Searching for another set of flavors and methods I could apply equally to chicken and fish, I decided that blackening with Cajun spices was something that would agree with both. We didn’t have any Cajun spice on hand, and I don’t really like using premixed spice blends, partly because so many of them have chemical ingredients for freshness and de-clumping agents.
So I searched for a recipe online, made some myself, and used it – warning, it is spicy! I also thought it was just a little bitter, but it could have been because the spice mixture, naturally, burned. Tasty, but I missed the onion powder (we were out) and I don’ recommend leaving it out. Unless you don’t like onion, I guess.
Alongside the Cajun chicken/fish, I turned to a staple food in this house, buttermilk mashed potatoes – lower in fat, tangy, buttery, salty, creamy. Looking for additional vegetation, I whipped up a simple salad of jicama and mandarin oranges. If you don’t know jicama, I would recommend getting acquainted. I have often described it as a mix between an apple and a potato – the texture is similar to a raw potato, and the taste a little earthy, but with the crunch and sweetness of the apple. Wonderful in salads or as a snack on its own.
Cajun Spice Mix (makes about 1/2 c.)
from Serious Eats
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp. sweet paprika
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. onion powder
- 2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper (I halved this and it was still pretty spicy)
- Mix all ingredients together until well-blended.
- To use, lightly coat chicken or fish with spice mix, then cook over medium-high heat in hot oil or butter.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (2 servings)
- 2 medium potatoes
- 3/4 c. – 1 c. low-fat buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. butter or margarine (or more to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and cube potatoes. Cover with cold water in a saucepan, salt, bring to a boil, and simmer until potatoes can be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.
- Mash potatoes with a potato masher, or run them through a ricer.
- Add 1/4 c. of the buttermilk and butter or margarine. Add buttermilk, a little at a time, until to your desired consistency. Taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
Mandarin Orange and Jicama Salad (3-4 servings)
- small can mandarin oranges
- 1 small or medium jicama
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- salt and pepper
- Drain oranges, reserving 2 tbsp. of the juice. Set aside in a bowl.
- Peel and dice jicama. Add to the oranges.
- In a small bowl, combine reserved juice with white wine vinegar and minced garlic. Whisk in olive oil and taste for seasoning. Pour over oranges and jicama. Chill, if desired.