Monday, July 11, 2011

green tea rice

Another My 25 recipe! I originally wrote that I wanted to do something kind of fancy with this, by which I think I meant serve it as part of a meal to people besides myself. Unfortunately none of the other three people in this apartment seem at all interested in trying it, because they have no taste. I'm counting it anyway. It's a totally different version than that last one. It has jasmine in it (because I don't have any normal green tea)!

I have no idea where I came across the idea for green tea rice, but I've made it a couple of times over the last three or so years, usually when I'm ridiculously busy but sick of eating bland take-out. The rice doesn't taste exactly like green tea, but it definitely has an interesting flavor, and the nuts and fruit add a nice sweetness and texture.

2 cups white short-grain rice (I use sushi-type rice, but I imagine other kinds would work)
2 cups strong-brewed green tea, cooled
1/3 cup roughly chopped pistachios and almonds (or slivered almonds)
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries (or dried currants, or raisins)

Cook the rice in the green tea, cool, and mix in the nuts and fruit. Serve at room-temperature.

I'm very fond of food that I can make in summer without turning on my stove or oven. The rice cooker radiates very little heat and can be left to its own devices while I sit in front of a fan in the next room.  This rice works great for that, as well as being nice and light and better at room temperature. Unfortunately it doesn't reheat well after being refrigerated (at least when made with sushi rice), but it can be left out in tupperware overnight without spoiling.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

granitas galore

So, to get back to that list of things I'm supposed to be cooking... granitas! These are basically frozen fruit-ices that taste like crunchy sorbet, but (generally) less sweet. I adore them. I've made four so far, but the one in these photos is the first one I've gotten decent shots of.

Pomegranate Chai Granita

This one came out of a cookbook I was processing at work, but unfortunately I forgot to write down which one. If you've come across it let me know where.

1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 bag chai tea

Bring the water to a boil and dissolve the sugar in it. Add juices and tea bag, and steep until cool. Pour into a shallow, flat dish (the bigger the better... I use a large pyrex baking dish with a lid) and place in the freezer, making sure the liquid is level. Freeze for 45 minutes, then stir with a fork, scraping ice crystals away from the sides of the pan and breaking up any chunks. Repeat every thirty minutes or so until the granita is all flakes and crystals.

Minty Green Tea Granita

This one is from Mark Bittman's Food Matters book. Mine came out more green-tea-and-honey than green-tea-and-mint, but it was still pretty delicious.

3 cups water
3 bags green tea
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/4 cup honey
juice of one lemon

Bring the water nearly to a boil, turn off the heat and add the tea bags and mint. Steep ten minutes, stir in the honey and lemon juice. Pour into the pan and stir periodically as above.

Blackberry-Orange and Raspberry-Mint Granitas

These were the first two I made, and were the result of a big sale on berries at Fairway. The measurements are kind of approximate because I don't remember exactly how I made them, but they turned out fabulously. These are one of the best desserts to make in hot weather because (assuming you keep simple syrup on hand) they don't require you to turn on the stove at all.

2 pints blackberries
zest of one orange
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/3-1/2 cup simple syrup


2 pints raspberries
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/3-1/2 cup simple syrup
3/4 cup water or seltzer

Purée the berries and zest/mint, then force through a fine strainer or cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible while removing seeds. Mix with liquids, freeze and stir.

The blackberry-orange one was hands-down my favorite... blackberries just have a ton of flavor, and the orange was a nice complement. Despite the fact that it takes a couple of hours for a granita to freeze, they really take very little work, but look elegant and are extremely refreshing in yucky summer weather. Plus if you get sick of eating them you can turn them into fancy drinks like I did here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

beet salad

This simple-but-delicious salad was inspired by the first idea on Mark Bittman's list of 101 picnic dishes, after a couple of friends and I decided to have an after-work meal on the Brooklyn Promenade. I wasn't sure about presenting people with raw beets (I like them, but they're a bit weird), so I decided to roast mine, and change up the ingredients a bit to match the sweetness of roasted beets. Sorry the photos aren't very clear, I didn't think about the effect of beet-colored bowls on my pictures.

2-3 large beets
about 1/4 cup olive oil +  1 tablespoon for drizzling
zest and juice of one medium orange
balsamic vinegar to taste
1/3 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 cup pea or clover sprouts, chopped
1/3-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse and scrub the beets clean, and trim off any dangling ends. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil, and wrap each one in tinfoil. Place the packets on a baking sheet and roast for 30-45 minutes, or until they're tender enough for a dinner knife to sink in without much pressure.

Remove from oven and let rest until they're cool enough to handle. Remove the skin with your fingers (I find that running the beet under water while I do this makes it easier and less messy), and use a knife to trim off any remaining rough patches.

Roughly chop the beets and toss with olive oil (be generous but don't drench them), balsamic vinegar, juice, and orange zest. Top with pistachios, sprouts, and feta, then serve. If you're not going to eat this right away, or have to transport it, I recommend keeping the toppings separate until the last minute, both because they get soggy and because the presentation is nicer before everything turns pink from the beets.

Here's a slightly blurry photo of the salad all mixed up in my lunchbox. I ate this stuff for four out of six meals over three days and didn't get bored.

Another shot of the salad, eaten with some "crab" cakes made from onigiri leftovers (topped with sriracha mayo). I think I'd basically run out of the pistachios and sprouts by this point.