Here’s the menu from my first cooking class!
• For the salad:
• 8 cups crisp lettuce of assorted types, torn into bite-sized pieces
• 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
• 1-1/2 to 2 cups olive salad
• 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 16 flat anchovies
• 8 large boiled shrimp, peeled
• 8 large white or green asparagus spears, steamed and chilled
• Freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
• For the dressing:
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon mixed Italian seasoning herbs, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Combine lettuces, olive salad, tomatoes and dressing in a large bowl, toss well. Divide evenly on 8 salad plates. On each plate, make an “x” with two anchovies on top of each mixed salad. Top with one asparagus spear and a boiled shrimp. Make sure each plate has some tomatoes and plenty of the vegetables (including a pepperoncini) from the olive salad. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
YIELD: 8 servings
FOR THE STOCK:
• 8 quarts cold water
• 8-10 pounds chicken parts (backs, necks, etc.) and bones, or a whole chicken, cut up and skillet-browned
• Shrimp shells and heads, reserved from the 4 pounds of shrimp that have been peeled for the final step of the gumbo
• 8 ounces onions, chopped
• 4 ounces celery with tops, chopped
• 4 ounces carrots, chopped
• 2 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
• Sachet d’épices: In a small cheesecloth bag or tea ball, place:
o 1 teaspoon or so black peppercorns, cracked
o A few parsley stems
o 1 bayleaf
o 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
o 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
Remove the skin from the chicken and chop into 3-4 inch pieces, making sure to cut through and expose the bones. Brown the chicken parts and bones in a skilliet with oil, or in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.
Put the chicken in the stockpot with the water and bring slowly to a simmer. Periodically skim off any scum that forms, and if you wish use a skimmer to skim off the fat. Let this simmer for at least three, and preferably four hours. It is this long simmering process that extracts the maximum flavor from the chicken meat and bones, as well as the natural gelatin from the bones. When refrigerated, a good chicken stock will be clear and gelatinous.
Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Place the peppercorns, parsley sprigs and dried herbs into a 4-inch square piece of cheesecloth or large tea ball and tie it into a little sack; add the sack to the stock. Simmer for one more hour, then add the shrimp shells and heads. Simmer an additional 30 minutes.
Remember that during the simmering process, it’s best not to stir the stock. The end result will be much clearer if it is not agitated while simmering.
Strain thoroughly; the best way to do this is to ladle the stock out and pour it through a strainer which has been lined with a couple of layers of damp cheesecloth. If you’re using the stock immediately, skim off as much fat as you can with a fat skimmer or a piece of paper towel, otherwise cool the stock right away by placing the container into an ice-water-filled sink, stirring to bring the hot liquid from the center to the sides of the container. Don’t just put hot stock in the refrigerator; it won’t cool enough to prevent possible multiplication of harmful bacteria. To defat the stock easily, refrigerate so that the fat solidifies on the surface, then skim off.
Makes about 5 quarts of stock. Use it all for this gumbo recipe. If you want extra, double it and freeze the rest.
FOR THE ROUX:
• 1-1/4 cups flour
• 1 cup oil
Blend thoroughly in a thick skillet and cook over medium-high to high heat, stirring CONSTANTLY. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN IT!! If you see black specks in the roux, you’ve screwed it up. Dump it out and start over. Keep cooking and stirring until the roux gets darker and darker. It’s best to use a very heavy bot or skillet for roux-making, especially cast iron. With a good cast iron Dutch oven or skillet, you can get a beautiful dark roux in only about 20 minutes.
You should turn the fire down or off as the roux nears the right color, because the heat from the pan will continue cooking it. You can also add your onions, bell peppers and celery to the roux as it’s near the end of cooking to arrest the cooking process and to soften the vegetables. KEEP STIRRING until the roux is relatively cool. Add the roux to the stock.
FOR THE REST:
• 1 chicken or guinea hen, without giblets, cut up
• 1 to 1-1/2 pounds sausage, sliced about 1/4″ thick on the bias (you may substitute hot or mild smoked sausage if good andouille isn’t available), browned
• 4 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
• 6 blue crabs, cleaned, broken in half and claws pulled off
• 3 pounds okra, sliced
• 2 onions, chopped
• 1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
• 2 bell peppers, chopped
• 5 ribs celery, chopped
• several cloves garlic, minced
• 3 bay leaves
• 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
• black, white and cayenne peppers, to taste
• Salt to taste
• Few dashes Tabasco, or to taste.
• 1 – 2 tablespoons filé powder (ONLY IF YOU DON’T USE OKRA!)
• Steaming hot long-grain rice
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with Creole seasoning and brown in the oven. Slice the sausage and brown, pouring off all the fat.
Sauté the onions, green onions, bell pepper and celery if you haven’t already added them to the roux, and add to the stock. Add the chicken and sausages. Add the bay leaves and Creole seasoning (or ground peppers) to taste and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer; let simmer for about 45 minutes. Keep tasting and adjusting seasonings as needed.
Add the okra and cook another 30 minutes or so. Add the parsley, crab halves and claws (if you’re using them). Cook for another 15 minutes, then add the shrimp (and if you’ve omitted the hard-shell crabs, add the lump crabmeat now). Give it another 6-8 minutes or so, until the shrimp are just done, turning pink. Be very careful not to overcook the shrimp; adding the shrimp should be the very last step.
If there is any fat on the surface of the gumbo, try to skim off as much of it as possible.
Serve generous amounts in bowls over about 1/2 cup of hot rice — claws, shells, bones and all. Remember that the rice goes in the bowl first.
• For the olive salad:
• 1 gallon large pimento stuffed green olives, slightly crushed and well drained
• 1 quart jar pickled cauliflower, drained and sliced
• 2 small jars capers, drained
• 1 whole stalk celery, sliced diagonally
• 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced diagonally
• 1 small jar celery seeds
• 1 small jar oregano
• 1 large head fresh garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 jar pepperoncini, drained (small salad peppers) left whole
• 1 pound large Greek black olives
• 1 jar cocktail onions, drained
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pot and mix well. Place in a large jar and cover with 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 Crisco oil. Store tightly covered in refrigerator. Allow to marinate for at least 24 hours before using.
• For the sandwich:
• 1 round loaf italian bread
• 1/4 pound mortadella, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound hard Genoa salami, thinly sliced
• 1/4 pound Mozzarella cheese, sliced
• 1/4 pound Provolone cheese,sliced
• 1 cup olive salad with oil
Split a muffuletta loaf or a loaf of Italian bread horizontally. Spread each half with equal parts of olive salad and oil. Place meats and cheeses evenly on bottom half and cover with top half of bread. Cut in quarters. Enjoy!
Shallot and Red Wine Vinegar Sauce.
• 2 cups olive oil (not extra-virgin)
• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
• 4 tablespoons cane syrup
• 1 teaspoon each of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced (dried, not packed in oil)
• 2 dozen large fresh scallops, with juice.
Shuck the oysters, reserving the shells.
Mix the first 8 ingredients, and let the marinade sit. The longer it sits, the better it gets.
Sauté scallops over medium heat in four batches in about 1/2 cup of the marinade for each batch, until they just start to curl. Do not overcook!
Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remulade
• 4 green tomatoes
• 1-1/2 cups oil
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon oregano, crushed
• Salt, freshly grated black pepper and cayenne pepper
• 1 cup milk
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 cup water
• Crystal or Tabasco Hot Sauce, to taste
• Shrimp Remulade
• Romaine lettuce, shredded
• 3 tablespoons chopped chives
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet until hot but not smoking, about 350°F. Slice the tomatoes about 3/8″ thick and pat them dry with paper towels.
Season the flour with salt, pepper and cayenne. Add the Parmesan, oregano and basil to the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly.
Mix the milk, egg and water, and combine with a wire whisk to make an egg wash. Season the egg wash with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
Using the classic 3-step method, dredge the tomato slices in flour (tap excess from slices), then dip in the egg wash, then coat thoroughly with the bread crumbs.
Pan-fry the tomatoes, being careful not to crowd the pan, until golden brown on each side (do in batches if necessary). Drain them well on several layers of paper towels.
For each serving, place some Romaine lettuce on a salad plate, about 3 slices of tomato, then top with the shrimp remoulade. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.
• 1 1/2 cups heavy-duty mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup Creole mustard
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp hot peppersauce)
• 1/2 cup finely diced green onions
• 1/4 cup finely diced celery
• 2 tbsp minced garlic
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
• salt and cracked black pepper to taste
• 3 dozen 21-25 count boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the above ingredients, whisking well to incorporate the seasonings. Once blended, cover and place in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. A minimum of four hours will be required for flavor to be developed. When ready, remove from refrigerator and adjust seasonings to taste. Place six shrimp on a leaf of romaine or other colored lettuce and spoon a generous serving of remoulade sauce on top of the shrimp. Do not sauce shrimp prior to service, as they will lose their firm texture. Serves 6.