Not too little, not too much

(Sort of) Jambalaya 12/08/2010

It’s starting to get colder and colder and I don’t like, not at all. We even had out first snow, well, just few flakes that melted immediately but it counts, right?

I like this time of the year, I like a white Christmas but that’s it, don’t like snow or cold the rest of the year. They are saying is going to get even colder 😦 .  All I want is just a cup of tea and relax in front of a fireplace, watching the fire crack and sparkle and feeling its warmth.

 

Tonight I’m going to share with you a rice dish. I’m pretty sure that everyone heard about Jambalaya and Paella.

Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice. It is also a close cousin to the saffron-colored paella found in Spanish culture

Cajun cooking is a regional cuisine native to South Louisiana. Traditional Cajun cooking developed in a diverse and abundant natural environment and a  multiethnic though predominantly French Catholic social environment. In the narrowest sense the word “Cajun” refers to descendants of eighteenth-century Acadian settlers expelled from Canada who eventually settled in South Louisiana among a multiethnic French-speaking population, including people of French, African, Spanish, German, Native American, and other descent. Eventually the Cajuns (short for Acadians) dominated twenty-two parishes of South Louisiana, now called Acadiana. They lived in relative isolation until the twentieth century, when the outside world came to Cajuns in the form of compulsory English education, the oil industry, World War II, mass media, and an influx of outsiders bearing a standard American mass culture. Like immigrants from foreign shores, Cajuns found themselves in a new world of change. Cajun culture was a source of scorn by outsiders and an embarrassment for many insiders, and French speaking declined.
However, a revival of Cajun culture gained steam in the 1970s with the creation of French programs in the schools, a general attention to cultural expressions (music, food, and so forth), and a rise in pride in being Cajun. Part of this pride of identity is as a people who are highly sociable, who know how to enjoy life (joie de
vivre), including the enjoyment of food, and who know how to prepare food that is exceptionally good. It is fitting that Cajun cooking has become a major cultural export and Cajun chefs have become high-profile media personalities.

The aesthetics of traditional Cajun cooking demand that foods have strong, intense flavors. Strong flavoring comes from the use of seasoning vegetables (onion, bell pepper, garlic, celery) and from the careful browning of ingredients. Gumbo and other sauce-based dishes begin with a flour-based roux that is slowly browned to a dark color. Seasoning vegetables are browned. Coffee is dark roasted. The use of cayenne and other hot peppers intensifies flavor. The proportion of hot pepper varies throughout the region and among cooks. Cajuns say good food takes time, and many dishes require long simmering that follows slow browning. For example, gumbo, a soup, or stew that will be served over rice, is simmered for hours until the ingredients soften and break down. Major dishes reflect the practice of combining a flavorful multi-ingredient item with a bland staple, usually rice. Gumbo (of many varieties), étouffée, sauce piquant, and fricassee are served over rice. Jambalaya and rice dressing contain rice. The pattern occurs in less obvious forms, such as rice-containing boudin sausage (the “Cajun fast food”), corn bread dressing, boulettes (rice and meat or seafood balls), vegetables stuffed with seasoned meat and corn bread, and crawfish bisque, which contains cleaned crawfish heads stuffed with a dressing mixture.

Encyclopedia of Food and Culture

Ingredients

2 onions

few garlic cloves

1 habanero chili pepper

1 1/2 cup mixed rice

few celery ribs

1 carrot

2 tomatoes

1 bell pepper

(frozen) cooked shrimps

fresh dill

juice from 1 can of diced tomatoes

3 cups stock

cayenne pepper

oregano

salt and pepper

few tbsp vegetable oil

 

Directions

Heat the oil and add the chopped onions, garlic and chili pepper.

 

Add the rice and stir to coat. Cook for another 1 minute.

Add the shredded carrot, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper and celery.

Add the stock and tomato juice, cover well and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is cooked.

 

Season to taste. If using uncooked shrimps now is the time to add them. Put the lid back on and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Add the end add the shrimps and chopped dill, stir well and leave few minutes for the shrimps to warm up.

 

Serve warm

 

Closer view

 

 

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Amaranth Salad stuffed Carnival Squash 11/02/2010

Filed under: Main dish,Salads,Seeds,Squash,Vegan,Vegetarian — Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything} @ 21:44
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Amaranth

Amaranth was one of the main food sources for the Aztecs, who also used it in religious rituals. Cultivation ended almost completely after Spanish conquistadors made growing the plant a punishable offense. Today, both farmers and anyone interested in nutrition are showing increasing interest in the plant because it has more protein (15 percent to 18 percent of calories) than most other grains (8 to 15 percent of calories). It also contains more lysine and methionine, amino acids not provided by many common grains. Combined with other grains, it can provide a complete balance of amino acids. Amaranth is also a source of calcium and magnesium and contains more iron than almost any other grain. The amaranth plant has long clusters of red flowers and grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet. It produces tiny seeds—up to 3 feet. It produces tiny seeds—up to 500,000 per plant. These seeds can be cooked and eaten as a grain or popped, sprouted, or ground into flour that has a strong, nutty flavor. Amaranth flour can range from a light yellow to dark violet, although most amaranth flour sold in stores is buff-colored. Pasta can be made from amaranth flour, and amaranth oil is obtained from the plant’s seeds. The green leaves and stalk of amaranth (also called pigweed) can be cooked and eaten. The leaves have a taste similar to that of spinach.

Preparation Tips
Amaranth flour does not contain gluten, which means baked goods containing it will not rise as desired and will be crumbly. It can be used in baked goods, but it should be combined with wheat flour (which contains gluten) in recipes for muffins, bread, cookies,or pastries. Because it has a nutty, assertive flavor, you may want to experiment somewhat with how much amaranth flour to add to recipes. Amaranth’s nutritional advantages, however, make adding it to baked
goods worthwhile. Amaranth seeds also can be cooked and eaten as a cereal. Or, they can be popped by adding them a tablespoon at a time to a hot, ungreased skillet. They take just a few minutes to pop.

Serving Suggestions
In addition to using amaranth in baked goods as described above, amaranth can be substituted for flour in pancake or waffle recipes. Cinnamon particularly complements its flavor in both of these breakfast favorites. Amaranth leaves can be substituted for spinach in salads or cooked dishes. Popped amaranth seeds can be used as a garnish or topping or in breading recipes.

 

Amaranth Salad stuffed Carnival Squash


Ingredients

3 carnival squashes

1 onion

few garlic cloves

parsley

1/2 to 2/3 cup of  amaranth

frozen corn

frozen peas

carrot

bell pepper

dried cranberries

 

 

Directions

Cut a small cap and clean the squashes

 

Put the cap back on. In a ovenproof casserole dish pout about 1/3 cup water and arrange the squashes.Cover well with aluminum foil.

 

Bake at 400 F for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the amaranth (1/2 cup amaranth in 1 cup water) simmering it in a covered pan until the water is absorbed.

 

In another pan, boil the corn and peas for 2-3 minutes.

 

In a bowl mix onion, garlic, bell pepper, cranberries, corn, peas, amaranth, parsley and carrot. Season to taste.

 

Remove the squashes from the oven, take off the cap and stuff them with the amaranth salad.

 

Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 30-40 more minutes, until the squash is cooked.

 

Serve hot.

 

inside view 😛

 

one more

 

Cheesy Stuffed Bell Peppers 10/23/2010

Filed under: Latin America,Main dish,Mexican,Vegetarian — Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything} @ 19:50
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My plan was to make stuffed eggplants or stuffed carnival squash but, if there is one thing I’m good at that would be changing my mind in a heart beat. Since I had 6 bell peppers in the fridge, the first idea was to stuff them with rice and raisins, then with rice and other vegetables and other few combinations. In the end I remembered that I ate once at a Mexican restaurant peppers stuffed with beans. But I didn’t have Poblano peppers so why not use regular peppers instead? This is how a memory turned into a delicious and satisfying meal.

 

Ingredients

4 bell peppers

1  1/2 onion

1 1/2 tomato

few garlic cloves

1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar

2 eggs

corn oil

2/3 cup dried beans*

 

cook the dry beans with 1/2 onion, 1/2 tomato, thyme and 1 Jalapeño or Serrano pepper. when cooked remove the onion, tomato, pepper and thyme springs.

 

Directions

Turn on the broiler and roast the bell peppers until the skin get black and blistered. Meanwhile heat some oil and cook the onion and garlic for few minutes or until soft.

 

Add the tomatoes and cook few more minutes.

 

 

Remove from the heat and add the beans. Season to taste and mash almost half of them.

 

 

Back to the peppers. Remove the skin and seeds.

 

and fill them with the beans mixture.

 

 

Break the eggs and beat them lightly with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix with the cheese. Pour over the peppers.

 

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes until the egg is set and cheese melts.

 

 

Serve hot

 

 

 
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