Alan and I usually make a New Year’s Day party. We’ve been doing it for years. Greet the New Year and a Birthday party for Jared. This year J didn’t want his party on the 1st. I wasn’t wanting to do two parties in a one-week period – at least not right out the gate on January 1st (shocking isn’t it?). He wanted the party on the 7th so we cancelled our New Year’s day party and just made a birthday party – January 7th. 34 big ones….. Wow.
The New Year’s Day menu always includes Hoppin’ John – blackeyed peas. Good luck and what not. But that somehow wasn’t enough this year so I thought I’d make Gumbo. When I was a meat eater I would go to Ivy at the Shore and order their Gumbo. It was divine. Ivy at the Shore has been gone for years and I have been a vegetarian for years but I have never forgotten the thick, tangy, deliciousness of that big hot bowl of goodness and I wanted to give it a go as I’ve never made gumbo before. Somehow Hoppin’ John and Gumbo didn’t seem like enough either so I decided to make Jambalaya. Somehow that still didn’t seem like enough either so I decided to make cornbread, rice, arugula salad, hummus, a cheese platter, and two birthday cakes (Road Oil Chocolate Cake – recipe to follow very soon! and Carrot Cake).
I was excited and looking forward to my culinary adventure. New food to make. Lots of appreciative mouths to feed. I hit the books and the internet and did some calculating and combining and voila! Jared’s Birthday party. Jared’s people – who were lovely and wonderful down to the last one of them – gave positive reviews. AND I GOT TO HOLD BABY NOAH FOR AS LONG AS I WANTED! Cute, cute, baby. I put in my application for Southern California grandma and I’m still waiting to hear back – I’m hopeful. I think he liked me…..and I think his parents liked me holding him! So here’s to hoping…
I believe that the pick of the day was the Jambalaya so I’m going to give my recipe here which is a combination (as usual) of several recipes, including among others,: tasteofhome.com “Forgotten Jambalaya”; foodnetwork.com “Cajun Jambalaya” – Emeril Lagasse; allrecipes.com, “Shrimp, Sausage, and Fish Jambalaya”; Chefpaul.com, “Seafood Jambalaya” – Paul Prudhomme; and Foodfit.com “Jambalaya” – Susan Spicer.
JAMBALAYA (a combination of many recipes….)
Ingredients for Jambalaya:
1 14 ½ ounce can organic diced tomatoes, in the sauce
1 can organic tomato paste
1 cup green bell peppers chopped smallish
1 cup celery diced
1 cup yellow onion diced
1 Tbsp garlic diced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups organic brown rice (I use medium grain)
1 pound of medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined but not cooked (yet)
1 pound cod fillets cut into 1 – 1 ½ inch chunks (uncooked)
1 pound Andouille sausage cut into ¼ inch half moons
1 pound chicken cut into 1 inch chunks (uncooked)
4 cups chicken stock (I use homemade – see below)
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 bay leaves
Ingredients/Directions for Creole Seasoning (-Emeril Lagasse):
3 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder
½ Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Mix together well
Directions for the Jambalaya:
Mix chicken, shrimp, cod together in a bowl. Add in half or more of the Creole Seasoning and work in well with your hands.
In a large Dutch oven-type cooking vessel heat the oil over high heat. Cook the Andouille sausage until completely browned (maybe 5 minutes or so). Remove and drain the sausage on paper towels. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and cook until just getting soft. Add in garlic, diced tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, worcestshire sauce, black pepper, and the bay leaves. Stir in the rice and slowly add chicken broth (I use homemade, see below – I think it makes a difference but if you don’t have it or don’t have the time or inclination, canned or boxed will do just fine for this recipe). Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until the rice is tender (most of the broth will be absorbed) and stir occasionally. This could take 15 or 20 minutes. Add the shrimp, fish, chicken, mixture to the pot. Cook until the meat is done (about 10-15 minutes). Add back in the Andouille sausage. It’s done. If the Jambalaya is too sticky looking then add more stock. If it’s too soupy then cook until the moisture is absorbed. Season if necessary with salt, more pepper, and any leftover Cajun spice. Eat…. So good….
(Ingredients/Directions for Homemade Chicken Stock – FOR THIS RECIPE):
1-5 or 6 pound fryer/roaster hen – either works just fine Put it in a pot with 8 cups of water, 3 bay leaves, 2 medium yellow onions quartered, 3 celery ribs cut into big pieces, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp cayenne in a large heavy pot and bring to oil on high heat. Reduce to medium and cook partially covered about 1 hour (until the bird is tender). Remove the Hen and strain and reserve the broth which you will use for the Jambalaya. You can use the chicken meat for some other purpose such as delicious, delicious, spicy chicken enchiladas!