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. 🎺🍅
“It smells like weird Mexican food in here,” Jamie said as she walked in the door. She wasn’t wrong. The example image sets a rustic farm tone with the watering can, basket of red peppers, and parmesan cheese in the background. The watering can even has onions painted on it. Awesome!
When I saw that it will need reheating before eating, I decided to make this dish in a large rectangle Pyrex. I made this recipe at half size to accommodate the baking dish. I only used two onions because Simply Delicious bases the number of onions on the smaller onions that were available when these recipes were written. Two was more than enough.
Hot Take: Artichokes are the lobster of the vegetable world. 4-14: Stuffed Artichokes represents this well: too much work for too little satisfaction. Peeling the little leaves off the artichoke and harvesting the heart feels a lot like picking apart the carapace of an undersea crustacean.
Stuffing an artichoke with a mushroom stew is a unique way to serve this giant edible thistle flower. These plants don’t grow naturally where I’m from, so my experience with artichokes only came after moving to California. My favorite way to enjoy them is marinated artichoke hearts.
We’re getting to the some of the last recipes I have for some of these chapters, and 7-33: Country Dinner is one of the few remaining entries from the Pork chapter of Simply Delicious. Honestly, this recipe as it exists is not much more than mashed potatoes with bacon and onions. That doesn’t sound bad per se, but I don’t know if it constitutes “dinner”.
Google only gave me a few results for similarrecipes, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t too far off from the mashed potato bowls you can get at like KFC. If anything, the KFC ones come with more stuff in them.
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!
Fettuccini and ham are different foods I’ve heard of before. 12-20: Fettuccini with Ham is a dish I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It is both “piquant and tasty” as described below and I enjoyed the dish a lot.
Time for a confession: I have never cooked fettuccini nests before in my life before I prepared this dish. My parents weren’t adventurous with their pasta choices. We were strictly a spaghetti and angel hair household when it came to noodle pasta. Having a cream based sauce was rare also, they generally opted for a tomato-based sauce.
Oh boy, yet another pork chops recipe. 7-11: Piquant Pork Chops tries to stand out by boasting a fruity, spicy take on the standard pork-chop-with-pan-sauce entries that have already been covered at length throughout this project.
I think it’s a bit hyperbolic to insist that just adding a “new” spice or sauce to pork chops radically changes it as a dish, but I suppose that for some people it can be a big deal to experience new things outside of the regular old tried-and-true.