“This is my dad’s skillet, and the only thing he left me in his will. He was an English professor, so
he didn’t have a lot to leave any of us. I guess he felt that I’d been self-sufficient in life.
When I toured with White Zombie I was a vegetarian. I became a vegetarian in high school because I got a scholarship for ballet and I lived on campus and I didn’t trust the food. I wasn’t strict, I’d eat a can of tuna sometimes, but I didn’t have money to eat in restaurants. Then I go to New York. We lived on the Lower East Side, and there were so many places you could eat for 75 cents. You’d get a falafel, a slice of pizza, or a cream cheese bagel, lots of coffee, that kind of vegetarian. Just street food.
When I moved here 14 years ago, I started making jambalaya right away. I was obsessed with it, and I’ve always made it with brown rice. Nobody’s complained. Locals, believe me, they’re like, ‘No way that’s brown rice!’
[To quail:] That looks crowded enough. They’re having a little party in there. Next time I’m going to lay them with all their feet the same way so it’ll be like Busby Berkeley; a formation dance.
I always read the food section of The Times-Picayune, read the recipes and clip a few and try things out. I do the shopping and when I go to the store, every single thing I buy is for something, and then I see Chris [Lee, from Supagroup] pulling out the asparagus: ‘No, no, put that back! I need that!’ So I get possessive over just about anything. He gets possessive about meat.
We make a serious breakfast. I roast asparagus and then I crack an egg on top and grate some cheese on top of that, put it back in the oven and let the egg bake. I do a lot of eggs and vegetables in the morning and if Chris is in charge there’ll usually be some bacon or sausage also.
I make a beef orange stew, but you have to make it three days in advance. You keep taking it out and heating it up and adding stuff and refrigerating it overnight. It’s French; I like French cooking. I make a roasted chicken with 40 cloves of garlic where you blanch the garlic; keep the skin on and boil it in water for 10 minutes. Fry the chicken up in some olive oil, a little thyme, then add all that garlic all around it, put a lid on it and cook it for 40 minutes. Take the chicken and garlic out and deglaze the pan with a little white wine and butter and you have a sauce.
My dad was quite the cook. He taught me how to make marinara sauce, and before he passed away he got really into bolognese. That I’ve tried, and really mastered. I’m really proud of my bolognese sauce. I used to think it was just a meat sauce, but there are all these steps where you let it absorb different liquids, almost like risotto. One time is white wine, one time is milk, and it takes hours, but it’s worth it as long as you have a lot of people coming over to appreciate it. I watched my dad make bolognese and for Chris’ and I’s wedding, we got some amazing Italian cookbooks.
Now, where did the thyme go?”
Sean’s Reindeer Gumbo (with choreographed quail)
Sean Yseult and Chris Lee get reindeer sausage by mail from his parents in Anchorage, Alaska.
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon dried mustard
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 pounds semi-deboned quail
1 1/4 cup flour
4 + 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
7 cups chicken broth
1 pound reindeer sausage/andouille
4 cloves garlic
Rub spice mix onto quail. Pour leftover spice mix into flour, mixing well. Lightly flour quail and fry in 4 tablespoons oil, browning both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add remaining oil and flour into skillet. Make a 4-minute roux over high heat. Roux will look a yellowish brown from the start because of the spices, but try to make it a bit darker. Add onion, bell peppers and celery, lower heat, and stir for 5 minutes. Heat broth separately, then add vegetables to broth along with sausage and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes. Cut each quail into four or eight pieces, add to pot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice.