Archive | February, 2015

Green Gumbo Z’herbes

Photo of green gumbo z'herbes with oysters.

So many winter greens and a new recipe for them: green gumbo with oysters. Perfect for Lent.

It’s Mardi Gras today and that means Lent starts tomorrow. For those who follow the tradition, this post features recipes for Lenten meals. Greens are tricky in some ways. They are great with something porky like bacon or sausage, but these ingredients are out for Lent — or a meatless meal. To be honest, I never understood how feasting on seafood was a hardship and why it represents deprivation, but I guess that’s why Catholicism is an important part of my past, but not a current part of my life. Too much form and not enough substance to suit my view of spirituality. But to each his or her own, I say. If it works for you, bravo!

Green gumbo has an unusual place in the LaFleur home. It always amused me that while Harris loves greens in just about any form — except for kale — green gumbo is his culinary kryptonite. It seems that his mom made a batch back in the day and it didn’t “agree” with him. Let’s leave it at that. So I’ve long been curious about whether I could turn that experience around. Plus virtually all of the green gumbo recipes I’ve read have pork in them. So I had a double challenge. I thought about how to ramp up the umami and eliminate the bitterness, and according to Harris, I’ve done it. My inspiration was Oysters Rockefeller, the legendary dish from Antoine’s in New Orleans. You could add a dash of Pernod or absinthe if you like.

I’ve paired the gumbo z’herbes with parsley potato pancakes, smoked salmon and crème fraiche. I wanted a substantial, but still light entrée to accompany the intense green soup, and this is a recipe that’s easy and fast to make and could stand on its own or could be paired with a salad for another meatless meal.

The playlist is a mixed bag of tunes that appealed to me. Something to warm you if it’s cold where you are. It’s chilly in south Louisiana today with possible snow flurries tonight. Crazy way to laissez les bons temps rouler. Somebody posted a suggestion on Facebook. Instead of giving up meat or whatever for Lent, better things to forego include guilt, fear of failure, blame, apathy and hatred. Sounds like a plan. All that and good seafood, too. Maybe it’s well to think about Mardi Gras as Lent arrives and take a cue from this tradition:

“To encapsulate the notion of Mardi Gras as nothing more than a big drunk is to take the simple and stupid way out, and I, for one, am getting tired of staying stuck on simple and stupid.

Mardi Gras is not a parade. Mardi Gras is not girls flashing on French Quarter balconies. Mardi Gras is not an alcoholic binge.

Mardi Gras is bars and restaurants changing out all the CD’s in their jukeboxes to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers, and it is annual front-porch crawfish boils hours before the parades so your stomach and attitude reach a state of grace, and it is returning to the same street corner, year after year, and standing next to the same people, year after year–people whose names you may or may not even know but you’ve watched their kids grow up in this public tableau and when they’re not there, you wonder: Where are those guys this year?

It is dressing your dog in a stupid costume and cheering when the marching bands go crazy and clapping and saluting the military bands when they crisply snap to.

Now that part, more than ever.

It’s mad piano professors converging on our city from all over the world and banging the 88’s until dawn and laughing at the hairy-shouldered men in dresses too tight and stalking the Indians under Claiborne overpass and thrilling the years you find them and lamenting the years you don’t and promising yourself you will next year.

It’s wearing frightful color combination in public and rolling your eyes at the guy in your office who–like clockwork, year after year–denies that he got the baby in the king cake and now someone else has to pony up the ten bucks for the next one.

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once.”
Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories

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Green Gumbo Z'herbes
As good as greens are with bacon or sausage, sometimes it's nice to have a change. This variation on an old Cajun/Creole gumbo recipe adds oysters and their liquor for a savory, paleo-friendly, Lenten dish. Tradition holds that an uneven number of greens are best, with upwards of 13, ideal. You can use anything from collards, mustard and turnip greens to herbs, carrot tops, scallions and lettuce. If it's green, it's good to go.
Green Gumbo Z'herbes
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As good as greens are with bacon or sausage, sometimes it's nice to have a change. This variation on an old Cajun/Creole gumbo recipe adds oysters and their liquor for a savory, paleo-friendly, Lenten dish. Tradition holds that an uneven number of greens are best, with upwards of 13, ideal. You can use anything from collards, mustard and turnip greens to herbs, carrot tops, scallions and lettuce. If it's green, it's good to go.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 15 minutes 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 15 minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Wash, de-stem, and roughly chop greens, keeping thick greens like collards separate from tender ones. When water is boiling, add salt and thick greens. Lower heat to medium high and cook for 4 minutes. Add tender greens and cook an additional 3 minutes. Drain greens in a colander and press out liquid.
  2. Meanwhile add 1 tablespoon ghee to large sauce pan and sauté onion for 5 minutes over medium heat. Do not brown. Add celery and green pepper, and continue to sauté for 5 minutes. Add mixture to blender. Add greens and 1 cup of water. Purée for two minutes or until completely smooth.
  3. In the sauce pan used to sauté onions, over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon ghee and add oysters and their liquid. Bring to a simmer, about five minutes. Do not boil. Add contents of blender and bring to a simmer, about 5-7 minutes. Do not boil or overheat. You just want to get it to serving temperature. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Serve with rice, if desired.
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Photo featuring potato pancakes and smoked salmon.
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Parsley Potatoes and Smoked Salmon Recipe
Smoked salmon recipe: A light supper or elegant brunch entrée: quick and easy to make potato pancakes, smoked salmon and creamy crème fraiche.
Parsley Potatoes and Smoked Salmon Recipe
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Smoked salmon recipe: A light supper or elegant brunch entrée: quick and easy to make potato pancakes, smoked salmon and creamy crème fraiche.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 5minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 5minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
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Servings: servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In batches, placed potato shreds in clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place in medium bowl.
  2. Add parsley, tapioca starch, salt, pepper and olive oil, mix well. Using a 1/4 cup measuring scoop or cup, place mounds of potato mixture on large baking sheet about 2 inches apart. If necessary, use two baking sheets. With a fork, flatten the mounds to about 1/4-inch thick.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the sheets after 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 350, flip the cakes to other side and bake an additional 5 minutes or until crisp and spotty brown.
  4. Top pancakes with a tablespoon of crème fraiche and smoked salmon and serve.
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Mardi Gras Shrimp and Sorbet Recipes

Mardi Gras paleo fruit sorbet

Go Mardi Gras purple, green and gold with fruit and champagne sorbet. East to make, fresh and light.

Here in Louisiana the winter holidays do not slow down after New Year’s Day. Starting with Little Christmas, (January 6) the festivities gear up again with the start of Mardi Gras season. From king cakes at every gathering to raucous tunes on the radio and and on every music playing device, to krewes dressed to wow and masked balls every weekend, the celebration culminates in parades with everybody yelling, “Throw me somethin’ mister!” There is the New Orleans experience of course, and that has it devotees. Those of us in Acadiana prefer things a bit more family friendly, however, and while our Mardi Gras maybe less risqué, it’s no less exciting. If you’ve never seen extraordinary filmmaker, Pat Mire’s, acclaimed documentary, Dance for a Chicken: The Cajun Mardi Gras, check it out. It’s great. And it will give you the real story on where the traditions come from.

Everything about Mardi Gras is over the top, and if you’re here and going to parades and balls, you might not be thinking about menus, but you might wish for a lighter alternative to king cake without foregoing the color and festive flavor. Sorbet is super easy to make, and it’s refreshing after a rich meal of gumbo or other traditional dish. Sparkling wine adds a sophisticated note and makes for a show-stopping finale to a Mardi Gras party. Many of the standby dishes are old favorites like jambalaya, red beans and rice, and boiled crawfish (as soon as the season kicks off). I thought I’d riff on New Orleans barbecue shrimp and add sweet potatoes and green beans to take the dish from what is usually an appetizer to a main course. And if it matters, it’s paleo and gluten-free, too!

No menu for Mardi Gras would complete without a roster of classic tunes, so I’ve got an hour of music to keep you dancing while the shrimp simmers and you sit down to feast. Then hit repeat and dance the night away!

Paleo barbecue shrimp from New Orleans
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New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
A New Orleans restaurant appetizer favorite becomes a Big Easy entrée with the addition of creamy sweet potatoes and crisp green beans to soak up every drop of the delicious sauce. This paleo barbecue recipe uses the traditional shell-on shrimp. See note for peeled shrimp.
New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
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A New Orleans restaurant appetizer favorite becomes a Big Easy entrée with the addition of creamy sweet potatoes and crisp green beans to soak up every drop of the delicious sauce. This paleo barbecue recipe uses the traditional shell-on shrimp. See note for peeled shrimp.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4servings 10minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4servings 10minutes
Cook Time
15minutes
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and lots of salt (it should taste like the sea). Add shrimp and allow to soak for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Meanwhile, add sweet potatoes to a medium saucepan with 1 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium low heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Do not allow to brown. After 5 minutes, toss the slices and lower heat if necessary. Taste and check for tenderness. Set aside and keep warm.
  3. In a medium saucepan add 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp salt, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the green beans and cook until crisp tender, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and check for doneness to your liking. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Drain shrimp. In a 12-inch skillet, squeeze lemon slices to release all their juice. Add slices to skillet and bring to a boil over medium high heat. When bubbling, add 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, and Tabasco sauce. Add shrimp to the skillet and toss in the sauce, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. Add butter one tablespoon at a time, swirling the pan and lifting it occasionally to keep from overheating. When you've added about 4 tablespoons of butter, taste the sauce. Add more butter, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper until the flavor is to your liking. The shrimp will be cooked after about 5 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with sweet potatoes and green beans - and lots of napkins!
Recipe Notes

To make eating this dish less messy, you can use peeled deveined shrimp. The only difference will be that the shrimp will cook in about 3 minutes. Take care not to over cook. They're done when they turn pink and lose their translucent look.

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Mardi Gras paleo fruit sorbet
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Mardi Gras Champagne Sorbet
A light and refreshing dessert for Mardi Gras: blueberry, kiwi and mango sorbets sweetened with honey and made lively with sparkling wine. Easy to make and paleo, too! See note for making without an ice cream maker.
Mardi Gras Champagne Sorbet
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A light and refreshing dessert for Mardi Gras: blueberry, kiwi and mango sorbets sweetened with honey and made lively with sparkling wine. Easy to make and paleo, too! See note for making without an ice cream maker.
Servings Prep Time
8servings 20minutes
Servings Prep Time
8servings 20minutes
Ingredients
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Make three batches of sorbet.
  2. For mango sorbet, add mango cubes, 2 tbsp honey and 3/4 cup Champagne to blender. Purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste for honey; it should be fairly sweet as freezing will diminish the sweetness. Strain through a sieve. Freeze in ice cream maker until fairly firm, about 30 minutes. Remove to a container and freeze.
  3. For the kiwi sorbet, add fruit, honey and Champagne to blender. Proceed as in step above.
  4. For the blueberry sorbet. Add 2/3 of the berries to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes until berries are soft and juice is syrupy. Add to blender with remaining raw berries, honey and Champagne. Proceed as in first step.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can add the fruit, honey and Champagne mixture to a shallow pan. Place in the freezer and after 15 minutes or so, scrape up the mixture with a fork, breaking up the icy crystals. Continue to do this every 15 minutes until firm. Pack in a freezer container. If it becomes too hard to scoop easily, allow to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

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