Getting to Know the Ebullient Epicurean

  1) My favorite item to cook? It’s a tie between seafood lasagna and gumbo. While both items are time consuming they are well worth it. I usually prepare seafood lasagna in the autumn, while gumbo I prepare every Christmas, … Continue reading

Cooking as Racial, Cultural, and Religious History #BlackHistoryMonth

For me, cooking and entertaining is performance art. Every time I plan a party, event, or create a menu for my family, I am engaging in a performance that is a reenactment of what the woman in my family did … Continue reading

Autumn Update

Greetings Followers (Family and Friends)!

I pray that you had an eventful summer complete with many opportunities to entertain your family and friends in your home. I hosted a Mother’s and Father’s Day brunch, a 4th of July party, my mother’s 62nd birthday party, a soror’s birthday picnic, and Sunday dinner for friends. Sadly, I did not have as many opportunities to entertain or prepare my “elaborately simple” meals as I would have liked.

Portuguese inspired birthday cake for my mother's 62nd birthday. Almond cake with pastry creme filling, topped with fresh whipped cream and fruits (blueberries, oranges, raspberries, strawberries; not shown peaches and kiwi).

Portuguese inspired birthday cake for my mother’s 62nd birthday. Almond cake with pastry creme filling, topped with fresh whipped cream and fruits (blueberries, oranges, raspberries, strawberries; not shown peaches and kiwi).

As many of you know, I’ve spent that last 5.5 years in a PhD program. Taking a full load of graduate courses, teaching at a local university, completing my research, and writing a dissertation of more than 300 pages resulted in little time to develop new recipes, let alone try to take “perfect” photos of my work. I did meet with an amazing photographer in New York! I hope to work with him this fall!

As my program comes to an end and I prepare for graduation I have lots of projects on the horizon. Of course, I’m looking for gainful employment so if you know of anything policy related let me know (you can check out my CV and research interests HERE). I also have plans to finally finish my etiquette manual to help you in navigating the social shoals of modern day life; a project I began with my best sister-girl back in 2004 with our company White Gloves and Silver Spoons. In addition to the etiquette manual, I will finally begin writing the manual you’ve been waiting for. I’ll tell you more about that a little later. Last, I’m compiling a recipe book filled with my grandmothers’ recipes, which will accompany the aforementioned “secret” manual above. This recipe book will be a little different from what’s on the market currently. I’m super excited about this!

Now that I have my like “back”, I’m excited to share some new recipes and hospitality, decorating, and entertaining ideas. I’d love to create videos too! Remember the character Joan (portrayed by the fabulous Tracee Ellis Ross) from the show Girlfriends? Well, that’s me when it comes to holidays and birthdays! Check out the video below. Around minute 6:54 you’ll see exactly what I mean.

I recently returned from visiting my beautiful great grandmother (grandmere) in Gatineau, Quebec. Although she now lives in an assisted living community and no longer has a kitchen in her home, at 88, she shared with me some recipes that I’ve always wanted. She was an amazing cook!! So I will begin sharing with you many of her amazing recipes! Many of her recipes are perfect for your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays! I’m trying to keep the integrity of her dishes/recipes, but I realize that many of her methods are “classic” (read: old school), so I will try to update some of them to the best of my ability.

Grandmere Carmen and I (October 2014) in Gatineau, Quebec.

Grandmere Carmen and I (October 2014) in Gatineau, Quebec.

Although I haven’t spent much time blogging or cooking for that matter (side note: I’ve lost a total of 33 pounds since I stopped cooking every day lol hmmm… maybe I’m on to something lol), that hasn’t stopped me from buying new decor. My style is what I like to call bold-classic with explorer flare. Think Kate Spade meets Moroccan excursion. I recently bought a new tablescape for my informal dinning table. Although I won’t use it until the spring, I’m excited to look for vintage hot pink/fuchsia glassware to compliment it.

New Kate Spade tablescape. Photo includes napkins, straws, and table runner. Table cloth not shown, but it's ivory with navy polka dots.

New Kate Spade tablescape. Photo includes napkins, straws, and table runner. Table cloth not shown, but it’s ivory with navy polka dots.

 

I’ve tried out several new recipe ideas! Some good and some great! I created a caramel chocolate bourbon bread pudding… it was good, but needs some work. Next time I’ll make my caramel sauce from scratch and mix it into the bread with the chopped caramel squares. I posted the photos below. I’ve also created some delicious savory ice cream flavors. The holidays are a great time to serve savory ice creams.

Caramel-Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chocolate Bourbon sauce. Shown with vanilla ice cream.

Caramel-Chocolate Bread Pudding with Chocolate Bourbon sauce. Shown with vanilla ice cream.

chocolatebread chocolatebreadpudding

 

My next event is planning my 30th birthday party and graduation! Of course, family members recommended that I “take the night off” and allow someone else to cater both events, but I’m not completely sure about that decision. Actually, I have no idea what the menu would be for either event. Any ideas?!

I hope all is well in your world and that you’re continuously blessed as you’re a blessing to others through your hospitality.

With a servant’s hands and heart,

The Ebullient Epicurean

2013-02-16 16.40.25

Catering and Private Chef Menu

Ebullient Enterprises Catering Menu

Enjoy our delicious soups, main dishes, sides, desserts, and beverages for your next meeting, party or special occasion. Our menu reflects our most common requests. If there’s an item that you’re interested in but it doesn’t appear on the menu, please inquire with one of our ebullient consultants. We offer delivery for a fee, and will return to retrieve the dishes.

                                     Soups
All soups require a 2 quart minimum purchase.

2 quarts (serves 4-6)                               $35

4 quarts (serves 7-8)                               $60

Farmhouse Vegetable

Heirloom Tomato

Southwest Chicken

Country Turkey Noodle

Oaxaca White Chicken Chili

Loaded Baked Potato

Cream of Broccoli

Butternut Squash Bisque

Mom’s Beef Stew

Abuela’s Chicken and Dumplings

Okra Gumbo (Chicken and Sausage)

Seafood Gumbo +$15

                                Meats and Main Dishes

Choice of 2 meats and 2 sides base price $20 per person. 2 person minimum. Pricing a la cart available upon request.

Additional meat + $3 / Additional side + $2

Pork Chops (fried, smothered, or w chutney)

Meatloaf (turkey or beef)

Chicken (Herb roasted, Mojo, Smothered, Curried, Jerk, or BBQ)

Cubed Steak

Beef Short Ribs (Braised or BBQ)

BBQ Pork Ribs (Regular or Peach Tamarind BBQ sauce)

Turkey Breast

Pork Shoulder (Traditional Mojo or BBQ)

Salmon (Ginger Glazed or Jerked) + $3 per person

Shrimp (Etouffe, Curried or Grilled) + $3 per person

Jambalaya (Chicken, Andouille or Turkey Sausage, and Shrimp) + $3 per person

Stuffed Bell Peppers (Ham, Sausage, and Shrimp OR Crab and Shrimp) + $3 per person

Lasagna (Beef, Turkey, Eggplant, Cheese, or Seafood)

Bourbon Baked Spiral Ham Market Price 

                             Sides

2 quarts (serves 4-6)                               $20

4 quarts (serves 7-8)                               $40

Greens (mustard, kale, collard, or mixed)

Callaloo

Braised Kale and Cabbage

Cabbage (smothered and fried)

Roasted butter or sweet potatoes

Broccoli (steamed or roasted w or w/o parmesan)

Vegetarian Red beans and Rice (white or brown)

Vegetarian Black beans and Rice (white or brown)

Arroz con Gandules (contains pork)

Vegetarian Curry Chana and Aloo

Dahl

Jasmine, Basmati or Vegetable Fried Rice (white or brown)

Dressing (Sausage +$5)

Homestyle or Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Potato Salad

Platanos Maduros

Curried Eggplant

BBQ Baked Beans (Sausage + $5)

Corn Bread or Muffins (Regular or Jalapeño Cheese)

Breakfast/Brunch Selections

Quiche (various combinations available)                                                                                                      $23- $43

Breakfast Hash (Ham, Pork Sausage, or Turkey Sausage)                                                                    $15 per quart

Cheese Grits                                                                                                                                                                $15 per quart

Salmon Croquetts w Remoulade                                                                                                                        $2 per piece

Chicken or Tuna Salad (Fruit, Curried, or Plain) w/ an array of crackers and breads               $25 per quart

Kale Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette or Salad Dressing                                                                     $15

Sauces and Accompaniments

Peach Tamarind BBQ Sauce                                                                                                             All $10 per pint

Remoulade Sauce

Habanero Hot Pepper Sauce

Seasonal Fruit Salsa

Homemade Croutons

Grilled Cheese Croutons

Desserts

Croissant Bread Pudding w Rum Sauce                    $30

Banana Pudding                                                                 $25

Praline Cake                                                                         $25

Beverages

Flavored Lemonade (Mango, Passion Fruit, Watermelon, or Peach)                        $20 per gallon

Sangria (White or Red)                                                                                                                  $50 per gallon

Sorrel with Rum                                                                                                                               $40 per gallon

Hudutu (Garifuna Soup Recipe)

This is not my recipe, actually it’s a video. I’m posting it because the chef’s cooking style, inspiration, and approach to food are very similar to my own: using fresh ingredients and using familial recipes in order to share great … Continue reading

Mother White’s Gumbo Lesson (Recipe*)

Mother White's Gumbo with Potato Salad.  Rest in Peace Mother, knowing that your cooking style will live on and bless friends, family and most of all strangers!

Mother White’s Gumbo with Potato Salad.
Rest in Peace Mother, knowing that your cooking style will live on and bless friends, family and most of all strangers! Mother White was a true servant of God who served ALL of God’s people.

My grandmother was known for creating large elaborate meals when given short notice that company was coming or when guests would simply “stop by.” Mother White would call this “throwing together a little la-la.” “La la” could be anything from a rib eye steak cooked atop the stove, a pot of red beans, and of course a pot of gumbo. Why gumbo? Gumbo is a great meal for a large crowd. Now, when most people make a pot of gumbo, they might do chicken and sausage OR shrimp and crab. My grandmother’s gumbo was usually all seafood, but boy was it delicious! Gumbo crab, lump crab, shrimp, and oysters all fresh from the gulf coast.

A pot of gumbo is not complete on its own. Oh no! When preparing a pot of gumbo one must also prepare side dishes of steamed rice AND potato salad, and of course dried parsley and gumbo file powder (sassafras leaves used for thickening) sprinkled over the gumbo before serving. I’m not posting a potato salad recipe, because everyone thinks that their mother makes the best. LOL I suggest using Blue Plate mayonnaise, a little bell pepper,  a little green onion, a little creole mustard, a little sweet relish… you get the idea. But use Blue Plate mayo (found in New Orleans), it’s the best!

Often, people are hesitant about making gumbo because of the first major step, which involves making a roux. The roux is what thickens the gumbo and adds a necessary depth, which simply thickening with okra will not accomplish. Roux is often made with butter and flour, but for gumbo use vegetable oil. A large stock pot full of gumbo requires approximately 2 cups of roux, which is made from 3 cups of vegetable oil and 5 cups of all purpose flour. I will show you how to make roux below, but for now I’ll tell you that roux can be various colors from light brown similar to apple sauce to dark brown like chocolate. The color simply depends on the length of time that you cook it, I like my roux somewhere between a rich peanut buttery color to a milk chocolaty brown. In many families, mine included, the rule is that the color of the roux should be the same shade of the cooker’s back hand side (smile).

This roux is a medium brown color. To accomplish this, I cooked roux for almost an hour on low, mixing very often.

This roux is a medium brown color. To accomplish this, I cooked roux for almost an hour on low, mixing very often.

The second aspect of gumbo making that often scares people away is not knowing what to add. With most Creole cooking you always start with the trinity: bell pepper, celery, and onions. So, gumbo starts with the trinity with a few additions such as garlic, bay leaves, homemade (or purchased) shrimp/chicken stock, among other seasonings and meats such as andouille sausage, chicken, shrimp, oysters, and crabs depending on what type of gumbo you’re making. I usually add okra ti my gumbo no matter if it’s seafood or chicken because I love okra.

Holy Trinity of Creole Cooking with a few Additions

Holy Trinity of Creole Cooking with a few Additions

The final thing that you should know about gumbo is that like any other soup or stew, it tastes much better as it continues to cook and of course tastes amazing on the second, third, or fourth day (if you can wait that long lol).

*Please find my “recipe” for gumbo below. Now, full disclosure- this is not a typical recipe like the others you’ll find on this blog. You see, every single time that I make gumbo I make it differently. Also, like many of my other recipes I don’t measure. If I was to create a “standard recipe” for this it would not be correct because sometimes the roux is too thick and may require more stock. Sometimes the gumbo may taste like flour so you may need to increase the cook time. Therefore, what you’ll find below is simply a recipe guide. This “recipe” serves 10-15 people.

Ingredients 

3 cups prepared roux

2 whole yellow onions diced

5 stalks celery peeled and diced

2 green bell peppers seeded and diced

5 cloves garlic minced

2 lbs okra cut into 1/4 inch slices (ends and tops discarded)

4-6 chicken thighs (skin removed)

2 lbs andouille sausage cut into 1/4 inch circles

2 lbs lump crab claw meat

3 lbs gumbo crabs (found on the gulf coast)

1 lb oysters in their “liquor”

2 lbs shrimp (heads and shells removed and saved, deveined)

20 cups (5 quarts) of chicken AND/OR shrimp (seafood stock) – to make a stock boil 20 cups of water with shrimp heads or raw chicken pieces (1 whole chicken cut up) and 1 whole onion quartered, 4 stalks celery coarsely cut, 1 tablespoon of salt. Boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for 3-4 hours without top on pot. Strain. Allow it to cool and if using chicken skim fat off of surface.

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

5 bay leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

2 tablespoon dried parsley

1.5 tablespoons Creole seasoning such as Tony’s or Slap Your Momma

1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions

Prepare your roux by placing a heavy pot over medium heat. Add 3 cups of oil and heat until almost smoking. Whisk in by the 1/2 cup full the flour. Whisk to fully incorporate each 1/2 cup before adding next cup. The roux will become smooth and thick. Keep whisking constantly. Once all flour has been added, use a spoon to continue stirring over medium low heat. Cook until roux is the desired color. Cook light brown color cook for an hour or so. For dark chocolate colored roux cook for almost two hours. Please note, times will vary based upon your stove.

oil 1

oil 2

oil 3

Remove 3 cups of roux and add to large heavy stock pot. Heat over medium high heat. Roux will be thick. Add diced yellow onions, celery, and bell pepper (the trinity). Stir to incorporate seasonings and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Slowly pour in 15 cups or 4 quarts of stock, whisking as you add. This will prevent lumps from forming in your roux.

oil 4

oil 5

In a separate pan, brown sausage. Remove sausage using spotted spoon and add to roux/stock mixture. Stir. Ass bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings.

gumbo meats

Bring pot to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly scraping the bottom of pot.

Meanwhile, in the same pot where sausage was cooked, add 2 lbs of sliced okra (fresh or frozen) over medium heat. Okra will be slimy, which is alright because slime will cook off once added to roux/gumbo pot. Too reduce slime, dice up one tomato and add to okra. The acid will reduce the slime. Once okra is tender add to pot with roux and other ingredients.

After 5 minutes reduce pot from boil to simmer. Cook on low with top off of pot for at least one hour. Taste it. If it still tastes like flour continue to simmer and add remaining 4 cups/1 quart of stock (liquid). Cook another 30 minutes. It should no longer taste like flour.

In separate heavy pot brown chicken thighs in a little oil with skin removed. Once brown, remove chicken thighs and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred chicken meat from bones. Add shredded cooked chicken to gumbo pot. Stir. Add all crab meats, oysters, parsley, and thyme. Stir. Add more Creole seasoning if needed.

gumbo chicken

Lastly, add shrimp. Cook until shrimp turn pink. Taste. If more seasoning is needed it, add it. Gumbo should look like a medium thick gravy. This is how I like my gumbo, not soupy.

Place gumbo in bowls. Sprinkle with extra dried parsley and file powder. Serve with rice and or potato salad.

Thanksgiving Menu

As many of you know, I am not a full time food and entertaining blogger. I am actually a PhD candidate at the University of New Orleans, preparing to graduate this upcoming Spring. As a result, I have several dissertation … Continue reading

Service Through Hospitality in Your Home

 

The pineapple is the visual keystone of grand dinners during the colonial period. They came to symbolize the high spirits of the social events themselves; the image of the pineapple coming to express the sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection inherent to such gracious home gatherings.

The pineapple is the visual keystone of grand dinners during the colonial period. They came to symbolize the high spirits of the social events themselves; the image of the pineapple coming to express the sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection inherent to such gracious home gatherings.

From time to time I find it necessary to remind myself (and my readers) that although I post lots of recipes and entertaining ideas, that the mission of this blog is to increase service to others. There’s no reason to cook these fabulous meals or to beautifully decorate your home and not share it with others. Hospitality is truly the gift that keeps giving. So here are some ways to ensure that you are sharing the gift of hospitality with others.

Invite Others into Your Home

Your home is an expression of who you are. There’s an expression that says, “You never really know a person until you have seen their home.” Your house may be humble or it may be grand, but your home is what you infuse into it. What does your home say about you? Are you friendly, inviting, imaginative, quiet, artistic? One of the ways I can tell if a person truly is hospitable is how others feel when they visit a home. Are they restless? Listen, if it takes a long time to get them to say “goodbye”, then you know you’ve made them feel welcome. People are often reluctant to leave a place were they feel surrounded by calm, warmth, love, and contentment. Ultimately, your home should be a blessing to others besides yourself. 

Burn Frankincense

Yes, that frankincense. One of the gifts presented to baby Jesus. Frankincense is an incense and ingredient used in sacred anointing oil. It was considered very valuable in biblical times. Just as frankincense represents sacrifice, it also represents sacrificial and selflessness. By burning frankincense you set the tone for service to others. And you even cleanse the air.  Pick up some frankincense from your local bontanica or herb shop.

Cook for Others in YOUR Home

There’s something beautiful that happens when you serve someone food that you prepared (made) with your own hands. Not food that you purchased and reheated or placed on a platter, but food that you prepared. it is not just an expression of servanthood, but it is an impartation of your spirit to theirs. Trust me, people are aware of the effort taken to do something special, such as preparing a meal, for them. For those interested, there’s a great book entitled God Is in the Kitchen Too (2003) by P. Bunny Wilson.

Set Your Table

By setting your kitchen or dining room table, you are making your home look inviting to guests. Remember, the dinner table is a place of offering, communion (let that marinate), and fellowship. It is through fellowship that we get to know each other better. You know, I think that fellowship over a meal is one way to become intimate with someone you love or are romantically interested in. Intimacy is definitely deepened over a meal. You may also experience heartfelt emotions, growth through conversation, and even find new commitments made.

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS THAT YOU EXPRESS HOSPITALITY IN YOUR HOME?

Culinary Concierge at Your Service

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After spending the last year finalizing and defending  my dissertation prospectus, which included the completion of almost 100 pages, I am now ready to begin again my culinary concierge services. I began these services when I said “goodbye” to my first etiquette consulting business  White Gloves and Silver Spoons and founded Ebullient Enterprises DBA According to Lauryn. So what is a culinary concierge? As a culinary concierge, I am at your service to help not only help you with meal preparation, but to provide an array of services to improve your culinary experiences both at home and when dining on the town.

My in-home services include:

– Personal Grocery Shopper

– Meal Preparation

– Cooking Lessons

– Catering for intimate formal and informal events

– Wine Tasting and Pairing Classes

– Seasonal and Regional Eating

– Pan Ethnic Cooking Techniques

– Event and Entertaining Planning Services

As your culinary concierge, I take a holistic approach to the preparation and consummation of food. Using all natural and fresh ingredients I help remove  some of the mystery surrounding unfamiliar ingredients, and provide you with opportunities to develop your palate and expose you to new methods of cooking. Although I am a “home cook” and not classically trained, I have traveled extensively around the world and been trained by some of the best “home cooks” in the world… my grandmothers and great aunts (smile).

Please contact me for pricing and for additional services.

The Importance of Our Homes

living room

Our home is the most immediate expression of who we are and how we view life. It is the place we retire to after giving of ourselves in the world all day long. It is the one place in the world that should be a safe place. It is in that safe place that we are our most authentic selves with those we love. In our homes we build and nurture relationships, face the sometimes burdensome issues with maintaining it and even the joys of decorating it. As we build our relationships, we are building a safe place to be vulnerable and truly intimate. It’s important that we make sure that we’re building that same safe place in our physical space, in our homes.

With a Servant’s Heart,
L. Tamar