Saturday, November 29, 2008

Riz basmati au cumin

Everybody has secrets. And today, I'm going to tell you one of mine: I cannot make rice. Every time I try, something different goes wrong--it's burnt, it's raw, it's soggy, it's dry--the list goes on and on. And that's only with white rice! Don't even get me started on what happens when I try to be a little healthier and make brown. It's a total disaster.

Surprisingly enough, this is the only grain this happens with. I can (and often do) make couscous, kasha, quinoa, you get the idea. So, really, I'm quite embarassed to have this rice problem. I've even resorted to using instant rice when the Boy absolutely requires that our main be served over rice. We are planning on getting a rice cooker, but first I need to clear some more counter space, so who knows when that will happen?

I had just resigned myself to a life without homemade rice (what a depressing thought!) when I discovered a new blog, eCurry, and, on it, a recipe for Jeera Rice, an Indian flavored-rice dish. I followed her directions, just altering the flavorings a bit, the better to complement the roasted turkey breast I served it with. I'm sure it would also be wonderful served under brisket. Enjoy!

Cumin Basmati Rice

Pour rice into strainer and rinse under cold running water until water comes clear. (I found the easiest way to do this was to put a bowl under the strainer to collect the water and continuously empty it when full.) Transfer rice into bowl, cover with cold water and let sit 30 minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, heat ghee over medium heat. Add cardamom, lavender, cinnamon and clove. Saute until spices become fragrant and begin to sizzle. Add rice and saute until completely covered by the ghee, 2-3 minutes.

Add cumin and salt and saute 5 more minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil 2-3 minutes, until rice is no longer submerged. Cover pan and turn off heat. Let sit 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Enjoy!

Increase heat to medium-high.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thon saisi a feu vif

Sunday nights are usually reserved for quick and easy suppers. I sell concessions at a theatre a quick subway ride from home (and located delightfully close to Trader Joe's), so I make it home around 7.30 at the earliest and don't want to waste too much time before eating. This often means an easy one-pot meal, but some nights, when I'm feeling a little more energetic and have planned ahead enough to pick up supplies during the day in Chinatown or made a quick stop at TJ's on the way home, I do manage to make two dishes.

Last Sunday was one such day. I had ahi tuna on the brain and, early Sunday morning, set off in search of it in Chinatown, Ozzy in tow. The first fish store (and the one I most often frequent) had no tuna. The second only had frozen tuna, which, he assured me, was too hard for him to cut. The third place only had whole tuna, not something I was interested in dealing with. Finally, at the fourth fish store, I found a big hunk of tuna of which the fishmonger cut me a 1-pound piece. Because of the language barrier, and my lack of knowledge of the various types of tuna that are to be found around here, I don't actually know if this was ahi tuna , but whatever it was, it was wonderful. I promptly brought it home and tossed it into the refrigerator until dinnertime.

Once I came home, TJ's bags in hand, I recreated Elise's recipe for Seared Ahi Tuna as faithfully as I know how. I've reproduced it below, with my (minor) adjustments. Of course, if you are cooking the tuna as little as I did (since it is really raw on the inside), make sure you know and trust your fishmonger. I served the tuna with steamed artichoke hearts. Enjoy!

Seared Tuna

Mix everything but the tuna in a ziploc bag. Add tuna, seal bag well and massage marinade ingredients into the tuna through closed bag. Refrigerate and let marinate 1 hour.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add tuna and marinade when skillet is hot but not quite smoking. Sear 1 minute on each side.

Remove from pan and slice tuna on a bias, as you would a steak. Serve with cooked garlic and green onion pieces and with the reserved, minced green onion sprinkled on top. This was delicious with a pinot noir.

Links to other tuna noshes:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jarrets d'agneau avec tomates et olives

For my birthday this year, Mom and Dad got me a slow cooker, perfect for those nights when I'm working late and want to come home to dinner already-made, warm and delicious. And since neither the Boy nor Ozzy are proficient cooks, it's up to the slow cooker to satisfy me. It's also wonderful at making braises and stews--two of our favorite winter mains. So as the weather gets colder and colder, I have a feeling I'll be using the slow cooker more and more.

Thus far, I've used it twice--the first time to make braised green cabbage (I adapted the oven-cooked recipe to use it in the slow cooker and greatly enjoyed it after returning home from class at 10.30 pm) and the second time to make these delicious lamb shanks. I'm still working out cooking times and settings (the recipe times are what I'm sure would work perfectly, not exactly what I did), but I am getting the hang of it and it's wonderfully easy to use. It also means that you can cook your main in the slow cooker and still have your stovetop and oven free to make any sides--a real boon in a New York apartment. The only thing is, you can't lift the top off to check the meat or you'll add another 20 minutes to the cooking time. I already know this is going to be the hardest thing to get used to. For example, in this recipe, I didn't want to cook the olives as long as the meat, but, because I opened the top to put them in partway through the cooking process, the meat wasn't as tender as it should have been. I believe an extra half-hour would have done the trick.

What do you like to make it your slow cooker?

Jarrets d'agneau avec tomates et olives

(adapted from How to Cook Everything, my cooking bible)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown lamb shanks on all sides and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1 dash lavender and 1/8 teaspoon pepper as they cook. Set lamb aside on a plate. Lower heat to medium and saute shallots and sliced garlic until lightly cooked, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Empty contents of skillet into slow cooker. Add stock, 1/8 teaspoon salt, dash lavender, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and tomatoes. Add lamb, nestling it down into tomato mixture as much as possible (this will depend primarily on how deep your slow cooker is). Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 2h30. After first 30 minutes, add olives, then close slow cooker again and continue cooking, without interruption, for 2 hours. Garnish with basil and serve. Enjoy!

Links to other shank noshes:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Farfalle au limon avec cresson

For the first time in months, I was finally able to spend some time in the kitchen last night and to blog about it. However, the simple pasta I made last night was nowhere near as good as this farfalle that I made I-don't-know-how-long-ago, so the farfalle is what I'm sharing with you this evening.

One of the few problems with living down in Chinatown is that, while it's very easy to find uncommon vegetables (such as bitter melon, Chinese okra, angled luffa and fuzzy melon, to name a few), it's impossible to find any arugula. So if I want a salad green with a bite to it, my best bet is to either head up to the Greenmarket or just use watercress, as I did here.

This pasta was simple, filling and delicious--all my requirements for a weeknight dinner. It also qualifies as a one-dish meal--the Boy's favorite kind. It was inspired by a pasta dish in Barefoot Contessa at Home. Enjoy!

Farfalle au limon avec cresson

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cream, zest and juice of 2 lemons, salt, lemon pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add farfalle and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Add cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 3 minutes. Add watercress, parmesan and tomatoes. Cut third lemon into quarters and add to farfalle. Toss well and serve.

Links to other pasta noshes: