Cooking Under Quarantine — Cajun Comfort!

Cooking Under Quarantine is back! In this episode, we’re making Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya.

I ate Jambalaya for the first (and certainly not the last!) time while visiting New Orleans. New Orleans is the kind of city that foodie dreams are made of, and I love it. In the past, I’d visit about once a year with friends and we’d spend a long weekend eating delicious cajun food, drinking, spending time at the pool, then rinse and repeat.

So, when I thought of what to make next in this series, the choice was easy. Jambalaya is a hearty rice-based dish with meat and/or seafood, tomato, veggies and a little cajun kick. This comforting one-pot dish comes together in under an hour and is super versatile and adaptable for cooks of any level. So follow along with Chef Jon and let us know how yours turned out!

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Ingredients:

  • Boneless chicken breast or thighs, 1-2lb
  • Andouille sausage (or another kind of smoked sausage), 4 links
  • Onions, 1 big or 2 small, chopped 
  • Carrots, 2, chopped 
  • Bell pepper, 2 chopped 
  • Scallions, 1 bunch
  • Can of crushed tomatoes, 28oz can
  • Tomato paste, small can
  • Cajun seasoning, 2-3tbsp
  • Gumbo file, 2 tsp (optional)
  • Rice, 1 cup
  • Chicken broth (or vegetable broth), 1-2 cups
  • Garlic, 5-6 cloves
  • Favorite brand of hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil frying pan with at least a 1 inch lip, and sauté sausage for at 7-10 min until browned but not 100% cooked through
  2. Remove sausage from pan and set aside for later.
  3. In the sausage fat, start to sauté your veggies. Season with salt and pepper 
  4. Add garlic once veggies are soft and sauté until starting to brown
  5. Make a well in middle of pan by pushing veggies to the sides, and add chicken
  6. Once chicken has browned, add 1-2 spoonfuls of tomato paste as well as Cajun seasoning
  7. Add rice to pan and toast for a couple of minutes
  8. Add crushed tomatoes and broth and give the pan a few big stirs so everything is mixed up well. Also add sausage back into the pan
  9. Cover and cook for 20-25 min depending on what kind of rice you’re using — stir pan every 5-10 min but don’t mess with it too much. Add extra liquid if needed
  10. Garnish with chopped scallions and add hot sauce

Enjoy y’all!

Let’s Talk Tuna — Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

While everything is going on, even a quick run to the grocery store has become a great feat. So, it seems like a great time to use up those items in your pantry. Something that I almost always have in my cabinet? Canned tuna.

Now, I too love a great tuna sandwich, but tuna salad gets boring after a while, amirite? Enter “Tuna Pasta Puttanesca” — this hearty, comforting pasta dish pulls double duty as not only a delicious dinner, but also uses up ingredients you might not have even remembered you had! Tomatoes, olives, capers, and our star ingredient, TUNA, make this easy meal a crowd pleaser and it’s packed with protein so will feed about 4 or 2-3 very hungry people!

Tuna Pasta Puttanesca

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of pasta (traditionally made with Spaghetti, but you can use any pasta)
  • 28oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic or 3-4 cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tin of anchovies in oil
  • 1 small jar of capers, halfway drained
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of olives — your favorite kind
  • 2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of tuna fish
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
  2. In a flat sauté pan (with at least a 1/2 inch lip), add some olive oil and put over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer.
  3. Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
  4. Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
  5. Once the garlic starts to brown, add all the herbs and red pepper flakes until you begin to smell the aroma of the herbs coming off the pan.
  6. Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
  7. After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
  8. Let this cook for a few minutes until there is only a little bit of liquid left, and it is mostly solid and mixed in with the tomatoes.
  9. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
  10.  Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
  11.  In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
  12.  Add a big handful of salt to the water — this step is needed to not only season the pasta but also help the sauce come together later from the starch that comes off the pasta.
  13.  Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
  14.  Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
  15.  Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
  16.  Once pasta is al dente (still has a slight bite), add it directly to the saucepan along with a little bit of pasta water (make sure you reserve some more pasta water for later), and bring the heat to medium/medium-high.
  17.  Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
  18.  Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!

Cooking Under Quarantine

For the last couple of years, I’ve been heavily focused on my catering company, J2Food. While the current public health crisis is going on, there are less parties and events happening, but people have still got to eat, right?!? And since we’re all stuck inside, why don’t we cook together? Enter in our new cooking series — “Cooking Under Quarantine.” Each episode will feature delicious and easy-to-make recipes that you can make at home with accessible ingredients. Perfect for chefs of all levels!

For our first episode, we’re cooking up a classic chicken dish to celebrate Shabbat (Friday night). This delicious Chicken Marsala is an easy, one pot dish that comes together in under an hour! So, it’s also great for a weeknight dinner that you want to make a little more special. This recipe is also great for veal cutlets or even tofu or a meaty fish to make it vegetarian.

Have ideas for future recipes you’d like to see? Email us at jonsmoveablefeasts@gmail.com or info@jsquaredfood.com.

Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours! Now, let’s get cooking! Follow along with the video below, or check out the recipe here.

Cooking With Curry

I love coming up with new ways to cook with some of my favorite ingredients, especially comfort foods. To me, a big wok full of curry is super comforting and was one of the dishes I made all the time when I moved into my first solo apartment. It’s warm, earthy, spicy and makes me feel good all over. Plus, it’s amazing for leftovers! So, when Mama Lam’s, a local food vendor making and selling their own Malaysian Curry Paste that I had the pleasure of meeting at the annual Queens Taste, event contacted me about partnering up, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to try cooking with their homemade, Malaysian curry paste and curating a couple of dishes to use their product in.

Photo May 26, 7 48 44 PM (1)

I decided to create a curry themed meal featuring Mama Lam’s Curry Paste two ways—a Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon and a Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu. Check out the recipes below and also watch my YouTube cooking demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PCoQ8uLQYU.

Photo May 26, 7 48 59 PM (1)

Pistachio Crusted Curry Salmon

  • 4-6 salmon filets (skin on)Photo May 26, 4 41 17 PM
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finelyPhoto May 26, 4 43 42 PM
  • 1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
  • 1 tbsp Sambal Olek or another Southeast Asian chili sauce—Sriracha works fine.
    • I recommend not skipping this ingredient, even if you don’t like spicy food. The fish has a warming heat and it is very much tempered by the coconut milk and acidity of the lime juice
  • 1/2 can of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, chopped
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into pieces–you can also use 1/2 tbsp of chopped lemongrass from a tube. You’ll find this near the fresh herbs in the marketPhoto May 26, 4 42 29 PM
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cups of roasted pistachios, shell removed
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp of black pepper
  1. Create a marinade with the chili sauce, ginger, garlic, lime juice, coconut milk, lemongrass, oil, salt and pepperPhoto May 26, 4 48 24 PMPhoto May 26, 4 49 46 PM
  2. Marinade the salmon for at least an hour and up to 4 hours
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  4. Crush the pistachios with either your hands or a mallet. A rolling pin works well too—this is very cathartic and a great way to take out your aggression. Ha!
  5. After the fish has soaked, dip the salmon into the pistachios and coat on sides and top with the nuts
  6. Place the salmon skin side down on a greased baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until the crust is set—The fish should be cooked through, but still a bit pink in the center and very moist. It will continue cooking for a few minutes once it comes out of the oven
  7. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice over the topPhoto May 26, 7 48 29 PM (1)
  8. This fish is delicious served all on its own with a fresh salad or some roasted asparagus, but is even better with some Curry Noodles!

Curry Noodles with Crispy Tofu

  • 1 package of firm tofu, 14oz
  • 1 pound of broad rice noodles
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 eggplant—chopped into bite sized pieces. I love to use Japanese or graffiti eggplant for this dish not only because of the beautiful color, but also because it has less water in it than an Italian eggplant, so it’ll be sweeter and stay firmer when cooked downPhoto May 26, 5 04 02 PM
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1/2 jar of Mama Lam’s curry paste
  • 1 tbsp of Sambal Olek chili sauce
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped (reserve some for garnish)—also called green onion or spring onion in some supermarkets
  • 1 can of coconut milk—do not use reduced fat as the texture and thickness of the sauce will be off. Plus, coconut milk is a healthy fat
  • Vegetable or peanut oil—any high heat oil will do such as canola, corn, grapeseed oil, etc.Photo May 26, 7 14 11 PMPhoto May 26, 5 02 58 PMPhoto May 26, 5 05 58 PM
  1. The first step of this dish is to make the crispy tofu—who doesn’t like their tofu crispy?

  1. Tofu has a lot of water, which is why it usually tastes bland. In fact, the biggest mistake that most cooks make when handling tofu is not getting rid of the excess water. This will never work! Even if you just want to marinade the tofu you’ll still  need to do this stepPhoto May 26, 4 40 18 PM
  2. Put the tofu between two paper towels and press. Repeat this process 2-3 times, and then let the tofu sit between the towels for at least 20 minutes to really draw out the moisture
  3. Heat up your wok until it starts to smoke a little, then add the oil. It’s important that you don’t add your oil before this as you don’t want it to bubble up and burn youPhoto May 26, 7 14 05 PM
  4. Add the tofu to the wok and spread it out in a single layer—you should hear it sizzle. If there’s no sizzle, then your wok isn’t hot enough and your tofu will steam instead of crisp up
  5. Let the tofu cook on one side for a couple min, then mix it up and repeat this process a few times until it’s crispy on all sides. This shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes or so
  6. Put your tofu on a plate and place aside for later on
  7. Heat your wok back up on the stove while you get the rest of your ingredients ready
  8. Add some more oil, then add the garlic, ginger and scallions—this is the holy trinity of Asian dishes!
  9. Let these sauté for a minute, then add the curry paste and heat through, followed by the onions, peppers and eggplant
  10. Let the veggies cook for a few minutes, then add the fish sauce, chili sauce and coconut milk and stir until it becomes a homogenized sauce
  11. Cook the curry for at least 10 minutes or longer depending on how thick you like your sauce—as it cooks the flavors of the salty fish sauce, spicy chilis, earthy curry and more will concentrate
  12. Meanwhile, drop the rice noodles into some salted boiling water—off the heat—and let soak for 5 minutes
  13. Add the par-cooked noodles to the curry and toss together in the wok
  14. Let the noodles and curry cook together as the noodles absorb the sauce and meld together into one cohesive dish
  15. Garnish with the crispy tofu, fresh cilantro, chopped scallions, and some chopped peanuts or pistachios if you’d like to tie the two dishes together even more
  16. Eat while still hot or add some sesame oil and have as a cold salad the next day for lunch. Yum!

Enjoy these dishes together with a Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad for a fabulous Southeast Asian inspired dinner at home.

Photo May 26, 7 48 50 PM (1).jpg

You can order Mama Lam’s delicious Curry Paste here: https://www.mamalams.com/shop-1/curry-sau

To watch the cooking demo for these recipes, click here or watch below.