Monday, December 24, 2012

A Little Christmas Roux Just For You

I wanted to make something a little nontraditional this year to give out as gifts to our friends and family. Cookies and candies are an obvious choice...but I felt like reaching into my own family's traditions and picking something that others might not be so familiar with.

Almost every Christmas I spent as a child was at my grandparents house on the bayou. And every Christmas Eve was spent at my uncle's house, and we ALWAYS had gumbo. (and as much as I loved Mimi's gumbo, rest in peace Mimi, Uncle Skip's gumbo is still the best I've ever had) It was usually shrimp and sausage gumbo and an extra pot of chicken gumbo for those who didn't like seafood.

I can't help but associate the Christmas season (and love and family) with gumbo. And the most beautiful part for me is that the making of the roux makes me feel very connected to my Mimi, my mom and my older sister. As the earthy rich smell fills the entire house it centers my heart and makes everything feel right again.

I hope that many years from now Luke and Laurel will think about me when they're cooking roux for their families. (and I wish they could have known Mimi and her house and the land on the bayou...they would have loved it all)

And since we're on the subject of roux...I will throw in a strange and surprisingly tasty cookie recipe. I call it a roux cookie, but the original recipe from Heidi Swanson called it a Toasted Flour Cookie. Just like roux for gumbo the longer you cook the flour the more intense and complex the cookie will become. I'd start light and work your way dark...see what you think.

(and please ignore the messy stove top...making roux is a messy business!)

Roux Shortbread Cookie

To toast the flour you just put it in a dry skillet and stir until light-to-golden brown. (you can go darker...but beware, once it's's is your house for at least a few hours)

1 3/4 cups of flour (any combination you like, I used 1 cup All Purpose and 3/4 fresh ground Hard Red Wheat)
1/2 t salt
1 C butter, chilled
1 C sugar

The easiest thing to do is mix the dry ingredients and then toss it all into the food processor. Once combined, form into a disk and chill for at least 45 minutes. Then roll, and bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Allow it to cool for at least 10 minutes, otherwise they will crumble to pieces.

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