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Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts for An Edible Mosaic’s Virtual Book Launch Party

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Ever since my blogging buddy, Faith, announced that she’d gotten a cookbook deal, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release.  Pins and needles, I tell you.  The day finally came and her cookbook, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flare, is now available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!  I’ve been following Faith since I started my blog and it’s been pretty surreal to watch her blossom and become so successful, eventually publishing her very own cookbook.  I’m so thrilled for her!  It is an incredible thing to fulfill your dreams.

Faith Gorsky, photo by Michael Safarini

From the title of her book, you may have guessed that Faith is from the Middle East.  Well, Faith was born and raised in America!  After getting married, she spent six months living in the Middle East where she fell in love with the culture and cuisine. Subsequently, she returned four more times for visits, each time delving deeper into the cuisine and deepening her passion for and appreciation of the region.  Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow. If you didn’t grow up eating Middle Eastern food, it can be a difficult art to master; Faith understands that, and explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts, photo by Faith Gorsky

An Edible Mosaic contains over 100 Middle-Eastern recipes with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East.  As part of the virtual book launch party, I’m joining with other bloggers to announce her book’s release and share  her recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts from the cookbook (click the launch party link to enter all the giveaways from sponsors on Faith’s blog!).

I made the rice to accompany a simple dinner of roasted chicken and a green salad, and it was fabulous.  She says the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon are optional but I highly recommend them.  (I didn’t have the whole spices but added pinches of the ground spices.)  While I’ve never traveled to the Middle East, I felt like I brought a piece of it to my own kitchen as soon as I opened the pot and the fragrant steam wafted up.  The savory rice in combination with the spices & sweet bits of plump golden raisins had me wishing for a complete Middle Eastern meal, and I’ll surely be cooking one up as soon as I have my hands on the cookbook.

FYI, I had some of the leftovers for breakfast, heated with almond milk as a hot cereal.  It was good, I promise!  And vegan & gluten-free, too. :)

If you are interested in getting your own copy of the cookbook, please click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble links above, and don’t forget to head on over to the launch party headquarters on Faith’s blog!

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
ROZ MLOW’WAN

Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
  4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

 OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

Mixed White & Yellow Rice, photo by Faith Gorsky

VARIATION

Mixed White and Yellow Rice
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
2 whole cloves
2 pods cardamom, cracked open
2 whole peppercorns
¾ teaspoon salt
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
1-2 pinches saffron threads or ½ teaspoon turmeric dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

  1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan, cover and place over moderately high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the rice, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water to the rice, turn heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. Give it a stir, cover the pot, turn heat down to very low, and cook 10 minutes (don’t open the lid during this time).
  4. After the rice is cooked, let the pot sit with the lid on for 15 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer 1/3 of the rice to a separate bowl.
  5. Stir the saffron or turmeric-colored water into 1/3 of the rice (the rice will turn yellow). Mix together the yellow rice and white rice; serve.
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An Evening with P-Dub {plus a giveaway!}

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Yes, this happened.  Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman herself, came to my little hometown for a book signing!!  When Julie told me about it, I about flipped out.  Foodie celebrities just do not come to our town for anything.  This was the most exciting thing that ever happened in Wichita!  Well, at least for me.

Julie and I had planned to go together, but she ended up moving earlier than planned so Dennis was my date for the evening.  Dennis, the anti-foodie.  The anti-foodie who won’t even read his own wife’s food blog.  Perhaps not the best date for the occasion, but he’s a trooper and is usually up for anything.  He’s incredibly supportive, despite refusing to read my blog, and I think my excitement made him a little eager himself to meet this superwoman.

We arrived at the Forum Theater (previously a church) an hour early and still there was a massive line.  We were even further back than in the photo above, rounded around a corner, but I forgot to take a photo until that moment.  Hello, Veronica, a blogger must remember to photograph everything when it comes to such a monumental occasion! I didn’t make that mistake again and documented the remainder of the evening by snapshots…and even short video.  Of P-Dub singing!!

I apologize for all the exclamation points.  It’s hard to control my excitement and enthusiasm.

It only took us about fifteen minutes to get through the line and into the theater.  Everyone with tickets #500 and under could go in right away.  There were tickets all the way up into the 1,300s and I think they managed to fit most people in.  Apparently there was an “overflow section” but I never saw it, and I guess those who couldn’t find seats waited there for the signing.

Dennis, the sweetheart, went to the front of the theater to take these photos for me.  We were seated in the middle, way in the back.  That section was flat, not tiered like the front rows, so it’s harder to see all the people back there.  I can’t even make out my own head, but I could see the stage just fine.

After an hour of waiting and reading her cookbook (yes, reading, I read cookbooks like novels) while Dennis read Anthony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant Within, Ree was finally introduced and came striding out on stage.

Seriously.  P-Dub in the flesh.  Is this really happening?  Really?  But she made it very clear how real she was as she nervously criticized her entrance and the awkward way she walked behind the movie screen instead of in front of it.  She apologized for being nervous and sweaty, then asked for a show of hands of everyone that got sweaty when they were nervous.  She was so genuine and sweet, even if you didn’t know her from her blog already, you had to love her immediately.  Dennis was not immune to her charms and was laughing all through her presentation.

She gave a slideshow presentation of her life, with all the humor she infuses into her blog.

which explains her senior photo…

I stopped snapping shots of her slideshow at that point, but did catch the last half of her “special moment” with her basset hound, Charlie.  She started singing “My Endless Love” along to pictures she had taken of him…

Then we waited.  Books were signed according to the number on your card, so there were 182 people ahead of me.  And there were no limit to the amount of books she would sign.  I’m sure Ree is sporting a permanent hand cramp right now, as she had to have signed thousands and thousands of books that night.  What a trooper!  After waiting foreeeeever (OK, more like two hours), we finally were next in line!!

I was so flustered, I had nothing to say.  I could have said, “I made your chunky chicken soup five times this year already!”  I could have told her how well she did with her presentation.  I could have told her how honored I was to meet her.  I could have told her how much I enjoyed her book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, or even asked her if Marlboro Man was taking care of the kiddos by himself while she was away.  But I couldn’t say anything!

Since I was so quiet, she finally asked me, “Are you from Wichita?”  How humiliating, to have forced a huge celebrity to try to spark a conversation in the face of my epic silence.  That she even bothered is a testament to how nice she truly is.  “Yes, this is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me!” I blurted.  And that’s all I said.  Ugh.  Dork master!

And then the picture from hell happened.  A lady offered to take one with both of us in the picture, so I made sure my ugly heavy-duty bra strap was showing, and Dennis made sure to give the camera what I’ve dubbed his “creeper” look…the one that makes you think there’s something seriously wrong going on inside his head.  Here’s another version of his creeper look:

Run awaaaaay! IT’S THE CREEPER BUNNY!

This is my impression of his creeper look, given at a restaurant after we left the signing:

Creeper V!

OK, way too much creepiness happening here.  Let me remind you of how handsome and non-creeper-like my husband actually is:

There.  I feel much better now.

So that was it, a lovely presentation, a long wait, and an awkward introduction in which I made a fool of myself.  And I came out of it with this:

Poor Ree, it’s a wonder I can read this at all.  Here’s the translation, as best I can tell: Love to Veronica, ♥ Ree D

The cookbook follows the format of her blog, giving step-by-step photos for each recipe.  If you like photos with your cookbooks, this one is for you!  As far as I can tell, there are no new recipes–you can get them all online (though at least a few recipes in the book are improved from the website versions, like the Coffee Cake (the first one I’ll be trying!)), but if you love owning cookbooks, love the Pioneer Woman, or need a gift for a new bride/groom to help them learn how to cook, this would be great.

Would you like your own signed copy?  Well, it might just be your lucky day, because I got a second copy signed to give away to one of my readers!

If you’d like to enter to win, just tell me what your favorite Pioneer Woman recipe is, or what recipe of hers you’re looking forward to making.  You can still leave a comment without entering, just be sure to answer this question for your comment to count in the drawing.  Giveaway will close April 19th at 10 PM CST, and I’ll announce the winner on Friday.

If you’d like additional chances to win, you can do any or all of the following (and yes, it counts if you already do/have done them, just leave a comment letting me know).  Be sure to leave a separate comment for each, and make sure you answer the question above first, or none of the additional entries will count.

*Subscribe to Veronica’s Cornucopia by RSS or email (email subscribe box is in the upper right column).
*”Like” Veronica’s Cornucopia on Facebook.
*Follow me on Twitter.
*Pin this post on Pinterest.
*Tweet the following message:  @vraklis Win a signed copy of Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer woman! https://veronicascornucopia.com/2012/04/17/an-evening-with-p-dub-plus-a-giveaway/ #giveaways Please RT
*Tell your friends about this giveaway on Facebook, including a link to the post.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Brandee Lake!

How To Make a Splatter-Proof Recipe Binder

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A couple years ago I got sick of the huge collection of recipes I had in different locations throughout my house.  A file in the filing cabinet marked “recipes.”  A couple binders with uncategorized hole-punched recipes that were falling out and splattered with batter and grease because I used the recipes so often.  A stack of them on my computer desk.  Fed up, I finally made a binder to keep my favorite tried-and-true recipes in.  The ones I make over and over again and want easy access to.

My friend, Teri, has a binder very similar and I just copied her idea to create my own.  I recently made a starter binder for a friend’s housewarming and took some pictures of the creation process so I could share this idea with you.

Supplies:

1 Presentation View Binder
Transparent Page Protector Sheets
Adhesive Index Tabs
Recipes printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper

For this project, I like to use a binder that has a transparent sheet over the top so you can put a “Title Page” inside of it, of your own design. Using page protector sheets to hold the recipes works well for recipes you use often, because the clear plastic protects the recipe. If you splatter it, you can just wipe it clean before returning the recipe to the binder.  It is also more durable and the holes won’t tear as easily as a paper with holes punched in it.

First, write your recipe categories on the paper tabs that come in the index tabs box. Most everyone will use different categories, depending on the type of recipes they use.  For instance, I not only have a “Desserts” category in my own, but also divided desserts into three subcategories: cake, pie, and cookies.  These are the basic categories you might want to include, adding more if you need to:

Breads
Breakfast
Appetizers & Snacks
Soups & Salads
Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Desserts
Etc. (for beverages, condiments, etc.)

Slip the papers into your tabs and then arrange them in the order you want them to appear in your binder. Put enough page protector sheets in the binder for all the tabs. Remove the backing from the first category you want to use and slip it over the side of the first plastic sheet at the very top, then squeeze so it sticks.

These are quite easy to remove if you mess up or want to change how high or low the tab is positioned, so don’t fret if it’s not exactly how you want it. Gently pry it off and adjust it. Repeat the process with the remaining tabs, placing each one on the sheet below the last and a bit lower on the side so it shows beneath the tab before it. Soon you will have a binder that looks like this:

If you like, you can create title pages for each recipe category, as I did. I searched for images using Google, then copied the ones I liked into a Word document and used the same font that I used on the front of my binder to type the category title below the photo.

To create the title page, I did the same thing and searched for a picture I liked (I remember searching for cooking related coloring pages and liked the old-time feel of the one I chose). For the side title, I printed it in a Word document in landscape format in the middle of the page, then folded it to fit the pocket, and with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally managed to get it in. It is difficult to get a paper in that tight spot, so you definitely want to use a folded paper for its sturdiness, or cardstock.

All that’s left is to fill the binder with recipes!

I have this slow cooker enchilada chile recipe posted here.

I put my blank page protector sheets in the front of my binder, before the recipes so that when I want to add a new one, I slip it in, then put it in the correct spot in my binder. I give each recipe its own sheet to make it easier to alphabetize them, therefore they are easier to find, but eventually I will have to start putting two recipes into each protector sheet (one facing forward, one backward) so that it doesn’t get too thick.

That’s about all there is to it! Very simple and quick.  What system do you use for organizing your recipes?  I also have about a million and a half saved to my computer into folders with different recipe categories!

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