Friday, January 30, 2015

Cooking in Cajun Country

Well, after over nine great (cold!) years in Boston, I packed up my kitchen and moved down south. My new home - and our first house, pretty exciting - is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is not New England, to say the least. So far the people here have been incredibly friendly, and the food is fantastic, of course. So I'm making it my mission to learn how to cook real Cajun food, (healthier) Southern food, and eat my way around the South as I go.

First things first, the new kitchen:

It is soo much bigger than the old kitchen, which was, sadly to say, about the size of my closet now. Note the vintage copper teakettle, which I found at a nearby antique shop and am overly excited about. (I'm obsessed with copper.)

And onto the cooking. One of the first classic Lousiana dishes I've made since moving here was jambalaya, and the recipe is too simple. I got some andouille sausage (in my case local, but you can find it all over the States) and sliced into medium rounds, browning them up in the pan to crisp the edges and release those flavored oils. Then I diced onion and green bell pepper and cooked them in the sausage grease, adding a jambalaya rice package, and Cajun seasoning.

As for which rice I chose, this is what the grocery store looks like here, so I had many options ...

(It goes on like that for half an aisle. I never knew there were so many kinds of rice.) Which reminds me of the king cake display that was up, for the record, the first week of January:

 Gotta be ready for Mardis Gras.

Anyways, back to the jambalaya. Cook the rice and seasoning in water or chicken broth according to the package instructions or until the liquid is absorbed, and serve:

Such an easy weeknight meal to serve up with salad or cole slaw. (Note: the sausage can be substituted for diced chicken if you prefer, I just love the flavor the real andouille adds to it.)

Next classic Cajun dish I've been working on: shrimp etouffee. This is one of my all time favorites. I've tried many variations of this recipe but mine is closest to this.

More recipes to come!