Chorizo and Shrimp Jambalaya

Ok. So…. I am not that great at cooking rice at home. I don’t know what the deal is, but I will admit that I count the day I bought my rice cooker as one of the happiest days of my life. And yes, for the record, I do tend to make perfect rice at work. It’s just one of those things I always fuss with and ruin at home. I think maybe I’m slowing improving, or it could be that it is pretty hard to mess up a risotto.

I do love to eat rice though. Recently I have developed a hankering for some good ol’ Jambalaya. This is one of two rice based dishes that I remember my mom making when we were growing up (the other being Sweet and Spicy Cashew Chicken). I vaguely remember refusing to eat either of them and usually having pb and j on the rare nights when they were served. I was, of course, a horribly picky eater….. Sorry Mom.  

Anyway, I basically just made this recipe up, and I really hope it works out so that I can finally post something on my blog.

By the way, if you want to vegetarian-ize this recipe, just double the veggies, add some black beans instead of chorizo and see if you can find some shrimp flavoured gluten balls to toss in about halfway through cooking.

Chorizo and Shrimp Jambalaya

Olive oil

I chorizo sausage, skin removed and crumbled

1.5 cup frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup short grain rice

1.5 cups water or stock

½ cup tomato juice

2 tomatoes, chopped up

½ onion, small dice

1 carrot, small dice

1 stalk celery, small dice

½ red bell pepper, small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tsp thyme

2 Tsp oregano

Tbsp cayenne

Tbsp paprika

Pinch chilli flakes

Tsp chilli powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce as you like

Peel the skin off one chorizo sausage. Crumble it up and put it all into a large heavy bottomed pot that has a lid. Chop up all your veggies and crank the heat under the pot to high. Add a good glug of olive oil. Once the sausage meat starts to sizzle dump in the veggies. Stir them up every so often and let them cook for about 7 minutes. Add all the spices and the rice. Stir everything up so that the rice is well coated in oil and spices. Let the rice and veggies and meat cook together for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, the water or stock, and the frozen shrimp. Season well with salt and pepper and give everything a good stir. Cover and leave the heat on high for a couple of minutes until the liquid starts to boil. Lift the lid up, stir once, put the lid on and turn the heat to medium low. Set your timer for 20 minutes and pour yourself a glass of wine. I think a pinot grigio would be lovely.

That’s the step I am at right now, except of course that I don’t have any pinot grigio and will have to settle for a gin and tonic. Which doesn’t really go at all.

And so we wait…….

And wait.

And ….. if only I could blog a waiting montage…..

And…

*Ding*!

Oh boy! It’s delicious and perfect! Yay!

Serve this mounded in a beautiful bowl and garnished with some fresh thyme leaves and/or parsley

This recipe will serve 4 with a little leftover for lunch the next day (or 2 if you pig out like me). If you want to switch it up a little you can always omit the shrimp and serve them skewered and grilled beside the rice. Round out the meal with corn on the cob, buttered green beans, and fresh crusty bread and you’ve got yourself a fine-looking dinner party. Cheers!

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it’s a chicken stock kind of day…

I have a massive pot of chicken stock simmering away on the stove. It is making me VERY hungry. One of the (maybe strange) things I do which most people do not (but should) is make my own chicken stock. I make 8-10 Litres every couple of months. It is not hard. It is not complicated. It is very user-friendly. You pay what like…. $4.50 or so for 750mL of chicken stock in the supermarket? Making stock at home costs almost nothing. It is fresh and delicious and there is no salt or preservatives added. I keep all the chicken carcasses I go through (in between stock making days) in a ziploc bag in my freezer. When I have enough, or am out of stock I pull them out and throw them in a pot, cover them with cold water and turn the pot onto high. I skim all that grey crud that comes up to the surface with a ladle or a little strainer (that’s all the blood and impurities and skin and such), and skim off the fat floating on the surface every so often. Once all the grey stuff stops floating up I toss in a chopped up onion or two, some celery, some parsley stems (I also keep those stashed in the freezer as I don’t buy fresh parsley very often), a tsp or so of black peppercorns, one clove, a couple of bay leaves, and some fresh thyme if I happen to have it. I leave that puppy on medium low and let it do its thing for about 7 hours. After the stock is done I let it cool off for a little while in the pot and then strain it through a colander into another pot and/or some really big mixing bowls. I toss the garnish and usually reduce the liquid by boiling it down for another hour or so, but you don’t need to. I usually strain it once more through a fine mesh strainer and then fill glass jars with the liquid (leaving an inch and a half at the top) and freeze it. Good times.

Sure, it is a little easier to just buy stock…. but think of all the chicken bones you’ve wasted!

Anywho. That’s been my day. Around noon my house was smelling divine and I was getting rather peckish. I decided to make a simple grilled cheese sandwich and instead this is what happened: 

I know, right? I eat way too much food. It’s fabulous. I had some baked salmon left over in my fridge. Then I started fantasizing about Mikael’s Grilled Salmon Club that we used to get for staff meal from time to time at the MB club. I couldn’t resist the temptation. I believe that sandwich making is an art form. It completely depends on your willingness to be creative, but there are certain rules that you should always follow (in my mind anyways).

Sandwich Making 101:

Prepared yellow mustard is never ok. Use dijon, grainy mustard, or speciality mustard.

Always put a layer of fat-based spread facing inward from the bread on both sides of the sandwich. This rules comes from Chef Gill at RRC in garde manger 1, not from me. Put a butter or mayo or aioli or whatever on the bread, it creates a moisture barrier which is essential to maintaining the structural integrity of the bread and preventing sogginess.

If there is meat (ham or beef or bison or whatever) there really should be mustard right next to it. So it would be Bread, Butter, Mustard, Meat, then whatever else. This is important. This is the way you taste the fillings. The mustard melts together on your palate with the meat and gives it just enough tanginess to differentiate the flavor of the meat from that of the bread. I struggle with enjoying mustard in general, but even a tiny little bit is better than none at all. But it must be next to the meat!

Lettuce should ideally be away from tomatoes. Creat a cheese barrier or something unless you know the sandwich will be eaten immediately. It is really really nasty to eat wet soggy wilty lettuce on a sandwich.

Always season tomatoes with salt and pepper when you have put them on the sandwich. Just do it. Take the time. It’s crazy what a huge difference it makes.

Bacon needs to be crispy. I don’t understand non-crispy bacon on a sandwich. This is my own personal issue, mind you. Non-crispy bacon is just gross. Over crispy bacon is also not ok.

That’s all the rules I have to share with you at the moment. So maybe this is common knowledge, maybe I am crazy, maybe no one really cares……..

Back to talking about the Grilled Salmon Club.

It was so good. The very specific order of ingredients was:

Whole wheat french bread, caper lemon mayo, baby spinach leaves in a single layer so as not to overwhelm, salmon fillet, thinly sliced seasoned roma tomato, cheddar cheese, soppratsetta, dijon, butter, bread.

Then I buttered the outside and grilled it.

It was very good. I had the rest of the roma tomato and some leftover green beans as well. Sprinkled a little olive oil, white wine vinny and a crack of salt and pepper over top of the veg.

The only problem with impromptu delicious and decadent lunches is that I feel like maybe I should share them with someone. That maybe if I shared them it wouldn’t be quite so indulgent and gluttonous. And I also enjoy feeding other people good things. But no one was around today and I had this all to myself.

I am amazed that I don’t weigh like 500 lbs after doing this stay-at-home thing for the last 17 months. Back to work on monday by the way. Yup. It’s true. I will have to change my bio.

Manitoba Goldeye! (eat it up yo)

 

To mourn the closing of Winnipeg’s Mirlycourtois’ restaurant (a former employer of mine) I decided to make my version of the chefs classic quiche. Rather than spend $12 on 5 puny pieces of smoked salmon at Safeway I decided to switch it up and buy a smoked goldeye. WOW! This was an excellent way to use the fish. Please try it at home!

Smoked Goldeye and Goat Cheese Quiche

For the dough I will refer to my previously posted Perfect Pie Dough. Hopefully you still have some in the freezer from your last batch of Tortiere.

Perfect Pie Dough

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

¼ cup cornstarch

1 lb lard

2 egg yolks

1 cup of water

Combine the flour and cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Add the pound of lard and use two knives to cut it into the flour. The use your (washed) hands to crumble and rub it into the flour until it resembles fine meal. Don’t worry if there are some lardy chunks, it is difficult to work it all in. Next combine the water and egg yolks in a small bowl. Whip them together with a fork. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and dump all the liquid in. Use the fork to start drawing the dry into the wet. When it is all mixed in ditch the fork and use your hands to knead the dough until everything comes together. Try not to overknead the dough or it will lose some of its flakiness and make it more difficult to roll out. Divide the dough into 8 portions. You can individually wrap any extra portions and freeze them for future use.

Quiche Filling

1/2 lb fresh spinach

1 tbsp butter

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

1 whole smoked goldeye

3 ounces goat cheese

Rinse 1/2 pound or so of fresh spinach in cold water and shake dry or let drain in a colander. Pick off any stems. If you are using ready-to-serve spinach it will have already been washed, but the stems may still need picking. (If you want you may instead use 1 package of frozen spinach (whole leaves and not the chopped variety). Either let the frozen spinach thaw overnight in a bowl or use the defrost setting on your microwave. Squeeze it very well to rid it of all moisture prior to using.) Peel one clove of garlic and stab it onto the tines of a fork. Next heat up one tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan. When the butter is noisette (begins to turn brown and emits a nutty aroma) add the fresh spinach. Stir the spinach with the garlic-on-a-fork until it is all wilted, then remove it to a colander or strainer until cool. Squeeze as much liquid out of the greens as you can, then season it with salt and pepper. Place it in a bowl until you are ready to use it.

For the goldeye: carefully peel all of the skin off the fish, starting near the belly. Remove the head of the fish just behind the first set of fins. Using a paring knife and starting at the top of the fish where the head was, gently separate the meat from the skeleton. It is possible to peel off both filets while leaving the skeleton in tact. When you get to the tail end you may need to use your knife and cut the filet loose. Do the same with the second filet.

Roll out one piece of quiche dough and use it to line a pie plate. Loosely scatter a layer of spinach in the bottom of the pie. Top the spinach with an even layer of the goldeye. Place walnut sized pieces of goat cheese on top of everything. Next make the Quiche Appareil.

Quiche Appareil

1 whole egg

1 egg yolk

1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream, 35% cream)

pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper

Mix all very thoroughly in a bowl. Pour the appareil over the filling and tap the pie plate gently on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Top the quiche with about 3/4 cup of shredded cheese (ideally emmental swiss, but mozzarella will also work).

Bake the quiche in a 350*F oven for about 45 minutes or until the crust is cooked and the appareil has set (if you give it a little jiggle or a bit of a pat on top it should look and feel firm). Remove it from the oven and let cool.

This quiche will serve 4-6 people. I suggest accompanying it with a light tossed salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.