Saturday, October 29, 2016

IZETTA'S BLACK WALNUT POUND CAKE

My mother told me there was a black walnut tree growing in the front yard of her childhood home in Waterford, Virginia. She made the most delicious black walnut pound cake and probably got the recipe from her mother, Annie Louise Middleton Markham.
Back in the early 1980s, my husband and I took a couple of friends to visit Waterford, Virginia. We walked up the hill to my mom's home and it was in shambles. Apparently someone bought the property, with over 70 acres of land, and was ready to renovate and restore the house. I walked through the house and opened every door on the second floor. She told me every room had a fireplace—and they sure did.
There was an old black walnut tree in the front yard and I picked up an empty shell lying on the ground and kept it. 
My husband fashioned it into an owl, and I still have that little black walnut 'owl'.
Black walnuts are difficult to find in the Pacific Northwest. I ordered them online and for extra flavor, I also ordered black walnut extract.



Butter a 4 by 8-inch loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 T honey
1 t black walnut extract
2 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
½ t baking powder, preferably non-aluminum
1 t sea salt
1 ½ cups chopped black walnuts

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle, gently cream butter and sugar.
In a 2-cup measuring pitcher, add eggs, honey, and black walnut extract.
Whisk with a fork and then gradually pour into mixer while mixing on slow speed.

Sift flour with baking powder into a bowl then add the salt and slowly add to mixer.

Mix until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl once or twice in between.
With a rubber spatula, transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake, comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  
Using a table knife, run it around the sides of the pan to loosen and then turn out onto a plate.  

Let cool another hour or so before serving.


Friday, October 28, 2016

CAJUN-STYLE ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE & CHICKEN GUMBO

Cajun gumbo is a hearty stew created from the melting-pot of Louisiana cooking. The first known recipes were in the early 1800s. In the spring the gumbo would include crawfish, catfish, and other freshwater fish. Late summer was the time to make it with chicken, duck, goose, or other fowl raised at home. In the autumn and winter it was common to use duck, squirrel, rabbit, and other wild game brought home by the hunter. 



¼ cup avocado oil or peanut oil
6 to 7 oz smoked andouille sausage, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Cajun Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional, if you want a little more heat)
2 t dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
3 cups chicken stock
6 to 8 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat and cut into 3 to 4 pieces
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped okra
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

1 bunch chopped scallions, for garnish 
Louisiana or Crystal hot sauce, for the table

In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, fitted with a lid, add the oil and cook the sausage until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

To make the roux, whisk the flour into the oil in the pot.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. 
Let the roux cook until it’s the color of peanut butter.
Lower heat to medium-low and let roux cook until it’s the color of an old copper penny, about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Stir in the “holy trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the Cajun Seasoning, paprika, cayenne, thyme, Worcestershire, chicken stock, cut up chicken thighs, beer, bay leaves, and the browned sausage.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and simmer another 5 minutes.
Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder and let sit for 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with scallions and serve with cooked white rice and French bread or corn bread.

Serves 4

Cajun Seasoning
3 T paprika
2 T sea salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T dried thyme
2 T ground black pepper
1 T ground white pepper

Pour above ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. Shake well and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

CREOLE SHRIMP & ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE GUMBO

To make a Creole or Cajun gumbo, you first have to make a roux. I like to use my well seasoned cast-iron stew pot to make gumbo. I also like to use a little less oil to flour ratio than most gumbos call for. Let your roux come to the color of an old penny before adding the "trinity".
I also added my recipe for Creole Seasoning. Cajun seasoning does not contain dried oregano and basil. Traditionally Cajun food does not contain tomatoes. This recipe is for the more "cityfied" Creole Gumbo with tomatoes.



1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup peanut oil or grape seed oil
6 to 7 oz smoked andouille sausage, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Creole Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional, if you want a little more heat)
2 t dried thyme
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 (14.5-oz) can fire roasted tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes
1 qt seafood stock or 3 bottles clam broth
1 bottle Abita beer or other amber beer
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped okra, fresh or frozen
1 T filé powder (dried and ground leaves of the North American sassafras tree)

1 bunch chopped scallions, for garnish 
Louisiana or Crystal hot sauce, for the table

Place shrimp in a bowl and refrigerate.

In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, fitted with a lid, add the oil and cook the sausage until light brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.

To make the roux, whisk the flour into the oil in the pot.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. 
Let the roux cook until it’s the color of peanut butter.
Lower heat to medium-low and let roux cook until it’s the color of an old copper penny, about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Stir in the “holy trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the Creole Seasoning, paprika, cayenne, thyme, Worcestershire, tomatoes, seafood stock or clam broth, bay leaves, and the browned sausage.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Partially cover with a lid and simmer 20 minutes.
Add okra and simmer another 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in the filé powder, cover with a lid, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with scallions and serve with cooked white rice and French bread.

Serves 4

Creole Seasoning
3 T paprika
2 T sea salt
2 T garlic powder
2 T cayenne pepper
2 T onion powder
2 T dried thyme
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried basil
2 T ground black pepper
1 T ground white pepper

Pour above ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid. Shake well and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

Monday, October 24, 2016

WHISKEY CRAB BISQUE

For very special celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries, my husband and I go to a popular seafood restaurant in Seattle. I always order their crab bisque. They are made with Dungeness crabs from the Pacific Northwest. Over the weekend, two friends of ours caught several Dungeness crabs in the pristine waters off the coast of Salt Spring Island. They very kindly gave us several cleaned crabs. Thank you so much Jim and Cec! If you live where Blue crabs are available, the bisque will taste equally as delicious.

Lee's Kitchen Tips:  
If you prefer to buy crabmeat already cooked and cleaned or you do not want to make the crab broth with the shells, buy a carton of seafood broth or crab base to use in place of the 4 cups of water. Omit the first part of the recipe and go directly to cooking the onion and carrots.



2 large Dungeness crabs, cleaned, shells intact or 8 Blue crabs
4 cups water, divided

4 T unsalted butter
1 medium onion, shredded or minced
2 medium carrots, shredded or minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry sherry
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 to 2 t Old Bay Seasoning
3 cups half-and-half or cream
3 T tomato paste
¼ cup Whiskey
Sea salt and finely ground black pepper
Finely chopped chives, for garnish
Paprika for garnish

Place cleaned crabs in a Dutch oven with 2 cups water and lined with a steaming basket.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Set aside to cool and when cool enough to handle, remove meat from shells and place in a bowl.
Place shells on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 F degree oven for 15 minutes. This enhances the crab flavor.

After shells have baked, place shells back into the Dutch oven and add the crab-cooking broth and the other 2 cups cold water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Strain crab-cooking broth into a 4-cup measuring pitcher and discard shells.

In the same Dutch oven, heat the butter over low heat and add the onion and carrots. 
Sauté for 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. 
Stir in the flour and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring.
Add the sherry and crab-cooking broth and simmer another 2 minutes.

Turn off heat and using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.
Alternatively, you can pour the soup into a blender to puree, and then pour back into the Dutch oven.
Add the cayenne, Old Bay, half-and-half, or cream, and tomato paste.
Simmer until soup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the whiskey and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add crabmeat (saving some for garnishing the bisque) and simmer for a couple of minutes, just to heat through.

Ladle into 4 warm bowls, top with some crabmeat, and garnish with chives and paprika.