Maybe cooking is

The Southern summer: Goat cheese app, Shrimp Jambalaya, Carrot Cake, and Recipe Search Engines

Posted on: August 12, 2011

For this week, I was inspired by the humidity of the previous week to try out some truly Southern dishes.

Appetizer

It was necessary to fortify myself before simmering the main dish for an hour – I washed off some organic raspberries.  I also smeared some local Prairie Fruit Farm herb goat cheese I had picked up at the Urbana farmer’s market on some Carr’s table water crackers, topped off with some spicy, jalapeno-infused jelly that I bought at the Charleston Marion Square farmer’s market.  I had set them out all of these ingredients about 30 minutes earlier to make sure they were room temperature so that smearing was easier.

Jalapeno-jelly with goat cheese on table crackers. Excellent, rich appetizer.

If you want to make your own jalapeno or habanero jelly, just mix it in with either strawberry or grape jelly.  Here are some recipes: Habanero Pepper Jelly and Jalapeno Pepper Jelly with pectin.

Main Course

Meanwhile, I had my mama’s recipe of shrimp jambalaya in mind.  First, I had to cook the bacon (an entire pound!) and rice to get things going.

Basmati rice was all I had, and then some bacon, and in the background the vegetables to chop up - onion, green pepper and okra.

While the bacon cooked and the rice absorbed the water, I chopped vegetables and mixed together the spices.  Once the bacon was done, I put together the green peppers and onions in the bacon grease with the spices.  I added in the shredded bacon and frozen shrimp (there’s no fresh seafood in the Midwest) but no sausage (not my thing).  Then I put in the 2 cans of the tomatoes and okra.  Okra can get slimy if you put it into a dish too early, which is why most encounters with it are fried.  I added the rice and stirred it all together, then added about a cup of water to make it more saucy.  Here’s a similar recipe.

This is how it looked before it simmered for an hour.

It was a delicious meal, with plenty of freezer-ready leftovers.

Dessert

While the shrimp mixture was simmering, I shredded 2 cups worth of carrots and mixed together the batter for my Southern-style carrot cake.  I baked two layers of cake and let them cool overnight.  The icing, with coconut and walnuts instead of pecans, I made the next morning and put together the cake.

Two-layered carrot cake with coconut and cream cheese icing, infused with walnuts.

The cake was intended for sharing – it was huge!  And I made double the icing to make sure there was enough to cover the cake.

Recipe Search Engines

There are a lot of recipe search engines out there.  So which one should you turn to?

Recipe Puppy is one that is unsponsored.  It’s good for looking up what you have left in the fridge and figuring out what to make that night.  Another one is Recipe FinderCookzillas is one that is heavily photo-based.

Foodily is Google’s recipe search engine, and pulls recipes from all over the Internet using the ingredients you have.  The LA Times Technology blog did an extensive overview of the website, the latter of which launched this past February.  Will Google come to dominate the recipe-searches, too?

Not if Microsoft has anything to say about it.  It apparently has a cooking search function that allows you to search within a single website, not that I could find it.

For a great overview of the foodie search options, check out the NY Times article, “Can recipe search engines make you a better cook?” from this past May.

Separately, there are lots of food Wikis out there, too – of particular note is Goons With Spoons, which has tasty recipes.

I hope this search-launching point prepares you with a wealth of great recipes to try.  Happy cooking!

Thought for the week: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”Bubba character from Forest Gump movie, 1994

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2 Responses to "The Southern summer: Goat cheese app, Shrimp Jambalaya, Carrot Cake, and Recipe Search Engines"

Omg. Come visit me and cook something!!! I’ll buy everything including your ticket!

Kristen – Finally picked up some goat cheese at the Farmer’s market. I hope to imitate your wonderful jelly/cheese crackers!!!

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