Archive for February, 2014

February 25, 2014

Jambalaya

jambalaya

In my attempt to stay lean for engagement photos in 7 months, I’ve been eating lots of chicken and rice. Chicken and rice sounds healthy, right? Especially since I only eat brown rice? Well, you be the judge, but my idea of chicken and rice is Cuban Chicken and Chorizo Rice, Chicken Korma, Vietnamese Roast Chicken with rice fried in chicken fat… annnd jambalaya. Yea.

It’s ok. I have seven months.

Tangent: If Chang wasn’t so busy all the time, I’d totally make him follow me around the kitchen and snap photos of the cooking process. One can dream. (Yes, I dream about being a “real” food blogger with a “real” camera and a photographer husband to boot.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 lb chicken breast (8oz), chopped*
  • equal amounts of shrimp, chopped
  • Tony Cachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 10 oz Andouille sausage
  • 1 16oz can crushed/diced tomatoes
  • ~ 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ~ 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 cups uncooked rice
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika

* Brined the night before is a plus

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Season chicken and shrimp with Tony Cacheres. Set aside with chopped sausage.
  2. Heat 5 qt dutch over/pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion/bell pepper/celery to pot and sauté until tender, 3 min. Stir in garlic and continue to sauté, 1 min, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in rice. Add spices and ~1 tsp more of Tony Cacheres.
  5. Add canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, slowly add broth (about 2 cups for white rice, about 3 cups for brown) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and medium low. Cover and simmer 20 min for white rice, 40 min for brown (do not disturb as lifting cover lets out steam and stirring rice makes it goopy). Start out with less broth than you think you need. Easier to add than subtract liquid…
  6. Uncover and add chicken, sausage, and shrimp. Push into the rice so chicken/shrimp is just submerged. Add more liquid if rice is drying out. Recover and simmer, adding broth when needed. Another ~15 min or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.
  7. Mix and season with Creole seasoning to taste. Serve.

jambalaya2

Rice is about eyeballing it. Too many varieties of rice out there to give you the perfect ratio of rice:liquid and exact cook times. Just remember not to over stir as this releases the goop-factor (technical term). Doesn’t hurt to pick up a grain and munch to see how crunchy or soft it is. Brown rice typically needs 1:2.5 ratio of rice:liquid. We don’t eat white rice in my house but typically it’s 1:2. Cooking is an art, not a science! So get to it. You’ll figure it out along the way.

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February 18, 2014

Leek + Fennel Bisque

onion fennel bisqueAdapted from Gourmet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large fennel bulb, chopped (set aside stems/fronds) – 3-4 cups
  • 3 medium small leeks, light green and white parts only, chopped – 3 cups
  • 3 medium large onions, chopped – 5-6 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup white wine)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable/chicken stock
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (allspice will work)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 slices of bacon (optional), chopped
  • 1 cup half and half
  • salt/black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat 5-6 qt dutch oven/pot over medium high Heat. Add butter, swirl to coat bottom, and sauté fennel, leeks, onions, garlic 15 min or. Salt generously. Stir in nutmeg.
  2. Add white wine and let it boil away. 1 min.
  3. Add stock, season to taste, simmer 10-15 min. Stock should not immerse vegetables.  This will end up being a thick bisque, not a runny soup.
  4. In a separate bowl, add cream and ladle in soup slowly to bring temperature up. Slowly incorporate cream mixture into pot. Continue to simmer, 15 min. Soup will thicken slightly. No need to stir.
  5. Heat separate frying pan over medium heat. Fry bacon. set aside.
  6. In batches, blend soup with caution until smooth. Last chance to salt to taste! Amazing what a pinch of salt can bring out. Once it passes that threshold of perfectly salted, all the flavors will come out. Left under-salted, this bisque will taste bland.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls. Add bacon, fennel frond for decoration, serve with toasted crusty bread.

Can be made a day or two ahead of time, chilled, and reheated slowly in the same pot.

There’s a lot of flexibility in the ratio of ingredients. I think it’s silly to throw away extra vegetables just because it does not measure out to be exactly 3 cups per fennel bulb. Just use approximately 1:1:2 ratio of fennel:leeks:onion. And obviously more of whatever flavor you like!

Keep those stems. Great for roasting fish on (so that the bottom does not burn). The mild flavored fronds also make a great garnish (looks like dill!)

February 14, 2014

Whole Roasted Dorade + Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! (Is fish becoming a tradition for us now??)

roasted dorade

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 8.01.32 PM

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lb whole dorade, de-boned, head tail on (branzino works, too)
  • 1 large grapefruit, supreme
  • 2 small/1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 small meyer lemons, sliced thin
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 4 small bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • salt
  • black pepper

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Head medium frying pan over medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Swirl. Add lemon slices. Brown each side, 2-3 min. Salt. Set aside. *according to Gordan Ramsay, caramelizing the lemon before baking does something something. I don’t know, honestly. But it looks better, tastes good.
  2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Rub with olive oil inside and out. Salt/pepper generously inside and out. set aside.
  3. Cut off fronds of fennel. Slice bulb very thin (a mandolin is handy). Place in bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Salt and toss.
  4. Take fronds and roughly chop stems into large 3-4 inch long pieces. May need to half lengthwise to flatten the thicker stems out. Grab a handful of the fronds and stuff fish. Take left overs and the stems and spread out over a greased aluminum lined baking pan.
  5. PREHEAT OVEN 400F
  6. Supreme your grapefruit. Slice each wedge in half, long wise (making thinner slices). Add slices to fennel. Set salad aside.
  7. Scrape off remaining flesh/juice from peel over the insides of your fish.
  8. Roughly chop parsley, stuff a small handful into the fish along with the fennel fronds. Add the rest to the baking pan, spread evenly.
  9. Add one layer of caramelized lemon inside fish, add one layer of on top of the greens in the baking pan.
  10. Smash garlic cloves, peel, add 3-4 pieces inside fish, toss the rest on the greens in the baking pan. (you can halve the cloves if too thick)
  11. Drizzle baking pan greens with a bit more olive oil.
  12. Lay bay leaves inside the fish. Drizzle inside of fish with a bit more olive oil, salt, close up fish. Top fish with one more layer of lemon slices. Place fish in baking pan, right over the lemons.
  13. Put in middle rack of oven 25-30 minutes or until center flesh falls easily off the bone with a gentle prod of your fork.
  14. Serve with fennel/grapefruit salad.

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