Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shrimp and bacon jambalaya

Rice is a staple in Brazil and many people have two portions of rice a day and... there is no minute rice available in our grocery stores, so we really make rice from scratch almost everyday. Since rice freezes well, sometimes I prepare a dish a few days ahead, even when I have combined it with other ingredients.

This month's Royal Food Joust hosted by the Leftover Queen is about rice, tomatoes and bacon and these ingredients made me think of a dish my family loves... Jambalaya!

My first experience with jambalaya wasn't a very good one though. I was in Raleigh, NC on a work assignment, so we went to a restaurant in Cary I think, but the chef must have added pepper twice! It was so hot, I could barely eat it! I did not complain to the waiter and I regret that, but you know those restaurant stories that people tell... And that jambalaya looked so good... So when I came back home I tried to replicate the dish and loved it!
Shrimp and bacon jambalaya
2 cups rice
3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (250 g) smoked sausage
1/2 pound (250 g) bacon, cubed
1 red bell pepper
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can peeled tomatoes with juice
thyme or oregano to taste
500 g shrimp, deveined
2 tablespoons scallions, diced

1) In a large pot sauté onion, bell pepper, bacon and sausage in oil for 8 to 10 minutes until they are golden. Add rice and minced garlic, then stir to coat the grains with the oil, season with salt and stir-fry about 2 minutes.

2) Add the water. Add peeled tomatoes, spices, and herbs - do not add shrimp at this time. Cover and cook over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

3) While rice is cooking, season shrimp with salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Check the rice after 15 minutes, stir in seasoned shrimp. Cook, covered, about 5 minutes more or until shrimp turns pink and rice is tender. Add scallions and serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Frances O'Neal's fig cake

How good it is to have friends who know you so well that whenever they have a chance they send you your favorite food magazines! My friends in England and Canada are very good at this! This time Fabricia who lives in Canada sent me the April issue of Gourmet magazine. Every time I receive a food magazine I read it over and over again.

I like to read when we travel. We visit my parents who live two hours away and my in-laws who live three hours away once a month and we take turns driving, but I love it when my husband offers to drive and I can catch up with my reading. Then I make a list of the recipes to be tried and keep it inside the cover of the magazine to start working on them over the next few weeks.
Each magazine of mine has a list of must-try recipes inside...

And who gets to try my recipes? My family and the small group that meets once a week here.

This fig cake featured in the magazine is from the Back Porch Restaurant and Wine on Ocracoke Island, outer banks of North Carolina. All I needed to use some homemade figs in syrup that my sister-in-law made for my brother and they gracefully shared two jars with me.

I grew up with fig trees in our backyard and I remember that I used to help my mom to clean green figs with a cloth to make preserved figs in syrup. Food memories last forever...

I want to try this same recipe with other fruits like cranberries, blueberries, strawberries and dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, dates etc.

Frances O'Neal's fig cake
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, April 2009

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup preserved figs in syrup, drained and chopped
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

1) Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C) with rack in middle. Generously butter a 10 cup bundt pan (I used a tube pan).

2) Sift together flour, salt and spices.

3) Beat eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Add oil and beat 1 minute. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour.

4) Stir together baking soda and water until dissolved, then stir into batter along with vanilla, figs and nuts.

5) Pour batter into pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely in pan, about 2 hours. Garnish with confectioners sugar or serve with a cream cheese icing.

Green figs in syrup

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Say cheese!

For an easy appetizer, I season thick provolone slices with red pepper, dried oregano and olive oil, then I wrap each round of cheese in plastic wrap for a couple of hours. When guests arrive, I place the provolone rounds on a cheese board and scatter a few cheese knives around it so they can help themselves!

I love kitchen gadgets and I don't mind receiving them as gifts on my birthday and other special dates. The cheese board and the cheese knives were all given to me a long time ago.