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

 

 

 

Vegetables Bulgur Pilaf 10/19/2010

Yesterday, while reading  Yesim’s blog ( http://yesimstylekitchen.blogspot.com/2010/07/bulghur-pilaf-with-eggplant-etli-bulgur.html if you like Turkish cuisine you should pay her a visit) my mind took me back, years ago, to my first trip to Turkey. Back then I wasn’t paying so much attention to food (not that I do now) and tried for the first time bulgur, I still remember the dish bulgur piluvi. Tho the nut-like flavor, the taste, the feel were new to me I enjoyed it and asked for seconds. Years past and I got married and one day I cooked some bulgur for my husband (who’s the pickiest eater I’ve ever met) liked it too and since then every time I make bulgur or rice I have to make at least 4  servings  😛

Bulgur is a type of cracked wheat that has been steam-cooked and dried. Because of this, it does not require as much cooking time as other whole-wheat products. Bulgur is used for making tabbouleh (a well-known Middle East cuisine favorite), cereal, and pilaf. It is available in a variety of grinds, from fine to coarse or from #1 to #4.

 

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup bulgur

2 onions

2-3 tomatoes

1 potato

1-2 zucchini

chili pepper, mine was a habanero

3 cups stock

olive oil

dill, mint (fresh is possible)

salt, pepper

 

 

Directions

 

Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan and cook the onion and chili

 

 

Add the bulgur and diced potato, stir well and cook for 1 more minute.

 

Add 2 1/2cups of stock and tomatoes and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed.

 

Since I don’t like mushy zucchini I added them almost when the bulgur is done with another 1/2 cup stock.

 

Simmer for 3-5 more minutes,  add chopped dill and mint, remove from heat, cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.

 

Serve warm as a side or main dish.

 

 

 

 
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