Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ghosts of rice past...

Do your pots have the ghosts of rice in them?  By this I mean the result of setting the rice on simmer and then forgetting to set the timer.  When you wander back just a leeeeeetle too late you find a sticky mess in the pan which is not only inedible (unless you like truly sticky rice) but it's also a scrub job.  I've done this a few times (by few I mean "more than five but less than ten, I think") and my Calphalon pans now have little outlines of rice grains on the bottom.  (NB:  this isn't crusted food, it's literally an outline of the grains...)

At any rate, the intrepid chef wannabee made another rice dish this evening.  Along with it I had SNOMG II, based on my hamburger creation mentioned below.  No snow in the forecast this time, and, the main changes I made to the hamburger were advanced spices and instead of one cup of water I used one cup of white wine (White Bordeaux as a matter of fact). 

Here is the rice dish I had alongside it.  It is called Orange Cilantro Rice.


2 teaspoons butter (I used EVOO)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I used the chopped garlic you find in little bottles)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (after all that onion, why more?)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender. Mix in rice, and season with cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook and stir until rice is golden brown. Pour in orange juice and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove cooked rice from heat, and gently mix in cilantro to serve.

(NUMBER EIGHT in 2010)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rustic Apple Tart

Two new recipes in one week. Will I hit 52 new meals this year?  It will only be my third attempt, after all.

Last night I bought the ingredients for the below.  The Waldorf Salad (that I did not know I was making until later) was such a hit I decided to look for more apple and walnut recipes.  I found this one (link and recipe from the site, below).

Tonight, I made it.  I didn't root around looking for thyme, that may have made a little difference.  I also cheated and used refrigerated pie crust. 


1 Pâte Brisée (tart dough) for a 10-inch tart (see all butter crust recipe) or 1 packaged, flat pie crust
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 large granny smith apples (or other good cooking apples such as jonagold or fuji), peeled, cored, chopped
1 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)


Toss the walnuts, gorgonzola, thyme, chopped apples, and maple syrup together in a medium size bowl. As you are working with the apples (chopping them, mixing them in with the other ingredients), if you want, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on them to help keep them from discoloring. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap while you prepare the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pastry dough to 13-inches, at an 1/8 of an inch thickness. Place pastry dough on a rimmed baking sheet. (Rimmed because the pastry will leak butter during the cooking process.) Mound the filling in the middle of the rolled out dough, and spread out evenly to 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from the edge of the dough. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until crust is nicely browned. If at any time it looks like the walnuts are getting a little burnt, you can lightly tent a piece of aluminum foil over the center.

(NUMBER SEVEN in 2010)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Talking to strangers...

See what it gets you - a good healthy recipe!

[Edit - apparently the below is a modified Waldorf Salad recipe.  Oops - here I thought it was so clever]

A week or so ago I happened to stand in line at Wegmans near a jolly couple.  They were obviously the kind of shoppers and cooks who paid attention to the ingredients they bought and were healthy eaters.  The conversation started when she was unloading her cart and told me some tips on cooking with less salt. 

It quickly segued into a recipe for a meal that she found in weight watchers which I believe may actually be vegan.  She recited it to me and lo and behold, I remembered it.  I made it today, finally.  It's actually quite good!

1 fuji apple
1 granny smith apple
1/2 c chopped red onion (I probably had more)
A few handfuls of cranberries - I bought dried raisin/cranberry mixed together.
A cup of chopped celery - again, that may have been a little more than the recipe but it was fine.

Mix the above, and toss with just a touch of mayo and then sprinkle lemon juice on top and toss some more.  The mayo in my fridge was about 10 months expired (oops) so no mayo for this chica.  I did use lemon juice though.

Finally, just before you dig in, sprinkle walnuts on top.  THIS is key - they definitely added to the taste.

This turned out very well!  I would not call it dinner per se, but, a good snack. It was a very late lunch (just finished it) so dinner may be take out, after all that.  But this was goooooood.

So you see, talking to strangers can be a good thing.

ps.  you want to be sure you have the right mix of onion and in fact I'd probably scale back on the onion.  Either make sure it's exactly 1/2 c or even less.  I had a second helping and this scoop had a lot more onion.  Almost took my breath away.

(NUMBER SIX in 2010)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chili for a chilly day

Yesterday was the SECOND Storm of the Century this winter.  How much more can metro DC take?  We actually have yet another snow forecast for early next week although currently that doesn't look like a blizzard, just a few inches.

I haven't had chili in ages and this recipe below looked interesting.  I thought I'd give it a try.  As usual, what is at the top is taken directly from the recipe, and below is where I describe my deviations. 


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
2 (10.5 ounce) cans beef broth
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add beef, in batches if necessary, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned.

Add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, chocolate, beef broth, tomato sauce, cider vinegar, and red pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

It is the best if you now refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bay leaf. Reheat gently over medium heat. Serve over hot, drained spaghetti. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

What I actually did:

First, I used the entire onion and it wasn't a small one.  You can't have enough onion, right?
Second, I realized too late that I only had one pound of hamburger.  Ooops.
I used EVOO.
Because I didn't have enough burger, I went a little easy on the chili powder but more or less used the full amount of the other spices.  Perhaps I should have gone for broke.
No cloves
No bay leaf
No beef broth.  I was going to pour in a cup of white wine but the bottle I grabbed was corked and the other bottles were good wine and I didn't want to waste it on chili.
I used about 3 small squares of chocolate.  It was more than an ounce but I wouldn't say it was three ounces.
The overnight refrigeration occurred with the leftovers.

Consensus?  It seemed more like I was making spaghetti sauce than chili, really.  The taste is unique and perhaps a bit rich.  I'm going to see how the overnight settling changed things.  I'm betting the beef broth and a full 2 pounds of meat would have really helped.  A very concentrated flavor and believe it or not I would not say the onions ruled even though there was an entire onion and not just half a cup chopped.

(NUMBER FIVE in 2010)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

SNOMG! Hamburger and rice? Nothing else in that pantry?

I did go grocery shopping before the Snow of the Decade, but I didn't do it with menu in mind nor grocery list in hand. 

However, what I did make actually tasted pretty good even if it's simple and boring. 

I made jasmine rice using chicken broth, for starters.

The two pounds of hamburger was unloaded into my large skillet which already had a good dose of EVOO heating up nicely inside.  After I put the chunk in the skillet, I coated it with cinnamon, a few dashes of allspice, and a couple of quick flicks of cayenne pepper.  Not too much.  I broke up the meat which was simmering away nicely and then poured a cup of water on top and put the lid on it.  Heat on medium and I let 'er rip for about 30 minutes. 

It was actually a delicious, flavorful meal.  I like it. 

Dessert:  I opened a bag of frozen peaches into a large bowl, earlier in the afternoon, and sprinkled cinnamon all over the peaches.  I later sprinkled sugar on top which gets a nice juice going.  They were still quite cold by the time I ate them but the juice was very cinnamon-ey.

Oh yeah, before the peaches were thawed I had some more Belgian Chocolates and Bordeaux wine (St. Emilion). 

Tomorrow I'm going to make a recipe that was quoted to me while standing in line at Wegmans.

(NUMBER FOUR in 2010)
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