Thursday, November 04, 2004

Delicious Food, Part IV

Both of these recipes are from Julie Sahni's cookbook Savoring Herbs and Spices. They would probably be lovely together, but I am only posting them at the same time because I have the book in front of me.

Saffron Pilaf with Peas and Almonds

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 T water

combine these in a small dish and set aside.

1 c basmati rice (I have used other rices, such as sushi rice, and the substitution works well)

Rinse rice and cover with about 2 cups water. Set aside to soak for up to 30 minutes.

1 T canola oil
1 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 whole cloves

Cook in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are well cooked and golden (5 minutes or so). Add rice (drained) and 1.75 cups water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil and stir well. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the saffron/water mixture, and 1/2 cup frozen peas (no need to defrost).

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about ten minutes with the lid part-way on, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is covered in steam holes. Cover the pan tightly and reduce heat to low. Cook another 10 minutes then remove from heat and let sit, still covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir before serving, and add 2 T sliced almonds, which is totally optional and I usually skip.

Brussel Sprouts with Fennel

Look, I know everyone says they hate brussel sprouts, but you're crazy. They're really, really delicious. Just try this, OK? Even Will likes it.

1 T canola oil
1 t fennel seeds, slightly crushed (I use the back of a spoon or a mortar and pestle)
3 T slivered almonds
3/4 pound (1 pint) brussel sprouts, trimmed and scored*
1/4 t crushed red pepper, or more to taste
salt to taste
1/2 c water
juice of half a lemon

Heat the oil in a frying pan (one with a lid is ideal but not necessary). When it is hot, add the fennel seeds and almonds. Stirring, cook until the fennel seeds let off their lovely smell. This will only take a few seconds - you do not want to let anything brown. Add the brussel sprouts, salt and red pepper. Stir to coat everything with oil, then add the water and bring to a boil. This all happens really fast, so be sure you've got your ingredients ready to go next to the stove. As soon as the water's in the pan you can relax.

Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the brussel sprouts are tender. If you do not have a lid you may have to add more water, and will have to watch closely while the dish cooks. To serve, sprinkle with lemon juice and toss with more salt if desired.

*To trim and score brussel sprouts: cut the stem very short and remove any gross outer leaves. Take a sharp knife and cut a cross shape into the top end. Ta-da!