Thursday, March 19, 2015

BON APPETITE - A WEEKEND TREAT: Shrimp and Sausage Jambayala

One of my favorite places to visit is New Orleans, and one of my favorite dishes to eat there is jambalaya. There are three different versions of jambalaya: city Creole jambalaya, rural creole jambalaya, and Cajun jambalaya. All of them have slightly different ingredients and different approaches to making them. Some of them do not use tomatoes; many of them use combinations of meat such as shrimp, sausage, ham, or chicken. My favorite is shrimp and andouille sausage.

2 (4 ½ ounce) cans deveined small shrimp                                       
1 cup sliced andouille sausage (or diced ham)
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup peeled and chopped onions
1 cup finely cut green peppers
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 ½ cups canned tomatoes
1 ½ cups shrimp liquid and water
1 cup uncooked rice
¼ tsp salt                                                                                            

1 bay leaf
½ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp cayenne
¼ cup finely cut parsley
[Optional: 1 cup okra]

Drain shrimp and save liquid. Cook sausage in butter in deep heavy skillet and removed. Cool slightly and cut into slice. Return it to the pan and add onions, green peppers, and garlic. Cook until onions and peppers are tender. Remove garlic and discard. Add tomatoes, shrimp liquid and water, rice and seasonings. Cover skillet. Cook slowly 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir occasionally. Add parsley and shrimp. Heat, but do not boil. Serve at once on toast or with biscuit if desired.

Makes six servings. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

St. Patrick's Day - When Everyone Is Irish!

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States is the only day when everyone is Irish. It’s a time for wearing green, reveling with friends, drinking beer—often also green—eating Irish food, watching parades, and generally celebrating Irish culture, heritage and traditions. 

St. Patrick’s Day was officially declared a Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century in honor of St. Patrick. It was observed by many (Christian) religions because it commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century to wealthy Roman Christian aristocrats. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland where he spent six years there working as a shepherd.

After making his way back home by escaping to Gaul, now France, Patrick became a priest and studied for fifteen years before returning to Ireland in 432. According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.

The first organized observance of St. Patrick’s Day in the British colonies was in 1737 when the Charitable Irish Society of Boston gathered to honor their motherland. During the American Revolution, George Washington, realizing his troops had a morale problem and in acknowledgment of the valiant Irish volunteers who served in his army, issued an order declaring the 17th of March to be a holiday for the troops in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Throughout the years and throughout the United States, cities with Irish populations continued to celebrate the special occasion with parades and festivities. Even the White House celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, starting with President Harry Truman.

So to everyone, whether you are Irish or wannabe Irish, I lift my glass of ale and wish you this Irish blessing:

These things, I warmly wish for you
Someone to love, some work to do,
A bit of o' sun, a bit o' cheer.
And a guardian angel always near.

To your good health—“Slainte.”