DEAR SOS: Recently a group of friends and I had lunch at Cafe Mambo in Los Angeles. I have never been a gumbo lover, but their Mambo Gumbo was fabulous. We all agreed it was the best we'd ever tasted. Can you come to my rescue with a recipe?
DEAR KAREN: Mambo Gumbo hit the spot among the tasters in The Times' Test Kitchen too.
The gumbo is a thick stew full of extraordinary flavor from chicken that is marinated in Caribbean spices. Incidentally, it's a great stew to serve a party crowd on a summer's night.
4 chicken breast halves
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chile de arbol
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chile pasilla
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups flour
4 quarts chicken stock
3 large onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
3 Serrano chiles, chopped
Hot cooked rice
Place chicken breasts in baking dish. Mix together melted butter, 1/2 cup olive oil, chile de arbol, cumin, salt, garlic, pepper, chile pasilla and paprika and pour over chicken breasts.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees 45 minutes. Cool, then remove chicken and debone. Dice meat and mix with remaining juices left in pan. Set aside.
Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in large saucepan and stir in flour until roux is coffee-colored. Gradually add chicken stock, stirring constantly.
Heat remaining 1/2 cup olive oil in another skillet. Add onions, peppers, celery and Serrano chiles and saute until onions are tender. Mix in chicken and broth mixtures. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Cool, then refrigerate 8 hours.
When ready to serve, remove fat from surface and discard. Heat gumbo over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice. Makes 8 servings.
DEAR SOS: I am inundated with a bumper crop of peaches and wonder if you have an easy recipe for making jam without sugar?
DEAR BARBARA: Here's one using gelatin to thicken the jam. You may sweeten the jam as necessary when eaten. Or add less sweetener than you think you will need to the water in which the fruit is to be processed. More can be added later.
SUGAR-FREE PEACH JAM
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon granulated or few drops liquid non-caloric sweetener
Soften gelatin in cold water. Place peaches in saucepan, sprinkle with lemon juice and bring to boil. Add softened gelatin and blend well. Add sweetener to taste and remove from heat.
Pour into 2 sterilized half-pint jars and seal immediately. Do not use paraffin. Let cool. Store in refrigerator until used. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
DEAR SOS: My children and I would be very grateful if you could provide a recipe for those delicious, but very expensive, frozen fruit bars, especially the pineapple ones, on the market.
DEAR MRS. E.M.S.: You can use most any fruit in these frozen fruit bars.
1 1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/4 cup undiluted orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup crushed pineapple or 1 ripe banana or 4 strawberries
1/4 cup yogurt
Combine pineapple juice, orange juice concentrate, pineapple and yogurt in blender container. Blend until smooth. Fill pop molds or ice cube trays with mixture. Freeze until firm. Makes 8 pops.
Only recipes of general interest will be printed. We are unable to answer all requests. Please include restaurant address when requesting recipes from restaurants. Send your letter with self-addressed, stamped envelope to Culinary SOS, Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053.