About a month ago I purchased a motorcycle and I’ve been venturing out on days trips when the weather is nice. The Mrs. had a baby shower to attend so I decided I’d get out on the open road with the goal of ending up at Hartland Orchard to pick some fruit (~30 miles away). I had no idea what fruit was in season but I know they always have something growing. It turned out this month is blueberries! I picked a pint of large, beautiful berries and paid a measly $3 for it. I couldn’t help thinking how much I would have paid at a grocery store for way less than a pint. It’s so much cheaper to get fruit and vegetables straight off the land.
Blueberry muffins are iconic to me for some reason. You see beautiful looking muffins at bakeries or grocery stores and I can’t figure out how they do it. Even so, I decided to make a batch and used a recipe provided by Chef John. I learned that blueberry muffin recipes differ mainly in the dairy ingredient. I found some that called for milk, buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream. This one used sour cream and they turned out great. The added lemon zest gave them a great smell too.
A year ago I took a trip to Florida for work and we went out to eat at The Yard House in Boca Raton, FL. Little did I realize that I was about to experience the best Jambalaya I’ve ever had. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed at the mixture of flavor. The spices, meat, and rice were just perfect together. I knew I had to attempt this dish at home. I went to my trusted source at FoodWishes.com and Chef John provided a recipe for Creole Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya. I consider this a “one pot” meal because, frankly, you only use one pot (or pan).
I’ve found when cooking cajun/creole type food there’s a lot of cutting and dicing that’s best to do first. The holy trinity of cajun style cooking is celery, green pepper, and onion. There’s usually tomatoes that follow that up as well. While I was doing this, The Mrs. was prepping the shrimp. We just had frozen shrimp that needed some attention before we could eat them. Once you have those ingredients prepped you can start cooking.
We start by browning a couple Andouille sausages in butter. Yep, butter. When the meat is nearly done you add in a few spices (paprika, cumin, cayenne) and let it finish up.
Then it’s time to add the tomatoes, wait about 30 seconds and then add in the “holy trinity” (celery, onion, green pepper in case you’ve already forgotten) and let that saute for a few minutes. The salt and bay leaf cut in at this part of the dance. I don’t own any leafs of the bay so I just omit that.
We cap off the interactive portion of this recipe by adding in the brown rice and 3 cups of chicken stock. You may think 3 cups is a lot but believe me, it cooks off nicely. This last attempt I only used 2 cups and it turned out drier than I’d prefer. Now you sit back and let it all simmer together for 45 minutes. During the last 5 minutes you throw in the raw shrimp which cooks to just the right temperature.
Finally, the meal is ready to eat! It’s got a little kick to it due to the cayenne so adjust it to your taste if necessary. While this recipe is not as good as The Yard House jambalaya, it will hit the spot and give you the satisfaction of saying “I’ve made jambalaya.” People are impressed when you throw around that word. I think it’s because most people don’t know what jambalaya is, they just know that people in Louisiana eat it.
I went cooking crazy today. I usually do on the weekends. After church I ran to the grocery store and picked up the ingredients for my “Pioneer Woman Week” of meals. I also decided to make a few new things.
1) I dismantled a whole chicken as described in a previous post and made chicken stock.
2) Homemade Corn Tortillas
Very simple masa corn flour + water + salt. Then flatten as best you can and on the griddle for ~1 min on each side.
3) Chicken Taquitos w/ Corn Tortillas – Shredded chicken + salsa + cheese wrapped in tortillas. Bake at 400 until lightly brown.
4) Coconut Milk Rice Pudding – Watch the video play by play. It took a while but was worth it.
5) Fish Tacos (Tilapia) w/ Corn Tortillas
Seasoned tilapia, homemade chipotle tarter sauce (mayo, sour cream, chipotle power, paprika, red pepper, to taste), plus the usual lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese. I failed to take a picture of this masterpiece.
I’m a big fan of Chef John and thought his blueberry shortbread bars looked really good. I whipped up two batches this weekend, one for my wife and I and the other for a group of friends.