Monday, December 4, 2006

"Creole Jumbo and All That Jazz - A New Orleans Seafood Cookbook" - Shrimp Creole

Date I made the recipe: September 10, 2006

Creole Jumbo and All That Jazz – A New Orleans Seafood Cookbook by Howard Mitchum
Published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.
ISBN: 0-201-04764-0

Recipe: Shrimp Jambalaya – p. 52

Well finally. After a couple of recipe misfires the previous weeks, I hit the jackpot on this one. It was simple to make and tasty to eat and the best part is we have leftovers that I will actually enjoy reheating.

I spotted this book at a Borders Bookstore years ago but I think I put off buying it because it was a reissue and I always like to find as close to a first edition if I can. A couple of years ago, I spotted this at Bonnie Slotnick’s bookstore in NY (only the best “used” cookbook stores on the planet) and it was mine for the taking. Sadly, it collected dust along with all my other New Orleans cookbooks until this past Sunday.

Originally, I wanted to commemorate the disastrous floods in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast wrought by Hurricane Katrina as close to the one year anniversary date (9/5/06) as possible by cooking up something from the region but you know how it goes…I was, as always, a day late and a dollar short.

Here’s what I like about this cookbook: if you have a hankering for oysters, there are tons of oyster recipes. Same with shrimp, same with crawfish and same with…you get the picture. Had I a hankering to make oyster jambalaya, it was in there. The recipe required me to buy very little in the way of ingredients (always important) and had just the right spice without being overdone. Note that I cut the recipe in half and that was plenty of food for me and my husband.

The second reason I like this book is that Howard includes tidbits, photos and lyrics of many New Orleans Dixieland/blues songs that make New Orleans the jazz center that it is. In my spare time, I play clarinet with the Calhoun-Isles Community band and am the vocalist for a small sub-group, the Calhoun-Isles Dixieland Jazz Combo. I belted out Basin Street Blues so many times last summer that I thought I would bust a lung. Tin Roof Blues was another one our group did and yes, “Lawd,” I did have “the Tin Roof Blues.” I’ve been to New Orleans and Mississippi before but now have a new appreciation for that genre of music, cemented, in part, by this cookbook.

So, for all you jazz lovers and/or seafood lovers, give this book a whirl and don’t telling me you still have the blues after cooking because I’ll know you’re lying!

Shrimp Jambalaya
4 lb. raw shrimp, peeled
2 c. raw rice
½ stick butter
4 T flour
2 medium white onions, chopped
3 scallions with their green leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 T parsley, chopped
1 16-oz can tomatoes, drained and chopped (note: the directions say to “add the tomatoes and their juice.” When I made the recipe, I used the “juice” created when I chopped the tomatoes).
1 16-oz cans beef broth (or 3 c. bouillon)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp thyme leaves
¼ tsp cayenne (or more. I’m a weenie so I used the exact amount listed)
Salt and ground pepper to taste.

People, have I mentioned yet how enamored I am with my Zyliss® food chopper This thing is the Ronco product (“It slices, it dices”) of the new millennium – I don’t know how I lived without it, and trust me, if you do all the chopping required by hand for this recipe, you won’t know how you did, either.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, add the flour and cook over low heat to make a light golden roux. (For those who don’t know, a roux is the staple of Creole cooking and is found in about every other dish that graces a New Orleans table. A roux is simply fat, in this case, butter, and flour that is stirred until it becomes a cross between a gravy and a paste. The key to making a good roux is not to burn it.). A roux is used to thicken your dish.

Add the onion, scallions, green pepper, garlic and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft and transparent.

Add the tomatoes and their juice and the beef broth, and mix well.

Add the spices (cloves, allspice, thyme, cayenne and black pepper) then season with salt (he recommends a tablespoon to start). Add the shrimp and cook for five minutes. Stir in the rice and make sure it’s well mixed. The mixture in the pot should be just covered with broth so if necessary, add more broth or bouillon.

Bring the mixture to a boil then cut the heat very low, cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender. Adjust the salt and serve it up!

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