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I love some good spicy Cajun food and jambalaya is probably at the top of my list. It’s a simple dish that combines the spice and flare of New Orleans with the simple meal of the working class. It is the French Quarter’s answer to Spain’s amazing paella (oooh, I need to make that soon!). In place of saffron, jambalaya uses cayenne pepper, making for a hot, bright one plate meal that sticks to your ribs. I do one thing that is different here, which is to add potato to the mix. I haven’t seen this done anywhere else but it adds a starchiness and body that traditional jambalaya just doesn’t have.

It also makes for great leftovers. I like to scramble some eggs in the morning, and throw eggs, jambalaya, shredded cheese, and extra hot sauce, into a flour tortilla as a breakfast burrito.


1 lb – Chicken thighs (on the bone, with skin)

12 oz – Andouille sausage, sliced at a bias, about 1/3 inch thick

1 large – Potato, diced course

1 – Onion, diced

1 – Green bell pepper, diced

3 stalks – Celery, diced

5 cloves – Garlic, minced

5 – Tomatoes, diced

2 Tbsp. – Tomato paste

1 Tbsp. – Oregano, minced

1 Tbsp. – Thyme, minced

1 Tbsp. – Paprika, minced

1/4 tsp. – Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

1 Tbsp. – Vinegar

2 cup – Rice

4 cups – Chicken broth

1 lb – Shrimp, large and peeled

Salt, pepper, and oil (or rendered pork fat)


Begin by heating a large skillet on medium high, add oil/fat (1-2 Tbsp.). Salt the chicken thighs and add them to the skillet. Brown well on both sides. Remove and let cool. Pick the meat and skin clean from the bones and dice finely (especially the skin). Return to the skillet along with the sausage and brown thoroughly. Add to a large heavy pot. Add another 2 Tbsp of oil to the skillet. Add the potato, onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the skillet. Stir often to loosen the bits of browned chicken bits from the pan. Sauté until the veggies are clear. Add to the pot with the chicken and sausage. Add the rice to the skillet and toast lightly. Add rice to the pot.

Heat the pot on low and add the tomatoes, paste, vinegar, spices, and chicken broth. Heat to a simmer. Cover but stir often to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom. As the rice gets closer to finished, taste for salt and heat. Once the rice is cooked through add the shrimp, stir well, and cut the heat. Cover. The residual heat will finish the shrimp.


Cocoa Nib Shortbread

Cocao nib shortbread-2

If you’ve never had the opportunity to taste cocoa nibs (roasted bits of whole cocoa beans), you really need to! They have a much more complex flavor than either chocolate or cocoa powder. They are a bit earthy, floral, and still very chocolaty. They also have an amazing crunch! I’m lucky enough to have access to cocoa nibs in bulk from my local grocery store. If you don’t then you can buy them here. They are also amazing to steep in milk or cream for panna cotta or even just hot cocoa!

Cocao nib shortbread

Cocoa Nib Shortbread

adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
makes 40-50 cookies

2 cups – Whole wheat pastry flour (you could also use a combo of 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole what flour)
14 Tbs. – Butter, unsalted room temperature
½ cup – Sugar
¼ tsp – Salt
1 tsp – Vanilla extract
1/3 cup – Roasted cocoa nibs
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla with the paddle attachment on medium speed for about 2 minutes. You want it to be smooth and lighter but not whipped. Add the cocoa nibs and beat just long enough until they are evenly distributed in the butter. Add the flour and again beat until everything is just mixed.
Dump the dough onto the counter and quickly knead it until it comes together and form it into a rough log shape about 12 inched long. Transfer this to a piece of cling film and tightly wrap it and shape it into a smoother log. Place in the refrigerator to set overnight or at least for a few hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment or use a baking stone. Unwrap the dough and using a sharp knife, cut off ¼ inch slices and place them on the cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown. Let cool on the sheet briefly and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks.

Mothers Day 2014-20