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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Chiko and I met in New Orleans, so that town has always had a special place in my heart. Before Katrina, I went there frequently for conventions, but so far I have not had the chance to go back since the hurricane. Hopefully I'll get there soon because it was always one of my favorite places to eat and party. I'm off to Vegas to attend the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons convention today, so last night I wanted to do something special for Chiko in honor of Mardi Gras and the fact that she actually had a day off.

I've eaten jambalaya many times, but never actually made it myself, so I went on line, found a recipe on and headed to the store to buy the ingredients. On my way home, I was listening to Sandy Gluck, host of Everyday Food on Martha Stewart's Sirius Radio station, and she described Jambalaya as a sort of Cajun Paella, and after looking at the steps of the recipe I think is the perfect analogy. FYI the recipe calls for a good amount of cayenne pepper in the seasoning mix and the final product was pretty damn spicy. I happen to like it that way, but if you are not a fan of really spicy food, you may want to cut back on the cayenne a little. You can always add more when you taste the broth and adjust the seasonings. The full recipe is up on the above neworleanscuisine link, so I won't repeat the details but here are the pics.

The recipe recommends a cast iron dutch oven, but I have this beautiful hand hammered, solid copper covered roaster that I brought back from Montepulciano in Tuscany and I used it because, in addition to excellent heat control, it makes a nice presentation at the table.

You start with the cajun trinity: onions, celery and green bell pepper, plus andouille sausage and chopped tomatoes.

Saute the trinity along with the andouille till the veggies are soft and the sausage has rendered its fat a little.

Add the tomatoes, cook briefly then throw in the rice and saute it for several minutes. The recipe calls for long grain white rice but I substituted Japanese brown rice because I have a 20 lb bag of it in the closet and I needed to "use it up" as Sandy would say.

Next add the stock, seasonings and chicken meat and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. The recipe says to do it uncovered, but I was worried about the longer cooking time of the brown rice so I covered it.

Take it out, add the shrimp, green onions and chopped parsley and back in the oven. Again, because I used brown rice I had to modify the recipe slightly. The recipe says 10 more minutes, but mine took about another 25 minutes covered for the rice to get tender. I was worried that the shrimp would overcook, but I instead of peeling them I left the shells on and they were perfect.

For dessert I opted for an old school classic, crepes suzette. Very simple, tasty and elegant. I've been making a lot of crepes lately, so I didn't bother with a recipe. Just a 1-1-1 ratio of flour, milk and eggs. In this case it was:

1 cup flour (I used my smuggled double zero Italian flour)

1 cup milk (didn't have any of the cow variety so I used almond milk)

1 egg

Whipped that up till it was smooth, seasoned with the zest of a tangerine, two teaspoons of sugar, a pinch of salt and a dash of triple sec. I let this rest while we ate the main course, a very important step to getting tender crepes.

I cooked a bunch of crepes, then folded them in half then half again to form a little triangle. In my biggest saute pan I melted some butter, added the juice of a tangerine and a little sugar and reduced it to a syrup. I placed all the folded crepes in the syrup, drizzled the whole thing with triple sec and flambeed it. Sounds like a lot, but I swear it was so simple and took less than 10 minutes.

E voila!

I have to say that the Italian double zero flour is amazing. I brought back a couple of bags when I went to Verona last fall and it makes the most amazing pasta and crepes. It is soft as talcum powder and makes a very tender dough or batter. If you ever see it online or in the store BUY IT!

1 comment:

Chris said...

The jambalaya sounds and looks great. I have the same green serving plate as the one your crepes are on!

Or maybe I should go check to see if I still do....perhaps Jon has been sneaking in my kitchen? ;)