Email me if you have something to say. I like you.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

I like pretty food!

Yesterday was my father-in-law's seventy seventh birthday and we had lunch here for him, which is always fun. When my husband's family gets together, the mix of American, Serbian and French culture is always interesting, to say the least. My sister in law and I plan to make millions one day when we publish a cookbook with Franco-Serbo-American recipes and plenty of stories about our in laws, but I digress. Yesterday, I made chicken broth for the guest of honor, because that's about all he wants to eat right now. When I asked if he had any special requests for his birthday, he answered,

"I am dreaming of chicken broth."

I think your dreams should be fulfilled on your birthday, so I made it. Later, I made a strange but good chicken salad with the leftover chicken:

Leftover Chicken Salad

Start with about 3 cups of pulled chicken in a bowl.

Add a dollop or two of mayonnaise. Err on the side of too little, you can always add more.

Add the following:

Two tablespoons sliced black olives, a handful of slivered almonds, a handful of golden raisins, a dash of curry, cumin and cayenne pepper and a splash of olive juice.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Yum. I just had some for breakfast!

I also made my Mom's rice salad, which is very pretty, and some sort of Mediterranean Meatloaf. I was going to make my version of Ćevapčići, but I got lazy and turned it into a meat loaf. Here it is:

My Mediterranean Meatloaf

In a deep casserole dish, dump the following:

1 pound of ground beef.

2 pounds ground lamb.

2 Eggs.

Maybe a third or a half a cup of bread crumbs (that's all I had, which was fine, because I don't like my meat loaf too bready.)

A bunch of fresh parsley. I took the bunch and chopped it with kitchen shears, letting the parsley fall right into the bowl. I'm all about less mess.

1/4 cup capers. Or so.

A spoonful each of minced garlic and ginger.

A healthy dash of curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.

Put on some plastic gloves. I get them at the Hyundai Market on Decker Blvd. Incidentally, you should go there, not only for the gloves. They have everything under the sun and it's easy to spend an hour shopping; don't forget the Pocky! I like these gloves:

Because they fit "my clean life style" perfectly!

Anyhow, mix the ingredients right in the dish with your gloved hands. Shape the mixture into a loaf. I use a casserole instead of a loaf pan so some of the fat can drain. Trust me, you'll get plenty of fat anyway. Put the casserole in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with about an inch of water. Cook at 350° for about an hour and fifteen minutes. I put a little Worcestersire on top while the meat loaf was cooling down, but you could probably sprinkle that into the mix if you remember (which I, obviously, did not!)

And, yes, I know I promised pretty food. Chicken salad and meatloaf are not pretty, although you could always try a parsley garnish to spruce them up. My Mom's rice salad is pretty. You should make it.

Mom's Rice Salad

Make 2 packages of Uncle Ben's Long Grain Wild Rice or, as I did, cook two cups dry wild rice from the bulk section* at the Fancy Mart. If you use the Uncle Ben's, don't add any butter or vile margarine.

In a big bowl, mix the following:

1 10 ounce package of frozen peas.

1 yellow and 1 red pepper, chopped.

1 cup golden raisins.

3 green onions, green part only, thinly sliced.

In a little bowl, mix 1/4 cup each honey, olive oil** and rice vinegar (any vinegar will do, but I like the rice vinegar because it adds a mild sweet taste.) Add one teaspoon curry powder and mix it all together. Add the dressing to the bowl of vegetables.

Add the dressed vegetables and a cup of chopped pecans to the rice and mix it all together. I served it in a shallow, lime green bowl and it looked purrrrty!

A Bulgarian friend of my husband's family sent the best cake I've ever tasted, some sort of layered, Tiramisù thing with chocolate ganache. She also, very kindly, sent a mild cake for the children, a tray of the best baklava I've ever tasted (there was a secret ingredient that I just cannot figure out!) and this crazy delicious cheese pastry thing. My cousin in law, a Lithuanian woman, told me it was similar to a Serbian dish, Gibanica. I'd like to learn how to make it, but if I did, my kids would probably never leave home. It was that good!

Namasté, y'all!

* Helpful Hint: When you get home from the store, put the rice in a freezer bag and write the directions on it with a Sharpie, so you don't forget. In this case, "1 cup rice, 2 1/4 cup water, 35-40 minutes." For this recipe, I doubled it.

** Helpful hint II: When you're adding oil and honey to a recipe, use the same measuring cup for both. If you use it for the oil first and don't rinse it out, the honey will slide out of the cup and you won't waste any. Hooray!

No comments: