T-10

Yay! Only 10 days until I go off on hols – technically it’s 11 days until I get to see the beach as it’s an overnight flight but whatevs 🙂

In preparation I’ve got my packing list written, all logistics planned and paid for, and I’ve already started eating “holiday” food:

Squid and Chorizo
Squid and Chorizo

Braai-baked mussels

This experiment came about after a conversation over several beers – who says alcohol has no benefits?!

Having seen Rick Stein effectively bonfire a pile of mussels on TV a few years ago, we thought we have a go at but using the braai as we don’t have a beach to cook on.

Rather than just make a foil parcel and steam them (en papillote) we wanted to get that smoky, baked flavour you get from grilling seafood right over the fire but the mussels would fall straight through the bars onto the charcoal, and that just wouldn’t do. I considered a DIY project involving a bit of metalwork but then the easier option presented itself – a cheap BBQ wok sold at the supermarket. Comes with a foldable handle so we’ll be able to put the lid. Now, just to wait for the pesky molluscs to be back in season – simples 🙂

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A very inauthentic Gumbo

So, it looked like Spring had come last week. Nice and sunny, warm enough for flip-flops. You know the routine. This week – WTF? what happened. Down to nearly zero at night and the wind is so beyond ‘nippy’ it’s not funny. I’d planned to start a regime of getting out in to nature and enjoying the fresh air – sod that.

Feeling cold makes me what to eat stodge (preferably of the pizza variety, failing that something with custard) so I adapted my stir-fry dinner plans to make a huge pot of steaming gumbo. Hot, garlicky, spicy, soupy – what more could you want?

I had to make a few adjustments to the authentic recipe, as the base requires a roux. This not only thickens the finished stew, but gives it a rich flavour. There are Paleo variations for the flour but instead I omitted the roux altogether and relied on okra to thicken the soup. I’m sure I’d be shot by anyone from Louisiana for even entitling this ‘Gumbo’ but you gotta call it something!

  • 100g Smoked garlic sausage [like andouille, but French 😉 ] sliced into thick rings then halved.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 stick celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp Paprika, ½ tsp each Oregano and Thyme, ¼ tsp each Cayenne pepper, Garlic powder and Onion powder
  • 1 tblsp tomato paste
  • Tin chopped toms
  • 3 cups Chicken stock
  • 100g Okra, trimmed and sliced
  • 3 x skinless, boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 100g cooked prawns

Fry the sausage in a smidge of oil until golden. Remove from pan, but keep the garlicky oil in there. Sauté the onion, pepper and celery until just translucent then add the garlic. Stir until the raw garlic smell is gone. Now add the seasonings and tomato paste, stir for 30secs before adding chopped toms and chicken stock. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. I let this simmer and reduce for about 15mins before adding the okra and sliced chicken, then simmer until chicken is cooked. Add the prawns and the reserved sausage and heat thru. The okra should have thickened the soup nicely. Serve in a bowl with a spoon and expect seconds 🙂