26 May 2006


Sublimely silky and shiny, orzo is genre-defying.
It looks like rice! But it’s not rice! It’s pasta! But it looks like rice! But it tastes better than pasta!

After I assembled this delicious little orzo salad today, I started to wonder about how orzo came to be. And also I wonder how its creators came up with such a neat name for it. Orzo. Orzo. Orzo. What a great word!
Now that you, like me, might be wondering about the history of orzo, you may be expecting some answers. I am afraid I do not have any answers for you. Just now I spent a considerable amount of my evening researching the beginnings of orzo and the best story I found was one about an ancient restaurant owner who shellacked some pasta in order to display it appetizingly in his restaurant window, but then a stegosaurus came by and smashed the brittle pasta into bits with his tail. And that is how orzo came to be. I wonder if the stegosaurus’ name was Orzo. Probably.

Now that you have been enlightened, here is an easy recipe for a mouthwatering salad. There's a nice crunch from the carrots, celery and walnuts, but the sweet, golden raisins are why I keep making this salad.

Orzo with Golden Raisins.
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 minced garlic clove (or more if you want a kickier taste)
1 heaping teaspoon honey Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

1 ½ cups orzo
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
1 cup chopped green onions (white and green parts)
½ cup diced celery
½ cup walnuts (you can toast them if you want to)
½ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons of chopped dill or parsley

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain orzo. Rinse with cold water if you are assembling the salad right away.

While the orzo is boiling, whisk the first 4 ingredients of the vinaigrette together. Add the olive oil in a slow stream while whisking. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine ingredients of the salad in a large bowl.
Add the vinaigrette, but don't add it all! If you do, your salad will be too slimy. You will probably have about a quarter cup of vinaigrette left over. Today I saved a portion of it for a future leafy salad. It is a rather tasty vinaigrette.

22 May 2006

I may not be a Good Friend but I CAN make a Good Bowl of Soup

I am not a good friend for two reasons.

The first reason is that for my friend’s birthday, I bought her a copy of The Best of Cooking Light. A good friend would not give another friend a cookbook that has the phrase “Cooking Light” in the title, lest said friend thinks that I think she is getting husky and should therefore eat less. This is not the case. I know for a fact that my friend (who is not a husky girl) LOVES recipes by the people of Cooking Light. So maybe Reason #1 is not a real reason after all, and maybe I will be even higher on her list of friends for getting her this book that she wants.

The second reason that I am not a good friend, which would now be the first reason, since the real first reason was not really real, is that I used her present before I gave it to her. I am just awful.
I was hungry on her birthday.
She was out of town on her birthday.
So I made Chunky Potato-Corn Chowder from her new cookbook. Before I even scraped off the price tag.
My justification is that I had to test at least one recipe in the book to make sure it was not poisonous. Any good friend would do that for another good friend. Not only was the recipe not poisonous, but it was also delicious. Therefore, Reason #2, like Reason #1, is not a real reason either, and I have hereby declared myself a good friend.

Chunky Potato-Crab Chowder
Melt 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add: 1 cup chopped onion
¾ cup chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic
Sauté 4 minutes.
Add: 1 pound red potato (don’t peel! it’s too pretty to peel!), that has been cut into 1-inch cubes, and sauté 1 minute.
Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Stir in: 2 ½ cups of milk (or a mixture of milk and half & half, for those inclined towards creaminess and
not lightness)

1 teaspoon of fresh thyme
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 14 oz. can of creamed corn
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in: 8 ounces of crabmeat
3 tablespoons of parsley
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
Cook 5 minutes, until heated through and flavors have blended.

Crabmeat is not that expensive if you buy it in a can in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Claw meat is less expensive than meat from the body meat, and has more flavor.
Don’t use too much black pepper or else you won’t be able to taste the corn. It is important to taste corn in corn chowder.

06 May 2006

Bacon-Dill-Curry-Honey-Mustard Eggs That Are Deviled

Several days ago I experienced a violent craving for deviled eggs. Probably everyday I have at least a mild craving for deviled eggs, but that day, however, I decided to do something about it. And I was happy that I did. Wouldn't you be happy, too? Look at those eggs.

So this is sort of a different way to hard-boil eggs, but it works wonderfully everytime.
Put the eggs in a pot and cover (just barely) with water. Boil the water, and soon as the water starts to boil, put the lid on, turn OFF the heat, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then cool the eggs with cold water.
This way there will be no green yolks, which happens when the egg is too hot for too long. The iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the white combine chemically to make icky green iron sulfide. I don't know if iron sulfide is good for you or not, but it doesn't make your eggs look pretty.

Then, do you do what you normally do for deviled eggs, except that you need to mix the following beautifully random ingredients into the yolk mixture: fresh dill, curry, honey mustard, salt, and just a little bit of mayonaisse, so everything sticks together. I am sorry that I did not provide specific amounts for each ingredient. I am just not good at that. Besides, who am I to assume your individual preferences for more dilly tasting things or more curry-y tasting things?

Of course, everything is better with bacon, so before you start cooking the eggs, put some bacon in the freezer until it is hard but not frozen. In this semi-frozen state, bacon is 100% easier to chop than room temperature bacon. Go try it right now if you don't believe me.
Meanwhile, back to the deviled egg preparations...cook the bacon pieces in a pan and soak up the grease on a paper towel. Once the eggs are filled with the yolk mixture, you will
be ready to gingerly place bacon pieces on top of each deviled egg. Yes, you need to gingerly place the bacon pieces or else they fall off and then you have wasted the bacon, shame on you. When you are done with the bacon, garnish each egg with a small piece of fresh dill. Please garnish with love.