Maybe cooking is

Chicken & Mushrooms, Rice Pudding, Shrimp Jambalaya

Posted on: July 6, 2010

I have a huge rice supply to deplete before I move from the district out to the Midwest.  Since the Internet is ubiquitous, I intend to continue my cooking and blogging from Illinois.  Lucky you.

My first rice-involved dish was the cream of mushroom chicken dish.  Firstly, this seems like a great standby for quick and inexpensive weekday dinners.  Secondly, I felt creative when cooking and made minor alterations.

Although the recipe calls for the chicken and onion to be chopped, I decided to play with size.  I chopped some of the onions, and left some in large chunks, which gave it a country down-home feel.  I left some of the chicken as medallions, but I think chopped works better.

Chicken and mushroom sauce (without rice).

Here was real daring: instead of the evaporated milk, I substituted white wine.  I cooked it a bit longer on the stove to thicken the consistency (the milk would have made it thicker) and poured it over organic brown rice.  Paired with a bottle of the Chilean Terra Andina merlot, it passed the test.  Next time, I’ll put in the dairy.  Maybe.

That same evening – I was feeling ambitious – I moved to cook basmati rice with the goal to whip up Alton Brown’s Indian rice pudding recipe.  I’d already been to the grocery store and didn’t remember cardamom, so I improvised.  I dumped about 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract into the mixture for flavoring and added sliced almonds.

Basmati rice pudding with golden raisins, pistachios and sliced almonds.

Without the cardamom, the nutty rice pudding lost its exotic-ness, but made up for it by becoming Southern rice pudding and allowing the rich flavors of the nuts and raisins to stand out.  I’d probably add more cream than whole milk next time.  It is dessert, after all.

My next dish was shrimp jambalaya.  The recipe comes from Nag’s Head, North Carolina and is one of my favorites of my mom’s recipes.  This recipe is similar and is made in a slow cooker, so you don’t have to slave over the stove!  I don’t really enjoy sausage too much, but here’s another recipe from Bubba for jambalaya that ham and sausage-lovers would enjoy.

Much like Bubba, I like bacon in my jambalaya.

Mmmm... bacon.

Next I shredded my bacon, combined minced garlic and chopped onions and green peppers, uncanned the diced tomatoes, and set aside the seasonings.

Ingredient bowls of prep work.

I sautéed my veggies with the bacon in the bacon grease and then added the seasonings. After the onion became clear, I added the tomatoes and stirred constantly to thicken the mixture.

Sauteing the foundation for the jambalaya.

Finally, I added the shrimp and then rice.

You could serve this sauce over rice instead of stirring it in, but it's Southern tradition to mix it.

I doubled the bacon and shrimp, so I also doubled all of the ingredients except the rice.  Overall, I was extremely happy with this dish, but my mom’s is still the best.

Thought for the week: “Talk doesn’t cook rice.” Chinese proverb

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