Sunday, September 21, 2014

Game Day Gumbo

Gumbo traditionally uses andouille sausage. I use kielbasa, however, as it is easier for me to find in the store. Use whatever you prefer. What's great about this gumbo, which is adapted from a recipe found at Food & Wine, is that it uses only a small amount of flour in the roux; so many gumbo recipes call for a whole cup. Finally, if you have a Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven, use it for this recipe - it works great!

Gumbo is typically served over rice. While the gumbo is cooking, make four servings of your favorite rice. When you are ready to serve, put some in each bowl and pour the prepared gumbo over the rice.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Ingredients for the Gumbo

3 Tbs. canola oil
3 Tbs. all purpose flour
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 package frozen okra pieces
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 pound kielbasa, cut into bite-sized pieces (first cut the sausage in half along its length, the cut the halves into smaller pieces)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 cups chicken stock


In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium setting. Add the flour and whisk together. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The flour will start to brown. Add the pepper, onion and celery cook over medium low for about 6 - 8 minutes until the veggies begin softening. To the pot add the okra, cayenne, pepper, salt, oregano, thyme and bay leaf, then cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and kielbasa and bring to a boil. Lower the heat sufficiently so the gumbo holds a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Finally, add the chicken and cook until done, about 5 minutes.

Make the rice, take the bay leaf out of the gumbo, and you are ready to serve!


Meatballs! Having meatballs in the freezer means that there is always something available to eat. I like this easy recipe. Baking the meatballs on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet allows any fat to drip off and away.


1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage
1/4 c milk
1/3 c Betty Crocker Potato Buds
1 large egg
1 Tbs Worcestershire
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over the foil lined cookie sheet. Spritz the cooling rack with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the potato buds, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and Worcestershire. In a large bowl, combine the beef and sausage. Add to the meat the remaining ingredients and combine together thoroughly.

Lightly shape the mixture into 1-1/4" balls and set the on the rack. Try to keep the meatballs the same size so that they bake evenly.

Bake until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, about 20 minutes, but be sure to check with a thermometer.


Flax Bread

I try to minimize the about of flour I eat: white, wheat, rye, all of it.  For the most part this has been easy. However, it has been challenging at breakfast.  Fortunately, I came across a terrific recipe for flax bread and that has solved the breakfast problem. The recipe is adapted from Laura Dolson at

2 cups organic golden flaxseed meal
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 beaten eggs
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Oil a 9 x 9 pan and line with parchment.

Toast the sesame seeds in a small fry pan over medium low heat.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and top with toasted sesame seeds. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes.

When the bread is done, allow to cool in the pan for five minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on a rack.

Paella for Two

I made paella for the first time yesterday. It tasted great and was fun to make. Although describing the number of steps involved in preparing paella make it sound laborious, it was actually easy to do. Give it a try! Serving it with some Spanish cava makes the dinner even more festive.

1 pinch saffron threads (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
1 medium onion
1 ripe tomato
2 garlic cloves
16 fresh mussels
olive oil
1 cup long grain rice
3 cups hot chicken stock
A cup of water for deglazing the pan, as needed
8 good-sized shrimp
Pitted kalamata olives
Lemon wedges and parsley for garnish


At least one hour before you start cooking, sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with paprika and oregano leaf.  Scrub and clean the mussels. Peel and clean the shrimp.

Heat a small fry pan over medium/medium low. Toast the saffron in the pan for a minute or two. Off the heat, crush the saffron in the pan using the back of a spoon. Soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water.

Cut the chicken int 1/2 inch cubes or little-finger sized strips.

Cut the onion in half around its center. Grate the onion through the largest holes of a box grater. Cut the tomato around its center and grate the halves all the way down to the skin.

In a 12-inch fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium. Add the chicken and saute for a minute or two, until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate.

Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.

Over medium-low heat, saute the grated onion for about 4 minutes.

Add tomato, garlic, pinch of salt and pinch of paprika. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until dark, red and thick. Deglaze the pan as needed.

Add the rice, increase the heat to medium, and stir constantly for 1 - 2 minutes. Spread the rice evenly around the pan.

Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of hot chicken stock and the saffron with its soaking water. No more stirring after this point.

Bring to a boil and simmer vigorously for 8 minutes, and the rice appears at the level of the broth.

Add the mussels and last 1/2 cup stock. Lower heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and chicken and  simmer another 5 minutes.

Cover the pan if necessary to cook the shrimp.

Remove from heat. Add some kalamata olives. Cover the pan with a dish towel and let the dish rest 5 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and lemon wedges. To serve, set the pan on the center of the table and enjoy!