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Archive for February 27, 2014

MARDI GRAS: Gumbalaya Recipe

Gumba-what?

If you can’t decide between gumbo or jambalaya for Mardi Gras (this year on March 4th), go for gumbalaya, a combination of both.

  • Gumbo is a Cajun stew that typically consists of a strongly meat or shellfish stock, the Cajun “trinity” (bell peppers and onions), and a variety of proteins such as andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp, served with rice. Okra is often used as a thickener. The name is believed to derive from the Bantu word for okra, ki ngombo.
  • Jambalaya, a rice dish related to paella, is Cajun by way of the Caribbean Islands. The Spanish residents mixed native ingredients with stock and rice. The Atakapa tribe of the Southeastern U.S. contributed the name: The phrase “Sham, pal ha! Ya!” means “Be full, not skinny! Eat Up!,” the equivalent of “Bon appétit!” Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    And gumbalaya?

    After the widespread popularity of the cronut, Chef Mike Valentine of Ford’s Oyster House in Greenville, South Carolina thought it would be fun to create a mash-up of the two Cajun classics.

     

    louisiana-gumbo-mackenzie-230

    A classic Louisiana gumbo. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    RECIPE: FORD’S GUMBALAYA

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup green peppers, diced
  • 1/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (Chef Mike uses Crystal brand)
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning*
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound chicken boneless skinless breasts
  • 1 pound andouille† sausage
  •  
    Plus

  • 2 baguettes, cut into long slices and toasted (see photo below)
  •  
    *You can buy or make your own Creole seasoning. Here’s Emeril Lagasse’s version, which makes about 2/3 cup: Thoroughly blend 2-1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Store in an airtight container away from light. Use within three months.

     

    gumbalaya-best-fordsoysterhouse-230r

    Chef Mike Valentine’s new classic,
    gumbalaya. Photo courtesy Ford’s Oyster
    House.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Place chicken in a roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Let it stand for five minutes after taking it out of the oven, then cut into half inch pieces.

    2. COOK andouille sausage in the oven for 8 minutes at 350°F. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

    3. PLACE butter and flour in large saucepan. Turn on medium heat and cook while stirring constantly, until it becomes a light chocolate color. ADD green peppers, celery, onion, chicken, andouille sausage and bay leaves.

    4. ADD chicken stock, stirring constantly so the roux fully incorporates with the stock.

    5. ADD black pepper, cayenne pepper, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, oregano and thyme. Let the gumbo cook for 15 minutes. Add salt as needed.
     
    †FOOD TRIVIA: Andouille, pronounced on-DWEE, is a spicy smoked sausage made with pork and garlic. The word is French, from the Old French andoille. Andoille dervies from the Medieval Latin inductilia, things to be introduced, from the Latin inductus, past participle of indUcere, “to introduce into a casing.” Whew!

     

    RECIPE: JAMBALAYA SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup celery, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • ¼ cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 3 cups basic marinara sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes.

    2. ADD garlic, fresh thyme, oregano, cayenne, Creole seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and hot sauce. Lastly, add the marinara sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

    3. ADD cooked rice to jambalaya sauce; combine thoroughly. SERVE Serve gumbo in bowl with a heaping scoop of jambalaya/rice mixture and a side of toasted French bread. Option: Garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne and thyme (see photo).

      

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    RECIPE: Parmesan Popcorn, Jalapeño Popcorn

    Following up on our “Diet Oscars” menu, here’s a recipe for flavored popcorn. In addition to movie-watching (or movie award show-watching), gourmet popcorn goes well with cocktails, wine and beer.

    Don’t like cheese or rosemary? Head to Popcorn.org, the website of the The Popcorn Board, for scores of flavored popcorn recipes.

    The recipes yield four quarts of flavored popcorn: 16 one-cup servings (or for our family, four one-quart servings).

    We made these recipes with imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese because we love the superior flavor; but you can use domestic Parmesan. You’ll get better flavor if you grate it freshly, rather than buy pre-grated (and please, nothing from a can!). Here’s the difference between the imported and domestic versions.

     

    rosemary-parmigiano-popcorn-230

    Brighten up cheese popcorn with some rosemary. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    RECIPE: ROSEMARY & PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO POPCORN

    Ingredients For 4 Quarts

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely crushed rosemary (fresh or jarred)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (or substitute sea salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, optional
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl.

    2. MIX butter, olive oil and rosemary together in a small bowl; microwave 20 seconds to melt butter. Stir butter mixture and pour over popcorn; toss. Sprinkle cheese, garlic salt and pepper over popcorn.

    3. TOSS again and serve.

     

    cheesy-jalapeno-popcorn-recipe-230

    Kick up the cheese popcorn with jalapeño.
    Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    RECIPE: JALAPEÑO CHEESE POPCORN

    Ingredients For 16 One-Cup Servings

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2-3 teaspoons jalapeño green hot sauce or more to taste (you can substitute whatever hot sauce you have)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (substitute cheese with brewer’s yeast for a low fat alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle popcorn with hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

    2. TOSS and serve immediately.

     
    AND IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

    It’s a pleasant surprise: home-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can enjoy.

    It’s full of polyphenols, antioxidants that help to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to aging. In fact, popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food.

    It’s also a whole grain, packed with fiber. If you use just a little butter or cheese, you’re adding a bit of cholesterol; but it’s just as easy to skip the cheese, use olive oil, and pile on lots of herbs and spices.

    Note that prepackaged, store-bought microwave popcorn is less good for you, made with chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.

    So pop it yourself—it’s easy enough! You can also make the following recipe without oil; but the amount we use is neglible. For an interesting twist, experiment with other oils you may have on hand: nut oils, sesame oil, etc.
     
    RECIPE: EASY MICROWAVE POPCORN

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the popcorn and oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Add to bag and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.

    2. MICROWAVE on full power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, listening until you hear pauses of 2-3 seconds between pops and remove the bag from the microwave. (Even tough there may be some unpopped kernels, to continue cooking risks burning the popped kernels.)

    3. OPEN the bag carefully, releasing the hot steam; then pour into a serving bowl.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mardi Gras Colored Cocktails

    Mardi Gras is Tuesday, March 4th. You may not want to celebrate Mardi Gras in the traditional way, with Cajun and Creole cuisine, a King Cake and long strands of party beads.

    But you can serve classic New Orleans cocktails like the Hurricane, which has its own special hurricane lamp-shaped glass; or the Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans; a combination of cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters.

    Or, you can whip up a menu of cocktails in Mardi Gras’ theme colors of purple, gold and green.

    The colors were suggested by the Russian Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich Romanov in 1872, during his visit to New Orleans:

  • Purple represents justice
  • Gold represents power
  • Green represents faith
  •  
    But when applied to colored cocktails, they represent a good time.

    Thanks to Hendrick’s Gin for providing this idea, along with a Purple Basil Gimlet recipe below.

     

    Purple-Haze-pomwonderful-230

    A Purple Haze from Pom Wonderful. In the background, a Midori “Cosmopolitan”. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    We’ve made suggestions for purple, gold and green cocktails; you can easily find many recipes online. We’ve made simple cocktail suggestions below, e.g. vodka with a green liqueur. But you can add more ingredients, as long as they don’t decrease the intensity of the color.
     
    PURPLE COCKTAILS

  • Juice. Mix a clear spirit with currant juice or grape juice. Drinks with pomegranate juice (e.g., a Pomtini) can work, but they made need a touch of blackberry liqueur or blue Curaçao to make them more purple than red.
  • Liqueur. Add a touch of blackberry brandy, Black Sambuca, crème de cassis, grape schnapps, liqueur de violette or Parfait Amour, a purple liqueur based on Curaçao.
  • Soda. Add your favorite clear spirit to grape soda (one of our college favorites was Purple Passion, vodka and grape soda).
  • Vodka: Check out UV Purple Vodka, colored purple.
  • Food color: Color anything clear or white with these formulas from McCormick(25 drops equal 1/4 teaspoon food color: purple = 150 drops neon purple + 30 drops neon blue, gold = 100 drops yellow + 5 drops red; green = 150 drops green, 6 drops black. Make mocktails with lemon-lime or club soda.
  •  

    vip-cocktail-delfrisco-230s

    The VIP is the signature cocktail at Del
    Frisco’s Steak House. Photo courtesy Del
    Frisco’s.

     

    GOLD (YELLOW) COCKTAILS

  • Bellini & Mimosa. Almost everyone will be happy with these two famous yellow cocktails: Bellini (peach purée and sparkling wine) and Mimosa (orange juice & vodka), both bright and opaque.
  • Juice. Blend any clear spirit with mango juice, orange juice, peach nectar or pineapple juice.
  • Liqueur. Blend any clear spirit with Limoncello or Galliano; the most famous Galliano drink is the Harvey Wallbanger. Other yellow liqueurs include Chartreuse and Strega.
  • Martini. Try a Lemon Drop Martini (1-1/2 ounces vodka, ideally citrus-flavored; 1/2 ounce orange liqueur, 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, 3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice).
  • Vodka. UV Vanilla Vodka has a light yellow hue.
  •  

    GREEN COCKTAILS

  • Grasshopper. This minty chocolate cocktail classic consists of 3/4 ounce cream, 3/4 ounce white creme de cacao and 3/4 ounce green creme de menthe. Shake with ice and pour into a Martini glass.
  • Liqueur. Anything with Midori melon liqueur or apple schnapps, both of which have a bright green color. Other green liqueurs include absinthe, green chartreuse, green creme de menthe and TY KU liqueur.
  • Martini. An appletini with sour apple schnapps. The more schnapps, the greener.
  • Vodka. UV Apple Vodka, which is made with a bright green color.
  •  
    GARNISHES

    Add a garnish in a different Mardi Gras color from the cocktail.

  • Purple Garnish: blackberries or blueberries on a cocktail pick; a cube of purple Jell-O (make gelatin in a pan, cut in garnish-size squares, place on picks and freeze).
  • Gold/Yellow Garnish: cape gooseberry, lemon curl, orange peel, pineapple, yellow Jell-O cube.
  • Green Garnish: basil leaf, mint leaf, rosemary sprig.
  •  
    RECIPE: PURPLE BASIL GIMLET

    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 4-6 leaves purple basil
  •  
    Preparation

    Press purple basil leaves with simple syrup and fresh lime juice, add Hendrick’s Gin and shake well, strain up into a stemmed glass, garnish with a sprig of purple basil.
     
    It’s party time!

      

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