Sunday, March 30, 2014


The beginnings of jambayala...YUM!

On March 29, 2014 we threw an engagement party for our Miss Mary Shaw and her betrothed. It was a Mardi Gras-themed party and I was tasked with making a NOLA jambalaya. 
Around 20 years ago, George and I were at a party and the hosts served jambalaya. It was just delicious so I asked for the recipe, which they happily shared. Surprisingly, I never made the recipe until this engagement party. I used the original recipe as a starting point and then ended up doing my own thing - a throw-n-go type of thing for sure!  
Below is what I did, but, as it was for me with the original recipe, it's just a starting point - just throw and go! Delicious results will be in your future! (Below makes about 3 - 4 gallons - reduce for your needs.)

olive oil
2.5 lb. package Costco (Sausages by ~AMYLU~) gluten-free Andouille sausage 
6 lb. (approximate) package Costco boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large onions, chopped
2 large yellow peppers, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
4 large red peppers, chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
4 to 5 -14.5 oz.cans petite or regular diced tomatoes 
4 to 5++ 32 oz. boxes chicken stock (I used Whole Foods 365 organic brand)
parsley, chopped
Frank’s RedHot sauce (I used 1/2 of a 12 oz. bottle)
~Cajun Seasonings~ by Penzey’s (Hand-mixed from: paprika, salt, celery, sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, oregano, red pepper, caraway, dill, turmeric, cumin, bay, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme.
2 1/2 C. basmati rice 
3 lbs. fresh shrimp (bay scallops could be used as well)

Cut the sausage into 1/4” slices. Cut the chicken into chunks. Remove the tail from the shrimp and cut them in half.  
In a large skillet heat enough olive oil to smear the bottom of the skillet. Place sausage sliced in the skillet in a single layer and sauté until brown. Turn slices over and sauté until that side is brown. Do this in batches and throw done slices in a very large soup pot. (Mine is a 3-gallon All Clad soup pot that I absolutely adore (Thanks Kimmy!) Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the skillet (with more olive oil if necessary) and sauté until done. Do this in batches if necessary as you want the veggies to brown and not steam. When done, add veggies to the soup pot. 
Generously sprinkle the chicken with the Cajun seasonings and sauté in the skillet, adding more olive oil if needed. Do this in batches. When done, add chicken to the big pot. 
Add 4 of the 32 oz. boxes to the soup pot and also the rice. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer until the rice is done. Skim fat off if necessary. 
At this point, you can hold the jambalaya until 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. 
Add the shrimp about 15 minutes before you are eating, heat the soup, add more broth if it is too thick and serve. 

Crusty bread is a perfect side. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Marsala-la-la!

Chicken Marsala-la-la! by annbumbly
Chicken Marsala with Crumbled Crisp Pancetta

Above is one of our more delicious Sunday Family Dinner meals. Chicken Marsala with a secret ingredient added to it. No, those aren't diced tomatoes on top of the dish, it's oven crisped then crumbled pancetta. Talk about taking a delicious dish and making it absolutely awesome! Major yum factor going on here!

The Throw 'n Go:

Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless and pounded to an even thickness
eggs seasoned with salt and pepper
flour (or gluten-free bread crumbs) seasoned well with thyme, salt and fresh-ground pepper
olive oil
1 large box (or 2 small boxes) sliced mushrooms
2 - 3 tablespoons flour
3/4 of a bottle of marsala wine
1 cup or so chicken stock
pancetta rounds
parsley, chopped

Heat oven to 400. Place pancetta rounds on a parchment covered cookie sheet, put in oven and bake until pancetta is very crispy. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. Take out of oven and set aside.
Heat about 1/2" mixture of half oil and butter in a large (preferably) cast iron skillet over medium high. Dip chicken in the egg mixture and then the seasoned flour and place in the skillet. Do this in batches so the chicken pieces aren't crowded. (Be careful of the skillet temp as you don't want the delicious brown bits to burn and blacken.) As they are done, put them on an oven-proof platter and lightly cover with foil.
When all the chicken is done, add the mushrooms to the skillet, and more butter if necessary. Saute until the mushrooms have given up most of their moisture and are beginning to lightly brown. Add the flour at this point and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly. Add the marsala and chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has reduced by about half. Taste sauce to check for seasonings.
Pour sauce over the chicken, crumble the pancetta over the top and then top all with the parsley.

We served our Chicken Marsala with buttered egg noodles, baby peas and a green salad.

'till we feast again!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hot 'n Sweet 'n Spicy Walnut Goodness

Hot 'n Sweet Walnuts by annbumbly
Hot 'n Sweet 'n Spicy Walnuts
We met for our Gourmet Group recently and this time our theme was '50's and '60's Gourmet magazine recipes. My contributions were part of the appetizer round and were the above spiced walnuts and strawberry daiquiris. (Got off pretty easy this time around!) The daiquiris were the frozen mix bought at the grocery store along with a fine bottle of Bacardi. They were good, but soooo sweet, we couldn't manage more than one each. The walnuts were simply sublime. Wish I could take credit for inventing the recipe, but I can't. As usual I've now tweaked it a bit (no cloves - didn't have any) and the original recipe suggested that the cayenne was optional. How silly is that? Cayenne is never optional as far as I'm concerned!
The T'nG:
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. walnuts
6 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar (less to taste
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, (more to taste)
1/4 t. ground ginger, (more to taste)
1/4 t. ground allspice, (more to taste)
1/8 t. ground cloves, (more to taste)
1/8 t. cayenne pepper – (I always use a bit more - we like 'em kickin')
sea salt – optional 
Preheat oven to 325º.  In a bowl, stir the walnuts and butter until combined.  Add sugar and stir to coat evenly.  Bake on cookie sheet 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Put nuts back in your bowl and toss well with all seasonings.  Put back on the cookie sheet and bake for another 15 minutes – be careful not to brown too much.  Let cool in oven.  When completely cooled, place in airtight container until ready to serve.  4 cups.  From:  The Norwalk Hour; edited a bit by moi.
The rest of our Gourmet magazines meal
Of course I didn't think to take a photo of our meal until after we'd eaten and it was suggested that a photo should be shot of all the food, along with all the magazines. Everything looks served from, because it was. (There wasn't a whole duck side left, so we just plopped what remained down on the potatoes.)

We started our meal with the sweet 'n spicy nuts, on the far right. Stephanie, also on appetizers, made two "pates", one a cooked shrimp pate that was delicious, and the second, a chicken liver pate that, somewhere along the way, went horribly wrong. Steph followed the recipe to a "t" as she'd never made it before. It looked like, well, let's not go into that. I tasted it and it actually was tasty, just the looks of it...O dear!  That lovely veggie dish was the ratatouille Julie made. She's an excellent cook that I don't think has ever followed any recipe to a "t". Doesn't matter. Everything that comes from her kitchen is delicious! Next to that is our nearly finished escalloped potatoes and lying in the middle is the very last piece of grilled duck. Suzanne made the potatoes and Brian barbequed the duck. Excellent! Last but certainly not least was our dessert  - a Rum Custard made by Patty. It was one of the most delicious desserts I've ever had - a sentiment shared by all of us. Thankfully Patty has the recipe and, for your enjoyment, here it is:

The T'nG: 

for 10 -  12 servings:

4 C. heavy cream
1 C. sugar
12 egg yolks
3 T. white rum

Preheat the oven to 325º. In a double boiler, cook the heavy cream and sugar together until the sugar is incorporated. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and slowly add them to the cream mixture. Add the rum and stir until all is combined. Prepare your bain-marie (hot water in a rimmed pan that's just deep enough to come up to the edge of the custard - remember the containers will make the water rise and you don't want it to spill into the containers.) When custard is smooth, pour into individual ramekins and place in the bain-marie bath. Bake in the oven until custard is set, around 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and just before serving (warm or room temp - both are excellent) sprinkle the top with cracked pistachio nuts. DELICIOUS!

We used to keep a recipe record of each time we've broken bread together, but, alas, that fell by the wayside (um, thanks to moi). We'll start our 12th year together this coming February! them!

till we feast again!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kuri Squash Deliciousness!

Kuri before baking - such a beautiful veggie!

Kuri after the bake
In September of 2010, daughter Remy went to MO to stay with her grandparents while she finished her last year of college. On so many levels, it was one of the best years the three of them had, and when it came to food, a true match made in heaven! Mom is one of the best cooks out there - just ask any of her family or friends- and Rem isn't far behind. They both love ~good food~ and neither will settle for junk of any kind. 
Shortly after Rem arrived, she and mom went to Columbia's Farmer's Market, (it's huge and one of the finest farmers markets I've ever seen.). There, they discovered a vendor that had a squash mom, let alone Rem, had never heard of. So, of course, they bought one! Coincidentally, one of my mother's favorite food bloggers, David Lebovitz had a post dedicated to kuri and other squash, so in very short order, they both went from knowing nothing about kuri to deciding it was their very favorite of all the winter squashes! 
Fast forward a year and a half and Rem is on the way back to Connecticut. With her kuri squash seeds in hand. And when she accepted a teaching position at Hand-In-Hand for Haiti Foundation's school, Lycee Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (in Pont Leocan, St. Marc, Haiti), yup, the seeds went with her!  In April she gave the seed to the school's gardener to plant, but as she told me, the soil in Haiti is awful so she didn't have much hope they would actually sprout and grow, (though water melon grow in abundance everywhere - about the only thing that does). 
Fast forward again to this September 1st when Remy was back in Haiti after spending the summer here. She told her grandmother she walked by the garden and thought she saw peeks of kuri orange through all the green foliage. A short time later, Rem saw the school's gardener walking toward her with a huge grin on his face carrying the school's first ever kuri harvest to her. A Haitian garden success! 
Mom and Rem used Mr. Levovitz's post as their guide (he pointed out you don't need to remove skin on a kuri, it just sort of melts away during baking and you can't tell any difference between the skin and the flesh) as did I last night. Hands down, this is one of the most delicious squashes I've ever eaten! One word of caution, though. Be very careful when cutting it open and then into the wedges. There is a liklihood you could lose a finger because, before it's baked, the squash is super firm and very unwieldy. I managed to escape unscathed. Which rather surprises me...
If you're curious, go here  or here for more info on kuri squash.

The T'nG:

a kuri squash (Whole Foods has them right now), size based on how many you're feeding
a medium onion (I used a red onion)
4 - 6 garlic cloves
rosemary, fresh (or fresh thyme, or sage)
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground black pepper (I always use tellicherry peppercorns - love their flavor best!)
sea salt

parchment paper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400º. Cut a bit off the top and bottom of your squash so it sits squarely on your cutting board while you cut it in half. Once cut in half, scoop out the seeds and all the stringy innards. (I didn't scrape all the stringy stuff out enough, and my cut wedges had a layer of greyish stuff that I then had to cut off.) Place the pieces in a ziploc bag. Peel onion and then cut in half from the top to the root. Cut the onion from top to the root in 1/4" or so strips and add to the ziploc bag. Pour in a good amount of your EVOO, seal the bag and toss well to coat all. Divide evenly between 1 or 2 baking sheets that are covered with parchment (parchment is optional - makes clean-up easier). Make sure the wedges are placed as above so they don't touch. That allows them to caramelize and not steam. Be sure the onion is evenly spread if using more than one tray. Add halved garlic cloves to your tray(s). Chop up a handful of rosemary (what I used) and scatter evenly over all. Add your pepper and salt. Put in the oven and roast for 20 - 30 minutes, until the squash is done. Serve. Take your first bite and be transported to that lovely place where food is like a little bite of heaven.

The Remy daughter's T'nG:

"Lately, I have been tossing mine [kuri squash] with olive oil, diced garlic, a diced habenero pepper, a coating of coriander, a touch of cumin and salt to taste, baked at 420 for 30 - 40 minutes. The roomies love it!"


till we feast again! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Any Fruit Crisp - Mum Bum YUM!

Fruit Crisp by annbumbly
Beginnings of a  blueberry-nectarine crisp
What a treat!

My mom is the quintessential fruit crisp and pie maker, bar none. Give her some fruit and quick as can be, we'll be treated to a delicious dessert! I asked her to please write down how she makes her crisps and pies because, of course, she'd never done that (true T'nGG). Instead, she dictated directions to me which I wrote down for our family. (Family recipes are most important. Remember that!) Follow her directions and you will have created one of the most delicious and memorable desserts you've ever bitten into. YUM! (Pie fixin's to come.)

The T'nG (in mom's words):

Heat oven to 400º.

The Filling: Put your fruit of choice in an au gratin dish. Fill until about 1/2" from the top. (This could be unpeeled fresh peaches, nectarines, Italian prune plumbs or other plums. Or apples, fresh blackberries, blueberries, hulled bing cherries, tart cherries (adjust sugar amount accordingly for tartness), a mixture of berries and slices (see above), or rhubarb, rhubarb with strawberries; whatever you like. You can also use frozen fruit. (Citrus isn't appropriate for this.)

The Topping: A rounded 2/3 C. flour, 2/3 C. sugar, 1/2 C. regular oatmeal (not steel-cut). If an apple crisp - add cinnamon; peach or nectarine - add nutmeg; cherry - add almond extract. Put all in a food processor and pulse enough to mix. Add 1/2 - 1 stick cold butter that's been cut into chunks and added a chunk at a time. Pulse until you have a coarse meal. (You can also do this with two forks or a pastry cutter if no food processor is available.) Spread that over the top of the fruit so all is covered. Bake at 400º for about 45 minutes. It's done when the crust on top is getting golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling up from below. 

You can use any size oven-proof dish, just add amount of fruit and topping accordingly. The larger the dish, the longer it will take to bake. Delicious!

This is the very best baked an hour or two before you want to serve it, so it hot! It's excellent with a dollop of creme fraiche or excellent vanilla ice cream on it. 

P.S. - It's really true - you don't ever need to bother to peel the fruit. Absolutely not necessary - you'll never know the peel is there as it just melts away during baking. Plus, think of the fiber....well, maybe don't think of that.... 


till we feast again!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Clams on the Grill! Corn in the Skillet!

IMG_0005 by annbumbly
Cousins grillin' up some scrumptious eats


Fresh corn-off-the-cob = in the skillet goodness!

The hubs played in a charity golf tournament the other day and won one of the door prizes - a bushel of fresh Long Island Sound clams (actually he won an embarrassing number of door prizes; I've been visiting a lot of restaurants and wine shops of late). While this is one of our favorite foods, a bushel of clams is a lot more clams than two folks could possibly consume. Good thing we have our Sunday Family Dinner tradition! We gathered, they grilled and we all moved directly toward a food coma. SO good! The clams started our meal and were followed by the corn, grilled assorted sausages and a big green salad. So very good!

The T'nG:

For the clams: 

butter, melted (LOTS) keep it warm (clarified butter is nice)

Store the clams either on ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator in an open bag until ready to use. About 40 minutes before grilling, place clams in a colander and rinse them, then put them in a big bowl (or kitchen sink) and cover them with cold tap water. Sprinkle corn flour or black pepper into the water and give all a gentle stir. Leave the clams - do not stir - in the water for 20 minutes. After that time is up, gently lift the clams individually, or a few at a time, out of the water. Clean anything ugly off the shell, rinse and put into a lasagna-like pan. (It's better to lift them out one by one as just dumping them into the colander would also dump the sand back on top of the clams. Not good.) Place clams on your prepared charcoal/gas grill, see above, and grill with the lid closed until they pop open. As they pop open, place clams on a platter or another lasagna-like pan. Serve. If you have a ginormous amount of clams like we did, use two serving pans and serve the clams in shifts. Delicious!  

For the corn: 

Corn, use frozen, fresh cut off the cob, or in our case, left-over grilled corn cut off the cob
cayenne and fresh ground black pepper
sea salt

Warm butter in a large skillet (and while I almost always use an iron skillet, for some reason I didn't when cooking the corn that night - what's up with that??). Add corn to the skillet and stir. Let corn sauté, stirring often until it begins to caramelize. Be sure to scrape the bottom of your skillet to get all the lovely brown bits that will be forming there. Add cayenne and black pepper to taste as well as salt. You want it to have a bite, but not enough to take your head off. You can do all of this ahead (takes about 30 minutes for good caramelization) and just reheat right before serving. Wonderful!


'till we feast again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mustard Greens in a Skillet

You'd never know this was once a very large amount of mustard greens!
They cook down even more than spinach does!

That's my Calphalon 12" - 5 quart sauté pan I found at a yard sale for $1.00!

Julie and I ventured up to the Greenfield Hill farmers' market in Fairfield, CT last Saturday. We tend to go there more than the markets closer to home as the vendors there have top-notch products, a pizza truck and usually a pasta truck are in attendance, and, to top things off, our good friend Jane works at the liquor store and they have a wine tasting of top-notch wines every Saturday afternoon. This time around, I came home with some of my favorite Italian flat beans, some beautiful fresh-from-the-hen eggs - brown, white and a beautiful blue one, a huge head of red leaf lettuce, and a lot of other veggies. I was getting ready to pay for some of the veggies when, out of the corner of my eye I spotted a big mess of mustard greens. I picked them up and asked the price. The two guys checking me out just looked at me and shrugged, which made no sense until a lady came over and informed me those greens were hers she'd gotten at another one of the stands. I quickly found out which stand and bee-lined over to get my own mess. There was one mess left and the guy said they'd been his most popular veggie this week and he'd only brought them on a whim because he wasn't sure anyone would know what to do with them. Being my mother's child, I did know what to do. And that was, pick up the phone and call mom to see how to best cook 'em up as greens are a regular on her dinner table. Alas, she wasn't home the night we had them, so Miss Lauren, who joined us for dinner that night, and I guessed what to do, based on how I'd watched mom do greens in the past. They were delicious! It was Lauren's idea to add the vinegar to cut the natural bitterness and that sent the whole dish to over-the-top yumminess! (We though of adding a can of cannellini beans - love beans and greens sautéed together - but decided not to this time as we were also having skillet corn with our meal.) Hope you try this! Mustard greens are quite mustardy-tart and flavorful - delicious!

The T'nG: 

1 - 2 bunches mustard greens (add any greens you like), washed thoroughly
garlic cloves or an onion, sliced
olive oil to coat bottom f skillet
black pepper, fresh ground
salt if desired
a splash of red wine vinegar 

I cannot stress enough the importance of washing the greens very very thoroughly. Just keep in mind as you're washing and looking at each leaf, front and back, that slugs love those leaves, too! Let rinse water remain on the leaves, don't spin or shake dry. After the leaves and flowers are washed, strip the leaves from the tough lower stems and cut the stems of the flowers where they begin to get tough - much like snapping an asparagus stem off at the tough spot. Gather all the leaves together length-wise and then ribbon cut them into 1/2" - 1" wide strips. Heat oil until just smoking, throw in the garlic (what we used) and sauté for a minute to release its flavor. Throw in the greens and sauté, stirring to get all of them evenly cooked. Take off the heat and season with pepper, salt and splashes of red wine. Taste and correct seasonings. Delicious served warm or at room temperature. 


Below is a photo (borrowed, source noted, as I totally forgot to take that shot myself) of what mustard greens look like before cooking. It was amazing how much they cooked down! That skillet was entirely covered before they wilted down to what you see there. After they were cooked, the greens fit perfectly in a cereal-sized bowl. Next time I'll know to get two!

mustard greens washed and ready to be chopped, flowers and all
photo source


till we feast again!