September gently introduces transition. The seasons ever-so-gradually change, shadows are longer, days get shorter. The growing season will end soon, launching the harvest celebrations beginning sometime around the autumn equinox. We celebrate the bounty and glory nature provides with a generous sharing of good food. This week, recipes for gumbo, eggplant parmesan and blueberry cobbler are delicious ways to welcome the special time of year.
Chef Marvin Woods maintains that Gumbo encompasses often dramatic variations that reflect local preferences. Gumbo in coastal Virginia is quite different from the Gulf Coast. But, there are similarities beyond the common name. This recipe, which has multi-state connections, was modified by the late Frank Spence, a delightful soul with an advanced palate, easily the most accomplished Southern raconteur since Lewis Grizzard.
Frank’s September Gumbo
Roux – combine 1 cup of oil (I used coconut oil) and 1 cup of flour (I use a combo of plain/SR). Cook over medium low heat, keep an eye on it and stir frequently, for about 30-40 minutes or until desired dark honey brown color.
2 lbs large shrimp
3 chicken breast, cooked
16 oz. Andouille sausage, cut in rounds and sautéed.
32 oz. Chicken Stock
1 large red onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1.5 cups of celery, chopped
2 cups of okra, sliced
1 Tbs filé powder
1 can of tomato paste or 1 can of tomatoes
3/4 cup parsley, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 Bay leaves
Tony Chachere’s or Paul Prudhomme seasoning to taste (2-3 Tbs)
Add trinity (peppers, onion, celery) and garlic to roux when it’s reached the desired color and sauté until a little soft. Add enough water during process to dilute the thickness (@ 1.5-2 cups).
Sauté okra in separate skillet in a bit of oil, without browning, to remove the slime.
Add remaining ingredients to the gumbo pot, except the shrimp. Add more water or chicken broth to maintain a semi-thick consistency because it will continue to thicken during the simmer.
Cook and simmer for about 1 -1.5 hours. Add shrimp the last 10 minutes of cook time. Serve with crusty French bread.
Bubbly Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Chef Justin Timineri
2 large Florida eggplant
3/4 cup olive oil or enough nonstick olive oil spray to coat eggplant 2 cups homemade or store-bought tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Florida basil, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
Peel eggplant (if desired) and cut crossways into 1/4-inch slices. Lightly fry on both sides in skillet using a nonstick pan and olive oil or nonstick spray until browned. Drain well on paper towels. Place a layer of eggplant slices in a shallow baking dish; cover with some tomato sauce, a sprinkling of basil and garlic, a little Parmesan cheese and a little of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes until bubbly.
Rustic Florida Blueberry Cobbler
Chef Jason Timineri
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups fresh Florida blueberries, rinsed and drained 1 cup natural sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup natural sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract 1/2 cup low-fat milk
Preheat oven to 375°. Place the butter in an 8-inch square glass baking dish (no substitutes) and melt in the microwave. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon juice and blueberries. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the blueberry mixture to the baking dish with the melted butter. Do not stir.
Combine all of the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Pour this mixture over the blueberries and bake 45 minutes, or until brown. Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Wine Suggestion: 2018 St. Supéry Napa Valley Estate Virtú, a complex, bright and vibrant white wine that seems to have been made with September in mind.
Stay Safe. Eat Well. Love One Another.