Cajun and Creole cooking are not something I’ve had a ton of experience with, so 7-21: Jambalaya is somewhat unfamiliar territory. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of New Orleans cuisine, other than my mother’s ill-fated attempt at making gumbo once.
It’s not a difficult recipe (quite the opposite, actually), but I don’t feel like I have a solid understanding of the difference between what makes it good and what makes it great. That’s something that comes with experience, both as a taster and as a creator.
I couldn’t have even told you that there are two types of jambalaya, Creole and Cajun. According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the difference between the two is the absence or presence of tomatoes. Simply Delicious identifies this version as Creole, which is correct–that’s the version that has the tomatoes in it, which this one does. 🎺🍅
12-25: Parmesan Rice with Shrimp is a great weeknight dinner option or even perhaps a side dish for a potluck or party. It has similarities to paella and risotto, but isn’t as time or skill-intensive as either of those. And as you can tell by the frequency of how much I’ve been posting lately (not much), anything quick is much appreciated.
I feel like they were trying to roughly capture the essence of Shrimp Etouffee with the flavors used in this recipe, but with much less work involved. Cajun/creole-inspired isn’t new for Simply Delicious, but it’s rarely executed faithfully.
9-21: Chili Beef Casserole is yet another case of calling something a casserole that is barely a casserole. There is no condensed soup in this recipe and this dish is cooked on a stove top, not baked. This dish is more of a tortilla filling than a main course as a casserole.
One might say this dish is a ground beef casserole with a cultural appropriation problem, not “with a Mexican accent”.
You may recognize 8-65: Sizzling Skirt Steaks as basically fajitas, one of the standard Mexican restaurant menu features. If you’re looking for something different on taco night, consider this dish. This can even be modified for different types of proteins, or even add in a few more veggies or a meat substitute and go meatless.
Flank or skirt steak is taken from the underside of the cow, and is tougher than most other cuts of meat. Therefore, marinating it (especially with some acid) breaks down some of those fibers and gives you a more tender piece when it’s cooked. Cooking fast/hot works well with this type of cut–low and slow will give you tough and rubbery.
Pasta with a thin sauce didn’t seem super appropriate for dinner, so I made 12-15: Pasta with Salami and dished it out for lunch as part of a meal prep. While there are a few differences between the recipe card photo and my final product photo, my creation was similar in spirit to the beautifully shot photo below. The place settings are so retro–such a great scene they set.
The exquisite setup showcases the raw ingredients along with the wonderful cutlery and plating of the dish. How magnificent!
Much like Ben Wyatt, a late-addition character from NBC’s Parks and Recreation, I have enjoyed my fair share of calzones. Hawaiian calzones are one of my favorite types, pineapple and Canadian bacon can’t be beat! However, when wanting to eat in a health conscious manner, 13-8: Vegetarian Calzone is a great meat-free alternative.
Preparing this dish was super easy. A lot of time can be saved by using ready-bought puff pastry.
Editor’s note: This was a dish I made as part of a big family dinner I cooked with a family friend when I was 13–my step-grandmother is vegetarian and we made this so she’d have something to eat. My mom made her a baked potato for Thanksgiving once, complete with a toothpick-and-construction paper turkey head, wings, and tail that I painstakingly spent the day crafting. She did not appreciate the turkey-potato (too closely resembled an animal for her…go figure), but she did like this calzone.
Over the years I’ve made plenty of steaks, but I don’t have a lot of experience cooking flank steaks. Jamie grew up eating carne asada–but on the East Coast, we were eating Steak-Ums sandwiches. Not quite the same, but it got the job done. 8-29: Marinated Flank Steaks was a fun opportunity to cook this recipe and get familiar with cooking a different cut of beef that I’m used to.
I have some experience with marinades so this dish wasn’t too difficult for me to attempt. It is ranked Fairly Easy after all.
Oooh-la-la! What a fancy recipe 8-22: Beef Tenderloin with Whole Garlic is!. I have never attempted a dish like this before, but I approached it with confidence because I’ve watched Jamie make both a spiced butter and oven roasted garlic. She makes it look easy, but making this dish was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I don’t have plates with fancy fluted edges and I was out of red wine to serve with my dish, but I served it as best I could.
This dish is definitely gourmet. With spiced butter and roasted garlic, this dish contains a lot more elements than my usual go-to dishes.
The quote from front of the recipe card for 6-27: Sweet-and-Sour Chicken is as true as anything I could write about this recipe: “Cook chicken legs and thighs the Chinese way, in a sweet-and-sour sauce. This is such a simple way of preparing bargain chicken and the result is just terrific.”
Sweet-and-sour sauce tastes great when you make it fresh, but it’s just as easy to buy the thick, red sauce in a jar and call it good.
I have never been known for my skills in preparing fish, but this recipe, 11-35: Grilled Pacific Halibut, helped me become a halibut grilling master! 🐟
Many of the times I failed at cooking fish, I did not marinate the flesh first. Skipping that step definitely makes a difference.
Editor’s note: By the looks of the notations on this card, my mother made this in what looks like July of 1995, although that last digit is difficult to clearly determine–her handwriting has always been a challenge. It might be 1990. She noted that it was “Very Easy” on the back–sounds like Adam may have had a similar experience.