Lemon Shrimp with Garlic Rice

Rummaging through the freezer I came across a bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp waiting for inspiration. After looking through a couple of cookbooks and scavenging the Interwebs I came across a recipe similar to the one below. I made a few modifications and, presto, dinner was served.

Lemony Shrimp with Garlic Rice
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can find it)
  • 2 lemons, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and toss to coat with oil. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, return to heat and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. While the rice cooks heat the chicken stock, lemon rings and paprika in a non-stick skillet over low heat until it is simmering; about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and swirl it among the shrimp to create a slightly creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve shrimp over a generous helping of garlicky rice.

Skillet Chicken, Veggies and Rice

[Chicken, veggies and rice]I wanted something simple for dinner and had chicken thighs thawing in the fridge. A trip to the grocery store yield mushrooms and a bit of inspiration from the canned soup aisle.

I have a fond memory for a baked chicken and rice dish that involved condensed cream of something soup. The strongest memory I have of it is from a youth retreat program from my late teens that had a strong influence on me. In the intervening years I’ve learned more than I want about how not-great-for-me condensed soup is and so I decided to try to make something similar with just chicken broth and water. The result was pretty good without the I’m eating what self-shame.

Continue reading

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)

We first learned of this Puerto Rican mainstay from Chef Daisy Martinez in her PBS program, Daisy Cooks!. Her description, and the unknown to me ingredient of achiote oil, led us to give it a try. The result has kept it in our cooking repertoire.

The original recipe called for a nice piece of pork or smoke turkey wings to help flavor the dish. My version is vegetarian and doesn’t seem to be missing a thing.

Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas)
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Achiote Oil (see notes)
  • 1 cup Sofrito
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cups long grain rice
  • 1 13-ounce bag frozen pigeon peas or a 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth

Directions:

  1. Heat the achiote oil in a heavy Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Stir in the sofrito, olives, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook the sofrito until the liquid evaporates and the mixture starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice and mix to combine with the sofrito mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, stir, cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the pigeon peas and broth. Stir once and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the water is aborsed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. Place a clean dish towel between the lid and the top of the pot; this will absorb excess moisture that would otherwise drip back onto your rice.
  5. When ready to serve fluff the rice then give it a taste; adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Notes:
Achiote oil is made from annatto seeds and olive or vegetable oil. Place 1 Tbsp. annato seeds in a small skillet along with 1/2 cup olive oil. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes until the oil is stained red. Drain the seeds before using. You can store achiote oil in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Sofrito is a cooking base used in Latin American, Spanish and Portugese cuisine. I have a recipe for my version somewhere here.

We’ve used both the frozen and canned pigeon peas. The canned ones are salted so rinse well and reduce the kosher salt to 2 Tbsp. You can always add more salt at the end however it’s rather difficult to take it away from the finished product.

Chicken and Peppers with left-over Chinese takeout rice

Whenever we get a Chinese takeout order over $35 the restaurant adds a small order of white rice and a small order of over-steamed broccoli. The broccoli ends up in the compost pile however the rice usually ends up in the fridge for a couple of weeks before it is dumped in the trash as questionable.

We enjoyed Chinese takeout last Friday night so I knew the rice was “fresh”. So I crafted this recipe to make use of it along with some chicken breasts I had defrosted over the weekend.

Chicken and Peppers with left-over Chinese takeout rice
Servings: 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling at the end
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 chicken breast (about 1 lb.), cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into 3/4″ squares
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 3/4″ squares
  • 1 sm. container leftover Chinese takeout rice (or 2 cups day old plain white rice)
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites finely chopped and greens cut on the bias into 3/4″ pieces
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine soy sauce, vegetable oil, fish sauce, sesame oil, coriander, a pinch of kosher salt and 10 grinds of black pepper in a bowl. Added diced chicken. Use hands to coat chicken with marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Added onions and peppers to the skillet; toss to coat in oil and evenly distribute. Ignore for 2 minutes. Toss or stir to redistribute. Ignore for another 2 minutes. Toss or stir to redistribute. Ignore for another minute. Edges should be lightly colored and onions should be opaque. Transfer to a bowl and cover; set aside.
  3. Add remaining oil to the skillet and return to the burner over high. When wisps of smoke start coming up from the oil add the marinaded chicken. Shake to evenly distribute and ignore for 5 minutes. Break up chicken pieces that may have clung to one another and toss to redistribute. Cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  4. While the chicken cooks microwave the rice for 1 minute just to take the chill off of it.
  5. After 9-10 minutes of total cooking time check temp on a largish chicken piece. If it is less than 160° continue cooking, checking every 30 seconds until you hit the mark. Once over 160° add the cooked vegetables along with the leftover rice. Stir to incorporate and cook for another 2 minutes to allow the rice to heat through.
  6. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and toasted sesame oil as desired. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve.

Notes:
When frying in a shallow skillet we try to use an inexpensive splatter screen to keep the walls from getting an oil bath.

Don’t want to get your hands extra dirty by mixing the chicken with the marinade? Toss the chicken in a zip-top bag, wash your hands, add the marinade ingredients, seal the bag and squish the chicken around until everything is well and rightly coated.

You can totally use all peanut oil in the recipe, no need to have both vegetable oil and peanut oil out. Both are handy when I cook and I was making it up as I go. I do prefer peanut oil for high heat frying.

Baked “Spanish” Rice

The word Spanish is in quotes in the title because I suspect this dish bears little resemblance to the rice dishes served in Spain. We often serve this when we make some sort of American-Mexican food, such with enchiladas. It also goes well with grilled meat.

Baked “Spanish” Rice
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice (long or medium grain)
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Position your oven racks so that a covered dutch oven will fit. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions & peppers along with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice to the pot and stir until coated in oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until just starting to change from white to opaque.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until all of the broth has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.
  6. Uncover and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.

Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad

This dish was well received at our holiday party. The curry flavor plays well with the sweetness of the papaya. The chickpeas kind of blend in to the background, hiding with the rice and cashews, while the papaya, peas and scallions catch your attention. Very filling and tasty.

Curried Rice and Chickpea Salad
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes (see note)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped chutney
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 4 cups plain white rice, cooled
  • 1 14.5 oz can low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped cashews, toasted
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced on a bias (green and white parts)
  • fruit from 1 papaya, cubed

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mayo, curry, chutney, ginger and salt until well blended. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Add dressing and gently stir to distribute.

Notes:
Make the rice up to the night before, cool to room temp and refrigerate overnight. If you include that time in this recipe then it’s probably closer to 1 hour 20 minutes total.

In addition to making the rice the night before this recipe can be prepped up 6 hours in advance. Make the dressing and refrigerate it. Combine the rest of the ingredients except the cashews and refrigerate that. When ready to serve just add the cashews and dressing to the rest of the salad, combine and plate.

This recipe is adapted from a great book I picked up years ago named Something for Everyone. The premise was to provide recipes that would make a dish for a family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians from one recipe. It appears to no longer be in print.

Rice Florentine

There is a restaurant nearby that serves Rice Florentine as a side. It seems to be not much more than rice with small bits of unidentifiable green vegetation tossed in. I wanted something with a bit more color, and flavor.

There is a fair amount of prep work on this dish, particularly with the baby spinach. I think the end result is worth the extra effort.

Rice Florentine
Servings: 12+
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 10 oz. fresh baby spinach, stemmed, cut into 1/4″ pieces, rinsed and spun dry
  • 2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1/8″ pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced 1/8″, with most of green
  • 2 Tbsp.butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Penzey’s Mural of Flavor spice blend (or see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered rosemary
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Make the rice: – Bring water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to a boil in a large pot. Add rice, stirring briefly to distribute in the pot. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-17 minutes. Check rice; it should be cooked through and look dry. Cook an additional minute if there is noticeable moisture. When cooked – turn off heat and place a double layer of paper towels between the pot and the lid.
  2. Cook veggies: – Heat remaining tablespoon of oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until bubbling subsides. Add peppers and scallions with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat with oil and cook until peppers start to turn translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, cook for a minute so it starts to wilt then stir it into the pepper mixture. Cook until any water released by the spinach is evaporated, about 5 minutes total.
  4. Sprinkle spinach with spice blend and rosemary. Stir to combine, cook for a minute or so and taste. Add salt as needed.
  5. Fold spinach mixture into cooked rice. Transfer to a large serving bowl and enjoy.

Notes:
To prep the spinach I removed the stems from about 20-25 spinach leaves at a time, stacking the leaves on top of each other. I then cut them into 1/4″ pieces, transfered the cut spinach to a salad spinner and repeated the process until all the spinach is cut up. Rinse with cold water, drain and then spin at least 3 times.

If you don’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend you can mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 1 teaspoon of that and save the rest.

I referenced a couple of recipes while putting this recipe together: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/florentine-rice and http://southernfood.about.com/od/ricesidedishcasseroles/r/bl90805e.htm