It’s Jambalaya Time

Red beans and rice, gumbo, muffuletta, and po-boys…foods that made New Orleans famous; but my favorite is the classic Creole version of Jambalaya. Chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice together in a single dish…scrumptious!

Of course, what better time to enjoy the food of NOLA than during the time of Mardi Gras celebrations. Inspired by the jubilee, jambalaya was on the menu last Tuesday.

IMG_3252The recipe we use for jambalaya is a modified version of one from the November 2013 edition of Southern Living. Their recipe calls for andouille sausage instead of the little smokies and a few additional spices, but we decided to make it a little less spicy and we’ve simplified the original recipe slightly making it our own.

Ingredients:

1 package little smokies, cut in half

2 TBSP. vegetable oil

2 cups diced sweet onion

1 cup diced celery

1 large bell pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 (10-oz.) cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, drained

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 lb. peeled, medium-size raw shrimp, deveined

chopped green onions

Directions:

Cook little smokies in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Remove little smokies.

Add diced onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, Creole seasoning, thyme, and oregano to hot drippings and saute’ 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in Rotel, chicken broth, rice, cooked chicken, and sausage. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Stir in shrimp, cover and cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions.

For the original recipe from Southern Living, click here.

This dish freezes well so that it can be made ahead or since the recipe above will serve 8-10, some can be served and a portion frozen for another time.

To Freeze: Prepare the recipe as directed. Line bottom and sides of a baking dish with enough aluminum foil  to extend about 3 inches over sides. Fill the baking dish with jambalaya and then cover and freeze. To serve, remove the foil and return the casserole to the original baking dish and cover and thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake at 350° until thoroughly heated.

Serve with crusty French bread. You may also want to serve Praline Pound Cake for dessert.

March Pound Cake of the Month: Praline

If you’re not willing to turn on the stove to prepare the icing for the praline pound cake recipe, don’t waste your time making this cake. The praline icing is what makes this cake special. The cake’s moist and flavorful but not particularly sweet…that’s a good thing since the praline icing and sugar pecans add the perfect sweetness for this cake.

IMG_3225This festive cake screams New Orleans making it the perfect Mardi Gras dessert. It’s not a difficult recipe, but expensive ingredients and nearly three hours of preparation may discourage some…but it’s worth the trouble.

I wish I’d planned a little more before starting this cake because making the pecans first would make sense and save time. The recipe calls for chopping and toasting pecans to be added to the cake batter and then the final step provides directions for the sugared pecans needed to top the finished cake. The next time I’ll make all pecans first.

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Praline Cake:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened $
  • 1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Click here for the recipe from the the December 2007 edition of Southern Living.

Praline Icing:

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Click here for the praline icing recipe from Southern Living.

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Sugared Pecans:

  • 1 egg white
  • 4 cups pecan halves (I bought a 1 lb. bag of pecans & used for batter and sugared pecans.)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Click here for the directions for making sugared pecans. This makes far more pecans than needed for the cake, but they can be kept in an airtight container to be eaten with or without the cake.

Instead of making one praline pound cake, I made a medium-sized cake (4 cup pan) and six individual cakes…perfect for sharing.

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Have a Hurricane!

Hurricanes-Pat O'Brien style!
Hurricanes-Pat O’Brien style!

In 1977, my college roommate, Barbara and I drove from Cullowhee to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras. Fortunately, I had a friend at Tulane University so we had free lodging and a personal guide to the city and the parades. We collected hundreds of beads…thrown from the floats during the parade, rode the trolley cars, ate red beans and rice from carts on the street, and drank Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens.

John and I enjoyed Mardi Gras a few years later and braved the cold and crowds for a wonderful weekend. We’ve decided the next time we go to Mardi Gras it’s going to be in style…no more dorm rooms or basements of sorority houses but a hotel in the midst of all the fun. Guess we better make our reservations soon!

Hurricane Recipe

10 oz. Dark Rum

10 oz. Clear Rum

10 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix

10 oz. Orange Juice

10 oz. Roses’ Grenadine

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher and chill for an hour. Serve in a tall glass with crushed ice. Remember to take the keys from your guests!

Glass from my first Hurricane at Pat O'Briens, New Orleans 1977 Mardi Gras
Glass from my first Hurricane at Pat O’Briens, New Orleans 1977 Mardi Gras

 

Since we’re not in New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year we’ll be drinking Hurricanes to celebrate.

Batten down the hatches and stay at home if you plan to enjoy this potent New Orleans specialty drink, This recipe is Emeril’s version of the fruity concoction. Kay introduced us to this recipe, and we’re hooked.