Don't worry, I promise I'll still keep talking about movies and makeup and everything else, but when I'm not on a writing deadline these days, I've been doing a whole lot of cooking, hence all the food-focused posts.
It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I love trying new recipes, and with our recent cold snap in DFW, soups and stews have basically been our go-to dinners.
This past weekend, I gave Giada's Tuscan-Style White Bean & Fire-Roasted Garlic soup a try, and I'm pleased to report that it was a total winner. Thanks to her helpful little starter at Target (see left), a big ol' pot of delicious soup was ready in about 30 minutes flat.
You gotta hand it to the Italians, they sure know how to make the most of a few simple ingredients, and this soup was no exception. With just a little chicken broth, bacon (!!!), white beans, roasted garlic, onion, tomatoes and spinach, you've got a one-pot wonder that's actually relatively healthy.
Keeping with the whole comfort food theme, Will and I were inspired by the recent season of Top Chef and opted for homemade gumbo for football Sunday. Since the DFW programming meanies decided to replace my previously scheduled Packer game with the Carolina Panthers/Miami Dolphins match-up instead (I'm guessing Aaron Rodgers' absence in the starting QB slot had something to do with the decision), I had plenty of time to whip up some authentic New Orleans gumbo.
As far as Cajun cuisine goes, jambalaya has been part of my regular repertoire for a while now. But since I've never made gumbo, I was pretty excited to see how it turned out. Like jambalaya, there's lots of great ingredients and plenty of chopping, but I've heard the key to mastering gumbo lies in making the perfect, dark chocolate-colored roux.
Needless to say, I didn't know the process would take that long or require that much whisking (I felt like I acquired some pretty awesome arm muscles by the end, though), but my patience paid off when Will declared the gumbo "perfect."
Incidentally, if you try the recipe I linked to, I made a few modifications that mostly involved a lot more spice. We Banisters like some heat in our food, so we went a bit heavier on the hot sauce, added some cayenne and seasoned the chicken with some more of the Cajun seasoning the recipe called for.
While everything in the gumbo was aces, my favorite part was, hands down, the richly flavored broth. Occasions like these call for a fresh French baguette to dip in all that yumminess, and needless to say, the bread totally stole the spotlight from the jasmati rice served underneath.