Tonight, after much hesitation, I decided to tackle Louisiana-style red beans and rice. Now, given that I’m not Cajun and have only eaten beans and rice a few times, I know my first try isn’t going to be bang on. I didn’t realize something that sounds as simple as kidney beans and rice was as much of a process as it is, but it’s kind of cool to spend 3-4 hours making them because it gives you a sense for why they’re done in such a fashion. I’ve figured out that generally the longer you cook something, the more flavour is infused. Just don’t make them on say, a Tuesday night, if you’re planning on having them for family dinner. They’re more of a Sunday creation, and since I’m on my month off, well hell… every day is Sunday for me.
The beans really do take forever to get to the proper consistency. You’ll be walking over to the pot every once in a while and you’ll notice they still seem to be submersed in water – don’t let it throw you off. They’re now headed in to their second hour of simmering and they still seem watery. I was hesitant to add the vegetables while the water was still as high as it was, but I did… as well as the spices. I picked up a wonderful invention called Liquid Smoke (which smells like a bonfire in a bottle), because the recipe I was going by called for it… and I think that probably made the dish. They’re still not done, so I haven’t eaten any yet, but the kitchen smells divine. It smells like it should… it smells like Louisiana. I grilled slices of chorizo sausage since we don’t have the weird Creole ones all the way up here in Canada, and then put them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients. I have never cooked with chorizo, and I had no idea how great it smelled. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for everything to soak up the water and turn in to “mush”.
Update: Ok, so now it’s finished and I could not believe how incredible this tasted.
I had a small bowl of it as soon as I turned the element off and… wow. I made a few minor changes to this recipe; I added one chopped jalapeno, since I had one that I needed to use, and I added about 1.5 tsp of cumin, and then I substituted Frank’s Hot Sauce since I don’t have cayenne. And of course I used meat, so it’s actually “avec animaux” :) The spice level is just minor; there’s just enough heat in there to taste that it has a little kick, but makes you wonder where it’s coming from. If you like it hotter than hell, feel free to do so. I do, but I’m feeding this to other people, so I have to cool it.
If it’s not authentic Louisiana-style, it comes in as a pretty close relative. In fact I was so excited over how authentic it turned out, that I dished some into a plastic container to run over to my sister at her work (beans and rice is one of her favourite dishes and she actually got me pumped to try making them), but she wasn’t there. Oh well. I’ll bring her some when I get back from London.
Prior to the beans and rice I lent my hand to the best veggie burgers on the planet.
I found the recipe online and thought it sounded pretty good. I had been in search of a good oatmeal burger for quite some time, because one of the cooks I worked with used to make them that way, but he never gave me the recipe. When I found this one I was skeptical, like all the other people leaving comments, about the step that calls for steaming the burgers in vegetable stock… but I’m glad I did because it was the cherry on top. I actually used Knorr vegetable powder with a cup of boiling water because I love Knorr (I use it to flavour all my veggie dishes, like my pilaf). That step is what brings the juices and the flavour in to the burger. I ate one for dinner and was absolutely stuffed from that alone. It’s got a lot of substance to it, with the walnuts and the oatmeal.
I gave one to my mom, but I don’t think she is looking forward to trying it haha. I think she’ll be pleasantly surprised when she does, though. It’s as close to a meat substitute as you’re going to get. I’m not a vegetarian, but I do like veggie burgers quite a bit, and for anyone who IS a vegetarian, this is a fantastic recipe to earmark. If you follow it as directed, they do not fall apart at all. If you’re a vegan and you have an aversion to egg… well, sorry about your luck. I couldn’t even try telling you what a suitable substitute for that would be.
I’m off to London tomorrow. Miss’s friend from work has a layover there and we’re staying overnight and having a few drinks. I’m excited for a mini getaway :)