Thursday, March 27, 2014

Za'atar Chicken Flatbreads with Chickpeas and My Little Black Book



Ever since I started blogging I've kept a little black notebook in the kitchen so I can actually write down the dishes I've cooked and their measurements. My little black book might be a bit dull if you are hoping for lots of phone numbers and special contacts, but I'll bet my book is much tastier than THAT kind! I'm only sorry that I didn't do this throughout my years of cooking, because I bet I've lost a lot of great recipes. And food ideas and places I loved to go, and words I love to use. What does your little black book contain? Tell the truth now!

 I know one thing I wish I would have had was a little black book of dinner parties, and attendees, and menus. It seemed silly when I was young, but it was just the other day that someone mentioned to Manservant that a person he worked with way back when, still raves about a dinner he had at our home some 20 years ago. The sad thing is that I don't remember that person, but I must say that it makes me feel good knowing he remembered the occasion. Now if I had a book, I'd have been able to look that up and probably would have had some great memories of the evening. So starting now, I'm going to start a book and keep track. I figure I have at least 20 more years of entertaining ahead of me and there is no time like the present-right?




But back to my little black book...  I came across a few recipes that I've never posted for some reason or another. And looking at the pictures I took made me hungry. Yes, it's about time to write these up and share. Since I've been on a Middle Eastern kick with the chicken and the skakshuka I thought I would give you another that I came up with. This one came about when I looked at what was in my fridge and pantry and when I put everything together, it became a filling and simple dinner. 


I used ground chicken, but any ground meat combo would work with ground lamb being the most traditional. You can grill these patties or you can pan fry them. Grilling is great if your weather allows. You can dress these up or down. I served them on grilled na'an bread but pita could also be used. For that matter, there really is no need for bread except it makes up about 4 of my five food groups. I totally love bread! Rice or farro or quinoa would make an appropriate base and as you can see from the photo, I had leftover rice, so I just dumped it on to this flatbread, too. This is one fast way to clean out the fridge!

Hope you like this. It is just another  invention from my kitchen that actually made it to the little black book. Whoever thought a little black book was just for secret phone numbers?




Za'atar Chicken Flatbreads with Fried Chickpeas


Yield: 2-4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes
Ingredients:
1 lb ground meat
2 T za'atar
1 T olive oil
3 large garlic cloves minced
1 T chopped parsley
1/4 c finely chopped onion
1/2 t salt
1/2 to 1 t harrisa or chili paste
Na'an bread or Pita brushed with oil and grilled or lightly posted
Directions:
Combine all ingredients together and stir well. I use my hands to really knead the meat mixture to get a good, fine texture.
Using 2 T of meat, form into patties, which should give you about 12-16 patties.

Set aside until ready to use. The longer this sits the more flavor the meat takes on.
When ready to grill, brush with oil especially if using chicken, because it is very lean. For other meats, use your discretion. If you don't want to grill feel free to pan fry these and then take them out of the pan and keep them warm. Or shove them to one side and you can cook the chickpeas in the same skillet. Lots of good flavors that way!

Fried Chickpeas

Ingredients:
1 T olive oil
3 T minced onion
1 minced jalapeno
1 minced garlic clove
1 chopped Roma tomato
1 can of drained garbanzos
1 T chopped parsley
Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet on medium high heat. Add onion, jalapeno and garlic and saute until lightly colored. Add tomatoes and garbanzos and cook, stirring often, until garbanzos crisps up and turn a soft golden color. Stir in parsley and salt to taste.

Za'atar Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients:
3 T thick Greek yogurt
1 t harrisa
2 t za'atar
2 T buttermilk
1 T mayonnaise
1 t olive oil
1 t minced parsley
salt to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk.

Assembly:

Take your grilled bread. Spoon on some chickpeas. Top with a few patties. Drizzle on some sauce. Garnish with optional ingredients.  My mouth is watering right now!
Other Optional Ingredients:
Chopped Feta Cubes
Chopped Parsley
Hot Sauce
Leftover Rice
Tahini
Chopped and Seeded Cucumber
Chopped Red Peppers

The above may be used on top of the flatbread and meat. User discretion is advised to not make this so unwieldly as to not be able to pick this flabread up. In which case, there are such implements as a knife and fork!


Click here for more great Middle East inspired recipes:
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus
Mezze
Baba Ganoush
Muhamara
Israeli Salad
Roasted Za'atar Chickpeas
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Chicken Sofrito
Moroccan Fish with Saffron Aioli and Chickpeas
Freekeh
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Kadaif or Middle Eastern Cheesecake
Ma'aneesh with Za'atar





Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shakshuka Eggs in Purgatory


My love affair with Shakshuka began on Thanksgiving. Amidst the chaos of cooking for the big day, my son decided to cook eggs for everyone. Not that there were too many of us around, but I am always a bit stressed until the big meal is ready. And as many of you might know, Thanksgiving does involve a bit of cooking. Breakfast with Alex usually means starting about 11 AM. It means removing everything on the counter to make room for everything HE wants to put on the counter and to put it gently...Alex is a messy cook, though he is a great entertainer. The music is always going and he is so busy talking when he is cooking, that nothing is put away, thrown away or wiped, until long after the meal is eaten; which works well, except on Thanksgiving.

Not that Alex isn't a great cleaner upper. He is a very good cleaner upper, but well, Alex works on Alex speed and that usually isn't fast enough for me.  Prep it. Cook it. Eat it. Clean it. Doesn't always work that way with Al around. But like I said, he does clean up very well and happily; unlike his sister who is always rushing to get somewhere and is a bit of a boss woman when she is ready to go. She knows it!

Thinking back, I must say that taking the time out on Thanksgiving, even with the chaos of the day was very special. And comforting. And fun. Even Manservant came in from smoking the turkey. And damn, those eggs Alex made were good. Really good. So good that I now keep them in my repertoire. So good, that the friend that was over keeps asking for the recipe.  As if he had one. I'm not even sure of where he came up with this because I never made them for him. He called them Eggs Purgatory. Purgatory wouldn't be a bad place to be, if you could eat these eggs. 



They were earthy and soothing and totally comforting. Add a piece of toast-spread it with tomatoes and dip it in the yolks and you won't come up for air. You just eat. Quietly. Savoring every bite. Then with a deep satisfied breath you slowly lift your head and ask if there's more toast. And perhaps-just perhaps- have a swig of beer, and then dive back in again. The mix of eggs and tomatoes and toast-well-who would have thought that this would create such a warm and sultry entree. Certainly this would impress any girl person who so happened to need breakfast in the morning.   Hmmm. Now that's something Alex may know about. 

These eggs would suffice for brunch, lunch, dinner and even I suppose, breakfast. I'm not even a fan of sunny side up eggs, but Manservant sure is. He believes most everything tastes better with a fried egg on top. But I love these eggs. They are best prepared after a very late night out on the town and while wearing only boxers. And though I have no idea what was in Alex's recipe, I can guarantee that mine taste great, too. But as far as I'm concerned, everything tastes better when Alex is cooking. You'll just have to take my word for it.

 Shakshuka eggs come from Tunisia. Home of harissa and spicy things. They are believed to have made their way north to Italy where they became eggs from purgatory. These eggs probably started as a Jewish dish. You can read the history here and decide for yourself. Truth is, it doesn't really matter. Just eat the damn things. Feel free to vary the recipe. Add some peppers. Add some chili, some smoked paprika, some cheese. Some cumin, some yogurt. Whatever you have around. Make them yours like Alex made them mine!



Shakshuka in Purgatory
Yield: 2-4 servings
Time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients:
2 T olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 t harissa chili paste, sriracha or optional
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 can tomato sauce
1/2 t marjoram or more if you like
4 eggs at room temperature
6 T ricotta or goat's cheese
salt and pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium to large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and pepper. Cook for about 5-8 minutes to allow the veggies to soften and turn lightly colored. Add the chili paste if using, marjoram and the tomatoes. Let this cook at a gentle simmer for about 5-10 minutes so flavors can meld and the mixture thickens a bit. Make 4 wells in the tomatoes and crack an egg into each well. Dollop ricotta or goat's cheese also into the tomatoes. Cook about 8-10 minutes until the egg whites are set. At this point you could also cover the skillet with a lid and the eggs will cook faster. When eggs are set, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes so eggs can settle.

Serve with good toast! Perhaps a beer. Lots of music. And make your family swoon.



Click here for more great Middle East inspired recipes:
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus
Mezze
Baba Ganoush
Muhamara
Israeli Salad
Roasted Za'atar Chickpeas
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Chicken Sofrito
Moroccan Fish with Saffron Aioli and Chickpeas
Freekeh
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Kadaif or Middle Eastern Cheesecake
Ma'aneesh with Za'atar


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Saffron Chicken and What a Sick Person Eats


The high winds blew me from Phoenix to Denver yesterday. Manservant picked me up at the airport and then we made our way to happy hour. Happy hour is not something we normally do but being St Patrick's Day and the fact that I really was home, prompted us to stop off at McCormick's for some good deals. They had mussels steamed with Guinness in honor of the day, which I can't wait to try at home. Just slurping the broth would make me a happy girl.

Today it is raining snow and though it really isn't sticking, it reminds me of how nice the weather is in Phoenix this time of year. Everything was blooming and fresh, and the birds were out busily looking for areas to nest. Denver is still in the midst of grayness; though I did see hints that the grass was starting to turn green. Not having enough time to get the tan I wanted in Phoenix, I am so looking forward to next month when I fly back. With luck my mom will be doing a jig and we will be able to cook Passover together. Well, I think that's a good thing. You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen, right?

I had a busy week playing nurse and now my dad is up to this week's challenge.  Right, Dad? Whereas my mom is always very nice to me, she needs to be a touch easier on my dad, but that is my opinion. He assures me he can take the heat and given that they have been married over fifty years, I know that to be true. He's looking forward to her being able to golf again and though I am still not believing that will happen, I hope it does for their sake.


After helping my parent's out several times, the one thing I can say with assurance is that sickness does not get in the way of eating well in our family. We began with this saffron chicken that really hit the spot after sitting two days in the hospital. The patient then requested wonton soup and reminded the chef that wontons aren't really that hard to make. No, they really aren't, Mom, but when was the last time you made them while caring for someone laid up in bed? Yes, she did get home made wontons. And fresh lo mein. And cod over Meyer lemons. And sandwiches. (How those got in there I'll never know.) And then there was the Boboli pizza because she wanted pizza bad, but couldn't go out for it just yet. And you know pizza delivered is just not the same. I suggested my Boboli which they have never had before and after hearing a diatribe of what needed to be on it and in the sauce and so on and so forth and it would drip cheese in the oven if it wasn't directly on a pan, I was sorry I even brought up the idea of making pizza, but at least she remembered to put her hearing aids in that night and yes this is a run on sentence-and yes, they both were happy with the results. Thank goodness.

And now I am home and they have two different sets of friends bringing them dinner this week. I am thankful for that. My advice is do not ask them what they want. Make it your way. They will eat it. With pleasure. Of course, they will critique you when you leave, but that is a story I can not tell.

Saffron Chicken was adopted from the Jerusalem cookbook. It is warm and soothing and perfect for sick people. At least sick people in my family. It tastes good as leftovers as my aunt can attest, because she didn't want a sandwich. I aim to please! This is a great company dish. Let it marinate and then just throw it it in a pan to bake. I only let this marinate for a few hours but I think it would have been even more outstanding if left overnight. It calls for Jerusalem artichokes which I used because they were easy to find in Phoenix. They taste great raw but are cooked in this dish. If you can't find them use baby potatoes. I used both and they were perfect.



Roasted Saffron Chicken with Jerusalem Artichokes or Potatoes and Lemon

Adapted From: Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into wedges OR
1 lb Baby new white potatoes cut in half OR
Combo of both
3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice 
8 skin on or bone in chicken thighs or 1 medium whole chicken, cut into pieces
8 large peeled shallots, halved lengthwise
12 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 leek, sliced and rough chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 medium lemon halved and thinly sliced
1 t saffron threads
2 bay leaves
3 T olive oil
2/3 c water
1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 c fresh thyme leaves
1 t salt

Directions:

Put the Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes in medium saucepan. Cover with water and add half the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until tender but NOT soft. Drain and leave to cool.

Place the Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes and all the remaining ingredients except for the lemon juice in two large zip lock bags or a large bowl. Feel free to throw in the lemon rinds also. Use your hands to mix everything together well. Marinate in the fridge overnight of for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 475. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up, in the center of the roasting pan and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. You may need two pans to avoid overcrowding. Roast for thirty minutes. Then cover with aluminum foil and cook for another 15 minutes. (I will tell you though that I roasted this without covering for the full 45 minutes and then some. I like my chicken browned and it was not browned in just the thirty minutes alone. You must be careful though to not let it dry out.) Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the reserved lemon juice. Stir well, and taste for salt. Potatoes usually require more salt. 

I served this with rice and a salad. 

Don't forget to enter the $25 Whole Foods Giveaway!

More great Middle East inspired recipes:
Smoky Pumpkin Hummus
Hummus
Mezze
Baba Ganoush
Muhamara
Israeli Salad
Roasted Za'atar Chickpeas
Chicken with Figs, Pumpkin and Red Wine
Chicken Sofrito
Moroccan Fish with Saffron Aioli and Chickpeas
Freekeh
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Kadaif or Middle Eastern Cheesecake
Ma'aneesh with Za'atar







Thursday, March 13, 2014

Irish Corned Beef, Potato and Cabbage Pie


This week found me unexpectedly in Phoenix taking care of my mother who just had back surgery. She hopefully is now cured of her sciatica pain and soon should be able to do a jig! After all, it's almost time to dance a jig, for St. Patties Day that is. Spring will hopefully, soon be upon us and a sighting of green will surely be a sight to behold, at least in many parts of the country. Though I'm not Irish, I'm always happy to celebrate any occasion and St. Patrick's Day is no exception. Where I come from there was many a Ryan or O'Brien close by and since my parents saw the need to send me to a high school where we were the home of the Fighting Irish, I wore the green plaid tartan almost every day. (And, yes you might wonder what a nice Jewish girl, was doing going to a Catholic high school, but that story is for another day!)

In my past, I've had plenty of Jewish corned beef and my mom used to bake a corned beef each year to commemorate this great Irish occasion. My kids never liked corned beef and cabbage, but they did build a few elaborate leprechaun traps. Somehow one of their teachers convinced them that leprechauns existed and if they caught one the leprechaun would lead them to a pot of gold. (I can remember thinking what a crazy teacher at the time, but it was fun to watch them get so excited while building their trap.) Being the great mother that I was am, I threw down those little green metallic, confetti shamrocks and even put shamrock stickers everywhere to show them that the leprechaun had been there. Their traps were set off and no leprechaun was ever caught much to their regret and mine!



But back to corned beef. It seems that Jewish corned beef came by way of the Irish, because of the close proximity of both groups during the height of immigration. Kind of interesting to know that corned beef is really an American Irish thing and even though Ireland has historically produced a lot of corned beef, most of it was exported. A traditional Irish meal contained bacon or ham. Corned beef does have an interesting history and if you want you can read more about it here.



I can't say that I've grown up with many Irish foods in my repertoire, but I'm always happy to oblige Whole Foods. Whole Foods has a variety of foods fresh from the emerald shores. Everything from smoked Irish salmon to Irish cheeses, to Irish bacon plus the ubiquitous corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and Irish soda bread. OK-I know all of it isn't direct from the Irish shores but you can pretend, can't you? Pick up some shamrocks and celebrate.


For my celebration, that came rather quick given my fast departure for Phoenix, I came up with this savory pie. Somehow I combined a slew of Irish standbys and threw them into this concoction for one giant Irish surprise. It contains lots of corned beef and cabbage,  some Guinness, some Irish cheddar with stout, and mustard. You've got to have mustard with corned beef. Oh- and did I say it is all in a crisp potato crust? I made my potato crust from fresh grated potatoes, but after reading this, I'm going to tell you how to do it this way, so you can save some time! Now Manservant would have thrown a fried egg on top, but I didn't let him. Yeah, this is a lot like a corned beef hash in pie form and that's not blarney! Make this and it just might have you dancin' a jig!




Irish Corned Beef, Potato and Cabbage Pie
Yield: 6-8 servings
Time: 45 minutes prep, 40 minutes to bake

Ingredients:

1 package of Tater Tots, thawed
1 egg
1/4 c of finely chopped onion

Filling:

1 T oil
2 T butter
2 c chopped leeks
3 c chopped cabbage
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 t salt
1 t thyme leaves
1/2 lb sliced deli corned beef, chopped
1 1/2 T spicy brown mustard
1/2 t black pepper
1 c Guinness or other dark beer

3 eggs

1/2 c milk
1/2 c half and half
2 t spicy mustard 

1 1/2 c shredded stout cheddar


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Oil a pie plate. Mix tater tots with egg and onion. Mush it up and press it into pie plate. Bake about 20 minutes and then brush with a little more oil. Bake about another 20 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and reduce oven to 375.

Heat butter and oil in a large saute pan until hot. Add leeks and cabbage and onion. Saute about 20 minutes over medium heat until golden. Stir in salt and thyme, mustard and pepper. Add corned beef. Cook a few minutes and then use the beer to deglaze pan. Bring up to a simmer and simmer until most liquid has evaporated. 


Combine eggs, milk, cream, and mustard in a large bowl. Beat until well mixed. Stir in cooled cabbage and corned beef mixture. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the bottom of the potato crust. Pour in corned beef filling. Top with other half of cheese. Bake at 375  for 35-40 minutes.


Slainte!


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More fun food to try:

Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
King Cake
Cajun Potatoes
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter









Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cajun Fish with Pecan Butter and Browned Butter



 It has been a lot of years that this recipe has begged to be made. Something about it always sounded so enticing. So luscious. So nutty and rich. I never ate it in N'awlins. In fact, I've never eaten it before last Thursday. But I'm so glad I did make it, that is. And so is Manservant, for that matter. This dish was just a hunk a hunk of burnin' love! (Don't know where that came from!)



I always keep barramundi fillets from Costco in the freezer. They are thawed in no time and I even here of people using them frozen and just adding a little to the cooking time. Now I know that barramundi is not found in Louisiana but catfish is, and redfish and other fishes. All you need is a good firm fleshed fillet. Trout would work too. There are lots of fish in the sea, don't you know?







And pecans? We know those are from the South. In fact, the last time I was in Texas which was way too long ago, we gathered them in a park and then schlepped them on the plane, only to bring them home and find out that most of them were dried out. What a bummer; though that probably saved me some time given that it would have taken a lot of crackin' to get at those pecans. But imagine a whole tree of nuts that no one picked up. Shame, shame, shame!




So now that I've talked a bit about nothing just take my word for it and make this fish. Perfect for company and perfect to let your family know that you love them. After all clogging your arteries with butter is a good thing now and then! I think in this case the healthiness of the nuts balances out the butter, don't you? And since I'm just ranting away, I do believe that Julia Child and Paul Prudhomme had two things in common. One was their height and the other is butter. Man, does this man like butter. And that's a damn good thing for this fish. 







Cajun Fish with Pecan Butter and Browned Butter

Adapted From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Servings: 4
Time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients:

Seasoning:
1 T salt
1 t onion powder
1 t sweet paprika
3/4 t cayenne
1/2 t white pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t dry mustard
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t thyme leaves

1/2 c milk

1 beaten egg
1 c flour
4 fish fillets 
Oil for pan frying
3 T toasted pecans rough chop for garnish

Directions:

Make Browned Butter sauce and the Pecan Butter. Set aside until needed.
Combine seasoning mix.
Combine milk and egg in a pan large enough to dip fish into. Beat until blended.
On a separate plate add 1 T of the seasoning mix to the flour. Mix well. Sprinkle some of the remaining seasoning mix on both sides of fish, patting it well with your hands. shake off excess.

Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a large heavy skillet to about 350 degrees.  Dip in the egg mixture, then dredge in flour again, shaking off excess. Fry in the hot oil about 2-3 minutes per side. Be careful to not burn your coating. Drain on paper towels and while still very hot, spread about 2 T of the pecan butter onto each fillet.


Serve by spooning some of the browned butter onto the bottom of a plate. Top with fish. Sprinkle with reserved pecans. (This can also be served over rice.)


Browned Butter Sauce 

4 T butter
1 T Worcestershire

Melt 4 T of butter in small pan. Let cook and sizzle until brown on medium heat. Watch that this does not burn. Add 1 T of Worcestershire when butter is finished browning. Keep warm.


Pecan Butter 

4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c toasted chopped pecans
2 T chopped onion
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t Tabasco sauce
1/t t chopped garlic

Place above ingredients for in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, about 2-3 minutes, scraping sides as needed. Reserve to top fish with.


More fun food to try:

Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
King Cake
Cajun Potatoes
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter


Please Pin and Share!



Monday, March 3, 2014

Okra Shrimp Bisque - Who Said Okra?


Fat Tuesday is tomorrow and with all the recipes I've been posting lately, well, they are making me fat. Fatter. Forget I mentioned it. Time to switch gears a bit and get back to the basics. Not that the recipe today is basic. But it is good and maybe it is good for you. It does contain veggies and shrimp, and okra does have lots of fiber and it contains protein, too. It is also quick to make and you don't have to make a roux. Plus it makes a perfect dinner with a side of salad. 

This bisque is not a true bisque meaning that it has no cream and it is not smooth but it does contain shrimp and may have French origins. Though it may not. It is thick and creamy, not because of cream, but because of the okra. Okra is a thickener and it does a perfect job in this soup. I've been making this dish for years as a starter for a great Cajun feast. The reason I probably chose this many moons ago is because it is easy to make. And quick. And always gets rave reviews.



Truth is I've never had fresh okra. Not even fried, or grilled, or stewed. Whenever I see okra in the grocery I usually avoid it, but my goal is to buy some and try it fresh; at least when I can find it. I buy frozen okra which comes in a 12 ounce package in the grocery. That's all one needs to make this bisque. Just save a few slices for a garnish because okra takes on an olive hue when cooked and a touch of fresh green on the top does make this look a bit more appetizing.

Paul Prudhomme came up with this recipe, but you knew that already. Didn't you? I love his stuff and for an occasion like Fat Tuesday one should go with the best. But really one should always go with the best and this is the best. At least of any okra shrimp bisque I've had. Let me know what you think. Now let's get this party rollin'!



Okra Shrimp Bisque

Adapted From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Servings: 4-8 Depending on if this is a main course
Time: 45 minutes start to finish

Ingredients:
Seasoning Mix:
3 whole bay leaves
2 t salt
1 1/2 t dry mustard
1 1/4 t ground white pepper
1 t cayenne
1 t dry thyme leaves
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried basil

1/4 c plus 2 T vegetable oil
3 c sliced okra, in all or 1 bag frozen about 12-14 oz (no need to thaw)
3/4 finely chopped onions
3/4 c finely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 finely chopped celery
4 T unsalted butter
2 t minced garlic
1/4 c flour
5 1/2 c basic seafood stock (Take your shrimp shells and add about 6 c of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. OR-I use clam juice that can be bought in the bottle at the seafood counter. You can use a combo of this and water. This bisque is very rich so don't worry if it is not all stock or clam juice.)
1/2 c finely chopped green onions
3 dozen peeled medium shrimp, about 3/4 pound

Directions:

Combine the seasoning mix in a bowl and set aside.

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat 1/4 c of the oil over high heat for 1 minute. Stir in 2 c of the okra, cook until browned, about 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in the onions, peppers and celery and cook one minute. Add the butter and cook one minute. Then add garlic and cook another minute. Add the seasoning mix and stir well over high heat for 3 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 2 T of oil and the flour. Stir to prevent scorching. Cook until well browned, about two minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 c of stock and scrape bottom well. Add 4 more cups of stock and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes, then lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining cup of okra but be sure to reserve a few for garnish. Continue simmering 10 minutes stirring here and there. Add the green onions and simmer three minutes. Turn heat down to medium and add the shrimp. Simmer until they just turn pink. Serve immediately garnished with a few reserved slices of okra.

More fun food to try:
Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
King Cake
Cajun Potatoes
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter