Orzo and Rice Pilaf

orzo and rice pilaf

Here is a very good summer dish to help take care of those zucchini, which must now be about to take over your garden. It’s a simple orzo and rice pilaf, with lots of veggies and plenty of chicken broth (or vegetable broth), and with a finishing touch of zucchini at the end that just steams lightly and gives it a nice crunch.

I like the idea of using orzo with a rice pilaf, it make the whole dish a little more interesting and, I don’t know, adds a really nice pasta effect to the dish that smaller pasta just seems to miss. You can also make this a more or less vegetarian dish by using vegetable pasta. Personally, I use the chicken version because it adds a bit of (what I think is necessary) flavor, but if you had some really good vegetable sauce, by all means feel free to give it a try.

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Zucchini with Thai Sauce

Zucchini with Thai Sauce

I enjoy a lovely — and no cook — recipe for summer sides, and this zucchini with Thai sauce is just perfect. You can make the sauce well ahead of time and the zucchini and red peppers can be made just a little before hand. You really can’t beat it, especially on a very hot summer day. 

First the zucchini. That part is really very easy, since all you need is one of those little mandolin or one of those rope-making appliances that turn the veggies into, well, ropes. Honestly, the one I have cost me all of $10, and you can use them for a whole lot of other veggies and fruits, too. 

The Thai sauce — I have no idea why I call it that, except that it has some peanuts and chili — is extremely easy to make as well, but combines a dab of peanut butter with a number of other ingredients. If you want to just call it a peanut sauce, that works OK with with me. I believe this may have come from an older Gourmet or maybe from some other source, but we’ve been making it here at Discovery Cooking for many years and by now, I suspect, it has enough modifications to make it our own.

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Ditalini and Carrots

ditalini and carrots

I haven’t done much about side dishes here, and that’s something we’d like to change going forward. Ditalini and carrots is one of those terrific side dishes that you could, under the right circumstances, make into a damn fine meal, if you really wanted to do that. And while it’s not strictly a vegetarian meal, a bit of switching the broth could even convert this dish to vegetarian.

What I like about the dish is that it has plenty of flavor, especially if you can get some fresh carrots from the local farm market, for example. And the cheese and rosemary at the end really sends it over the top. On top of that, it actually looks really nice on a plate or in a bowl. It goes pretty well with just about anything, even meat with lots of sauce like a Saltimbocca or perhaps a little barbecue, or something similar.

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Potato Salad on the Side!

potato salad

I know just about everyone here in the U.S. is headed off for a lovely holiday this weekend. And even those of us who occasionally like to hang out at home still might be looking for a little prep-ahead, do it now, and relax over the next few days. This recipe is for one of the better potato salad mixes I’ve ever encountered and it’s fairly simple to make. 

Like any good potato salad, this one relies on good potatoes, but it also includes a whole mess of eggs and a host of other wonderful things, including just a little tarragon, which gives it a light, tangy kind of exuberance that you might not find elsewhere. For my taste, I generally like a good baking potato, which gives the finished product a nice crunch.

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Codfish Salad with Guacamole (Sous Vide)

codfish salad

Some day I’d love to see a book focused only on just simple salads. And this codfish salad could go right to the top of that list. As a general rule, in fact, I probably wouldn’t even post this dish here — but for the fact that it shows how even a very straightforward little sous vide can be a wonderful addition to a meal.

The guacamole is pretty simple, but feel free to add more — including a lot of spice if you like that. The salad, with or without a little light dressing is just about whatever you have available. 

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Leek and Potato Side Dish (Sous Vide)

leek and potato side dish

Sous vide processing is mainly — at least for me — a great way to produce some amazing feasts for the table. What many sous vide cookbooks don’t tell you is that it’s also an excellent way to make some very good side dishes. This leek and potato side dish is a perfect example. Where else can you get perfectly well done leeks and similarly well done potatoes, all ready to fit into a servings dish and all at the same time.

Putting the dish together is easy to do. Lay in the potatoes, lay the leeks on top and add either a few wisps of ham or a simple dressing on top. A few little chives and you’re all set. Getting there takes a bit more effort. The vacuum-style leeks require cooking (70 degrees C at about an hour and a half) as do the potatoes (90 degrees C at about 50 minutes or so). Leeks are then split and fried very quickly as are the potatoes, both of which need more of a little bit of shine than anything.

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Morel and Ramps in Risotto

Morel and Ramps Risotto

If I handed you a nice batch of morel and ramps from somewhere up in West Virginia, what would you come up with?

The thought was actually rather easy for us here at Discovery Cooking.

What I really wanted, more than any thing, was a beautifully done risotto, with morels and ramps.  Right. Well, it turns out that if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of various recipes for risotto with morels and ramps. Yeah, I know. Not one, but generally hundreds of them (OK, maybe not hundreds, but more than you’d possibly think).

What we ended up with is something called a “sauce” that is laid over the top of the risotto and something similar, but with a little asparagus also added. I know, but there were two things about these recipes we really liked, and so rather than giving one up, we decided to make them, sort of, conspicuously. That is, we’d figure out what we liked about both and combine them in a really interesting way.

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