OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I learned how to make this Creole okra stew from friend Cliff Domio many years ago . . . let’s just say decades! But I haven’t made it in several years, and I’m not sure why it fell off my rotation. Maybe the difficulty finding okra here in the upper Midwest of the U.S. When I first moved here in the 90’s I almost never saw it at the farmer’s markets or grocery stores.  Or maybe it was because not many people here were familiar with okra or avoided it because of its slimy reputation. So I had sort of forgotten about this dish.

All of a sudden this year it seems that many of the farmers at the market have oodles of okra, especially the Hmong. (They are a great study in adapting to market demands and I wonder if the recent immigration from countries where okra is a staple has prompted them to grow it.) On a recent trip to the big farmers’ market downtown, I thought the okra looked really good so I decided to revisit a favorite. Serve this over rice for a satisfying meal. You might also consider a side of cornbread or a baguette to round things out.

Ingredients

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, small dice
1 medium green pepper small dice
3-5 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
1-2 links smoked sausage, sliced 1/4-inch rounds (I like andouille)
3-4 cups okra, cut in 3/4-inch pieces
4-5 cups diced fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 small can tomato sauce, optional (I rarely use)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
10-12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup dry rice, cooked according to directions (we used brown)

Directions

Saute the onion and green pepper in olive oil on medium high heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and the smoked sausage and saute for another minute or two. Add the okra and saute, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Note that if the heat is maintained, it won’t get slimy. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, if using, and crushed red pepper and stir to combine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 min or so till okra is done but not massacred.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Add the shrimp and simmer for another 5-8 minutes till shrimp is just cooked through. Serve over rice – we used brown rice. Enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

shrimp with feta

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I recently got together again with friends Ruth, Toni and Velma for an afternoon of cooking.  Ruth found this delicious and easy recipe from The Contessa and we all agreed we should try it.  I must say it was very easy to put together, but then again, there were four of us in the kitchen sharing cooking duties.  We loved the beet and fennel salad we had last time we got together so much we served it again.  The roasted shrimp dish went really well with crusty bread, a nice Pinot Grigio and a sunny July early evening on the deck!

I recommend you watch this video of Ina Garten making this dish.  It illustrates just how how easy it is and shows how to make the fresh breadcrumbs.  I think it’s hilarious that she adds way more of certain ingredients than she specifies in the recipe like the wine, olive oil, parsley and lemon zest.  I like the way she cooks by feel vs. measuring.  🙂  We’ve adapted the recipe slightly, which you could easily do as well. I will also mention it says on the Food Network site that this dish serves 4.  I think that would be 4 very hearty eaters – four of us dined very well and still there were leftovers.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons EV olive oil, divided
1 1/2 – 2 cups medium-diced fennel (2 medium bulbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (unoaked)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod, Anisette or Sambuca
1/2  teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 – 1 1/4 pound (16 to 20 per pound) raw shrimp, unpeeled and deveined
5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 lemons, one cut into wedges

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10 or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat, until the fennel is tender and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute till fragrant. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, salt and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the shrimp in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the skillet. Scatter the crumbled feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Notes on ingredients:

SHRIMP: The original recipe called for peeled, deveined shrimp with tails on.  We used unpeeled, deveined and cooked with the shell on thinking that it would add more flavor.  While this makes it more challenging to eat, it insures that the shrimp will be juicy and succulent.  I thought the specified amount of shrimp was a lot and will try this in the future with just one pound of either extra-large, as called for, or large shrimp.

PERNOD: None of us has Pernod or Anisette in our liquor cabinet, and we didn’t want to spend the $30 on a bottle just for a tablespoon.  Luckily Ruth had Sambuca. We had our doubts given the sweetness of that liqueur, but it worked beautifully.

FETA:  Try to find a solid piece of feta for this dish and crumble it by hand.  Crumbled feta comes packaged with cellulose powder or other anti-caking agents which affect how it melts.  I recommend French sheep’s milk feta, if you can find it, for it’s soft texture and great melting properties.  The Greek feta recommended by Ina is also good.

BREAD CRUMBS: We used a french bread that was on the softer side for the bread crumbs.  We processed it with the crust, which didn’t break down as finely as the inside of the bread.  I liked the texture this added to the bread crumb topping.

Aunt Suzy says

My preserved lemon radar has been at its peak since Margaux made the Moroccan Chicken and Carrots, and we posted the recipe for preserved lemon.   I have a hunch that the recipes featuring this tasty Moroccan ingredient will start pouring into our blog since we both love it and have it on our minds.  I was browsing through the many cooking magazines that have piled up and saw this recipe in Food & Wine by Paula Wolfert.  She is a recognized authority on Mediterranean cooking who brought Morccan cuisine to the general public’s attention all the way back in 1973 with her cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.  I was delighted when I went to buy shrimp at Whole Foods and it was on sale.  One of life’s little treats is when the very thing you came to buy is on sale!  Randy and I both loved this dish and it paired perfectly with the “robust rose” from Spain that was recommended.  Randy helped me cook and said to make sure that I told you all to be sure and have a sous chef when you are making this dish.  It is not difficult at all but requires a lot of chopping – thank you, Randy!

The Shrimp

1/4 cup each chopped flat-leaf parsley and cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Small pinch of saffron threads, crumbled

1/3 cup EV olive oil

1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, tails left on

Whisk the lemon juice, paprika, ginger, saffron and olive oil together.  Sprinkle the herbs and pour the marinade over the shrimp and stir to blend.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

 

The Vegetables

2 pounds of tomatoes , seeded and chopped (I used 1/2 plum and 1/2 regular)

3 garlic cloves

1 1/2 tsp cumin

Place these ingredients into a saucepan.  Bring to a bubble and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the sauce starts to thicken.  Set aside.

3 large carrots, thinly sliced

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 pounds red new potatoes, thinly sliced

1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

Place the sliced ingredients in a dutch oven (or a tagine if you are lucky enough to have one!) in layers in the order listed.  After each layer, add a little salt and pepper.  In case you’re wondering what those dark things are in the photo with the peppers, I bought a package of tiny red, yellow and purple bell peppers and used those.  Pour the tomato sauce on top of the layered vegetables and push down a little with a spoon.  Turn heat to medium high to get the juices bubbling.  Turn down heat to medium low and cook for 20-25 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked.  Check occasionally so the vegetables on the bottom don’t burn.  I was nervous about how the dish looked while it was cooking, but it all turned out in the end, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look like it’s going to come together.

 

 

 Finishing the Tagine

1/2 preserved lemon, peel only, diced

2/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced in half

When vegetables are cooked through, add the preserved lemon, olives and the marinated shrimp.  Cook about 5 minutes until the shrimp is just pink and curled.  Remove the shrimp from the pot and set aside.  Stir the vegetables and turn the heat up a little to cook off excess liquid.  Be careful not to burn the bottom of the pot, although Randy and I agreed that we liked the bits of carrot and potato that carmelized a little while doing this.  Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl or individual serving bowls and top with the shrimp and a few cilantro (or parsley) leaves for garnish.