Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the Side

I don't quite understand why side dishes receive so much less credit than the main event.  I realize their title basically assigns their place...on the side... but there's no reason they should be any less delicious, right?

I discovered an awesome side dish that to me is totally worthy of acclaim: toasted coconut rice.  This recipe showed up ages ago in Marth (I don't mean to state the obvious here, but in the event that it's not obvious to you for whatever reason, "Marth" can refer to Martha Stewart the person as well as Martha Stewart the magazine.  I know this suggests that she and I are tight, and I'm okay with that.).  I keep an ever-changing binder of recipe cutouts and look forward to opportunities to flip through it for inspiration.  This little 4x6 card has been calling my name from the "side dish" section for months now, and boy am I glad that I finally gave it a go.  It's delightfully sweet (more on that momentarily), but a generous sprinkling of sliced scallions before serving adds a gentle and necessary layer of spice.  The prep is very low key!  The first step outlined in the recipe is to toast some unsweetened coconut in olive oil....and thus begins my deviation from the recipe.  That didn't take long.  As my pantry instead contained sweetened coconut at the time, that is what went into my dish.  And given the oil content in coconut, I'm not certain why the instructions necessitated olive oil.  So I instead toasted my sweetened coconut in a dry, non-stick pan until golden brown.  The "sweetened" part turned out to be a glorious and completely yummy mistake, and I'll only do it that way from now on.  Before I provide the recipe (which I basically followed from here on out), I want to take a quick opportunity to express my appreciation for basmati rice.  It is far more fragrant and complex than its plain white or brown cousins, and I'm a huge fan.  Texmati is my favorite brand, and my most common preparation includes chopped fresh herbs (usually flat leaf parsley, basil and chives), a hunk of creamy unsalted butter, and kosher salt.  Okay - the recipe: 

There are two sides I'm having a hankering to make.  One is spoon bread, and it's just been added to my menu for a grillfest (smokefest to be more accurate) that we'll be serving to my fabulous aunt, cousin and her husband when they visit this weekend.  The second is one that was just mentioned to me by an old friend, fellow foodie and owner of the best cupcake shop in Richmond: Frostings!!  To accompany braised lamb, he roasted some brussel sprouts with a splash of balsamic vinegar.  How good does that sound?  I am absolutely trying it.


Joanna said...

The coconut rice is just what I need to complete my non-gourmet meal tonight for an out-of-town guest. Maybe it will fool him into thinking I'm a decent cook. Three cheers for Martha! (She and I are most definitely NOT on a nickname basis, and I hope she refers to me as Mrs. Avant on her blog.)

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