Monday, July 25, 2011

"Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals 2" - Spanish Beef and Rice and Spicy Chopped Salad with Tortillas

Date I made this recipe: July 24, 2011

Rachel Ray 30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachel Ray
Published by: Lake Isle Press, Inc.
ISBN: 1-891105-10-8
Recipe: Spanish Beef and Rice on top of Spicy Chopped Salad with Tortillas – p. 138-139

People, how cosmic is this: the day I decided to finally make a Rachel Ray recipe, she makes an appearance on the Food Network Star. It’s like I subconsciously planned this because until the FNS aired, I had completely forgotten that she would be on that episode.

When I first started watching the Food Network, our Rachel was a rising star. And, believe it or don’t, there just wasn’t that much programming (or at least it seemed to me) on the Food Network at that time, at least not anything like there is now. There are so many new shows popping up that even I can’t keep track.

At any rate, when she was first on, I liked her. She had lots of energy, lots of humor and recipes that could be made in 30 minutes. Loved it! But then the bloom fell off the rose for a while (as it did with Paula Deen) and I tuned out. Too many silly words like “stoup” for soup/stew kept cropping up, and that danged EVOO even made the dictionary. Enough, already! But of course, Rachel kept on going. Now she has an empire with her shows, cookbooks, cookware, a magazine and her own talk show. We can all thank (or blame, depending on how you look at it) Oprah for that one. She took a liking to Rachel and there was no turning back. So note to Oprah: my friends tell me I am absolutely hilarious, I’m a decent cook with a fantastic cook book collection and I’m half Sicilian. Call me!

At any rate, as conflicted as I feel about Rachel (although I do subscribe to her magazine), her cookbooks have a wide variety of recipes. And I needed a wide variety because I was getting together with a group of friends and one of the friends does not eat dairy. And we were supposed to bring Tex-Mex food. I know--you were like me, right, thinking cheese and sour cream and whatnot. So rather than succumb to making salsa, I went on the hunt.

After looking through my four Rachel Ray cookbooks (well, one is sort of a cookbook – it’s her $40 a Day book), I found a perfect recipe that contained not one drop of dairy AND it was darned tasty to boot. Like really tasty. Like I had to tell myself to quit nibbling prior to this party or there wouldn’t be any left.

The beauty of these two recipes is that each one can stand on its own. You can make the Spanish Beef and Rice and call it a day or you can just make the salad. But if you make the rice, then know that Rachel intends for half of it to be used for a Stuffed Chili recipe on p. 139. I could have easily cut down the rice mixture as I did not intend to make the other recipe (although it sounded good).

As to the salad, my palate does not tolerate a lot of heat and given that I was serving this to others, I cut way back on the amount of chilies she used. In fact, I used one, fresh jalapeno and that was that. I opened a can of green chilies but decided that was too much heat. I thought the one jalapeno I used was perfect, but if you’re sure you can stand the heat, fire away!

One more note before I go: the group of friends I got together with is comprised of four other attorneys and me, who worked together on a legal work project that was so bad we dubbed it “The Gulag.” Over time, instead of referring to ourselves as The Gulagees, we became “The G’s.”

One of our mates, nicknamed Tex, was back from Texas, where she now lives, for a short visit and a fellow G, nicknamed TEA, held a Tex-Mex picnic in Tex’s honor in her back yard. Actually, that should have been a “Don’t Mex with Tex” party as this little lady has been busy rounding up, I kid you not, rattlesnakes from some of her neighbors’ yards. Take that, snake! (There is no amount of money in the world that will get me near a snake, much less a rattler. She's a better woman that I, that Tex!)

Anyway, it was great to be all back together again. We email each other constantly (almost always starting the email with "G's..." and have some of the most hilarious war stories ever. One of these days, we’re going to get those suckers published but in the meantime, I have the blog and you have two really good recipes. (Or, as Rachel would say, two really "delish" recipes!) Enjoy!

Spanish Beef and Rice (warning: serves 8!)
2 cups beef stock
1 and ¾ cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups white enriched rice (Note: I looked up “enriched rice” but really couldn’t figure out what the difference was. I used “regular” white rice and it was fine.)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (once around the pan)
1 & 2/3 pounds ground sirloin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin (2/3 palmful)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (a couple of handfuls)

Bring beef stock, water, and butter to a full boil in a medium-size pot. Add rice, reduce heat and cover pot. Cook 20 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid absorbed.

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat, 2 or 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and Worcestershire. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, until veggies are just tender. Add tomato sauce, cloves, cumin, and parsley. Bring up to a bubble, then reduce heat to low.

Combine cooked rice with meat mixture and serve with Spicy Chopped Salad with Tortillas and taco dressing. (Ann’s Note: If you make the entire batch, reserve half of the beef and rice for the stuffed pepper recipe – Double-Duty Dinner: Stuffed Chilies with Beef, Rice, Spinach, and Cheese, p. 139)

Spicy Chopped Salad with Tortillas – makes 4 servings

2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
3 tablespoons canned or jarred slice jalapenos, drained (Ann’s warning: this would have made this salad spicy, all right! I used one, fresh jalapeno and it was fine.)
3 tablespoons salad olives, Manzanilla with pimento, drained
1 vine-ripened tomato, seeded and chopped
½ red onion, chopped
1 cup broken tortilla chips (any variety)
2 tablespoons jarred taco sauce
The juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or fresh flat-leaf parsley (Ann’s Note: some people do not like cilantro and since I had the fresh flat-leaf parsley on hand, I used that).
¼ cup olive oil (eyeball it)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine first five ingredients in a bowl, and toss with tortilla chip pieces. In a second bowl, combine taco sauce, lime juice and cilantro or parsley. Whisk in olive oil in a slow stream until dressing is well combined. Toss salad with dressing to coat ingredients evenly, and serve.

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