Sunday, August 28, 2005

Six of one

This weekend was distinguished (if that's the word I want) by two mixed successes of meals. Yesterday I attempted "Savory Yellow Rice" from From Bangkok to Bali in Thirty Minutes by the Laursens. The idea is to wind up with yellow rice seasoned by a blend of spices and cooked in chicken stock. The yellow color comes from turmeric, of course; other spices, added in slightly larger amounts, are coriander, cinnamon and cumin. Onions are also cooked with the rice.

Once too much cinnamon hit the skillet, however, it became clear that this yellow rice was going to be brown. I really should've measured out the spices ahead of time, rather than relying on my reflexes during the heat (sorry) of the stir-frying moment. Oddly enough, in the final analysis, cumin was the flavor that dominated. The rice cooked up just fine; it's basically a sort of southeast Asian pilaf. It just wasn't the most inspiring thing I've ever eaten. Then again, if I had made it to accompany another dish, it probably would've been fine playing a supporting role.

Tonight, with some sirloin thawed, I resorted to The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine and tried adapting one of his rabbit recipes, "Rabbit in Vermouth." The main problem here was that sirloin cooks fast, while the recipe is a slow-cooker, requiring sauteeing, then extended simmering. With stew chuck or a relatively tough cut of beef, this would be pretty nice. As it was, I halved the cooking times and the sirloin, though overcooked, was not as tough as it could've been.

A brief overview: I sauteed the sirloin in four tablespoons of olive oil for three minutes, then added a sliced garlic clove and sliced onion and sauteed for five minutes. I added three tablespoons of flour, half a tablespoon of fresh rosemary needles, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then stirred the mixture. Then came a cup of vermouth. I stirred it all some more, let it come to a boil, then covered and reduced the heat. I let it simmer for about 25 minutes, tasted the beef and concluded it really didn't need to go any longer (the recipe calls for simmering for 45 minutes).

As I mentioned, the beef could've turned out tougher, and the sauce itself was very nice. It had a surprising lemon-like quality to it, perhaps from the olive oil. Whatever it was, there's plenty left over, which I will doubtlessly be using for various leftover-type dishes over the next few days.

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