February 22, 2012

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Cooking from the Collections: New Orleans Style! Just in time for Fat Tuesday, our testers whip up some food with New Orleans flair: gumbo and sweet potato pone! Both come from The New Orleans Cookbook, published by folks that now seem like old friends to Cooking from the Collections, the "staff home economists" of the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago. Left to right: Sweet Potato Pone, White Rice, Crab-Shrimp Gumbo. Crab-Shrimp Gumbo This was a relatively easy dish to make. While it is not the traditional gumbo that one might expect, this was a tasty and filling dish that was well-received by my colleagues, wife, and two-year-old daughter. Since the recipe was published in the 1950s, I took a few liberties based on modern conveniences. For example, instead of preparing the shrimp separately, I used frozen cooked and peeled shrimp. I also replaced canned crab-meat with freshly-packaged crab meat. As far as flavor, one thing that surprised me about the finished product was that it was somewhat bland, which is not what one would expect of gumbo. As you can see from the ingredients list that the recipe went very light on the spices. I was left wondering if this was indicative of the time that the recipe was published. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that many Americans preferred their food, well…blander, back then. I had to do the other ingredients justice, so I ended up adding additional salt, ground pepper, thyme, parsley, and garlic. I also amended the recipe to include beef bouillon and white pepper. If I...

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