Don’t mess with her dish – even at a funeral

Published 12:25am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I went to an Episcopal funeral recently, and it lasted two hours, which is much longer than most but that did include the internment in the churchyard. The deceased was an interesting man, quite an eccentric. One of his daughters gave an interesting portrayal of life with her father. Of interest, our own priest from Andalusia, Peggy Scott, was in attendance and assisted with the Eucharist.

Now I have talked about funeral food before, but at this specific funeral, I realized how important these Episcopal women take their dishes. Maybe this is true of the Baptists and Methodists! My good friend Martha had prepared her special “funeral squash casserole.” She told me she had gone to the grocery store the day before to prepare this and knew the ingredients by heart as she had done it so many times. She arrived with the casserole in a warming bag to make sure it would be just perfect. Well, when she went to check on her casserole after the service it was not on the table in the parish hall.

“Where is my squash casserole?” she asked. The person in charge said the family had asked for fried chicken, ham and pick-up food. This made Martha go steaming through the parish hall. She said she wanted her casserole and she was going home. So let this be a warning to anyone in charge of funeral food; never refuse a gift of food for the dead. The person in charge looked at those of us in the kitchen, “I guess I shouldn’t have said that.” I took deviled eggs: no problem getting rid of them! And there were other casseroles on the table too.

This was a Louisiana funeral and they served gumbo. Not exactly a pick up food – it needs a bowl and a spoon.  Also on the dessert table was King Cake. It is the season for both, and you know you are at a Louisiana funeral when you see these foods. I am still trying to make the best gumbo. I have been doing some research on how to make a roux and did an experiment with microwave roux. It was not bad. I used this roux for a new gumbo recipe, and it was really good also.  If you are in a hurry this microwave roux takes seven minutes compared to 45 for the other over the stove. I thought it tasted about the same. I love seafood gumbo the best but this recipe does have sausage included also.

This would be a great recipe for this cold weather. It makes a lot and you can freeze for several months.

From Louisiana Cookin’ January/February 2014.

Microwave Roux

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour in a 4-cup glass measuring cup; combine oil and flour, and whisk until smooth. Microwave, uncovered, on high about five minutes. Carefully remove from microwave, and carefully stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. A blond roux should have formed after about five minutes. Continue cooking in one-to-two-minute increments, or until desired color forms, stirring between each.

Oyster and Seafood Gumbo

Makes eight to 10 servings

½ pound Andouille sausage, sliced

½ pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup dark brown roux, recipe above (I prefer the taste of a dark roux.)

1 (10-ounce) package red pearl onions, peeled and halved (I used a red onion peeled and chopped.)

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped green bell pepper

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 quarts seafood stock

3 bay leaves

2 dried chili peppers

1 pound medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 dozen oysters, in liquid

Cooked white rice

Garnish: Fresh parsley and crushed red pepper

In a large Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until browned; remove from pan, and set aside. Add bacon, and cook until browned. Remove and set aside; discard drippings.

In the same pan, add roux, and warm over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once simmering, add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about four to five minutes.

Add tomatoes, Cajun seasonings, salt, pepper, stock, bay leaves, and dried peppers. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes. Add reserved sausage and bacon; cook 10 minutes more.

Add shrimp, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Add oysters and cook, uncovered five minutes. Serve over cooked white rice. Cajuns always add rice to their gumbos. Garnish with parsley and crushed red pepper, if desired.

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