Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

I’ve never been to New Orleans, but have always been smitten with its cuisine. Ingredient-wise, it seems simple and unassuming, but the opinions and passion about the right way to do it–well that’s another story. Whatever the case, its all delicious to me. I’ve only come close to doing a Cajun/Creole dish before, borrowing some of the style/flavor, but not going all out. I felt long overdue to actually try a real dish, so I opted for one of the well known stars: jambalaya.

Chicken & Shrimp Jambalaya

Jambalaya has its roots in paella. The core idea: its a rice dish with a very strongly flavored stock, a hearty mix of proteins (e.g. in my case, chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage), and a very zesty blend of herbs, spice, and of course, the Holy Trinity (pepper, onion, celery). It sounds deceptively simple–almost kind of plain, but then you smell it and taste… click to read more…

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Bean and Quinoa Chili

After having finally tried my hands at making beans the real way rather than from a can, I’ve been meaning to do it again because man oh man were those good. I wanted to do something more than just feature beans as a side dish though, so I decided to try to make them the star of one of my favorite meals: chili. Since this wasn’t going to be loaded up with beef like I’m used to though, I thought I needed to ensure there was still a good amount of protein, so in addition to the beans, I also added some quinoa after seeing the two together.

Bean and Quinoa Chili

Now I realize this meal could have gone all vegetarian, but I couldn’t help myself–I live in click to read more…

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Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Peas, and Swiss Chard Paella

Like I’ve said before, a strongly flavored stock is key to a good paella. For this one, I chose to go very porky and made a strong pork and garlic stock, accentuated with orange and saffron. Really, I just had pork on my mind and so it was bound to show up somewhere. With a strong porky backbone, I decided to let spring-time produce (asparagus, peas, Swiss chard) shine. Since I was smitten with this general flavor combo in the past, I thought I’d revisit it in paella form.

Smoked Ham, Asparagus, Peas, and Swiss Chard Paella

The flavor was incredibly rich and both the pork stock and smoked ham gave the rice an unctuous quality. In contrast, the more sharply and brightly flavored, crisp asparagus, peas, and swiss chard gave a wonderfully fuller flavor profile that kept this feeling light and springy, all… click to read more…

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Mushroom Agnolotti with Peas, Asparagus, Prosciutto, and Goat Cheese Cream Sauce

I’ve come to realize that I tend to be most inspired by seasonal food, but not all of it. Winter and summer really get my creative juices flowing–rich, hearty braises or light, fruity, delicate sources of refreshment seem to come to mind without difficulty. Spring though gets me stuck in the mud. I’m not sure why–I don’t have access to the full range of produce, but I know its right around the corner. This dish is me trying to break out of that rut by enjoying some of the best of what spring has to offer.

Mushroom Agnolotti with Peas, Asparagus, Prosciutto, and a Goat Cheese Cream Sauce

The foundation of this dish is wild mushroom agnolotti (think criminis, portabello, and cheese stuffed ravioli), tossed with butter sautéed asparagus, peas, and prosciutto, all topped with a goat cheese cream sauce to bring everyone together. The total combination was excellent and very “springy” (yay, just what I wanted). A forkful of everything yielded a complex set of flavors I would best describe… click to read more…

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a Greek pasta dish that is both fun to say and a joy to eat. I had only first learned of the dish after reading about it from Peter, one of my favorite Greek food bloggers. The dish somewhat reminds me of lasagna in that it’s a hearty blend of pasta, meaty sauce, and a creamy Bechamel sauce all baked into gooey deliciousness. However, the flavor and texture is quite distinct from lasagna but still has all the amazing comfort food properties that will have you making this over and over again.

Pastitsio

The first major difference: tubular pasta instead of big sheets. I couldn’t find the authentic bucatini, so I used ziti. Then, the meat sauce isn’t a traditional bolognese, but a quicker-to-make tomato and… click to read more…

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Vegetable Quartet (Fingerling Potatoes, Carrots, Fennel, and Bacon!)

This was inspired by a side dish I had when enjoying an incredibly delicious lunch at Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta (this is where former Top Cheftestant Richard Blais currently hangs his hat, and if you’re in the area, you must go. Period. Where else could you have a foie gras milkshake?). The side was titled simply: fingerling potatoes and carrots. I like both, so why not? I just expected a side of potatoes and a separate side of carrots. Mixing these two in one bowl never would have crossed my mind, and as a result, I found a new favorite side dish.

Vegetable Quartet (Fingerling Potatoes, Carrots, Fennel, and Bacon!)

I have a hard time pitching this mix of flavors to people because it doesn’t really sound all that sexy. Carrots, potatoes, fennel, and bacon. Individually, they’re all great. But all together at once?… click to read more…

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