Vegetable Packed Jambalaya

I have not always been the biggest vegetable fan. In fact there was a time that my early 20′s self would not even buy onions even if a recipe called for them. Now onions, garlic, celery, carrots, kale, green beans, and brussels sprouts are just a few of the many things that are constantly on my grocery list. In an effort to be more health conscious, I try to spend as much time perusing the fresh food areas as I do the entire rest of the store. Sometimes I get a little carried away, so sometimes… I make this jambalaya. I attribute my new appreciation for vegetables to living in the South. The growing season is so long here that there is always an abundance of beautiful fresh fruits and veggies. And I have learned that Southern cooking is not about fried foods, it’s not even about barbecue or butter or pie. It is all about the veggies.

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Traditional southern cooks relied on a prolific harvest to feed their families. They also preserved these vegetables in many different ways so that they could eat all winter on what they grew in the summer. This is mind boggling and so inspirational. It seems like we are so disconnected from our food. Especially with all the chemicals, plastics, and genetic modifications our food seems to be experiencing these days. I don’t know what it means for our health or the future of our food. But I do know that many people used to survive in the South mostly on what they grew in their own garden. And when you get back to this, and approach your home cooking with seasonal, fresh, local produce… something amazing happens to your relationship with food.

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I use Carolina Gold Rice in this Jambalaya. This is an heirloom rice that was actually near extinction. One honorable man brought it back to life. And it really makes this dish. If you want to learn more about the importance of this rice, do yourself a favor and watch Mind of a Chef with Sean Brock. You can really use whatever and as many vegetables as you want in this jambalaya. Cleanse your fridge at the end of the week after you’ve made all your planned meals. By all means use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Add okra, corn, squash, or zucchini. I promise you will be delighted. Same principal goes for the meat. I like to add chicken, shrimp, and smoked turkey sausage to mine – in various combinations. But use what you have! And if you have creole seasoning, feel free to substitute for all the dried spices below with 2 tbsp of creole seasoning.

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Jambalaya

Vegetable Packed Jambalaya

1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb boneless chicken thighs, diced
1 lb smoked turkey sausage
10 sweet baby peppers or ~3 bell peppers of different colors
2 large onions, diced
2 jalapenos cored, seeded, and finely diced
4 stocks celery, chopped fine
2 tbsp minced garlic
14 oz can petite diced tomatoes (can sub crushed or diced)
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 cups carolina gold rice
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined

Mix together the spices for the creole seasoning in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken pieces, stirring occasionally until browned all over, ~7 minutes. Set aside.

Place 1 tbsp of butter into the pot. Add the onions, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits. Cook the onions for ~10 minutes until slightly brown.

Add the turkey sausage and half of the spice mix, toss with the onion until combined. Cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are tender, ~10 minutes.

Add the jalapeno, peppers, celery, garlic, and the other half of the spice mix. Cook, scraping up brown bits intermittently, until the peppers have softened, ~10 minutes.

Mix the chicken back in and the petite diced tomatoes with their juice. Add in the rice, chicken stock, worcestershire, and bay leaves. Bring this to a boil. Stir in the shrimp and cover with a lid. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed. The rice should be tender.

Allow the pot to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Mix the jambalaya with a wooden spoon and taste, adjust seasoning as needed. Add hot sauce if you so desire.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Chicken Stock

Well I have no excuses for the lack of posts lately. The winter in NC just dragged on, I have worked way too many shifts in the ED, and I have not felt motivated in the kitchen. But I finally got a vacation!! My husband and I went to Asheville and it was glorious. Such a foodie town that provided so much inspiration. Not to mention, endless wonderful beers   and ciders. And insanely good chocolate that goes from bean to bar in the coolest little shop. But one of the most amazing things about Asheville is the locally sourced and natural foods. They have everything from the most amazing bakeries to whole animal butcher shops. It seems like the people of this city have really demanded a relationship with their food and they are reaping all of the rewards.

  
We were very inspired by our trip and have actually started brewing cider at home. My first 3 gallon cider project is bubbling up with fermentation as I write this post. (I will keep you all posted on the results.) This reminded me that I have been doing a different kind of home brewing for a long time now – homemade chicken stock. And you have to try it! It will change your life. Homemade chicken stock makes a huge difference in your recipes.

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You can really use any chicken parts. Below you will find the recipe with all purchased ingredients. But I recommend you start saving and freezing all your leftover chicken bones and carcasses. These contain valuable marrow and flavor that will make your stock so, so good. The stock is easily stored in the freezer. I like to freeze mine in quart ziplock bags, 2 cup portions. If you let them freeze flat they do not take up much room at all. They can be thawed in the fridge or microwave. You can cook this stock in a slow cooker for 6 hours on high or 10 hours on low.

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4 lbs chicken wings (or one whole 4 lb chicken, or 2 chicken carcasses)
2 large yellow onions, cut into quarters (or sweet onions, or one red onion and one yellow onion, plus or minus green onions)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large carrots, chopped (or a handful of baby carrots)
2 celery ribs, chopped into fourths
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
4 quarts water

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Cook for 3 hours. Taste for seasoning, add salt as needed. Strain with fine mesh sieve.

Yes, that is it.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Tiramisu Brownies

Drumroll please… Finally our first dessert of 2015 will make its debut. So this is a recipe I have been perfecting for some time. I finally finished it and its fabulous! I have to say that the tiramisu cupcakes are still my favorite rendition of tiramisu. But those require a full day of work. The tiramisu brownies can be whipped up in minutes. Especially if you can find soft lady fingers at a specialty food store. Which I of course could not find… so I made my own and everything was fine. Tiramisu translates to “pick me up” in Italian. And if you are in a baking slump, this recipe will certainly give you the lift that you need.

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I would serve these with sparkling wine of course. If you want to keep things Italian, you should have prosecco. These wines are made with Glera grapes, they must be 85% glera to be prosecco. This wine is protected in Italy similar to how Champagne is regulated in France. You should always buy prosecco that is labeled at least DOC – denominazione de origine controllata. This is the second highest designation of Italian wine. DOCG is the highest (denominazione di origine controllata e garanita). Sorelle Bronca Prosecco is an excellent choice. It is one of the higher end sparkling Italian wines that you can find at most grocery stores. Mionetto Prosecco is also delicious for about half the price. Mionetto is very refreshing and quite dry, perfect for dessert.

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Tiramisu Brownies

Brownies
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
4 egg whites
1 cup cake flour

Mascarpone topping
8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 package soft lady fingers
1 cup dark roast coffee

Melt the chocolate until smooth in the microwave, heating at 50% power for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Allow it to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place slightly cooled chocolate into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the butter, sugar, eggs and egg whites. Add the flour and mix just for 30 seconds until combined. Pour this into the prepared baking pan, reserve 1 cup of the brownie mix for the swirl.

Arrange the lady fingers upside down across the brownie batter, pushing them in slightyl. Use a brush to coat the lady fingers with the brewed coffee until they are saturated.

In a separate bowl combine the mascarpone, cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract. Spread this over the lady fingers. Use a spoon to dollop your reserved brownie batter over the mascarpone topping. Use a knife to swirl it lightly.

Bake for 45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean with  no brownie batter.

Adapted from Barista Prima and My Baking Addiction.

Chicken Korma

I know, I know, you’re getting sick of the slow cooker recipes here. But I have not grown tired of the crock pot just yet! Besides my new addiction to this kitchen appliance, I have always had an addiction to Indian food. It’s just so freaking good. This Chicken Korma is a nice change of pace from the traditional stews and roasts of winter. It will totally warm you up but the spices are like nothing else. I had a real live Indian person taste this Chicken Korma. She reports that it is authentic. So I win. My other win here is that only one out of every ten recipes receives the honorable high approval of my husband. When he really likes something he says, “that [insert food here] is bangin’.”

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Chicken thighs are a new ingredient staple for me these days. For some reason I always bought chicken breasts in the past. But these really hold up to longer cooking times and work better in soups or a curry like this one. And it is much cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This recipe should serve 8. A serving is 1 cup chicken plus 1/2 cup cooked rice. And amazingly it comes out to around 350 calories! Indian food for 350 calories? Yes, it is true. Besides how delicious this curry is, the second best thing is that you should have these spices in your pantry. These are pretty basic ingredients and not the unusual spices you often find in Indian recipes. So hopefully you have these in your kitchen, because you are going to love this recipe.

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Chicken Korma

2 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 garlic cloves minced
2 cups cubed, peeled, baking potato
1 tsp salt
1 can petite diced tomatoes, with their juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
4 cups cooked basmati rice

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, saute the chicken for 8 minutes or until all the pieces are lightly browned. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and place in a slow cooker. Place the chopped onion in the skillet and saute for 5 minutes. Mix in the  curry powder, coriander, cumin, red pepper, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Pour this mixture over the chicken in the slow cooker. Add the potato, salt, tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Allow the chicken mixture to cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the yogurt. Serve with rice.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Slow Cooked Ragu

Ragu is kind of a blanket term for Italian sauces with meat that are typically served over pasta… I cannot really call this a bolognese because of the way the meat is prepared. But Bolognese and Ragu alike originate from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy which is heavily influenced by French cuisine. Traditional Bolognese (from the capital of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna) contains a finely chopped or ground meat along with a soffritto – carrots, celery, onion. It also contains some sort of fatty pork meat, like the pancetta in the recipe below. And of course it has tomatoes in some form and red wine. I have been doing a lot of research lately, reading some new books including Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. I am really dedicating myself to learning the regional cuisines and wines of Italy. It is just one million times more interesting than reading First Aid for the Emergency Medicine Boards. Those people cannot compete with the expertise of Marcella Hazan. I just love her voice in this book. I appreciate that she is telling us DO NOT cook this way because it is not good enough. It makes me feel like maybe my food blog is not as harsh as I think sometimes.

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I have also been doing a lot of slow cooker research, it is my new fascination. I feel like there are so many awful crock pot recipes on the internet! (is that too harsh?) You cannot just throw all the ingredients in and expect to develop depth of flavor. And I think Marcella would agree with me. So I have created this fabulous Ragu with a slow cooker and I tried to make it more authentic Italian, thus it does require a few steps on the stove. It is worth it though! You cannot make a real italian sauce without the soffritto, and the soffritto must be sauteed on the stove. The meat must also be seared to lock in flavor. This slow process will develop your rich flavors and tender beef but you will have to thicken the sauce on the stove. If you have one of those fancy slow cookers where the bowl goes on the stove, then this is completely no big deal. But if not you will have to dirty one skillet. If you don’t yet own one and are thinking of purchasing a slow cooker, this would probably be perfect. You may alternatively turn the slow cooker up to high and remove the lid at the end of cooking, depending on the heat, this may reduce your sauce sufficiently.

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Serve this with tagliatelle, it will be distinctly traditional. If you cannot find tagliatelle, try to find a noodle that is sort of wide and flat. And Marcella Hazan would not accept anything less than legit italian canned whole plum tomatoes, so please try and find them. This recipe produces something incredible, so do not skimp on the quality of the tomatoes. However there are some excellent and reasonably priced Italian wines out there. If you are looking for wine to add to your sauce and to drink with your dinner, I would recommend Cielo pinot noir. Cielo is an excellent budget wine that you should be able to find for around seven dollars. It’s a very fruity, jammy pinot noir that could not possibly be more drinkable. So be careful… because you may finish the bottle before your sauce is done reducing on the stove. And then you may be unable to capture the perfect picture of your final product.

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Slow Cooker Ragu

4 oz pancetta, chopped
2 lb chuck roast
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup carrot diced
2/3 cup celery diced
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry red wine
28 oz can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, chopped fine or crushed in the food processor
1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1 bay leaf
1 lb tagliatelle

In a large skillet, sauté pancetta over medium heat. Season the roast generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the pancetta is slightly crispy and has rendered it’s fat, remove pancetta with a slotted spoon to the bowl of a slow cooker. Sear chuck roast in the fat from the pancetta over medium-high. (You may want to cut the roast in half depending on it’s shape.) Sear all sides of the meat until browned, ~4 min per side. Remove the chuck roast to the bowl of a slow cooker.

Add olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Sauté the carrots, celery, and onion over medium heat for 7 minutes, until the onion is slightly translucent. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Deglaze the skillet with 1/2 cup red wine. Cook for 5 minutes until it is mostly evaporated.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Carefully pour this tomato mixture into the bowl with the chuck roast and pancetta. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. The beef should be easily shredded with a fork.

Remove beef to a plate. Pour all the leftover liquid into the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes until reduced and thickened (I also added a little flour to mine). Shred the beef finely and mix in with the tomato sauce. Serve over noodles.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.