A Few of my Favourite Things

Raindrops on roses are nice, and bright copper kettles certainly would come in handy. I wouldn’t say no to warm woollen mittens if the occasion called for it. But I draw the line when it comes to whiskers on kittens.

“Pine nuts and ginger with asafetida,

Basmati rice is made all the more sweeter,

Currants and cloves they add all the right zings!

These are a few of my favourite things..”

(apologies to Julie Andrews).

When it comes to recipes, this is one of my favourites.

amazing rice:

Turkish Rice Pilaf with Thyme, Currants & Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are the kernels or seeds that are shed as the pine cones dry, open out and mature in the summer months. These little cream coloured nuts can be toasted lightly in a dry frying pan, or with a little olive oil, to release a deeper, nuttier flavour. Coupled with flavoursome cloves, orange, ginger, thyme and succulent currants, they add a tasty crunch to this exotic rice dish from Turkey. Serves 6 persons.

3 cups vegetable stock or water,
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
½ cup pine nuts,
½ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder,
1½ cups basmati rice,
4 whole cloves,
one 2.5 cm cube ginger, sliced,
2 bay leaves,
2 whole stalks fresh thyme,
three large strips orange zest (I use a peeler and take off half the orange peel in large thin strips of zest, avoiding the bitter white part just below the skin),
1½ teaspoons salt,
½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper,
1/3 cup currants,
3 tablespoons chopped continental parsley.

Heat the vegetable stock in a small saucepan over moderate heat, cover, and bring to the boil.

Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low to moderate heat. When slightly hot, add the pine nuts. Stir-fry them for a minute, or until they turn a light golden-brown and smell fragrant. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Quickly remove the nuts from the oil and drain them on paper towels with a slotted spoon.

Sprinkle the yellow asafetida powder into the hot oil. Stir momentarily, drop in the rice, and stir-fry it in the oil for 2 or 3 minutes or until the rice grains become a little whitish in colour.

Pour the boiling stock into the rice. Add the cloves, ginger, bay leaves, thyme stalks, orange zest, salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, and bring the rice to full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to very low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer, without stirring, for 20

Yamuna Devi's Cracked Black Pepper Rice

pepper rice:

Yamuna Devi’s Cracked Black Pepper Rice

Yamuna Devi writes: “This zesty side dish is particularly pleasing in a large, full-course meal with two or more varieties of rice. It is served at room temperature, sometimes chilled, but it always retains pungent warmth from its substantial quantity of cracked black pepper. The rice is best cooked al dente, so that the grains are not soft but remain just firm to the bite.

Preparation time: 5 minutes,

Cooking time: 15 minutes,

Serves: 5 or 6.

1 cup basmati or long-grain white rice,

8 cups water,

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice,

3 tablespoons butter or ghee,

1 small cassia or bay leaf,

½-1 teaspoon salt,

1-1½ teaspoon cracked black pepper,

5 or 6 lemon or lime wedges or twists for garnishing.

Bring the water, lemon or lime juice, ½ teaspoon of the butter or ghee and the cassia or bay leaf to a full boil in a large pan or stockpot over high heat. Stirring constantly, pour in the rice in a slow stream. Cook uncovered in briskly boiling water for 12-15 minutes or until the rice is just tender and fluffy

Pour the rice into a strainer or colander and drain. Let cool fro 1-2 minutes, pick out the cassia or bay leaf and spoon the rice onto a serving platter. Stir in the remaining butter or ghee, salt and black pepper. Toss gently to mix.

Chill or let cool to room temperature. Garnish with citrus wedges or twists.

The Art of War

sun tzu:

Here’s some cogent battle advice for today’s armchair warriors, written 2400 years ago, but still ever-relevant.

“In joining battle, seek the quick victory. If battle is
protracted, your weapons will be blunted and your troops
demoralized. If you lay siege to a walled city, you
exhaust your strength. If your armies are kept in the
field for a long time, your national reserves will not
suffice.

Where you have blunted your weapons, demoralized your troops, exhausted your strength and depleted
all available resources, the neighboring rulers will
take advantage of your adversity to strike. And even
with the wisest of counsel, you will not be able to turn
the ensuing consequences to the good. There never has
been a state that has benefited from an extended war.”

– Sun Tzu, from “The Art of War”