Daring Cooks Make Gumbo

by Jenn on May 14, 2011

in Dairy Free,Daring Kitchen,Diabetic Friendly,GF Substitutions,Gluten Free,Seafood,Soups


Today marks exactly two years since we Daring Cooks intrepidly revealed our first cooking challenge to the world, and every month since has been an eventful, educational (and sometimes stressful) trip across various techniques and cuisines.  I am sad to say this shrimp & sausage gumbo will be my 20th and last Daring Cooks challenge that I present to you – the past 24 months have been wonderful, but I have to move on – Daring Cooks was an amazing experience, and did wonders to help me grow with my skills in the kitchen, new techniques, and above all creativity (especially when it came to making some of the challenges gluten free!).

This month for my last challenge of Daring Cooks, I made gumbo. I made mine with shrimp and sausage, and about twice as many veggies as were called for. Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Out of 25 total challenges so far, today marks my 20th.  Twenty new experiences, trials, recipes, fails, photos and successes. Rather than reminisce about each one, I thought it might be more fun to show the dishes in picture form (each photo links to its post) – it’s funny to think about how scary making those gnocchi were that first time, and how far along I’ve come, even to host a challenge and help others.  Thanks Daring Kitchen, for some great memories and helping me to become an overall better cook.  So here they are, starting from the beginning:

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PAG0282pho-669x999 PAG0139fritter-334x499 PAG1967sushi2-499x334

PAG2876sole-499x334 _PAG380pita _PAG4310risotto

PAG_0777enchiladas PAG_1401pate Kabobs & Cashew Butter Gingered Plum Butter

Vietnamese Cabbage Roll Soup Collapsed Moitié-Moitié "Swiss Fondue" Soufflé

Gluten Free Eggs Benedict Daring Cooks do Cassoulet Daring Cooks do Soba Noodles and Tempura Grapefruit and Mint Ceviche

And every single one of them gluten free!

This was a great challenge for my last month in Daring Cooks because as usual I didn’t have half of the ingredients available forcing me to get creative, and I also got to geek out a bit about being gluten free :)  I couldn’t find okra, Andouille sausage, filé powder or any cajun spices, or even half of the spices required to make my own.  And actually my first run was a disaster, because I totally flubbed the spice blend.  The 2nd time worked well though! I used a local smoked sausage, shrimp, and loads of veggies including celery, red & yellow bell peppers, onions, and even green beans (the green beans might disqualify my stew from being a gumbo anymore, I dunno).  The original recipes for this month’s challenge are linked in this pdf or on this month’s host’s blog. To make gluten free, I omitted any Worcestershire sauce and used gluten free flour.

The great broad culinary technique involved in making gumbo is making a roux, which is usually a fat and flour cooking together to be used as a thickener.  Roux are perfect for adapting to gluten free. In a roux, it’s not the gluten that does the magic but the starch – so it’s really an ideal food to adapt to GF because roux doesn’t care at all about gluten. Regular all purpose wheat flour has a starch content around 75% I think (don’t hold me to that!), so I would try to emulate that percentage in order to get a 1:1 substitution for a gluten free roux.  I just used a commercial all purpose gluten free mix and cooked it in duck fat, and it worked fine.  I’ve also had great luck using solely millet flour.

One might be tempted to substitute in a pure starch, but know that many available starches are, naturally, going to have a much higher starch content than the all purpose wheat flour you’re replacing, so you won’t need to use as much.  I know many people like to use nut flours as their GF substitution for flours, but in this case a nut flour would not be ideal, because they tend to have a very low starch content and so say adding almond flour to a roux would not give the thickening power that is required.  I also usually do not like to use rice flour in a roux. I find rice flour doesn’t cook really well and turns gray and gummy.

So if you want to make a gluten free roux, stick to a blend, or try millet or sorghum, or cut down on the amount a little and sub in a starch like tapioca or arrowroot – those are my suggestions – and of course, make your substitutions by weight, not volume.

As I said, I am sorry to have to say goodbye to Daring Cooks, but I really really want and need more time to devote to the Gluten Free Ratio Rally – it took off hitting the ground running a couple months ago, and has just expanded in so many wonderful ways in its few short months.  The monthly challenges are super involved – unlike any other blogging event, we challenge ourselves to come up with the ratios of ingredients – to develop the ratios that can be tools for future recipes.  It takes a lot more work than it looks, because one doesn’t just make a recipe once – it’s about tweaking and testing, requiring several iterations to find that ideal ingredient combination.  I love this because the gluten free community needs a set of usable adaptable tools so much.  The gluten free world needs to know that there isn’t magic voodoo going into a recipe – that there are rules to consistent success, we just have to find out what they are.  As much as being in Daring Cooks was a ton of fun and I looked forward to the challenges each month (and learned a lot!), I really want to – no I need to – for  my husband, our family, my friends, and for myself – I’ve been saying for a long while that there have to be logical rules to help guide successful tasty gluten free dishes, and this is the big chance to find out what those rules are.  Maybe it’s my scientist background, but I’m so excited about “discovering” secrets to gluten free baking.  I’m so passionate about this effort, and really I encourage every gluten free blogger to join in so we can all work together – I see such great progress and help for so many through everyone’s efforts, and I can’t wait to cook and test and adapt and experiment in my kitchen even more now :)

So Daring Cooks, thanks so much for everything, for making me a better cook, for allowing me to be creative and a bit liberal with each event, for giving great challenging subjects to photograph, and for helping me learn how to improvise gluten free conversions on the fly.  Really you have taught me so much, and it’s been a great two years cooking alongside every one of you.  I can’t wait to read about all of the new exciting challenges you all will be doing in the future.

Also submitted to: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Gluten Free Wednesdays


Caneel May 14, 2011 at 12:27 am

I love what you say in this post – and what gorgeous foods you’ve made for this challenge in the past months! I love making GF gumbo – how long did it take for you to get a really good brown roux? It takes me a while. I’ll try your suggestion on adding a little starch in next time. I usually use brown rice flour for mine but have been contemplating using something else. And don’t worry – I’m part Cajun and I don’t like okra in my gumbo! (To the horror of some family members – I don’t like okra in any form!)

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 12:29 am

Aww thanks Caneel! I couldn’t find okra even if I did want it in there… It took me about 40 minutes to get a really dark roux…that was a lot of stirring lol.

Crystal May 14, 2011 at 12:57 am

Interesting – I’ve had good luck using rice flour for my roux. I love millet and sorghum in baking, tho, so will try them out.

I look forward to following your Gluten Free Ratio Rally posts!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 1:17 am

Thanks! Glad to hear the rice flour works for you! Maybe it depends on the type and the brand…

Rosa May 14, 2011 at 1:07 am

A wonderful dish! Kudos. That gumbo loosk mouthwatering and so tasty.



Jenn May 14, 2011 at 1:17 am

Thanks Rosa!

torviewtoronto May 14, 2011 at 1:27 am

beautiful and delicious yummy

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 1:40 am


Tressa @ Hecka-Good Recipes May 14, 2011 at 1:29 am

The gumbo looks delish! Maybe it’s just me, but when I click on the pictures it asks me to log in to Flickr using Yahoo?

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 1:40 am

sorry about that, the links should go to the posts now!

Tressa @ Hecka-Good Recipes May 14, 2011 at 4:22 am

Yes, it does! Thanks. I can’t wait to try some of these. :)

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris May 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

This gumbo is as spectacular as all your previous work! Congratulations!!!!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 8:01 am

Thanks so much Cristina!

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

A beautiful looking “ugly dish” Jenn. So so hard to make food like gumbo look appetizing but you managed beautifully! I applaud your decision to focus on the Gluten Free Rally as I look forward to reading those posts – I learn a lot and you do a great job of making GF food accessible and taking the mystery out of it all! Here’s to being “non-Daring” together! LOL!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Thanks Mardi!! I really think this is the right move for me, and I’m pretty sure while I won’t be a “daring cook” anymore, there will still be plenty of “daring” cooking going on in my kitchen :)

marla May 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

This gumbo looks fabulous! One of my all time favorite meals :)

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm


Nelly Rodriguez May 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I love gumbo and this looks so delicious! :) As does everything you’ve done!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Thanks so much!

blepharisma May 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Great idea to add more veggies – I like to do that, too! I often like more veggies than are called for in the ‘traditional’ recipes. Heh.

Sorry to see you go, but lots of luck with your gluten-free challenges!!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thanks Steph, I’m really excited to be able to put more time into the GF ratio rally, I think it’s a very much needed direction for the gluten free community to go – and yeah I’m totally there on the veggies in recipes- I think this time I used twice as many veggies as were called for, and half the protein.

hailey May 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Wow, your dish looks absolutely stunning!
this is my first daring cooks challenge, and to see how many amazing dishes you have created along your journey is truly inspiring!
Good luck with the gluten free challenges!!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Thanks so much!! You’ll really enjoy being in Daring Cooks :)

Erika May 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I have found your blog thanks foodgawker and I can say that I love it ;))))) Great recipes and lovely pictures!! I’ll surely come back as soon as possible to visit you again :))) Have a nice day, Erika from Italy

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Aww thanks!! I’m so glad you enjoy it!!

Ruth H. May 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Iam so glad you persevered and tried your gumbo again. I, too, think I kinda failed with the spice mixture, but I was pretty satisfied overall. I am sorry to see you leaving the Daring Cooks… I hope you will stop by from time to time and let us know how you are doing!!!

Denise May 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Jenn – I’m so sorry to see you leave the Daring Kitchen, but I understand completely and your new venture sounds wonderful. We joined the DC the same time, and I have always looked forward to your posts and stunning photography! I’m glad you gave the gumbo another go after striking out on so many of the ingredients, as your second version looks beautiful. Your photo tribute to the challenges you participated in is very special, too. I’m honored to have cooked with you and to have my challenge your finale.

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for all of the kind and beautiful words Denise. It was the perfect challenge to end my Daring Cooks experience on :)

Sandrda May 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Your pics are beautiful and your food looks awesome…I can actually say I am happy that you are leaving the daring cooks. It drives me nuts when people post pics on foodgawker and then don’t print the recipe. What’s the point? I have grown to love foodgawker for the recipes as well as the pics. I’ve read on other blogs that daring cooks asks that you do not post the recipe and that people go buy the cookbook… that’s blatant promotion and I am not a fan. I hope you enjoy your new endeavor and that you POST the recipes you create.

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Thanks so much! That’s a really interesting comment, because I feel that Daring Cooks is one of the most open groups when it comes to the recipes – you can always go to daringkitchen.com’s recipe archives and download the pdfs used for the recipes for each month’s challenge for any of the past challenges from either Daring Cooks or Daring Bakers.

Balise May 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

What a lovely retrospective! Fond memories… :-) and stunning pictures for all of them!
Good luck with your next GF challenges – it’s definitely interesting & worth tackling!

Jenn May 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Thanks so much !

Robert May 15, 2011 at 12:19 am

Your amazing food and photographs will be missed. Great luck on your next endeavor. I wish you success.

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 2:56 am

Thanks Robert!! It’s certainly been a lot of fun!

InTolerantChef May 15, 2011 at 6:12 am

I love that you used duck fat to cook your roux! Yummo!
I’m also very selfishly glad that you’ve chosen the gluten free ratio over the Daring Cooks. I’d love to join when I’ve got more time, perhaps when the sports season is over at the stadium I work at.

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

hehe thanks!! And yes, you should definitely join the ratio rally!!

Audax Artifex May 15, 2011 at 6:18 am

I’m sorry to hear that you are going to leave the DCs I love the GF ratio rally concept that is most admirable and something that I will be looking at it. Well done on making the challenge GF the colour and look of your gumbo is stunning I love the prawns (shrimp) on top lovely work. I hope your new blogging goes well for you. The photographs of all your challenge is awesome.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 10:14 am

Thanks so much Audax – can you believe it’s been 2 years already?? What a great experience it’s been!

Renata May 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

You did an amazing job all the way. We will miss you at the DCs, but the Gluten Free Ratio Rally you are involved in looks like a great work and I wish you a lot of success!

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 10:16 am

Thanks so much Renata!!

Claire May 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Great job on your gumbo, its looks absolutely delicious! :)

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Thanks !

karin May 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I love your picture of the gumbo, it looks beautiful!

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Thank you!

Caylee May 15, 2011 at 5:02 pm

20 challenges, congratulations, that really is an achievement. I love the photos of the gumbo and the montage is stunning.

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, it was a fun 20 challenges :)

Lisa May 15, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Beautiful gumbo, Jenn. You can never go wrong with adding more veggies. My roux reached a chocolate brown within 15 minutes, but probably because I used the beef drippings ‘and’ oil.

That said, so sorry to see you leaving Daring Cooks, but looking forward to seeing your gluten-free ratio creations :)

Jenn May 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Thanks so much Lisa!

Sandy May 16, 2011 at 1:08 am

Jenn- Your photos just get more beautiful all the time. Gorgeous! And that’s amazing for a “bowl full ‘o brown” like gumbo. Sad to see you leave Daring Cooks, but wish you the very best and hope you check in on us often. I can’t wait to see your Gluten Free Ratio Rally take off! I’m forwarding the link to my niece whose daughter needs to be gluten free.

Jenn May 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Awww thanks so much!!

Valérie May 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Oh, wow, has it been two years already? Hard to believe! Your gumbo looks gorgeous: you’re leaving the DC with a bang! Congrats on two whole years of challenges, and best of luck for the future!

Jenn May 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I know, it’s flown by so fast, hasn’t it. Thanks so much!

Linda May 18, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Jenn, you’ve done a wonderful job with the Daring Cooks challenges. I love your photo collage. I love that you are moving on and devoting time to the GF Ratio Rally. I’m sure there are many great things to come from you.

Jenn May 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Thanks Linda! I’m definitely excited to work more on the GF ratio rally!

Kevin (Closet Cooking) June 1, 2011 at 3:12 am

That gumbo looks good and just look at all of the other tasty dishes!

Jenn June 1, 2011 at 8:04 am

Thanks Kevin!

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