Belated Snacks on Snacks/Weekend Open Thread

#TeamNewPuppy is in full effect, so I'm around tonight for the long haul, while also joining #TeamBrownLiquor and watching bad preseaon football.

More importantly, Mel (a.k.a. jessedotsmom) contacted me today after she saw that Snacks on Snacks had been postponed this week. In true foodie-savior fashion, she offered her latest creation for a belated post. Not only does it look effing delicious, it also prominently features a (properly authorized) picture of jesse.'s child. So use this as your open thread for the night, or to talk about joefromboalsburg's Jambalaya, or to comment on jesse.'s kid.

The remainder of this post was written and published by Mel earlier today on her site (which has more pictures that had to be cut for formatting purposes). Enjoy!

~ JoePa's Easy Cajun-Creole Seafood Jambalaya ~

A bit about Cajun and Creole Cuisines: One of Cajun cookery's hallmarks, jambalaya, is a one-pot meal that combines cooked, long-grain white rice with a variety of ingredients: any kind of meat, poultry or shellfish, pork or sausage and always the Cajun-Creole culinary "holy trinity" (chopped onion, celery and green bell pepper). Creole cooking, with gumbo being its most famous dish, while extremely similar to Cajun cooking, has come to imply the refined, more sophisticated style of the city, combining the best of French, Spanish and African cuisines. Cajun cuisine, which is more rustic and country-style represents a combination of French and Southern fare. The most notable differences between the two are: Cajun cooks tend to use copious amounts of pork fat, while Creole cooks place more emphasis on using butter, cream and eggs. That being said, they both use the same spices in the same amounts, depending upon how spicy the food is to meant be and many tomato-based dishes can be found on both sides of the fence. There are endless/countless versions of jambalaya, which vary from cook to cook.  It is believed that the name derives from the French word "jambon", meaning "ham", which was the main ingredient in almost all of the early recipes for jambalaya and gumbo!

PICT2688 Having traveled to New Orleans and having met and assisted with a cooking demonstration at Penn State's WPSU-TV for Louisiana's premier Chef John D. Folse (CEC, AAC and author of many books including The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine), I've come to learn quite a bit about these two "kissing cousin" cuisines. The recipes for jambalaya and gumbo that I learned first hand from Chef Folse compare to NONE in terms of authenticity and refinement. Whenever I prepare them (and I do promise to post them at some point), my heart, mind and stomach return to NOLA, Bourbon Street and all of the dozens of fine restaurants and cafes that rocked my cooking world almost thirty years ago!

It goes without saying that whenever I travel I do my best to check out local food markets and gourmet stores. I usually find more than a few wonderful products or sauces that I either pack in my suitcase for the return trip or order off the internet when I get home. Louisiana Gold pepper sauce is one such product and I highly recommend you give it a try... just the right balance of heat to flavor without being overwhelming!

Pita Pizza #11 (Share) A bit about JoePa's jambalaya: "JoePa" is what our handsome, awesome, absolutely picture perfect grandson David affectionately calls my husband Joe. Whenever David is with JoePa and GrandMel here in Happy Valley (home of The Pennsylvania State University and the other JoePa), he loves to help JoePa in his vegetable garden and GrandMel in her kitchen. Since we are only two short weeks away from kickoff at Beaver Stadium for Penn State's first football game, David thought it would be a great idea to share JoePa's own, original recipe for making an easy, super-delicious recipe for jambalaya that can be made in one pot right at the stadium for tailgate! We are... Penn State!!!

David is indeed Penn State Proud with a great-grandfather, grandfather and daddy who all graduated from Penn State...a doctor, an engineer and a lawyer! We are... a Penn State family!!!

JoePa's inspiration for creating this tailgate-friendly dish came after we returned from a trip to NOLA in 1982 for the Sugar Bowl where #2 ranked Penn State played #1 ranked Georgia for our 1st National Championship. It had been a glorious season and we had great seats on the 45 yard line where PSU's Greg Garrity was about to score the game winning touchdown.


1 1/2  pounds diced yellow or sweet onion

8  ounces diced celery

4  large, minced garlic cloves, about 2 tablespoons

12  ounces diced green bell pepper

12  ounces diced red bell pepper

2  cups sweet white wine, plus a bit more, only if necessary

4  tablespoons olive oil

3  pounds medium shrimp (41-50  count), peeled and deveined, tails off

2  pounds small bay scallops

2  6.8-ounce boxes Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice Mix and seasoning packets

4  ounces butter (1 stick)

1-2  teaspoons red pepper flakes

4  14 1/2-ounce cans stewed tomatoes

2  cups minced, fresh cilantro or parsley leaves or sprigs, for garnish

your favorite hot sauce for dripping or drizzling atop jambalaya (JoePa recommends Louisiana Gold)

Step 1. Prep the onion, celery, garlic and peppers as directed.

Step 2. In a 14" chef's pan or 8-quart stockpot, saute the shrimp and scallops in the olive oil until the seafood is just short of being cooked all the way through, about 4-5 minutes. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the seafood to a very large bowl.

Step 3. Add the prepped vegetables to the seafood juices remaining in the pan. Over medium-high heat, saute, until the vegetables are just cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook the veggies. Turn the heat off. Using a slotted spoon, add and fold the vegetables into the shrimp and scallops.

Step 4. Discard pan juices. Wash and dry the pan (or at least wipe it out) and return it to the stovetop.

Step 5. Thoroughly combine the seafood and veggies together and set aside.  

In a 1-quart measuring container, place the 2 cups of wine. Drain and add all of the juice from the stewed tomatoes to the measuring container. If you don't have a total of 4 cups of liquid, make up the difference with a bit more wine.

Step 6. Over low heat, melt the 1 stick of butter. When the butter is completely melted, sprinkle in the rice/vermicelli. Do not add contents from seasoning packets yet.

Step 7. Increase heat to medium-high. Saute, stirring constantly, until the vermicelli is golden brown in color, about 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully as this can and will go from brown to burned very quickly.

Step 8. Slowly and carefully add the 4 cups of liquid!!! A lot of steam will be created and billow up, which can cause burns to the hands and face. Don't be scared, just be cautious. Stir in the contents of the seasoning packets, the red pepper flakes and the stewed tomatoes.

Step 9. Adjust the heat to a gentle but steady simmer.  

Cook, uncovered, about 20-25 minutes, until the Rice-A-Roni is almost cooked through, stirring occasionally.

The mixture will be thick, yet still soupy. The rice/pasta will be just less than al dente, and all liquid will not yet be completely absorbed.

Step 10. Add all of the seafood/vegetable mix, including the juices from the bowl. Once again, adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the rice/pasta is cooked through and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. This can take a little as 5 minutes, or as long as 10. Serve when it is to your liking!

If you have the time, JoePa highly recommends removing the pan from the heat, covering it and allowing it to rest about 15-30 minutes prior to serving garnished with freshly minced cilantro or parsley leaves/sprigs:

PICT2675 JoePa's Easy Cajun-Creole Seafood Jambalaya:  Recipe yields 12-16 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; large slotted spoon; very large bowl; 1-quart measuring container

Cook's Note: This recipe can be prepared 1-2 days in advance of serving. Return it to room temperature before reheating in the microwave. That being said, I have also served it casserole-style by transferring it to a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish and reheating it in the microwave as well!

Extra Cook's Note: When fresh sweet corn is in season, I like to add and stir in about 1 1/2-2 cups of "shaved" cooked corn kernels (shaved from about 3 cobs of cooked sweet corn) along with the seafood during the last 5-10 minutes of the cooking process! 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)

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