Recipe Write Up: Chicken Gumbo

Would you believe me if I said that I have never had southern food? And by southern food, I’m not talking about its fast food counterparts since we all know that that stuff doesn’t even come close to being authentic. Well I truly hope you believe me about not ever having southern food because until this week, it was true. And yes, I’ve not only never had authentic southern food but I have also never really had its crappy counterpart.

Now as much as I would love to play the innocent little angel who just never managed to find herself eating classic southern cuisine the truth is a bit more…lazy. Yep, lazy. Why? Well, because there was just nothing about it that seemed to make me think ‘Gee, I wanna try that!’. That was until I went to college and became friends with Therese, a native of Texas. Through her and her love of food, I learned about the wonders of  food from the south. Now prior to this crash course in southern yum, I knew next to nothing about southern food, in fact, I knew next to nothing about the south (besides that whole civil war thing.) I think this map sums up my general understanding of U.S geography and what I know about our fair country.

7ed40e1042c30788e1de36e4b1727d6a_original

Yea this sums things up pretty well

With this basic, almost childish understanding of the U.S my mind was relatively blown as I learned about how different regions of the country had their own unique flavors and dishes. I think this is the point when I became obsessed with wanting to try southern food. And this was the movie that officially made me obsessed with wanting to try gumbo or anything from New Orleans.

tumblr_mddxksOhSU1rb8ly8o1_500_largeWell it took a few years but at last, I’ve done it, I’ve made gumbo and it was GOOD.

IMG_20130827_194800_20130830112617169

Chicken Gumbo

Adapted from In a Cajun Kitchen. Serves 8 as a soup

1 chicken (about four pounds), cut into serving sizes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups onion
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, undrained
2 cups warm water
2 cups raw rice
2 cups fresh or frozen green beans (substituted for okra)

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken dry, saxon with salt and black and cayenne pepper/ Brown on all sides, removing the pieces to dish once browned

Add the flour to the oil remaining in the pot; reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir constantly for five minutes, incorporating crusty bits on the bottom into the flour

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes. add the bay leaves, thyme, tomatoes, water and chicken and accumulated juices, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, cover for forty five minutes. (Start cooking the rice after the chicken has been cooking for about fifteen minutes).

IMG_20130827_183856_20130830112527599
Add the green beans and simmer for 15 minutes; serve over rice.

Advertisements

Recipe Write Up: Blueberry-Blackberry Pie Bars

IMG_20130713_205239_20130718180125168So sorry I haven’t posted anything in awhile, the last week has been pretty crazy. As I will discuss in greater detail in a future post, I was in New York City Sunday with a friend. Then on Monday, I took off to Boston to see a concert last night as well as to catch up with a buddy from my undergrad days. With so much traveling, walking, IMG_20130713_190840_20130718175738150and dying from the heat, I haven’t had a chance until now to share this simple yet yummy recipe.

Still a bit bitter about the whole egg white thing I decided that my inner baker need something of an ego boost. While the urge to do something ambitious was rather strong, I resisted the temptation and decided to try something a little less complicated though still highly satisfying to make. Bar desserts you see, have always been a thorn in my side. Sure, I can make a batch of brownies and blondies, but they never come out totally perfect, perfect in the sense of appearance not flavor. There is just something that bothers me when the shape is warped; it should be square or rectangle, not a convex polygon! However, it seems that the baking gods were on my side Saturday night since I nailed the flavor and shape! My little square pie (which it technically is) was met with rave reviews. I think my close friend’s reaction was the best. It kind of looked like this.

Gus's reaction say's it all: pure dessert bliss

Gus’s reaction say’s it all: pure dessert bliss

Ego boost achieved!

Blueberry-Blackberry Pie Bars

Adapted from a recipe found here

Ingredients
For the crust and topping
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Zest of half a lemon
¾ cup (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold

For the filling
2 large eggs
1 cups sugar
½ cup sour cream
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Juice of half a lemonIMG_20130713_205517_20130718180318859
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Full package of Blackberries (6 ounces)
8 ounces Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture for topping the bars.  Add the rest of the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before proceeding.

In a medium bowl, make the filling mixture.  Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula.  Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan.  Crumble the reserved topping mixture over the filling evenly.

Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill to firm up before slicing and serving.

Recipe Write Up: Stovetop Broccoli and Cheese Chicken Pasta

Recall how awhile ago I referred to something called the parent factor? If not, here is a bit of a refresher. The parent factor refers to what happens when my parents personal preferences clash with mine. Case in point, I love frosting, my parents do not. When I am baking at home, frosting is a no-no. Taadaa! The parent factor! What does this have to do with today’s post? Well last week, the parent factor came into play yet again. This time, it was over dinner.

IMG_4175

As I have mentioned before, my mom isn’t the most flexible eater out there. She knows what she likes and that is the simple stuff. With a fridge not exactly full, our options were somewhat limited. Now, had my mom had her way, we probably would have had oatmeal or sandwiches for dinner. However, I was not going to let that happen. With a quick assessment of our options in the fridge and what we had down in the pantry, I hopped online to find a simple recipe for dinner. Keeping in mind my mother’s picky tastes, I had quite a bit of recipes that I needed to overlook. It took sometime, but eventually, I hit the jackpot! All I needed was some chicken, broccoli, milk, pasta, and cheese. Lady Luck was definitely on my side since we just so happened to have all of that stuff lying around. On top of that, what I ended up finding was not only easy to make, but quick to put together. It doesn’t get any better than that! As for mom, she was content with the dish though she made it known to me that if she had been on her own, she would have just gone with oatmeal. Oh mom.

Stovetop Broccoli and Cheese Chicken Pasta

Recipe adapted (slightly) from http://picky-palate.com

1/2 pound Pasta (any kind)
1/2 stick Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 1/4 cups Low Sodium Chicken broth
3/4 cup Shredded Cheese (we used mix cheese though cheddar works as well)
1 cup Shredded Chicken
1/2 pound Broccoli Florets, steamed
3/4 cup Milk

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and run under cool water to stop cooking.

2. Melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper, whisking until thick and combined. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until combined. Increase heat to high and whisk until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted.

3. Transfer cooked noodles to a large dutch oven or pot over low-medium heat. Add chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce, stirring; will be thick. Stir in milk to loosen sauce to your liking. Serve immediately. This dish does best when served as soon as possible. If needed to be prepared ahead of time, add additional milk or chicken broth to loosen sauce

IMG_4177

(Should make about 3-4 servings but ours was more like 4-6. Not sure how that happened)

Till next time,

Litbaker