This week on my blog, I'm sharing some of my favorite and must-have cookbooks that everyone should own. One of those cookbooks that always ends up on every must-have list is "Joy of Cooking." I can't tell you how many people I know who have said they own "Joy of Cooking" or have received it as a wedding gift. "Joy of Cooking" is easily one of the most recognized and informative cookbooks, with countless recipes and explanations of techniques; this is especially helpful for new cooks. There are many reasons why I love this cookbook—obviously, one of the main reasons is simply because of the depth and range of recipes that it offers. Another reason why I love this cookbook is the story behind the book and how it came into existence.
"Joy of Cooking" was originally published independently in 1931—yes, 1931—and is still a very popular cookbook amongst cooks both amateur and professional. The author (and genius, in my humble opinion) self-published the cookbook as a way to support her family after the suicide of her husband; and now, more than 75 years later, "Joy of Cooking" is still going strong. I own the sixth edition, published in 1975, and it has easily become one of my favorites. Flipping through this cookbook, it's quite easy to become overwhelmed. My advice: Tackle it one section at a time. It's broken down into sections like cereals, pastas, desserts and fish, which makes it much easier to navigate. I chose a fairly simple recipe and made some minor changes and edits but nothing too crazy—I promise.
The recipe is for chicken jambalaya, but I couldn't resist adding shrimp. First off, you'll need chicken breasts cut into pieces to sauté in a fourth-cup of vegetable oil or butter for about five minutes (I used vegetable oil). I also seasoned the chicken beforehand with salt, pepper and a bit of garlic salt.
Remove the chicken from the pan, and using the fat from the chicken, sauté a third of a cup of minced onions and half a cup of a skinned, seeded and chopped tomato for about three minutes.
Stir in a diced green pepper (seeds and membrane removed), a half-cup diced celery and one cup of rice.
Stir the rice until it is well-coated with all of the ingredients that are being sautéed, stir in the chicken, and cover the ingredients with three cups of boiling water (I used a cup and a half each of water and chicken broth—it gives a little extra flavor). Add in a bay leaf, some thyme and chopped parsley, as well as salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer these ingredients until the chicken is tender and the rice is almost done; should you choose to use shrimp, add in the shrimp. To dry out the jambalaya a bit, place it the oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for about five to 10 minutes.
You are done and done.
Additional notes: The original recipe used ham; obviously, I used shrimp, and I'm pretty happy with that decision. Also, the tomatoes will need to be peeled for this recipe. Here's how to quickly peel a tomato: Boil some water in a pot, add the whole tomato to the boiling water, and cover. Once the water comes back to a boil, remove the tomato and place in ice cold water to stop it from cooking. The skin will peel off—just like that. Magic.
Shawanda Mason is the creator and blogger of Eat.Drink.Frolic. For recipe questions or to chat about eating, drinking or frolicking, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following her on Twitter or Instagram. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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