One of my goals when I started this blog was to create something more than a collection of recipes. Cooking isn’t always as simple as following a series of directions. There are all these little things you need to know: what goes well with what, which veggies take the same amount of time to roast, which items can be substituted…
Naturally, this comes with time. The more you cook, the more you bake, the more you learn along the way. But a few tips here and there don’t hurt.
I am not ashamed to admit that in the first several weeks of our marriage, I spent quite a lot of time watching cooking video clips online. I watched every single Jamie Geller video I could find. Then I discovered Working Class Foodies, and I watched all of their videos, too. And then there were the dozens of others, the ones I Googled with specific questions in mind. Things like: Is it better to use milk or water in scrambled eggs? What about French toast? How do you know when to flip a pancake? Happily, the internet is all-knowing.
So anyway. About the rice.
One of my top take-aways from 10 months of married cooking is this: Adding something small (and probably pretty simple) can often take a dish to the next level.
Take rice, for example. It tends to come up as a side dish with dinner here once a week or so. Now — (aside from the fact that there are probably a dozen different kinds of rice) there’s a bowl of rice, and there’s a bowl of rice. You can cook up a pot of the white stuff in as little as 15 minutes and take it straight to the table. But if you mix in some chopped tomatoes and fresh parsley, you have Something Else Altogether. (Assuming your parsley is ready to go, that probably only took one extra minute.)
Keep in mind that there’s a fine line between sprucing something up and sprucing something up too much. Let’s say you added the tomatoes and parsley, and then decided to also throw in some chickpeas and corn. You have half a can of black olives in the fridge, so that goes in, too. But now, instead of rice accented with one or two mild add-ins, you have a hodge-podge. So keeping it relatively simple is best.
Another nice way to take a cup of rice to the next level is by topping it with sauteed cherry tomatoes. About five minutes before the rice is ready to be served, heat a bit of oil in a non-stick skillet and saute halved cherry tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and oregano. When the skins begin to wrinkle, they’re done. (You can let them go a bit longer, but keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.)
Doesn’t take much effort, but it makes a big difference at the table.
How do you spruce things up in your kitchen?