October 22, 2010

I'm BACK! And I made Mark Bittman's Scallop Gumbo to Prove It

Whew! I did it. I survived the summer and had a beautiful wedding (thanks to T's Mom and Dad, especially, for working so hard and hosting the wedding at their home). See?

And now I have this super cool husband and we're living on an actual island in North Carolina. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The best part of the house (other than being on the Intracoastal Waterway and all my deck space) is my new kitchen. T jokes that, when we set aside a day to get the house set up, I kind of retreat to the kitchen and just go in circles, moving this plate from here to there, and that mixer from there to here. It's true. I am obsessed with the kitchen.

 (What's missing here is my embarrasingly large number of kitchen appliances that lives 
off to the right...at least you can see the mortar and pestle and Mongette, my mixer!)

I've had an amazing stroke of luck or confidence or something, and our dinners have been coming out perfectly timed since we moved in (okay...three meals have come out perfectly timed...I still have plenty of chances to screw it up).

Last night, for example, we decided it would be good to take advantage of our maritime location and make some seafood. I've been drooling over Mark Bittman's Scallop Gumbo since I saw the video on The Minimalist earlier this Spring, so I decided to go for it.

Bittman's recipe calls for a roux, which is essentially a mixture of flour and fat that serves as the thickening agent in most soups and sauces (especially French ones). Somehow, I had managed not to have ever made a roux until last night, so I went a little overboard getting my prep work done so that I could stand over the roux and stir it obsessively for the whole ten minutes it needs to turn a gorgeous nut-brown color.

Here's the roux at first. I was even afraid to take this picture, because I was convinced the roux would burn in the three seconds it took me to put the spoon down, snap the shutter, and then put the camera down.

I'm not sure if the difference in color is even discernible, but this is the roux after it turned darker and stopped frothing as much as it did early in its little life. (Sometimes, I'm like a nervous mama when I make new foods...can you tell?)

Sidenote: here's a nice image for you...I stirred the roux with one hand for the whole ten minutes called for in the recipe, while, with the other hand, I tagged all 100 billion of my wedding photos on Facebook. Who says multitasking doesn't work?

Now, Bittman's recipe didn't call for any added liquid once the vegetables were stirred into the roux, but things were getting a little dry in the bottom of the pot, so I added a splash of white wine after about four minutes of stirring the vegetables about as obsessively as I had stirred the roux. It worked perfectly, and I'm a firm believer that adding wine to almost any situation (doing taxes, for example) is never a bad idea.

The best part about making this gumbo is that, once I recovered from my fear of burning the roux or the veggies, I realized just how easy gumbo is. And I love that gumbo can be made with chicken, shrimp, sausage...kind of whatever you want. Maybe not venison (blech), but you get the idea.

The best piece of advice that Bittman mentions in his Scallop Gumbo video is that it's easy to overcook scallops. He recommends adding them to the gumbo (which should be bubbling-ish), and then immediately turning off the heat, stirring a few times, and serving. That's how I did it, and the scallops were still nice and tender.

This dish was fantastic. I found very little to criticize, except maybe that I had over-salted it a little bit (which is pretty much expected because I'm a salt addict). See? I'm BACK! More to come soon!

And yes, T and I both sit on the same side of the table. We have to do some cheesy newlywed stuff, right?



    All of that sounded awesome. Love the pics of the house!!

  2. Congrats on your wedding!
    And I love your kitchen . . and the cheesy table setting ;-)

  3. Thanks so much! I love it too. It's where I spend most of my time!