Friday, December 23, 2005

Wild Basmati Pilaf

There are some real advantages to being an empty-nester. After I clean, my house actually stays clean. I don't have to fight for time on the computer. And I can cook whatever I want. Cooking for a picky eater is no fun. Every new recipe has to have the ingredients vetted to make sure none of them are on the list of things the picky eater won't eat which is much longer than the list of things that she will eat. Best of all, once the recipe is made, I don't have to coax anyone to eat it. "Just try a little bit. It has mushrooms in it. You like mushrooms".

Now I can look at a recipe and say "Hmmm . . . brown basmati rice. Never heard of it. Should be fun to try". Or "Vegetable broth! I've never used that. I wonder what's in it?". Even if in the end I don't like it, I can "play" with it and see if I can come up with a version that I do like. As in this case. I didn't read this recipe closely. The rice takes over an hour to cook (!). Secondly, it has way too many reductions. I don't like recipes that have lots of complicated steps. Ideally, I want to be able to walk into the kitchen at 5:00 PM and have dinner on the table in time for the news at 6:00 PM.

After all that effort, I just didn't like the way it tasted. But I think I can fix it! I didn't like the vegetable broth and all that parsley. And reducing onions and garlic in water is way too bland for me. I want to make this again with chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth, use butter to cook the onions and garlic, no reductions please, and leave out the celery and parsley. I loved the combination of the thyme, marjoram, black pepper and salt. It's the only thing that saved this recipe for me.

Verdict: Not bad, but I don't think I'll be making this one again (as written).

Wild Basmati Pilaf

1/4 cup wild rice
1 - 15 oz. can Swanson's vegetable broth
3/4 cup brown basmati rice
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Rinse wild rice and place it in a saucepan with the vegetable broth and 1/2 cup water. Stir to mix, then cover & simmer for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, add the basmati rice. Cover and continue cooking until both varieties of rice are tender, about 50 minutes. Heat 1/2 cup water in a large pot or skillet. Add onion and garlic & cook until all the water has evaporated and browned bits of onion begin to stick to the pan. Add another 1/4 cup water, scrape the pan, and cook until the onions begin to stick again. Repeat this process of adding water and cooking the onion until they are nicely browned. This will take about 15 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, celery, & seasonings. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, then add the cooked rice and finely chopped parsley. Cook over low heat, turning gently, until the mixture is very hot.
Serves 6.
Recycle: broth can
Compost: garlic skins

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