This week in cooking class, students made Jambalaya and biscuits. Besides being wonderful to say (Jambalaya!), it really is a pot of vegetables with some rice – and kids love it. Jambalaya is from the Cajun culture of New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. We paired the Jambalaya with southern style biscuits. Learning to cook is also about learning history and culture. Biscuits aren’t something we would serve up daily – as we prefer to eat and serve whole grain bread at lunch, however, buttermilk biscuits are delicious and connect us with a part of our culture in the United States. Most food does offer a story, a connection that enriches our meal experience.
If you’ve never made it, don’t be intimidated by the fancy name that Jambalaya carries. It begins with the trinity stock common in Creole cuisine: celery peppers and onions. A bunch of vegetables are added, along with some thyme, bay, paprika, cayenne and garlic, and rounded out with rice. The biscuits – they are a breeze.
1 large onion
2 green peppers
2 stalks of celery
2 fresh tomatoes, or 1 can with juice
2 small Italian eggplants (or 1 small regular one)
1 yellow squash
1 8oz package of mushrooms
teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder, 6 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups water or vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup low-fat sour cream (optional – for topping)
Heat oil in a pan, add onions and sweat them until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add celery and green peppers, sweat for 5 more minutes. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and all other vegetables including garlic until everything starts to soften and then add the vegetable (or other) stock and the rice. Bring it to a simmer, then cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Let cook until the rice is absorbed.
2 cups AP flour (prefer White Lily brand)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter (very cold cut into small pieces)
3/4 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 450F. Cut butter into the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add buttermilk just to combine. Add more buttermilk if it looks dry – maybe 1 Tablespoon. Turn dough onto floured surface, and gently pat to 1/2″ thick. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Place gently onto parchment lined sheets with edges touching. Bake for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!