Archive for September, 2010

Fried rice is fabulously easy

Leftovers are always a good thing in my book, and they become even better when they can be used to morph into a totally new dish. What’s better than that? When the new dish outshines the original from which those leftovers came.

That’s exactly the case with fried rice, a favorite in Chinese restaurants that is so easy to make at home that you may never order takeout again.

To make fried rice, you need first need plain old cooked rice. To get that foundation for this dish, you simply simmer or bake a medium- to long-grain white rice like basmati in water for about 20 minutes or, even easier, use a rice cooker, which can be bought for under $20.

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Relish the end of summer with this terrific topping

Once again and all too suddenly, summer is about to bid adieu. We’ve got one more weekend before the calendar tells us that school is back in session and that leaves will start falling from trees. So let’s top off our last barbecues of the season with something a little special: a relish that’s a snap to make and lends a bright, vibrant, creamy flavor to hot dogs, hamburgers, fish and myriad other entrées.

The irony with this recipe is that it uses a couple of ingredients that often fly under the radar in our kitchen ventures. Alone they are good, tied together with a few other ingredients, they make something wonderful.

First up are capers. We featured these in our last recipe, Extraordinary Orzo, a warm pasta salad. Capers were our secret ingredient in that dish because the small, pickled green orbs add so much crunch and a nice saltiness. They do the same in this dish.

You’ll find capers bottled in your local supermarket, usually on the same aisle as pickles and olives. In nature, they come from a bush. It’s actually the bud of a plant, and is packaged in a brine solution that should be rinsed before eating. On the bottles, capers will commonly be labeled “non-pareil” or “nonpareille.” What the heck does that mean, you might wonder? It’s just a size thing. Specifically, it refers to capers up to 7 millimeters. These kind of capers are small and are considered the most prized.

The other stealth ingredient in this recipe is flat-leaf parsley, also known as Italian parsley. It’s found in the produce section of the market and looks a lot like cilantro. Often the only way you’ll know the difference is by smell or taste. Parsley adds a vibrant, fresh flavor and also works great as a garnish by itself because of its beautiful, dark-green color.

Ready to tie these two ingredients together to make a relish that’s as memorable as the last barbecue of summer? Here’s how to do it.

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