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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series: The Cajun/Creole Trinity

The Cajun/ Creole Trinity

As we continue on our  road to the Gumbo Pot we are now leading up to the heart of it all. Every culture has its own melange of herbs, spices or vegetables that gives it a taste all its own to claim. This is an identifiable,unique blueprint that will distinguish one flavor from another..
 This blueprint lets each taste bud  know whether its Asian food, Latin, African  or American food I'm eating today. With that being said , the trinity or sometimes dubbed the Holy Trinity is likewise used for Cajun/Creole cooking.  The onions, green pepper, and celery  whether roughly chopped or merely a fine mince, is the soul of Cajun/Creole cooking.

Cajun cooking has a history of its own, although both are renowned throughout Louisiana.Cajun style is a low-country ,rustic style.Locally available ingredients were and still commonly used . A roux is used also.

Creole cooking is a refined ,more structured style and is called city cooking. Therefore a larger variety of choice ingredients are used. You can taste the difference between an Cajun and Creole Gumbo. It's a matter of preference, for instance if we compare Cantonese style Chinese food vs. Szechuan or Mandarin its all about location,location, location.
The Creoles have a its own similar and contrasting history too. Both cultures are tied to French descendants settling in Southern Louisiana ,but the Creoles are a mix of French, African, and Spanish in which accounts for the distinction in the seasonings as well.
Bay Leaves,Thyme and Majoram

One last important combo we must not omit. These herbs and spices are not inclusive in the trinity, but are just as equally important. Notice the garlic cloves above with the veggies, and bay leaves thyme and majoram. I would say 90% of the time will be added.

We are almost ready to get our Gumbo pots to a rolling boil now. Thanksgiving is next up ,we won't let Gumbo steal the thunder from Turkey day! By the time Christmas menu planning comes around we will be well informed and equipped to make the best pot of gumbo there is.
Follow my next post, right on up to the recipe. Until next posting ,enjoy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Creating Fun with leftover cakebatter- Climb out of the Rut!

A Domed Mini-polka Dot Cake

It's definitely all about making fun and the most of what you have.I'm always baking something around the house,whether a pie, cookies or cakes and pastries. Typically we bakers make cupcakes with the extra cake batter that could not fill up our smallest of smallest cake pans. This time I tried something different and I liked the results hopefully you guys will too.
I had a mini-doll cake pan set that is used for cake dolls, instead of creating a doll I covered the baked dome in fondant.

By chance I happened to be out and about with my Granddaughter at the local discount department store and as the cliche goes, I wasn't looking for anything in particular. This polka-dot domed shaped pastry set caught my eye at the checkout counter.
 I already had polka-dot sprinkles in my cake decorating stash to match and Voila!
And the point is, think out of the box from time to time when you're in a creativity rut like I was momentarily. Change the routine around with your baking pans, flip them around, turn them sideways whatever and see what happens.
Just have fun!

It worked out perfect! I had polka-dot sprinkles in my cake decorating stash already and Voila!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series: The Rue to the Velvety Roux!

As promised let's decipher the most important code to make the perfect gumbo roux. And the secret code is patience with a capital P! Although I sometimes cheat myself and cook the quick method.

Before I lay out the basics, well what exactly is a roux? Here we go it's simpler than we think.
It's simply equal parts vegetable oil and flour mixed together in a pan or skillet, cooked on low-heat until the desired color.

 For gumbos and Etouffe we want a dark chocolate roux. You can make a small batch or a large batch,save it store it in the refrigerator to use later especially if you cook Louisiana dishes all the time.
 The color ranges from a blond to brown, again color depends on the recipe at hand, typically the blond or lighter version are made with butter. These are beginnings of your mother sauces.

Take look at the stages of making a roux for gumbo, sometimes you may need to add more oil, it should shine a little as you will see.

Blond Roux
Stir,stir and stir!

Chocolate Roux

This is what you want in your Gumbo this year, be it Creole Seafood, Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage. Smooth ,shiny, clump free roux. It should have a nutty aroma and taste!

Be sure to check out my next posting on the trinity of Louisiana/Creole Cookery ,were almost ready to start a pot cooking for the holidays or anytime you crave it.
Make some roux this week, try it and if you have any questions,subscribe to my post,email me.

"Surprise your tastebuds".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gumbo Flavor of the Month- Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Our season for firing up our stock pots and slow cookers is definitely at its peak. Autumn soups, stews are in full bloom. Now we want to slowly but surely transition into the Winter concoctions no doubt.

One of my popular soups to make  during the freezing days of Winter is an American southern classic,
During a previous post on soups I skimmed over the surface on a description of Gumbo.
And now I will follow up with my Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series until March.

Although it can be served up anytime of year, nothing beats that hot spicy flavors of Gumbo in the heart of  Fall/Winter. Gradually starting with your simplest recipe, and building the momentum until Christmas and Mardi Gras to showcase your best gumbo of the year.

But before we begin with my recipe, let's be on the same page and grasp the basics of a delicious,bonafide batch of mojo.

The Gumbo series is for serious lovers of this dish, once you've had a good batch you won't settle for mediocracy!
Shrimp and Louisiana Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Recipe soon to be posted in the Louisiana Specialties section.

Now before we move on to cooking up that delicious batch of Gumbo, we must run through the basics of  Gumbo cookery.
What is Gumbo? It is a soup that includes a melange of specific ingredients combined to create a taste that is unique to the Cajun/Creole culture in Louisiana.
Making Gumbo is a process, in my flavor of the month series I will highlight the most important steps in preparing it.
There are short cuts of course, but to truly savor the authenticity of this Louisiana classic, follow these steps.
The first and foremost important step is making your roux. The second must have ingredient in any gumbo is the trinity of Creole cooking, and finally selecting the correct staples to put in your Gumbo will make the all the difference in the world.
I will cover the basics for creating the gumbo roux in my next posting of the Gumbo Flavor of the Month Series.
We will continue from there until the finale ending in March , so please stay posted.