Food & Drink

Summer perfect for potato salad

Not all potato salads are created equally.

Some are mustard-based and others runny with mayonnaise. Others contain dill pickles, pimentos, onions, bell pepper or even olives.

My late husband loved pimento-stuffed olives in his potato salad. My daughter skips the onions and bell pepper. I go light on the mayo.

Sunday, we attended church and a covered-dish lunch with my father-in-law. I commented that the potato salad looked good. One man who had been peering at it said, "I am just trying to figure out if it has onions." No onions for him.

Potato salads are as diverse as people.

One Gulfport attorney makes a dynamite potato salad that actually contains few ingredients.

At a recent lunch at Bridge Community Church, folks were asking, "Who made the potato salad? It’s awesome."

"I did," Dara Skinner said. "And it is so easy."

Easy or not, that salad is a keeper.

My daughter loves good potato salad but was working and didn’t get to taste Skinner’s. I made that salad for her to go along with a smoked brisket. She, too, loved it.

What’s Skinner’s secret?

She boils the new potatoes for the salad along with shrimp and corn on the cob. The spicy, fragrant boiling spices make the potatoes taste so good that little seasoning is needed in the potato salad.

"I just dumped the potatoes in with shrimp and corn last night and refrigerated the potatoes for today’s salad. The spices and shrimp really flavor the potatoes."

Here’s her recipe that would be good for any get together, whether a barbecue, shrimp boil or a gumbo dinner.

Reader Della Redmond, who wants a good chicken and sausage gumbo recipe, might want to give this salad a try with a pot of gumbo.

There are no measurements with this potato salad. The number of boiled eggs and pickle relish used depends on how many potatoes are boiled. Skinner told us how she makes it, but no amounts were given. Make it to your taste. Here are the basics:

GUMBO RECIPE, PLEASE

"You published in the newspaper a really good chicken and sausage gumbo recipe about a year ago or so. I am Creole so I know how to make gumbos, but I like yours better than mine," Della Redmond said. "It used 8-10 bone-in chicken thighs and sausage. You cook the thighs with the bones in then, let them cool, remove the meat and then add back to the gumbo. I have company coming for the 4th of July, and they are asking for it. Please save me."

Here are a couple of gumbo recipes that have appeared in this column in the last couple of years. Charles Duffy shared a chicken and sausage gumbo, and Ed Walker shared his chicken, sausage and seafood gumbo.

"Here is the gumbo recipe I use for parties or to put in the freezer," said Ed Walker of D’Iberville, who uses chicken parts in his gumbo. "This recipe is party-size, so you can cut back as needed."

Now that shrimp season is under way, I thought a strictly seafood pot of gumbo might make a nice treat.

One Coastian, who made me promise not to use his name, sent in his family’s secret seafood gumbo recipe that he has perfected. His does not have meat in it, just seafood. Here’s his recipe for the purists out there.

"I have one secret," he said. "Before you add the crabmeat, add 1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce and mix well."

He also does not use celery in his gumbo, with which I concur.

WANTED: BLUEBERRY RECIPES

A reader asked for ways to use blueberries other than in a muffin or pancakes. She would like salad, jam or dessert recipes. If you have a good blueberry recipe, please send it to me.

LOST RECIPE?

Readers, if you have lost a favorite recipe or simply need help finding a recipe, shoot me an e-mail or letter. I will try to find the answers.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net or Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

Potato Salad

By Dara Skinner

New potatoes or small red potatoes

Hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Sweet pickle relish

Mayonnaise, the amount to your liking

Salt and pepper, if needed

Boil potatoes with shrimp, crabs, etc. in spicy crab boil or Cajun seasoning. Let cool. Boil eggs, peel and mash. Add to potatoes that have been cut in chunks. Add mayonnaise and pickle relish to taste, as well as salt and pepper.

Note: I found with the seasoning used on potatoes that salt wasn’t necessary.

Chill and serve.

Chicken Sausage Gumbo

By Charles Duffy

1 large chicken, cut into pieces

5 tablespoons oil or lard

6 tablespoons flour

2 large onions, minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-1/2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage

2-1/2 quarts chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon thyme

3 bay leaves

1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves

1/8 teaspoon powdered allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped green onions

File’ powder, optional

Fry the chicken in the oil until brown. Next, fry the andouille for 4 or 5 minutes. Reserve the chicken and sausage. To the oil left in the pot, add the flour and slowly cook to a nice brown.

Place in the pan the onions, bell pepper and celery and sauté until vegetables are limp. Add the chicken stock, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, cayenne and basil. Carefully add the salt and the black pepper. Let this mixture slowly simmer for at least 40 minutes, then add the chicken and sausage. Cook until the chicken is tender.

Remove from heat and add the green onions. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over rice. Add a pinch or 2 of file’ to each bowl of gumbo. Serves 6 to 8 diners.

Gumbo

By Ed Walker

1 bag chicken legs and thighs (The day before making gumbo, boil with salt, pepper, celery or celery seed, and onion. Remove the meat from the bones and cook the bones again in the stock for another hour, strain and save the stock; be sure to use enough water to have at least 3 gallons of stock. Chicken and stock go in the gumbo. Put in refrigerator and after chilling, skim off the grease from the top before making the gumbo.)

1 (3-pound) bag onions

1 bunch of celery

4 or 5 bell peppers

5 bunches green onions

2 small bunches of parsley

Garlic (buy a jar of chopped garlic and use part, plus garlic granules, or 3 bulbs of fresh)

3 pounds sliced okra (fresh or frozen)

1 gallon tomatoes; run through food processor

3 pounds smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch or smaller pieces

10 pounds raw peeled shrimp (either fresh or 2 1/2-pound boxes frozen)

1 pound picked claw crabmeat or 1 dozen or more cracked gumbo crabs, optional

2 quarts oysters, optional

Flour

Vegetable oil

Salt, black pepper, red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, liquid crab boil to taste

Chop onions, celery, peppers, parsley and garlic fine, or buy 2 or more cups of prepared, chapped fresh Creole seasoning mix, available in many grocery produce departments (more is better). Put the chicken stock in a big pot with the sliced okra. When the okra is tender, add the smoked sausage, chicken, and 1/2 of the chopped fresh seasonings and bring back to a boil. Sauté the other 1/2 of the chopped seasonings in oil until they start to become transparent, then add to the pot along with the crushed tomatoes, and cook about 15 minutes. Then, add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are done. When the shrimp are done, add the crabmeat and oysters, and cook until the oysters start to curl. Stir in the roux while the oysters are cooking and stir constantly after that.

While everything is cooking, make a roux with 1 cup flour and 1 cup oil, mixed in a 4-cup microwavable container and microwave on high for 5 minutes. If not light brown by that time, microwave for 1 minute at a time until the desired color is reached.

Mix 1 or 2 cups of the liquid from the big pot into the roux (be very careful, it foams up) then add the roux mix back to the pot. Add slowly while you stir it in well. I use a wire whisk to mix it in.

Correct the seasoning with salt, black pepper, red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning or Cajun seasoning mix or crab boil to taste. Serve over rice with potato salad (Back Bay and D’Iberville residents put a scoop of potato salad in the bowl on the side of the gumbo).

Seafood Gumbo

5 pounds, 26-30 count, peeled Gulf shrimp

2 dozen cleaned blue crabs

4 pounds claw crabmeat

2 quarts oysters, optional

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 onions

4 green onions

2 bell peppers

4 cups smothered okra

2 cups flour

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Seasonings: sage, lemon pepper, bay leaves, file

First, in large pot, add olive oil, cut okra, cook down on slow heat, and add onions, bell peppers until soft, put aside.

In a cast-iron skillet, brown roux (flour and olive oil), add diced bell peppers, onions and only white tips of green onions, sweat down in roux, (chop green part of onion, put aside). In large pot, add hot water as needed to roux until proper thickness, add okra and heat until slow boil. Start adding seasonings to taste, touch of sage, lemon pepper, bay leaves and a little file, then cook for approximately 30 minutes on simmer. This is the key for your gumbo.

Then add crabs, (oysters) continue to simmer, then add Gulf shrimp, simmer for approximately 1-2 hours, remove pot from burner, set aside. Add tomato sauce, then add crabmeat, stir lightly, add a little more file, add green onions, cover completely with lid for approximately 4 hours. Then enjoy.

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