Sunday, January 31, 2010

JAM-BA-LA-YA!!!

The Treu household has always* had a great and amazing tradition; when we're really hungry and don't know what to eat, we can always count on some good ol' Zatarain's Jambalaya mix. We usually have a few boxes on hand, and we'll add kielbasa slices or shrimp along with lots and lots of Frank's Hot Sauce. This week we decided to channel our love and appreciation of this simple meal into a more exciting and original jambalya that we make ourselves!
*Not actually always. I'm pretty sure Luke's girlfriend Erin did it and we copied her. That's pretty much the same thing as always.


Luke found a recipe at Epicurious.com for some Smoked Sausage Jambalaya: http://www.Epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Smoked-Sausage-Jambalaya-356042 The ingredients can be found at just about any local grocery store, except for perhaps the andouille sausage. That seems a bit more exclusive, but our grocery store had it. When Luke told me we were using andouille sausage, he pronounced it "an-doo-lee" at first, as did the lady at the grocery store, so it wasn't until later that I realized that it was a word I had already seen in my French class. In English it simply means "a highly spiced smoked pork sausage." In French, it means "a numbskull; a generally ridiculous or incompetent person."

We thought it applied pretty well to the Conquistadors.

Here's the recipe from epicurious:
Gourmet | November 2009
by Andrea Albin
Andouille, the heavily spiced and smoked sausage that is a linchpin of so many Cajun dishes, adds its inimitable heat to an able stuffing stand-in. A swirl of cream gravy (above) can help quell the spice.
Yield: Makes 8 (side dish) servings
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 1/4 hr
ingredients
1 pound pork andouille sausage, sliced crosswise 1/3 inch thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (1 pound)
1 (28-ounces) can diced tomatoes
3 1/2 cups water

preparation
Cook sausage in oil in a wide 6-to 8-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Cook peppers, celery, onion, scallions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in fat remaining in pot, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in rice, sausage, tomatoes with their juice, water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and bring to a rolling boil.
Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, covered tightly with lid, until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.
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The really nice thing about jambalaya is that the preparation is not tough at all; or at least it's much less complex than some of the recipes we've been using. In the end you just throw everything into a big ol' pot and let it cook. We had to spent a little time chopping up vegetables and such, but that wasn't too tough. We used pre-chopped up celery (so we just kind of eyeballed the celery) and we forgot to get scallions*, but I don't think anybody noticed.
*corrected

The general concensus at the end was that our jambalaya was a success. Jambalaya is pretty hard to screw up, and it's ever so delicious! A word of caution, however; they don't just say that andouille sausage is spicy for no reason. Luke added a liberal amount of Frank's hot sauce while it was cooking as well, but you couldn't even taste the Frank's (and for those of you experienced with Frank's, you know it has a flavor all its own.) This jambalaya is not for the faint of heart or the faint of tongue; but if you think you can handle the fire, you should definitely go for it. It's an easy recipe that makes a good amount of delicious food, and honestly, what more can you ask for?

I really hope we aren't getting big heads with our recent successes, but we are definitely looking towards the future. February just might be our most exciting month yet; we're SOUPER excited!!
.
.
.
I'll give you a moment to recover from that one.

In all actuality, Soup Month is looking very bright! We've already gone shopping and gotten all the ingredients for our first endeavor of February (except the okra... they ran out of okra. So, most of the ingredients.) Stay tuned, because I've got a funny feeling that things are about to get a little more adventurous than usual. And "usual" is frightening enough.

A New Found Motivation!

Friends! Followers! People that feel obligated to view this page because we are related!

We, the Conquistadors, have discovered new found motivation!

We don't know where it came from either.

We've created a Twitter account, @CulinaryFTW for any tweeps that feel like following us there! We intend to tweet pretty regularly with regard to interesting recipes, sneak peeks at upcoming dishes, and culinary advice that we find along the way.

We've also created a Facebook page (look us up, become a fan!) and an email address as well. Feel free to contact us there with any questions or comments unrelated to a specific post: twotreus@gmail.com . Also feel free to send us a direct message or @CulinaryFTW on Twitter - we'll be checking both!

Anyhow, the Culinary Conquistadors are now more interactive than ever, so feel free to get in touch, give us a suggestion, comment on what you've seen... maybe even stand in as a guest star!

Another initiative we are undertaking is to start creating more videos. We'll still take pictures, but with a brand spankin' new copy of PowerDirector8 and a Flip HD camera readily available, we feel that we can take the experience further. We'll be sensitive to the time issue and try not to ramble!

Who knows? Maybe someday we'll host a chat, Twebinar, or live internet show along the way. For today, we're motivated. We've already bought the materials for our next undertaking... its that bad. Whatever's gotten into us, hopefully it doesn't fade. Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An Exceptional Blob for an Exceptional Blog

Boy oh boy, have we had some adventures!

So Luke has been all up on my case about how we need to get this blog back on track; which I do want to do, don't get me wrong. It's just the timing that has me in something of a tizzy. I've been going a bit crazy with the end of the school semester and the SAT coming up, but, being an amazingly multifaceted and talented genius, I have been able to engage in some conquistary (I just made that word!). We looked at a few things from Luke's new French mother of all cookbooks, and some of it was very interesting indeed. We really wanted to use this crab meat that we had discovered, and we were able to find a recipe in an older cookbook for a little piece of delicious known as:

Chicken Crab Valentine

Since it is drawing closer and closer to Valentines' Day, and we really wanted to use this crab somehow, this looked ever so promising. We also have an amazing brand-new innovative spectacular mind-blowing piece of technology: folk call it the "Handheld Video Recording Device." Sounds newfangled? We thought so too! So in addition to our regular blog post, we have recorded a documentary of our adventures for your perusing pleasure. Things... did not go exactly as planned. I'll let the video speak for itself.
**Sorry for the "Trial" text at the beginning... Windows Live Movie Maker, for lack of a better word, sucks and not only lacks features, but refuses to save our video project as a movie file or to publish it to the web for that matter (hence the delay since we filmed this). For now we just have the trial version of this much better program.**

video


Soooooo, as you can see, there was a good deal of the human element involved here, which is putting it lightly. (Putting it heavily: Luke's dumb.) Anyways, we are leaving it up to you whether you want to follow our lead - which we don't suggest - or follow the actual recipe. It's not online anywhere, so I shall just transpose it here:

CHICKEN CRAB VALENTINE

"Serve this to your sweetie - it's special"

6 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
5-6 drops pepper sauce
2 1/2 cups sour cream
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cans crab meat (7 1/2-oz.)
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 pkgs. frozen peas, cooked (10-oz. pkgs.)

Preparation: 30 min
Cooking: 1 hour
Serves: 8-10

In double boiler, melt butter; add flour and stir until smooth. Gradually add broth and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Add seasonings. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes. Add sour cream and continue hearing over simmering water. Add chicken and crabmeat. Mix lightly. Heat 10-15 minutes. Add crumbled bacon, if desired. Serve in a chafing dish or arrange on platter surrounded by peas. Best served with walnut rice, page 160.

Dorothy Hartley
-Three Rivers Cookbook II


As you saw, we took some "liberties" with these instructions (we made mistakes), but we ended up turning it into something unique. It didn't look like much... in fact it very much resembled a big ol' bowl of tuna. But it was actually ever so zesty, and the flavors melded together in a way that I hadn't expected.

Final thoughts:
-looked a bit gross
-probably because we messed it up
-tasted delicious
-although a tiny bit fishy
-very dense and filling
-made for some wonderful stories and inside jokes

Anyhow, try this one out. We'll be back. In the meantime, if any of you actually WATCHED the video, you know that next month's theme has already been chosen! Standby...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolutions...

... are made with the best of intentions, but often don't last.

This is a fact of life.

Now, with that point stated, I would like to let you all know what my New Year's Resolution of 2010 was! I vowed to resurrect the Conquistadors.... to trigger a phoenix-esque rebirth of this blog and all it stands for! Or would that be Quetzalcoatl-esque? Whatever the case, I want to see this blog flourish.

I have a few reasons.

First and foremost, I'm starting a job tomorrow as a public relations intern with Dix & Eaton downtown in Cleveland. I will be working full-time doing challenging communication work for the first time in my life! The best part? I don't get paid.

Wait, worst part.

Yes indeed, I will be learning the ways of the ever-buzzing socialite... and for this reason I predict an innate need is brewing deep within me to be trendy and creative in all parts of my life. How do I do this? Well, I suppose I could blog (check), tweet a lot (check), work on my writing abilities (check), and think outside the box during mundane daily activities... like cooking. Hmm... sounds like a good excuse to work on this here writin' space.

Secondly, and much simpler to understand, is that I got Je Sais Cuisiner ("I Know How To Cook")... the three generation old French cooking "bible" for Christmas and I have roughly 1,000 pages of reading / cooking to do on that front. Also for my birthday I got "Momofuku", a very complex book by famous chef David Chang featuring lots of interesting, NY restaurant-grade Asian-American fusion cooking. I don't have much of an excuse to NOT cook tbh.

Finally, we spent a week around Christmas in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and trust me, I ate some straaaange food. Much of which I still, to this day, cannot identify due to poor translations along the way. I survived (with mild symptoms), but my eyes were further widened to the wide array of culinary arts around the world and the possibilities rendered by various cultures. I'm into that.

So there are my reasons. The good intentions of the resolution, if you will. Now for the latter part... the "not always working out". See, I am one of two Conquistadors, the other being my rather brilliant (Yale, Harvard, Princeton... they all want him badly, no joke... he's in 11th grade), yet highly lethargic brother, Matty. Matty would lay with a cell phone in one hand and a Nintendo DS in the other all day long if he could, and unfortunately he has academic and extracurricular events regularly that he uses as convenient excuses. If I can't motivate him, this endeavor may be doomed.

That being said, I'm going to try. Hard. The world is full of interesting flavors and associated tomfoolery, and we can certainly spare some of our "wastin' time" generally reserved for inane chatter, videogames, and Youtube videos to tackle said eats. You'll know soon enough if I've been successful. Wish me the best. Hope to post again soon...