Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Orleans Gumbo

This new challenge from the daring cooks, which I've finished two weeks ago, wasn't posted yet. The reason? Everything in my flowering garden is rebuilded. And the last two weeks that's where you could find me from morning till the afternoon. Never had a skin that was in the end of may this teinted. And that's why I didn't blog yet. But the good news is, it's almost finished. Monday the grass is going to put in the garden and that's the last big project.
But offcourse that's not everything, the fruittrees got new companions: Cranberry bushes have been planted. And after finishing the flowering garden, the herb garden is on the roll.
But first I'll blog the challenge. The challenge was given by Denise from the blog ther's a newf in my soup. She loves gumbo. Gumbo is a traditional recipe of New Orleans. The challenge was to prepare it. And it was a challenge. Okra isn't available in my country in May, neither is andouille sausage or file powder. But linked at the challenge is a forum where you can place you're questions. The Andouille sausage can be replaced by Chorizo, the okra with zucchini and you don't have to put in the file powder, because it is for thickening the sauce.
And then I challenged the recipe. You need a few hours to make it, but it is managable. 
Did we like it? It was ok, but to repeat the recipe? Maybe for a bunch of people (the quantities are large).  And I wouldn't take a whole chicken, but allready cutted pieces.
The louisiana rice was super. That is something we are going to make more in the future.
The chickenstock I've used, I'm going to write it in the blog in a couple of days.
Thank you Denise for the challenge. And going on to the next one.

Below the recipes.

Drew's chicken and smoked sausage gumbo:
Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. Serves 10-12

- 1 cup (240 mL) canola oil;
- 1 cup (140 gram) flour;
- 2 large onions, diced;
- 1 chicken about 4 pounds (2 kilogram), cut into 10 pieces;
- 2 tablespoons basic creole spices (recipe follows);
- 2 pounds (1 kilogram) spice smoked sausage, sliced 1/2 inch (15 mm) thick;
- 2 stalks celery, diced;
- 2 red peppers, seeded and diced;
- 1 tomato, seeded and chopped;
- 2 cloves garlic, minced;
- leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme;
- 3 quarts (3 liters) basic chicken stock;
- 2 bay leaves;
- 6 ounces (175 gram) chorizo, chopped;
- 1 zucchini,  sliced 1/2 inch (15 mm) thick slices;
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce;
- salt, pepper and tabasco to taste.

Basic Creole Spices:
- 2 tablespoons celery salt;
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika;
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt;
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper;
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder;
- 1 tablespoon onion powder;
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper;
- 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice.

Prepare homemade basic Creole Spices. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
Make sure all of our vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.
In a large pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil - it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and coninue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.
Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the rous. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring untill the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken to the pot, raie the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute. Add the celery, peppers, tomato and garilic and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
Add the thyme, chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes. Sir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
Add the chopped chorixo, zucchini and Worcestershire. Season with salt, pepper and tabasco, all to taste.
Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

Louisiana white rice:

- 1 tablespoon olive oil;
- 1 small onion, minced;
- 1 1/2 cup (360 mL) white rice;
- 3 cups chicken stock;
- 1 bay leaf;
- 1-2 pinches of salt.

Put the oil in a saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until the are translucant (about 5 minutes).
Pour the rice into the pan and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add the bay leaf and salt. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from het heat, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spicy cucumber salad

My husband is a photographer and got it's own studio, behind our house. On thursdays the studio is open for public. So the dinner has to be quick and easy. No garlic of cours (because of the customers). Today I've planned nasi. A quick dish with rice and meat, but in my opinion there could be more vegetables on my table to go with that. The childeren are not very easy when I mention the word salad, but love a bowl with cucumber (which of course is all right to).
But I think it is a bit boring to ate just cucumber like that.
I do like cucumbers and therefore I made up a spicy cucumber salad. Because cucumbers contain a lot of liquid, I've split the cucumber and spooned the seeds out. 
We loved the salad, but the next time I make it I'm going to be carefull with the coriander. It's got a very specific taste, which makes it a predominant flavor

- 2 cucumbers
- small bunch of coriander;
- 1 peper, unseeded and chopped;
- 1/2 cup (75 gram) unsalted cashewnuts, chopped;

- 1 tablespoon chinese wine vinegar;
- 1 tablespoon olive oil;
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar;
- 1 red onion, chopped.

Split the cucumbers and spoon the seeds out. Cut in half moons which are about 0,2 inch (0.5 cm) thick.
Mix in another bowl the oil, sugar and chinese wine vinagar. Keep stiring until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the oil/vinegar mixture on the cucumber. Add the peper and the onion. Mix the salad very well and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to optimize the flavours.

Just before serving dinner add the cashewnuts and the coriander leaves to the salad.Serve immediately to keep everytbing fresh.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Strawberries, meadow and cutting garden

I haven't blogged for a while. But lots of things happened outside the house and there was a lot of work to be done. I just haven't touched the computer for a few weeks. That's what you get with a huge project. 
What happened then? The cutting garden in my backyard is turned upside down. We had a huge lawn, which was growing to all sides because it had nothing there to stop it.. And because of my back problems the bending was not ideal. We got the border at knee height and all my seedlings (which were growing since januari), can get in the ground. That is if we can find our irrigation pipe. When they were moving the sand we forgot to put a stick with one pipe (not very smart, I know), Now we think we know where it should have been (in the middle of my border), but we still haven't found it. I can't plant anything there yet.
Also my fruittrees are arrived. They are half stem fruittrees, but they have to grow to this height. In total I've planted five appletrees, 2 plumtrees, 2 hazelnut bushes, 1 pear, six raspberries (three species to enjoy the whole season) and 9 roses (for rosehips). In the fruityard the cranberry bushes are not yet deliverd and there also two raspberries where I'm patiently waiting for (ahum).
The grass is growing and not very hard because of the drought which we have in the Netherlands.
I'll put a picture soon of this two projects.
But there is more good news: my strawberrie plants have arrived. 100 plants in total, 7 different species (Lambada, Korona, Mara des Bois, Honeoye, Polka, Elsanta and Malwina).
De Lambada, Elsanta, Honeoye and Malwina have their fruit early in season. The Korona and Polka have fruit in the middle of the season. Mara des Bois covers the whole season (continuous fruit) and Malwina gives (extremely) late in the season).
This season I'm not expecting to much of strawberry yield, but the Fragaria Mara des Bois gives already flowers.
The strawberries are hidden under a blue net. I've read that birds can see the color blue very well (and I want them to not touch my strawberries, but I don't want them death).
Also I've found an English habit on the internet. In the Netherlands we use straw under the strawberry plants to keep the strawberries of the ground. But I've found out that I can't see all the fruit and that the straw can be moist. Therefor I loose good fruit. In England they use strawberry mats underneath plants. They are not for sale in the Netherlands, but on internet the environmental friendly strawberry mats were made of hennep mats. These turn into compost in about two years. Hennep mats are sold here, so I bought it (they are not in the pictures). So I've expect in one afternoon cutting hennep the job is finished and my strawberries are safe, clean and dry. Nothing tastes better than strawberries from you're own garden, so I can't wait for that to happen.