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Gumbo Love Title: Gumbo Love
Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life

Author: Lucy Buffett

337 pages; Hardcover

Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style Hachette Book Group

Reviewed by Chef John Vyhnanek

Lucy Buffett has a new cookbook: Gumbo Love-Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life. Yes, Jimmy Buffett and Lucy are related, the siblings grew up in Mobile Alabama. Jimmy has music fame and his Margaritaville restaurants, but Lucy Buffett has gained fame in her own right as a restaurateur and cookbook author. You can read more in the book's introduction and following pages of recipes, as tidbits of information are well placed within them.

Let's get to the recipes---

Salads are popular in this region perhaps because of the heat and humidity. My favorite recipe in Lucy's book is… Mango, Avocado, and Arugula Salad with Sour Orange Vinaigrette, but the Grilled Veggie Salad with Creole seasoning, and Silver Queen Corn Salad are also terrific.

Soup making is a lost art so cookbooks with recipes for them peak my interest. Lucy's recipes include Coastal Crab and Corn Bisque, Cuban Black Bean Soup, Daddy’s Navy Bean Soup, Lucy’s Winter Gumbo, True Acadian (Cajun) Gumbo and a dozen more.

Some main dishes include; Lucy B. Goode’s Famous-for-Fifteen-Minutes Mac and Cheese, Spicy Coffee-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin, Whole Roasted Okra with Parmesan Crunch, Hanger Steak, ChimiLuLu, Yellowtail Snapper with Citrus-Tarragon Dressing and Andouille Baked Grits.

Thinking about desserts, there isn't one Gulf item that comes to mind, but many. Classic Southern Pound Cake, Bread Pudding, and Strawberries topped with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar and many more are in this book.

A drink…no, we're not talking chicory coffee and beignets at Café du Monde in NOLA,  but more along the lines of a cocktail like Cucumber Margaritas, Naughty Arnold Palmers, Bama Breezes and Bad Dogs. These are just some of the many cocktail recipes in this book.

I have traveled to some ports of call around the gulf from Houston, to New Orleans, Tampa and Key West to name a few. In traveling, you have to eat too and I have enjoyed the cooking at many a café and restaurant. I also have a really good grasp of how to make gumbos, what the difference is between Cajun and Creole styles of cooking, and how to make a really good shrimp stock. Knowing the food styles and having experienced eating many local dishes, I can say that the recipes in this book are solid, well written and explained well. I would say that anyone with basic cooking skills can easily master any of the recipes Lucy has included.

I love the quality of the book, nice feeling paper and great photographs too. I also like the fact that new and fun recipes are included and that it isn't a rehash of old standards. Lucy, you wrote a great cookbook---congratulations!

I mentioned that I have a really good grasp of how to make a gumbo, so what better recipe to test than Lucy's Winter Gumbo! And yes, I made the full recipe!!!

Winter Gumbo Lulu’s Winter Gumbo

This recipe uses ingredients that are readily available in the winter time: oysters and andouille sausage, a Gulf Coast staple for making gumbos and jambalayas. Pronounced “ahn-doo-eee,” this is a heavily smoked pork sausage with French origins; I like the Cajun version that is also spicy and fragrant. It is important to get the roux as dark as you can, resulting in toasted nutty flavor. Combined with sausage and the seafood, the aroma and flavor is absolutely heavenly, especially on a cold winter day. *Note to LB-make comment about how the aroma is part of the experience.

makes 25 Cups

Ingredients:

Meat from a whole chicken that has been cooked with skin and bones discarded, approximately 2 pounds
1 pound of andouille sausage or any good quality smoked sausage
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
1 medium head celery, coarsely chopped including leaves
¾ cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 cup all purpose flour
8 cups chicken broth, heated
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ t teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon LuLu’s Creola Seasoning Mix or any Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups, finely chopped green onions
½ cup fresh parsley, washed well and finely chopped
1 quart fresh oysters, drained
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
¼ cup LuLu’s Perfect Pepper Sauce or any “medium hot” hot sauce (optional)
File’ powder (optional)

Instructions:

Chop chicken meat into large bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Cut sausage into thin round slices about 1/8 inch thick. In a cast iron or heavy skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with paper towels. Set sausage aside to drain on paper towels.

Chop onions and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Chop green peppers and celery; place in another bowl. Set aside.

To make the roux: heat the vegetable oil or bacon grease in a large heavy stockpot (10 quart) over medium high heat. When oil is hot, gradually add flour whisking continuously. Continue to stir roux adjusting heat as necessary to keep from burning. This may take 25 to 35 minutes or until your arm feels like it is about to fall off and the roux is a dark mahogany color. Be careful, if the roux burns, you will have to start all over again!

Carefully add chopped onions to roux and continue stirring with a large wooden spoon for 2 – 3 minutes. Onions will sizzle and steam when they hit the hot roux so caution is advised. All seasoned gumbo cooks have roux battle scars on one or both arms.

Add green peppers and celery, continuing to stir constantly for another 2 – 3 minutes. The mixture should resemble a pot of black beans.

Add chicken and sausage and stir well.

Add heated stock.

Add salt, black pepper, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, sage, and Creole seasoning. Stir well. Bring gumbo to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer uncovered for approximately 1 hour or an entire day. If gumbo gets too thick, add a little water. If it is too thin, continue to let it simmer uncovered. Because there is pork sausage in this gumbo, if any excess oil rises to the top, skim off as necessary.

Gumbo is always better the second day it has been cooked, although I’ve never had a complaint when I served it the day I made it. At this point, you can cool the gumbo. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then place pot, uncovered, in an empty sink. Fill the sink with water and ice around the stock pot. Stir every 15 minutes to move the liquid around to facilitate cooling. Gumbo will spoil if cooled improperly. At the restaurant, we have cooling cylinders that look like baseball bats that are frozen and placed in the middle of five gallon buckets. I accomplish this at home by filling an empty liter soda bottle almost to the top and freezing it. After I have put the pot in the ice bath, I place the frozen soda bottle in the middle of the gumbo so that it cools from the inside out. When completely cool, I refrigerate it uncovered.

If you decide to do this, heat gumbo slowly to simmering. Otherwise, thirty minutes before serving, add green onions and parsley to gumbo. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add oysters and shrimp. Continue simmering for 2 minutes or until oysters begin to curl.

For a spicy flavor, add hot sauce now. Turn off gumbo and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes. It will stay hot for a long time. Correct seasonings and serve over cooked white rice with French bread and butter.

LuLu Clue:
The first thing I do is put the whole chicken in a pot. Cover it with water and bring it to a boil. As I prep my vegetables, I add trimmings, peels and all, to the chicken. When the meat is almost falling off the bone, I remove the chicken and let the stock continue to reduce. When it is time to add the heated stock, I strain it and add to the roux. I freeze what’s leftover.

LuLu Clue:
File’ powder is a flavoring and thickening agent for gumbo made out of the ground leaves of sassafras trees, abundant along the Gulf Coast. Okra was not available in the winter in Louisiana, so the Cajuns, who learned from the Choctaw Indians, used file’ powder in their gumbos. File’ is always added at the end of cooking since it can become stringy if boiled. Since I always make enough gumbo to feed an army, I put the file’ powder on the table for individual seasoning.

The result---fabulous! And goodcooking.com recommends this great and fun cookbook---It's a must buy especially if you want to savor the flavor of the Gulf!