Taste of New Orleans on the road

Awesome campground on a river near Nephi, Utah

I’ve never been to Yellowstone!  … until this year!  The hubby and I are on the road, Airstream  in tow, headed to one of America’s gorgeous playgrounds. Since it’s a bit of a drive from L.A., I decided to prep a few dishes and pop in the freezer before hitting the road. Last night we pulled into Ponderosa Uinta campground just outside of Nephi, Utah, and since I had pre-made the gumbo, dinner was super easy. Another benefit of freezing food ahead of time is it helps keep your RV refrigerator/freezer or ice chest cold.

Simple Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp Gumbo

Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
(adapted from myrecipes.com)

6 ounces andouille sausage, chopped
6 ounces shelled shrimp
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 ounces all-purpose flour
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 tablespoon salt-free cajun / creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
1 cup frozen cut okra
Red rooster or Red Dot hot sauce
3 cups bagged precooked brown rice

Does it get any better?

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauce for 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove sausage from pan using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Melt butter in drippings in pan. Add oil to pan; swirl. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Stir flour into butter mixture; cook 3 minutes or until flour mixture starts to brown, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken; sauce 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; sauté for 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add stock and tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil. Return sausage to pan; stir in okra. Taste for seasoning, add add Red Rooster or Red Dot hot sauce as desired. Reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

Simple tomato salad, caprese style

We went to extreme measures this year to grow heirloom tomatoes at our house, and for the first time ever, we were successful!  Check out this super-easy salad idea.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced in wedges
fresh mozzarella cheese (large balls sliced, or small balls cut in half)
fresh basil
the best olive oil you can get your hands on
ditto for balsamic vinegar

Gently stir tomatoes and mozzarella cheese together. Top with olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, torn basil leaves and freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

Fine Dining in the Woods

Aluminium Falcon Cookery

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Recently Curt and I became the proud owners of a new Airstream Trailer, which has been a dream for quite some time.  We set out on our maiden voyage, eager to explore the rockies during the peak fall color season. During the welcome to Airstream tour at the dealership, our guide reluctantly showed us how the oven operated, but casually mentioned “no one uses them anyway.”  I took this as a challenge (OK, I admit that I can be competitive at times!) and en route, thumbing through my Molly Stevens braising cookbook, decided to tackle her Bisteces Rancheros (a fancy way of saying Shoulder Steaks Braised with Tomatoes, Potatoes & Poblano Peppers).
This dish is a meal unto itself and needs no accompaniment, but Molly suggests perhaps serving with a Boston lettuce salad with scallions and sliced radishes.

Serves 4-6, braising time about 1 1/2 hours

2 medium poblano peppers (about 8 ounces total)
2 pounds thin-cut (1/2″) boneless chuck or shoulder steaks, cut into 8 or 10 individual steaks
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 very large or 2 medium white onions (about 12 ounces total), thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 pound small red or white potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Roasting the peppers: set the poblano peppers directly on a flame to high. Roast, turning with tongs as each side chars, until charred, about 8 minutes total. (If you don’t have a gas burner place under the broiler, turning with tongs until completely blistered. Transfer the peppers to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, let cool until
    enough to handle.
  3. Peeling the peppers: When the peppers are cool, slip off the skins. Avoid the temptation to rinse under the faucet or you will wash away much of their flavor (I use a paper towel to remove.) Slice the peeled peppers open, cut away the stems, remove the seeds. Cut into strips and set aside.
  4. Browning the steaks: Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the steaks and cook, turning once with tongs, until they develop a ruddy brown exterior, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large cazuela or other shallow bowl (I used my dutch oven) and brown the second batch. Add another tablespoon of oil and heat until it shimmers before adding the steaks.
  5. The aromatics and braising liquid: When all the steaks are browned, pour the oil out. If the skillet is blackened, clean it before continuing. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, stir, and saute until limp and beginning to brown in spots, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook for another minute. Pour the juice from the tomato can into the skillet. Break up the tomatoes and drop into the skillet.  Season with salt and pepper, stir, and simmer the juices to thicken them a bit, about 4 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper then remove from the heat.
  6. The braise: Slice the potatoes into 1/8″ thick rounds and layer them over the steaks. Stir the vinegar into the tomato sauce and spoon it over the potatoes. Top with the strips of peppers. Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil (or cover with the lid) and slide into the oven. Braise until the steaks and potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 1 hour.
  7. The finish: Remove the foil, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees, and braise until the tomato sauce is brown and crusty around the edges. another 20-25 minutes.

So because we were in such high altitude, the braise took over 2 hours!  .. which is why I don’t have a photo of the dish plated .. we were so hungry we just dug in.

I’d highly recommend a visit to Ouray in the fall – it’s absolutely gorgeous!  My mom and dad joined us for a few days and there was plenty of room for us to share meals together in the Airstream.

A must-do if you ever make your way up there?  Stop in at Khristopher’s Culinaire right on Main Street.  The owner knows everything there is to know about brewing coffee, he’s got a huge collection of spices from around the world which are very hard to find, and is just a lovely person to visit with.