Jambalaya

Jambalaya

My kitchen is a happiest when there’s something spicy going down in it. I actually don’t think there’s much that Hubby and I cook that doesn’t involve some sort of spice, whether it’s of the fragrant variety or the heated.  This delicious recipe is full of both, and while it may look like quite the longest ingredients list don’t be put off by that as you can premix the dry spices ahead of cooking so it really isn’t as complicated as it might look, and the end result is well worth it.

A bit like the questionable authenticity of my Fish Creole, this jambalaya is more “Creole” than Cajun (it’s a tomato, or lack of, thing apparently!) and one of my favourite suppers that Hubby makes.  That said… it’s never quite the same twice because Hubby just can’t leave well enough alone, bless.  So this version is a foodie snapshot of how he makes it now. It’s not quite the way he made it six months ago, and no doubt it won’t be quite the way he makes it six months from now, but it is always delicious no matter how much he tinkers with it 🙂

You can make this with any combo of prawn, chicken, smoked sausage, ham hock or chorizo.  Hubby tends to go with two, three max, one of which is inevitably chorizo – it just adds another layer of flavour that compliments the paprika in the dry spice mix.  Fresh chorizo is okay but it has to be really good quality otherwise dried is better, just remember to peel off the tough outer layer of skin if you’re using dried chorizo before cooking with it.

Hubby eats this with potato salad… for seriously… He swears it’s a recognised accompaniment, and a quick Google seems to back him up, but that’s just one carb too many for me (something Hubby never thought he’d hear me say!).  I like to give mine a good squeeze of lemon all over instead, the sourness is a lovely counter balance to the spiciness of the Jambalaya.

As to why I like this quite as much as I do?  There’s lots of rice, which is always made of win in my book, the flavours are crazy intense, and it reheats really nicely the next day, which is just as well as there’s always tons of leftovers!

Jambalaya
Serves 4
A comforting bowl of rice, creole style, full of spice and all things nice.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 red onion, diced
  2. 1 white onion, diced
  3. 1 green pepper, diced
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  5. 2 dried chorizo sausages, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  6. 1 package smoked sausage, cut into bitet-sized pieces
  7. 1 can tomatoes
  8. 2 tbsps tomato ketchup
  9. 2 tsps dark soy
  10. 1 tsp fish sauce, more to taste
  11. a few dashes of Maggi liquid seasoning (optional)
  12. a drizzle of Ketjap manis (optional)
  13. 1 beef stock pot/cube dissolved in 2 pints boiling water
  14. additional water to top up
  15. 1.5 cups long-grain rice
  16. 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  17. 1/2 tsp onion granules
  18. 1/2 tsp thyme
  19. 1/2 tsp oregano
  20. 1/2 tsp chilli powder (mild)
  21. 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  22. 1/4 tsp celery salt
  23. 1 tsp ground coriander
  24. 1 tsp heaped smoked sweet paprika
  25. 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  26. salt & pepper to season
  27. Plus oil to cook
  28. Lemon wedges and/or potato salad to serve
Cook!
  1. Heat a drizzle of oil in the stewpot on a medium heat and cook the chorizo until lightly coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Do not drain the oil from the stewpot.
  2. Add a bit more oil to the stewpot and bring back up to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers, lightly salt and stir to coat for about a minute. Turn the heat down and continue to cook gently for about ten minutes, stirring occassionally.
  3. Turn the heat up again and add the smoked sausage to the onion and pepper mix and cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Stir well before adding the tomatoes, dry spice mix, ketchup, soy and fish sauce. Stir again.
  4. Next, tip in the rice and mix well. Cover with the beef stock, stir, and add a bit more water to top up if need be. You don’t want it too wet, but it needs to have enough liquid to cook the rice.
  5. Bring everything to a boil before covering and reducing the heat until you’ve got a low simmer. Leave for 30-45 minutes, stirring after the first ten minutes. You may need to scrape the bottom to free any stuck bits of rice but this is ok, the caramelised bits of rice just add to the flavour mix.
  6. Stir every twenty minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is moist and tender. Serve hot.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Sweet Iced Lemon Tea

Sweet Iced Lemon Tea

FINALLY!  The sun is actually out and its beginning to feel warm!  So before it disappears again, taking our sorry excuse for a summer with it, time to get some appropriate beverages chilling in the fridge, like this easy peasy lemon squeezy homemade sweet iced tea.  The secret ingredient is bicarb, a pinch of which stops the final brew from going cloudy.  But you really can’t go wrong with a glass of this (or a jar, which seems to be very popular right now for putting most anything in!) over ice on a hot Summer’s day.  Honest 🙂

For a nation that loves tea, and by love I mean use as a crutch for most any type of social or emotional situation, we really haven’t taken to it at all as a cold drink.  I’m guessing the weather has a lot to do with that…  But growing up in Hong Kong this stuff was hugely popular, usually made up from a Liptons’ powder mix which I’ve recently discovered on sale at one of Edinburgh’s Chinese supermarkets in the most addictive mango flavour *glee*  It wasn’t until Hubby moved in that I actually had it from scratch, being American he was near as dammit weaned on the stuff – they even sell it in McDonald’s stateside!

So now, as soon as there’s any hint of warmth in the air I can pretty much be guaranteed to find a “vat” of this taking up most of the top shelf in the fridge!  Not that I’m complaining when it’s delicious and thirst quenching

Sweet Iced Lemon Tea
Poured over ice, this is the perfect thirst quencher on a hot Summer's day.
Write a review
Print
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 5 Ceylon Orange Pekoe teabags (Twinings do a lovely one)
  2. 1 lemon, sliced and seeded
  3. 3/4 – 1 cup of sugar or sweetner (Splenda works really well)
  4. 1/8 tsp of bicarbonate soda
Brew!
  1. Pop the teabags into 1 pint of freshly boiled water. Cover and steep for an hour.
  2. In the meantime, drop the lemon slices into 2 pints of cold water and pop in fridge to keep cool. Ideally, use a large pitcher that will hold the additional pint of tea when it’s ready.
  3. When the tea is ready, remove the teabags before adding the sugar and bicarb, and whisk well.
  4. Mix the sugared tea into the cold lemon water.
  5. Keep it in the fridge and tuck in whenever the thirst takes your fancy, ideally over ice and with a slice.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Fish Creole

Fish Creole

I’m not entirely convinced that this recipe is in any way authentically creole, but it is authentically delicious and isn’t that what really matters 😉  It’s also another one of my mum’s recipes that I’ve been cooking since Uni (at least) but I’d always made it with chicken…  Until now!  Mum made us her fish version last month and the whole family were completely converted, so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever make it with chicken again – tasty as that was, with fish it’s even tastier 🙂

This is a properly comforting dish and is perfect for chasing this last lingering bite of winter away.  The warmth of the paprika and chilli just goes so well with the garlicky tomatoey stew, and its heartiness is a perfect contrast to the delicate flakey buttery cod.

Speaking of butter… This is a dish that loves butter, and lots of it.  I’ve tried subbing corn oil in an attempt to make it healthier but ended up with a pale shadow of the real thing, so much so that I’d rather not have it if I can’t go all out on the butter in a James Martin stylee (!)  My compromise, then is to just not make this too often 😉

If you do want to make it with chicken instead then use thighs not breast (so much more flavour!), keep the pieces pretty big and sautee off to seal and brown before cooking in the stew for 30 minutes.

PS – how cute are my little fishy bowls!  They’re actually measuring cups but serving fish in them was too good an opportunity to miss!!

Fish Creole
Serves 2
Cod in a rich, spicy, garlicky tomato stew, comfort food Creole style.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 400g cod fillets (or other firm, white fish)
  2. 1 white onion, sliced (chunky rather than fine)
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 green pepper, cue into vaguely triangular shapes
  5. 1 can chopped tomatoes
  6. 1 tsp paprika (not smokey!)
  7. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  8. 1 chicken stock cube or pot
  9. pinch of sugar
  10. butter
  11. juice of 1 lemon
  12. white flour
  13. salt and pepper
Cook!
  1. Put a wok, or large saucepan, over a medium-high heat and melt a generous tablespoon of butter until it’s starting to bubble and saute off your onions for a couple of minutes until the edges are starting to brown. Add the green peppers until the skin has blistered a wee bit and then add the garlic and saute for another minute or two, taking care not to let the garlic burn.
  2. Add the tomatoes, spices, chicken stock cube and a generous pinch of sugar. Fill the empty tomato can about a quarter full with water and give it a good swirl to pick up any last bits of tomato, and add.
  3. Now, the measurements I’ve given for the spice is probably a little cautious. That and I’ve long since stopped using actual measures of spice for this dish so don’t actually know what the measures are! Taste and add more parpika and/or chilli to suit.
  4. Leave the tomtoey stew to simmer away for 30 minutes.
  5. When the time’s up, pat the cod fillets on kitchen roll until they’re as dry as you can get them – this stops them from tasting fishy (apparently!) Cut the cod into generous sized chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches which should hold them together while cooking. Shake some flour onto a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Roll your fish chunks in the flour to just coat them, and then lift out with a shake to get rid of any excess flour.
  6. In a frying pan, melt another generous tablespoon of butter and as soon as it starts to bubble lay your fish chunks gently in the pan. Give them 2-3 minutes and then gently turn over. The flour should colour up nicely so that you’ve got some lovely brown bits on the fish. Give the other side 2-3 minutes as well and then move the pieces of fish from the frying pan into the tomatoey stew. Add the lemon juice and then give everything a gentle stir before leaving to simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Add a final tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a lovely glossy sheen, stirring until it melts.
  7. Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice, and try not to think of all that butter… 😉
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Best. Ever. French. Toast.

Best. Ever. French. Toast.

The first time Hubby and I went to NYC we found ourselves in this fabulous diner in Chelsea for breakfast, one of those ones in a long railway car, all retro and shiney, and had quite possibly the most delicious french toast ever. It was so good that we had to ask the staff what on earth they had done to it … turns out the magic was using melted vanilla ice cream instead of milk… the crazy geniuses!

Needless to say we couldn’t go back to ‘bog standard’ french toast after that so now on celebratey type days, or ‘just because’ at the weekend, Hubby rustles us up a plate of these as a wee treat.  

Hubby’s also done these with a wee hint of orange, or made a french toast sandwich with a banana filling, but I think they are fantastic just as they are, with maple syrup and and a pat of butter melting away on top.  My absolute favourite though is to add a couple of rashers of American streaky bacon on top of the syrup and butter which, if you like salty/sweet combos, elevates this to a whole new level of delicious 🙂

Healthy this most definitely is not, but when breakfast tastes this damn good you really don’t care 😉 And I promise, a plate of these will put a big ass smile on your face all day!

Best. Ever. French. Toast.
Possibly the most indulgent breakfast of all time, french toast New York style.
Write a review
Print
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 sourdough boule, sliced to 3/4 inch thick slices
  2. 1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream
  3. 1 large egg, beaten
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. Ground cinnamon, to taste
  6. Optional: 1/2 tsp orange extra, or a bit of orange zest, for a lighter flavour
For serving…
  1. Maple Syrup
  2. Butter
Cook!
  1. Start by melting the ice cream in the microwave until it’s a nice, soupy consistency – you may not need the whole pint depending on how much french toast you intend to make.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and add the vanilla extract and cinnamon (and orange extract/zest if you’re using them) and whisk gently again to combine. Next, add the melted ice cream and whisking gently again to combine everything – do not overmix as this will toughen the egg and you’ll end up with a more custardy bread.
  3. Dip the brioche slices in the melted ice cream and egg mixture, letting the slices rest for a few seconds on each side.
  4. Melt a bit of butter in a heated frying pan and place the eggy brioche slices in the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side over a medium-high heat, turning as needed to prevent burning. When the slices are lightly browned, they’re good to take off of the heat.
  5. To serve, lather the slices with butter and warm maple syrup. Or top with sliced berries and sprinkle with icing sugar, or warm some jam to make a fruit syrup to pour over.
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/
Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Hubby’s Wicked Tasty Tomato & Marscapone Pasta

Sometimes, you just want to throw something together for supper that’s quick and easy and uncomplicated but without compromising on the tasty.  This is just one of those  dishes, and something that Hubby pretty much made up out of whatever was in the kitchen one night. The big show off…  However, the flavour is that yummy that I can’t hold his genius ability to cook something out of nothing against him 😉 And for a dish that’s pretty cheap to make it actually tastes anything but thanks to the mascarpone.

Along with our somewhat enforced but surprisingly enjoyable dietary diversion into fish, we’re also trying to cut down on red meat and have started doing Meatless Monday, which this dish is perfect for 🙂

The secret ingredient in this is fish sauce, which I know seems like a strange thing to put in a pasta sauce but it adds a cheeky sneaky bit of umami that really works well.  But if fish sauce is just a step too far, or if you’re trying to make this properly vegetarian, porcini mushrooms would also tick the umami box and would go really well with this sauce – rehydrate from dried, chop, finely sieve the water the mushrooms rehydrated in to catch any grit and add a spoon or two to the sauce along with the porcini.

Hubby's Wicked Tasty Tomato & Mascarpone Pasta
Serves 2
Deceptively simple meatless pasta dish that is anything but boring.
Write a review
Print
Stuff you’ll need…
  1. 1 large onion, finely diced
  2. 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
  4. 1 tbsp tomato puree
  5. 3/4 cup/180 ml water
  6. 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  7. 2 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  8. 1 tsp sugar
  9. 2-3 tbsp mascarpone
  10. parmesan
  11. basil (optional)
  12. salt and pepper to season
  13. 250-300g pasta
Cook!
  1. Heat 2-3 tsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low flame. Add the diced onions and sweat them for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, without letting them colour.
  2. Once the onions have cooked down, add the minced garlic and stir to mix.
  3. Then add the tomato puree, can of tomatoes, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, sugar and water. Mix well before turning the heat up to medium and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (if the sauce becomes claggy, turn the heat down and add a little bit of water to thin it).
  4. When the sauce is almost done cooking, fill another saucepan with water for the pasta and put it over a high heat until it’s boiling. Pop in your pasta, and then take the lid off the sauce and let it cook uncovered until the pasta is ready which should be about another 10 minutes.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, take 1/4 cup of the cooking water before draining it, and add that to the tomato sauce, mixing well. Add the marscapone to the tomato sauce, stirring until completely blended.
  6. Return your pasta to the cooking pan, top with the tomato marscapone sauce and stir until the pasta is coated. Top with remaining sauce, if desired, and generously grate parmesean cheese all over it. Devour!
fifigoesnom https://www.fifigoesnom.com/