Tag Archives: Cajun

Craving for a Cajun Favourite

It is bloody cold.

I mean it.

Each person feels the cold differently, we are all effected by the lower temperatures in different ways. For me my nose feels it. It gets so incredibly cold and even starts to hurt. I never noticed the sharp pain until today when I noticed the one side of my septum aching. If I still had it pierced I would understand but now? Weird.

Well today was very cold. Winter is officially here. I thought I could rock a thin sweater when I went out with my friend but I was very wrong. I should have worn a wool sweater or something. It is ridiculous how cold I was today!

Cold weather (Don't judge, I know most of you will say this isn't cold)
Cold weather (Don’t judge, I know most of you will say this isn’t cold)

Anyway, it is these types of days that we should enjoy something hot to warm our insides. Heat helps whether it is spice or temperature doesn’t really matter, just as long as it warms you up!

So today I wanted to make a gumbo. Now I had no idea it was going to be such a chilly day, but I am still very happy to have made a gumbo.

Gumbo comes from Louisiana, though it was first made in the mid 1700’s when the African slaves would cook a French soup combined with fish stew. Talk about an ancient food!

When I first was introduced to gumbo I was fifteen and we were invited to a get-together with a couple of daddy’s colleagues. I’m pretty sure the lad who cooked up the gumbo wasn’t even Cajun himself. BUT the meal was spectacular!

It seems that everyone in the oil industry is an expert in something that isn’t originally from their place of origin or passport country. For example dad has a colleague who is Scottish but has a Spanish accent and is far more Venezuelan than he is Scottish. Dad also knows a lad who is Dutch and also is far more Venezuelan than Dutch. So if the non-Cajun whipped up a fantastic gumbo it is pretty normal. At least to us.

Well, I got the recipe from The Housewife in Training Files – LOVE that name! Makes me think of the X-Files but girly, gosh what a nerd I am. The direct link to the recipe can be found here though. I followed mostly everything perfectly except I used fresh okra.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo
Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 (130g) green bell peppers, chopped
  • ½ cup (115g) celery, chopped
  • ½ cup (75g) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (large) clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (100g) okra, chopped
  • 1 can (410g) diced tomatoes
  • ½ Tablespoon dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ Tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½ Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika powder
  • Small pinch of dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups (750ml) chicken broth
  • 2 breasts (566g) of chicken, diced
  • ¾ cup (400g) frozen shrimp, slightly thawed with tails removed
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 1/8 a cup cold water – this makes a slurry

What is a slurry? Well it is a semi-liquid mixture such as cement, manure, or cornstarch and water!

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil at a medium heat and mix in flour to make a roux. Once like a paste and fragrant, turn heat to low and mix in vegetables and stir well until vegetables soften. Add diced tomatoes and herbs and spices and cook for an additional five minutes.

  2. While gumbo is cooking, cook your side dish. This usually is rice, however you can also use quinoa as I’ve done.

  3. Add chicken broth, diced chicken, and frozen shrimp. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add slurry and bring to a boil until gumbo has thickened. Serve with your choice of starch.

  4. Enjoy!

So for some weird reason my gumbo was more of a soup consistency than a stew. Kinda annoying if you ask me. But it tasted good. AND it warmed us all up. Though I am back to my cold state. If you guys could feel my nose you would all shiver too! It is like ICE!

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

To try and thicken the consistency we mixed our multicolored quinoa into it. That definitely did the trick.

The biggest issue I had making this was definitely my inability to open up the tin can! Do you ever have the issue where you cannot open a can? I definitely did. Dad actually had to run out to the grocery store and buy TWO more can openers because we were both unable to open my can of diced tomatoes. Ridiculous right?

Assortment of Can Openers
Assortment of Can Openers

So now we have an army can opener – does anyone know how to use it? We have a normal one that cuts around the inside of the circumference of the inside of the lid, and there is the can opener that cuts the entire top of the lip off. The first two from the right are the new ones. That last left hand one is the one I couldn’t work. I feel like an idiot.

But I guess we all have our failures in the kitchen. For some people it is forgetting to put flour in brownies, for others it is sprinkling your breakfast with cumin rather than cinnamon (my friends son does this), and then there is me who is unable to open the can with the can opener.

Cold Trees
Cold Trees

Back to the cold, yesterday I learnt that for the winter the gardeners tend to warm the trees up by wrapping them with the long grass. I guess it really does get cold. This 15ᵒC weather is really cold. Everyone says it. So I guess the trees feel it too. These trees are from the western Cape (closer to Capetown) where it is much warmer, so that is when they wrap ’em in long grass. Interesting right?

Alright, I’m done blabbering. I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we have!

Happy eating!

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Dinner where Indian Curry meets Cajun Shrimp

When you live in a world of expatriates you learn to find normality in multiculturalism. Be it by just living amongst several different people  of different backgrounds or eating multicultural cuisine types, you are more open to the foreign aspect of life. With all my moves, I now live a life of cultural combinations.

So last Sunday when my mom went out for her friend’s birthday gathering it gave both my sister and I a free day to enjoy shellfish such as shrimp. Mom does not like shellfish which means her children do not eat it either, this means when she leaves the house we can enjoy the small things she dislikes. The top of the food pyramid of products which cannot be had when mom is home is shrimp.

Because mom knew she was going out Sunday night she decided to buy chickpeas and spinach knowing full well that those are two items I love to either cook with or just have to eat, so I decided to make a chickpea and spinach curry to go with my shrimp. This is where my multiculturalism comes in. For our Sunday dinner my little sister and I had a chickpea curry over a bed wild rice with a side of spicy Cajun shrimp and a yoghurt dip with lemon and chopped cilantro. Yes, that is a combination of Cajun (from Louisiana) and Indian cuisine.

Luckily the two together tasted delicious although it was very foreign. I mean who combines such things? What a weird confused cuisine type of night.

Chickpea Spinach Curry and Cajun Shrimp

Here is the recipe for the Spinach Chickpea Curry:

  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoons minced (or grated) fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Combine spinach and your preferred broth in a powerful blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Set spinach puree aside.

2. Heat butter in a medium pan over medium-low heat. As soon as it melts, add the ginger (1/2 teaspoon for a milder ginger flavor) and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add garam masala, cumin, coriander and curry powder. Toast the spices for 3-4 minutes, until they are fragrant and take on a deep color.

3. Add spinach puree to the pan, along with the lemon juice. Cook for about a minute, to bring the flavors together, then add the chickpeas. Continue cooking until the chickpeas are heated through and all of the watery liquid cooks down leaving a puree. Add more broth if you end up needing to make adjustments to the consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Suggestion: serve with rice.

When I made this I used just a bit too much broth making the simmering process for the chickpea spinach curry lengthy, but using half a cup should make the simmering (thickening) process much shorter for a quicker meal.

Below you can see the recipe for the Spicy Cajun Shrimp:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (500 grams) shrimp
  • Shrimp Seasoning:
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    pinch cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 (6 oz) container plain yoghurt
  • ½ Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Naan bread (optional)

Directions:

1. Mix together the above spices. Sprinkle half of shrimp over 1 pound of peeled shrimp.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan — try to get the spiced side down — and saute 5 minutes until done, flip shrimp around and add remainder of spices and cook further.

3. In the meantime chop cilantro and mix with plain yoghurt and lemon.

3. Toast a few pieces of Naan (such as Kontos brand) and serve with cooked shrimp, a spoonful of plain yogurt, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon.

Now I know the combination of both Cajun and Indian seems quite bizarre, but it tasted pretty darn good. Although I know my sister likes chickpeas a lot and thoroughly enjoys shrimp, so that could be why.

If you think about giving this a shot, you may prefer the different parts of the meal separate. I won’t judge!

Spinach Chickpea Curry with Cajun ShrimpBut it does taste wonderful, separate or combined! So give’er a go!

¡Y buen provecho!