Everyone has that one (or two, or 84) places on their bucket list that they would love to go to - say, Paris, or London, for some - and one of my dream destinations has always been to go to the Gulf Coast - to see the ocean and visit Texas, or Alabama, or Louisiana. To see the water and the beaches and of course, eat the FOOD. It's pretty unlikely that I will fulfill that dream to see that part of the world, but I feel a little closer to it thanks to Gumbo Love by Lucy Buffett.
I am going to say right up front - I love everything about this book. The photographs are gorgeous - food and scenery that leaps from the page to grab you. Lucy's introduction shares a bit of her life story and her personality comes through. One of my favorite parts of the book is her "Ten Grateful Ingredients For A Bright Life And A Happy Kitchen". There is always room for more gratitude and optimism.
And the recipes! Once you've read the short section on gulf coast cooking essentials - roux, file, stocks and more - you get to Chapter 1 - desserts first! This made me happy and continues the wonderful tone of the book. In total there are 10 chapters of recipes and one of menu planning and suggestions. The book covers a lot of territories - snacks, mains, vegetables, salads, sandwiches, drinks, sauces, and soups and - yes, lots of Gumbo.
The recipes are clear and easy to follow, with helpful hints substitutions offered by Lucy. Most recipes are a page to a page and a half long, and none feel overly complicated or daunting.
I wanted to start with a gumbo (of course!) and we chose Gumbo Z'Herbe or Green Gumbo - loaded with veggies and greens and sausage. It took about 2 hours to make, and was AMAZING. Even the kids ate some, which is high praise. The Mister and I loved it and each had 2 bowls and argued over the leftovers. It was a dish I was pretty impressed with myself for making - damn, I'm good.
To make the gumbo I also had to whip up a batch of Lulu's Crazy Creola Seasoning. Simple but has a total punch of flavor.
We also tried the Salted Butterscotch Blondies (without the optional but encouraged icing) which were very easy to make and very very delicious. I took some to work to share and not only did they disappear quickly, but I had multiple requests for the recipe.
I whipped up a batch of Wow Sauce, a spicy and flavorful sauce to spread on pretty much anything you can think of, and a batch of the Fresh Herb and Garlic Cheese Spread, which was another amazing recipe. The Mister and I both loved it a lot, but the real fan was the 2 year old, who parked herself at the table and ate the cheese spread on carrots and celery until we feared there would be none left for us, and we took it away from her.
The last dish we tried was the Easy Breezy Island Shrimp Curry, which was so easy and so delicious - everyone loved it. (The book calls for serving with rice or spinach, but we went with noodles for the kids and it was very good.)
That's all we've tried so far, but I have a super long list of recipes I want to try soon, including Honey Ale Pimento Cheese, Garlicky Good-Woman Chicken, Southern Fried Cream Corn, Chocolate Angel Food Cake, and French Onion Soup. Yum!
Gumbo Love is being released tomorrow, and I really encourage you to buy it. It's a fun, informative and above all delicious book. It's really great.
Thank you so much, Hachette Books!