Shrimp Gumbo (GF/DF)

If you are new to the party here are some things to know before I write out this recipe. My partner Mike has a series of food allergies, sensitivities, and preferences. He has celiac disease, he has a very bad reaction to garlic, he is allergic to the protein in dairy products, and he chooses to eschew meat with the exception of chicken (and the chicken is a recent addition after 10 years of being a pescatarian – have mercy on him since his safe list of foods is a shorter one than most of us enjoy).

In addition to his food issues, I have very high standards for Cajun food. I lived in Texas for almost four years and enjoyed some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life (Houston very seriously rivals San Francisco for amazing food). I haven’t had really good barbeque or Cajun food since leaving Texas. I will also say that I have never in my life personally made a shrimp gumbo that came anywhere near what I enjoyed out there. That, my friends, has suddenly changed. Considering my limitations – no flour for a roux, no chorizo, and no garlic! – it is indeed a bit of a minor miracle.

From my kitchen to yours; I hope you will try this recipe!

Shrimp Gumbo (GF/DF) Recipe:

Olive oil for sautéing

½ lb. of frozen cut okra

2-3 tblsp. cornstarch

2-3 oz. GF Chicken breakfast sausage (the kind that is not in a casing)

1 tblsp. paprika

1 medium onion diced

3-4 stalks of celery diced

1 green pepper diced

1 jalapeño pepper with ribs and seeds removed, diced very finely

1 ½ cups of fish stock (you can buy this frozen in the market, clam juice can substitute, you can also use water)

1 14 oz can of organic chopped tomatoes in juice (unsalted would be best)

1 bay leaf

1-2 tsp. dried thyme

1 pound of raw, shelled and deveined shrimp

1 tblsp. file powder

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Thinly sliced scallions

Fresh, chopped cilantro

White rice

In a shallow bowl add the frozen okra and dust with the corn starch. Toss the okra and corn starch together until the okra is evenly coated. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium/high heat. Swirl the oli in the pan as it heats to fully coat the pan. Add the okra in an even layer and let sit until the okra begins to brown. Begin sautéing the okra until most of the “snotty” stickiness is gone. Transfer the okra to a dish and set aside.

In the same pan you cooked the okra, sauté the chicken breakfast sausage, breaking the ground meat up in the pan so that it is in small pieces. When the sausage is almost done add the paprika and continue stirring being careful not to burn the paprika. Add a little water (or chicken stock if you have some handy) to the chicken mixture and deglaze the pan. Let most of the liquid boil off and then transfer to a heavy stew pot (if you are lucky enough to have an enameled cast iron pot then this is the perfect time to use it).

Add a little bit of olive oil to the stew pot that contains the sausage mixture and turn the heat to medium/high. When the mixture and oil is hot add the onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and sauté until the vegetables are wilted. Add the fish stock, tomatoes with their juice, okra, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer on medium to low heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are at a soft – but not mushy – consistency. Add the shrimp and freshly ground pepper (Notice I did not add any salt; the chicken breakfast sausage is salty enough to season the entire thing). Simmer for two minutes more until the shrimp turns opaque. At the last minute add in the file powder and stir well.

Serve this piping hot over rice and sprinkle a bit of scallion and cilantro on top.

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New England Style Fish Chowdah’ – Gluten Free & Dairy Free

We had some frozen pieces of Atlantic Cod in the freezer and in the interest of not eating chicken three nights in a row (I made southwestern style chicken and black bean soup on Wednesday and will be making chicken cacciatore tonight) I decided to make some New England style fish chowdah’ (I’m a Masshole, remember). Some complications are that Mike is allergic to dairy proteins, he is celiac, and he doesn’t eat any meat other than chicken. So things like rendering bacon fat, adding flour to make a roux, and then adding milk isn’t possible. I’ve gotten quite good at making adjustments to the types of dishes we both like to eat so that Mike can enjoy them and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I have to say this was one of my better adjustments.

Quickly, and from memory…

Scrub and cut up into medium size chunks some potatoes. I use the white ones so that I don’t have to bother with peeling them.

Chop up one small or half of a large onion into a medium dice.

Chop up 3-4 ribs of celery.

Use a large soup pot and heat some olive oil up. Saute the onion and celery until they just start to wilt. Add the potatoes and stir again until they are coated in the oil and have begun to heat up. Add just enough chicken stock/broth to cover the potatoes. Add about 1 tablespoon of dried thyme and one large bay leaf (or two small ones). Cover the pot with a tight lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add the cod and push them down until they are surrounded by liquid. Cover the pot again and simmer for 5-7 minutes more until the fish is tender. About a minute or two before the fish is done you can throw in a cup or so of frozen peas. It isn’t traditional, but I always like to have something green at dinner and in the interest of making a one pot dinner I decided to do so.

Remove the lid and pour in some coconut creamer or soy creamer (So Delicious brand is one we like); not flavored of course. Don’t confuse coconut creamer with canned coconut milk! There is a world of difference in flavor. We absolutely love the coconut one and prefer it over the soy, but its a matter of personal taste. I actually didn’t need to add too much – maybe somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. It is mostly for color and to add a touch of richness.

Turn the heat off and then add some instant potato flakes to the pot and gently stir the chowder until it has reached the desired thickness. I like my chowder thick and I added at least one cup to mine – possibly more. I love having instant potato flakes on hand for thickening soups. There is a really wonderful and natural one that Bob’s Red Mill makes that I am very grateful for. It is simply dehydrated potatoes with no additives. Bob’s products are so widely carried these days you don’t need to go to their store here in Oregon, but it is actually fun to go there if you ever get the chance. He runs a great company and his employees are treated very well. A 16oz bag of potato flakes is $3.59; not too bad.