Monday, January 30, 2012
It's Super Bowl week here in Indianapolis. Early Sunday morning, Connie and I took a drive downtown to see what's going on. It's impressive. When I was growing up this city was India-no-place to a lot of folks. Now, there's a LOT to do. There have already been articles in major magazines saying that all of the naysayers will be very pleasantly surprised. I do believe that's true. Our downtown is very compact so folks will be able to get around easily. There are several districts with special cachet. We live close to one by the name of Broad Ripple. Way back in the 1890's when my father's mother was born there it was a small village on a bend in White River. Now, it's an entertainment destination stuffed with restaurants, bars and shopping. I hope all of our visitors have a fantastic time!
Now, that being said, since we're going to have a few extra folks in town, it's going to be a good week to STAY HOME. LOL. A few extra folks. Try 150,000. Yes, indeed, it's going to be a good time to stay home and not try to battle the crowds for dinner. I've got my menus ready to go. And, this morning we picked up the last necessary ingredient: pancetta for pancetta wrapped meatloaf with a red currant jelly glaze. We're also going to have shrimp and crab etouffee, mojito lamb chops and five spice and clementine chicken. Before I get to today's recipe, I've got a couple of other things to tell you.
This past week, we traveled north to see some friend's new house. It's gorgeous. Perfect for them. And, Nancy fixed a killer meal. Olives baked in a cheddar cheese crust. Like the gruyere olive poppers but with cheddar. Those were off the charts good. Then, a beef stew. She put in waterchestnuts which gave it a wonderful crunch every once in a while. I loved it. Salad with kiwi, mandarin oranges, red onion, pecans and a lovely vinaigrette. Some yummy pita breads. And, killer brownies. YUM! Best of all was the opportunity to relax and catch up. We're very lucky to have some wonderful friends!!Thank you, Nancy :-)
Ok, listen up you Indy residents. I'm going to tell you a secret. There's a destination restaurant that's every bit as good as Bonge's. It's called 18 on the Square and is on the square in Shelbyville. Forty-five minutes for us door-to-door. Fantastic food. We met our friends Molly and Don there on Thursday evening. That's when they have a special. You get half the protein and full sides plus a house salad for pretty much the cost of one dinner. We split the pork chop, collard greens and sweet potatoes. Those sweet potatoes were a bit of heaven on our plates. Chef Joseph said they were his grandmother's recipe. I'd have loved to have eaten at her house! Whipped to perfection. Ethereal. The collards, well, they were cooked with the ribs left in so they didn't wind up stringy and slimy like so often happens. These tasted like they had some balsamic vinegar and onion and who knows what else. I'd drive down there just to have the sweet potatoes and the collards!
Now, on to our feature presentation. You probably thought I'd never quit gabbing so we could get there, now did you? One of the recipes I pulled out for a side is from Tampa Treasures by the Junior League of Tampa. As you probably know, I typically buy a cookbook whenever we travel to a new destination. This was from our trip to Orlando and Tampa. I dithered and dithered. The gift shop in Ybor City had several really wonderful cookbooks. Finally, the fact it was a Junior League cookbook won out. Not that I've ever been in the Junior League or even wanted to be. Nope,it's because some of my favorite cookbooks are Junior League. Back Home Again is the Indy chapter's most recent cookbook. I'd highly recommend it.
I've marked a bunch of recipes to try. But, this one kept kind of knocking on my mind. You see, Connie loves Rice-a-Roni. HIs mom wasn't a great cook. They ate good meals but she loved cans and boxes and jars. So, he ate a lot of Rice-a-Roni as a kid. We didn't. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I even tried it. And, then it was just because of the ads. I figured I'd try it once and never have it again. Then, I met Connie and he asked for it on occasion. So, I've now had it probably a half a dozen times in my life. What if I could cook my own version and make my hubby a happy camper? Perfect.
What did we think? Connie loved this. We both added salt and pepper. I made it with homemade chicken broth so there was no salt there. My guess is someone using canned broth wouldn't need any additional salt. We cut the recipe by about 2/3 and still had half left. The original recipe says it makes six servings. My guess would be that eight is closer.
Pine Nut Rice and Vermicelli
1 1/2 c long-grain rice
1/2 c butter
1/2 lb vermicelli or spaghetti
1/2 c pine nuts
2 c chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
Cook rice according to package directions.
While the rice is cooking, brown the pasta and the pine nuts in melted butter.
Once the pasta and pine nuts have browned, pour in the chicken stock.
Boil it for five mintues and remove it from the heat. Add it to the rice and stir to combine. Cover and set it aside for 30 minutes. Serve with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.