Making The Old -- and The Good -- New Again

By James Parrish Coleman -- a/k/a Jimbo Coleman

A later edition. Early Editions had a white

spine, and ads for long extinct local business.

Gulf Coast Gourmet was compiled by my late mother, Jane S. Coleman, in the early 1960s. The book was a fund raiser for the Foley Woman's Club.

The illustrations are the original work of a very talented artist named Marion Dyer. The book has been in print for many, many years; but has the simple fault of assuming you know about Gulf seafood and really know how to cook. I'll cook through the book (and my childhood), explain how Jane Coleman cooked, and tell a lot of family stories in the process. I like to cook. I will share what I have, and hope you like it. That's the spirit of this blog. Bon Appetit.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Melanzana, melanzana.... object of my Italian dreams...

Mia Mondo Immaginario
(My Italian Dream World)

Mamma de Colmanio
I'm in the kitchen. Opera plays on the radio, and I am singing along in flawless Italian.

La donna è mobile
Qual piuma al vento,
Muta d’accento — e di pensiero.
Sempre un amabile,
Leggiadro viso,

In pianto o in riso, — è menzognero.

The dishes I cook were taught to me by my affectionate little nonna, Mamma de Colmanio. The handmade pasta spreads out beneath my rolling pin like a thin pale yellow puddle, without a tear or bubble. Intense thick and deep red tomato sauce simmers quitely on the stove.

Outside, there is Francesca, my bride. Look at her tripping gaily in from the garden. She looks like cross between Giada De Laurentiis and Sophia Loren. a pleasant breeze blows through her hair. She is all decked out in Italian designer fashion outfit. She carries a basket of gleaming organically grown vegetables in one hand and her tony little gardener's diary in the other.

It is so wonderful to be talented, beautiful and Italian!

Time To Wake Up!

Who am I kidding. I'm not Italian. I'm a mutt. I am struggling to figure out how only an egg or two and all that hard yellow  flour will ever made a smooth sheet of pasta. I can't speak a word of Italian. My grandmother cooked squash -- in a pressure cooker.

Outside its July on the Gulf Coast and as hot as the hinges of Hell. Frances Coleman trudges in from the garden looking like a sweat soaked stevedore. The tomatoes, peppers and eggplant tumble from her dirty and damp over sized tee shirt. The complexion of her Irish ancestors -- never meant to bear this subtropical heat -- is blotched and red. Beads of sweat gather and run down  her neck through rings of honest dirt. 

Designer outfit? Maybe not -- but man, can she grow some eggplant! Organic? Sure, they have plenty of carbon atoms! Chemical bug spray free? Hardly. Eggplant are some of the last holdouts this time of year. They can stand the heat, and resist the bugs if you don't try to let them get too big. 

White ones (which look like... eggs), purple, green and black. They are all the summer garden's last gift.
Come with me, little Melanzana, I'm going to introduce you to shrimp.

Forgive me father for I
have put cheese on Seafood
Il mio pecatto
As you can see, this dish combines eggplant, shrimp and .... cheese.
Straight to the confessional for you! Cheese and seafood! Any lover of great cuisine and devoted watcher of food television will tell you (and tell you and tell you) that no self respecting know-it-all about Italian food would ever consent to putting cheese on a seafood dish! Bestemmia!!

I say, remember what Duke Ellington said about music, if it sounds good -- it is good. The same goes for seafood and cheese. You might want to try something a little milder than an aggressive pecorino romano.
These are eggplant, really!! Girl on the right, boy 
on the left

Little Melanzana! Or is it Melanzano?

Eggplant! Boy Eggplant or girl eggplant? As an experienced eggplant sexer will tell you, there is a difference. The little boy eggplant is on the left, the girl eggplant is on the right. The girl eggplant has more, well, seeds -- if you get my drift. That's where the bitterness comes in.

Besides, you can really impress your friends by known these arcane facts!

Lets Cook


All the stuff you need. Always do the prep work first. If you
are not cooking immediately, put it neatly on a sheet pan and
cover with plastic wrap.
Get a boy eggplant if you can. Make sure it is in good shape and has no bruises or bumps. Don't use pre-grated cheese. It is like sawdust.

Make sure the white bread is not what my children used to call "dough bread" that mushy stuff used to make sandwiches in elementary schools (and prisons) is worthless. Use a good bread with some body.

The recipe is in black, comments in red

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Scoop meat from shells.
The Melon Baller is easiest!
You can use a paring knife. Make a shallow cut around the edge of the eggplant half. Cut V-shaped slits in the middle toward the side (confusing, huh?) Pull out the strips of eggplant. 

You can also use a small melon baller (It looks like a little ice cream scoop. They come in various sizes for this purpose. It is lots easier and will keep you from cutting through the skin of the eggplant. 

 Save 3 halves. In a large skillet, saute scallions, onion, and green pepper in olive oil until lightly browned.

Hey, how hard is that! Just don't burn anything. I like to add some garlic (we are cooking Melanzana here!) 

Chop the eggplant pulp and add to sauteed vegetables. Add parsley, bay leaves and other seasonings.

Remember, eggplant will soak up a lot of oil. Add some if you need to.

Meanwhile, soak bread slices in milk. Squeeze dry and add to eggplant mixture.

  I've never liked this bread soaked in milk dumped into things idea. However, it won't hurt anything. You can also try adding bread crumbs, or even better, rice to the mixture. Not in the recipe, but I like it. 

Stuff the halves!
Cook until all ingredients are well blended, stirring constantly. Cut shrimp into small pieces, saving a few whole ones to garnish tip of halves, Add chopped shrimp to mixture.

Stuff halves and sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs blend some softened butter with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Garnish with whole shrimp which have been sauteed very briefly in butter. Here is something you should do. Put the garnishing shrimp on just before you serve. Don't let the garnishing shrimp sit in the oven. There is not a shrimp out there that needs to be cooked with dry heat for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Place in a shallow baking pan, adding enough water to cover bottom of pan. Don't put water, put a little oil.  Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Can you hear it now?

La donna è mobile
She lives in east LA
Her name is Norma Jean
She is a sex machine..
Tomatoes red and bright
You know what they look like
Norma Jean at midnight 
You'll want to take a bite...

1 comment:

  1. What time shall I come over Jimbo? I'll bring a nice bottle of Chianti! Savannah now has me following this creative blog. Looking forward to more! --A True Sicilian