Recipes straight from the Gulf of Mexico

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My mother and father-in-law, Barbara and Jerry McClanahan, have very special, close friends who live in Gulf Shores, Ala., so visiting with them is usually by email. Cheryl and Ralph Gilges have been friends of my in-laws for many years, and they have had some wonderful times together. In recent years, Cheryl and Barb have shared recipes back and forth, and today they are sharing a few of them with you.

Cheryl placed in the top three out of 25 soups at a luncheon judged by the food editor of the Mobile newspaper with her Nikki's Shrimp Chowder recipe. I have some wild gulf shrimp in my freezer, and I think I will make this winning recipe using the gulf shrimp. One of the other winners is the mushroom soup recipe, printed below.

Nikki's Shrimp Chowder

1 to 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pint half and half

1 stick butter

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 cans cream of potato soup

1 (8 ounce) can shoepeg corn

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms, optional

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

Tony's Creole Seasoning

In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, mushrooms and shrimp in butter over medium heat. Stir in softened cream cheese. Add soup corn, mixing well. Add half and half and Ro-Tel tomatoes. Season with Tony's Creole seasoning to taste, starting with 1 tablespoon.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts, finely chopped, rinsed well

1 pound thick asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces, tips reserved

1 Russet potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and ground white pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons Crème Fraiche or sour cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus stalks and potato, and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the lemon juice and reserved asparagus tips, and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return to the pot, and reheat over low heat. Serve, garnished with the crème fraiche, asparagus tips, and chives.

Mushroom Soup

1 1/2 pound assorted wild mushrooms (chanterelle, oyster, shitake, crimini, Portobello, white button), stemmed and sliced

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons butter

For the roux:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour, cook until light brown

4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups andouille sausage

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add thyme and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, wine, and roux and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat, using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add milk and andouille sausage and simmer 1 minute to heat through. Serve with favorite hot bread or crackers.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 stick butter

1 onion, diced

1/3 cup flour

4 cups whole milk

2 cups half-and-half

1 pinch nutmeg

4 heads broccoli, cut into florets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Chicken broth, if needed

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, and then sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so, then pour in the milk and half-and-half. Add the nutmeg, and then the broccoli, a small dash of salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the broccoli is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the cheese and allow to melt. Taste the seasoning and adjust if needed. Then either serve as is, or mash with a potato masher to break up the broccoli a bit, or transfer to a blender in two batches and puree completely. If you puree in a blender, return the soup to the heat and allow to heat back up. Splash in some chicken broth if needed for thinning.

Spiced Cranberries with Port and Orange

This dish can be served hot or made in advance and served chilled. This is an excellent accompaniment to poultry, game and cold meats.

12 ounces fresh cranberries

8 ounces sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

Finely grated rind of 1 orange

3 fluid ounces water

3 tablespoons port

1 cinnamon stick

Place all the ingredients in a pan over moderate heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve.

Roast Potatoes and Parsnips

In this recipe, the sweet parsnips are particularly good cooked in this way.

2 pounds medium potatoes, halved

2 pounds medium parsnips, halved


4 ounces butter

Cook the potatoes and parsnips in a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain. Place the butter in a baking dish, and put into the oven heated to 400 degrees to melt. Scratch up the surface of the potatoes with a fork, to give then a crunchy skin when cooked. When the butter is hot and sizzling, add the potatoes and parsnips, and toss in the butter. Roast for about 1 hour, or until crunchy and golden.

Brussels Sprouts with Almonds

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 ounces butter

1 1/2 ounces slivered almonds

Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper

Steam or boil the sprouts until just tender. Drain well. Melt the butter, add the almonds and cook until slightly golden. Add the lemon rind and juice and remove from the heat. Place the sprouts in a serving dish and pour over the hot butter. Season to taste.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 669, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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