When I got home one day last week, my husband said we could do whatever I wanted to for dinner. So I said, " you pick for a change." So he said he would take me to the little Country Deli down the street. It's a little place I just discovered a few days ago after being here for nearly 5 years. Don't know how I missed it. A little tiny place that makes decent food. I don't know how this photo was taken, it's kind of weird - very wide angle lens I guess. I got it off the internet. It's tucked behind this gas station at the corner of Main and Old Ocean City Road. Don't blink if you are driving by, you won't see it. But, if we want to get something quick, we don't have to go all the way to Salisbury. Burgers, Philly cheese steaks, pizza, wings and all kinds of sandwiches and subs. And REAL milkshakes that are as chocolaty and creamy as can be. And call your order in ahead of time - it was really crowded with takeout customers the first time we stopped. We won't eat there often, but it'll be handy when we're in a hurry. I didn't feel like eating burgers or Philly cheese steaks or pizza shop pizza or wings. These are not on my menu 99% of the time - too "unhealthy".
So I said "Nah, I'll make something." It occurred to me that on the way home I thought of something I would like to make, so I decided to do that. I often spend time thinking about what I'll make for dinner on the way home. Especially if the talk show I'm listening to is a little off the wall that day. Uggh. I love talk radio, but when a host has on a very interesting guest and all this guy does is talk the whole time while his interesting guest listens to HIM on the other end of the phone. What a jerk he can be sometimes. Anyway. I digress - that is an entirely different subject. But it gave me time that evening to think about what I have at home and what I can do with it.
I remembered I had some rice leftover from Chinese takeout a couple of nights ago. We almost never eat the rice that comes with the meal, but I never throw it out either. I use it for rice pudding, or another home made stir fry, or even for soup. Tonight I wanted to make a cold rice salad. I love rice salad. I had some fresh veggies in the refrigerator so I started gathering everything I had that I thought would be good in it.
COLD RICE SALAD WITH CUMIN LIME DRESSING
1 container of cooked rice - probably about 2 cups
1 med zucchini, large dice (cucumber would be great too)
1 or 2 roma tomatoes, large dice
4 - 6 large crimini mushrooms, large dice(regular white button are fine too)
1 cup of frozen corn
2 - 3 T finely chopped cilantro
10 shrimp (optional) raw or already cooked. Freshly cooked would be the tastiest.
1 avocado, cut into cubes or slices (optional)
Dice red onion (optional) I didn't use any tonight, but it would be good in here
Cumin Dressing (recipes follows)
1 T. Lime juice
2 T. canola or other light oil (I used sunflower oil)
1/2 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 chili powder
1 T mayonnaise
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T dried onion flakes
1 large clove of garlic very finely mined or run through a garlic press
Chop all the veggies into cubes about the size of a small grape. Then just put all the salad ingredients except the shrimp in a bowl and stir well. You will top the salad with the shrimp.
Now place all the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk vigorously until creamy. The mayonnaise isn't there so much for flavor as it is to emulsify your salad dressing. Otherwise the oil and lemon juice and vinegar would separate. The dressing is creamy now and coats everything very nicely. Pour the dressing over everything and mix well.
Cut each shrimp into 3 pieces if they are large, leave them whole if they are small. If you are using raw, saute in a little tiny bit of oil until they are done. No seasoning necessary since the dressing is quite tasty.
Spoon some of the salad on a plate and top each serving with some of the cooked shrimp.
Ten shrimp is enough for 2 servings, but the whole recipe of rice salad is enough for 4 -6 servings.
I wasn't really sure how this salad would taste, but I knew I liked all the ingredients. It turned out better than I thought it would! It's good without the shrimp, (I had the leftovers without shrimp for lunch the next day) but the shrimp made it all the more delicious! I wanted to put avocado in it too, but when I cut open the avocado I had on the counter, it was too old to use (arggghh!!!!!) So I had to add it to the compost pile. If you like avocados, I know it would have been wonderful sliced on top of this salad. You could even add a can of rinsed black beans to the mix.
I think I will make this one for the family reunion picnic this year (minus the shrimp because it will be too hot outside to keep a salad sitting around with shrimp in it).
I guess I always knew this little tidbit, but I relearned it several years ago while reading my A-Z Cooking from the California Culinary Academy cookbook.
You may already know , but did you know that:
1 T. minced cilantro means mince the cilantro first, then measure it.
1 T. cilantro, finely minced, means first measure 1 T. of cilantro leaves, and then chop it.
The second way of measuring would yield much less cilantro, so when you are measuring things, be sure to notice how they are worded in a recipe. But of course, you can always alter quantities of ingredients to your taste no matter what a recipe says. I happen to love cilantro so I use a little more than is called for. Same with garlic. I tend to use a little more than is called for.
Did you know that crimini mushrooms are simply baby Portabellos? As they grow larger the top spreads out to be quite large. I've seen them up to 8 inches across. They have a much more earthy/meaty flavor than regular white mushrooms and are somewhat more firm. I have taken to using them almost exclusively. Portabellos are a great steak substitute for vegetarian recipes. Simply use the big portabellos in place of the steak -- top with blue cheese, splash A-1, grill and slice into a "steak" salad, even put them into a "beef" vegetable soup. Just use seasonings that would add to the flavor like McCormick's steak seasoning, A-1 sauce, or Worcestershire sauce. Maybe I'll experiment with a pot of that soup and post it in a future blog. They are also great stuffed with anything you like! A sausage or vegetable stuffing, your favorite crouton bread stuffing, crab stuffing, cornbread stuffing. They would make a great light meal or appetizer. As I write here, it occurs to me that I should do a whole blog on portabellos. If you are a mushroom lover, they are enormously versatile and delicious. These two photos are not mine, but how beautiful and tasty do these dishes look! The salad is from a site called www.pomwonderful.com. POM being pomegranates. Lots of great recipes. The panini is from the the McCormick site.
Here's a shopping tip for mushrooms. If you shop at a store where you can buy your mushrooms loose, in bulk, that is to say you can take two in a bag or you can take 20, they are MUCH cheaper. A 12 oz. container of prepackaged mushrooms is nearly $.90 more than the same weight of loose ones. And when you buy as many mushrooms as I do, that adds up.
I'll have to go shopping for some portabellos to try some dishes to share with you. Sam's Club has a pack of 4 really large ones for a very good price. Next time I'm there, I'll get some.