Thursday, July 31, 2014

We be Jammin'! Jambalaya Recipe

Not long ago, I tweeted that I was about to make healthy jambalaya that rivaled the less-healthy version at the local Creole-Cajun place. We'd already gobbled it entirely when I got a few requests for the recipe. Happy to oblige.

based on Emeril Lagasse's recipe

Brown and drain, then set aside

4 to 6 ounces (cooked weight) hot Italian poultry sausage

We brown the whole pound and freeze what we don't use, since it's great on pizza, in lasagna, etc. While your sausage cooks, make the seasoning mix. You'll use this both in preparation and possibly sprinkled on top if you like things extra-spicy. This makes far more than you'll need for a single batch of jambalaya. Mix well and store in a clean jar or sealed sandwich bag.

2 1/2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Next, do your dicing, until you have

1/4 to 1 cup chopped onion

1/4 to 1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 to 1 cup chopped celery

We always go with about a cup of each, because it makes more jambalaya without adding anything that's not terrific both in terms of taste and texture and healthy aspects like fiber. You do want to have approximately equal amounts of the holy trio of Creole veggies.

On the same cutting board

1/2 cup tomato, diced and set aside in a small bowl
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic, add to tomatoes
2 to 6 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into1/2-inch pieces

1 small chicken breast, 4 to 6 ounces, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

Put the shrimp and chicken in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of the seasoning mix. Blend well and set aside.

Get out and measure the rest of what you need:

2 Tablespoons olive oil, placed in large saucepan or dutch oven
3 bay leaves, add to tomatoes

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, add to tomatoes

1 teaspoon hot sauce, add to tomatoes

1 cup rice

3 cups chicken broth or stock

Salt and pepper

Heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces.Mix well. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 25 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until shrimp and chicken are done, about 10 minutes more. [Stir often. Here is when it starts sticking to the bottom on the pan and burning.] Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.

Serve with an ice cold beer or plenty of red wine.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


One of the things my best writing teacher taught us is that fiction isn't a movie. We get to use all our senses, not just what an audience can see and hear.

As an erotica writer, I use touch a lot. The feeling of a fingertip moving lightly on a leg or arm is completely different depending on whether it goes with the direction of hair growth or against it, for instance. A slap or swat can sting, then a different sort of hot pain bloom an instant later from the blow.

Smell and taste are tougher sells. There are only so many ways to describe the natural smells and tastes of humans when they're not dirty or unwell, all of them now trite. Readers don't want me describing the taste of their coffee or the PB&J eaten on the fly.

But in real life, there are smells and tastes which trigger such a richness of memories that I'm determined to find ways to have my characters experience something similar.

I've just made Hot German Potato Salad, and the whole downstairs smells of bacon (a rare treat) and white vinegar, which I often use for cleaning. In combination it's so much more, fully evocative of my mother's love.

Other smells which knock me out are clean babies, the first whiff of ocean, freshly turned garden dirt, and the classic new-mown hay, which is so much better than mowed grass I'd like to have a back yard of the stuff.