Let’s Talk Food: Traveling through food

It sounds like so much fun to cook dishes from various restaurants throughout the nation since it is now difficult to hop on a plane.

Canlis in Seattle has been an institution for 68 years. Its history is so interesting, with Nicholas Kanlis, who swam 5 miles from the island of Lesvos, Greece, to Turkey. He then hitchhiked to the Mena House Hotel in Cairo and met Teddy Roosevelt. He then was signed on as a cook for the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition.

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For more than a year, they traveled throughout Africa, collecting 1,100 specimens for the Smithsonian Institute. With an Egyptian passport, Kanlis settled down in Stockton, Calif. He met a Lebanese talented cook, married her and they opened their first restaurant in 1910, called The Food Palace and Fish Grotto in Stockton.

Their son, Peter, in 1939 came to Hawaii. He watched Pearl Harbor being attack on Dec. 7, 1941, and was hired by the United States Organization to run the kitchen. The USO served 3,500 meals a day and gained the reputation of having the best meal in Hawaii.

In 1947, Peter opened The Broiler in Waikiki. He hired Japanese women, wearing kimonos, as server captains.

In 1950, Peter moved back to Seattle, opened a restaurant, and years later, opened three more. He returned to Hawaii and replaced The Broiler with Canlis Honolulu.

Unfortunately, Canlis Waikiki closed its doors in 1988.

Canlis’ Crab Legs with Mustard Dipping Sauce

Serves: 6

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 pounds cooked crab legs, shell removed

Place dry mustard in medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon boiling water and stir to form paste. Cool. Whisk in mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sauce with crab legs.

•••

Legal Sea Foods in Boston, open since 1968, is the place to go if you want fish.

Several years ago, family and friends had lunch there for a birthday celebration. After eight years, I can still remember my appetizer — Buffalo Popcorn Shrimp, with shrimp and popcorn served in a movie popcorn bag. The presentation is not something one could forget.

Legal Sea Foods Fried Shrimp

Serves: 2-4

1 pound shrimp, peeled (20-25 count)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, beaten

Cornmeal

Vegetable oil

Grasp each shrimp by the tail and cut almost through the body, halfway up. Open the shrimp halves to resemble a butterfly.

In a glass mixing bowl, mix together buttermilk, sugar, vanilla and egg. Add the shrimp and make sure they are all covered with the liquid. If not, add additional buttermilk as needed. Let the shrimp marinate for at least one hour.

Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Remove shrimp from liquid and shake off any access. Dip into the cornmeal and place on a rack next to the stove.

Add 1 inch of oil to a skillet. Heat the oil and fry a few shrimp at a time, regulating the heat so the shrimp do not burn. Cook for 30-45 seconds, remove and drain on paper bays. Continue with remaining shrimp.

Serve immediately with tartar sauce.

•••

Commander’s Palace in New Orleans has been operated by the Brennan family since 1880. It trained chefs such as Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

I have great memories of dining at Commander’s Palace, with its great food and service.

•••

Commander’s Palace Chicken and Mushroom Gumbo

Serves: 6-8

2-3 pound roasted chicken, meat picked and medium diced

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup hot sauce

3 onions, medium sliced

1 head celery, leaves and roots removed, medium diced

4 green bell peppers, medium diced

1 cup garlic cloves, minced

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

3 bay leaves

1 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 quarts roasted poultry stock

1 pound roasted Chanterelle mushrooms

2 tablespoons file powder

Salt, pepper and more hot sauce to taste

1 bunch green onions, greens part, thinly sliced

Make roux:

Place a large, heavy gauge sauce pan over high heat and pour in 1 cup of vegetable oil. Before the oil starts to smoke, make sure the rest of the gumbo ingredients are close at hand.

When the oil is starting to smoke, whisk in the flour a little at a time until the roux is formed. Continue cooking the roux and whisking constantly, until a mahogany brown color is reached.

Add the vegetables, and bay leaves to the roux and continue to cook over high heat for an additional 5 minutes. The vegetables should start to caramelize and the roux should be evenly mixed through the vegetables. Slowly pour in the bay leaves, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce while stirring constantly to avoid lumps.

Add the roasted poultry stock in the same fashion, and bring the new gumbo to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently cook for at least an hour or until the gumbo stops giving up fat and foam.

When fully cooked, fold in the roasted mushrooms and diced chicken and continue to cook 5 minutes. Add the slivered green onions and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

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Turn off the heat, stir in file and serve at once.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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