Commander’s Kitchen: Chicken Étouffée

The Commander’s Kitchen cookbook has a section on “krewe meals”, the food they cook for the staff twice a day. I may never make Quail with Crawfish Stuffing, but the krewe meals are home cooking.

I made their Chicken Étouffée this week. Straightforward, though browning the roux after you make the cajun mirepoix required some bold high heat cooking. Instead of “hot sauce to taste” (love that), I used a cayenne pepper that I’d frozen from last year’s organic veggie box. I might back off on the sage next time — two teaspoons dried sage is a lot for one chicken. Still, pretty danged good and the family was happy with it.

They do a clever thing with rice. In addition to some salt and butter (one tablespoon for one cup of rice!), they add two bay leaves. It adds a really nice aroma, more delicate than I expected.

Leo Holub, Peter Brown, Me

Leo Holub died April 27th, age 93. I didn’t know Leo well, but his student was my teacher, and it is clear that he taught well.

I studied photography for a year with Peter Brown at Rice University. Peter had studied with Leo Holub at Stanford.

Leo visited our class once, I think in the spring of 1981. That would have been right after he retired from Stanford. Peter was delighted that he was there and clearly deferential. When you are a student, it is a bit of a surprise to see your professor turn into a student. That is when you really see the long chain of teachers and students. Who will I teach?

Peter showed us some of Leo’s recent photos of California ghost towns. Leo chatted with our class, then took a turn around our posted assignments, making kind and cogent comments. It was clear where Peter had picked up his teaching style.

You can see some of Leo’s work here. Those sixteen photos show a tremendous range — natural landscape, industrial landscape, street photography, journalism, and a touch of surrealism. He did portraits, too (click the gallery here).

His best known, and probably most profitable, photo is of eucalyptus trees on the Stanford campus in the fog. It looks like a simple photo and is immediately recognized by anyone who has walked that side of Stanford in the morning. But like most simple things, it is harder to capture than it might appear.

So, the teacher of my teacher has died. I was lucky enough to meet both of them. Who will I teach? My son is already enjoying photography and making some lovely images. Who else?