Monday, March 28, 2016

Fancy Persian Rice

It's rare to say that you've had an adventure making rice.  Wait, that's not true.  There's plenty of pilafs that are neat, and paella is about as adventuresome as rice -- or any dish-- can be.

But "normal" rice is usually pretty straightforward.  Yesterday I tried out a Cook's Illustrated recipe for chelow, a fancy Persian rice dish famed for its mix of textures--it develops a beautiful, golden crust to contrast with the extra-fluffy, soft, well, normal rice.

The CI technique was interesting--you soak basmati rice in hot water to parcook it a bit. Then mix half of it with some yogurt and press it into the bottom of a Dutch oven, and gently mound the rest of the rice over the top and poke some butter into it.

It certainly worked--I probably overcooked the crust a little, but it was crispy and tasty.  Great texture.

Like so much of Cook's Illustrated, it's a bit of a fussy recipe, and I like just plain old regular basmati rice, too. 

Is it worth the extra time and effort? Probably not, usually. Still, if the right occasion presents itself, I'd definitely make it again.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Avocado Toast Pilgrimage

Spring is busily springing at the Cloisters, one of my favorite places in New York (and, therefore, the world).  I made a pilgrimage there on Saturday (19 March) to enjoy everything slowly turning green again, and to see their spectacular exhibit of luxury playing cards.

Now that's a death card.  Yowza!

Post-pilgrimage I wasn't exactly feeling like Death in terms of emaciated hunger, but I was a little peckish, so I stopped into the nearby New Leaf Cafe in Fort Tryon Park for a bit of refreshment.  Only to discover that just about the only thing they had that wasn't their prix fixe ginormous brunch was avocado toast.

Like a lot of people, I have a knee-jerk reaction against avocado toast.  It's too...easy, you know?  Avocado. Toast. Done. Too much of an obvious crowd pleaser, too. It's 2016, I want my food to challenge me! I can make avocado toast, for crying out loud.  Why eat it at a restaurant? Those sorts of sentiments.

And yet, and yet.  Avocado toast is so good.  Sometimes it is exactly the right thing.  And this moment, feeling serene and spring-like and art-inspired, was one of those times.  My only regret is I opted to go for a cappuccino rather than alcohol.  A bloody mary and the avocado toast would truly have been food of the gods.

Still, three cheers for avocado toast, judiciously, in small doses, at the right moments.