Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

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Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage GumboSure, you may have heard of Gumbo, but do you know where it got it’s name from? Well, we can’t be 100% sure, but we do know that the dish we know as Gumbo originated in southern Louisiana from the Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavoured stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu (Native African) word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw (Native American) word for filé (kombo). The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. The recipe below actually uses all 3 types of thickeners, though the filé powder is optional (more for taste rather than a thickener). In my mind, 3 is better than 1! This recipe will serve about 6 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 teaspoons oil or fat rendered from cooking sausage*
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1 small/medium green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 ounces sausage, sliced
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 ¾ cups stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 ¼ teaspoons white sugar
salt to taste
2 ½ teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or to taste
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste
1 ½ bay leaves
¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ of a 398ml can crushed tomatoes (about 200ml)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ teaspoon gumbo filé powder
2 ½ teaspoons oil or sausage drippings
1 cup frozen cut okra, thawed
2 ½ teaspoons vinegar

* Cook’s Note: This recipe calls for the use of sausage; you can use any type you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! Remember, save the drippings from cooking the sausage, and use it in place of oil in this recipe. It adds so much more flavour than regular cooking oil!

Directions:

Make a roux by whisking the flour and ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons oil/sausage drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown colour. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage and chicken breasts. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Whisk the roux mixture into the boiling stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of filé gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

Meanwhile, heat 2 ½ teaspoons of oil or sausage drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Continue to simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of filé gumbo powder. Serve over hot rice.

White Fish Étouffée

fish etouffeeSo here is another classic Cajun dish called Étouffée. Most commonly prepared with shellfish like crawfish or shrimp, it was back in the 1950s that crawfish etouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920s. Originally crawfish étouffée was a popular dish mainly just in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area, but in the early 80’s a popular Bourbon Street restaurant called Galatoire’s brought the crawfish étouffée dish into the limelight. Even amongst the French Creoles this Cajun dish was a hit. Our recipe uses firm white fish, rather than shellfish, but is just as good! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches green onion, sliced*
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 pound firm, white fish, cut into large chunks (like Cod, Halibut or Flounder)
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ⅔ cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
rice to serve

* Click here to find out how to clean green onions.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, stir in the flour until dissolved, and keep stirring until it turns a rich reddish-brown colour. Add the garlic, onion, green onions, green pepper and celery. Sauté until the vegetables become transparent, about 5-10 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin and Cajun seasoning. Once combined, add the chunks of fish, being careful not to break up the fish too much. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the broth into the vegetable-fish mixture, taste for salt and pepper, and then let simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Serve over rice.

Sausage & Chicken Jambalaya

Sausage & Chicken JambalayaThis one dish meal is great for a weeknight, and can be made as spicy or mild as you like. You can use any type of sausage that you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! This recipe will makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
¾ pound sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (398ml) can crushed Italian tomatoes
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 ¼ cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken broth

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Sauté sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. A lot of oil will naturally render when you are cooking the sausage, so you can use this very flavourful oil to now cook the chicken pieces in. If you find that you don’t have enough oil from cooking the sausages, you can always add a bit more oil to the pan. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté them until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

In the same pot, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, thyme, basil and oregano. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Serve hot!

Eggplant Salad – Баклажан Салат

Russian Eggplant SaladIngredients:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 4″ strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 tomato, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced thinly
¾ teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

Place the eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, and onion into a large pot. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, oil, vinegar, and water. Pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Ginger Sesame Peanut Chicken Noodles

Chicken Peanut NoodlesIngredients:

5 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 ½ red bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 ½ green bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ lb. linguine or spaghetti noodles
¾ cup Peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground ginger root
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Sauté the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the canola oil, until chicken is browned. Remove from the skillet. Add remaining canola oil and sauté the onions, peppers, garlic and ginger. Once the vegetables have softened and caramelized, return the chicken to the skillet and add the peanut butter, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, chili peppers, and salt and pepper.

In a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, removing from the water just a minute or two shy of fully cooked. Add the pasta to the skillet with the chicken mixture, and toss to coat. You can add some of the pasta water to the sauce if needed to be thinned out. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the pasta and serve warm.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage and PeppersIngredients:

8 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage or other sweet/mild sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (796ml) can of diced or crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup wine or beer
½ tablespoon of corn starch

Directions:

In a large pot, add the canned tomatoes and herbs, then cook on low while preparing the remaining ingredients. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Add the sliced sausage and any drippings to the pot with the tomatoes.

Add the oil to the same skillet that you used for the sausages. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, and then stir in the wine/beer. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

Once tender, add the vegetables to the pot with the tomatoes and sausages. Let everything simmer on low for an hour. If you find that the sauce is a bit too watery, take about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and mix it with the cornstarch. Once dissolved, add this cornstarch slurry back to the pot. It will thicken up the sauce. Serve hot.