Sunday, July 22, 2007

Gourmet: Spiced Saffron Rice

This is my go-to recipe for rice when I'm making an Indian meal.  It's fragrant and luxurious and goes with just about any main dish.  And you can even make it in your rice cooker if you want it to get any easier.  Just fry up the spices in the oil, dump it in the rice cooker with the rice and water, and go.  Immediate gratification.  Well, almost.

Spiced Saffron Rice
Adapted from Gourmet magazine, March 1991

1½ cups Basmati rice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
7 whole cloves
5 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half

In a large bowl wash rice in several changes of cold water until the water runs clear and drain it in a fine sieve. In a large heavy saucepan heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, add the cinnamon stick, the cloves, and the cardamom pods, if using, and fry the spices, stirring, for 30 seconds, or until the cloves are puffed slightly. Add rice and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the rice is opaque. Add 2¼ cups water and the salt, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook the rice, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, in a heatproof bowl set over a small pan of simmering water heat the saffron for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is brittle. Add milk, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is hot, and remove the pan from the heat. Drizzle the saffron mixture over the rice and continue to cook the rice, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Hometown Restaurant: Odeng Bokkeum (Korean Spicy Fish Cake)

This may be my favorite Korean dish.  Seriously.  It's like the perfection of the cuisine.  Spicy. Salty. Sweet. Umami.  I could eat this with just a bowl of rice. And this is supposedly a side dish.  Not anymore.

Odeng Bokkeum (Korean Spicy Fish Cake)
Adapted from My Hometown Restaurant, Ft. Hood, TX

3 pieces fried fish cake (approximately 3x6-inches each)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon Accent powder (MSG) (optional)
1 teaspoon red pepper powder (gochugaru)
3 green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
1 serrano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Cut the fish cakes into thin strips.  Heat the sesame oil and garlic in a frying pan or wok.  Add the fish cake strips and fry for 2 to 3 minutes before sprinkling with the sugar, Accent powder, and red pepper powder.  Add the green onions, serrano pepper, and soy sauce; sauté for 2 more minutes.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, if desired.  Serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, July 02, 2007

Southern Living: Peach Streusel Muffins

Summer makes me happy.  Mostly because it's warm, and I always seem to be cold.  But also because there's all sorts of luscious produce to be had.  You can go to the grocery store and just smell the ripe perfection emanating from the produce section.  So I try to buy up this summer bounty and make it into delicious things.  Only problem with this little story is that the chances of finding a ripe peach, even in the middle of summer, is about the same as your chances of finding Eldorado.  So frozen it is.  Still tastes like summer.

Peach Streusel Muffins
From Southern Living magazine, July 2003

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ cups fresh or frozen peeled peaches, chopped
Streusel Topping

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare a muffin pan with 12 liners.

Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the egg; beating until blended.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the milk, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and fold in the chopped peaches.

Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared pan, filling each liner ⅔ full. Sprinkle the Streusel Topping over the muffin batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pans and cool on wire racks.

Make 12 muffins

Streusel Topping
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2½ tablespoons chilled unsalted butter

Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon; cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles crumbs.