Shrimp Creole

I served this tasty dish for our Mardi Gras dinner followed by our essential celebratory King Cake for dessert. It was festive and delicious.

I admittedly used Cajun seasoning instead of Creole Seasoning- gasp! After making the dish, I read about the similarities and differences between the Cajun and Creole cuisines. Both cuisines use a roux, the “holy trinity” composed of onions, bell peppers, and celery sautéed in oil, and both are from Southern Louisiana. Cajun food incorporates more smoked meats and rice, such as jambalaya, and is from more rural parts of the region whereas Creole cuisine, such as étouffée, is from New Orleans. I included the recipe for the homemade Creole seasoning below. (for next time!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Vallery Lomas. I modified the cooking times and doubled the garlic. I also used store-bought seasoning and omitted the dried basil. The shrimp was cooked perfectly.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Creole Seasoning: (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large tail-on shrimp)
  • 2 teaspoons homemade or store-bought Creole seasoning, divided (I used Slap ya Mama)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick / 4 T)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, minced (I used a food processor)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste (optional) (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 T fresh thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 T fresh oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 T fresh basil)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • steamed rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
  1. Make the optional Creole seasoning: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. The seasoning makes about 1/4 cup; store it in a closed container in a cool, dry place. (Only 2 teaspoons are used in this dish.)
  2. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Then toss the raw shrimp with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning and set aside.
  3. In a Dutch oven or large, heavy skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium-low heat. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until a roux the color of peanut butter forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully- if the roux burns it cannot be saved.
  5. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in 1/3 cup water, then the tomato sauce, hot sauce (if using), sugar, thyme, oregano, basil (if using), bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
  8. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. (If needed, add more water.)
  9. Once the stew has thickened, add the seasoned shrimp and simmer until opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning each piece halfway through the cooking time. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  11. Serve over steamed rice sprinkled with sliced scallions and chopped parsley.

Pulled Chicken Barbecue on Beer Bread with Quick Dill Pickles

This is a great summer meal. We have already tried a couple versions!

The first time I served this meal, I shredded grilled chicken thighs and dressed them with Trader Joe’s mustard barbecue sauce. We topped them with the quick dill pickles (below) and ate them as classic sandwiches.

The second time, I served the sandwiches in an open face fashion and we ate them with a knife and fork. I shredded a rotisserie chicken and dressed the meat with the tomato-based barbecue sauce (below) and topped them with my favorite Easy Fridge Dill Pickles.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used various barbecue sauces and pickles. I also served the sandwiches on slices of a Honey Beer Bread loaf. We ate the sandwiches with potato chips on one occasion and with homemade Curly Fries on the second occasion. Corn on the cob would also be great. The original recipe suggests serving them with cole slaw- next time!

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

To Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • Honey Beer Bread or large potato rolls or hamburger buns
  • Basic Barbecue Sauce (recipe below) or 2 cups store-bought sauce (such as Trader Joe’s Mustard Barbecue Sauce)
  • Quick Dill Pickles (recipe below) or Easy Fridge Dill Pickles
  • shredded skinless cooked chicken from a large store-bought rotisserie chicken (4 cups packed, or more, to taste) or boneless skinless chicken thighs, grilled and shredded
  1. Prepare the Beer Bread, Basic Barbeque Sauce and Dill Pickle Cucumber Slices. (Alternatively, bring the prepared barbecue sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan and warm the store-bought buns.)
  2. Add the shredded chicken meat to the sauce and heat until hot. (When using the Basic Barbecue Sauce, I incorporated the shredded meat from an entire rotisserie chicken. We had leftovers.)
  3. Cut the Beer Bread, if using, one or two slices per serving, as desired.
  4. Place pieces of bread on individual plates and top each with the chicken mixture.
  5. Top the chicken with pickle slices and another piece of bread, if desired.

For the Basic Barbecue Sauce:

Yield: 2 cups

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves (I used 2 CSA little neck garlic cloves)
  • 2 cups ketchup (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 T cider vinegar
  • 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 T Creole seasoning (recipe below) or store-bought (I used Slap Ya Mama)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot; reduce the heat to low and press the garlic into the oil. Sauté for about 1 minute or until it just begins to turn golden.
  2. Add the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Creole seasoning, and mustard.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, partially covered to reduce spattering, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use as directed in a recipe or transfer to a nonreactive jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

For the Quick Dill Pickles:

Yield: 1 1/3 cups

  • one 5 to 6-inch piece of seedless (English) cucumber
  • 2 T fresh dill leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Thinly slice enough of the cucumber to make 1 1/3 cups. (I cut them 1/8-inch thick using a mandolin.)
  2. Combine the cucumber with the vinegar, dill, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small non-reactive bowl.
  3. Set it aside at room temperature and use within and hour, or cover and refrigerate for later use.

For the Creole Seasoning:

Yield: about 1/2 cup

  • 1 T plus 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 T Kosher salt
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  1. Combine the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme in a small bowl.
  2.  Transfer to a tight jar and use as directed in a recipe.

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

My entire family really looks forward to our Mardi Gras dinner. In all honesty, it’s because the meal is topped off with our traditional freshly-baked King Cake. Just writing about it makes me want some. 🙂

I typically make a Cajun main dish- usually shrimp jambalaya. This chicken and sausage version was incredible. My mother-in-law had just given us tons of fabulous Polish kielbasa as well. I was happy that my husband agreed to “sacrifice” it for our special dinner as it really added to the finished dish. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ian Knauer.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 10-12 ounces Andouille sausage or kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6-10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup long grain white rice (I used Basmati)
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
  1. Season the chicken with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Brown the chicken, turning once, until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Add the sausage to the pot and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the sausage to the plate with the chicken.
  4. Stir the onions, bell peppers, celery, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into the pot.
  5. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves and cayenne and continue to cook until golden, about 6 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, water reserved chicken and reserved sausage along with any accumulated juices and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  9. Season the jambalaya with salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Chicken, Shrimp, & Clam Jambalaya

IMG_7848

Our family tradition is to enjoy Jambalaya followed by King Cake on Mardi Gras– is it terrible that we’ve only had the first course so far? Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year! So, the King Cake has been delayed to the weekend…. it will be well worth the wait. (My family doesn’t mind as long as I make it!) 🙂 I modified this wonderful, colorful dish to include clams- and not just clam juice. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and smoked chicken andouille sausage. This recipe was adapted from The New Best Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Hope you enjoyed your Mardi Gras celebration too!!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1 large sweet onion, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 medium celery rib, cut crosswise into quarters
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and quartered lengthwise
  • 6 medium to large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 to 12 ounces andouille sausage (I used 12 oz smoked chicken andouille sausage), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used basmati)
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 6.5 ounces canned clams with juice
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 pound large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled and deveined, if desired
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley leaves, optional, as garnish
  1. In a food processor, pulse the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Do not over process; the vegetables should not be pureed.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the andouille; cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chopped vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is coated with fat, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes with juice, clams with juice, broth, bay leaves, and browned sausage to the pot; stir to combine.
  7. Place the chicken on the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir once, keeping the chicken on top. Replace the cover and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink when cut into with a paring knife, about 10 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
  8. Scatter shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  9. While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken with your fingers into thin strands. When the shrimp are cooked, discard the bay leaves.
  10. Off the heat, stir in the parsley, if using, and shredded chicken; serve immediately.

One Year Ago:

Poisson Meuniere or Fish with Lemon & Browned Butter Sauce

IMG_4621

I think the browned butter drew me to this recipe- it really made this dish delicious. Meuniere translates as “miller’s wife” and refers to cooking something after dredging it in flour. In this dish, the fish fillets are dredged in flour, sautéed, and then topped with a lemon, browned butter, parsley and caper sauce. It was a lovely meal that was quick to prepare. This recipe was adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple but Classic French Recipes by Rachel Khoo. Lemon sole, Pacific halibut or trout can be substituted for the Dover sole.

  • 1 pound of Dover sole fillets, skin removed
  • 6 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 T grapeseed oil, divided
  • 4 T unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 T chopped parsley
  • 1 T capers, drained and rinsed
  1. Mix the flour with the salt and pepper and spread out over a large plate. Pat the fish fillets in the flour, evenly coat, and shake off excess.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 T oil in a large frying pan over medium-high to high heat. When the oil is smoking, place the half of the fish in the pan and lower the heat slightly. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden. Place the fish on a warmed plate covered with aluminum foil and repeat with the remaining fish fillets.
  3. Wipe the pan clean with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add butter and cook until light brown and fragrant.
  4. Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice. (It will splatter!) Add parsley and capers and combine.
  5. Dress the fish with the sauce and serve. Alternatively, return the fish to the pan and spoon over the sauce and serve.

Jambalaya

Lee Bros Jambalaya

My family has started a new tradition- a Mardi Gras meal of Jambalaya followed by King Cake (my first post) for dessert. YUM! I served this version of Jambalaya for our second annual feast. It is from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. I was initially interested in cookbooks by the Lee Brothers when one of their newer cookbooks was written up in the New York Times. My husband went to High School with Matt Lee in Charleston, South Carolina.  This recipe is from their first cookbook- I think it’s great. I love the story, background, and description they have written with each recipe. I substituted Old Bay for the Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil, and used homemade turkey stock, chorizo, and a sweet onion.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound headless medium shrimp (41-50 per pound), shells on
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 T Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil (I used Old Bay)
  • 1 T canola oil, plus more if necessary
  • 10 ounces smoked andouille sausage or chorizo, cut on the bias 3/4 inch thick
  • 6 chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 pounds) (I used boneless)
  • about 2 tsp salt
  • about 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • One 28-ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • Six 3-4-inch-long fresh thyme stems
  1. Peel the shrimp and place in a bowl, reserving the shells separately. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and the shrimp boil, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the shells and discard. Turn off the heat.
  2. In a broad-bottomed 4-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage, turning the pieces with tongs until the outer surface of the sausage pieces are browned all over, about 6 minutes total. Remove to a plate and reserve the sausage.
  3. Brown the chicken: Add the chicken thighs to the sausage fat in the pot- in batches, if necessary; don’t crowd the pan- and sprinkle them with pinches of salt and pepper. Sauté them on one side until they are a rich golden brown, about 4 minutes, agitating them every so often and adding drops of oil, if necessary , to keep them from sticking. Turn the thighs, sprinkle them again with pinches of salt and pepper, and sauté until the other side is nicely browned. Remove to a plate and reserve.
  4. Add the onion, garlic, and 1/4 cup reserved tomato juice to the pot and sauté, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom, until the vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, crushing them as you add them. Turn the heat to media-low and simmer until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and thickly soupy, 4-6 minutes. Add the chicken, nestling the thighs in the stew. Then add the sausage and any juices that may have drained from the chicken and the sausage.
  5. Strain the broth into a measuring cup and add enough of the remaining tomato juice to make 3 cups of liquid. Add the liquid to the pot and then add the rice. Cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Turn off the heat and add the shrimp, stirring to distribute.
  6. Let the jambalaya rest for 10 minutes before serving. The rice should be plump and very moist but not soupy. Serve in bowls, and garnish with thyme.

Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil

A shrimp boil is a spice blend that combines with water to make an instantly spicy and aromatic broth, a perfect medium for boiling all sorts of fish and shellfish. This recipe makes enough to season 4 gallons of water. Budget 1 T per 1 quart water.

Yield: Makes 1 scant cup

  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 1 T celery seeds
  • 6 bay leaves, shredded with scissors
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 3 T ground cayenne pepper
  1. Pound the peppercorns, celery seeds, and bay leaf with the salt in a mortar, in batches if necessary.
  2. Place in a small bowl and stir in the cayenne. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for up to 2 months.

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Pickled Peppers

My family was very skeptical when I said that I was making Red Beans and Rice for dinner (read: they were complaining).  This quick dish changed their minds!  It was delicious.

I did add extra bacon (because I had it on hand), which may have improved the flavor, but I don’t think that it was necessary.  I used Trader Joe’s jarred roasted red peppers and fire roasted jalapeños instead of the Peppadew peppers and pickled jalapeño.

We ate it with brown Basmati rice. The recipe instructs to top the beans with a mound of rice-  I thought that it was more aesthetically pleasing served over the rice.  🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine.

  • 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inner celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pickled jalapeño or jarred fire roasted jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped Peppadew peppers or jarred roasted red peppers, plus more for garnish
  • two 15-ounce cans red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • rice, for serving (I used brown Basmati rice)
  • parsley, for garnish
  1. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, celery, garlic, pickled jalapeño and 1/4 cup of peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Add the beans with their liquid and the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 8 minutes. Season the beans with salt and pepper.
  5. Mound rice in each serving dish and ladle the beans over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley or more peppers, as desired, and serve right away.

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