Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2/19/13 ChefElla's Gotta Have Gumbo


Gumbo???  Gumbo???  "What is Gumbo?" I asked.  
My Dad then asked where I had heard of Gumbo.  I told him that one of my friends went to a place called New Orleans and that she had eaten Gumbo while she was there.  Then I told him that I did not know where New Orleans was or what Gumbo was.  My Dad pulled out a map of the United States and pointed to Louisiana.  He said, "New Orleans is here."  Well that was one mystery solved, but that left the mystery of, what is Gumbo?  He explained that Gumbo is a spicy stew with vegetables and meat served over rice, and that is very popular there.  But if it is popular there, then why not here I asked?  My Dad explained that every area of the country has their own special foods.  Some foods are special because the ingredients only grow in that part of the country, and some recipes are special because the people who live their made them up.  For example you can get a Philly cheesesteak sandwich in other parts of the country, but it originally came from Philadelphia.   You can get Texas toast, or a Coney Island Hot Dog, or Boston Cream Pie, but all of them originally came from other parts of the country.  And so we are back to Gumbo, a spicy vegetable and meat stew, served over rice from New Orleans, Louisiana.  

For this recipe you will need to use the stove and a knife.  If you are not allowed to use the stove or a knife by yourself you can have a grown up help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a cutting board, a knife, measuring spoons, a wooden spoon, a fork, a
    fine mesh strainer, a sauce pot with a lid and a large stock pot.

Ingredients: (This recipe will make 6-8 servings)
2 Cups     Long Grain White or Brown Rice
                -Cook with 3 cups water.  This should make 6 cups of cooked rice.
                -Always follow the directions on the rice you buy.
                -If you do not want to cook rice you can also buy par-cooked or pre-cooked rice.
1 Med.    Green Pepper, Small Dice
1 Small    White Onion, Small Dice
4 oz         White Mushrooms, Sliced
3 each      Large Roma Tomatoes, Diced
3 Stalks   Celery, Small Dice
4 Tbl.       Butter
6 Tbl.       Whole Wheat Flour
32 oz       Chicken Stock, Low Sodium
2 Tbl.      Cajun Spice
                -You can find many recipes online to make your own spice, or you can buy cajun spice mix
                  at the store.
                -If you make your own spice mix, and do not like your Gumbo very spicy, you can just leave
                 the cayenne pepper out.
14-16oz   Turkey Kielbasa, thin sliced rounds
8 oz          Shrimp 41-50, peeled, tail-off, deveined
                 -41-50 is the number of shrimp per pound.  For example 26-30 shrimp would be 26 to 30
                  shrimp per pound, and are bigger than 41-50's.  If you would like to use bigger or smaller
                  shrimp for you dish you can.
3.  Heat 3 cups of water in your sauce pot over high heat.
4.  Pour rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water.  When the water runs clear it is ready.
     Washing the rice will remove any excess starch and keep it from sticking together.
5.  When the water comes to a boil add the rice.  Bring the rice back to a boil and then cover.  Turn the
     heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  When done remove from heat and uncover.
6.  Heat your stock pot on the stove over medium high heat.
7.  Add the butter to the pan.  When it is melted add the green peppers, onions, celery and mushrooms.
8.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Add the cajun spice and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
9.  Add the flour and sauté for 2-3 additional minutes.  Add the stock and mix well.
10.  Bring the Gumbo to a boil.  The Gumbo will thicken.  Turn the flame to medium and add the
      kielbasa, shrimp and tomatoes.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
11.  To serve, put rice in a bowl, and top with Gumbo.

Traditionally, Gumbo does not have mushrooms or tomatoes in it, but I like the flavor that mushrooms and tomatoes add to my Gumbo.  For a more traditional Gumbo you can leave out the tomatoes and mushrooms and substitute 6 oz of a vegetable called okra.  You can find sliced okra in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Just add the okra when you add your meat to the recipe.
If you would like to use different kinds of meat in your Gumbo just substitute whatever you like.  Chicken, Duck, Turkey, and different types of sausage will all go well in your own recipe.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2/5/13 ChefElla's Eggplant Omaha

Even though I like to try new foods sometimes even I find foods that I do not want to try.  This is what happened when my Mom tried to make eggplant one night.  I saw the eggplant and decided right away that it could not possibly taste good.  Eggplant is dark purple on the outside and white on the inside with little seeds, and there was no way I was going to eat it.
This past summer I was visiting my great great aunt and my cousins in Omaha and my aunt made dinner for us.  I did not know what it was, but it was so good.  I was so surprised and a little embarrassed to find out that the dish we had was eggplant.  I learned that night you cannot always judge your food simply by how it looks.

For this recipe you will need to use the oven and a knife.  If you are not allowed to use the oven or a knife by yourself you can have a grown up help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a cutting board, a knife, measuring cups, a spoon, a fork, a medium
     bowl, a large bowl, a large plate, a cookie sheet and a baking dish.

Ingredients: (This recipe will make 6-8 servings)
1 Large    Eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch rounds.
1 Cup       Whole Wheat Flour
3 Large    Eggs
2 Cups      Panko Bread Crumbs, or Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs.
1 Jar         Marinara or Pasta Sauce.  Use whatever kind sauce is your favorite.
1 Each      Fresh Mozzarella Log 16oz.
                -You can also use a large Fresh Mozzarella Ball - Baseball Sized.
                -Mozzarella comes in many different sizes.
                     *Ovoline - Egg Sized Balls
                     *Ciliegine - Cherry Sized Balls
                     *Bocconcini - Bite Sized Balls
                     *There are also Mozzarella Logs, Shreds and Slices

3.  Pre-heat your oven to 425F.
4.  While the oven is heating wash and then cut your eggplant into slices.  
5.  Crack eggs in a medium bowl and whip with a fork until the eggs are all one light yellow color.
6.  Pour bread crumbs into your big bowl.
7.  Pour whole wheat flour onto your plate.
8.  Cover your cookie sheet with foil and line your baking dish with foil.
9.  Take one piece of eggplant and place in the flour.  Turn the eggplant over to coat the other side.
     Tap the eggplant to remove excess flour.  Line coated eggplant pieces on counter.  Repeat until each
     slice is coated.
10.  Then working from left to right (eggs, bread crumbs, cookie sheet), dip a slice of eggplant into egg
       mixture, and then into bread crumbs.  Flip the eggplant over to coat both sides.  The crumbs will
       coat the eggplant.  Place the finished eggplant on your cookie sheet.  Repeat with each slice until
       all pieces are breaded.  
11.  Bake the eggplant for 20 minutes.  The eggplant is done when the crumbs are crispy on the
       outside and they may begin to turn brown in color.
12.  While the eggplant is cooking, cut your mozzarella into slices.  Pour a thin layer of sauce in the
       bottom of your baking dish.
13.  When the eggplant comes out of the oven let it sit for a few minutes.
14.  Put the eggplant into the baking dish on top of the sauce.
15.  With your spoon top each piece of eggplant with sauce.  The sauce should thinly
       cover each piece.  Top each piece with a slice of mozzarella.  Return the eggplant to the oven and
       bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Serve your eggplant on a bun as a sandwich, or with your favorite pasta as a meal.