Sunday, October 08, 2006

Southwestern rice

I love the flavours of the southwestern USA, guacamole, chile, the whole range of flavours. One of the mainstays of the cuisine is the spice cumin, and this recipe really showcases the earthy, rich aroma of cumin.

I adapted this one a bit from a recipe on Michael Smith's show Chef at Home, on Food Network Canada. I love that show, it 's really what inspired me to take up cooking as a forty-something. Smith has a great, easy going way of presenting, he really emphasises the ease of preparation of most recipes. He also mostly uses fairly common ingrediants in basic preparations. When he shows you how to braise something, you really get an idea of what braising is all about. His style of cooking without a firm recipe is also inspiring -- you really think, "Hey, this is easy, basic ingredients in simple preparations -- I could do that!" And, mostly, you can. I first starting watching Smith while staying home with my wife while she was recovering from an operation, so we had lots of time to watch tv together and I certainly had the opportunity to get a bit of practice in the kitchen. The rest is history! (One of these days, I'll blog the first thing I made, his clam chowder.)

Anyway, back to the recipe:
Makes 4-6 side dish servings

1 cup of basmati rice
2 cups of tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 1/2 red pepper, diced
1 12 oz can of corn kernals
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper

1. Put rice, tomato juice and 1/2 tsp of cumin into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover with a lid and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Toss with fork and let cool slightly.

2. Heat oil in large skillet. Add the rest of the cumin to the oil.

3. When it begins to smoke, add onions and peppers and sauté quickly until they are softened and slightly caramelized.

4. Add corn and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add rice, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until incorporated.

5. Stir in green onions, cilantro and lime juice and adjust seasoning.

We served it this evening with a nice baked ham from Nunzio's Fine Foods on Bayview in Toronto, and it was a great combo. Another link for Nunzio's, one of my fave places for good food, especially meat and fish. I also can't speak highly enough of Michael Smith's Chef at Home cookbook.

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