Soup

Mrs. Saundra’s Mardi Gras Gumbo

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It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans. People from all over are flying, driving and catching trains to this magical city. Locals are finalizing their costumes for each of their favorite parades and marking their spots to camp out for Fat Tuesday. It is so unfortunate that many tourists don’t get to see the variety of the parades. Many tourists think that Mardi Gras is getting plastered, flashing your ta ta’s and maneuvering your way down Bourbon street with the massive crowd. Mardi Gras is so much more! It is for families. It is a torchbearer of traditions for the Mardi Gras Indians. It is a time where we all come together to see our friends and family parade in a krewe or in a school band. It is one of my favorite times of the year.

Even if you can’t be here for Mardi Gras or if you have never been, you can have your own Mardi Gras parade at home with friends. In some cities, they actually do try to re-create the look and feel of Mardi Gras which I think is awesome. New Orleans is contagious and spreads good karma throughout the world!

So you can’t be here, but you can make a pot of gumbo for Fat Tuesday and listen to music from Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffin or oldies like Fats Domino’s. Dress up! Wear your tu tu with pride and laugh until it hurts. It will give the neighbors something to talk about. 🙂 As my favorite movie character said, “Life is a banquet and too many poor sucka’s are starving to death! Live. Live. Live.”- Auntie Mame

I am sharing with you a recipe that was passed down to me by the sweetest Creole woman named Mrs. Saundra. Mrs. Saundra was a cooking teacher at the New Orleans Cooking School in the French Quarter. Every day she would come to work and teach tourists and some locals about the culinary history of New Orleans. She would present live cooking demos and include some of New Orleans most famous dishes- Jambalaya, Bananas Foster, New Orleans BBQ Shrimp, Bread Pudding and of course Gumbo! Mrs. Saundra would greet everyone with a sweet smile and a “Hey my babbby”. She was a doll. Miss Saundra was a mentor to me. She wasn’t a trained chef but she was a Creole grandmother and that deserves huge respect! Mrs. Saundra gave me her gumbo recipe and I want to share it with you. I kept up with Mrs. Saundra for quite some time. Even after her bout with breast cancer. I lost contact with her. I pray she is fully recovered, with her grandbabies, cooking a pot of gumbo and sharing New Orleans culinary tales. So as Mrs. Saundra would say, “Enjoy my babyy!” Happy Mardi Gras 2014 y’all!

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

2 pound cooked chicken (Thighs if available, bite size)

2 tsp. of Cajun/ Creole Seasoning

1 cup of oil (I prefer peanut oil)                                                     

1/4 cup of salted butter

½ teaspoon of fresh thyme

1 cup of flour (all purpose)

1 bay leaf (optional)

2 cups of finely chopped yellow onions

1 cup of finely chopped celery

1 cup of finely chopped seeded green bell pepper,

1 ½ pounds of sliced smoked sausage (Andouille if possible)

2 pounds of medium sized raw peeled (head removed) shrimp (Gulf Coast Shrimp preferably. It is sweeter and local)

8 cups chicken stock, hot

5 green onion stalks, chopped finely

3 minced garlic cloves

3 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Gumbo Filé powder, add at table

Cooked rice

*Now, if you are a meat lover and can get access to other types of Louisiana sausages. Add Creole Chaurice, a spicy hot sausage. (1 lb. cooked and sliced) and 1 smoked turkey neck.

Preparation:

Season chicken pieces with Cajun-Creole seasoning. Add ¼ cup water in pan. Bake in 350 degree oven until cooked. About 40 to 45 minutes. Save juice in bottom of pan. Heat oil in a heavy cast iron skillet until hot. Stir in flour to make roux.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until roux is dark brown. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and butter. Cook until the onions are translucent or clear. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a large pot (Dutch Oven).

Add stock, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Slice sausage and brown in a pan with a little oil. Add a little stock or water to deglaze the pan. That means to stir the brown bites in the bottom with liquid. Add chicken and sausage to the large pot. Add the liquid in the bottom of pan that you cooked the chicken in. Simmer for 1 ½ hours.

Turn the heat off, add shrimp and cover. This will prevent you from overcooking the shrimp. Let it sit covered for about ten minutes. The shrimp should turn a nice pink. Adjust seasonings to taste and skim fat before serving. Serve over hot rice. Garnish with green onion and parsley.  Add filé powder and your favorite hot sauce at the table. (Crystal is my favorite)

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Valentine’s Day

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Make something special for your loved one or give them the gift that keeps on giving! New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking

http://www.amazon.com/Zella-Palmer-Cuadra/e/B00E7KSGVO

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Entree

Turkey Sausage with Savoury Basil Cilantro Thyme Tomato Salsa over Couscous

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My beloved grandmother used to always tell me to treat yourself as a guest. She would make sure that I sat at the table with a napkin in my lap, posture straight and a proper table setting. I used to think she was old fashioned but now I am so grateful that she taught me proper etiquette so when I eat at fine dining establishments I know what to do. I can still hear her say,”Elbows off the table!”

Tonight I’m just eating at home and a little tired from a long week but I still want to end my day by treating myself like a guest!

Ingredients:

5 turkey sausage links
2 cans of Spanish style tomato sauce
4 sprigs of thyme
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil
1 minced clove of garlic
2 tbs. of coconut oil
1 tbs. of agave nectar
1 tsp. of fresh ground black pepper
2 boxes of herbed couscous

Preparation:

Grill turkey sausage. (George Foreman 🙂 ) Cut sausages into small pieces. Set aside. Sauté garlic and thyme in coconut oil in a medium size stockpot at medium low heat. Add tomato sauce and a half can of water. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Add fresh herbs and sausages. Simmer on low medium heat for 30 minutes. Serve with herbed couscous. (Follow box instructions for herbed couscous) Buen Provecho!

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Soup

Moqueca Brazilian Stew a lo New Orleans

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I first met Rubens Leite in 2009 on Frenchmen street in New Orleans, a popular street for live music and dancing. Every night he parked his taco truck to serve a diverse crowd of bar hoppers, musicians, tourists and night shift workers. His colorfully painted taco truck grabbed anyone’s attention but more so his strong Brazilian accent and Santa Claus smile.

I like many other New Orleanians frequented his truck every weekend. The smell of pineapple pork tacos and Honduran tamales lured us from the Blue Nile or Lazziza’s night club to buy a late night snack and mingle amongst gutter punks and hipsters. 🙂

When I approached Rubens about contributing his story and recipe to my cookbook he accepted with Brazilian glee. My friendship with Rubens introduced me to the Brazilian community in New Orleans where I happily danced samba on hot nights and drank caipirinha to cool my thirst.

To read Ruben Leite’s story and how he came to New Orleans from Brazil via New York during the aftermath of Katrina, his contributing recipe and amazing photographs you will need to buy my cookbook 🙂 New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also available at my favorite New Orleans bookstores, Octavia Books, Garden District Bookstore, Maple Street Book Shop and Kitchen Witch Cookbook Shop.

Here is my recipe for Brazilian Moqueca Stew a lo Latino Who Dat Nation. dedicated to the Brazilian New Orleans community. Bom Apetite!

Ingredients:

2 large whole tilapia filets cut in 4 large pieces
1lb. of frozen crawfish tails
2lb. of peeled jumbo shrimp
2 quarts of seafood stock
4 Roma tomatoes
6 ahí dulce peppers
1 chopped yellow onion
6 minced garlic cloves
1tbs.of olive oil
1tbs. of palm oil
1 8oz. can of coconut milk
1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
Sea salt
1 tbs. of cumin
1 tbs. of adobo
1 tbs. of paprika
1 tsp. of Nigerian pepper soup mix or 1tsp. cayenne pepper
Cooked white or brown rice to serve
1/3 cup of fresh like juice
4 limes cut into wedges
1 sliced and pitted avocado

Preparation:

Season tilapia with paprika, salt, cumin and Nigerian pepper. Add lime juice and 4 minced garlic cloves.Set aside. In a bowl, season shrimp and crawfish tails with paprika, cumin and adobo. Set aside. Chop 2 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 of an onion, and 3 minced ahí dulce peppers (remove seeds). Sauté on medium low heat with 2 tbs. of olive oil in a large stock pot. Add 3 minced garlic cloves. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add seafood stock, coconut milk and palm oil. Boil for 30 minutes on medium low heat. Taste stock and re-season with salt and adobo if need be. Add tilapia. Cook for 7 minutes. Slice two Roma tomatoes, 1/2 of a yellow onion and 3 ahí dulce peppers (remove seeds). Set aside. Finely chop 1 bunch of fresh cilantro and fresh basil. Set aside. Add shrimp and crawfish and cook for two minutes to stock pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped Roma tomatoes, onions, ahí dulce peppers, fresh cilantro and basil. Serve soup with fresh avocado slices, cooked rice and lime wedges. Buen Provecho!

Note: All ingredients accept crawfish tails may be found at a Caribbean or Latin grocery store in your city.

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Do you know who Chef Adolfo Garcia is?

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If you don’t know who Chef Adolfo Garcia is you need to know. He was voted Top Latino Chef by a host of organizations, magazines and newspapers. A James Beard Winner and the baddest restaurateur I know!

When I was working on my book, I had to have him in my book. I rode my bike to his restaurant A Mano in the New Orleans Warehouse District and told him about my project. He said, “Sure baby. Whatever you need,” with his Latino New Orleanian accent. He became my godfather and has delivered on everything I needed to make this cookbook a reality.

I interviewed him and his firecracker Dominican wife Margarita. They shared with me their story, their laughter, their food and practically adopted me lol. In my book New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking, Margarita said, “We were still living in New York when I was pregnant and Adolfo was finishing up his schooling at the Culinary Institute of America. I went into labor in a middle of a snowstorm. Adolfo called for an ambulance and he said, “Please come get my wife. She’s in labor and I’m from New Orleans. I don’t know how to drive in the snow!”

Today, Chef Adolfo Garcia owns 4 restaurants in New Orleans, A Mano, Gusto, High Hat Cafe and La Boca. Yet he is so humble about his career. Soooo many approached him to be in their book or to ghost write a cookbook for him but he said yes to me and I’m grateful. Read the foreword in my book. He wrote it and it’s pure Latino Who Dat Nation! Thank you Chef! Mil Gracias! http://nbclatino.com/2013/10/10/chef-spotlight-adolfo-garcia-on-advancing-latin-cuisine-in-new-orleans/

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Soup

L’Chaim Puerto Rican Matzo Ball Soup

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So I never told you my story and how I published my book did I? Well I was a summer intern at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans from the University of Toronto and going through a divorce. Imagínate! and I was doing research for some exhibits I was curating and after finally listening to that inner voice I made an observation. Why isn’t there any research on the culinary history of Latinos in New Orleans? They are here and New Orleans is right at the Gulf of México….hmmmm so my nerdy journey began. When I finally published the book my dad said call your Godfather and ask for advice. So he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol.

My Uncle Rich gave me the best advice on negotiating my first book contract and is currently helping me to schedule a book signing at Busboy & Poets in Washington D.C. and some extra events that I am excited about! So I am dedicating this recipe to my Jewish Godfather who loves Matzo Ball Soup! I love it too but who doesn’t?

Lagniappe: In Ecuador and Puerto Rico they make a Caldo de Bolitas de Platanos that is riquísimo! Thanks Uncle Rich for your advice and making phone calls to help me promote my book!

Ingredients:

4 green plantains (unripe)
1/2 cup of Sofrito (Pesto a lo Latino, will post recipe)
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 whole cut chicken in 1/4
1 tbs. of Tomato Paste
1 lb of medium peeled shrimp
1/2 cup of Annatto Seeds
Olive Oil
1tbs. of Adobo Seasoning
1tbs. of Cumin
1tbs. of Paprika
1 tsp. of Sea Salt
1 ripe avocado
4 limes

Preparation:

Season chicken with adobo seasoning, paprika and cumin. In a large stockpot, sauté 2 cloves of minced garlic, sofrito and 2 tbs. of olive oil. Add chicken and brown for 5 minutes. Cover chicken with water and boil on medium low heat.

Peel plantains and cut plantains in half. In a sauté pan fry plantains until golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel and put in a large mortar.

In the same oil, lower the heat and add annatto seeds. Cook for less than one minute until the oil turns red. Drain oil in a fine colander. Cool. Add 1/3 cup of the Annatto oil to the plantains and 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with adobo seasoning, salt, paprika and cumin. Mash plantains with a pestle or with hands. Roll plantain mixture into medium size balls. Set aside.

Re-season soup and add shrimp. Cook for another 5 minutes. Cut avocado into slices and limes into wedges. In each bowl, add 4 plantain balls and pour soup over the balls. Serve with avocado slices and lime. L’Chaim!

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I love Gumbo Z’Herbes!!

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I first had Gumbo Z’Herbes at the famous Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans made by the culinary legend Leah Chase. I had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Chase when I curated an exhibit about her life, faith, family and career for the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. Mrs. Chase is now 91 years old and she is still a force to reckon with. If you are ever in New Orleans you must go to the Treme and try this mouthwatering Creole gumbo that is served on Holy Thursday before Good Friday. But of course you have to go to Mass first to confess all of your sins before Lent season! 😉

Now this is a very hearty gumbo filled with yummy greens. The recipe calls for 9 different greens to celebrate the 9 different churches visited during Jesus’ walk when he was crucified. Also, as many greens go in the gumbo so does the meat. Most Creoles use chaurice (creole sausage) and other pork meats to flavor the gumbo but for this recipe I substituted pork with smoked turkey tails. I love pork! But today I wanted something a little bit nicer to my waistline. I also put some Latino Who Dat Nation in the gumbo by adding culantro (stronger cilantro herb) and Navy beans based on my love for Cuban Caldo Gallego……Tomaaa!!!!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of collard greens
1 bunch of mustard greens
1bunch of turnip greens
1 bunch of culantro
1 bunch of kale
2 cups of chopped cabbage
1 bunch of Swiss chard
Top leafs of beets
6 stalks of green onions
2 lbs of smoked turkey tails
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced bell pepper
1 finely diced celery stalk
1 stick of salted butter
1 cup of flour
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 cans of Navy beans (rinse canned liquid from the beans and drain)
Gumbo File for thickening

Preparation:

In a stock pot cover your smoked turkey tails with enough water to cover until tender. Boil on a medium low heat until tender. Once they are tender reserve the liquid and remove the turkey tails from the pot. Chop into small pieces and remove any bones. Put the chopped smoked turkey tails back into the pot.

Wash, drain and finely chop all greens and green onions. Add the greens to the pot and boil at a medium-low heat for 40 minutes.

Make a roux. Finely mince your onion, bell pepper and celery. Sauté in a small pan with a stick of salted butter until translucent. Add bouillon cube and fresh ground black pepper. Add flour and stir to make a blond roux. Add the roux to the gumbo and stir well. Add Navy beans and your bouillon cube. Cook for another 20 minutes. Serve with toasted baguettes and Gumbo File to thicken. Le Bon Temps Rouler a lo Latino!

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