Make ‘Gumbo Love’ With These Recipes From Lucy Buffett
By Michelle Matthews, AL.com, May 9, 2017
Lucy Buffett – a Mobile native, the little sister of Jimmy Buffett and the owner of two LuLu’s restaurants in Gulf Shores, Ala., and Destin, Fla., with a third on the way in Myrtle Beach, S.C. – describes her new cookbook as “a love letter to the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico.”
“Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life” includes dozens of recipes for desserts, starters and snacks, gumbos and other soups, main dishes, vegetables and sides, salads, sandwiches, cocktails and more.
Here are a few recipes from “Gumbo Love” for you to try at home.
Makes one cocktail
For an honest-to-goodness margarita, you need to use high-quality ingredients without a lot of juice or extra flavors – in other words, get to the heart of the matter.
Kosher salt, for rimming the glass (optional)
1 orange, cut into thick wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 ounces Patron Anejo tequila
1/2 ounce Patron Citronge lime liqueur
5 to 6 ounces soda water
1. Salt the rim of the glass, if desired.
2. Put 4 orange wedges and 2 lime wedges into a metal cocktail shaker. Add the tequila and lime liqueur.
3. Muddle gently, avoiding the rinds, which can add a bitter taste.
4. Add a small scoop of ice and the soda water to the shaker. Pour back and forth between the shaker and a large mixing glass a few times.
5. Pour the margarita into the salted (if using) serving glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Classic Southern Pound Cake with Strawberries
Serves 12 to 16
Growing up Southern, pound cake was part of my sweet-tasting experience, as there was always some kind of pound cake sitting on my grandmother’s counter.
The traditional story about pound cake is that the ingredients consist of “a pounda” butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. This is my rendition of the classic dessert, and there are really no words to describe the sweet vanilla aroma and rich buttery taste of love infused in every bite.
11/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
21/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or use almond or any other flavored extract)
Fresh whipped cream (recipe follows), for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 325degF. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan (a tube pan is preferred, but if you use a Bundt pan instead, you’ll need to make sure to leave 1 inch of space at the top of the pan, so you may end up with a small amount of leftover batter).
2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the sliced strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve the cake.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the remaining 3 cups sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk, starting and finishing with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely. Serve each piece with a spoonful of the chilled strawberries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Fresh Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or flavored liqueur
3 tablespoons sugar
1. Place a medium metal bowl in the freezer to chill.
2. When ready to prepare the whipped cream, place the cream and vanilla in the chilled bowl. With an electric mixer, whip the cream on medium speed, gradually adding the sugar. The cream will begin to thicken.
3. Whip the cream until it begins to form stiff peaks. Be careful not to over whip or the cream will separate.
Spicy Shrimp Ceviche
2 pounds poached wild-caught Gulf shrimp (recipe follows)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded jalapeno
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1/4 cup for serving, if desired
Juice of 5 limes (about 1 cup)
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced (optional)
2 limes, quartered (optional)
1. Chop the shrimp into thirds or bite-size pieces, or leave them whole if you prefer, and place in a large bowl.
2. Add the red onion, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt, white pepper, and sugar and stir well.
3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. While the mixture marinates, occasionally turn the container to evenly coat the shrimp in the liquid.
4. Transfer the shrimp and liquid to a glass bowl to serve or divide among eight martini glasses. If desired, garnish with avocado, cilantro, and lime.
Makes 2 pounds shrimp
I use this method to cook shrimp that have been peeled. It takes only a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Poaching lets them absorb the flavors from the poaching liquid, which is called court bouillon in fancy French cooking and typically uses wine. Staying in step with my beloved Gulf Coastal Caribbean and Mexican influences, I use tequila or rum!
21/4 pounds large wild-caught headless Gulf shrimp in the shell
8 cups water
1/2 cup tequila or rum
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 fresh cilantro sprigs
1. Peel and devein the shrimp. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
2. Place the water in a large heavy skillet or saucepan. Add the tequila, lemon, onion, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Boil for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat until the liquid is simmering. Add the shrimp, cover, and cook for
3 minutes only! Pour the shrimp into a strainer and immediately cover with ice. When the shrimp are cool, remove and discard the lemon rounds, garlic, and cilantro. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad
Serves 6 to 10
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 red onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
1 cucumber, halved, seeded, scored with a zester, and sliced into half-moons
1 small seedless watermelon (I like the sugar baby variety), chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the black pepper, and the red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Add the red onion and let the mixture stand for 1 to 2 hours. Drain the red onion, discarding the liquid.
3. Make one large salad in a salad bowl or make individual salads by gently combining the red onion, cucumber, watermelon, and feta.
4. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and lightly drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with chopped mint.
Lucy’s Signature Summer Seafood Gumbo
Serves 14 to 16
It takes courage to make a gumbo, and you’ve got to rustle up plenty more qualities along the way to achieve a successful end result. But like any character-building exercise, your experience and wisdom deepens with every step, until you reach a profound sense of satisfaction by the end of the process. A simmering pot of contentment is your reward, and the knowledge that you made this nurturing goodness from the humblest of ingredients and your own ability. It is literally and figuratively a pot full of flavor that can feed your loved ones for days and that’s just brimming with all the courage, mindfulness, and love you put into it.
It all starts with preparation — you must gather all the ingredients and prep them: chop the vegetables, clean the seafood, and saute the meats and sausages. When done in an orderly fashion, this preparation simplifies the steps to come. It eliminates the chaos and fear. With practice and focus, you quickly learn you were more afraid of the fear itself than the task at hand.
Next is the queen bee — the roux! Making a roux simply requires a little focus and paying attention, seasoned with faith — you have to shake off the doubt and believe in yourself before diving headfirst into the perseverance part, which keeps you doing what you have to do, stirring long after your arm has gone numb from pain. Then there’s the listening, where you tune in to your wisdom and experience to take the roux just to the edge of burning before you toss in the vegetables. Next is the easy follow-directions part, where you do what you’re told to do: you add the stock, along with the rest of the ingredients and seasonings, and mix it all together. Then comes the hard part for lots of us: you let it go. You leave it alone, letting it simmer, with an occasional stir. You get out of the way. You trust the age-old cooking process and let the magic happen.
Over the years, this is the recipe that I’ve cooked the most and that has remained a featured specialty at my restaurants. As far as the seafood goes, I use shrimp and crab, but if it’s cool enough for oysters and there are some sweet and pretty ones available, or it’s crawfish season, I will toss those in, too. And though I usually use only sausage in my winter gumbo, it’s no crime to add a little andouille to the pot as well.
3 pounds medium wild-caught Gulf shrimp, heads on
2 pounds cooked blue crab claw meat, picked through for shells, handled carefully to keep the meat in big chunks
4 large ripe tomatoes, or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes with their juices
3/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
1 bunch celery, coarsely chopped, including leaves
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
8 cups shrimp or seafood stock (recipe follows), heated
2 to 3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons LuLu’s Crazy Creola Seasoning (recipe follows), or other Creole seasoning
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 blue crab bodies, if available (optional)
21/2 pounds fresh okra, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, or thawed frozen cut okra
2 cups finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Cooked white rice, for serving
French bread and butter, for serving
1. Peel and devein the shrimp. (If you’re making your own stock, reserve the heads and shells to make the stock.) Refrigerate the shrimp and crabmeat until ready to use.
2. If using fresh tomatoes, fill a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let them cool. The skins will slip off easily. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes over a bowl to retain as much juice as possible. Set aside. (If using canned tomatoes, chop each tomato into eighths and return them to the juice in the can.)
3. To make the roux, in a large stockpot (about 10 quarts), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, gradually add the flour, whisking continuously, and cook, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary to keepit from burning, until the roux is a dark mahogany color, 25 to 35 minutes. Be careful: if the roux burns, you will have to start all over again!
4. Carefully add the onion to the roux and stir with a large wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes. (The onion will sizzle and steam when it hits the hot roux, so caution is advised. All seasoned gumbo cooks have roux battle scars on one or both arms.)
5. Add the celery and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 to 3 minutes more. The mixture should resemble a pot of black beans in color and texture.
7. Add the heated stock and the tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, basil, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well. Bring the gumbo to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer. Add the crab bodies (if using) and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour.
8. Add the okra and bring the gumbo to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the okra has lost its bright green color and cooked down like the other vegetables. If the gumbo gets too thick, add a little water. If it is too thin, continue to simmer it, uncovered.
9. Gumbo is always better the day after it has been cooked, although I’ve never had a complaint when I served it the day I made it. At this point, you can cool the gumbo. Turn off the heat and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Then place the pot, uncovered, in an empty sink. Fill the sink with cold water and ice around the stockpot (try not to get any in the stockpot itself). Stir every 15 minutes to facilitate cooling. (The gumbo will spoil if improperly cooled.) When completely cool, refrigerate the gumbo in the stockpot, uncovered.
10. When ready to serve, slowly bring the gumbo to a simmer over medium-low heat. Thirty minutes before serving, add the green onion, parsley, and lemon juice to the gumbo. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and crabmeat, mix well, and cook for 2 minutes. Cover and turn off the heat. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes more to cook the seafood. The gumbo will stay hot for a long time. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasonings; serve over cooked white rice with French bread and butter.
If you are lucky enough to get shrimp with the heads on, rejoice. Shrimp heads make the stock even richer and more flavorful. When making stock, I fill an empty liter Coke bottle (label removed) with water and freeze it ahead of time. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, I plunge the frozen bottle into the middle to help cool the stock from the inside out. This is also how I cool down a pot of gumbo before refrigerating it.
Makes about 4 quarts
Heads, tails, and shells from about 5 pounds peeled wild-caught Gulf shrimp
6 quarts water
2 lemons, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2 bay leaves
3 onions, coarsely chopped
6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
Handful of fresh parsley with stems, washed thoroughly
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 whole garlic clove
1. At least several hours before you plan to make the stock, fill a clean, empty 1-liter soda bottle with water to about 2 inches from the top, seal, and freeze it.
2. Run cold water over the shrimp shells to rinse. Place all the ingredients in a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, or until the stock is simmering. Skim off the foam that rises to the top. Cook for a couple of hours, skimming again about every 15 minutes.
4. Place the stockpot in an empty sink. Fill the sink with water and ice around the stockpot. Let the stock cool completely, uncovered. When the stock has cooled down a bit, about 30 minutes or so, put the frozen soda bottle in the middle to cool the stock from the inside out. Strain the stock, discarding the solids, transfer to storage containers, and refrigerate or freeze immediately.
LuLu’s Crazy Creola Seasoning
Makes 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic or garlic powder
4 teaspoons granulated onion or onion powder
1/4 cup paprika
11/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Recipes excerpted from “Gumbo Love” by Lucy Buffett, reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style.