Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tex-Mex Rice Made Easy

While some people, like my sister-in-law, are planning all things Kentucky Derby, I've got Cinco de Mayo on my mind. Which brings about my failure to post my favorite recipe for Tex-Mex rice. I have no idea where I found this recipe, but I love it and have had many requests to post it on my site. This is not a recipe for Mexican rice (Mexican Achiote Rice, Mexican Red Rice, Mexican White Rice), rather a more convenient Texas version that pairs well with barbecue, Mexican, Tex-Mex, and Southwestern cuisine. 

The beauty of this recipe is it's simplicity. No rinsing of the rice, no dicing carrots perfectly, no bashing of achiote paste in a mortar, just straightforward pantry staples of long-grain rice, half of a chopped onion, one tomato diced, chicken stock, and typical dried spices (or typical in my pantry). Once you've thrown your ingredients together, it takes no more than 30 minutes to hit the table! That's convenient enough to make everyday, and I often do! Don't forget to check back for a new recipe that will be perfect for your Cinco de Mayo!

Robin's Tex-Mex Rice

Serves 4, with NO leftovers!


1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 small white onion, diced (small, large, irregular, it doesn't matter!)
2/3 cup long-grain rice (I prefer Rice Select, Texmati brand. Hey, I have to, it's Texan!)
1 tomato, chopped (fine, medium, large, seeds and all, it doesn't matter!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I prefer Gebhardt.)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup chicken stock (I always have Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base in my fridge.)


In a medium (2-quart) pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir until the rice turns white and is slightly toasted, but not browned, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until the rice is tender, approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand covered at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

*Lime wedges to squeeze over the rice makes a nice garnish.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Literary Meal with William Faulkner

One of my kids is reading As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. With thoughts of the Bundrens, the Tulls, and Mississippi, I was reminded of Faulkner's favorite dish: salmon croquettes (aka. salmon cakes). While I know he preferred canned pink salmon, as well as the recipe on the can, I find canned salmon absolutely nauseating. Instead, when I find myself with two cups of leftover salmon, I make these fantastic "Salmon Cakes with Chipotle Cream and Arugula." 

You may be surprised that a measly two cups of flaked salmon can feed four; however, these salmon cakes are loaded with fresh veggies and yummy, buttery Ritz crackers. The spicy chipotle cream adds an appealing contrast, while the peppery arugula dressed lightly with a squirt of lemon and drizzle of olive oil reincarnates leftovers into a welcoming new meal. I like to serve them with asparagus and a warm baguette. And if you really want to channel Faulkner, a mint julep would be the perfect addition.

Salmon Cakes with Chipotle Cream and Arugula

Serves 4

For the Salmon Cakes
2 cups flaked, cooked salmon
1/2 cup fine Ritz cracker crumbs
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
3/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

For the Chipotle Cream
1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1 tablespoon milk
1 chipotle chile in adobo
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Arugula
4 handfuls baby arugula
Squirt of lemon and drizzle of olive oil

For the Chipotle Cream
Mix the sour cream or crema, milk, and the chipotle chile with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the Salmon Cakes
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the butter and olive oil for frying, and shape into 8 equal portions. 

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter is melted and the oil is hot, cook four of the salmon cakes until each side is browned, approximately 5 minutes per side. Set aside to a paper towel lined plate. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining four salmon cakes.

While the last salmon cakes are cooking, dress the arugula with the lemon and olive oil.

To plate, place a handful of arugula on each plate, then top with 2 salmon cakes and a dollop of chipotle cream on each cake.