Wednesday, March 13, 2013

J - Jambalaya

A photograph of Jambalaya
Jambalaya

“Creole and Cajun cooking, the food of New Orleans and the surround countryside, is one of the most vibrant and exciting cuisines in the world today. French in its origin and accents, this spicy and sometimes fiery tradition also embodies elements of Native American, Spanish and African cooking… The Creole cooks of New Orleans created a sophisticated and complex cuisine that blends French techniques with local products and traditions… Cajun cooking is the earthy, flavourful and sometimes fiery cooking of the southern Louisiana countryside.”

– Denis Kelly, ‘Creole & Cajun Cooking’


More photographs inside.
The jambalaya for this week’s entry was an amalgam of two recipes – one from Denis Kelly’s book and another from my grandmother’s old cookbook. This was the book that she started compiling when she took cooking lessons (as young ladies of the time did) and it was the book she added to throughout her life. Aachhi was a formidable cook and some of my earliest memories are of helping her in the pantry.  Her book is yellowed and bit worse for wear, but I recently got it bound with a lovely leather cover and it is one of my favourite cookbooks, full of recipes that she accumulated over the years and that I have enjoyed at the large family dining table.


A photograph of a back-lit bottle of Tabasco Sauce
Tabasco

Aachchi’s recipe for jambalaya was always going to be a winner. I mean, spicey fried chicken, prawn AND chorizo all in the one dish?!? HellO there! Who cares if the last is not all together completely authentic – it is probably the secret ingredient which makes this dish really special. Most of the other ingredients were in Mr Kelly’s recipe – onion, garlic, tomato, celery and capsicum. We used the Cajun spice mix prescribed by ‘Creole & Cajun Cooking’, which is a peppery mix of paprika, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder and onion powder. It’s super flavoursome and really adds a certain something to this dish.

A photograph of a sliced Onion
Onion

Jambalaya is not particularly tricky to make. There is a bit of chopping of the ingredients, but nothing too arduous. After frying up the chorizo and the chicken and softening the onion and other vegetables, everything goes into the pot with a swirl of chicken stock and bubbles away for half and hour or so until the rice is cooked. We didn’t dry it out too much but left it nice and moist which added to the flavour I think. Seasoning is simple – Worcestershire sauce and salt along with generous dashes of Tabasco to add a bit of kick. We made this in a cast iron casserole dish which, I swear, made it taste better.  I insisted on playing ‘Jambalaya’ by The Carpenters to get ourselves into the mood – corny, I know, but who’s to judge?

A photograph of Jambalaya
Jambalaya

Technical Details
The shot of the Tabasco bottle was probably the most "different" in terms of lighting.

A photograph of the lighting setup used to light the Tabasco Sauce bottle
Lighting setup - Tabasco

This was another two light setup.

The highlights on either side of the bottle were created by the Canon 430 EX II fired from behind the bottle.  IT was fired at 1/32 and zoomed to 24mm. The light from this strobe was bounced off two white surfaces on wither side of the bottle.

A Canon 580 EX II was fired at 1/64th and zoomed to 70mm to light the front of the bottle.  This strobe was fired from under the camera.





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