Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo with Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits tasted awfully good on another bitterly cold Midwest winter evening.

In preparing this dish Ample Bites used my friend and fellow food enthusiast Tebo Wells’ recipe with a few minor tweaks. The stock was a combination of my own shrimp stock from last year and some chicken stock. Making the roux in the microwave was a big time-saver and it produced a pretty a nice dark caramel color after about 6 minutes total.


Seafood Gumbo
(Adapted from Tebo’s Seafood Gumbo recipe)

Serves 8 – 10

2 – 3 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 ½ large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes with liquid
1 medium bell pepper
4 – 6 green onions (including tops) finely chopped
1 16 oz. bag frozen sliced okra, thawed
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp liquid crab boil
½ cup vegetable oil
5/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ quarts Shrimp Stock
1 lb. lump crab meat
3 – 5 bay leaves

In a large saucepan, warm shrimp stock.

Prepare vegetables. Mix seasonings (salt, pepper, crab boil and cayenne) and set aside.

Make roux: thoroughly mix the oil and flour in a microwave-safe container. Heat on high in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir thoroughly. Repeat for 1 minute. Continue to heat in 1-minute increments until desired color is reached.

In a heavy cast iron pot or Dutch oven, over high heat add the onions and garlic to the roux. Stir constantly until the onions are caramelized, about 12 minutes. Be careful not to burn the roux.

Add the tomatoes, bell pepper and green onions. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp stock, okra, seasonings and bay leaves. Stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 40 minutes. Let stand until needed – at least an hour – to allow flavors to meld.

Before serving, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and add shrimp and crabmeat. Simmer for 6 – 8 minutes until shrimp are pink. Remove bay leaves and let stand for 15 – 30 minutes before serving. Serve in a large bowls with 1/3 cup of cooked rice in each bowl.

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Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits

Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits are the perfect bread to serve along with a gumbo or a hearty soup. The sweetness of the sweet potato is nicely balanced with the salty bacon crumbles and the creamy cheddar cheese.

If you want to kick the flavor up a little bit you can add some finely chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper. To make more of a cornbread biscuit substitute corn meal for some of the flour.


Sweet Potato Bacon Biscuits
(Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, 2014)

Makes 8 biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 cup milk
½ cup mashed sweet potato

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and cayenne. Using a pastry mixer, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Stir in cheese and bacon. Make a well in the flour mixture.

In a small bowl mix together milk and sweet potato. Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until just combined. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Knead gently about a dozen times. Roll the dough into a ¾”-thick rectangle. Cut into 8 rectangular pieces.

On baking sheet, place the biscuits about 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.

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Braised Spareribs and Potatoes with Portuguese Red Pepper Paste

Braised Spareribs and Potatoes is a perfect dish to serve during a chilly night in this bleak and bitterly cold winter. The key ingredient in this dish is the Portuguese Red Pepper Paste, which is used as a marinade and, once cooked, imparts flavor to both the pork ribs and the potatoes. This red pepper paste can be purchased or prepared using the recipe provided below.


The dish takes some advanced planning whether you make the red pepper paste or purchase it. Marinating the ribs in the paste overnight is important for building the flavor profile. The braising process also takes a fair amount of time so allow a bit more time than you think you might need depending on the amount of ribs being cooked. You can always keep the meat warm to serve up to an hour later.

Braised Spareribs and Potatoes
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

Serves 4 – 6

2 racks (about 6 lbs.) St. Louis-style pork spareribs
1 ½ cups Portuguese Red Pepper Paste (see recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½” pieces

Place ribs in a roasting pan and rub with pepper paste, coating completely. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.

Heat oven to 325F.

Let ribs come to room temperature. Uncover pan and season the ribs with black pepper. Cover pan tightly with foil; bake until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Remove from oven; increase oven temperature to 425F. Transfer ribs to a baking sheet. Scrape the red pepper paste from ribs and transfer to a bowl. Pour half of the drippings from the pan over the paste; whisk until smooth.

Add potatoes to roasting pan; toss with the remaining drippings and season with pepper. Place ribs over the potatoes. Brush paste mixture over ribs. Return to oven; bake, uncovered, until ribs and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour more.

Remove pan. Heat broiler. Broil until the ribs are slightly charred, 3 – 4 minutes. Transfer ribs to cutting board; let rest until cool enough to handle, then slice into individual servings. Serve with portion of potatoes and a scoop of pan sauce.

Portuguese Red Pepper Paste
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

This paste is an excellent dry marinade for meats or can be used as a spread for crackers or a dip for raw vegetables.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 – 10 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into strips about 1”-wide
3 Tbsp Kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place a layer of peppers in a medium, wide bowl. Sprinkle with some of the salt and repeat, forming several layers. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

Drain off accumulated liquid. Place the uncovered bowl in a 250F oven and roast for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Peel and discard skin from the peppers. Combine the peppers, garlic and ¼ cup of the oil in a food processor. Process until the paste is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. With the processor running, add the remaining oil in a thin stream until the paste is light and the consistency of whipped butter.

Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate. Use as needed. Allow the paste to come to room temperature before serving.

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Two Different Pizzas

Below are a couple of new versions of pizza that Ample Bites found recently. Pizza Bianca with Smoked Mozzarella and Shave Celery Root is a sauceless pizza that is more like a flatbread. Artichoke and Olive Pizza is more of a traditional pie.


Pizza Bianca w/ Smoked Mozzarella & Shaved Celery Root
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, January 2014)

Serves 4

Pizza dough
¼ bulb celery root (celeriac), peeled and very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced
½ small onion, very thinly sliced
½ cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, plus more for serving
1 Tbsp drained capers, chopped
Sea salt

Prepare pizza dough and divide the dough into four equal crusts. Preheat oven to 500F. Preheat pizza stone for about 20 minutes.

Toss celery root in 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl; season with Kosher salt and pepper. Set aside

For each pizza brush with olive oil and bake the crust until dry and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven; top with cheese, celery root, onion, Parmesan and oregano. Bake the pizza until cheese is melted, celery root is tender, and crust is golden brown, 12-15 minutes.

Top the pizza with capers, more oregano; season with sea salt and pepper.


Artichoke and Olive Pizza
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Runner’s World Cookbook, 2013)

Serves 4

Pizza dough
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Jarred pizza sauce (preferably San Marzano)
16-24 pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 15 oz. can artichoke hearts, hearts quartered
crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves, torn

2 tins oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped

Prepare pizza dough and divide the dough into four equal crusts. Preheat oven to 500F. Preheat pizza stone for about 20 minutes.

For each pizza brush with olive oil and bake the crust until dry and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Spread pizza sauce evenly over each crust. Top with anchovies (if using them), olives, artichokes, pepper flakes and cheese. Bake each pizza for 10-12 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.

Garnish with the torn basil leaves. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting the pizza to serve.

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Cipolline in Agrodolce

Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet). Agrodolce is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar. Fruits or vegetable are added to the agrodolce. In the recipe below cipolline onions are used.


Agrodolce sauces can be served over pasta or used as a complimentary topping for grilled meat or poultry. Ample Bites likes Cipolline in Agrodolce as a topping for pork chops.


Cipolline in Agrodolce
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, Number 162)

Serves 4

1 cup cipolline onions
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ½ tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp roughly chopped oregano

Place onions in a bowl and cover with cold water; set sit until skins loosen, about 5 minutes. Peel and transfer to a 4-quart saucepan along with 4 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until tender, 12-15 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar and salt; cook until liquid is reduced to a thick syrup, about 1 hour. Stir in oil and oregano.

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Nutty Relish for Vegetables

Red Pepper-Walnut Relish is a nutty, vinegary compliment for roasted or sauteed vegetables. It gives simple vegetable dishes a little punch and an additional layer of complexity.


Red Pepper-Walnut Relish
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, January 2014)

Makes about 1 cup

¼ cup roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 Tbsp finely chopped mint (or parsley)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss peppers, garlic, parsley, oil, paprika, lemon juice, balsamic and walnuts in a small bowl; season with salt, pepper and more paprika and lemon juice to taste.

Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Can be made up 3 days ahead for time.

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Fresh Pasta

Making your own homemade fresh pasta is easier than you might think if you have a KitchenAid and the KitchenAid Pasta Sheet Roller and Pasta Cutter attachments. There are numerous other simpler or more complex and expensive mixers available on the market. The KitchenAid is a good choice for the home cook.


Ample Bites likes to make a Light Wheat Pasta which uses roughly two-thirds whole wheat and one-third all-purpose flours. Ample Bites like to make the pasta at least 3 hours up to a full day ahead of time. The pasta is then wholly or partially dried before it is cooked at mealtime.


Preparing the fresh pasta dough is done with the KitchenAid and a dough hook attachment. Once prepared, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling. Rolling and cutting is done over a flour dusted cutting board or work surface.


This dough can be used to make angel hair, fettuccine, spaghetti shapes. It can also be rough cut by hand or used in sheets for lasagna or ravioli.

Light Wheat Pasta Dough
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Yields: 1 1/4 lbs

2 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Place flour, eggs, water and salt in a mixer bowl. Using a dough hook, using Speed 2, knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Add more water in small portions as necessary until the dough is formed into a tight ball around the hook and fully released from the bowl. Remove and hand knead for 1 to 2 more minutes. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before processing with roller.

On a flour dusted cutting board or work surface, cut the dough into 8 to 10 equal pieces and roll each piece to a thickness of about 1/8″. Process the pieces first through the roller and then through one of the cutters for desired shapes.

To cook the pasta, heat a pot full of salted water to a gentle boil. Boil the pasta for 4 – 6 minutes to desired doneness. Drain and serve with sauce.

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Yes, A Recipe for Garlic Bread

Ample Bites ran across this recipe in the most recent issue of Saveur magazine, an Ample Bites favorite, and it seemed like posting a recipe for garlic bread would be a good idea.

Carbone’s Garlic Bread is one of Saveur’s top 100 dishes, drinks, ingredients, people, places and tools of 2013

Try Carbone’s Garlic Bread out with your favorite pasta dish. Ample Bites adaptation uses a whole-grain baguette. For a crispier version use a white baguette instead.


Carbone’s Garlic Bread
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of, edition #162)

Serves 4-6

1 large whole-grain baguette, sliced lengthwise
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375.

Place baguette cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes to develop a crust on the bread.

Switch oven to broil.

Stir butter, oil, chile flakes, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl; spread evenly over cut sides of the bread and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 3-4 inches from broiler element until golden and slightly crisp, 2-3 minutes.

Sprinkle with chives and parsley; cut into pieces and serve.

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New Version of Green Chile Relish

Green Chile Relish is an awesome topping for burgers, chicken sandwiches, or salmon. This versatile relish is also great in grilled cheese sandwich or as a topping for a sub sandwich. Ample Bites particularly enjoys Green Chile Relish on a grilled Turkey Burger served with a side of Parmesan Garlic Fries.


Green Chile Relish II uses sherry vinegar in place of red wine vinegar. Another variation can be made using cider vinegar.


To kick the spice level up replace one poblano with two jalapeno or Serrano peppers.

Green Chile Relish II
(Mark Kelly, 2014)

4 large poblano peppers
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Roast the peppers whole over a very hot grill, cooktop burner on high, or under a broiler. Place the roasted peppers in a large ziptop bag and refrigerate for about an hour. Remove from the bag. Slice each pepper in half lengthwise, remove and discard stems and seeds, remove and discard the charred skin. Chop coarsely.

In a food processor, combine the sherry vinegar, honey, olive oil and peppers. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse until you have a thick relish. Can be refrigerated for up to three days.

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