Thursday, December 13, 2007

Floribbean Limed Vegetables over Basmati Rice

My wife and I were delighted with tonight's dinner! Yesterday, I stopped by A Southern Season gourmet food store and found Key Lime Savory Oil, key lime juice and canola oil from a company called Floribbean Foods, on clearance for $1.99 (normally I think around $8). It turns out that there is a style of cooking from Florida called Floribbean that uses spicy Caribbean influences toned down with dominant integration of fresh citrus, other fruits, or coconut milk. The writing on the bottle of oil indicated that the oil could be used in salad dressings or even to cook in, and I came up with an idea that became tonight's dinner and blossomed into something even tastier than I had imagined!

I started with some white basmati rice; I almost never cook with white rice, but wanted to today, to have maximum constrast for the presentation to show off lime zest. I made a simple pilaf by stir frying for about a minute or two, till kernels were turning clear, rice in the fabulously fragrant oil, adding a few pinches of cumin seeds in the last minute. Then I added one and a half times as much by volume water, brought to a boil, then simmered, covered, on low heat for about 15-20 minutes (this makes about 3 - 3 1/2 times the quantity of cooked rice as that of raw).

I prepared a simple stir fry with a number of ingredients, including red onion, shallot, cauliflower, broccoli, orange bell pepper, tempeh, and, added in the last few minutes, asparagus, ginger, pine nuts, and a little salt. I fluffed up the finished rice and made a cratered ring of it on each plate, serving the vegetables inside and sprinkling on along the circumference a little bit of fresh lime zest. I also served a garlic bagel.

Wow, that lime oil really added an amazing citrus flavor. It all just worked well together - the flavors came together nicely and it seemed to need no additional spice or anything else. This was one of the best meals I've made recently. Wow - I'm so glad to have found this oil and look forward to integrating it into my cooking - I'm sure it would make a great marinade!

By the way, a new Trader Joe's just opened about a week ago not far away in Chapel Hill. I stopped by yesterday and picked up some delicious Thai Lime Chili Cashews. I had thought of serving some with tonight's dinner or mixing some chunks into the rice, but forgot. It's just as well as I think tonight's dinner didn't need the addition - but new ideas are brewing!


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