501 Life Magazine | A new idea for New Year entertaining
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A new idea for New Year entertaining

We had to work at it, but we managed to have two meals with Gaido’s and one meal at the Hotel Galvez for Thanksgiving brunch. Just to help with this picture, there were 1,100 reservations for the Hotel Galvez brunch, with seating beginning at 10:30 a.m. and lasting until 3:30 in the afternoon. There were tables and tables of traditional offerings, and the crowning table, complete with an ice sculpture, was SEAFOOD! Such old-world elegance.

The hotel served as the “Second White House” during the Roosevelt era, and was a regular host to such people as Howard Hughes, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

The chef took me into the kitchen for a personal tour, just hours before the first seating. We had already had our personal Bingham Thanksgiving tradition two weeks prior, so this special happening was a personal time for my wife and myself with Thanksgiving in South Texas.

Because our reservations were early, we were over the wonderful early brunch and ready for seafood and dinner at Gaido’s. As my wife and I sat in this shore-side atmosphere, watching the waves roll in, dining on Red Snapper Michael and Smoked Sea Bass with lime beurre blanc sauce — our conversation centered around the years and events we had celebrated in Galveston and at Gaido’s.

The restaurant will celebrate its 99th season in operation — touching many lives with many memories! Gaido’s first opened on the Seawall Boulevard in 1911. It was often said regarding Gaido’s, “If your food is really good, guests will find you no matter where you are located and drive a long distance, often right past your competition, to dine with you (Mike Gaido).”

As we sat there, reminiscing about the many dishes we have experienced while looking over their new cookbook , the thought came to us as to how much delight it would be to choose a favorite cookbook from our collection (hundreds of cookbooks!) and prepare the New Year’s special meal with dishes from this location! What better restaurant and menu fare to enjoy than Gaido’s!

We decided to prepare Brooks’ Gumbo, Watkins’ Bisque, Stuffed Shrimp, Gaido’s Crab Cakes and their wonderful Pecan Pie. At one point or another, all of our children and their spouses have eaten at Gaido’s with us, so they will look forward to a re-creation of the fare from one of their favorite dining locations as well! Who knows, we may even end the meal with the presentation of our version of Gaido’s finger bowls!

It would be worth a visit to your bookshelf to select a theme meal — maybe choose three courses of your favorites and welcome the New Year while feasting on the blessing of past years! What a fun way to welcome the future and say Happy New Year!

Brooks’ Gumbo

8 tablespoons butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, finely chopped
4 stalks celery
2 1/2 cups chopped okra
15 cups water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 1/2 ounces chicken base
1 tablespoon gumbo file
1 (3-ounce) bag crab boil
1 tablespoon salt
20 to 24 ounces boiled shrimp or shredded cooked chicken
2 1/2 to 3 cups hot cooked rice

Heat the butter with the flour in a large stockpot over medium heat. Cook until the roux is the color of a dark penny, stirring constantly.
Sweat the onions in a large saucepan over medium-low heat to release their liquid. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the onions are caramelized.
Add the peppers and celery. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the roux and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Add the okra and 10 cups of the water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the okra falls apart.
Add the tomato paste, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and chicken base. Bring to a boil and slowly add the file. Cook for 30 minutes.
Simmer the crab boil in the remaining 5 cups water for 5 minutes; discard the bag.
Add 2 ounces shrimp or chicken and 2 ounces rice to each serving.
Makes 10 to 12 (8-ounce) servings.

Watkins’ Bisque
2 pounds onions, diced
Vegetable oil
5 tablespoons margarine
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound carrots, diced
4 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces lobster base
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
Kitchen Bouquet to taste

Sweat the onions in a little oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Add the margarine, water, tomatoes and carrots and cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Place the mixture in a food processor; process to a smooth puree. Press through a fine mesh strainer into a large clean saucepan; discard the solids and fiber in the strainer.
Add the cream, lobster base, cayenne pepper, white pepper and Kitchen Bouquet to the mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring to blend. Simmer for 25 minutes to reduce to 6 cups. Strain before serving.
Variation: Add 2 ounces cooked shrimp, lobster or crab per serving.
Makes 6 (8-ounce) servings.

At the request of Paulie Gaido, Wade Watkins and Tom Ponzini created a bisque that had no other thickener than the tomatoes, carrots and onions cooked into a dry, paste-like consistency. Brought back up with heavy cream, bisque should be handled with care; it will break if heated too rapidly and scorch if not constantly stirred.

Pecan Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
10 ounces graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter

Pecan Pie Filling
6 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 quart light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups pecan pieces, toasted

Cowboy Bourbon Sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted

For the crust, combine the crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter and add to the crumb mixture; mix well.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line the outside of a springform pan with aluminum foil. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, using your palms to pack the mixture tightly and evenly to prevent the filling from leaking.

For the filling, combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and pecan pieces in a large bowl; mix well. Pour into the prepared crust. Bake for 1 hour or until the center is soft to the touch but
edges are firm. Let cool for 15 minutes.

For the Cowboy Bourbon Sauce, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan to make a simple syrup. Add the bourbon, cream and vanilla and stir until fully incorporated.

For the Assembly, remove the warm pie from the springform pan. Invert on a cardboard round or cake platter. Let cool for 15 minutes longer.
Heat the corn syrup in a saucepan. Brush over the crust — bottom and side — of the pie with a pastry brush. Press the pecan halves into the syrup, pushing firmly. Brush Cowboy Bourbon Sauce over the pie while still warm.
Makes 10 servings.

Gaido’s Crab Cakes

Cognac Sauce
1 tablespoon shallots, minced
1/2 quart heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon lobster base
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 whole sage leaves
1/2 cup cognac

Crab Cakes
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
5 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard
5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 teaspoons half-and-half
5 tablespoons shallots, minced
3 eggs
3 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 1/2 pounds jumbo lump crab meat, divided
Vegetable oil for searing

For the Cognac Sauce, sweat the shallots in a saucepan until translucent. Add the cream, lobster base, brown sugar and sage. Cook until reduced by half. Strain through a chinois or cheesecloth. The sauce should easily coat a spoon. Bring the cognac to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook until reduced by half. Combine both sauces, strain.

For the Crab Cakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, butter, half-and-half, shallots and eggs in a bowl, mix well. Add the bread crumbs and mix until the crumbs are saturated.
Fold 2 pounds of the crab meat into the mixture and mix gently to combine.
Coat 10 4-ounce baking cups with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the mixture evenly among the cups. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the baking cups.
Sear the crab cakes in a little oil in a saute pan over high heat until light brown. Turn and sear the other side.
Top each crab cake with two or three pieces of lump crab meat. Drizzle with 1/8 cup of Cognac Sauce.
Makes 10 servings.