Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Okra "Gumbo"

Bet you are all surprised to see me back so soon!!!  I needed to make a meal that would last for the week.  I didn't want to make a bunch of things and have a ton of left overs, plus I was trying to get rid of what I already had.  I've had a can of lima beans sitting in my cuboard that I've been meaning to use but haven't gotten around to.  The weather has been really crappy, cold and rainy so I figured what better way to end this cold weather with a nice soup!  Hopefully this is the last of the bad weather and I can go on with my summer meals. 

I looked up a lima bean soup recipe and found one that looked promising.  It called for flour which reminded me of making a roux.  I got out all the ingredients and decided to go a completly different direction and just try and make a gumbo instead....well my version of a gumbo at least.  I wasn't sure if it would really turn out like a gumbo, or just a thick soup, but either way it should taste good...

The results were great!  I should have cooked the roux longer to get a darker color, therefore more flavor.  But at least I know for next time.  I feel great about this because I finally have a base to start creating my masterpiece!   Here is the recipe of what I made this time, along with some sub notes about changes I want to make. 

3 Tablespoons of oil
3 Tablespoons of flour
approximately 3 stems of celery
approximately 1 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
4 cups of water
1 can of lima beans
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Rougly two cups of chopped frozen okra (I didn't measure, so just use to your own discretion)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
a bunch of slap ya mama cajun seasoning to taste.  I would start with 1 teaspoon and add more if desired
pinch of cayenne
A few dashes of hot sauce, I use Louisiana Hot Sauce
Cooked rice, depends on how many you are feeding

1.  Heat oil in large soup pot.  Add chopped onions, garlic and celery.  Cook until soft.
2.  Add flour and saute, constantly stirring (you don't want to stop stirring because it will burn, which you would then have to start over).  I cooked mine for about 30 minutes.  You want it to be a nice dark carmel color.  It can take awhile.  Mine wasn't quite ready after 30 minutes but my stove cooks very slow so times may vary.  Next time I would cook for longer.
3.  Add the water and make sure the roux gets completely disolved with the water.  It should be a dark tan color.  Mine was only a light brown, which wasn't dark enough.  It still turned out okay, but more like a soup than a gumbo
4.  Add the can of lima beans, tomatoes, okra, and seasoning.  Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or so.
5.  Taste and add more seasonings if desired
6.  Serve over rice

Suggestions:  I typically dont like tomatoes in my gumbo, I wasn't going to add them but after seeing I didn't cook my roux long enough I felt it was going to need something.  Next time if I get the roux right I would omit.  Like stated above you have to be patient with the roux, which I usually am not.  Which is why I'm having to try for a second time to get it right.  But don't be too pressured to get it right the first time, it was still yummy even if it wasn't exactly what I was going for. 

I don't know how much I will be posting while I'm away, so this is a little southern goodbye for now.  Hopefully I'll be writing soon! 

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Everyone Up to Date!!! Green Bean Risotto

I officially am the worst blogger ever!!!!  I'm pretty sure my last 3 posts have all started with...whooppss sorry it's been so long!  Well lets go for a record....Sorry it's been so long!!!  This time it was partially not my fault.  I accidentally left my laptop at my mom's house after Mothers Day and am just getting it back.  As always I've been doing a lot of eating...not a ton of cooking. 

When I think back I'm not sure exactly what I've been busy with...but I know I have been because I haven't been in the kitchen too much.  Just cooking things I've aleady posted about...or not interesting enough to bore you with.  =)  This is my last week in town before I leave for Austin and New Orleans for two weeks so I'm going to be cleaning out my fridge and busy with work and packing!  I'll be sure to take lots of pictures while I'm away!  I've already mapped out where the closest whole foods is in NOLA.  I'm pretty sure I'm planning on carrying around a cooler with essentials everywhere I go.  I'm hoping to still find some good down home southern cooking that is vegan.  It's my first trip back being vegan, so I'm not really prepared.  Wish me luck! 

Now on to what you really came here to read...vegan FOOD!  For mothers' day my dad was going to barbeque, which is always one of my favorite family time meals.  There is something about the grill that makes a veggie burger taste just perfect!  Add a little barbeque and I'm golden.  The weather wasn't all that great so we didn't go all out.  I typically like to add some potatoes or veggies but we just stuck to the "meat:" this time.  My mom had garlic rolls so I cut my veggie burger in half to fit, with some vegenaise, mustard, pickles and onions..the perfect veggie sandwich.  As you all know I've been wanting to make a risotto.  After making the risotto soup and getting the right type of rice I thought  I was ready.  I didn't follow any specific recipe.  I just looked up online how you generally cook risotto and took it from there.  It turned out really good!  I was pleasantly surprised! 

Green Bean Risotto:

1 Cup of Arborio Rice
3 1/2-4 cups of broth (use a nice flavored one)
1/2 to 1 onion depending on the size and your preference
A few cloves of garlic
A few tablespoons of butter
1 pound of green beans (I used frozen)

1.  Melt the butter, add chopped onions and garlic and cook until fragrant
2.  Add the rice and saute until the rice for about 3 minutes or so.  You want the rice to absorb the flavors of the garlic, onion and butter.  If you are modifying the recipe, put any of your fragrant flavors in with the butter and then add the rice last so it can take in those flavors.
3.  Meanwhile heat your broth in a separate pot and simmer.  You want it warm, doesn't need to be boiling.  Keep it on the stove, as you are going to slowly add the broth to the rice and you want it warm the whole time.  This is key!!  I didn't do this in my first risotto and it didn't work. I ended up slaving over the stove for hours with a goupy mess, and hard rice.
4.  Add the heated broth to the rice 1/2 cup at a time.  Once the broth has been almost completely absorbed add more broth until it is all gone.  You want to continually stir to keep the rice from burning.  The rice when done will be fluffy and soft but still have a bite to it. 
5.  Since I used frozen green beans I heated them up in the microwave (to save on pots) just until they were slightly cooked but were still crisp and bright green. 
6.  Once the risotto was done add the cooked green beans to the rice and mix well. 

VOILA!!!  This recipe was generally pretty easy, other then standing over the stove.  It only took me about 30 minutes to add all of the broth to the rice.  So not too bad.  It's been more than a week since I've made it so I'm hoping I didn't forget anything.  Honestly the recipe is super adaptable so you can add whatever you'd like! 

I do have one more recipe for you.  I made this on a whim with what I had in the fridge and it turned out pretty good and is super easy, adaptable as well.  I had the canned croissant rounds that had been sitting in my fridge waiting to be used.  I also had some cream cheese and daiya and decided to make a simple calzone!  Just open the can of croissant rounds, I made a square about the size I was looking for (one can made two calzones).  I spread half of the dough with tofutti cream cheese, topped with chopped kalamata olives and a little horseradish.  Sprinkled some daiya cheese, then folded the other half of the dough on top.  Sealed with a fork so all sides were closed.  Made a few slits in the top to let air escape and baked for about 10 minutes in the oven.  They were yummy!  Then you can dip in marinara or vegan ranch...super easy!  Just add your favorite toppings. 

Enjoy friends....I hope it won't be as long between posts but no promises with my vacation coming up.  I will be bringing my laptop with me so if I get a chance I'll post while I'm away!  Till next time!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Left Over Phenomenon

I cannot tell a lie...I have been completely absent in the kitchen since Easter.  I don't think I've cooked much but green beans on the stove, and the microwave to heat up left overs.  My fridge was full of good food to eat, and I've been totally satisfied with just that.  Plus I've been keeping busy.  Not that I don't love to cook, but it's been nice to take a break and just have food ready in the fridge to heat up.  I'm planning on making enchiladas for cinco de mayo, maybe some good guac and margaritas!!  So stay tuned for that.  My mom also gave me a pre-made pizza crust so I'll probably whip up a pizza in the next few days.  So don't worry I'll be back soon. 

One thing I did want to mention was that the etouffee was sooo delicious the next day...who am I kidding the whole next week!  I just finished the last of it today and it was soo yummy.  As any roux based meals it always tastes better the next day after the flavors have time to meld together.  So if you decide to make the etouffee make sure you have left overs to try the next day.  You won't be sorry! 

Sorry such a short post with no pics!  Till next time!

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!