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  • pixeltheatre 12:05 am on May 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chicken, , gumbo   

    Daring Cooks 25th Challenge: Chicken gumbo – Laissez les bons temps rouler! 

    20110501-114533.jpgOur May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh. I had often heard of gumbo but never tried it. There were plenty of nice spicy sausage in this recipe, and it can only get better when you start frying everything in duck fat. Though heavy on the prep work, this recipe went smoothly. The aroma as it simmered for an hour and a half was just sublime. This will be a nice repeat in a colder time of the year, with perhaps an extra dash or two of Tabasco for extra heat. Very nice challenge.

    Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

    Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Serves 10-12


    1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
    1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
    2 large onions, diced
    1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
    2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
    2 stalks celery, diced
    2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
    1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
    3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
    2 bay leaves
    6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
    2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
    Salt, to taste
    Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Filé powder, to taste
    Tabasco, to taste
    4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)


    1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
    2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
    3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

    4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

    5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

    6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

    7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.

    8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.

    9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
    10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
    11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
    12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
    13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

    Basic Louisiana White Rice

    Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
    Servings: About 4 cups


    1 tablespoon (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
    1 small onion, minced
    1½ cups (360 m) ((280 gm) (10 oz) Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
    3 cups (750 ml) Basic Chicken Stock
    1 bay leaf
    1-2 pinches salt


    1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
    3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
    4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
    5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
    6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

    • Audax Artifex 5:12 am on May 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Your gumbo is s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g I love the photo it looks so delicious well done.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chicken, oreos, pho, snickers, , wonton   

    Daring Cooks 6th Challenge: Chicken Pho 

    The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. A perfect recipe for Fall, this vietnamese staple was a welcome challenge. You can’t go wrong with soup at this time of the year. I had pho once before in a local restaurant and had made a mental note to return once the weather would turn to our typical northwestern rainy season. I’m glad to now have a straightforward recipe I can do at home. One  small change I would do, however, is a little less fish sauce. Aside from that, it was a great recipe.

    We had an optional challenge this month involving dessert wontons. The filling was left to our imagination. I chose “flavours of summer”. We had tried deep fried oreos, jelly beans and mars bars at the last PNE. The jelly beans and Mars TM bar weren’t very good, but the Oreos TM had definite potential. We had also had a deep fried Snickers TM before and quite liked it. So, our fillings for this challenge was a frozen mini Snickers and crushed Oreos. Well, the deep fried wonton, I think, proved an even better cover than the traditional funnel cake batter. We’ll be testing other similar fillings (hum…Reeses’ peanut butter cup…) in the chilly months to come. Thanks for a great pair of challenges!

    Chicken Pho

    Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

    Servings: Makes 4 servings


    For the Chicken Pho Broth:
    2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
    4 whole cloves
    2 whole star anise
    2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
    1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
    ½ onion
    1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
    1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
    1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

    1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


    2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
    Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
    ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
    ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
    Sriracha chili sauce
    Hoisin sauce
    Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


    1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
    2. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
    4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
    5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
    6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
    7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
    8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

    Challenge #2: Chocolate Wontons


    • Small bowl
    • Pastry brush
    • Plastic wrap and/or damp paper towels
    • Wok or medium-sized pot
    • Frying thermometer (if you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil temperature by dropping in a cube of bread … if it browns quickly, the oil is ready)

    Preparation time: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time (for 12 wontons)

    Servings: Makes 12 wontons.


    1 large egg
    1 tbsp. water
    12 wonton wrappers, defrosted (keep wrappers covered with damp towel)
    12 pieces or nuggets of chocolate (use any type of chocolate you like)
    High-heat oil for frying (i.e., vegetable oil, corn oil)
    Confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for sprinkling


    1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash.
    2. On a clean, dry surface lay 1 wonton wrapper down with a point toward you, like a diamond.
    3. Place 1 piece of chocolate near the top end of the wrapper.
    4. Brush a very thin layer of the egg wash on the edges of the wrapper.
    5. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper up to create a triangle and gently press to remove all air from the middle. Press the edges to adhere the sides. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely.
    6. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces.
    7. Keep the folded chocolate wontons covered under plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent them from drying.
    8. In a wok or medium pot, pour in 2 inches (5 cm.) of high-heat oil.
    9. Heat the oil to 350º F (180º C) and gently slide a few of the chocolate wontons into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd the chocolate wontons.
    10. Fry the wontons for 1 ½ minutes, then flip over and fry another minute until both sides are golden brown and crisp.

    • Frenchie 3:32 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wonderful job! The fried oreo wontons sound unbelievable.

    • Heather B 3:54 pm on October 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Great job! I love your wontons!

    • Olive 7:55 am on October 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      great job with the challenges, love your wontons! 🙂

    • Lauren 3:02 pm on October 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Wow! Everything looks amazing =D.

    • lisamichele 1:03 am on October 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your Pho is fantastic, but those oreo wontons have stolen my palate completely..and i love the presentation! A must try for me 🙂 Well done all around!

  • pixeltheatre 4:16 pm on February 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chicken, Christopher Walken, Hairspray, Mousehunt, Roasting, video   

    Roasting a chicken with Christopher Walken 

    Stumbled upon another cooking video site today, called I’m Cooked. It looks even more homespun than Active Cooks, except for one dash of stardust: Christopher Walken showing how to roast a chicken.

    (The clip above is from YouTube, but I saw the original on I’m Cooked). I haven’t seen much of Walken’s work. I know of his roles in Deer Hunter and Pulp Fiction, among others, but first saw him last Summer in Hairspray. So much for the tough guy image, I thought watching him, as Wilbur Turnblad, hoofing it with John Travolta as his wife. The next film I saw him in was Mousehunt with Nathan Lane and Lee Evans. He played a nutty pest exterminator, vanquished by the mouse of the house. Now, here he is, roasting a chicken… Nice bit of trivia: Walken’s parents were both bakers, and he grew up working in the family bakery in Queens, Walken’s Bakery.

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    • Michael Recchiuti 6:27 am on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yum,a perfect day for chicken. Check out my hot chocolate on a San Francisco Trolley.

      Michael Recchiuti

    • pixeltheatre 4:06 pm on February 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting video. Talk about guerilla marketing… 🙂

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