Friday, February 14, 2020

Comparing Cajun and Creole Gumbos, Our Family Favorite, and a Wine Pairing #SoupSwappers


Here we are at the February 2020 Soup Saturday Swappers event. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and, every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile.

This month, Sue of Palatable Pastime is hosting and writes: Let's help celebrate Mardis Gras (falls on 2.25 this year)  by  posting a favorite gumbo recipe." Here's the line-up of gumbo recipes from the #SoupSwappers...


Comparing Cajun and Creole Gumbos
I'll be honest: the difference between Cajun and Creole has been a mystery to me for years. So, I decided to use this event as a jumping off point. Let's, first, look at who the groups are. Cajuns were French Acadians expelled from what is now Nova Scotia in the 1700s for their Catholic beliefs. Many settled in Acadiana. Isolated by swamps, bayous and prairies, the Cajuns lived off the land and their cuisine is rustic and hearty.

On the other hand, Creoles were originally from Europe and settled in New Orleans. Primarily from wealthy French ans Spanish families, Creoles brought their own chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals. These chefs adapted classic cooking techniques to incorporate unfamiliar ingredients such as crawfish and snapper. Then you add in the culinary influence of the enslaved Africans who also served in these households, the influence of the surrounding Choctaw Indians, and even more European immigrants from Ireland and Germany; and a diverse gumbo emerges.

One chef and native New Orleanian Mark Falgoust reported, “Cajun folks used one chicken to feed three families, Creoles used three chickens to feed one family.”

Gumbo is derived from the word 'gombo' which translates to 'okra' in many West African languages. The earliest recorded recipes for the dish include okra as a main ingredient.

Our Family Favorite: Creole Gumbo

Turns out that I have only ever made Creole Gumbo. And when I gave the Cajun Gumbo a try, two of the four around my table found it too strong. Read about my Cajun Gumbo with Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp + 2018 Maricool Muscadet. Jake and I enjoyed it and found the wine pairing delightfully compatible.

But I'm sharing a Creole recipe today...

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 pounds medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined (shells and heads reserved to make seafood stock)
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into thick coins
  • 1 pound spicy Creole sausage, cut into thick coins
  • 1 pound okra cut into 1" length
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1 T Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T filé powder
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • Also needed: steamed rice for serving

 Procedure
Add the shrimp heads and shells and 2 quarts water to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Cook sausages in a large stockpot until the pieces are nicely browned and much of the fat has been rendered. Remove the sausages and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. In the same pot, add 1 T oil. Add in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and bell peppers. Stir together and cook until the vegetable are softened.

Strain the shrimp stock into the large stockpot. Add in the browned sausages, bay leaves, and diced tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil over medium heat. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and stir the okra into the mixture. Continue cooking the gumbo for 60 minutes. Fold in the shrimp. Cook for 15 minutes longer. 

Remove the gumbo from the heat and stir in the Creole seasoning and filé powder. Let the gumbo rest for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cools, oil should form on the top. Skim the oil off with a ladle and discard. 


Taste the gumbo and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve the gumbo ladled over steamed rice.

And a Wine Pairing

And I am also sharing a wine pairing to go with my Creole gumbo: 2016 L’Amore di Giulietta, a Chardonnay from Italy.


I did buy the wine for the label, but it ended up being the perfect match with this gumbo. It poured a light straw color with flecks of gold. On the nose, it was fruity, almost tropical with notes of pinepple. But on the palate, it was more dry than fruity with soft tannins. Very food friendly and easy drinking.

That's it for this month. The Soup Swappers will be back in March with April of Veggies First Then Dessert hosting. We'll be sharing soups with Spring greens. Stay tuned.

Candied Ginger-Pomegranate Stained Glass Hearts


When Jake brought home a jar of pomegranate jelly from one of his co-workers, I thought two things: thumbprint cookies and glazed lamb. 


Well, I decided to go a little bit more Valentines-y with the cookies and made some candied ginger-pomegranate stained glass hearts instead of thumbprints. And I haven't decided on the lamb. I do have lamb chops in the fridge for tonight's dinner. Stay tuned for that...

Ingredients
  • 3/4 C butter (1-1/2 sticks), slightly softened
  • 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C organic powdered sugar +  more for finishing
  • 1 egg
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground allspice
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 T candied ginger pieces
  • jam or jelly for filling (I used pomegranate jelly)
  • Also needed: heart cookie cutters in two different sizes to make the base and the window

Procedure
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an hand mixer until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then fold in the flour and the spices until it comes together as a ball. Fold in the candied ginger pieces.

Roll the dough out (I did mine in two batches) on a lightly floured surface. You want to try for between 1/4" and 1/2" thick.

Use a large heart shape to cut the dough. Re-roll the extras until you are out of dough. For half of the hearts, cut another, smaller heart in the middle to form a window. You'll want to have even numbers of tops to bottoms. Place the cookies on a parchment paper or silicone mat-lined baking sheet.

Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. You want the cookies firm, but not too browned.


Allow the biscuits to cool on the tray for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.


To assemble, dust the cookies with the cutouts with powdered sugar.


Add a dollop of jam to the full rounds and sandwich the cookies together.

Asian BBQ Sauce-Glazed Pork Chops + Domaine Trosset's Mondeuse d'Arbin #Winophiles #GodforsakenGrapes #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with Vin de Savoie.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

Last month we focused on godforsaken grapes from any region with January's #WinePW group. You can read the results of that exploration in my post: An Unlikely Match: A Thai Favorite + A Qvevri-Aged Wine from the Republic of Georgia.

This month, I invited the French Winophiles to post about an indigenous or godforsaken grape from France. Before I get to my post, here's the rest of the #Winophiles' offerings...

In the Glass

Also this month, Jill of L'Occasion hosted an event for #WinePW when we turned our eyes on Savoie. Luckily, several of us received wine samples from Vin de Savoie*. And it turned out that one of the bottles I received - Domaine Trosset's Mondeuse d'Arbin - fit perfectly into my post for this month.

Located between Chambéry and Albertville, at the base of the Bauges Mountains, Domaine Trosset inhabits over 16 hectares of those south-facing slopes. And Fabien Trosset, along with his partner Chloé, is the first producer of Mondeuse d'Arbin in Savoie.

If you're asking 'What is Mondeuse?' that is the point of this post - to explore a less than familiar grape varietal from France. Mondeuse definitely falls into that 'godforsaken' category as it is largely unknown outside of the Savoie region of France. There are a few bubbles of cultivation in the Bugey area between Lyon and Switzerland and a smattering of vineyards in Australia and California, but it is certainly an obscure grape.

Jason Wilson, in Godforsaken Grapes, recounts a dinner he attended hosted by Michel Grisard, "a tall, ruddy-faced winemaker with a huge smile...whom everyone called 'the pope of Savoie.' ...[and with] the wines under his label, Domaine Prieuré Saint Christophe - in particular the grape mondeuse noire, which he almost single-handedly saved from extinction in the 1980s" (pg. 78). Wilson goes on to describe Grisard's Mondeuse as "a revelation: floral, fruity, smoky, foresty, but so light and dangerously drinkable" (pg. 79).

While I didn't get to pour a Domaine Prieuré Saint Christophe, I poured a Domaine Trosset whose Mondeuse d'Arbin's is a single varietal - 100% Mondeuse - made from vines that are over half a century old. The grapes are hand-harvested and vinified in whole clusters before being aged in stainless steel for up to a year. This Mondeuse was characterized by deep color, healthy tannins, and a unique note of bitter cherry that verges on spicy.

To the eye, the wine pours an inky garnet with flecks of purple on the rim. On the nose, I got an intense floral note with underlying fruits of plum and blackberry. On the palate, this was deliciously spicy with a full mouthfeel and tart tannins.

On the Plate

I wanted to make something that would highlight and complement the piquant, spicy flavors of the wine. I opted to make a homemade hoisin sauce as the base of an Asian-inspired barbeque sauce. Then I slathered it on top of a grilled pork chop. What a tasty match! My hoisin sauce is flavorful, easy to make, and is made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. It lasts for a week.

Homemade Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/4 C soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1-1/2 T creamy peanut butter
  • 2 T organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/8 t sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 t sriracha (or other hot sauce) + more, if needed
  • 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 t ground white pepper

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Store in a lidded jar in the fridge for up to a week. You can use this as a dipping sauce for lettuce wraps, as a seasoning in all types of Asian dishes, or - as I do below - as part of an Asian-inspired barbeque sauce.


Asian BBQ Sauce-Glaze

  • 3/4 C unsulpured molasses
  • 1 T soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 3 T Hoisin sauce (above)
  • 1/4 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 T minced candied ginger
  • 2 T bourbon
  • ½ t ground Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 2 T warm water

Place all sauce ingredients - except the corn starch and water - in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the corn starch into warm water to form a slurry. Add 1 T of the hot sauce into the corn starch and whisk to combine. Slowly add the cornstarch to the sauce pan, whisking until smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Let cool and refrigerate until needed. I slathered this on top of grilled pork chops to serve with the Mondeuse. I also served a fresh coleslaw made with a sesame vinaigrette and oven-roasted broccoli. Delicious!
You may find Vin de Savoie on Facebook.

Find Domain Trosset on the web,

*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Potato, Egg, and Arugula Curry #ImprovCookingChallenge


Welcome to the February 2020 Improv Cooking Challenge. This group is headed up by Nichole of Cookaholic Wife. And I haven't been very good about participating, but I love the idea of the group, so I will try to be better in the coming months.


The idea behind Improv Cooking Challenge: we are assigned two ingredients and are challenged to create a recipe with those two things. This month's items: potatoes and eggs. Here's what the crew is sharing...


  • Hash Brown Breakfast Sandwich by Cookaholic Wife
  • Potato, Egg, and Arugula Curry by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Steak and Egg Hash by Making Miracles
  • Patates Salatasi - Turkish Potato Salad by Pandemonium Noshery
  • Egg & Potato Curry by Sneha's Recipe
  • Mom's Potato Soup with Egg Dumplings by Our Good Life
  • Polish Potato Pancakes by A Day in the Life on the Farm


  • Potato, Egg, and Arugula Curry

    When I was in college, I had a lot of Indian friends. I'm not being un-politically correct regarding Native Americans; I mean that I had a lot of friends whose parents immigrated here from India. Most were vegetarian and I loved being invited over to their houses and being pampered by their moms. One of my favorite dishes was a potato, egg, and spinach curry. I decided to recreate that for you today, but I didn't have any spinach. So, I used what I had and you're getting potato, egg, and arugula curry.

    Ingredients
    • 3 T oil
    • 2 large organic onions, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 1 to 2 chile peppers, depending on how hot you want it
    • 1" fresh ginger knob, peeled and grated
    • 2 T curry powder
    • 1-3/4 C coconut milk
    • 1-3/4 C vegetable stock
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 pound potatoes (cubed, if large, or halved baby potatoes), parboiled
    • 2 to 3 C fresh organic arugula
    • juice from one organic lemon
    • freshly ground salt, if needed
    • freshly ground pepper, if needed
    • Also needed: steamed basmati rice for serving


    Procedure
    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and translucent, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, and grated ginger. Cook until fragrant. Whisk in the curry powder and cook for a minute. Then pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in the parboiled potatoes and let cook for 15 minutes.

    In the meantime, lower the eggs into a pot of boiling water. Let the water return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and drop them into a bowl of cold water. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the eggs and set aside.

    Add the arugula to the top of the potatoes and stir until combined and wilted. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed.

    Ladle the curry into an individual serving bowl and serve immediate with hot basmati rice. Garnish the bowl with a whole egg or halved to show off the soft-boiled yolk. 

    Smash Bake Hearts: A Little Laughter and A Lot of Love


    How do you feel about Valentines' Day? At almost forty-seven years old, it's growing on me. Again.

    When I was a kid, Valentines' Day was exhilarating. One year, in elementary school, I remember making all of my Valentines' cards with my mom, taping bubblegum to the cards on which I had painstakingly written - in bubblegum scented pink ink no less - 'Stuck on You!'

    Then, in college, I worked as a florist for a couple of years. And my disdain for the holiday blossomed. I worked at a flower shop because I loved flowers - all those the scents, all those the textures - and I loved creating something beautiful that a fellow flower lover would enjoy. 

    But on February 14th, directly proportional to the proximity of dinner time, men would line up at our flower stand for a dozen long-stemmed red roses. It wasn't thoughtful. It wasn't creative. And it certainly wasn't authentic. It was obligatory.  

    "How about something a little less common?" I suggested one time, reaching for a bunch of fringed parrot tulips that were a sunny yellow bloom tipped in scarlet. The man nearly bit my head off in his impatience. "I just want the long-stem red roses and I'm already late for my damn dinner!" he bellowed. 

    How's that for romance? For years after college, I despised Valentines' Day. 

    I firmly believe that love and romance belong front and center all the time. Why is February 14th designated as a day for people to show their sweethearts that they are adored? What about the other 364 days?!?

    I would rather get a bunch of handpicked wildflowers on a random day in April than a dozen red roses on a day when florists mark up their wares beyond the typical 300% markup. Thankfully all three of my boys know this and I find flowers from the garden in a mason jar on the table when their bushes are in bloom.

    A Hand-Picked Rose from My Boys' Garden

    I know that I sound unapologetically unromantic. Is there a Valentines' equivalent of a Grinch? That would be me. Would have been me. But one of my boys loves Valentines' Day and spends weeks planning his cards for his friends; so, we make the cards together. Kinda like my mom did with me. I love that and it's helping to melt my iciness towards the holiday.

    I look at it this way: I love my Valentines (my Love and our two boys) 365 days of the year. Why would I refuse to celebrate that affection just because everyone else is celebrating on that same day?!

    And, truth be told, I'm not unromantic. I love romance. I just don't reserve romance for February 14th. Jake and I take our romance to the redwoods, on a lake, to the snow, and to the beach. All. Year. Long.

    Me and My Valentine

    And after nearly two decades years of marriage, and twenty-two years together - the most important thing to remember: you are responsible for your own romance...and, even more importantly, sometimes it's not about romance; it's about family. 

    These Days Are Long Gone...

    So, that is the filter through which I view Valentines' Day now. To that end, I try to celebrate love at home with the boys. For now. They'll be off to college or on their own in a blink of an eye. Anything we can do that gets us around the table, laughing, and enjoying each other's company is the perfect way to celebrate love! No need to go out an spend a lot of money, though that can be fun, too!

    Smash Bake Hearts

    So, on a random Tuesday evening - read 'NOT Valentines' Day' - I decided to make some heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. The title of this post 'smash bake' is how R describes my baking. "You know, Mom, you prefer things that are less precise. You 'smash bake'." I can cop to that. These are made even more simple for a weeknight dinner because I used premade pizza dough and a jarred tomato sauce. I often do homemade everything...but not last night.

    Ingredients 
    serves 4 with leftovers for lunch the next day

    • four premade pizza dough balls (I divided them in half and made eight 6" x 8" hearts)
    • jarred tomato sauce
    • shredded cheese
    • various toppings (we used Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and more mozzarella)
    • Also needed: baking sheets, baking stones, heart-shaped cutters, and knives if you want to freehand any toppings


    Procedure

    Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Press dough into whatever shape you wish.



    Smear some tomato sauce on the dough. Add cheese and toppings.


    Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.


    The crust should be firm and the cheese melted.


    Slice or serve whole.


    Repeat until all of your dough and toppings have been used. Above is Jake's pizza. A skull, really, my Love?! 


    "It's my 'Til Death Do Us Part pizza," he explained. Fine.


    The boys loved the skull...more than all my painstakingly cut out hearts. We laughed and laughed about it. 


    Happy Valentines' Day, all...if you celebrate! I hope yours is filled with a little laughter and a lot of love.

    Monday, February 10, 2020

    Lussekatter #BreadBakers


    #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the Bread Bakers home page

    BreadBakers
    This month Felice of All That's Left Are the Crumbs is hosting Bread Bakers with a Scandinavian bread event. She wrote: "Scandinavian bread culture has existed in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark from prehistoric time through to the present. Show us your best Scandinavian Bread! For this theme I have chosen the traditional three countries that make up Scandinavia - Norway, Sweden, and Denmark." 

    I'm glad she clarified because I was about to make Dökkt Rúgbrauð, Icelandic Dark Rye Bread. Soon!

    In the meantime, here's the #BreadBakers' Scandinavian bread basket...

    Lussekatter 

    When I started thinking about possible Scandinavian bread, I thought about when I made Rugbrød (Danish Rye Bread) from a kit that was sent to me from a friend in Denmark! Thankfully I had another Danish friend here who could read these instructions to me. Maybe I could try it without the crutch of a pre-mixed kit.


    And just last month I shared my Fastelavnsboller (Danish Lenten Rolls) for #BakingBloggers, a different online group to which I belong. Those custard-filled, cardamom-kissed sweet rolls are on our table frequently.


    Instead, for this, I am sharing a bread that my Spice It Up! kiddos made years ago and I neglected to post: saffron-scented Swedish bread called Lussekatter. I made the dough the night before class; they rolled them out. They did a great job.

    Ingredients

    • 1-1/2 C organic whole milk
    • 1 t saffron threads
    • 2 t + 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
    • 1 T active dry yeast
    • 7 C white whole wheat flour
    • seeds from 6 cardamom pods, ground
    • 1/2 C butter, softened
    • 1/2 C organic sour cream
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 C golden raisins

    Procedure

    In a medium pot, heat the milk, saffron, and 2 t of sugar together until the milk is steamy. Remove from heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.


    Let cool until warm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm saffron-infused milk and let bloom for 5-10 minutes until frothy and foamy.


    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 6 C of the flour, remaining 1/2 C of sugar, and ground cardamom.

    Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast-milk-saffron mixture, eggs, butter, and sour cream. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated.
      
    Knead the dough, adding additional flour until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it. Mix in the raisins.


    Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Then place it in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. When the dough has doubled in size, break off pieces and form into balls. This is where the kids took over.


    Roll the ball out into a snake, then curl the ends in opposite directions, forming an 's' with spirals at each end.

    Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in a warm spot until the dough shapes double in size, 30 minutes to an hour. I only had 30 minutes with my class, but it rose beautifully.

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Place in the oven and cook for about 11-12 minutes - until the buns are golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before eating.

    A #GodforsakenGrapes Preview #Winophiles


    For our second event of the year, I invited the French Winophiles crew to track down some 'godforsaken grapes' and create a pairing. You can read my invitation: You're Invited: Indigenous and Godforsaken French Grapes.

    Last month, the #WinePW discussed godforsaken grapes from anywhere in the world. We had wines from Macedonia, Georgia (the country, not the state), California, Austria, Turkey, Italy, and Southwest France. You can see that line-up in my post for that event, An Unlikely Match: A Thai Favorite + A Qvevri-Aged Wine from the Republic of Georgia.

    This month, the #Winophiles are looking specifically as grapes in that category from France only! Here's how the crew will be answering the  French Indigenous Grapes and #GodforsakenGrapes challenge...


    All of the posts will go live between Friday, 2/14 and Saturday, 2/15. If you would like to join our conversation, we'll be using the hashtag #Winophiles and #GodforsakenGrapes at 8 a.m. Pacific time: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject can connect via a live Twitter chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject. Hope to see you there.

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