Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cooking For My Mama: Sausage and Shrimp Jambalya With Cheddar Cornbread

I have a good Mother.  We've always been close, and since my big move back to Saskatoon a couple of years ago, we're even closer.  Three blocks apart, actually!  I pretty much love being this close to my Mom, and given that I moved out when I was 20, and was on my own for so long, it's nice being able to have each other over for dinner, or go for lunch or a movie or scout for deals at the vintage stores in town.  My Mom is my hero and inspiration in so many ways.  As a single parent, she raised four pretty great kids, and if you ask her how she did it, she'll just say she just did it for us. There's no doubt I get my strength and bravery from my mom. She sets a fine example.  When I was a young lass, and wanted to move across the country, to a city where I knew only one other person,  and where I would be studying, of all things, art, she let me go.  Not once did she try to persuade me to study something more "practical" or to talk me out of following a passion of mine.  Given my, um, stubborn nature, I probably wouldn't have listened to her anyway, but at the time, and even more so now, I appreciate that she let me go.  While I was brave to jump at that chance to have an adventure, and let the rest of my life begin, my Mom was brave for letting me go.  Inside she probably had massive reservations, but to let her daughter run out and see the world and study art, well, that was pretty cool.  When it dawned on me that I need a practical skill to balance out the creative, she was a strong supporter of my going to Culinary school.  So cheers to my mom! She's a huge part of why I do what I do.  If I keep rambling, I may start crying, and I've told myself, there's no crying in Food Blog! 

I had my Mom over for dinner one night last week, because she wanted to see the "blog thing" I've been working on.  She loved the first post, but didn't think I should have had the orange slices on the plate.  (She's not shy about giving her opinions!)  So what to cook this mama of mine?  I had some beautiful Chorizo sausage and some juicy jumbo shrimp; the makings of a fine jambalaya.  Comfort in a bowl, and it's always so satisfying. My sister's kids love it. This recipe is a keeper!   You can always substitute chicken for the sausage, if you like.  I'm picky about meat, only buying from the local farmer's market, or driving out and purchasing from farms around the city.  After seeing movies like "Food Inc."  and "Fresh", I just can't eat feed lot meat any more.  Quality and peace of mind are totally worth the small increase in price. (I tend to get a little preachy about meat. Please forgive?) The recipe is adapted from one of Bonnie Stern's Heartsmart cookbooks, thumbed through many times. I can't have jambalaya without cornbread, so whipped some of that up too.  It's best eaten the day of, spread, of course, with plenty of butter! 

Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red sweet pepper, diced
1 green sweet pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 pound of hot Italian sausage or Chorizo sausage, OR boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes.  I take the skin off of the sausage, and cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups of long grain rice (OR if substituting brown rice, add an extra 1/2 cup of stock and bake casserole for 40 minutes, until rice is tender)
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 cups of homemade or store bought chicken stock
1/2 tsp (or more!) of hot sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch (or more!) of cayenne
1/4 pound (125g) peeled and cleaned shrimp
2 green onions chopped
lemon slices for garnish

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in large, flat  oven proof casserole dish that can be used on the stove top.  Add onion and garlic, cook on med, for a few minutes.  Add peppers and celery, cooking a few minutes  more.  Transfer mixture to a bowl, and set aside.  Heat remaining oil, and cook off the sausage or chicken on medium high heat, browning on all sides.  Stir stir stir.  Return the veg to the pan, stirring in tomatoes and rice, cooking for 3 minutes.  In a bowl, combine the tomato juice, stock, hot sauce and seasonings, and stir this into the rice mixture.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  Add the shrimp to the casserole, and bake 5 minutes longer.  I like to garnish with chopped green onions, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and more hot sauce, cuz I like it spicy!

Cheddar Cornbread

11/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp butter
1 egg
11/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated old cheddar

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Butter a loaf pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing very well.  Melt the butter and honey together. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, stir in the milk and the honey mixture.  Add this to the cornmeal mixture and stir in the cheese.  Stir just until everything is combined. Scrape into prepared pan, and bake for about 25 minutes, testing with a toothpick (it'll come out clean, of course!) when it's done.  Loaf should be golden brown on top.  Serve with the jambalaya and a nice garden salad.  Delish. Cheers to your Mama too!


  1. What a sweet post. I can tell you that everything your mama did for you was done with joy in the giving, and that the woman you've become is the greatest reward. I've had a hankering for some cajun cookin' myself: Anna's been asking what gumbo is...mmm, mmm!

  2. I love your Jambalaya, Renee - nobody makes it as great as you do. Now I don't have to harass you for the recipe and I can make it myself. Yum. Can't find cornmeal in Aus though - will polenta do?

  3. Chy, I knew you'd love this post! Polenta typically comes in a tube, so no, I don't think you can use it in cornbread. You may have to import it from some friends in Canada!

  4. Love this recipe, thank you. Especially loved reading the tribute to your mother, she sounds great. and she has a sweet daughter.


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