Archive for the ‘Soups’ Category
I’m hoping that you enjoyed my previous tips on preparing herb butters and oil. I love preparing them both. Today’s recipe is on another one of my favorites: preparing flavored vinegars.
Seasoned vinegar is especially useful for making marinades and salad dressing due to its deeply infused flavors.
Herb or fruit flavored vinegar may be made by combining in sterilized jars or bottles:
- 1 cup fresh herbs or fruit (bruise slightly to release their oils) or 1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped herbs and
- 2 cups of white or red wine vinegar (It’s important to find a high-quality white or red wine vinegar to start with, one with minimal levels of ethyl acetate, the compound that shows up in lesser-quality vinegars.)
Tightly cap the container and set aside to steep in a warm place for about two weeks checking daily. Strain and discard herbs. Repeat with fresh herbs/fruit for richer flavor. Decant into sterilized jars or bottles with a tight-fitting cap.
You can also add vinegar and herbs or fruit to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook two minutes. Strain through a coffee filter inside a strainer and store.
Typical herbs to use singly or in a combination are: basil, dill tarragon, rosemary, celery seed, cranberry, mustard seed.
Add a couple of sprigs of herbs or a few seeds to the final product for a festive-looking bottle. Remember to keep away from direct sunlight.
Some flavors to try:
- Apple Spice
- Raspberry, Nectarines, Peaches or Mangoes
- Garlic Chive
Have you ever made your own flavored vinegar? What has been your favorite flavor? Any particular tips to impart?
Chef Lynn Ware is a private/personal chef specializing in healthy cooking, culinary educator, and food blogger. Chef Lynn offers: Corporate Cooking Classes, Group Cooking Parties, Private Cooking Lessons and Gourmet Catering. Contact Chef Lynn (ChefLynn@ChefLynn.com) for additional information.
Don’t be afraid to try this recipe. It is fairly simple to prepare and to quote one of my favorite Cajun chefs, Justin Wilson…I Guar-Ron-Tee you would love, love, love it!
Seafood and Andouille Gumbo Serves 6 to 8
- 1 pound of large deveined shrimp
- 3-4 blue crabs (shells removed, cleaned and split in half)
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning* (such as Tony Chachere’s® Creole Seasoning).
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 3 cups chopped okra, fresh or thawed frozen
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 large green bell pepper, (stem, ribs and seeds removed), finely diced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 bay leaves (preferably Turkish)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 pound andouille (or other smoked sausage), sliced crosswise into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco®), or to taste
- 2 quarts chicken broth or seafood stock (boil shrimp and/or crab shells and strain)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ -2 tablespoons Filé (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot and add the flour
- Cook, stirring constantly to make a medium brown roux (the color of peanut putter) being careful not to burn. If there is the slightest indication of over-browning, dispose of the roux and start over. Even a slightly burned roux will ruin the dish.
- Add the okra, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and celery and cook until softened.
- Add tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, Creole seasoning, pepper, hot sauce, and broth or stock.
- Bring to boil and then reduce heat.
- Add crabs and sausage and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Add shrimp (and other optional seafood like oysters, mussels, crayfish tails, etc) and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in enough file power to thicken. Do not boil the gumbo after adding the file power.
- Serve the gumbo in warmed soup bowls over a spoonful of hot cooked rice.
Tips and Techniques
- Gumbo is even better made one day in advance, as the flavor intensifies. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Remove the congealed fat before reheating. If you would like to freeze the gumbo, cool completely then store, tightly covered, in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Other seafood, such as peeled crawfish tails, lobsters and clams may be added to the gumbo.
- Cooked seafood may be used too but the finished gumbo will not have the richness of flavor given by the crab cooked in it but will still be delicious. Just heat cooked seafood through in the finished gumbo.