenge when faced with thirty or so flavored vodkas. I'm not kidding. They had flavors of Absolut I never knew existed! Between the shelf after shelf of vodka, rum and wine I was like a kid in a candy store.

Hibiscus?? Grape and dragonfruit? I die !!!

Cherry, cranberry, acai and peach- fruit cocktail cocktail?
I took my time, considering all the options on the shelves and finally decided. I thought I was ready to go and went to collect The Chef from where he was browsing and something caught my eye. Literally just a flash of purple and I had to take a second look. Sitting on the counter was this tall, slim bottle filled with a mysterious purple liquor. I picked it up to read what it said and IT MOVED! The entire contents of that bottle instantly came alive with floating, sparkling glitter. I knew right then and there I was taking that home with me.

I would be doing you a serious disservice by showing you a picture of this bottle without you being able to see the glittery shimmer. You MUST go to the website and see it for yourself. Click HERE to see the amazing glittering bottle.

Now, let's talk about the drink. It is premium vodka, moscato and fruit. It makes a striking shot in a cute stemmed shotglass (which is how I drank mine) but would make a BEAUTIFUL martini or cocktail. I wish I had a cabinet full of mixers- I want to try this in lots of concoctions. It's 40 proof but it seems a lot stronger as a shot. It's very very fruity and is very "perfumey"- just the sort of thing I can see a bunch of girlfriends mixing up in a cocktail shaker on a Girls Night In. I couldn't really pick out any individual fruit notes but it has a very tropical flavor, maybe passionfruit or mango flavors hanging out in there. With alllll that beautiful glitter.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rockin' the Cajun- Making Gumbo

Funny thing happened in our little small town grocery store- they had andouille sausage. I don't know about you guys but andouille to me means Creole, and you don't get much more Creole than a good ol' gumbo. The classic New Orleans favorite has influences from French, Spanish, native tribes, and African cooking. Canary Islanders bring the hot and spicy flavors to Creole cooking. Gumbo has been around since the early 1800s, if not earlier. Many old cookbooks from around 1800 have versions of gumbo with different meats- seafood to waterfowl to alligator- and seafood, okra and all kinds of spices. File powder is an option ingredient, which surprised me. I thought that was a must have, and amazingly enough is not part of my bookshelf of spice collection.

I have a game plan worked out for this dish already. Brown the sausage ahead of time. Cook the chicken breast and cut it up, also ahead of time. Get that Holy Trinity sauteed and softened and ready to add to the roux. 

I like to prep as much as I can ahead of time. Vegetables all
chopped and waiting, meats cut up and ready to brown.
I don't have any okra, so we'll be skipping that. I'm not a big fan anyway. It's a little slimy for my taste. I don't think I could find it around here right now anyway. I'm going to wing it a little bit- borrow some bits and pieces from friends' advice and recipes and make my own version, so bear with me and let's make some gumbo!

You could also use kielbasa but andouille has a spicier bite
To make this spicy gumbo, you will need-
  • 1 package (1 lb) boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 lb andouille sausage
  • salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning
  • cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or dash or two of pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 pound shrimp
  • hot cooked rice
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning (I just use a store bought blend). Brown in a little cooking oil. Just brown the chicken well, and remove to a bowl. Cut the Andouille into slices or half slices. Brown in the Dutch oven until it gets a nice golden crust. Remove to bowl with chicken. 

Add a little more oil to pot, add onion, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned. Add garlic. Cook and stir a couple more minutes. Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook and whisk until the roux is nice and brown, about 15 minutes.  

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, pepper or pepper sauce and meat. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through. Add the fresh herbs and shrimp. Cook until shrimp are cooked, just a few minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice in shallow bowls.

That cute little mound didn't last long- mix it up and eat!
I didn't waste time with the pretty, perfect bowl. I mixed it all together and hit it with a couple of dashes of Marie Sharp's Comatose Heat hot sauce, which is NOT for the faint of heart. The vegetables still had the teeniest bit of crunch to them- which I love- and the chicken was tender and perfect. The shrimp would have been better off saved for another dish. I honestly thought they were a little lost in there with all the big flavors. I would make it without shrimp the next time. The andouille was so so good- spicy but not overly so. 

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those dishes that improves when you reheat it- as the flavors have a chance to hang out in the pot for a while, kind of like chili. It's always better the next day.