Jambalaya ~ Past, Present, and Future

The first time I tasted Jambalaya was at a grown-up girls’ slumber party in the late 1970’s. Several of the seven females from the Class of ’76 reunited over dinner at a former classmate’s apartment in Minneapolis (she moved away before junior high but we kept in touch) and as I mentioned earlier, I have fond memories of the Twin Cities. Her Jambalaya was one of them. Never tasted anything like it until I moved South of the Minnesota-Iowa border. Good times and great flavors.

The Magnificent Seven (not including our former classmate) were outnumbered by 29 boys — yes, my graduating class totaled 36 — and although we girls were small but mighty, we were outspoken. Probably the apt word from that era is: dissenting. We weren’t afaid to disagree, protest, or try flavors foreign to our smalltown digs. The boys seemed to like our cooking, too. Memorable moment before we voted to cater subsequent class reunions: mega-batches of potato salad made in my kitchen.

Ditto on good times.

The Girls of ’76 went on to lead lives — culinary and otherwise — beyond the confines of our rural hometown. (Some of the boys, too.) But OH, how I remember that post-high school Jambalaya with shrimp, Andouille sausage, chicken, and the “Holy Trinity of the South” — sautee’d peppers, celery, and onion (hadn’t heard of that before either) — in a flavorful tomato sauce over rice.

Fast forward to present day when Joy The Baker added eggs (her Jambalaya Egg Bake was featured in Better Homes & Gardens where I first spied this recipe — with full credit going to Joy The Baker and Better Homes & Gardens.) Thanks both for featuring this flavor-fest blast from my past. Similar to Shakshuka (also discovered post-high school), it appealed to my beyond-the-border sensibilites and reminded me that there’s a lot left to experience in life — waaay beyond the the Prom floor or the bland Tuna Hotdishes I’d grown accustomed to on previous weekends.

For those of you who follow me on Facebook (thank you!) I recently posted photos of my Chocolate Roux and BBQ. (Different flavors and methods; same South of the Minnesota border spin.) Follow the links.

I’ll be making all of them again in the future. Hope y’all try ’em, too!

Enjoying past, present, and future Jambalaya — among other things,

~ Kim

In My Kitchen ~ Spring 2019

In My Kitchen… this salad was SO tasty I want to eat it again soon. A new restaurant opened nearby and everybody raved about their food. Of course I had to go see for myself to “read their menu” (aka: I was hungry and ready for someone else to cook for me) but lately my dining out adventures have been limited by my food allergies. (Hold the croutons and cheese, please!)

Imagine my surprise and delight to find a perfectly grilled salmon filet atop a bed of crisp greens, red pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and black beans accompanied by a wonderful lime vinaigrette. The first thing I said after I got home was: “They sure know how to make a vinaigrette!” (So does Chef Mimi — more below.)

In the meantime I was thrilled to find a local eatery that respects my limitations. (More on that below, too.)

In My Kitchen… I’m ready to dive into Spring and yet another salad: Chef Mimi’s “favorite.” Yes, I realize that favorite recipes are subjective and oft relegated to the dubious best-ever category, but her sense of flavor and texture are spot on in my experience. Her recipe also included ingredients I had on hand, except for the red cabbage. I sorted that out of a “coleslaw kit” before I served it to The Man Of Few Words for supper. (Call it hands-on cooking — I’ve resorted to it more times than I can count when our local grocery store was out of a particular ingredient — and two meals out of one ain’t bad.)

FYI, I also substituted brown rice for the barley. Mimi said that was okay — use whatever combination works for you. DO try her vinaigrette though. It was tantalizing! Still enjoying the rest on spinach salads and such.

Click on the link above for her recipe.

In My Kitchen… my cousin Jeanne and her husband Ken (who’ve hosted me on my many treks to Minnesota) arrived for an overnight stay. She presented me with some “bowl cozies” to keep our soup and cereal  warm (or cold) courtesy of her quilting scraps, and a crocheted potholder, too. What a treat to be the recipient of such handmade love! We enjoyed catching up on the deck and munching on appetizers in front of the lake before I served supper. Thank you, xo!

In My Kitchen… is an Irish Apple Cake I’ve made many times. NOTE: the original recipe may have included a lil’ Irish (whisky instead of vanilla) but it’s just as good without the “heritage.” The crunchy top layer is a lovely prelude to the moist, spice-laden cake below and it keeps well and freezes well, too.

Irish Apple Cake (recipe courtesy of my friend, Denise W.)

1/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla (or whisky…)

2 c. diced peeled Granny Smith apples

1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I used less because mine was freshly grated)

1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8″ square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat again. Add apples and nuts.

Combine dry ingredients; mix in with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and cut into squares.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. (TMOFW says it’s “just right” plain. :)

Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings has more In My Kitchen adventures to connect your global hearts and kitchens ever since she took over from her predecessors — Celia, Maureen, and Liz. I’m grateful to all of them for the FUN and friendship — not to mention helping re-establish my kitchen four years ago — but, having said that…

I’ve finally decided that IMK fits best into my life quarterly rather than monthly. Welcome to the Spring edition! For now I have everything I need. It’s also Autumn “Down Under” (where Sherry hails from, as do many of the participants), but Spring has sprung here — and in my heart. I’ve put off too many writing deadlines during the past five years and hopefully you can see how colorful my life has become now. It’s time to make that leap of faith…

Whether you’re looking for food, flavor inspirations, or the latest kitchen gadgets, IMK is a reliable source. Thank you all! As for me, I’ll be back with more thoughts soon. Maybe in a letter? Meanwhile enjoy this glimpse of my surroundings, xo.

Enjoying salads, writing, and possibilities,

~ Kim

Scotch Eggs ~ The Ultimate Pub Food

Plaid

Just when I was ready to start writing again, my computer died. Argh! Such is life. Apologies for not replying to your comments on my last post — loved ’em all, xo! — but I had to wait until my I.T. guy recovered from the flu to rescue what was left of my hard drive. (I’ve also been acclimating to a new computer/screen/skill set since then.) Every day is a new adventure at the lake.

Allow me to share a flavor memory. The first time I experienced the pleasure of Scotch Eggs was at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis a few years back. Actually, it may have been more than a few… there was Scotch involved, too. (Their single malt menu was sublime and my favorite was called Sheep Dip.) Anyhoo…

Begging your pardon for the repeat photo from my last post, a sweet friend asked: “Did you make your own Scotch Eggs?” The answer is YES, Chef Mimi — but not before I did a lot of research to recreate that memorable flavor. There seems to be an ongoing debate as to when and where Scotch Eggs originated (even though the name implies Scotland) and I never did find out. If anyone knows, enlighten me. However, judging from the number of recipes posted in recent years, this one-of-a-kind delicacy remains a “cult classic.” The consensus that came up most often was: Ultimate pub food!

After perusing dozens of recipes, comments, and reviews (lots to learn there), I finally settled on Proper Scotch Eggs by Jamie Oliver. Who can argue with proper — or Jamie Oliver, for that matter? One bite of that crisp, golden coating followed by an herb-infused savory sausage layer encasing its creamy interior and I was convinced I could make “proper” Scotch Eggs at home any day. Hope you try ’em, too! It was almost like being at Brit’s Pub again — minus the Scotch. ;)

Enjoying flavor memories,

~ Kim

Arancini Adventures

Arancini (pronounced arrrr-un-cheeni — roll that “r” like a pirate!) are cheese-stuffed rice croquettes from Italy. A friend from In My Kitchen recently chronicled her escapades in the Mediterranean — thanks, Debi — including a photo of Arancini and I couldn’t resist their allure any longer. Game on!

Speaking of games, I love to play Scrabble. It was time to combine that old favorite with a potential new one, and after researching a few recipes I set out on my Arancini Adventures.

The first challenge was a lack of Mozzarella in our fridge, but I had a bag of Italian five-cheese blend left from an ‘Italian’ dish I’d made for The Man Of Few Words the other night. Out of necessity (and/or desperation) I squeezed that shredded cheese into stuffable-size “balls.” Not quite as authentic as Mozzarella cubes, but I’ve been known to do things the hard way.

The next obstacle was Italian bread crumbs. All I had in the pantry were plain, and gluten-free to boot. I wondered if they’d yield the golden, deep-fried results I hoped to achieve? FYI, folks in the South aren’t squeamish about dunking food in hot oil and there’s a first time for everything — plus, I’m blessed with low cholesterol. A sprinkle of garlic powder and a tablespoon of Italian seasoning transformed them into “Italian” bread crumbs in no time at all.

As for leftover rice, I keep it on hand in the fridge at all times. I could very happily live on beans and rice for the rest of my life! But, today’s stash was destined to become Arancini. However, there’s no need to go to as much trouble as I did; see the recipe below. 

Arancini

(recipe adapted from Just A Taste — grazie!)

1 cup cooked sticky white rice (Uncle Ben’s was specified; I used “plain white”)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

4 cubes fresh Mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Oil for frying

Marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan or deep fat fryer to 375 F.
  2. Meanwhile combine rice, Parmesan, and 1 egg. Use your hands to mix.
  3. Form the Arancini by squeezing 1/4 portion of the rice mixture around each Mozzarella cube.
  4. Whisk remaining egg in a bowl, dip the Arancini into it, then roll in Italian breadcrumbs. Shake off excess and set aside.
  5. When oil reaches 375 F, fry two Arancini at a time, turning frequently until golden brown.
  6. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining Arancini.
  7. Serve with warmed marinara sauce. (Or, a glass of Prosecco… heavenly!)

Loving appetizer adventures — authentic or not,

~ Kim

Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens

Mini Quiches

Spending time with loved ones and friends is on everybody’s priority list these days, or at least I hope it is. (So is taking care of yourself as best you can when life’s “busy.”)

Thumbing through a back issue of Eating Well, their Muffin Tin Quiches caught my eye. Not only were those smoky, cheesy, potato-and-spinach-filled gems screaming my name, make-ahead suggestions were offered. But, how to avoid the milk and smoked Cheddar? Culinary creativity ensued. (Original recipe notes in parentheses below.)

I can have my quiche and eat it, too, yay!

Potato and Manchego Mini-Quiches with Greens (adapted from Eating Well January/February 2017)

4 slices of hickory smoked bacon (the recipe didn’t call for bacon, but ya know…)

1 Tbsp. bacon drippings (or EVOO)

3/4 c. diced red-skinned potatoes (skin on), 1/4″ diced

1/2 c. red onion, finely diced

1/4 tsp. salt

1 (5 oz.) container Green Girl Organic Super Greens: red and green Swiss chard, arugula, spinach, and tat soi (or 3/4 c. fresh baby spinach)

4 large eggs

1/4 c. chicken stock (or milk)

1/2 c. shredded Manchego (or smoked Cheddar) cheese

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar)

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt

Preheat oven to 325º F. Coat a six-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Fry bacon in a large skillet until crisp. (Reserve drippings.) Transfer slices to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble and set aside for garnish.

Return 1 tablespoon bacon drippings to same skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, and salt. Stir frequently until potatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Add greens (or spinach); drizzle with an additional tablespoon bacon drippings (or EVOO) if needed to prevent sticking. Toss with tongs until the greens are slightly wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, grated cheese (whichever), chicken stock (or milk), and smoked paprika (omit if using smoked Cheddar) ’til combined. Stir in potato mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Divide evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake 25 minutes or until set; cool 5 minutes. Remove quiches from muffin cups and garnish each with crumbled bacon before serving.

Per Eating Well these can be made ahead. Wrap (individually) in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to three days or freeze up to one month. To reheat: remove the plastic, wrap in a paper towel, and microwave on high 30-60 seconds.

I haven’t tried the frozen option yet. (I ate them in three days!) They “nuked” just fine. I’m looking forward to serving a big batch to our loved ones and friends — forgot to mention this adaptation was a “half batch” — TMOFW doesn’t eat “greens”, lol! (Double the recipe at will.) Most likely I’ll reheat larger batches in the oven on low heat covered with tinfoil. Ingredients aren’t the only things I adapt!

Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Brunch is Served

Enjoying brunch three days in a row,

~ Kim

 

Behind The Scenes: Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport For Adventurous Palates cookbook

Blog Tour - May-1-28-2015

I’ve been holding a secret treasure in my hands for over a year — filled with wonder, adventure, and tales from around the globe shared by a precious gem of a friend — right there in my writing nook.

When Ally Phillips asked if I’d edit her cookbook-in-the-making in April 2014, of course I jumped at the opportunity — and onto her “magic carpet!” What a ride it’s been since.

Besides working on editorial stuff (spelling, grammar, formatting recipes, arranging page flow, and making sure Ally’s “voice” came through, etc.), I played in my kitchen — and around the house. Ally encourages that. :)

Did I mention fabulous food? (I didn’t spend all my time on the computer!)

Being privy to some of the most imaginative recipes I’ve ever read prompted me to “taste test” frequently, too.

So far I’ve savored Makai Paka, Pan Seared Flounder with Fresh Herb Tomatoes, French-Inspired Beef Roast, Croatian Potato Salad, Bourbon Drizzle, Shakshouka, and more.

Now that Ally’s “treasure” is shared with the world (available in bookstores May 12th) you can discover other folks’ reactions to it (and recipes they’ve tried) on the Blog Tour.

No surprise that the reviews are as diverse as the author ~ ‘expressing your unique self’ is a theme throughout her cookbook.

“It’s my sincere hope that ‘Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport For Adventurous Palates’ will be the spark, the catalyst that allows you to discover your own special sense of style ~ not just in the kitchen, but in life and living.” ~~ ally

singaporean grilled glazed salmon

Singaporean Grilled Glazed Salmon

(from Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport For Adventurous Palates)

Salmon~

1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger (I used 1 tsp. ground ginger)

1 tsp. lemon pepper (I used 1/2 tsp. each fresh lemon zest & coarsely ground pepper)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 (1 lb.) salmon filet, approximately 1-inch thick, cut into two pieces

Cooking spray

marinade in the making

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, lemon pepper, salt, and sesame oil and blend well. Score the top of the salmon about 1/4-inch deep, then drizzle with the marinade and rub it into the salmon. Cover and refrigerate about an hour before cooking.

Glaze~

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cranberry juice

1 Tbsp. concentrated tomato paste

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I used Tamari)

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (I used about 1/2 tsp. ground ginger)

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. mustard

1 tsp. red curry powder

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice

sauce

Combine the brown sugar, cranberry juice, tomato paste, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, garlic, mustard, red curry powder, turmeric, and Chinese 5-Spice in a heavy medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring and cooking about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook another 8-10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Coat outdoor grill grates with cooking spray and heat to 300-350 degrees. Place the salmon on the grill and cook 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on each side (or to your desired doneness), closing the lid in between turning. Turn off the grill and use a pastry brush to coat the top of the salmon with the glaze. Close the lid again for about 3 minutes, then remove the salmon to a plate for serving.

(I “boho’d” mine by plating it over gluten-free black bean “spaghetti.”)

064

For more about Ally’s Kitchen~A Passport For Adventurous Palates please visit:

Ally’s Kitchen

Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble

Book signings/events

Cookbook trailer (3 minute video featuring Ally)

Blog Tour (May 1-28, 2015)

Enjoying sharing “treasure” with you,

~ Kim

Disclaimer:  Cedar Fort Media & Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this cookbook and I’m employed by Ally’s Kitchen LLC, but the opinions expressed in this review are uncompensated and entirely mine.

Gone Fishin’…

fishdish1

I’ve been playing with a new fish plate lately. (Picture a kid with a new toy… one that doesn’t beep, light up, come with a remote, and/or require batteries.) When the only prompt is imagination, what becomes of a toy — and the entertainment value derived from it — is entirely up to the beholder.

Good old fashioned fun? You bet!

First up was Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine — half adaptation / half inspiration (recipe later) — followed by a simple, satisfying Antipasto a few nights hence.

Antipasto

(No recipe… hover and you’ll figure it out.)

Then there were toast points

I thought about making plain ol’ tuna salad sammiches for lunch one day and toast points seemed like a fun way to dress up ordinary mid-day fare. Plus, they rather resembled fish scales — in my mind, lol — and ‘the plate’ was beckoning.

(I get a lot of mileage out of my imagination and the few ‘props’ I’ve managed to acquire — and experimenting with settings on my camera. ;)

Technicolor Tuna Salad Toast Points

“Technicolor” Tuna Salad on Toast Points

Okay, back to…

 Shrimp with Lime Cilantro Linguine

(Adapted from Chef Dennis Littley’s Pan Seared Red Snapper & Shrimp In A Lime Margarita Sauce. Woohoo!!! Thank you, Dennis.)

Pasta:

12 to 15 strands Pappardelle’s Lime Cilantro Linguine

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 oz. tequila (I used one of those airline-sized bottles of Cuervo Gold cuz Margarita season is still a few months off)

1 to 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice (or more, to taste)

Shrimp:

12 large frozen shrimp thawed in cold water, drained and patted dry

1 Tbsp. olive oil (more if needed)

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Zest of 1 lime

Prepare pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse. Plate as playfully as you wish. I had fun “swirling!” (The pasta, not me.)

Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add tequila and lime juice. Increase heat to medium and stir constantly until the alcohol evaporates. (Mandatory taste testing is required to adjust the lime juice “to taste”… of course.) Remove pan from heat and add the remaining tablespoon of butter; stir until melted. Cover to keep warm.

Next make the shrimp. In a small skillet over medium heat warm the olive oil until hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper to your satisfaction. Sauté briefly on both sides. (Add more olive oil if needed to keep shrimp from sticking.) Transfer sautéed shrimp to saucepan; stir gently to coat with sauce. Pour shrimp & sauce over plated linguine and garnish with cilantro and lime zest. Serve immediately.

Note: I intended to present this dish per Dennis’ original recipe with pan-seared fish, but my fillets fell apart. (My fault, not his — I used flimsy flounder instead of red snapper.) But it sure made a tasty “side” and it left more sauce for the shrimp! Win-win.

shrimp with lime cilantro linguine

On a personal note, The Man Of Few Words and I are still in limbo this many months after the fire, but we’re hoping to be in our next home — a “fixer upper” — in early March. That said, I’ll be Gone Fishin’ the next couple weeks helping that beloved man o’mine with repairs.

Many thanks to each and every one of you who have contributed to the fundraiser my daughter started for us. We’re soooooooo grateful for your help! Temporary life (even ‘foodie life’ with just a few “toys”) has been blessed because of your kindness and caring. Thank you xo.

Now, go… have fun with your food (and props)… and hug your loved ones close! I’ll catch up with you soon.

Enjoying food tremendously- even when it’s served on the same plate twice… or three times, ;)

~ Kim