Month: August 2014

Vegetarian Jambalaya

 

Jambalaya

 

Readers,

For this recipe, I have asked my wonderful boyfriend, William, to write a guest post. He is the author of this vegetarian jambalaya. Always considerate of my dietary restrictions, he is constantly trying to find ways to adapt new dishes to a vegetarian diet. I am so incredibly grateful for his ability to allow my meatless lifestyle to rule our eating habits so often with such grace and selflessness. I hope you enjoy his healthier and much, much spicier take on this traditional, Cajun dish!

-Katie

 

This is my take on a southern classic- Jambalaya.  If you were to search ‘how to cook Jambalaya’, it is typically started with a sautee of meat and vegetables in a pan. Next, the rest of the dish is built around those ingredients (effectively making it meat centered). This recipe makes rice the star component of the dish and focuses on infusing the spices and flavors into each grain.  More importantly, I wanted to make it vegetarian friendly.  With that in mind, real meat can easily be added to this dish (be it shrimp, chicken, or sausage).

Two quick things before we get into the recipe and the ‘how to’. One: this dish is fairly simple, with most of your time being spent stirring the pot; and two: I made mine very spicy. So, if heat is a problem, tone down some of the ingredients, such as the cayenne pepper.

 

Vegetarian Jambalaya
1 whole, green bell pepper
1 cup white rice
8oz box Zatarain’s jambalaya mix
28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
32oz box vegetable broth
1/3 – 1/2  large sweet yellow onion
3 – 4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon cajun spice
Up to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (taste before adding, then add it 1 tsp at a time)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
2 – 3 Tofurky andouille sausage links (or real meat if you want)

Jambalaya

 

The first step is to chop up your onion, pepper, and garlic cloves.

Jambalaya Jambalaya Jambalaya

 

 

Next, you’ll want to add them to a frying pan in the following order: onions, peppers, garlic. Give each addition roughly 2 – 3 minutes before the next (onions, 3 min; peppers, 3 min; garlic, 3 min).

Jambalaya Jambalaya Jambalaya

 

 

While the vegetable mixture is cooking, put your tomatoes in a large pot and then crush them by hand.

Jambalaya

When they are good and mashed, add in your rice, Zatarain’s mix, spices, and your vegetable mix. Let it cook for about 10 minutes with intermittent stirring.

Jambalaya Jambalaya

 

After the rice has stewed for about 10 minutes, then add in your milk and butter. This will tone down the heat a bit and give the jambalaya a creamier texture. Continue to cook this for another 15 – 20 minutes, again intermittently stirring.

JambalayaWhile the rice mixture is stewing, slice the sausage and cook it in the same pan that the vegetables were in, with some olive oil. This will infuse some of the flavors and give your sausage a nice, browned edge.

Jambalaya

After your rice is done stewing and your sausage is done cooking, mix them together for a delicious spicy, Cajun bite! If you like, you can sprinkle cilantro on top; it adds color and is a refreshing contrast to the spiciness of the jambalaya!

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Bahamian Johnny Cake

Johnny Cake

As a child, I spent most Spring Breaks and sometimes even part of my Summer vacation in the Bahamas with my family. We have been to many places in the Bahamas, but one of our favorites is Hope Town. This small village is on Elbow Cay, which forms the northern tip of the Abaco island chain. This area is in the north of the Bahamas, so it’s actually very close to Florida!

 

Johnny Cake

In Hope Town, the locals are very welcoming and in this very tiny community there is a cute church, a school, a museum, and a beautiful lighthouse.  There are also several groceries on the island that serve up great Bahamian classics! As a child, I remember waking up early in the morning and driving down to these stores. We would pick up some delicious homemade bread for lunches on the boat, plenty of Kaliks, and johnny cake. Kalik, one of the local beers,  is always popular, and now that the entire family is “of age” according to Bahamian law, we can go through entire cases each time we visit!

 

Johnny Cake

 

While most of our time is spent boating around from island to island, we also love finding little beaches to sit and relax. Every time we visit there is something new and interesting to do or see!

 

Johnny Cake

I decided to post the recipe for johnny cake in particular because it is reminiscent of a Southern specialty: corn bread! I am not a big fan of corn bread because it is usually too dry and often has a slight buttermilk flavor. However, johnny cake does not include buttermilk and for some reason it is always so deliciously moist! Johnny cake batter can be poured onto a griddle and cooked like a pancake, but in the Bahamas it often takes the form of a loaf and thus resembles corn bread.

This recipe is incredibly easy! Really, even beginner cooks can do this! It doesn’t make a mess and it doesn’t take too much time. If you want to add a southwestern twist, you can chop up some jalapeño and throw that in the batter!

 

Bahamian Johnny Cake

Ingredients
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup corn meal
1 egg
1 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup butter

 

Johnny Cake

 

First, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl.

Johnny Cake

 

Add in the corn meal.

Johnny Cake

 

Mix all of the dry ingredients together using a rubber spatula.

Johnny Cake

 

In a small container, beat the egg. In a large, microwave-safe measuring glass, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, measure out the milk. Next, pour the milk into the butter and stir everything together. This will help cool the butter down so that none of your egg gets cooked! Add in the beaten egg, and stir well.

Johnny Cake

 

Make a well in your dry ingredients, and pour the butter mixture into the well.

Johnny Cake

 

Using the rubber spatula, fold the batter in on itself until everything is fully mixed.

Johnny Cake

The batter will be pretty thick and grainy from the corn meal, but this is okay! This is a hearty, cheap bread that has long been a staple for Native Americans across the East Coast, so it should be thick!

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter or grease an 8×8 baking pan, and spread the batter evenly into the pan.

Johnny Cake

 

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through and lightly browned on the edges.

Johnny Cake

 

This type of johnny cake can be cut into little slices like corn bread and served with just about any topping you can think of! We really like to enjoy them with butter, preserves, cinnamon sugar, or Alabama white sauce!

Johnny CakeWith butter

Johnny CakeWith Alabama muscadine preserves

Johnny CakeWith melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar

Johnny CakeWith Alabama white sauce

They will keep for just a few days and they reheat very nicely on a griddle with butter!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Zucchini Fritters

 

zucchini fritters

Zucchini fritters are similar to latkes but instead of potatoes, shredded zucchini makes up the bulk of the batter. This recipe includes green onions and garlic to add flavor and a nice crunch! You will definitely make crispier fritters with the use of a cast iron skillet, but because I do not own a cast iron skillet, I just use a regular frying pan and it works just fine!

These fritters are a great side, but typically I eat them as an entrée. They’re savory and salty, and have a wonderful bread-like texture. The sauce is a sour cream and lemon sauce, but the zucchini is really good on its own as well.

zucchini fritters

Also, if you have a super fancy kitchen with a food processor that has one of those grater attachments, I would actually recommend that you not use that. I have made these fritters with a food processor and by “hand” with a small grater. The small grater really gets out courser strands of zucchini and with the food processor I found that it was much more macerated that I wanted it to be. So, consider making these the old fashioned way!

Moms, I know that these fritters are not the healthiest of veggie preparations, but they make for a great introduction to zucchini squash, and sometimes that paves the way for healthier options like roasted squash!

I love these fritters in the summer, but if you can find ripe zucchini they are nice and warm for winter time as well!

zucchini fritters

Zucchini Fritters
makes 8-10 medium-sized fritters

Ingredients

For the fritters
2-3 medium zucchinis
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup AP flour
2 green onions
1 small clove of garlic
olive oil for frying

For the sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon garlic (about 1 small clove)

zucchini fritters

 

First, to make the dough, wash the zucchini. Then, grate them with the medium side of a hand grater into a large bowl. This is easiest if you simply hold onto the end of the zucchini like a little knob and grate the other end. The knob will protect your fingers from being grated and it is much much easier to grate them this way than long-ways! The product will be very watery, but this is okay!

zucchini fritters

 

After this is done, add the kosher salt into the zucchini and let it sit for five minutes. The salt will leech out all of the water from the zucchini. Using a cheese cloth or lots of paper towels, “dry” the zucchini in batches to drain all of this extra water. The resulting pieces should be very compact and almost clump together. This dryness is really necessary because if your zucchini dough is too watery, it will not stay together in the pan!

zucchini fritters

 

In a separate, small bowl, whisk the egg. Then, add the egg into the zucchini by hand. Add in the baking powder and flour. Here, I also like to add in a bit more salt because I love my foods to be salty and a lot of the salt from earlier will have been drained out with the water.

Now you should have a mixture that looks much more like a dough.

 

Next, chop the green onions and mince the garlic. Add those into the mixture!

 

Once everything is mixed in, heat the olive oil over medium-high temperature in a frying pan. Drop the dough into the frying pan. You can make whatever size fritters you want! (I usually do around 1/4 cup of dough for entrée portions.) Also, you don’t need much olive oil. I am really pan frying/sautéeing mine, so don’t put in any more than 2 tablespoons of oil per batch!

zucchini fritters

 

After a few minutes, or whenever you see browning, you can flip the fritters. Continue cooking until both sides are lightly brown and the center is fully cooked. This process of cooking is like a cross between cooking pancakes and cooking shredded potato hashbrowns. It really takes a ton of patience, but you can tell when they are done because the density of the fritter changes drastically after it is cooked!

zucchini fritters

 

Set the fritters aside to drain and cool. Then, make the sauce!

Measure out the sour cream into a small bowl. Add in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Mince the garlic and stir this into the sour cream mixture.

zucchini fritters

 

Serve a dollop of the sauce with a stack of fritters!

zucchini fritters

 

Enjoy!