Recipes

Gumbo ya ya

It’s Spring in Australia and already I can feel more warmth in the sun’s rays and we’ve been getting some lovely sunshine. In Melbourne we get a long grey drizzly winter, so it’s very welcome. But it’s still not quite there yet, and on a cooler day like today, a warm spicy stew is the way to end the day (and a good way to start the week too).

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that okra is in season right now. It’s not a particularly common vegetable here, and most supermarkets and greengrocers don’t carry it. But it’s a useful vegetable to have around if you want to cook gumbo, the Cajun stew from Louisiana in the USA’s Deep South. When it is sliced up, it exudes a sticky sap-like substance which is cooked away, and it thickens up the gumbo nicely.

I originally found this recipe in Bon Appétit magazine, which I subscribed to for years when I lived in California. It’s not on the Epicurious website, though, so I’m glad I kept this issue.

Gumbo is a dish that takes a while to set up, but then it happily simmers away for a couple of hours while you do other things, like bake cupcakes for your daughter to take to school. It’s a little spicy, so maybe not the most kid-friendly, but it sure is tasty! Serve it over rice.

Chicken and Chorizo Gumbo

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit, November 1992.

Serves 8

12 cups water
1 chicken cut into 4-6 pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
500g okra, sliced
1/2 cup plain flour
500g chorizo sausage, cut into 2cm thick slices
2 400g cans diced tomatoes and their juices
1 green capsicum (pepper), chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cayenne pepper
large pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp filé powder

Combine water and chicken in a stock pot or large saucepan and simmer for an hour or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken pieces to a bowl and cool. Once cool, discard skin and remove meat from bones. Reserve 4 cups of the chicken stock.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat and cook okra, stirring frequently, until it’s no longer sticky, about 15-20 minutes.

Make a roux by heating the flour and remaining oil in heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently until the roux is a deep golden colour. It should take about 10 minutes.

Add the reserved chicken stock, okra, sausage, tomatoes, capsicum, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered for 1.5 hours until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Spoon off fat from the surface and then add chicken and filé powder, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Notes:

1. I’ve used chorizo sausage as andouille sausage is not available in Australia. Kielbasa or another spicy smoked sausage could also be used.

2. Making the roux is an important step, so don’t rush it. Keep it moving as it starts to colour so that it doesn’t burn.

3. Filé powder is made from ground sassafrass leaves and can be found at some specialty spice shops. It’s not essential, but it helps thicken the gumbo and adds a delicate flavour.

Advertisements
Beads, Recipes

¡Hola! Mexico! The Challenge of Travel

From one blog hop, straight into another … if you are looking for my Bead Soup Blog Hop post it’s here.

I’ve done a bit of travelling in my time. Family relocations from Australia to the USA and back again when I was a child, camping trips, road trips across Australia to visit relatives and then my own relocation to the US in 1990 and back to Australia 11 years later, but not before a three month road trip around the States! I’ve been to a fair few countries in Europe, a couple of tropical paradises in SE Asia and I’ve seen quite a bit of my own country too.

So when Erin Prais-Hintz announced the Challenge of Travel, I signed up very quickly!

In Erin’s words …

… travel with us around the world from the comfort of your own home. In this challenge you will be tasked with creating an accessory that captures the spirit of the nation that you are assigned.
Whatever your inspiration… the climate, the landscape, the colors on a topographical map, the way the people dress or what they eat, the architecture of the cities or the natural landmarks… I challenge you to be inspired by travel this month!

The first part of the challenge was to choose the country. The rules were to choose a geographical region (not your own) and a country, or have one assigned to you. I chose Mexico, the southernmost of the three countries of North America.

I’ve always been fascinated by Mexico, its culture and its cuisine. I remember a few things from my first trip to Mexico, at the tender age of 5 … the powerful smells of Mexico City, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, my Mum getting a dose of Montezuma’s revenge, flashes of climbing pyramid-shaped Aztec temple ruins and going to the Floating Markets … that may or may not come from photographs in my parents’ photo albums. But sadly, despite 11 years of living in the US as an adult, I managed to visit Mexico exactly once, to go scuba diving in Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While there we managed to visit Tulum, a fascinating Mayan ruin in a picturesque location on the Yucatán coast.

The seaside view of El Castillo at Tulum
photo credit: CasaDeQueso via photo pin cc

Mexico has some fascinating traditions that draw on both its ancient Mayan, Olmec and Aztec civilisations and the more recent Spanish-Catholic influence. One of my favourites is Día de las Muertos—the Day of the Dead—which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the same time as the Catholic Church’s All Saints and All Souls Days. Derived from an Aztec festival, it’s a time to celebrate and pray for friends and family members who have died, with visits to their graves to be with the departed souls. Traditions include building altars to the deceased that are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds as well as the favourite foods and drinks of the dear departed.

photo credit: uteart_traveling via photo pin cc

A common symbol of the holiday is the calavera, or skull, and the calaca, or skeleton, which are often used as decorations for the Day of the Dead festival, as masks or costumes, small figures and sweet treats, or sugar skulls.

photo credit: digiyesica via photo pin cc

I have a couple of sugar skull pendants made by Australian ceramic artist, Natalie Fletcher. And recently she came up with some fantastic beads in bright colours that matched the colours used to decorate her sugar skull pendants.

I used black waxed linen cord to create some pretty czech glass dangles below the pendant and then knotted the bright ceramic beads above the pendant, along with a couple of silver-plated pewter spacer beads and some little birds. Above the knotted section I created a chain out of silver-plated pewter bone-shaped links and jump rings and finished the necklace off with a sun-shaped toggle. The silver plated components all come from TierraCast’s Viva Mexicana range.

And because this blog is called Beadrecipes, after two of the things I like to do in my spare time, I thought I would finish off with a recipe! So here are some Mexican-inspired fish tacos and skillet potatoes. Now I say inspired by, because tacos are not usually served in flour tortillas, however I could not get soft corn tortillas at our supermarket the day I made these. But the flavours are there!

Fish Tacos with skillet potatoes

Adapted from Masterchef Magazine, issue 24, June 2012

1/2 c plain flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
500g flathead tails
olive oil to shallow fry
guacamole (see recipe below)
shredded lettuce
salsa
sour cream
shredded cheese
Flour or corn tortillas
 
3-4 potatoes
1-2 tsp mexican spice blend
3 Tbsp vegetable oil 

For tacos:

Combine spices and salt with flour on a large plate. Dredge fish in the flour mixture and shake off excess.

Heat 1cm of oil in a frypan over med-high heat.

Cook fish on each side for 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Drain on paper towel.

Heat tortillas in oven or microwave according to package directions.

Assemble tacos: place tortilla on plates, spread some guacamole down centre, flake fish into large pieces and place on top of guacamole. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream as preferred. Fold in half or roll up. Serve with skillet potatoes (recipe follows).

For potatoes:

Cut potatoes into 1.5 cm dice.

Toss with mexican spice blend.

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat in frypan with lid. Add potatoes and cook stirring continuously for 5 minutes.

Add remaining oil and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.

Guacamole

2 avocados
1 lge tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful of chopped coriander
juice of 1-2 limes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
jalapeno chili, chopped (optional) 
 

Mash avocado flesh roughly with a fork

Finely chop tomatoes and add to avocado along with spring onions, coriander, garlic and chili if using.

Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:

1. Substitute flathead tails with any firm white fish, such as snapper.

2. Instead of mexican spice blend, use a combination of 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp salt.

3. This is really quite a loose recipe, adjust to suit the ingredients on hand. Tomatoes are optional in the guacamole, as is the chili, depending on your tastes.

Now sit back with a margarita and enjoy the blog hop!

Monique Urquhart http://ahalfbakednotion.blogspot.ca/ Africa Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers http://silverniknats.blogspot.co.uk/ Africa Egypt
Therese Frank http://www.theresestreasures59.blogspot.com Africa Kenya
Raychelle Heath http://abeadloveaffair.blogspot.com/ Africa Lesotho
Joan Williams www.lilrubyjewelry.wordpress.com Africa Mauritania
Sherri Stokey http://www.KnotJustMacrame.com Africa Senegal
Regina Santerre http://reginaswritings.blogspot.com Africa Seychelles
Raida Disbrow http://havanabeads.blogspot.com Africa Tanzania
Kristi Wodek http://livedinlife.blogspot.com Africa Zimbabwe
Sally Russick http://www.thestudiosublime.com Americas Brazil
Melissa Trudinger ME! https://beadrecipes.wordpress.com Americas Mexico
Tracy Stillman http://www.tracystillmandesigns.com Americas USA
Sandra Wolberg http://city-of-brass-stories.blogspot.de Asia India
Tanya Goodwin http://pixiloo.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Susan Kennedy http://suebeads.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Beth Emery http://storiesbyindigoheart.blogspot.com Asia Japan
Lisa Cone http://inspiredadornments.blogspot.com/ Asia Japan
Tanya Boden http://fusionmusebangkok.blogspot.com/ Asia Japan
Inge von Roos http://ingetraud.wordpress.com Asia Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz http://treasures-found.blogspot.com Asia Nepal
Dee Elgie http://cherryobsidia.blogspot.com Asia Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson http://carolynscreationswa.blogspot.com Asia South Korea
Lisa Stukel http://carefreejewelrybylisa.blogspot.com Asia Sri Lanka
Elly Snare http://themagicsquarefoundation.wordpress.com Asia Thailand
Shelley Graham Turner http://www.shelleygrahamturner.blogspot.com Europe Austria
Mallory Hoffman http://rosebud101-fortheloveofbeads.blogspot.com/ Europe Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim http://www.pmaximdesigns.blogspot.com Europe France
Jenny Davies-Reazor http://www.jdaviesreazor.com/blog Europe Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson http://sharylsjewelry.blogspot.com Europe Greece
Evelyn Shelby http://raindropcreationsbyevelyn.blogspot.com/ Europe Iceland
Holly Westfall http://silverrosedesigns.blogspot.com/ Europe Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag http://www.godsartistinresidence.blogspot.com Europe Ireland
Toltec Jewels http://toltecjewels.blogspot.com Europe Ireland
Lee Koopman http://StregaJewellry.wordpress.com Europe Ireland
Laren Dee Barton http://larendeedesigns.blogspot.com Europe Italy
Cindy Wilson http://www.mommysdreamcreations.blogspot.com Europe Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik http://ModernNatureStudio.blogspot.com Europe Poland
Shaiha Williams http://shaihasramblings.blogspot.com/ Europe Portugal
Jennifer Justman http://soulsfiredesigns.blogspot.com/ Europe Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca http://ladelizchica.blogspot.com Europe Spain
Lola Surwillo http://www.beadlolabead.blogspot.com Europe Sweden
Kim Hora http://www.kimmykats.com Europe Switzerland
Leanne Loftus http://firstimpressiondesign.blogspot.com Europe The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen http://myaddictionshandcrafted.blogspot.com Europe The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll http://labellajoya.blogspot.com Europe Turkey
Marlene Cupo http://amazingdesigns-marlene.blogspot.com Oceania Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle http://jewelsbyine.blogspot.com Oceania Fiji
Tammie Everly http://ttedesigns.blogspot.com/ Oceania Guam
Alice Peterson http://www.alice-dreaming.blogspot.com Oceania Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld http://www.beadsforbusygals.com Oceania Nauru
Susan McClelland http://mistheword12.wordpress.com/ Oceania New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland http://islandgirlsinsights.blogspot.com Oceania New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman http://somebeadsandotherthings.com Oceania New Zeland
Rebecca Anderson http://songbeads.blogspot.com Oceania Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi http://micheladasmusings.blogspot.com/ Oceania Samoa
Kari Asbury http://hippiechickdesign.blogspot.com Oceania Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier http://www.thebeadingyogini.com/ Oceania Tonga
Emma Todd http://www.apolymerpenchant.com Oceania Tuvalu
Debbie Price http://greenshoot.blogspot.com Oceania Vanuatu
Recipes

Quick and spicy dinner

Some nights round here, there isn’t a lot of time, or for that matter, inclination, to cook. It’s good to have a few quick recipes on hand to make an easy meal from ingredients you have on hand.

This recipe is based loosely on the Italian pasta sauce alla Amatriciana—a spicy tomato based sauce flavoured with smoky bacon. But in this version, I have replaced the bacon with chorizo sausage, which amps up the spicy factor a bit more.

The whole dish takes about 20 minutes to throw together, which is perfect when you’re juggling homework, bathtime and bedtime.

Penne with tomato and chorizo sauce

Adapted from The Food I Love, by Neil Perry

Serves 2

1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 chorizo sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced about 0.5cm thick
1 400g can diced tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
200g penne
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Put water on for pasta.

Heat olive oil in a frypan over medium-high heat and fry onion for 2-3 minutes until soft and golden.

Add garlic, dried pepper flakes and chorizo sausage and saute for 3-4 minutes until sausage starts to brown around edges.

Add tomatoes and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta until al dente.

Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Divide into two pasta bowls and add parmesan cheese to taste.

Notes:

1. If the sauce thickens up a bit too much, add a bit of the pasta cooking water to the pan to thin it out.