Rice-A-Roni was one of those favourite packaged foods I grew up with.
There are a lot of Rice-A-Roni recipes out there – most of them identical, but none has really captured that Rice-A-Roni taste for me. This one is the closest I’ve managed to get.
The original uses vermicelli, but that’s hard to find and spaghetti is a poor substitute. The important ingredient here is the orzo – a rice-shaped pasta. This seemed to make all the difference.
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 cup orzo
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 a small onion
1-2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 cups water
3 chicken stock cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Disolve the stock cubes in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Saute the onion in the butter in a skillet and when softened, add the rice and pasta and cook until the rice is semi-transparent (ish). Crush the garlic into the mixture and add the stock. Cover and simmer over a low heat until the rice is tender (15-20 minutes).
Disappointingly, I can’t find an original ad as the jingle is inexorably linked with this side dish for me, but here’s the jingle with someone’s vacation photos:
I was a little random last time I made these – this is what I think I did!
Rinse and drain one package of dried pinto beans and place in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and soak over night. By morning, they will have absorbed most of the water, so add additional water so that they are, again, covered with water. Pour into a large saucepan and add:
3-6 gloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered cumin
Simmer slowly for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are very tender. Make sure the pan does not run dry and add additional water periodically if needed. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher. Stir in about a cup (I used three heaping desert spoons, which I think was close to a cup) of shortening or margarine until well-absorbed.
If you’re not concerned with a vegan version, lard is more traditional as is soaking the beans overnight with a hamhock or some bacon drippings!
Lovely, lovely, sweet red onions. No one in my household liked onions when I made this, so this made just enough for me, me, me (plus a little extra). Would have been nice with some sliced fennel grilled with the onions, I expect.
1 medium sized red opinion, sliced into thin slices
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove minced or crushed garlic
salt and pepper
Heat the vinegar, garlic and rosemary in a sauce pan until hot, but don’t let it boil. Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes. If it seems that a lot of balsamic has evaporated off, add another tablespoon or so. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Place the onions in a single layer in the pan and coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Fry over a medium heat for 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly browned. Toss with the vinegar mixture.
I can’t seem to find decent ranch dressing in the shops anymore. Nevermind. I’ve figured out my own, very easy version. The only downside is that it’s quite thin, but is nice and subtle-tasting at least.
Buttermilk is often difficult to find (although Tesco now sell it), so I make my own by stirring a tablespoon of lemon juice into half a cup of whole milk and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
A gorgeous summer salad that’s perfect with barbequed meats and suchlike. This one is adapted from another recipe found online because I seem to be well-placed for rather mature rocket in my garden. The nectarines set off the taste really well.
3 tbsp Rasberry vinegar
1 tsp coarse grain or dijon mustard
5 tbsp good quality olive oil
sugar, salt and pepper to taste
Mix together well and pour over 2 or 3 sliced ripe nectarines and a few big handfuls of rocket leaves. I added a handful or coriander leaves once as well, which was a nice variation. Use some milder leaves as well if the rocket is too strong. The original recipe also called for toasted walnuts, but I reckon pecans or cashews would be nicer.
This Mexican style salad/side dish is a surprise to everyone who tries it. The fish is not cooked in the traditional way, but in lime juice which gives it a cooked texture and appearance and for all I know, fulfills the qualification of “cooking”. Serves 4 to 6.
250-300g fresh white fish. I used halibut, but sea bass, snapper, plaice or just about anything will work.
250g cooked prawns and/or tiny bay scallops
Enough lime juice to cover the fish. Since limes are not so juicy, you may supplement with lemon juice if you get bored trying to squeeze enough from a lime.
1/2 a large onion
1 small jalepeno pepper (or 5 or 6 slices of the pickled variety we get in the uk) or one or two fresh red chili pepper
2 medium tomatoes
10-20 pitted green or black olives
2 or 3 large spoons full capers
1/4 – 1/2 spoon cumin powder
1/4 – 1/2 spoon dried oregano
handful fresh coriander
60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
Remove the skin and slice the white fish into thin strips. Place in a glass bowl and cover completely with the lime juice. If you’re using uncooked scallops or prawns, put them in the bowl as well, otherwise, hold off until later. Cover and place in the refridgerator until the fish looks “cooked” – in other words opaque and flaky. This should only take a half an hour to an hour depending on the thickness of the fish or the size of the prawns/scallops.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, pepper, tomatoes and olives.
When the fish is ready drain off the lemon juice and add the chopped vegetables and the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and return to the fridge for another hour or two. Some recipes suggest 24 to 48 hours, but I prefer the more subtle flavour when left not quite as long. On the other hand, my lunch of ceviche and avocado 48 hours later was quite fab.
You could add all manner of things as well, like artichoke hearts, chopped avocado or black olives.
A good, American-style stuffing recipe, adapted from 4 or 5 different recipes. Best I’ve found so far. This is a rather small recipe for people who aren’t as keen on stuffing as I am. Double it for a larger turkey.
water (about a cup or two)
two sausages – any sort – or 3 or 4 chipolatas
1/2 chopped onion
3 stalks chopped celery
1/4 cup butter
4 cups dry bread cubes (about 8 slices of brown and/or white day-old bread, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes)
a good handful of fresh chopped herbs: sage, rosemary, tarragon and marjoram
Cover giblets (except the liver) with water to cover in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. Add the liver and simmer for 25 minutes longer. Reserve the stock and chop the cooked giblets finely.
Remove the skin from the sausages and fry the meat until browned thoroughly. Put aside.
Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the onion and celery until tender. Add the butter, celery and onion, plus the cooked sausage meat to the bread crumbs, chopped giblets, herbs and seasonings. Add reserved stock, tossing lightly to moisten. Use half the dressing to stuff up to a 2.5 kilo turkey. Put any extra in a buttered baking dish and cover and bake for at least 40 to 45 minutes.