Cooking from Bouchon has been such a treat for me. It allows me to spend the day shopping for the freshest, sometimes unique or indulgent ingredients in local markets and gourmet stores. (Granville Island is my favorite destination). It gives me excuses to purchase new kitchen gadgets and to roam the kitchen store like a wide-eyed girl in a candy store. It also challenges me to improve my techniques, acquire new ideas, and experiment with new methods.
But of course, I can’t cook that way all the time for time restraint and health reasons as some dishes are quite elaborate or rich (think cream, oil, butter…). To show you what I make the rest of the time, I will introduce some quick and easy recipes that I either paired with the Bouchon dishes or came up with in my kitchen for a variety of purposes and occasions.
As related in the Cod post, I served a quick rice pilaf on the side to fill up the tummies of three big boys. I needed a filling side-dish that not only complimented the entrée, but did not require my attention while I focused on oil-poaching the cod and completing the sweet pepper stew. There’s nothing more suitable than an herb-infused, aromatic, tomatoey rice pilaf. This can also be easily converted into a vegetarian recipe. Try this on the side of roasted meat or roasted vegetables.
I started this dish on the stove top and then transferred it to the rice cooker because it’s reliable and required even less thinking. I also give instructions on how to make it in the oven for those that do not have a rice cooker.
2 cups long grain rice
2.5 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
4 large shallots diced
8 cloves of garlic minced
several sprigs of thyme
5 tbs or 1/2 can of tomato paste (the smallest size)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp smoked paprika
olive oil or butter
Using a large frying pan, sweat the shallots in some butter or olive oil until soft. Season with salt. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant.
Stir in tomato paste, sugar, and smoked paprika and cook for one minute. Add enough oil or butter to coat the rice. Stir in the rice and cook until a nutty fragrance is emitted (about 3 minutes). Meanwhile, pull thyme leaves off the stalk and sprinkle into the rice.
Transfer the rice mixture into the rice cooker pot. Pour in the chicken stock and 1 tbs salt, stir once, place the stripped thyme stalks on top, and set rice cooker on “cook”. After it cooks, let it remain on “keep warm” for at least 10 minutes before opening the lid. Discard thyme stalks, fluff rice with a fork, drizzle with olive oil (optional), and serve.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Follow the directions above but use a deeper pot or dutch oven with a fitted lid. After pouring in the chicken stock, bring it to a boil and stir once. Place stripped thyme stalks on top, cover with lid, and place into the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from oven and let stand with the lid on for 10-15 more minutes. Discard thyme stalks, fluff rice with a fork, drizzle with olive oil (optional), and serve.
– Use whatever herb as is used in the main dish to tie the flavors together. If it’s a delicate fresh herb such as parsley, stir in at the very end.
– Experiment with different spices. Try toasted cumin seeds, dried herbs, or dried chillies.
– Toss in some chopped nuts or seeds before fluffing, such as pine nuts, almond slivers, or sunflower seeds.