cajun kitchen

before mardi gras completely passes us by, we wanted to post a dish that makes us feel like we are in that deep south.  this version of our jambalaya is one we just put together.  with a little research and a lot of tasting, we came up with what we think is a pretty good one.  we loaded this guy with all sorts of goodness, and included ham even though we thought about omitting it.  but we discovered here that the name jambalaya derives from the french "jambon" meaning, you guessed it, "ham," which is the one of the main ingredients in many of the first jambalayas.  our not so secret heat source was from the famous crystal hot sauce from louisiana.  in my mind, the dish is really built around this sauce, but we'll let you be the judge.  if you have a favorite hot sauce let us know about it!


2 tbs olive oil
2 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs tomato paste
2 cups long grain rice
1 tsp creole seasoning
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbs crystal hot sauce, or more to taste
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
2 cups diced cooked andouille sausage
2 cups diced cooked ham
2 cups frozen langoustine tail meat or medium tail-off shrimp
1 bunch green onion, sliced - optional garnish
in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat oil over medium high heat and sweat onion, celery and pepper until softened, about 10 minutes. add garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minute. stir in rice and cook 3 minutes until rice is fragrant and coated. add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 20-25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked. let sit covered 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. garnish with sliced green onion & more hot sauce.



curry and pizza might not be a combination you think of right away but you'll have to trust us on this one. the recipe is inspired by a flatbread we had this past weekend and we just couldn't get over how wonderful the flavors were. we knew we had to create our own version of this delicious new taste while it was still fresh in our minds. the pineapple chutney is a version of a recipe i created for vegetarian times for banana chutney and is good on almost anything - chicken, roast pork, baked yams, etc. hope you enjoy this one as much as we did! 

Curry Chicken Flatbread with Pineapple Chutney

1 lb pizza dough
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
2 tbs plain yogurt
1 tsp curry powder
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, sliced
4 oz fresh mozzarella or burrata
1/2 small yam, peeled & sliced thin on mandolin
1/2 cup pineapple chutney, see recipe below
2 tbs chopped cilantro
preheat oven to 450 degrees F. in a small bowl, combine chicken, yogurt and curry powder and stir to combine. heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small pan and saute chicken until most of the liquid has evaporated and chicken is just cooked, about 5 minutes. in another small pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add sliced onion. saute over medium low heat for 10 minutes or until caramelized. 
on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 1/4-1/2-inch thick, long oval shape. prick the dough with a fork several times and brush with remaining 2 tsp olive oil. spread with cheese, layer slices of yam, and top with caramelized onions and curry chicken.
bake on a pizza stone for 18-22 minutes or until crust is browned on the edges. top with pineapple chutney and cilantro.

Pineapple Chutney

1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 tbs ginger, grated
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup pineapple, diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1/8 tsp salt
heat oil in a small pan over medium heat and saute onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. stir in ginger, coriander and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes.


bite size

these cute little muffins are super moist and packed with spices. i normally am not into mini baked goods but when i set out to make these, i discovered that we were missing an important piece of baking equipment - a muffin tin! not sure why i have every other shape under the sun - muffin top, mini muffin, mini loaf, multiple tart pans, bundt pan, panattone, on and on. needless to say i went out and bought a regular muffin tin to add to the collection. this batter is originally for making a loaf but it's great as muffins as well. it came from a family friend over twenty years ago and we've been baking it ever since. i never measure the spices too exactly and you get something a little different each time. enjoy!

Applesauce Spice Muffins

2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 cup raisins
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. mix all ingredients well and stir in raisins. pour into a well greased tin and bake until done in the center when poked with a cake tester, about 12-15 minutes for small muffins, 25-30 minutes for regular muffins or 50-55 minutes for loaf.



in my family the first sign of summer, or even spring in our case now, is a call for getting on the water and having a great relaxing time.  we actually had some sun in l.a. this week and it really put us in that mood.  this drink is really one that i hold close to my heart.  my grandfather and father are my ambassadors to rum, which is what our boat usually has in stock.  as rum comes in many variations and almost mixes with anything, it is something that can't be beat for its affordable price.  now as much as I respect my grandpa and dad's love for all things myers rum, and even just some mount gay rum on the rocks, i have to put a little different twist on things.  the cubalibre, which is spanish for "free cuba," is a drink that most of us tag as the u.s. form of rum and coke. although very similar, this drink requires much more lime and the additions of two very necessary ingredients, mount gay extra old rum and a mexican coke.  these are essential in the right flavor, as they will make you wonder how you really drank all those captain morgan and cokes in the first place.  we like to combine the coke and rum in a pitcher and pour over ice and the lime juice for a group.  the recipe below is for a single drink. cheers!


1oz lime juice, fresh squeezed
5oz mexican coca-cola
2oz mount gay extra old rum
pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass.  mix well, garnish with additional lime wedge.


the high life

we finally had some nice rainy cool weather to make it really feel like winter. well, a southern california winter that is. so we had to make soup! this creamy corn chowder combines some of my favorite flavors like smokey bacon, sweet bell pepper, creamy sweet corn and earthy herbs like thyme and bay. i used fresh corn leftover from a miller high life bbq shoot but frozen corn works well too. feel free to adjust the ratio of cream to chicken stock if you want an even richer chowder.

Corn Chowder

6 oz bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
3 carrots, peeled & diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
5 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob (about 5 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
salt & pepper
in a large saucepan, saute bacon until crispy and all the fat is rendered. remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. saute onion, bell pepper and carrots until slightly softened. add garlic and potatoes and saute 2-3 minutes more. add thyme, bay leaves and chicken stock and bring to a boil. reduce and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender. stir in corn, cream and bacon and cook 5-8 minutes until corn is tender but still a little crisp. remove from heat, add chopped parsley and season with salt & pepper to taste. enjoy!


valentine's day

hope everyone had a wonderful valentine's day on saturday. we celebrated with orchids, a lazy morning and seeing cat power in concert. just in case you didn't fulfill your chocolate fix this year, thought we'd share our favorite brownie recipe. it's from my cooking bible and go-to-reference - the joy of cooking. i got it for christmas in 1997 from my parents and the pages are very well worn and smudged by now. don't let the reduced fat part of this recipe worry you - these brownies are amazingly rich and chewy! there also great with a tablespoon of instant espresso added to the dry ingredients.

Chewy Brownies
(from The Joy of Cooking)

3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tbs water
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
preheat oven to 350 degrees F. line an 8x8-inch baking pan with foil and grease well. in a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. in a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate with oil. once smooth, remove from heat and stir in brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla. then add egg whites and stir until combined. stir in the flour mixture and blend until smooth. bake 20-25 minutes or until center is almost firm when lightly pressed. let cool completely before cutting.


curry & lentils

here are two more images and another recipe from the sustainable eating article that didn't get published in Healing Lifestyles & Spas. it was so interesting to research and write - i learned a lot more about the choices we make when it comes to ingredients. the ethical gourmet and animal, vegetable, miracle are two fantastic books that i highly recommend for more information and other great resources to learn more about how to eat in a way that betters our environment. this curry is so good and uses black cod which is similar in texture and taste to chilean seabass but not as overfished.

Black Cod Curry with Lentils

2 tbs olive oil
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 yukon gold potatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tbs madras curry powder
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
14 oz. light coconut milk
2 kefir lime leaves
1 lb. black cod, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
salt & pepper
2-4 cups cooked lentils
in a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. saute carrot, onion and potato for 5 minutes until starting to soften and brown. add garlic, ginger and curry powder and saute 1 minute until fragrant. stir in stock, coconut milk and lime leaves and bring to a boil. reduce and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. add fish and simmer until cooked, about 5 minutes. season with salt to taste and serve in a shallow dish or bowl over cooked lentils.



very sad to share the news of yet another publication folding. these images, recipes and an article on sustainable eating were to be in the next issue of Healing Lifestyles & Spas but unfortunately the magazine is no longer being published. it was great to work with such wonderful people promoting such a healthy lifestyle and we're sad to see them go. thanks for everything melissa! mussels are a great sustainable choice when it comes to seafood because their aquaculture benefits surrounding marine habitat and improves water quality as they filter and feed on excess plankton.

Steamed Mussels

2 tbs olive oil
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 bunch kale, trimmed & chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. blue, black or green mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3 tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbs red chili flakes
1 lemon
salt & pepper
in a large saucepan, heat olive oil. add fennel, onion and carrot and cook 5 minutes until slightly softened. add kale and garlic and saute 3 minutes until soft. add cleaned mussels, wine and stock and stir to combine. cover and steam 8 minutes, until mussels are open, stirring occasionally. discard any mussels that do not open. remove from heat and stir in butter, chili flakes, juice of half the lemon and salt & pepper to taste. to serve, ladle mussels into each bowl with liquid. garnish with lemon wedges and serve with crusty bread to soak up the tasty broth!


sneak peek

sorry to tease you today with lovely photos but no recipes. you'll have to wait until the july/august issue here to see the recipes i developed for this red currant tea cake and a fresh berry tart. the assignment made me so excited for summer to arrive! just got the latest issue of this in the mail yesterday and really love molly's article. glad to know rice pudding holds a special place in other people's hearts.



i've always wished i was italian. the language, the landscape, the food, the fashion - there are just so many things to love. making fresh pasta is something i've only recently started to do and it makes me feel a little more italian than i actually am. i got a pasta machine about a year ago and it's so much fun to make the dough, let it rest and crank it through to make beautiful little noodles. you can make noodles in the morning, throw them in a ziploc bag in the freezer and then plop them in salted boiling water for dinner. this ragu is tasty over fresh fettuccine or some cheesy polenta and makes a hearty meal for a cold winter evening.

Beef Short Rib Ragu

4 oz pancetta, diced
2 tbs olive oil
2 lbs beef short ribs
2 carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1/2 cup parsley
4 cloves garlic
1 lb 12 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
in a large heavy pot, brown pancetta in olive oil until crisp. remove with a slotted spoon and add short ribs. season well with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. meanwhile, in a food processor pulse carrots, onion, parsley and garlic until coarsely chopped. add to short ribs and cook 1 minute until fragrant. add reserved pancetta, tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, wine and water and bring to a boil. reduce and simmer for 2 hours covered. remove short ribs and shred the meat, discarding the bones. return meat to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

1 lb 6 oz flour
6 eggs
place flour on a board or in a bowl. make a well in the center and crack the eggs into it. beat the eggs with a fork until smooth. mix the flour and eggs together a little at a time, taking flour from the center without breaking the well. with well floured hands, knead the dough until it's nice and smooth. wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour before rolling out.


we're fifty!

well, we're not literally fifty. today is our fiftieth post on pictures & pancakes so we thought it was high time we share a delicious recipe for pancakes. most times i believe that simple is better and when it comes to pancakes, nothing beats good ol' fashioned buttermilk. you can get crazy with the toppings but leave the pancakes alone. everyone likes them a particular way - i'm a blueberry girl and andrew is a banana pancake guy. i also like to add a little lemon zest to the batter if i'm making the blueberry version. one more tip - do not over mix the batter! it'll be a little lumpy but that's okay.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 1/3 cup flour
3 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs vanilla
in a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. in a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla. add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
heat griddle over medium high heat and grease. pour 1/4 cup of batter over heat and cook until bubbly around the edges. flip and cook until brown.

Blueberry Sauce
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups blueberries
in a small saucepan, combine maple syrup and 1 cup blueberries. bring to a boil and simmer until blueberries release their juices. remove from heat and stir in remaining blueberries.

Caramelized Bananas
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced
in a small saucepan, melt butter and add brown sugar. swirl to combine and carefully add sliced bananas in a single layer. cook over medium high heat until they begin to brown on each side. serve over pancakes with maple syrup.