Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week 4: Cajun/Creole Cooking and Personal Training? This doesn't mix.

Cajun Blackened Fish Steaks

As we go into week four of the World Cuisine Cooking Challenge,  I have a few thoughts.

1)  Cooking is fun.  Cooking is EASY.

I have said before...Until 2008,  I could barely boil water.  I remember on one of my early dates with The Tester* (*more original name likely never coming),  I basically got my roommate to cook dinner for me to pass off as mine.  It was spaghetti.  I couldn't even make spaghetti.  By the way,  Thanks Cara ;).  I still owe you for that.

2)  Cooking means lots of food to try.

I am amazed at how comfortable I am in a grocery store now.  I see things on recipes and I think,  "I will never be able to find that."  I take a few laps and breathe until I locate what I'm looking for on that trip. (Back story:  I used to have high anxiety in grocery stores...there is SO MUCH STUFF...and if I didn't know EXACTLY what I was there to get and where to find it...forget it,  I freaked out".)  I also have tried so many new things and I love that!  I am learning what spices go with what sort of cuisine I'm cooking which makes throwing stuff together so much more easy!

3)  Cooking means you eat a you "can" put on weight if you eat too much!

This is what brings me to the "trainer" part of the title.  My gym has given me 3 personal training sessions and I'm so thankful.  All of this food is amazing but all of this food is adding on the LB's!!!!  I'm being dramatic....for the 7 months I have been in London,  I have fluctuated up and down 8 lbs. ...I can live with that.  As long as I feel good about myself and get some exercise to balance out all of this culinary goodness,  I'm A-Okay!!  My trainer, Jason,  has been kicking my butt and I think it was much needed as I realize what poor toning shape I'm in and that makes me angry so I'm DETERMINED to get back in great shape! I have put it out there so now I'm accountable!!!

4)  You learn from your mistakes....

Beautiful inside of a sweet potato.
This brings us to Cajun/Creole week.  I went straight to the heart of it and attempted a Spicy Meat Gumbo on Monday night.  It is becoming a pattern....I used Jamie Oliver again and his New Orleans chapter of "America".  The mistake I made on this dish was in the initial frying of the chicken.  I was instructed to drop the chicken into my dutch oven with a "little bit" of oil.  Now, I'm from the South in the United States and when you say "FRY" and "CHICKEN" in the same sentence...that equals what did I do?  I added about 3/4 cup of oil.  What I forgot to do was note all of the other ingredients that would be frying at the same time.....BACON......CHORIZO.

Ooops.  Mucho OIL!
(Small note about is amazing.  Before I ate meat,  I used to make my cooking mentor, Andrew, use turkey chorizo or some other imitation in his WORLD FAMOUS FABULOUS DELICIOUS PAELLA.  I owe him a public apology here as I NEVER knew how I was insulting him or the dish by not allowing the REAL DEAL!!!!!  IT IS AMAZE AMAZE!!!!  FABULOUS).

Okay,  meanwhile,  so now I have 3/4 cup of oil,  chicken and two meats who will release oil on their own as they are fried....the result...a one way ticket to OILVILLE!!!  I added all of the other ingredients and, once finished,  I had a soup looking thing that was mostly,  you guessed it,  OIL.  The dish was good after I put it through a strainer to get rid of the evidence.  The tester* loved it and so did I after these adjustments.  I couldn't find Jamie Oliver's recipe online but, again,  it can be found in his "America" book.  Order it here:

Fish Flip = FAIL
Last night,  I went for Jamie's Cajun Blackened Fish Steaks...also from the New Orleans Chapter in "Jamie's America".  I used Haddock from the store and felt really confident after applying the delicious spicy rub to the fillets.  What I learned while cooking is that I'm not the fabulous chef that I sometimes I think I am.  When I went to flip the fish,  they crumbled on me and came apart...those are delicate little suckers.  The fish was amazing and I also came out learning a little bit about buying fish after watching a video on the topic.

1)  FISH SHOULD NOT STINK.  When you buy it,  it should smell fresh and like a beautiful ocean day on the beach...NOT FISHY.

2)  The eyes of a fish (if getting from a market) should be clear and not clouded over.  If they are clouded,  keep on isn't fresh.

3)  If you press your finger on the scales and they don't rebound,  that fish ain't FRESH.

Keep that stuff in mind and don't be afraid of making fish at home.  I have come a long way since my high school salmon cooking days.  Let's just DID smell fishy  ALL OVER our two story house...GROSS!!!!  The above dishes and mistakes made in preparing them...will help me grow and be even better on my next attempt at a Cajun  feast ;)!

Last night I made Shrimp Po Boy sandwiches (see gaining weight bit above)...OMG,  so good (and did a bit of real frying!!) but I'll write more about that later on...

In other news,  the blog has reached almost 3,000 hits!  I think people might actually be stopping by to read it!  If you have any comments, thoughts, recipes, tips, personal stories or comments below!  I would love to hear from people!!!!

Finally,  tonight's blog is sponsored by the beautiful tulips that The Tester* got me.  I had to photograph them as I had never seen any like the light pink ones photographed in detail below.  They were beautiful.   Until next time,  keep experimenting in the kitchen and in life...Have fun!

Beautiful?  Am I the only one who has never seen this?

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