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August / September 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu

Diners, corner cafes, and Mom and Pop neighborhood bars and restaurants that serve down-home meals, otherwise known as “blue plate specials” may not be as numerous as they used to be, but they are still around. Thank goodness! These institutions usually go the extra mile for their specials, giving large servings and using local ingredients. When I hear the term “blue plate specials” I conjure up such meals as meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, or smothered chicken with lots of gravy atop a mound of white rice, or better yet, stewed okra and tomatoes accompanied by braised round steak and onions!

When I was growing up in St. Martinville, there was a café called Hebert’s and you could tell the day of the week by the menu for the day. The specials were noted on a large chalkboard at the entrance to the establishment. On Monday, it was usually red or white beans served with rice and a link of fresh pork sausage. Tuesday’s lunch was chicken-fried steak accompanied by either macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes (and never made from dehydrated flakes in a box). Fried chicken, potato salad, and peas and carrots was Wednesday’s offering. On Thursday it was meatballs and spaghetti or chicken stew. Friday’s special was always my favorite—fried catfish served with shrimp stew over rice, and cole slaw. Hot French bread and lots of butter was always handy, and Mrs. Hebert made some of the best pies—lemon, pecan, chocolate cream, coconut, and blackberry—I had ever tasted.

Alas, Hebert’s is gone, so I ride around looking for hole-in-the-wall places that serve up meat-and-three (meat with three sides). A place in New Iberia near the St. Peter’s Catholic church often offers the best barbecued pork ribs and pork chops served with rice dressing, baked beans, cole slaw, and bread pudding, all for less than $10.00. Another place I lunch is at a luncheon spot in my hometown that has a great Friday meal of fried catfish, shrimp and potato salad.

When cooler weather sets in (which hopefully will be soon because I’m growing tired of this hot dry weather), my husband Rock often requests a blue plate special for our Wednesday supper. Understand that these are not for the weak of heart. These recipes are what Papa would call “truck-driver” items.

Makes 4 servings
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound cubed beefsteaks
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup saltine cracker crumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
In a small bowl, combine one-four cup of the flour with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture evenly on both sides of the steaks. Combine the egg and two tablespoons of the milk in a shallow dish. Dip the steaks in the egg mixture, then dredge in the cracker crumbs.

Heat about one-half of the oil in a large skillet to about 360 degrees. Fry the steaks in the oil over medium heat until browned, turning once. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer turning occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove the steaks and drain on paper towels.

Drain off the drippings, reserving about three tablespoons in the skillet. Add the remaining three tablespoons of the flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add the broth and the remaining one-half cup of milk. Stir constantly until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Add the Worcestershire and hot sauce, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Makes about 6 servings
  • 8 medium-size red potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup milk
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water to cover until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to the pan. Add the butter and milk and mash or beat with an electric mixer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Makes about 6 servings
  • 1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • 2 ½ cups (about 10 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • Paprika
Cook the macaroni according to package directions and drain. Layer one-third of the macaroni in a lightly greased two-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat the procedure, and top with the remaining macaroni. Reserve the remaining cheese. Combine the milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over the macaroni. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and paprika. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

  • Makes one pie to serve 6
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Combine one and one-fourth cups of the sugar, the flour, and the cocoa in a heavy saucepan. Combine the milk, egg yolks, and the melted butter and beat, using a wire whisk to blend well. Gradually add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring until smooth.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Spoon into the pastry shell and set aside.

Beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add the remaining one-half cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, two to four minutes.

Spread the meringue over the chocolate filling. Bake at 325 degrees until lightly golden, about 20 minutes.


Football season has arrived. It doesn’t feel like football weather, but anxious fans are eager to trek to stadiums to cheer on their favorite college team or to the Superdome to see what the Saints are going to do this season.

One of my nephews dropped by for a visit – well, what he was looking for was an idea for a tailgaiting party. He declared that the weather was just too hot to make gumbo, chili or jambalaya. Did I have an alternative idea?

This is what I suggested. Bring along a small grill and make this whopper of a hamburger. It’s easy to pull together. The sandwich, chips and pre-made brownies should satisfy his friends before they enter the stadium.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

You can dress the burger classically, with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and mustard, but use your creativity and make it your own. Dress it with cheese, jalapenos, and guacamole. Or dress it with grilled onions and blue cheese.
  • 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of the liquid from the jar of jalapenos
  • 1 tablespoon onion juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning mix
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • ½ cup dry fine seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 round bread, such as Vienna, muffaletto, sourdough, 10 to 12 inches in diameter, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • Mayonnaise
  • Grey Poupon mustard
Combine the ground beef, the jalapenos, the liquid from the jar, the onion juice, garlic juice, garlic, hot sauce, seasoning mix, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, bread crumbs, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix well. Let stand for at least 1 hour, covered, in the refrigerator.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and shape into a large patty, about 1 inch larger than the round bread and about 1 ½ inches thick.

Place it on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 20 minutes on one side, then turn it and cook it for another 20 minutes.

Butter each half of the bread with the butter. Place the bread halves, inside of the bread down, on the grill and toast for 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the burger and the bread from the grill. Place the burger on the bottom half of the bread. Dress the burger with the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Place the top half on top of the dressed burger and press down firmly, but gently. Cut into wedges to serve.

May/June 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu

A few years ago, a journalist asked me to list a few things I like about summertime in the South. I confess that the summer is my favorite season and I can never get enough of ice cold watermelon, snowballs in every flavor, boiled seafood (shrimp, crawfish, crabs) all washed down with cold beer, and wait there is more. Heading out early in the morning on Vermilion Bay to try to catch a few redfish or speckled trout is also on my list of summertime “to dos.” And I love late afternoon boat rides on Bayou Teche with my husband and observing the egrets, blue herons, and alligators along the banks. I really could go on and on, but I think you get the message. But I also love homemade ice cream and I make it as often as I can during the hot, humid days of summer. Gone are the hand-cranked ice cream makers. These days, electric ones are ideal for making a quart of deliciously smooth, creamy concoctions, sometimes including fresh berries or Louisiana peaches.

Maybe these recipes will inspire you to make some yourself. And I’ve included a recipe for sugar cookies (ti gateau sec) to pair with your yummy ice cream. Oh, here is a tip if you want to use fresh fruit in the ice cream. To prevent the fruit from freezing, soak them in a little brandy or any liqueur for a couple of hours before adding the fruit to the ice cream base.

Mama’s Ice Cream – Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoons pure vanilla

2 cups chopped fresh fruit, such as strawberries, peaches or bananas *optional

In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla and bring to a gentle boil. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pour the custard into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled. Add the fruit, then pour into the ice cream and freezer can and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Blackberry Ice Cream – Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

For the blackberry juice:

2 quarts fresh blackberries, picked over, rinsed in cool water, and patted dry

2 cups sugar

Place the berries and sugar in a saucepan and cook slowly over medium heat. Don’t add any water, because the berries release lots of juice. Cook long enough for them to soften and create a syrup. Cool and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, mashing the berries to release all the liquid. Set aside.

For the ice cream:

6 whole eggs beaten

4 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine the eggs and milk in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a heavy non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and cook slowly until it thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. (Do not allow to come to a boil.) Add one cup of the berry sauce and freeze in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s directions. When serving, you can add a couple of drops of creme de cassis liqueur to each serving.

Uncle Nick’s No-Cook Ice Cream

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

16 ounces sour cream

1 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups chopped fruit *Optional

Combine all of the ingredients except the milk and pour into the canister of an ice cream freezer. Then pour in the milk to the line in the ice cream canister. Add the fruit if you wish. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Key Lime Ice Cream – Makes 1 quart

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup fresh key lime juice

1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Bring the cream to a gentle simmer in a heavy saucepan. Slowly beat the hot cream into the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens slightly. (Do NOT boil.) Remove from the heat and pour the custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Cool slightly, then stir in the condensed milk, the key lime juice and the zest. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Stir the cold custard, then freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you wish, you can transfer the mixture to freezer containers and freeze for 2 hours for a firmer ice cream. One of my nieces who has seven children also offered this quick method of making ice cream. Place a plastic freezer storage bag with ice cream base inside a larger bag filled with ice and rock salt. Close both bags securely and shake, shake, shake. Not only does it keep youngsters entertained, you will have great ice cream!

For lagniappe, here is another quick method of making a dessert for a picnic event: Fill a quart glass jar with cold heavy cream. You can add a little sugar if you wish. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously (have the teenagers do it) until the mixture is thick, about 3 minutes. You can serve this with fresh fruit of your choice. Sugar Cookies (“Ti Gateau Sec”) Makes 3 to 4 dozen.

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter at room temperature

2 eggs, beaten

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the creamed mixture. Add the milk and vanilla. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using a small cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

March / April 2015

By Marcelle Bienvenu:

Lent, the season of penance is upon us, and like other Christians I’ve been giving some thought to what I might do for this time of atonement. I certainly had enough fun during the Carnival season and in a way, I’m rather glad I can look forward to several weeks of peace and quiet, and perhaps some simple meals. But on Ash Wednesday, I noticed several restaurants and cafés touting seafood specials, Lenten buffets, and myriad meatless offerings. When I was growing up, we didn’t have extravagant seafood or other enjoyable meatless meals; rather we had things like fried egg sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches, tuna a la king of toast, potato and egg gumbo, and Mama’s salmon croquettes. These items weren’t bad but they weren’t very enjoyable either. Well, after all, it was a time to fast and abstain, not a time to go searching for the biggest seafood meal that could be found. And now that I’ve had my say on the subject from my soapbox, I’ll tell you about some of the dishes that have long been a part of my Lenten repertoire. I consider them to be cleansing for the body as well as the soul. For the most part, they’re easy to prepare and a toss green salad is a fine accompaniment to most of them. Linguine with peppery white clam sauce
  • Makes 4 to 6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or a pinch of cayenne
  • 1 (10 1/2-ounce) can chopped clams with juice
  • 3/4 pound linguini, cooked according to package directions and drained, reserving
  • 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, optional garnish
Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the red pepper or cayenne, the claims with their juice, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for six to eight minutes. Toss the linguine with the clam sauce, pasta cooking liquid, lemon juice and parsley. Sprinkle with black pepper, the cheese (if using), and serve immediately. I have a great supplier for locally caught catfish and I like them plainly baked with just a little lemon juice and butter served with boiled potatoes and a bit of chopped fresh parsley.
  • Baked fish fillets
  • Makes 4 servings
  • 4 catfish fillets, each about 8 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons plus 6 teaspoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 6 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer with four tablespoons of the butter. Season the fish with salt, cayenne and black pepper and put into the baking dish. Sprinkle the fish with the green onions and half of the wine. Mix together the remaining wine with the mustard and brush the tops of the fish with this mixture. Sprinkle the fish with the bread crumbs and dot with the remaining butter. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Then turn on the broiler to high and run the baking dish under it. Broil until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately with the lemon wedges. On Lenten Sundays, I splurge just a bit on a later afternoon supper. Since the crawfish are plentiful this season, they’re reasonably priced and so versatile.

Crawfish pizza

  • Makes about 4 servings
  • 1 large pizza bread crust
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce or commercial pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (green part only)
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • Salt and cayenne to taste
  • 1/2 pound freshly grated mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly oil the baking sheet. Place the pizza bread crust on the prepared pan, then spread it evenly with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the oil. Set aside. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions, the crawfish tails and season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring, for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Spread the crawfish mixture over the tomato sauce, then top with the cheeses. Sprinkle with the oregano. Bake until the cheese melts and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve. Many times during Lent, my mother and I would share a Friday lunch. Tired of tuna salad, we often turned to this quick dish. It’s my idea of comfort food, and you can serve it on toast or tossed with angel hair pasta.
  • Makes 2 servings
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (6 1/8) can solid white tuna, undrained
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup milk or water
  • Pinch of dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Sauté the onions, bell pepper and celery in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tuna and flake with a fork. Add the soup and milk or water and stir to blend. Add the thyme, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over toast or pasta. This last one was a favorite of my Aunt Lois.


  • Makes about 8 servings
  • 2 pounds American or Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans white or green asparagus stalks
  • Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Creole or coarse-grained mustard
  • Thick slices of toasted French bread or brioche
Melt the cheese in the top of a double boiler. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Add the asparagus and season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add the mustard and stir to blend. Spoon the mixture over the toast and serve hot.


Using holiday leftovers to make Red Beans and Rice, Turkey Bone Gumbo By Marcelle Bienvenu Now that the hectic Christmas/New Year holidays are behind us, we move into the Carnival season. Like we need to eat and drink more! I stashed in the freezer a couple of ham bones and turkey carcasses left over from the Christmas and New Year’s feasts and I’m putting aside an entire day to preparing red beans and rice, and turkey bone gumbo for parade-watching parties. It’s also time to put in my order for several King Cakes. Let the parties begin! Depending on my mood and time restrictions, I have two red bean recipes I turn to. The first one is my mother’s recipe that takes the better part of a day to put together, and the other is one I do when time is short. You can choose the one you like better. RED BEANS, MAMA’S WAY Makes about 20 servings 1/4 cup bacon drippings 3 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions 2 cups chopped green bell peppers 1 1/2 cups chopped celery 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1 pound cooked, cubed ham 1 pound smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices 1/2 pound salt pork, chopped 2 pounds dried red kidney beans (preferably Camellia Breand), picked over and rinsed in cool water Water or chicken broth Salt, cayenne and freshly ground black pepper to taste 3/4 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried basil 4 bay leaves Chopped green onions for garnish Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish Heat the bacon drippings in a large, heavy pot (or Dutch oven), over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery and cook, stirring, until they are lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for three minutes. Add the ham, sausage and salt pork. Cook for five minutes. Add the beans and add enough water or chicken broth to cover. Season with salt, cayenne and black pepper. Add the thyme, basil and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, partially covered, for about two hours, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are tender and the mixture is creamy. Add more water or broth if the mixture becomes dry. If you like the beans to be creamier, puree about one-third of the beans in a food processor, in batches, and return to the pot. Cook for another 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Serve hot, garnished with green onions and parsley, over rice. QUICK RED BEANS Makes 10 to 12 servings 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 1⁄2 cups chopped onions 1⁄2 cup chopped green bell peppers 2 teaspoons chopped garlic 1⁄2 pound diced boiled ham 1⁄2 pound smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch slices 2 (16-ounce) cans Blue Runner Creole Cream Style Red Beans 2 (16-ounce) cans Blue Runner New Orleans Red Beans Spicy Cream Style 1⁄2 cup chicken broth, or more if needed Salt and cayenne to taste Hot cooked rice Minced green onions (for garnish) Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and garlic, and cook, stirring, until they are soft and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the ham and sausage and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beans and broth, and bring to a boil. Season to taste and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 hour. Serve over rice and garnish with the green onions. On to the turkey bone gumbo. About fifteen years ago, a friend told me about his tradition he began on the day after Thanksgiving. He kept the turkey carcasses from his holiday meal and also went around to his friends and asked them to donate their carcasses with which he made a cauldron on gumbo to enjoy the weekend after Turkey Day. Here is his story and his recipe. He saved all the turkey meat that was left over and stored it in the refrigerator, warning his wife to stay away from it. The carcasses were kept chilled in two large ice chests. The next day he got out his large seafood boiling pot along with a large inner basket that fits inside. “I cracked all the bones and threw everything into the pot along with all the pan drippings and gravy that was left over as well. Then I added enough water to cover the bones and made a large bouquet garni. In the bag, I put some fresh herbs and lots, and I mean lots, of whole black peppercorns. I put that in with several quartered onions, celery ribs and turned on the butane burner and let all that bubble for the better part of the day.” It was simple enough to strain. He merely lifted out the inner basket containing the bones and vegetables, and inside the pot was a wonderful, thick, reduced, flavorful stock. “Marcelle, I tell you, that was one heck of a stock. It was absolutely gorgeous! I could have served it as is, but I made a traditional gumbo with a roux and used the stock to make the gumbo. Of course, I added the leftover turkey meat as well. You can also add sausage, but it had a fantastic flavor without it. Man, was it fabulous!” He invited his buddies over for supper and a card game. And thus a new tradition was born! Now every Friday after Thanksgiving, he goes around collecting the turkey carcasses from family members and friends and puts his pot on to boil, and of course the guys continue to come over for turkey bone gumbo and a card game. Oh, Ronnie says that it’s a must to have potato salad, baked sweet potatoes, rice (of course), and lots of French bread to go along with the gumbo. Now you have yet another idea for all that leftover turkey! We cut his recipe down to make a smaller gumbo. TURKEY BONE GUMBO Makes 8 to 10 servings 3/4 cup vegetable oil 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups chopped onions 1 cup chopped bell peppers 1/2 cup chopped celery 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 1/2 pound smoked sausage, chopped (optional) 1/2 gallon turkey broth (recipe follows) 1 1/2 pounds turkey meat, chopped, plus any reserved meat from the carcass in thebroth Reserved onions and celery from broth 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 2 tablespoons chopped green onions In a large cast-iron pot or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, combine the oil and flour. Stirring constantly and slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the turkey meat, the reserved onions and celery and cook for 15 minutes. Add the parsley and green onions. Serve in soup bowls with steamed rice. TURKEY BROTH Makes about 1/2 gallon 1 turkey carcass 3 ribs celery, cut into 4-inch pieces 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered 1 gallon of water, or enough water to cover the carcass 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 4 bay leaves Place the carcass in a large stockpot. Add the celery, onions, water, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. Remove from heat. Skim any oil that has risen to the surface. Strain through a large fine-mesh sieve. Reserve any meat that has fallen off the bones and pick off any meat that may still remain on the carcass. Reserve the onions and celery. Potato salad with garlic mayonnaise Makes about 8 servings 3 to 4 pounds small boiling potatoes 3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1 teaspoon salt 3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or more, to taste) 1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard 1/3 cup chopped green onions Salt and freshly ground black pepper Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until just tender. Drain and cool. In a large bowl, combine the garlic paste, lemon juice, mayonnaise and Creole mustard. Whisk to blend well. When the potatoes are cool, peel and cut in half. Add the potatoes and the green onions to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and black pepper. Sweet potatoes are great to serve with gumbo. In some parts of south Louisiana, the locals put the sweet potato in their gumbo! Try it, you might like it.They are also so easy to bake. Start with a washed potato. There is no need to oil or butter the skin and do not prick the potato with a fork. Cook the potatoes whole, not cut in half. Bake with their skins on at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Check for doneness by squeezing the potato. Sweet potatoes do not cook properly in a microwave.