Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ZZ and me

New Orleans at Carnival
Do you know the bluesy Miss ZZ Ward? If you don't, you must go right now to her website and listen to her: ZZ Ward. "Put the Gun Down," is her very popular song, but I love all of them and have downloaded them to my ipod, which I listen to when I cook. Just ZZ and me in the kitchen.

There are obvious problems with this song. Guns are not anything to sing about these days, although the "gun" here refers to the Other Woman. And, secondly, this song assumes that men don't always think with their brains (okay, there is some evidence to support this) and that they are easily lead into temptation. C'mon guys, use your brains. How could you do ZZ wrong?

But, I digress.

So, what does a very young woman from Pennsylvania know about singing the blues? A lot, it turns out. It makes me feel better about being a woman from Kansas who loves to cook all sorts of ethnic foods. Just because you weren't born there, doesn't mean you can't learn to sing the blues...or cook Cajun.

And, with Mardi Gras right around the corner (February 12 this year), one of my favorite cuisines is front and center. Talk about being led into temptation! Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits, Dirty Rice, Shrimp Etoufee! Definitely not diet food. Not necessarily good for the body but a tonic for the soul. A balm for the world weary. Kinda reminds me of the blues. Take it away, ZZ!

Here is my recipe for Jambalaya, which actually is not too fattening, if you control the amount of sausage you add. Measure and prepare all ingredients in advance before you start and it is an easy dish to make, leaving you with plenty of time to catch beads and drink Hurricanes.


Serves 4-6

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2-3 links fully cooked Andouille sausage, sliced (I love aidells)
2 green peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
A dash or two of hot sauce
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomatoes (your choice--diced or whole)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup white rice, well rinsed
1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Fresh parsley

Heat olive oil and quickly saute chicken and sausage. Remove and set aside. To the same pan, add vegetables, spices and hot sauce and saute until veggies are tender-crisp. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth and rice and  bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is done. Add in chicken, sausage and shrimp and cook just until shrimp is done.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with extra hot sauce, if desired.

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