Category Archives: Recipes

What the Roux?

G has never been someone that does things the easy way.  Except perhaps when coaxing friends into assembling furniture or helping him pack for another move.  So when it took us 4 hours to make our seafood gumbo.  I wasn’t surprised.

Approaching a Peanut Butter Colored Roux

This was our second gumbo attempt year to date and we hoped that it would be a success.  Our last attempt left us with an awful taste in our mouth, quite literally, from a burnt roux.  For those of you who are unsure about what a roux is let me clear it up.  Its an oil and flour mixture(usually 1:1) used as a thickening agent and can add a depth of flavor.  Yes indeed, its oil and flour that is heated with a watchful eye and wooden spoon in hand until it reaches certain color checkpoints.  These checkpoints are based on the type of protein utilized in the gumbo, family recipes and are quite subjective if you ask me.  With time the roux progressively gets darker making its way through each checkpoint, blonde, peanut-butter, and chocolate brown.  The one roux rule: Do not burn!

Seafood Stock

We started making a homemade seafood stock from our cleaned shrimp shells, crab claws, crayfish shells and let that sit on low heat for about an hour.  While the stock simmered I was responsible for the roux.  Since our last attempts failed we decided to heat the oil over low-medium heat for the next hour and a half until it turned into what we deamed an appropriate peanut butter color.  Yes.  That’s right… I stood at the stove for an hour and a half watching oil and flour in a pan.  Sounds fun, I know.  I hadn’t watched something this intensely since Michael Jackson passed away.

As our roux cooled, G began frying the andouille, okra, and a New Orleans triad(onion, celery and bell pepper).  We drained the shells, onions, celery, etc. from our stock and added it to our triad, andouille, and okra. We added a cup and a half of the roux to our mixture and let it simmer for 45 minutes.  After about 40 minutes we plopped in our fresh bay scallops, crab meat, crayfish, and shrimp in.  We cooked them for about 10 minutes and then sat down to eat!

Crayfish Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

We adapted our recipe from Emeril Lagasse.  You can find the original recipe here.  It calls for a lager beer, and after perusing the shelves at Whole Foods, we ended up with Tusker, a Kenyan beer.

The gumbo was tasty with a multitude of different and spicy  flavors.  The okra was my favorite addition as I feel that it is a vegetable often over looked in homes and restaurants in the midwest.  For more information regarding creole and cajun recipes check out the gumbo pages. (I wish we had checked this out before we started!)

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Chanterelles, Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Trout

What does trout taste like?  hmm… I didn’t know.  I had never tried trout before, and G for once couldn’t remember if he had ever even tasted it, but it looked so alluring in the Whole Food’s fish case we just stood there for a moment hoping we might be able to come up with an excuse to purchase it.

After an epiphany we chose our trout and gathered some spinach, goat cheese, and a meyer lemon.  As we were about to leave I thought we might need just a little something more.  For some reason I envisioned my trout in his prime eating grass hoppers and other insects that found themselves floating helplessly atop the water. It was this image that prompted my desire for something “earthy”.  As we ventured toward the mushrooms my eyes flickered toward a box of pretty chanterelles.  They looked interesting and according to the signs it supposedly had a subtle sweet flavor, so we decided to incorporate it.

After sauteing the spinach, chanterelles, and garlic in some olive oil and meyer lemon juice we placed the stuffing into our trout. We added fresh thyme sprigs, sprinkled on some goat cheese, folded the trout over and added a few Meyer lemon sliced on top. Why a Meyer lemon?

Stuff the Trout!

After a mere 15 minutes in the oven:

Results:

Trout Recipe

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Chanterelle Stuffed Trout

So… what does trout taste like?

The fish is light and slightly sweet. Delicate even.  I think G will remember what trout tastes like from now on.

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Maple Roasted Duck Recipe

I am unhappy to say that we do not have any images from our Christmas Eve Dinner. However, I would like everyone to know that it is possible to successfully execute an excellent maple roasted duck in the “baby george rotisserie”.  Happy Holidays!

Supplies:

  • 1 baby george rotisserie
  • 1 ~4-5 lb fresh organic long island duck
  • 1 golden delicious apple
  • a bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • pure maple syrup to glaze

Recipe:

  1. Rinse the duck
  2. Trim excess fat off of duck and remove innards
  3. Puncture skin everywhere with a fork/knife on each side of the duck to allow fat removal during roasting. Take care not to pierce the flesh
  4. Season with salt and pepper (inside and outside)
  5. Separate skin from meat and place garlic cloves inbetween skin and meat
  6. Stuff cavaity with thyme sprigs and sliced apples
  7. Roast for approximately 75 minutes until internal temperature is 180 F
  8. During last 30 minutes glaze the duck with maple syrup(every 10 minutes until complete)
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An Ode to Sardines

Now I can’t say that I have ever really enjoyed a sardine.  I can’t even say that I’ve tried one.  But I think that goes back to my brief experience with a fish bone lodged in my throat.  However, today was the day we demolished my fear of the whole fish.

Mathi

Sardines (aka Pilchard)

George had been coveting sardines since we saw them last week at Mitsuwa, and lucky for us while perusing our favorite Chicago Whole Foods we came across some very large ones left over from someone’s very special order. And guess what?  The Monterey Bay Aquarium supported our sustainable seafood choice.

Our recipe comes from George’s mom and is something he grew up eating.  Sardines or “Mathi” in Malayalam(the main language of Kerala, India) were first cleaned and gutted.  Not the cleanest job, but actually a lot easier then I had expected.

Next we dredged them in spices and set our work station up for some quick frying action.  About 2 minutes on each side and they were ready!

Some rice and other condiments seemed necessary to complement the sardines so I turned to what I deem my best purchase ever, the sanyo rice cooker. I feel as though everyone should own a rice cooker. In fact, I am seriously looking into giving my secret santa a rice cooker for Christmas.  Just throw in whatever you want with the rice and watch it turn into Uncle Ben.

Battered and Fried

We also decided to add pickled onions to compliment our dish and hoped ours would come close to the original recipe.  Even though we lacked all the preferred ingredients a true cook from Kerala would have, our onions still tasted great.

As we prepared to eat I thought to myself, “This is it!  It’s you or the fish. You can do it, those tiny bones are no match for your vicious incisors and bone-grinding molars.”

As I pondered the risk of choking, I decided to remove any bones that blatantly taunted me before preceding to peel the moist meat away from the rounded sides of the fish. I placed a piece with potential bones into my mouth carefully and as I continued to chomp precariously, I realized that the whole sardine was, in fact quite amazing.  High in omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium and Vitamin D, I determined my meal was worth the potential risk and my fear, completely unnecessary.

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Parmigiano Raviolini with Butternut Squash in a Sage and Truffle Brown Butter Sauce

Its 5:30 pm and all that remains in my hollow belly is the memory of columbian empanadas and a sweet corn arepa.  I’m hungry and it is at this very moment, in my darkest hour, I resort to… dare I say it.  Food Porn.
And I think I will share:

It wasn’t too long ago that I tasted my first Raviolini from RP’s Pasta Company.  As I perused the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin.  I happily stumbled upon their tent.  As a working girl late night pasta was my good old reliable.  And now I had found a way to enhance my recipes and support a local company.

Parmigiano Raviolini with Butternut Squash in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Parmigiano Raviolini with Butternut Squash in a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

When I moved to Chicago I was happy to find that the Whole Foods here still carried RP.  And on a cold fall evening G created this master recipe.  But wait… What is brown butter exactly?  As I watched him stir the butter in our pan I couldn’t help but think that he was ruining the whole recipe by burning the butter! But alas it was not burning, the darkening of the butter was due to the toasting of the milk solids in the butter(butter = water + butter fat + milk solids) which was in turn giving off a nutty aroma complementing the frying sage leaves.  And the only thing that could make a sage brown butter sauce better?  The addition of Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle oil and roasted butternut squash. 🙂
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BBQ Oysters!

As an homage to our trip to San Fran and the Napa Valley we created this meal of BBQ oysters, a halibut ceviche and a tomato/mozzarella salad.  In Napa we tried many oyster shooters, only to find that slippery slide of that poor fresh oyster down into my gullet made me feel bad.  That poor little slimy creature was going to die a horrible death inside my acidic tummy. So when we saw the first “BBQ OYSTERS” sign we stopped… immediately.  We then stopped three more times sampling at least three spots on HWY 1 all with differing BBQ sauces.   They’re amazing so when we had the first chance we took them to our grill!  🙂

BBQ Oysters on the Grill

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