Any Kitchen Will Do

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Archive for the category “rice”

White Rice

White rice. I know. It is not very thrilling, but when you are in a hotel and limited to a small fridge and microwave and you really want to cook, you just have to go back to basics and build from there. I can do flavorful steamed veggies with our current set up, and there is always some good roasted meats at local markets. There still needs to be a starch, and a cheaper version than what can be found in prepackaged microwaveable bags. All you need is rice, water, a little butter and a glass bowl. Frankly, it takes about the same amount of time as on the stove top, but why compare if you are lacking a stove top, huh? Even when I do have a stove I may still make the rice in the microwave – it will give me more space on the stove and the rice keeps nice and warm in the microwave after it is cooked. Next time I will probably add some herbs and chicken broth to liven it up.

White Rice

1 cup enriched long grain rice
1 ¾ cup water
1 Tbsp butter
Pinch of salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl that holds at least four cups. Place uncovered bowl in microwave and cook on high for ten minutes. Without opening the microwave door cook for another 12-15 minutes 50% power. Let set in unopened microwave for at least five minutes. Fluff and serve. Cooking time may vary depending on the power of your microwave.


When I was in 6th grade my dad had a business trip to New Orleans. It coincided with spring break so my mom, brother and I went along. The trip was exhilarating in a number of ways. 1) the old, European feel of the narrow streets and old buildings was a new experience for me, 2) even as a ‘tween’ I immediately recognized the potential for fun and folly inherent on Bourbon Street, which was apparent to me in spite of the fact I only saw it in daylight, and 3) the Mississippi was mighty. My brother and I got a brief chance to walk the streets together without the parents, got caught in a rainstorm and were mistaken for a young couple in love (it was a REALLY crowded elevator so we were scrunched together, we were freakishly tall for our age and we were sopping wet). Another discovery was the food in New Orleans. It is sometimes subtle and sometimes spicy, but always has roots in simplicity. Jambalaya is a popular dish found in New Orleans. It is consistent with an international tendency to create a one-pot conglomeration of ingredients that is delicious, filling and representive of local ingredients. Jambalaya is similar to risotto in Italy, paella in Spain, pilaf in Greece/Turkey and fried rice in Asia. Although the ingredients may seem exotic in some regions of the U.S., the following recipe is typical for the Creole tradition of cooking, and close to Cajun methods, even though Cajuns tended not to use tomatoes.

Upon our return to Texas from that first trip to New Orleans there was a flurry of Cajun dishes made in our house. I am not kidding – my dad purchased cookbooks, multiple iron skillets and a propane burner for use outside to make things like blackened redfish. I spent a lot of time chopping up the holy trinity – equal parts green bell pepper, celery and onion. We grew up eating many servings of jambalaya, gumbo, and occasionally etouffee. He sprinkled many a dish with Paul Prudhomme’s magic seasoning blends. Dad was a master meat griller and among his secrets for preparing meat (which he shared with me but I will not divulge here) he relied on the seasoning blends to give the right spiciness and flavor to meats. Such influences still linger with me today, and were part of the reason I was inclined to spend three additional vacations in New Orleans, and spend six months living there. I really want to return again and further experience the magic of one of the oldest and most culturally diverse cities in our country. It may be because I miss my dad, but it may also be that the charm of the city is undeniable and cannot be understood unless you walk the streets and open your heart to the experience.


1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper (or less if you want to curb spiciness)
2 tsp salt
1 pound alligator meat, cubed
1 pound andouille sausage, quartered and sliced
2 cups long grain parboiled rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 pound cooked crawfish tail meat
1 pound uncooked small shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 green onions, chopped

In a large Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat on stove top. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, oregano, cayenne and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly and scraping bottom until vegetables are wilted and mixture is becoming a caramel color. Push vegetables to the edges of the pot to create a well on the bottom. Add sausage and alligator; cook until it begins to sear, about five minutes, then combine with vegetables. Scrape the bottom of the pan regularly while the meat sears. Add rice, tossing it until thoroughly coated. Add chicken stock, water, tomatoes with their liquid and bay leaves. Stir thoroughly. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for 25 minutes. Do not remove lid during cooking time. Rice should be almost cooked but some liquid not absorbed. Add shrimp and crawfish tails. Cook on low another 10 minutes, until shrimp is cooked, crawfish heated through and liquid absorbed*. Remove from heat and stir in green onions. Let sit for 10 minutes. Taste before serving and add salt as needed to enhance flavors. Before serving remove bay leaves, or at least warn your guests to look out for them.

*To make the jambalaya without seafood use 6 chicken thighs (skinned and diced into large cubes) instead of the alligator. Add the chicken instead of alligator along with the sausage and skip the step later when the shrimp and crawfish are added.

Mexican Rice

I used to think of Mexican rice as the bland, tomato-y part of my school lunch I did not eat. Then, it was the sticky stuff that always came with a Mexican meal, but I always left it for last in case I filled up on other stuff, and I always did. I don’t have anything against rice, but it is a starchy filler that is often my last priority after protein, fruits and vegetables. If I don’t like how it tastes I am not going to eat it. I am a big girl and sometimes choose to leave food on my plate.

Now I make my own Mexican Rice, which is not very red, not very sticky, not very bland and has just the right amount of vegetables in it. You may think using both green chiles and jalapenos is an overdose on heat, but it really isn’t. The jalapenos make it smoky and the chiles make it tangy, and both flavors are soaked up by the rice and spread throughout the dish. Just try it.

Mexican Rice

2 cups uncooked parboiled rice

1 Tbsp butter

2 cups water

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp salt

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 small onion, diced

1 small tomato, diced

4 ounces green chiles, diced

1 cup corn, removed from cob

½ jalapeno, diced (optional)

Melt butter over high heat in medium pot. Add onion, jalapeno (if being used) and corn, cooking until the corn browns and the onion begins to sweat. Add rice, salt, cilantro, parsley and chili powder and stir until rice begins to brown. Add tomato, chiles* and corn, stirring until blended. Add water and chicken broth*, bringing the mixture to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let set for about five minutes before serving.

*Sometimes if I am lacking for fresh chiles and tomatoes I will use a can of Rotel tomatoes and chiles instead. I drain the can and retain the juice for use as part of the water and broth liquid (within the four cups needed) to cook the rice.

Impure Tabbouleh Salad

I love tabbouleh. It is tangy and filling, emphasizing the simple nuttiness of bulgur wheat. Big D hates what wheat does to his digestive system. How oh how can the two meet in a pleasant, yummy way? Rice! Brown rice. I call it impure tabbouleh. As a dish made in many different regions of the world and often consisting of local products, tabbouleh by its very nature varies from kitchen to kitchen. I decided to embrace the nature of the dish and make it ricey. A happy hubby tummy is a good thing, and I like it, too! I make a big batch and we eat on it for a week. Even our little girl digs into it when she is in the mood. The later in the week it gets the limey-er the salad gets.

Impure Tabbouleh Salad

4 cloves garlic, diced

2 medium limes, juiced with meat

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1 english cucumber, diced

4 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced

5 spring onions, diced

1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 2 loose cups when prepared)

¼ cup mint, chopped

7 ½ cups cooked brown rice (about 3 cups uncooked)

Black olives (optional as garnish)

Combine garlic, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Set aside. Mix together all other ingredients except for rice. Pour dressing over mixture until veggies are covered. Add mixture to rice, making sure dressing and veggies are well combined with the rice. Although the salad is immediately ready to eat, letting it sit for a few hours in the refrigerator allows the flavors to blend. Serve as a meal itself or as a side dish with grilled or roasted meats.





Chicken A Go Go


What do you do when chicken is on sale for 79 cents a pound? I don’t know about you, but two things happen to me. Number one, I let all pure thoughts of free range and grain fed go out the window. Number two, I buy it. A lot of it. Until the freezer is full of thighs and legs. Then I cook some.

I am starting my chicken marathon with something simple, reminiscent of a dish my mother-in-law makes that my husband (aka Big D) adores. I simply chop up tomatoes, artichoke hearts, onions and broccoli. I then drizzle them with lime juice, olive oil and some chopped garlic, with salt to taste. On top of the veggies I place chicken thighs that were sprinkled with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. A little pat of butter is then perched precariously atop each piece of chicken. Ideally it will all fit in a 9″x13″ baking dish, but if you are like me such a dish is still in the fridge with leftovers, so in this case I used a 9″x9″ and a glass pie dish. They worked great.

After cooking it all for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees it is done, the skin is crispy and itching to be eaten. I serve it over some brown rice cooked in ½ chicken broth ½ water and voila! Dinner! And leftovers for lunch! And maybe another dinner…

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