When Inauthentic Is Delicious: Weeknight “Gumbo”

Ok, let me preface this by saying that this is not authentic gumbo.  No need to point it out to me.  I am aware.

I set out to make authentic gumbo with the brown roux and what not, but if you know anything about gumbo, it’s pretty labor intensive and time consuming.  That’s not my bag, baby.

I am going to tell you a little anecdote (if you can even call it that) from my week, so you get a feel of how I work in the kitchen.

I went to three different stores looking for fish sauce for this gumbo recipe.  Not sure why.  I read it in a cookbook, so I figured it’s important.  So, 3 stores and nothing.  Then my Dad found it and got it for me (love you, Dad!)  It was such a huge bottle of fish sauce, so I  suppose I was set for many future gumbos.

Except, I couldn’t get it open.  That dang top would not come off.  I guess this would be where an extra set of (not weak old lady) hands would have been beneficial.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten it open, but I have no patience or perseverance for such a task.  Don’t I sound like a fun person?

Long story short: no fish sauce made it into this dish.  So sad.  But true.

Here’s how it all went down.

Weeknight “Gumbo”

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Artsy Photo of the Day


gansie: This is a seriously beautiful picture
80P: Yea, thanks
gansie: Well, what’s funny about it
80P: I can’t think of any more funny things about food
<<<It is the 103rd Artsy Photo of the Day that we’ve had to think of a caption for>>>
gansie: Well…
80P: I think it looks like the Loch Ness Monster
ganise: Uh…the Loch Ness Okra?
<<<Wow, it really does look like Nessie>>>

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Lessons From Rotted Okra


I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore. Well, only kinds to start smoking. But I would like to make two resolutions for the upcoming farmers market season. The picture above perfectly exemplifies my two points.

1. Experiment
I’ve only tried okra from other people’s cooking and I had mixed feelings on the vegetable. (This was a good memory.) I bought some at the far mar but I was so nervous with what to do with it that I let it go bad. I need to be brave this season and

2. Not Waste
There was really no reason for this lovely, furry green rod to rot in my fridge. Part of the problem is my lack of courage in dealing with the finicky okra, but the other is I will buy too much. Everything looks so gorgeous at the market and I want to buy it all. I need to come prepared with a plan and not just buy all of the beautiful produce I can carry.

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Top 10 New Things to Put in Your Drink

We’ve certainly never been against drinking here at ES — it just traditionally takes a back seat to eating. However, in the last year we’ve found ourselves getting more and more excited about cocktails — because every time we go out we discover our favorite ingredients have migrated from the plate to the glass. From fruits and vegetables to spices and more, here are our top 10 favorite new things to mix in our drinks.

10. Saffron

A saffron ice cube anchors the Venetian, one of several new food-inspired cocktails at Tulio in Seattle.

Not just for paella anymore, the Spanish spice has started showing up in cocktail glasses, too. Saffron Restaurant and Lounge in Minneapolis has mixed the pricier-than-gold flakes into saffron-mango mojitos, saffron-blood orange martinis, and their current offering, the gin-based Saffron Rose. Tulio, an Italian restaurant in Seattle, recently introduced The Venetian — a vodka cocktail poured over an orange-y saffron ice cube. For those experimenting at home, the folks over at Video Jug have a video on how to mix a saffron vodka martini. (Tulio photo: Evan Johnson)


9. Beets

Fresh beet juice, ginger and vodka make up the Beetnik at Colorado's Dogwood Cocktail Cabin.

It’s hard to make a drink look more dramatic than when filled up with bright red beet juice, as in the beet sangria at New York’s Tailor or the Beetnik, a vodka-ginger-beet concoction served at Crested Butte, Colorado’s Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. Meanwhile, the gals at The Humble Kitchen have a recipe for their own tequila-based Beetnik. (Dogwood photo: eenwall)

8. Mole

Mole bitters liven up the Palermo Gentleman at Death + Co. in New York.

Mexico’s spicy-sweet chocolate treat is making the surprising transition from tamales to cocktails via Bittermens Bitters newest product, Xocolatl Mole Bitters. A neat way to add quite a substantial kick to any drink, the mole bitters are showing up in new cocktails like the tequila-based Chipilo at Brooklyn’s Buttermilk Channel and several options at Manhattan’s Death + Co. (Photo: Vidiot)

7. Sriracha

Every Top Chef contestant’s favorite secret ingredient can save a cocktail menu too, as in “El Scorcho,” a fiery mix of habanero infused vodka, sriracha, and jalapeno foam at Bend, Oregon’s Blacksmith restaurant. The sauce also makes a great replacement for Tabasco in bloody Marys — the blog White on Rice Couple has a great recipe, and if you want to get super-serious, check out their instructions on how to make sriracha from scratch. (Photo: White on Rice Couple)

6. Chinese Five Spice

A Chinese five spice grilled lemon garnishes the Fortune Teller at Bar Pleiades in New York.

Another ingredient Chinese chefs may be shocked to discover in American cocktails, C5S is showing up both as a garnish, as in the Fortune Teller drink served at the Surrey Hotel‘s new Bar Pleiades in New York, and as the basis of a drink, such as Imbibe magazine’s Five-Spice Fizz. (Photo: Bar Pleiades)

Next: Top 5 New Things to Put in Your Drink

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SOS Zucchini Boats to the Rescue


I hope everyone has read Westcoast‘s fantastic okra-starring dish, Bhindi Masala with Whole Wheat Dill and Garlic Parathas. And I’m sorry you all could only *read* about it. The day after he made it we met for lunch. He brought his Indian okra leftovers and I brought my Kefir Parsley Pesto with Zucchini, Peas and Udon Noodles leftovers.

He totally fucking won. Especially because the udon noodles sucked up all of the moisture from the veggies and the sauce and, well, it was really bland compared to his spice-heavy mixture.

As we were packing up lunch, he flippantly said he’d be tossing what we hadn’t finished. I clearly was having none of that! I took home some of the masala, one of the parathas and the dill-ed yogurt mixture. But there wasn’t enough for a full meal, which to me is a perfect excuse for some kitchen creativity.

Luckily, it was Monday and I caught Kim O’Donnel’s Meatless Monday post on her new blog, Licking Your Chops, on the site True/Slant. Okay, enough with the plugging for the great KOD.

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It Ain’t Just Southern


Editor’s Note: Westcoast and I (gansie!) have been making the rounds to all of the hott spots in DC this season. Of course I’m talking about the farmers’ markets. We’ve visited three locations (Silver Spring, H Street–with sightings of Belmontmedina and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Hoya–and Bloomingdale) and we have many left to scope out. Here’s Westcoast‘s most current inspiration from a market find. And please let us know where we should get our next seasonal fix.

You finally get something out of me…probably two years after gansie and I first discussed…so you know it must be tasty.

I chose okra (and wasn’t the first to do so here on ES).  I almost couldn’t help it.  Gansie and I were at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market, there was a lone section of okra staring at me. I hadn’t really done much work with it, and it seemed like a challenge.  When I picked it up I think gansie lost the ability to speak for a few seconds.

Okra is perhaps one of the most misunderstood vegetables (well, it’s a fruit, technically) around.  It is noted for its extremely slimy, gummy or mushy texture in food that is poorly prepared (read: if you are from the North, you probably think it is just one of those silly Southern things like deep fried pickles; if you are from the South, you ate fried okra at some point in your life with varying extreme reactions.)  It is native to Africa and if you check out its cross-section, it’s in the shape of a pentagon.

There’s only one dish I have ever had with okra that really made me see its potential: bhindi (okra) masala.  I scoured the internet for recipes, took a field trip to an Indian grocery (and nearly lost the liquid from my empty stomach as I saw a whole lamb, legs and all, being hacked up at the butcher) and ended up with something that was pretty phenomenal.

Intense recipe post jump –

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