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Cajun Jambalaya

Photo of a pot of Jambalaya

This jambalaya recipe is heavily influenced by John Besh's recipe, with some changes.

Directions

  1. Combine the Cajun Seasoning ingredients and set aside.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over high heat until it's hot, then reduce to medium. (I strongly prefer enamel coated cast iron, like Le Creuset or similar, but use what you have.)
  3. Add the bacon, both sausages, and lard to the pot. Break up the un-cased sausage with a wooden spoon. While the bacon and sausage is rendering, lightly salt and pepper the chicken thighs, then add to the pot once most of the bacon fat is rendered. Brown for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions and caramelize (about 15 minutes), then add the bell peppers, garlic, and celery. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the rice, 3 Tbsp of the Cajun Seasoning (less if you want to cut down on the heat/spice), and Bay Leaves, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Optionally add the hot sauce, if using.
  6. Increase the heat to high then add the chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. While the pot is simmering, lightly salt and pepper the shrimp. At the end of the 15 minutes simmer, remove the lid and add the shrimp. Fold the shrimp into the mix. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for another 10 minutes.
  8. After the final 10 minutes, remove the lid, fluff, and serve.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika (I like to use bourbon smoked paprika)
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Celery Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Thyme

Main Ingredients

  • 1/2 Lb Bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 Lbs Andouille Sausage, diced
  • 1 Lb Pork Sausage, casings removed (I use spicy Italian sausage)
  • 3 Tbsp Lard
  • 4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 Large Bell Peppers, seeded and diced (I use one red, one green for color)
  • 3 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Cups Converted (Parboiled) Rice (Note: converted rice has been par-boiled so it cooks faster without over-cooking the rest of your ingredients. Uncle Ben's sells converted/parboiled rice, just look for the word "converted" or "parboiled" on the box)
  • 3 Dried Bay Leaves
  • 2 Cups Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 1/2 Lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 3 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning (see below for recipe)
  • (optional) 1 tsp hot sauce (Crystal, Tobasco, etc.)

Cajun Seasoning

This will make more than enough for the recipe, so you'll have some left over. Store it in an empty spice jar and use it on fish, chicken, etc.

Chilaquiles Cervo

Photo of Chilaquiles by tcervo

Chilaquiles is a Mexican casserole originally created to make use of stale corn tortillas. There are many variations, many (but not all) served for breakfast. The one constant is the tortillas.

This version is always a big hit when I make it for friends. It's so easy, it makes for a great group breakfast on houseboat trips, camping, or any get together.

Preparation

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Meanwhile, cut the tortillas into chip size squares or strips. Fry the tortilla squares in the hot oil, turning to evenly cook, until slightly browned. Remove the tortilla pieces, then add the onion to the pan. If necessary, add a touch more oil. Cook the onion until slightly browned. Add the tortilla pieces back into the pan. Optionally, you can add some red sauce or enchilads sauce at this point, cooked until incorporated into the tortilla pieces.

Add the diced green chillies, most of the cilantro, and a few splashes of hot sauce (not too much) to the beaten eggs, and mix well. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet containing the tortillas. Cook, stirring often, until the eggs are cooked. Fold the shredded cheese into the cooked eggs, and serve. (Use any kind of cheese you prefer. I like jack, but a nice Mexican cheese like cotija would also work.) Put a bowl of fresh salsa on the table in case anyone wants to top their casserole with salsa.

Ingredients

  • Corn tortillas, cut into squares (2 per person)
  • Corn oil (about 1/8 inch in the bottom of a large skillet)
  • White onion (1/4 per person)
  • Eggs, beaten (2-3 per person)
  • Diced green chillies (1 small can per 4-5 people)
  • Cilantro (2-3 Tbsp per person, some reserved)
  • Cheese, shredded (about a half cup per person)
  • Cholula (or other Mexican hot sauce, to taste)
  • Salsa (optional)
  • Red sauce/enchilada sauce (optional)
  • Freshly grated pepper to taste

Limoncello

Photo by Mattia Luigi Nappi (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur produced mainly in Southern Italy and served as an after dinner/dessert drink. It is served chilled in small glasses (a shot glass will work if you don't have apertif glasses).

Limoncello is easy to make, but takes a while - up to 90 days. Have patience and you'll get a delicious dessert cocktail that also can be drizzled over vanilla ice cream to change things up.

Preparation

Wash the lemons to remove any dirt, then carefully zest each lemon, being careful not to get any of the white pith underneath the peel. The pith is bitter, so take your time to get just the zest. I recommend a good quality zester. Put the zest in a 1-gallong glass jar with sealable lid. Add the vodka, then set aside in a cool dry place (not refrigerated, and out of direct sunlight). Let sit for 45 days. Some recipes for "quick" limoncello say you can let it sit 1 week, but the longer you let it sit, the better the results. Put it aside and set an alarm on your calendar 45 days ahead.

At the 45 day mark, it's time to make the simple syrup. Heat the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a slow boil for 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Once the syrup is cooled to room temperature, add to the lemon/vodka mixture. Stir, seal, and let sit another 45 days.

After the 2nd 45 days, it's time to strain. This part is time consuming, but not difficult. Take your time and you'll be fine. Do a first pass with a fine-mesh strainer, straining into a second 1-gallon glass jar. Discard the zest that collects in the strainer. I use a mesh coffee filter as a strainer, and it works great. After straining out bulk of the zest, do a second pass, but this time add a #4 paper coffee filter to the strainer. This part will go slow, because you can only add a little liquid at a time and it takes a while to work itself through the paper filter. Be patient and add a little bit at a time.

Once strained, pour into bottles and store in the freezer. If you're going to be giving some away as gifts, look for nice glass bottles.

Serve chilled, directly from the refridgerator or freezer.

Ingredients

  • 2 750ml bottles of vodka (or grain alcohol such as Everclear)
  • Zest of 17-20 organic lemons (Sorrento lemons if available)
  • 3.5 cups organic cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)
  • 5 cups spring water

Hummus

Photo By Tamorlan (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

As an appetizer and dip, hummus is traditionally scooped with flatbread (such as pita) but you can also use chips or crackers. I particularly like to use baked pita chips. Hummus can also be used as a sandwich spread. Hummus is popular throughout the Middle East, and has become a favorite appetizer all over the world. It's so easy to make, you may never want to buy store-bought hummus again! This is a recipe for classic Lebanese hummus, which is delicious as-is or can be spiced up with a topping of roasted pine-nuts, parsley, etc.

Ingredient Note: Tahini is a sesame paste used frequently in middle eastern cooking. Tahini has a consistency of a slightly thinner natural peanut butter. When first opened, the oil will have separated to the top so you'll need to stir it very well to re-mix the oil and sesame. You can find tahini in middle eastern groceries, many natural foods stores, and at Trader Joe's.

Preparation

Add the garbanzo beans (drained, with some of the liquid reserved) to a food processor with the tahini, lemmon juice, and garlic cloves. With processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time. Check the consistency. Add some of the reserved liquid to thin out the hummus if it's too pasty and thick. Add the salt while the processor is running. Add more olive oil as necessary. (Note: you can also drizzle olive oil over the top once the finished hummus is ready to serve, to give it a nice presentation.) Check flavors and adjust as necessary. Garnish with optional parsley and a light sprinkling of cumin or paprika.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3-5 cloves fresh garlic
  • Italian parsley (chopped) for garnish (optional)
  • light sprinkling of cumin or paprika for garnish (optional)

Caramelized Butternut Squash

Photo by flickr user 29249717@N07

This is a great side dish any time of year, but I particularly like it in the fall (it makes a nice side for Thanksgiving dinner.) Butternut squash is available year round, but peaks in late summer through early fall.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off and discard the ends of each squash. Peel the squash, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1 1/4 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the squash evenly, then spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, turning a few times with a spatula, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize.

Serve hot.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Turkey Giblet Stock

Photo by flickr user mbiddulph

Don't let those giblets go to waste...make some great turkey stock instead (perfect for making gravy.)

Preparation

In a large saucepan combine neck and giblets, chicken broth, water, celery, carrot, and onion. Bring to a boil, skimming froth. Add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns. Cook at a bare simmer, about 2 hours, until the liquid is reduced by half (about 5 cups.) Strain stock through a fine sieve into a bowl. May be made 2 days in advance.

Ingredients

  • Neck and giblets/liver from turkey
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

Sherried Cider Turkey Giblet Gravy

Photo by wikimedia user unknown

The perfect gravy to go with your baked turkey. You haven't had gravy until you've tried this recipe.

Preparation

Skim fat from turkey pan juices, reserving 1/4 cup of fat. Deglaze turkey pan with sherry over medium-high heat, scraping up brown bits. Stir in cider. Bring mixture to a boil, then remove pan from heat.

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together reserved fat and flour to make a roux, cooking over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, for 3 minutes. Add sherry mixture and 2 cups stock in a stream, whisking to prevent lumping. Simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to heated gravy boat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup sparkling apple cider
  • 6-8+ Tbsp. all-purpose flour (or Wondra)
  • 2 cups turkey giblet stock (or chicken broth)

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