Thursday, January 13, 2011

Soup Supper with Gibbies

I seem to be doing a lot of cooking now that the weather is cold. My ramblings have been confined to my kitchen.  I so dislike being out in the low temps we have been experiencing this week.   I got a late start today, so I searched my pantry and refrigerator for ingredients that would make a good soup.  This soup supper took less than one hour from start to finish and proved to be very satisfying.

The  accompaniment to the soup was Gibbie sandwiches.  Gibbie is a term coined by my mother when we were kids.  Mom just celebrated her 88th birthday, so this term has been in my family for many years.  Gibbies can be made from any sandwich.  My mom, who was a great cook in her time,  would simply cut the sandwiches into bite size pieces so that we kids could eat them easily. She always told us that they tasted better when served this way!   I have no idea where she got the term, but it has been passed down to my children.  Gibbies are always better than plain sandwiches!

I made grilled cheese Gibbies using double fiber whole wheat bread with Taleggio, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  I happened to have the Taleggio (an Italian, soft, cow's milk cheese) from a recent trip to Whole Foods.  The other cheeses are a staple in my kitchen.   The combination of cheeses worked very well.  The blend of the three proved very tasty!

Bean and Sausage Weeknight Soup from the Pantry

Coat a Dutch oven with Pam and saute' about 1 cup each of chopped celery and onions.  When these are tender, stir in about a teaspoon minced garlic and a handful of slivered carrots.  Stir constantly over low heat until the carrots are tender.

Add about 1/2 pound sliced sausages of your choice.  I had some low-fat chicken sausages, so I used those.  Allow the sausages to brown and then add about 3 cups of chicken broth.

In the meantime, open two 16 ounce cans of Great Northern White Beans.  Pour these into a colander,  rinse with cold water and drain off the liquid.  Stir the drained beans into the pot.  Allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Just before serving, tear a handful of fresh spinach leaves into small pieces and add to the pot.  Stir to mix and cook just until the spinach wilts.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the Gibbie sandwiches as described above or use your own combination of cheeses.  Use what you have in your refrigerator.  Don't get out in the cold weather to collect the ingredients.

I don't know the nutritional values for this recipe, but I believe it is very healthy with the beans,  spinach, low fat chicken sausages and the sauteed vegetables.  The cheese sandwiches are rich in protein and fiber.  Instead of butter for the grilled sandwiches, I used a butter substitute spread. The best part is that the entire meal can be prepared in less than an hour.  I must mention that we drank a couple of glasses of a wine we also had on hand.  It's one of my favorites:  Ferrari-Carano Fume' Blanc.  What a great way to dine on a cold winter night!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gumbo-Step by Step

Woke up this morning to a very gray day in south Louisiana.  Rain and cold temps were predicted.  As the day wore on the weather got worse, so I decided to stay home and cook.  Gumbo was on the horizon.  Many folks cook gumbo on cold, rainy days and I am sharing my recipe and method with you.  I searched the internet and found that gumbo always contains some sort of meat and a thickener.  I use a traditional roux to thicken my gumbo.  Today I used chicken and sausage as the meats.  I am including pictures of the recipe in stages as I cooked it.  The finished product is served over cooked rice and with a scoop of potato salad in the bowl.

You will notice that I used some convenience products when I cook this delicacy.  I think it is smart to save some time by using these products that save on preparation time.  The results are delicious!  Try will like it!

Dot's Gumbo for a Cold, Rainy Day

The roux and the stock are the only ingredients that I measure:  1 cup flour, to 1 cup oil for the roux and 6 cups of chicken stock are the proportions to perfect gumbo.  This is important for a good consistency.

Combine 1 cup of flour and 1 cup cooking oil (preferably canola) in an iron skillet.  Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture is dark brown.  This may take 30 minutes or so and patience will be rewarded in a perfect roux.

When the roux is the correct color, pour it into a stainless steel dutch oven.  Stir in about 2 cups of chopped onions, celery, bell pepper and some minced garlic.  (confession:  I cheat and use a frozen mixture of these ingredients.)

Simmer the roux and the seasoning vegetables for about 30 minutes on low heat until the vegetables are soft.

Add 6 cups of chicken broth to the mixture and simmer for about 1 hour.  I used Swanson's reduced sodium broth.

Meanwhile, sliced about 1 pound of sausages (Andouille or your choice of smoked sausages).  Stir sausages into the pot.  Simmer for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice raw chicken thighs and breasts (about 1 pound total) into small, bite size pieces.  After the sausages have simmered for about 1 hour, stir in the chicken pieces.  Cook for about 1/2 hour on low or until chicken is cooked.

At this point, taste the gumbo and adjust the seasonings.  You can add pepper, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce and a small amount of tomato sauce if you like.  Dried parsley is also a nice addition.  Be careful with the salt.  The sausages are salty and lend salt to the gumbo as they simmer.

Stir some chopped green onions (about a cup or so) into the mixture.  When you have adjusted the flavor to your liking, let the gumbo simmer and make some rice.  We also like to eat our gumbo with potato salad.  This can be prepared while the gumbo is cooking.  Enjoy the feast and be glad you are inside on a cold and rainy day.
 Today, as I cooked, I had a sous chef!  She didn't contribute much to the cooking process,  except smiles all around.  You would be lucky to have such a helper in your kitchen.