Picking out cookbooks can be hit or miss, especially when you’re not going for a specific cuisine. I try to get one or two cookbooks every time I go to the library or used bookstore, and I’d have to say that only about 25 percent end up being ones I keep returning to. This last trip to the library, though, I found a winner. It’s called” The 150 Best American Recipes” (lofty title, no?) and it’s edited by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens.
Both James Beard Award winners, these editors combed through thousands of recipes from cookbooks, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and even fliers and e-newsletters to find what they consider the best recipes from the last 10 years. So far, I think they’ve done a good job. I’ve cooked four recipes, and liked them all, enough that I’ll add them to my “to be repeated” list.
My whole family liked Arroz Verde, which is from “Jim Peyton’s New Cooking from Old Mexico”. Peyton is a cookbook author and cooking teacher from my hometown, San Antonio, so I was eager to try this, and wasn’t disappointed. The recipe makes a versatile side dish or, if you take my husband’s advice, melt a little cheese over the top and make it a meal.
1 cup tightly packed stemmed spinach leaves (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 ounce)
1 1/4 cups homemade chicken broth or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
Place the spinach, cilantro and broth in a blender and blend until the vegetables are pureed. Add the milk and salt and blend until well combined.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, until it just begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the spinach mixture, stir well, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the rice carefully to avoid crushing it, cover and cook for 5 minutes more.
Remove from the heat and let the rice steam in the covered pot for 10 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.
Written by: Shannon Oelrich