Friday, January 20, 2012

White Bean Galore

When I made the gumbo last week I was originally going to add white beans.  I started cooking a bag of dried white beans and by the time I realized the gumbo didn't need beans they were already half way through cooking.  After that I knew what I would be eating for awhile. 

There is a restaraunt by me that sells white bean and artichoke bean dip with olive tapenade.  Its super yummy!  I knew one day when I had an abundance of white beans that this is exactly what I was going to do with them.  I found plenty of recipes online for artichoke white bean dip.  Some call for cheese, which is easily left out.  I found this recipe from the Sprout and Pea blog.  I made a few adjustments to it based on what I had.  Kalamata olives are my favorite so I went with a kalamata olive tapenade to top it off.  I found this recipe from My Life as a Mrs. Blog.  Both came out great.   

The spread is good on top of crackers or toasty bread.  I even came up with a yummy sandwich.  I spread vegan butter on two slices of bread.  Heat a panini press, George Foreman Grill, or pan on the stove top.  Put butter side down on the grill.  Spread the one slice of the bread with the white bean/artichoke dip, top with the kalamata olive tapenade.  Add a slice of vegan cheese and spinach.  Top with the second piece of bread.  And Grill.  Delicioius!  Those lovely onion rings next to the sammy came from a recipe I found on pinterest.  They were super easy to make.   My only advice is when you dip the onion rings in the batter lightly shake the rings to get excess batter off.  Then when you dip in the bread crumbs lightly dip once on each side.  This will help keep the bread crumbs from getting clumpy. 

I still had a ton of white beans left and I found yet another recipe on Pinterest.  I left out the cheese of course.  It was good but needed a lot of seasoning.  I even took a tablespoon or so of the olive tapenade and mixed it in with the soup and it was surprisingly delicious.  It was a good hot soup for a cold winters day.    

I didn't take any pictures but I also made a white bean chili.  Here is the link for the recipe.  It was a quick and easy chili when you need something in a rush.  Thought I'd share for those who need aquick chili recipe. 

That is all for now.  Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vegetarian Okra Gumbo

Hello Blog world!!  So much has happened in the last few months I don't even know where to start.  My last post in November before Thanksgiving was like the calm before the storm.  My life has been some what of a whirl wind these past few months and life is finally settling down.  Some good and some bad whirl wind. 

I'll try to catch everyone up on the goingson in my life without boring you with too many details. My husband, parents and Bella took a road trip for Thanksgiving up to Utah to visit my Uncle, Aunt and Cousin.  It was a great trip.  In the scheme of things they are the closest relatives by far and we don't see them often enough.  After that we can home for just a few short weeks and the incomprehensible happened, my grandmother passed away.  She was an AMAZING woman who has created such a legacy.  She's one of those people that I naively thought would be here forever.  Her passing was hard on all of us, but we all gathered back home in New Orleans to celebrate her life and enjoy the memories she left behind.  I'm so grateful I was able to go home.  Staying at her house was like a blanket.  It was comfortable and warm with not only her memories but the family that gathered there. 

After returning home we had just a week before Christmas.  My head was still spinning with everything that had just happened, but I was able to gather my bearings and get ready for Christmas.  Baking cookies for work, white elephant gift exchange party, finishing last minute christmas gift purchases, while still working full time.  In the meantime my sister from Austin flew in and stayed for two weeks.  It was (like always) so nice to have her around.  Meg if you're reading COME HOME!!  :)  Christmas and New Years came and went full of family time, taking trips, cooking, watching movies, the works!  Needless to say it was quite a crazy end of the year and start to 2012.  We've already attended one birthday party (for my awesome sister in law I may add!) and one to go.  I have a feeling this year is going to fly by.  My resolution to hold onto every day.  Enjoy the hear and now without wishing for time to speed up. 

I know I know...I've written a novel already and I haven't even gotten to the recipe!  So my mom found me some delicous fresh okra at the farmers market.  I never find okra in the super market or even at farmers market for that reason so I was very excited to have some fresh!!  I HAD to make a gumbo.  There really wasn't a choice.  To save on time my parents use a Richard's Cajun Roux that comes from a jar.  A side cajun lesson.  Richard in Richard's Cajun Roux is pronounced REE-SHAUD.  Roux is the base of the gumbo.  We typically make it by hand but it was already getting late so I went the lazy route.  Roux can take hours to make.  You have to cook oil and flour over the stove and constantly stir until it gets really dark.  If you stop stirring it will burn.  It's not very difficult, just a time consuming process.  So if you are like me and looking for a short cut this is the way to go.  Only problem is not all of you will be able to buy it in the store.  We typically pick ours up when we're back in New Orleans.  You may be able to find it in some specialties stores like World Market or the speciaility aisle of your grocer.  If you can't buy it in the store you can always make it by hand.  Enlist a friend to help stir.  The outcome will be WELL worth it.  If you've never eaten gumbo you haven't lived yet.  :) 

Another tip about the roux.  The oil settles at the top.  The easiest way is to dump everything into a bowl and stir until you get a uniform consistency like above.  You won't use the whole jar for one batch (unless you're feeding an army) so just spoon it back in the left overs.  Below is the recipe I came up with based on our families tradition, my past attempts and many online recipes that I made into my own.  Feel free to search out there for other variations.  There are plenty out there, but this is my favorite. 

1-1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Medium Onion chopped
3-4 Stalks of Celery chopped
1-2 Green or Red Bell Peppers (or a mixture of both)
3-4 Cloves of garlic minced
Approximately 14-15 fresh okra pods (I used about half of what is shown above)
1 can of diced tomatoes with the juice (I used a onion/garlic mix, but you can use regular, with green chili's, whatever you have on hand)
1 teaspoon of cajun seasoning.  Start here and add more if desired, I usually add a little more
A few dashs of Louisiana hot sauce.  Crystal is my favorite. 
Salt/Pepper to taste
A few dashes of cayenne pepper
6 Tablespoons of pre-made roux
*or heat 3 T of Oil and 3 T of Flour over medium heat to make a roux.  Constantly stir until it is a dark brown in color.  Be careful not to burn it! 
4 Cups of water
White or Brown rice

1.  Start cooking rice depending on how many people you are feeding.
2.  If using a pre-made roux start here, if making from scratch start making the roux now in a separate pot (directions above).  Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic.  Saute until the veggies are soft and onions translucent. 
3.  Slice okra, discard stem and end.  Add to pot with the other veggies along with the can of tomatoes (with juice), and spices.  Saute until the okra is soft, not mushy just soft. 
4.  Add roux and water to the pot.  Stir everything together until the roux is completely dissolved in the water.  Continue to cook for about 20 minutes or so on simmer.  Your rice should be done by now. 
5.  In each individual bowl put a little bit of rice a lot of gumbo, top with salt if needed, a few dashes of hot sauce and file (e with an accent, pronounced FEE-LAY). 

TIP:  The roux tasted a little burnt when I first made it. If you add a little water and make sure it's well seasoned with salt and cajun seasoning it should remidy that.  I think the batch of roux I got was a little darker than normal.

Sorry for the long post.  My life is hopefully settling down and maybe I'll get a chance to come back to regular blogging. 

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!