The temperature seems to be giving us a little break, and there are some exciting things to celebrate on the culinary scene. Check it out.
When she died last year at age 96, Chef Leah Chase, the embodiment of the term “New Orleans icon,” left behind a mourning city transformed by her grace, wisdom, lifelong Civil Rights activism, and expansive Creole culinary acumen. Her cuisine was humble and straightforward, elevated by the freshness and purity of her ingredients and the surety of her skills.
Pelican Publishing recently released “A Long Way from the Strawberry Patch: The Life of Leah Chase,” a book of recipes and pearls of wisdom for middle-school students that Mrs. Chase was writing with Carol Allen at the time of her death. The recipes in the book are simple and straightforward enough to prepare with children.
As we have experienced the first, though faint, blush of cooler weather I declare it Gumbo Season. Give this a try this weekend.
Excerpted from “A Long Way from the Strawberry Patch” (August 2020) and originally published in “The Dooky Chase Cookbook” written by Leah Chase (April 1990). Used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing, an imprint of Arcadia Publishing.
(Serves 8 very generously)
- 1 bunch mustard greens
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 1 bunch turnips
- 1 bunch watercress
- 1 bunch beet tops
- 1 bunch carrot tops
- 1 bunch spinach
- ½ head lettuce
- ½ head cabbage
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, mashed and chopped
- Water (2 -3 qt.)
- 1 lb. smoked sausage
- 1 lb. smoked ham
- 1 lb. brisket stew meat
- 1 lb. boneless brisket
- 1 lb. hot chaurice sausage
- 5 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. thyme leaves
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. filé powder
- Steamed rice
- Clean all vegetables, making sure to pick out bad leaves and rinse away all grit.
- Place all vegetables, onions, and garlic in a large pot and cover with water. Boil for 30 minutes.
- While this is boiling, cut all sausages and meats into bite-size pieces and set aside. Keep chaurice pieces separate.
- Strain vegetables after boiling and reserve liquid. Place all meats, except chaurice, and 2 cups of reserved liquid (save the rest), in a 12-qt. stockpot. Steam over high fire for 15 minutes.
- While steaming other meats, place the chaurice in a skillet over a high fire and steam until chaurice is rendered (all grease cooked out), about 10 minutes. Remove the chaurice and set aside, keeping the grease in the skillet.
- All vegetables must be pureed. This can be done in a food processor or by hand in a meat grinder.
- Heat the skillet of chaurice grease over a high fire and stir in the flour. Cook this roux for 5 minutes or until floor is cooked (it does not have to brown). Pour roux over meat mixture; stir well.
- Add vegetables and the remaining 2 qt. reserved liquid. Let simmer over a low fire for 20 minutes. Add chaurice, thyme, salt, and cayenne; stir well. Simmer for 40 minutes. Add filé powder; stir well and remove from fire. Serve over steamed rice.
Dining out? Consider these options:
Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St, 504-588-7675, cochonbutcher.com) has introduced a new tapas menu. The small plate dishes bring Spanish influences to the Old-World butcher and charcuterie shop.
“With so many people canceling travel plans this year, we thought it would be fun to bring a little piece of Spain back home,” said chef Steven Stryjewski. “We have a small bite for every taste, and everything is made in-house.”
The tapas menu that will change frequently includes dishes like bombas (fried potato and manchego cheese), boquerones (white anchovy), sardinas (house-cured sardines), camarones (grilled shrimp), atún (fresh tuna), botifarra (garlic sausage), and four-year aged Butcher jamón. Prices for the tapas range from $3 to $18.
Chef Nathanial Zimet has reopened Boucherie (8115 Jeannette St., 504-862-5514, boucherie-nola.com) with a new menu and an expanded outdoor dining area. The outdoor dining space, hand built by Zimet and his long-time staff member Amilcar Bautista, features a permanent covering surrounded by trellises growing new evergreen wisteria vines, picnic tables and benches, as well as smaller four-top tables and purple chairs to match the vines as they bloom. The new dinner menu offers a chilled sweet corn soup, grilled hearts of romaine Caesar salad and local arugula salad to start. Small plate options include blackened shrimp and grit cake, steamed mussels, hamachi ceviche, and crispy skin duck confit. Large plates feature smoked wagyu beef brisket, whole hog pulled pork, W Black Farms wagyu skirt steak, creamed corn gnocchi, duck breast, pan seared puppy drum and applewood smoked scallops.
GW Fins’ (808 Bienville St., 504-581-3467, gwfins.com) annual Lobster Feast kicks off this Friday and runs through Sept. 26. For more than a decade, the restaurant has celebrated the wonderful flavors of the Northeast’s most decadent crustacean by offering a special week-long Lobster Feast menu. The menu changes each night to offer a variety of Lobster-centric a la carte dishes. Some of these lobster-focused creations will make an appearance during the week: lobster roll served on a house-made split bun with pommes frites; Thai coconut curry lobster; lobster carbonara (fresh Cavatelli, vanilla poached Lobster, cured egg yolk, peas and gremolata), lobster dumplings with lobster butter, lobster bisque, whole steamed Maine lobster.
Have a great weekend, everyone. We need each other more than ever so take the time and make the effort to reach out. While you are at it make an effort to forgive past misdeeds and share some love. Please reach out to me if you have something to share or I can help in some way because You’ve Got A Friend in Me.