Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Dog Ate My Homework; I Ate the Gumbo

Holy crap. Here it is Lent already, and I'm just now getting around to Mardi Gras.
Not that I am religious. Ho, boy, no. In fact, I might just go and enjoy Pancake Day tomorrow, even though it was supposed to be two days ago. Yum, pancakes. I might substitute crepes. Wait, I have a recipe for Korean pancakes!
I confess that Pancake Day is alien to my culture. Never heard of it until a few years ago, when a Brit friend described her to-die-for flapjacks with lemon and sugar. Wow, that sounds better than meat, which is what you're supposed to overconsume on the eve of Lent and its 40 days of privations.
And you know what else? I don't know anything about Lent. I'm not a lapsed Catholic, I'm a neo-atheist based on sturdy Protestant stock. Well, my dad was a Mormon; is that even Protestant?
And I am also an American.
In America, Mardi Gras is synonymous with New Orleans.
With ingredients almost entirely on hand already, today I stirred up a pot of gumbo. (We only had to buy celery and a green pepper; I chose a mildly spicy poblano.)
My mentor, Paul Prudhomme, says to quick-stir the roux over high heat until it's dark red or even brown. I always chicken out and use a lower temperature. I also chicken out and quit when it's the color of peanut butter. This recipe is structurally similar to what I cooked; I used shrimp instead of chicken. Forget about all that proprietary commercial stuff in the ingredients. Wing it.
I am just about at the point where I can wing this dish without a recipe. Today I did a little remedial spicing when it turned out the proportion of thickened chicken stock was too high for the amount of (dried, always dried) spices and herbs I had put in.
A little andouille, a little shrimp, a scoop of rice. Bon temps!
And dog bless.


Paula Maack said...

Yum! That gumbo looks good!!!

I don't have the patience to make gumbo, so I made Shrimp 'n Grits (a new favorite), instead.

I'm not Catholic either, but I was baptized Catholic, so that counts, right?

Like yourself, I like to get into the spirit of things. I had a major pancake weekend, and ate more pancakes than I usually do in a season. I blogged about Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Orange Honey Butter, should you be interested.

Happy belated Mardi Gras!

~ Paula

Zoomie said...

I love that big scoop of rice in the middle - I'd never have thought of serving it that way and it "makes" the picture! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Sweet Bird said...

I love gumbo.

A lot.

Like, I would run away to Cabo with gumbo.

dancingmorganmouse said...

I was raised Catholic (sort of) so we always had pancake Tuesday and were made to give up icecream & lollies for Lent - I got to cheat (and did, being raised it doesn't mean it's going to take) because my best friend wasn't Catholic and I could always go to her house. We ate fish and chips on Fridays too.
Mr Brown & I still eat fish on Fridays because we like fish and I can grab some fresh on the way home. And we like pancakes, so generally don't pass by any excuse to eat some.
But I missed it this year too, I blame the secular media for not reminding me :)

dancingmorganmouse said...

I love to eat gumbo but not as much as I love to say jambalaya!

cookiecrumb said...

Paula: I LOVE that pancake recipe. I've got an orange tree, so we're all set. I totally grok your SoCal upbringing; I currently live in a tract in NoCal that is completely Southern California -- North.
I'll be checking out your shrimp 'n' grits; unlike most people, I like grits.

Zoomie: I've done it in a zillion different presentations. This seemed prettiest.

Birdie: Cabo Gumbo! Jumbo Cabo Gumbo!

Morgan: Damn the secular media! Interfering with our menus, and all. Me, I like to forage among all other religions' feasts. Just don't make me pray.

Anna Haight said...

I'm with you on foraging feasts Cookiecrumb! My mother took me to a different place of worship every Sunday on a "expose her to all and let her choose later theory".

el said...

I'm surprised your celery didn't overwinter; even straggly stems rock for a roux. (And I am with you in that I wimp out before it turns dark-brown too.) Either way that looks warm and toasty, CC.

On Tuesday we ate paczki, as that's what's traditional fare here. Pancakes might've been better though!

altadenahiker said...

This is what I've been craving. (No chicken evah in my gumbo.)

Brittany said...

never heard of pancake weekend, but it certainly sounds like party.

You serve your gumbo just like I do (the RIGHT way), with a scoop of rice in the middle .

Nom nom nommy.

cookiecrumb said...

Anna: That's enlightened. But did you get to eat the food?

El: I didn't plant celery last summer. It's good, but almost too strong in my mouth... and then the slugs discovered it.
Paczki? I will Google that.

AHiker: I gotta tell you, it's bonehead easy to make. I just read a note from a blog pal who's making a THREE-HOUR ROUX! Nuh uh, nothin' doin'.

Brittany: Oh good lord, girlie. It's Pancake Tuesday! Same as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. What a discovery indeed!
Thanks for the comment on the rice scoop. I didn't even mind that a corner broke off and fell in.

cook eat FRET said...

again, i just don't resonate with food from new orleans. not that if you put it down in front of me i wouldn't eat it and like it - i just don't get excited about the thought of it. the ingredients. gumbo - jambalaya... whateva.

pancakes make me very very very very happy though.


Greg said...

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! Pancakes and Gumbo mmmmm

altadenahiker said...

Done! and delicious. (Three hour roux? Is she insane?)

The Italian Dish said...

I loooove gumbo. Looks great. And I agree about the roux - I couldn't bring myself to cook it that long/dark.

Sam said...

flapjack? huh?

Sam said...


cookiecrumb said...

Claudia: I haven't made pancakes yet. I'm really dragging this out, and before you know it, I'll be having to think about St. Pat's day.

Greg: Yeah! Pancakes for dessert! Good idea.

AHiker: You did it! Cute. I've got half a batch leftover in the fridge; yum.

Italian Dish: I admit I have tried to get it darker. My best attempt was a "two-beer roux." After a point, you start wanting to eat dinner, already!

Sam: Ohmygah. I forgot you limeys had your own version of a flapjack. Har! I was just trying to Americanize the sentence. Hee. What a great post that was. No, I am not going to nag you about blogging. xo

KathyF said...

Whoops. A Brit would never call a pancake a flapjack, and I see that she didn't. Flapjacks are like granola bars, for lack of a better comparison.

Let's not even talk about what they do to gumbo here.

Oh wait, I see you've been alerted to the flapjack misnomer. Funny.

Passionate Eater said...

I think your gumbo looks incredible, even if it is just a peanut butter brown!

cookiecrumb said...

Kathy: You are correct. I had learned of this British abomination (joke!) and promptly forgotten. For me, a pancake is still a flapjack. But then, I live in the USA. I admire how much English culture you are absorbing.

PE: Oh, you're all experienced NOLA cook now, aren't you? (I bet you really are.)

Edie said...

Gumbo is great any way you make it...seafood, okra, chicken & sausage...the list goes on and on. I love the fact that you try to "wing" it as the best Gumbo's are made that way, IMO! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

cookiecrumb said...

Edie: Thanks! It just tastes so good. And I am a big fan of the slimy okra; just didn't use any this time.