Mrs. Saundra’s Mardi Gras Gumbo


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. ūüôā 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


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

¬Ĺ 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 ¬Ĺ 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.


Season chicken pieces with Cajun-Creole seasoning. Add ¬ľ 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 ¬Ĺ 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)



Toma!!! Tortilla Encrusted Flounder with Bourbon Garlic Butter Brussel Sprouts


Growing up my mom made the best brussel sprouts! I think most people have a distaste for brussel sprouts because they don’t know how to cook them. I saw some beautiful brussel sprouts at my local grocery store and I had to make them. For dinner this evening, I made Bourbon garlic butter braised brussel sprouts with tortilla encrusted flounder…Riquisimo!


1lb of brussel sprouts
3 tbs. of salted butter
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1/3 cup of Bourbon
1 tsp. of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 Flounder filets
1/2 cup of buttermilk
Multi-coloured tortillas
1tsp. of Adobo seasoning
2 lime wedges


Tortilla encrusted flounder:

– Season flounder filets with Adobo seasoning and marinate in buttermilk for an hour in the refrigerator
– Crunch multi-coloured tortilla chips with your hands until the chips are of a small corn flake consistency
– Remove filets from buttermilk bath and remove any excess milk
– Coat filets with the tortilla chips and bake in an oven for 30-40 min. at 375 degrees

Bourbon Brussel Sprouts:

РSauté brussel sprouts in salted butter and minced garlic at a medium low heat
– Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
– Add Bourbon, cover and summer at a low heat for 10 minutes

*Serve with rice or couscous with lime wedges or avocado slices

Le Bon Temps Rouler a lo Latino!


New Orleans Living Magazine Social Editor Margarita Bergen

I am still on cloud nine y’all! Yesterday was so fabulous! It was such an honor to be Margarita Bergen’s guest speaker. 250 people for her annual round table! My book flew off of the tables! I interviewed 13 Latino New Orleanians for my cookbook and Margarita was one of them. Her story is a riot! She has a champagne alter, a cute dog named Duchess and a hat collection to die for! She is originally from the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York. She came to New Orleans after a broken heart and has truly become a New Orleans socialite. To know her is to love her and everyone is addressed as ‘Darling’. To read more about Margarita get a copy of my book New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking. I can’t wait for her Christmas party this Sunday in the French Quarter! Stay tuned for pics! Le Bon Temps Rouler Darlings! And please if you buy a copy of my book send me a pic of you with the book and recipe and email me at I will post your pic on my blog! You are helping spread the word to the world about the rich Latino culinary history in New Orleans!




Christmas in New Orleans: Royal Sonesta Hotel Roundtable with Margarita Bergen

That was DECADENT!!! I had so much fun speaking and signing books for my book New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking!!!Thanks New Orleans socialite Margarita Bergen!!!!














My cookbook just made best cookbook for 2013! Thank you Nola Eater!

Who Dat! I am so grateful to be on the same list as New Orleans culinary legends as John Besh and Poppy Tooker! Thanks to all of those who are reading my cookbook! The book is really the little engine that could! New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking…Get your copy!


It’s Thursday Night!!! SCANDAL!!! Making a pot of Gumbo

Making Mrs. Saundra’s Famous Gumbo!!! We used to work together at the New Orleans School of Cooking. What an amazing woman and the best gumbo I have ever had next to my paw paw. I wish I had his recipe. Gumbo and Scandal..Le Bon Temps Rouler!



Support Local Bookstores! Signed copies available at Octavia Books

Octavia Books in New Orleans has been so awesome to me! I really appreciate their support. To order a signed copy of New Orleans con Sabor Latino: The History and Passion of Latino Cooking visit Octavia Books, New Orleans a own online. Great Xmas present and most of the chefs including me signed copies.