Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Pepper-jack Cornbread

Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Pepper-jack Cornbread

I love red beans and rice. Strangely enough, what got me hooked on this wasn’t some fancy restaurant in Louisiana. It was Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits, a fast food restaurant. I don’t eat fast food anymore but if I did it would be at Bojangles. Their spicy fried chicken and their biscuits are awesome but what I really love is their sides. Back in the day, I would get a side of red beans and a side of their dirty rice (has chunks of spicy sausage) and I would mix them together. I’m telling you it is delicious. Not healthy by any means but delicious and that was the inspiration.

Comments on the Dish

You don’t need the shrimp. They were a safety precaution because my wife was afraid “just beans” wouldn’t be filling enough. I used canned beans. You can soak your own if you like, it would probably be better, but I’ve been there and done that. Also, I never made cornbread from a mix but my wife loves Jiffy. It is a little to sweet for me but she likes it and it is super easy. I recommend using 2 eggs (the recipe calls for one), which makes the muffins much more moist. I also use buttermilk instead of milk.

This one is going into the regular rotation. Tasty, fast and was great as leftovers. I recommend trying it. If you don’t eat meat, leave the andouille and shrimp out and add a little more seasoning.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 andouille sausage links (or 3 if you like), diced into 1/5 inch pieces
  • 2 cans red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stems, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I always prefer San Marzano if you can find them)
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning (I prefer Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning)
  • 1 package of long-grain, brown rice
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 box Jiffy cornbread mix (don’t judge, my wife loves it)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 1.5 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
Directions

  1. First the cornbread mix. Add the ingredients of the Jiffy packet, the 2 eggs, 3/4 of the pepper-jack cheese and buttermilk to a mixing bowl and fold together. Don’t over mix. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the andouille. Cook until browned and rendered, then remove. Next and the Holy Trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery) and cook until almost transparent and the add the garlic, Cajun seasoning and crushed red pepper (to taste). Continue cooking a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato and 1/4 of the red beans. Using a spoon or masher, mash the beans. Mash them good. Add the remaining red beans, anouille and oregano and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if needed. If you like it thicker, use less liquid. Taste and re-season if needed with salt.
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Spray a muffin tin and fill each up about half way with the cornbread mixture. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the tops are brown.
  5. Cook the rice per the package, except I replaced half the water with chicken stock. I didn’t use the instant rice so it took 20 minutes.
  6. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Toss the shrimp in Cajun seasoning and saute until they start to curl and turn opaque. Don’t over cook.
  7. To plate, put the rice down, add your beans and rice and top with shrimp. It would have looked better if I would have had some parsley but oh well. Enjoy!
Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Pepper-jack Cornbread

Quick Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo with Brown Rice

quick shrimp and andouille gumbo

We love gumbo, who doesn’t? This one is easy enough to make on a week night.

I’ve made so many versions of this, some take hours, but I’ll be honest this one is my favorite. Super-fast, rich, spicy and very satisfying, I recommend this one folks. I use San Marzano tomatoes, the smoked paprika and clam juice to add some depth. The fresh oregano and thyme also make a huge difference in this version. I think if this was one of those gumbos that simmered for hours I wouldn’t suggest the fresh herbs, but in this one it really works. Finally, the Filé powder and parsley finishes it off. You can find the Filé powder in most grocery stores now, it is delicious. I served this up with some cornbread, but crusty bread would do as well. Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 large Andouille link, cut length-wise then across into ¼ slices
  • 1 large can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh okra (or frozen if you must), cut in half inch pieces
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cups no salt chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons clam juice
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere’s is my preference), to taste
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons, oil (I used a mix of canola and olive)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoke paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • Flat leaf parsley and Filé powder to garnish
Directions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add oil. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until the roux turns dark tan (or brown if you dare).
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and add onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until softened. Add okra and cook for another minute.
  3. Remove three or four (depending on their size) of the whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes and crush them into the pot with your hand. Reserve the rest of the tomatoes for something else (pasta sauce).
  4. Now add the bay leaves, paprika, oregano and thyme. Cover and cook for another few minutes.
  5. Add stock and Andouille, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. With about 3 to 4 minutes left, add your shrimp. I took the gumbo off the heat and just let the shrimp cook slowly. Don’t overcook the shrimp.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare rice according to the instruction on the package. I used brown rice that took 15 minutes.
  8. To serve, mound the rice in the middle of a large bowl, pour the gumbo around the rice, top with fresh parsley and Filé powder. Enjoy.
Quick Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo with Brown Rice

SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp, Grilled Carrots and Kale, Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp Grilled Carrots and Kale Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

Beach trip meal cooked (almost) exclusively on the grill. We picked up the local Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish) and shrimp that day at Mt. Pleasant seafood located right on the water at Shem’s Creek. The carrots, kale, green onions and basil were all from our CSA. The potatoes were left over smashed potatoes from a few nights before. It all worked out very well and there were no leftovers.

This was a weird meal but fun. The goal was to use up all that was in the fridge and to only use the grill to cook with, and we did.

 

Ingredients

  • Fresh Mahi Mahi filets
  • ½ lb fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined, double skewered
  • Smashed potato leftovers
  • 1-2 leftover bacon strips
  • Milk
  • 1 punch baby carrots
  • 1 punch dinosaur kale
  • 1 punch fresh basil
  • ½ cup almonds (or pine nuts)
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Directions

  1. Get your grill going with a hot side and a cool side.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add the basil, almonds, cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice and pulse to combine. Drizzle in olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you want. I usually add garlic but my Dad doesn’t like it so I left it out. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Toss carrots, kale and green onions with olive oil. When the grill is hot and still has some flame, and the carrots and kale. Cook until charred and move to the cool side until cooked through.
  4. In a blender or food processor add the leftover potatoes and bacon with 1-2 cups of milk, puree. Add more liquid if need be. Add the puree to a large pot and heat over medium-low heat until warmed through, keep warm.
  5. Brush fish filets and shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the mahi to the hot part of the grill and close the lid. The fish will release when it is read. Flip the fish and cook until done.
  6. Add the shrimp cook until just cooked through.
SC Mahi Mahi and Shrimp, Grilled Carrots and Kale, Potato Puree with Basil Pesto

Local SC Shrimp and Scallops with Udon Noodles

Local South Carolina Shrimp and Scallops with Udon Noodles

So easy and so fresh, this is a winner in my book. When you can get local, fresh seafood I feel I must. These South Carolina shrimp and scallops were outstanding and could have been served with just about anything. The udon cook in no time at all and you can add whatever vegetables you prefer. The ginger and jalapeno added a good bit of heat and I really like adding the bell peppers in at the last minute. They stay nice and crunchy and backed the heat down some. Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6-10 21-25 shrimp (local if you can)
  • 4-6 large scallops (again, local if you can)
  • Wholewheat udon noodles
  • Mushrooms, sliced (I used an assorted mix)
  • Bell peppers, sliced
  • Jalapeno, minced (remove steam and seeds if you don’t like heat)
  • Garlic, minced
  • Onion, sliced thin
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • Dale’s steak seasoning (You can use soy sauce)
  • Fish sauce
  • Hoisin
  • Siracha
  • Honey
  • Cilantro
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil
DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add udon noodles. Follow instructions on package but remove just before recommended. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Dale’s, fish sauce, hoisin, siracha, honey and whisk to combine. Just add amount to your own tastes. I also added some minced cilantro here.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Season the shrimp lightly and cook until almost done. Do not over cook. Whipe out the pan and heat over medium high heat. Sear the scallops on both sides and set aside.
  4. In the same pot over medium heat just add enough canola to coat the bottom then add a teaspoon of sesame oil. When the oil is warm and fragrant add onion, garlic, jalapeno and the ginger. Cook until onions are softened and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are just starting to soften. Add the udon noodles, the bell peppers, the shrimp and scallops and the sauce from step two, toss to combine. Cook for just a few minutes to combine the flavors. I added more cilantro on top at serving.
Local SC Shrimp and Scallops with Udon Noodles

Squid Ink Pasta and Fettuccini Frutti di Mare

squid ink pasta and fettuccini seafood

We love seafood and we love pasta. If you’re like us, then you’ll love this dish.

Inspiration #1. My wife has a thing for bread and pasta. She craves carbs. One of our favorite local Italian restaurants, Giovanni’s (in Greenville, SC) serves this outstanding Frutti di Mare (fruit from the sea or seafood). I wanted to recreate that to some extent.

Why fettuccini and squid ink pasta? So we purchase a package of fresh frozen squid ink pasta from our favorite pasta place, Rio Bertolini’s in Charleston. It had two bundles of the pasta which would have been perfect for the two of us. Unfortunately, during transfer to our home one of the bundles fell out of the bag rendering it un-usable. I replaced the fallen bundle of squid ink with a hand full of fettuccini. What a glorious happenstance. The fettuccini added a different texture, color and weight to the dish. Squid ink pasta can get a little fishy and the fettuccini balanced that right out.

This was a lovely meal; we served it with grilled garlic bread (carb attack). It also heated nicely for left-overs. True confession, the picture above does not have clams, mussels or calamari. I would’ve added them but at the market, they just didn’t look so fresh and I didn’t want to use frozen. When I make this again, I will add the clams and calamari, promise.

 

Ingredients

  • Fresh, frozen or dried Fettuccini
  • Fresh or frozen squid ink pasta
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I leave the tails on)
  • 1 large salmon filet, cubed in 1 inch pieces
  • 10-20 clams, mussels or other shell fish depending on size
  • 2-4 scallops, cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1-2 squid cut in rings, fresh or frozen
  • 1 jar, marinara of your choice, (I always use Mario Batali’s Arrabbiata)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • Crush red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
  • Parsley, chopped
Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling and salted water, cook both pastas short of al dente per their instruction. Drain, toss with oil and set aside.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add oil and pepper flakes and toss for a moment. Add onions and cook until tender then add garlic. Cook for another minute. Add salmon and toss once to coat. Cook another minute. Add calamari, shrimp and clams and toss once to coat then deglaze with the white wine. Cook until almost done the seafood is almost done. You may need to remove the salmon, calamari and shrimp to wait for the clams to pop open.
  3. Place the large pot back on medium heat. Add the pasta back in the pot along with the marinara. Add all the seafood (scallops will cook through in the residual heat), toss gentle and keep warm.
  4. To plate, top with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and chopped parsley. Buon appetito!
Squid Ink Pasta and Fettuccini Frutti di Mare

South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

A southern tradition, shrimp and grits is perfect any time of year. This is my version and a little non-traditional but delicious all the same. Definetly low-country based, my version uses Poblano and Serrano peppers instead of bell pepper (more traditional). Bacon (a food group and complete sentence on its own). More traditional recipes call for Madeira and I used Sherry (only because that’s what I have). The grits normally would be from Anson Mills, but I didn’t have any so I used yellow grits from Lakeside Mills in NC and they were great. Cheddar cheese is the standard for adding richness and depth to the grits but I used Asiago for some salt and tartness. The local SC shrimp were outstanding.

There is nothing quite like shrimp and grits. In the winter it is warm and comforting. In the summer it is surprisingly light and refreshing. If you’ve never had low-country shrimp and grits, I encourage you to try this recipe. It is easy and you won’t regret it.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs unpeeled raw shrimp (local if you can get them)
  • 4 thick slices applewood smoked bacon (I prefer Niman Ranch)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sized Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 Poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, minced (I left the seeds and stems in)
  • 2 large garlic cloved, minced
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 1-2 tablespoons AP flour
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • ¼ cup Sherry
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Grits (Not instant, just don’t do it. Recommend Anson Mills)
  • Milk
  • Water
  • ¾ cup grated Asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped green onion
Directions

  1. Follow instruction for the grits. They usually call for just water. If they call for 4 cups of water I generally replace 1 cup with chicken stock and 1 cup with milk. I would generally add salt but if your stock is not low sodium, I wouldn’t add here. When the grits are done add a tablespoon of butter and the cheese, cover and keep warm.
  2. Rinse, peel and devein the shrimp leaving the tails on. Dry and set aside.
  3. In the meantime, in a large skillet, render the bacon on medium heat until crispy (don’t rush it). Remove from the pan and place on paper towel to drain. Once cooled and drained, cut in small strips. Depending on the fat content of your bacon, you may want to remove some of the fat from the pan (or not).
  4. Add a tablespoon of butter to the bacon fat. Add onion, Poblano and Serrano and sauté. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Deglaze the pan with Sherry. Add chicken stock, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Cook a minute and whisk in flour. Bring to a bubble then reduce to medium. Adjust sauce to get the consistency you prefer (add more stock for thinner sauce, more flour for a thicker consistency). Add the bacon back to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn’t need much if any).
  5. Add shrimp and toss until the shrimp are just barely cooked through. Do not overcook.
  6. To serve, place grits in the middle of a plate. Add shrimp and spoon sauce over the lot.
South Carolina Shrimp and Grits

Chicken, Shrimp and Udon Noodle Soup

Chicken, Shrimp and Udon Noodle Soup

My take on chicken noodle soup. This was an unbelievable throw together meal. The weather was chilly and we wanted something soothing and comforting. What’s more comforting than chicken noodle soup? I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, frozen shrimp, and box of udon noodles that had been in the cabinet for a while (I’ve been using soba noodles instead). I also had four boxes of different kinds of stock in the fridge. With those and a quick trip to the grocery, I was inspired.

This dish was delicious. It was light, very light. My wife described it as a soup you might get at a spa. It was very refreshing and cleansing. I resisted adding salt and more heat (which I have a propensity to do) and I think here it paid off. The noodles, when eaten alone I felt “needed something” but when eaten with the broth and vegetables it was just right.

 

Ingredients

  • Leftover rotisserie chicken chunked or shredded
  • Shrimp (I keep frozen on hand but fresh is better)
  • Stock no salt added (I used 2 cups beef, 2 cups vegetable, 3 cups chicken)
  • Water (1-2 cups to fill out the soup)
  • Udon noodles
  • Dale’s steak seasoning (I like this better than soy sauce)
  • Sake (just a splash or use rice wine vinegar instead)
  • Canola oil
  • 2 inches of ginger root (1 inch minced the rest just peeled)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • Bok choy chiffonade the leaves and chop the stems
  • Sugar snap peas sliced on the bias
  • 1 jalapeno sliced thin (you can remove stem and seeds but I wouldn’t)
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms sliced (use whatever kind you like, shitake would be good)
  • 3 green onions sliced on the bias (reserve some for garnish)
  • Cilantro to garnish
Directions

  1. First, I prepared my mise en place. This goes much faster once all is minced and sliced.
  2. Heat the stock in a large pot over medium heat. Add the 1 inch of ginger that wasn’t minced and let it slowly flavor the broth (you can do this while chopping). Increase heat and bring to a boil, add udon (usually takes about 10 minutes, but you’ll want to time it so that all the next steps are complete before the udon are done).
  3. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1.5 tablespoons of canola and the chopped bok chop stems. Cook until slightly softened. Add bok choy leaves until they are slightly wilted. Add carrots and jalapeno toss to combine. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Add more canola and the minced garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until just softened. Add Sake to deglaze pan. Set aside.
  5. When the noodles are about 2-3 minutes from being done, reduce heat to medium and add everything except the shrimp to the pot. Stir in approximately 1-2 tablespoons of Dale’s (or soy sauce). I would suggest being judicious at first and add more if needed later. Let the soup simmer, stirring to combine.
  6. Just before serving, add the shrimp. Depending on the size, they shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to cook through.
  7. Garnish with green onions and cilantro and enjoy. I served it with vegetable spring rolls from the freezer.
Chicken, Shrimp and Udon Noodle Soup